There are a lot of loose lips on the subject of vaginas lately.
Last week two female Michigan State congresswomen were barred from speaking on the House floor after angrily using the word “vagina” while debating an anti-abortion bill.
Daily Show host and comedian Jon Stewart mocked the House’s decision a few nights ago, saying, “What are they worried about? Vaginas aren’t like Voldemort or Beetlejuice. Invoking the name ‘vagina’ doesn’t make them suddenly appear.” He then highlighted in a “moment of zen” a clip of one CNN anchor saying sarcastically, “Fair warning: I’m about to say a word some of you are going to find offensive. So here’s the warning. Here we go: Vagina.”
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed one of the congresswomen about an earlier protest that took place outside Michigan State Capitol, in which there was a live performance of the Vagina Monologues. During O’Donnell’s program, Metro Weekly‘s Chris Geidner tweeted, “If you don’t like vaginas, this is not your TV show.” – [O'Donnell], creating a false choice for me.”
Liberals also started the hashtag #sayvagina on Twitter. As with anything these days, particularly anything regarding vaginas, it was highjacked. “#Sayvagina but don’t say #8.2%JoblessRate,” wrote Breitbart.com Editor Dana Loesch.
Liberal radio show host Leslie Marshall tweeted, “#sayvagina I tell my toddlers to stop saying that in public! Grown women who are legislators? Go ahead!”
We asked a few journos around town what they thought about seeing so much vagina in the news lately and how they handle the subject in their own professional lives. HOH“s Neda Semnani told us it’s not weird at all. “That is what those crazy kids are calling that part of the body these days,” she told FBDC. “Other body parts with names that don’t make me feel awkward: penis, fallopian tube, uterus, urethra, testicle, balls, vulva, breast, boob, hair, nail, shin, pancreas, gland, cells, pinkie, big toe, follicle. Actually, scratch that… ‘Follicle’ sounds gross.”
A TV industry insider did some soul searching and remarked, “I hate the word ‘vagina.’ But not nearly as much as the dreaded P word. In everyday life I prefer to use C U Next Tuesday because it’s succinct and so offensive that it’s funny. In mixed company, I may opt for other humorous terms like ‘hatchet wound.’ But for TV, let’s all agree to stick with ‘vagina.’ That is, unless everyone can rally behind ‘pikachu’ or ‘tamagotchi.’”
A more serious Kevin Glass, managing editor of Townhall.com, said his publication has no official policy on the matter. “We don’t allow any words to be used in poor taste, but don’t censor our authors where it’s appropriate,” he said.
The Daily Caller‘s Taylor Bigler said she’s free when it comes to using the word. “‘Vagina’ is at the very bottom of the list of words that I’m squeamish about saying or using in copy,” she said. “It’s just a part of the body. I’m much more concerned about getting words like ‘douchebag’ and ‘Octomom porn’ past the editors.” Her boss, Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson, takes a far more conservative slant on the matter. “I approach that word as the ancient Israelites did YHWH: I have too much respect to use it lightly,” he said. On the subject of using the word on TV: “No.”
Host of XM Radio’s Press Pool Julie Mason told us she could say “vagina” loud and proud on the air if she wanted, but she tries playing it “mostly square.” She said, “My boss’s general rule is to imagine an eight-year old in the car listening to the show — don’t say things that might cause their parent to switch to [shock jock] Howard Stern as the sober alternative.”
Then there’s this from Bretibart News‘ Tony Lee, who by far had the most interesting personal policy on the matters. “I don’t use that term in person,” he said, “and given what I refer to it as would be too crude for print, I would write ‘female genitalia’ or ‘female genitals,’ which would be consistent with the the word choice in stories dealing with horrific ‘female genital’ mutilation.”
Author of the Mr. Media Training Blog Brad Phillips acknowledged how “absurd” it is “that if George Carlin were alive today, he’d need to expand his list of dirty words you can’t say on television to include ‘vagina.’” His personal advice on using “vagina” in media comes in the form of an introspective question: “Does it help them make their point, or does it serve as a distraction that prevents people from hearing their larger point?” He said the two state congresswomen used the word effectively, as “it drew national attention to an issue they were passionate about.”
Watch some vagina-talk clips after the jump…