I’m reclaiming the word “cunt“.
Yes, like in the Vagina Monologues.
Because it’s better than “vagina”.
We can discard out of hand the word pudenda, which literally means “things to be ashamed of”. “Sex” is too vague, now that it’s the most common term for sexual intercourse and also for the biological concept of reproduction by more than one organism. “Genitals” is borderline, but between the fact that I don’t identify with having more than one and the implied reproductive imperative, it’s not the best choice.
Vagina, in addition to being an awkward-sounding word that technically only applies to the vaginal canal and not to any other part of the body (like the vulva or the perineum), is a misogynist term. It’s not a “sheath”; my parts are mine, and my so-called vagina is a thing unto itself, already complete without having to make reference to or use of anything else. No part of my body is an accessory to the penetrative phallus.
Cunt, a dark and secretive word, a word with authority and power, is a word so old nobody knows what it means or where it came from. It signifies the whole thing, potentially even the whole region, and has a rich undertone of mystery. The Patriarchy is so afraid of the term that it’s been considered obscene ever since James Stuart succeeded Golden Bess. Is it a coincidence that “cunt” was euphemized away into “the monosyllable” right around the same time that the last matriarchal societies in western Europe came under control of the patriarchal imperial powers? Maybe. But, maybe not.