I wish the word vagina didn't feel so clinical.

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Senior Member
682: Ten Sessions - This American Life

I wish the word vagina didn't feel so clinical. It was more than that. It was like he found a way into my personal sexuality, like a portal into parts of me I hadn't explored or known, because I was so young.

Context: It was kind of an psychology consultation. She got a sexual assault when she was 13 years old.
Q: I have no idea what the green phrase mean here. Thanks a lot!
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The word sounds clinical because it sounds like a word used by doctors. That's because it's a word of Latin origin like many medical terms. We have many slang terms for the sex organs. These days 'vagina' is in common use, wrongly, for all the female organs including the outer visible ones, for which the medically correct term is 'vulva' which still sounds very clinical. There are many well known colloquial terms for this.

    I don't know why the woman has this opinion. When a word is in common use it ceases to be clinical sounding. If she really does mean the inner organ, the birth canal, she might want a more colloquial term. There might be slang terms for this but I can't think of any.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The problem she has is that vagina is a word for a physical body part, and that's all that word is. It's like finger or ear. Or, to use some more clinical examples, carotid artery or hepatic ducts.

    The person who assaulted her violated her vagina. When the sentence is said like that, it makes it sound to her like only a specific anatomical body part suffered. But the violation she feels was also to her soul and her mind and her self-image. That is not covered by an anatomical word like vagina.
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