- Eve Ensler, in reference to the word "vagina", in her preface to the 1998 edition of The Vagina Monologues
"Because that word is either so taboo or surrounded with negative connotations or draped in shame or medicalised, it's really important to take it back."
- Naomi Wolf, on her choice of title for Vagina, as quoted in the Guardian in 2012
Naomi Wolf is a little late to the party on this one. In 1996, 16 years ago, Eve Ensler decided to write a series of monologues addressing issues of female sexuality, violence against women, reproduction, and all sorts of things connected with women's bodies. In her preface to the 1998 edition of the book, Ensler indicated that she had been ambivalent on the question of what word should be used to encapsulate the physical locus of so much female experience - the "entire area and all its parts" - and acknowledged the fact that she was warping an established term. This is what she said:
"I say it because we haven't come up with a word that's more inclusive, that really describes the entire area and all its parts. 'Pussy' is probably a better word, but it has so much baggage connected with it. And besides, I don't think most of us have a clear idea of what we're talking about when we say 'pussy'. 'Vulva' is a good word; it speaks more specifically, but I don't think most of us are clear what the vulva includes."
Really? Because thanks to you, Ms. Ensler, most of us are no longer clear on what the vagina includes.