Publication details [#1094]

Rodriguez, Sarah B. 2012. The Organ-That-Must-Not-Be-Named: Female Genitals and Generalized References. Hastings Center Report 42 (3) : 19–21. 3 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
The Hastings Center


The present paper discusses the use of euphemistic language to refer to the vagina. It is claimed that explicit reference to the vagina is usually avoided. Frequent expressions that refer to it typically include “it” or “down there”. In addition, the vagina is normally conflated with the external genital organs. The authors show that the use of euphemisms and obfuscating language can both give rise to misunderstandings concerning female bodies and have implications for the practice of health care itself. By contrast, granting a name would give dignity and power to the named and the namer.