What the femfresh are they talking about?

At the age of nearly two and half my daughter is well acquainted with the F word. No, not that one, she hasn’t learnt to swear yet. But she has no qualms about saying fanny.  Mummy, my fanny bit hurting. Mummy, I got fanny like you, Mummy, look – my fanny!’

When my son was born, the question of what was between his legs was never an issue. It was a willy from day one. No doubt he will learn other, cruder, expressions when he’s older, but until then, it’s a willy.

 But when my daughter uses the f word in front of other mums, they positively recoil in disgust and disbelief, that I’d allow my sweet little girl to use such vile and offensive language, or to even refer to her genitalia in the first place.

 We don’t teach our little boys to say penis, so why should little girls be made to say vagina?  If she falls and hurts her knee, I don’t say ‘have you hurt your patella?’ Vagina is fine – if you’re talking to a midwife. But at two years old it seems a little unnecessarily anatomical. However, I refuse, yes refuse, to call it any of those dreadful little euphemisms now immortalised by a well-known ‘ladies product.’

Oh please Femfresh, it’s not a froo-froo or a lala, or any other member of the Teletubbies.  Call it a fanny, call it a vagina if you prefer.  But it’s not a kitty (hello?) or a nooni. And while we’re on the subject, nor is it a minnie (not once you’ve pushed a baby out of it, anyway) a twinkle (little star?) or a front bottom (one anus is quite enough.)

What do all these verbal excuses teach our daughters? That she can’t mention the thing between her legs without wrapping it up in pretty pink paper and dowsing it in deodorant, until it looks and smells completely unrecognisable? That it’s ok for boys to talk, even laugh, about willies, but that girls need to be embarrassed about the very thing that (biologically at least) makes them female?

For me, fanny is empowering, unashamed, and yes even amusing –  and I hope this is how my daughter will feel about her sexuality in the future.  So in my family, it’s a fanny. I want my daughter (and my son) to know that fannies are fine – they’re not rude, they’re not distasteful and it’s fine to be proud of them. Let’s stop fannying about and reclaim the f word.

What do you think of Femfresh’s latest campaign? Check it out here?

About Becky Dickinson

Mum of three. Writer, blogger, grower. Trying to keep my head above the compost heap.

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  1. I’m afraid that fanny always makes me think of the american phrase “fanny-pack”, which is, of course, to us a bum-bag! How ON EARTH did the word fanny get to mean such opposite ends of the anatomy in two countries that are supposed to share a language? Do we have the first English pilgrims that emigrated there to blame for this? (-;

  2. Once again, your awesome writing has made my day.

  3. oh yeah, fanny pack is horrible! Makes me think of tampons!

  4. Lorna Claydon says:

    Not to sound too serious on the subject but…
    I work with survivors of sexual abuse and I recently went to hear an amazing lady called Meg Hickley talk on this subject. She feels very strongly about teaching pre-schoolers proper names as a way of making them “abuse resistant”. She has done research with convicted paedophiles and they told her when kids know the correct names it means they have been taught about body science and safety and are more likely to tell about abuse and BE BELIEVED. They don’t want to risk it. So as horrified as I was at the “loss of innocence”, I set about teaching my girls the scientific term vulva ( not vagina) for their external bits. I did it by using the name at change time and bath time and now they use it too and it doesnt sound so bad at all. And I will put up with that knowing that I have done something that could protect them from a lifetime of pain and shame. Meg has written a book called “Speaking of Sex” that is well worth a read, especially if you were raised by parents who never talked about this stuff and you would like to do it differently.(PS It also talks in detail about body science for special needs children- a rarity) :)

    • Thanks Lorna, abuse is a horrifying thing to have to think about, but I can certainly see the need to introduce anatomically correct terms as well (I dont’ have an issue with these, only the frilly little euphemisms.) I will look for that book, too. I’m sure it won’t be long before my five year old starts asking questions!

  5. I’m in Sydney and don’t know about the fem fresh campaign (apart from seeing the odd thing on twitter). When I was a kid I said ‘front bottom” but makes me chuckle now. My daughter is 2.5 so guess I’ll have to commit to a label soon!
    (new follower from blow your own blog horn, i’m a brit mum in aus)

  6. Lorna Claydon says:

    I’ve misquoted Meg’s name. Its Meg Hickling and you’ll enjoy her book. Its scattered throughout with questions kids have asked – they’re hilarious. She says the first thing they always ask is “Miss how old are you, have you ever had sex and DID you like it”…she answers “I’m 70 and yes I DO, very much so!” at which the kids reply “yuccckkkk”. To which she says “scientists dont say yuck, they say Interrresssting!”

  7. Hello, a quick one just to let you know I tagged you in a meme. No worries if you don’t wish to take part but take a look if you do, thanks Jo x

  8. The woman who does my bikini wax calls it a ‘taloola’…. She’s 37 years old and makes me want to curl up and cry everytime she says it.
    I think fanny is fine. Vagina seems all too scientific and formal, whereas the other things you’ve mentioned are absurd!
    Luckily for me I have a little boy and it’ll be willy for as long as possible!! Fab post xx

  9. I love this blog, I just read it to my husband and it made us laugh. We have a 15 month old son, and are in early pregnancy with a second child. Part of me hopes it isn’t a girl now, as we couldn’t agree on what we would call it! Willy works, like you say, but the variation for a girl is incredible. I grew up where mum taught me to call it my Minnie, mark thinks its a front bottom, so we will have to see what the future holds!! Whatever though, I totally agree, vagina is not the term we will use!

  10. A bit late to this party. In our house the word is Brötchen (little bread roll in German) but my daughter seems a little bit confused about the whole boy Brötchen thing. According to her boys have wellies.


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