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Reclaim the word vagina: Beat the embarrassment when it comes to your body

Lynn Enright is a Dublin-born, London-based journalist. Her first book, Vagina: A Re-education, came out in March and looks at the most private of parts.

Everyone has a name for theirs… minnie, frou frou, minky and lulu. Journalist Lynn Enright wants women and girls to set these names aside and reclaim the word vagina.

Her book Vagina: A Re-education is just that. It looks at the hymen, infertility and miscarriage, as well as period poverty, the rights of transgender women and the difference between the vagina and vulva.

Reclaiming the word ‘vagina’

“I was working at website The Pool and whenever we talked about slightly taboo subjects such as miscarriage and smear tests we would get a big response,” explains Lynn.

“It got me thinking about female sexual reproduction.

“I was part of Repeal the Eighth and then #MeToo happened so it got me thinking, and I started to look at sexual health.”

What's Repeal the Eighth?
Up until 2018 in Ireland the eighth amendment in the Irish constitution made abortion illegal. Repeal the Eighth was a campaign to abolish the eighth amendment and make abortion legal. The results of the referendum vote saw the yes vote win with 66.4 per cent.
What is the #MeToo movement?
It is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault, and sees women sharing their stories and experiences

Education has to start at school

With many women and girls feeling ashamed of their bodies, Lynn says she feels it stems from sex education at school.

“At schools, we are taught about the male orgasm and ejaculation but we don’t look much at women and that sex should be pleasurable and not be painful.

“When I was writing the book many of the women I spoke to said that this was something they discovered as they got older.

“Sex education at schools can be abysmal and more needs to be done.”

Sharing stories

For the book, Lynn shares her own memories and talked to other women about their experiences.

“I want it to be a resource especially for girls aged 16 and over,” she says.

“The personal side helps people understand and identify with the stories and connect that with the facts.”

Don’t be afraid to use the correct terminology

The key is looking at how we talk about our bodies and the words we use.

Did you know that many of us use the wrong terminology for our own genitalia?

“The vagina is the tube and vulva is everything else.

“It is about anatomically correct, so people know what they are describing.

“Some people can’t point out where female genitalia is on a diagram.

“When I use the word vulva I felt pedantic but it is about using the words correctly and not feeling embarrassed about it.

“We need to get used to using the words vagina and vulva in the right way.”

Vagina: A Reeducation was published in March. You can buy it in all good bookshops and online at Hive or Amazon. For more information on Lynn, visit her website.

Read more: Healing my relationship with food and how I help others

How I got my self-esteem back after working in fashion

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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