Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I’m loving it?

Femfresh’s campaign to make us fall (back) in love with our vaginas made me think about the role of language in the quest to (re)brand (un)desirables. Femfresh wants us to ‘love it’ – whichever way you might want to relate to the apparently unnameable ‘it’, “twinkle, hoo haa, flower, fancy, yoni, [or the enigmatic] lady garden” (femfresh 2012) are a few of their suggestions – while McDonald’s pre-proclaims for us: ‘I’m loving it’. But what do processed meat and vaginas have in common?

They’re both seemingly equally unspeakably horrid. As Representative Mike Callton voiced his disgust at the mere mention of the word ‘vagina’: “What she [Rep. Lisa Brown] said was offensive […] It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women” (Chicago Tribune 2012). But if vaginas are offensive even to women themselves, how could they possibly love ‘it’? Simple really, according to femfresh: by giving ‘vagina’ a brand-new, cuddly-cute brand identity that brings up none of the usual repulsive vagina-images.

The underlying logic is as telling as it is obvious: what works for McDonald’s, the purveyors of low-quality minced beef, can only be a success story for equally undesirable (lady-)meat. Just call it ‘McDelight’ or ‘DoubleYummy’, or ‘La La’ or ‘Froo Froo’ and the once gross and grotesque will soon have us shout from the top of our lungs: ‘I’m LOVING it!’

However, in contrast to (the shame of?) eating ground-up cow, why should we be ashamed of (naming) our vaginas? ‘It’ is simply a part of our bodies and therefore simply a part of our humanity. And because it is simply a part of us, there is simply no need to blush or shy away or re-brand it. But that said, I am actually not completely averse to a renaming – not for Callton’s reasons or those of femfresh but because I don’t like to think of my genitals as simply a “sheath” (OD 2012) as per vagina’s Latin origin.

But that’s where the real power of language lies, not in veiling our supposed shame but in allowing us to reclaim what has never been shameful to begin with: our vaginas, our bodies, our humanity. Now that’s something to truly fall in love with!

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