At some point during the past year, I started to use a pet name for my junk. And my partner’s junk, too. I don’t mean occasionally, when I’m in a light-hearted mood, or even just in public so nobody knows I’m talking about genitals. I mean all the time.
I don’t really know how this happened. I used to think having human names for body parts was kind of weird, and sometimes even creepy. For goodness’ sake, giving a penis or a vagina their own distinct identity is like calling them people! And while I’m all for trying to heap some more dignity onto sex and the parts that make it happen, there’s a blurry line between wanting vulvas to be respected and blaming your stupid, selfish behavior on your clitoris. Seemed like a slippery slope. Not to mention childish. As a promoter of the importance of talking openly about sex, I’ve always been the one correcting my friends when they call an external part of the female sexual organs the “vagina.” I’ll quietly scold, “It’s a vulva, not a vagina,” from my grammar-and-terminology soapbox. So to me, calling those organs by pet names was silly, childish, demeaning. It’s like calling someone’s life’s work “cute,” I used to think. It’s silly.
But I’ve always known what my vulva/vagina/uterus/the works was named. I didn’t call it that, but if anyone asked me, I knew immediately what the answer was. (No, I’m not going to tell you guys. I love you, but I really don’t need some stranger at a convention asking me about my organs by name.) It wasn’t a creative process for me, or even a question. The name has always been there, just waiting to be used.
So I suppose when I playfully asked my partner this spring if he’d ever considered naming his, I was struck by how similar his response was to my own. He blinked, obviously surprised by the question. “No,” he said. “Never.” But then, after only a second of hesitation that seemed to come more out of hesitation than consideration, he told me that he knew what the name would be if he had. I told him I knew what my name would be, too.
Over the next few months we started to occasionally, playfully, refer to each other’s bits and pieces by their “names,” but it was the exception rather than the rule. As our relationship and sex life developed, though, we slipped into a daily cadence. At this point, it’s an absolute rarity for either of us to refer to our genitals by anything other than their appointed names.
I should point out that, because we are very busy in the bedroom, we make a lot of references. This is standard conversation for us. In public or alone, while we’re in bed or anywhere else. It can be very serious or quite silly, but they are who they are. And, now that I think about it, it’s strange. How did I become ok with calling my very serious woman-equipment by a pet name? Am I immature? Or just crazy?
Whatever the reason, I’m happy to report that I’m really starting to see my junk as more of a real part of myself with a real personality and very important desires, rather than a driving force for dumb behavior that can then be blamed on “her”. Her desires might not always match mine. There have been times when, due to my sex-negative upbringing (I think), I’ve been positively ashamed at what “she” wants and how much and how often she wants it, so perhaps it was easier for me to think about those impulses as “hers” rather than mine. Giving her a name and treating her as distinct from myself probably helped me get over my fear that my partner would be appalled at my shamelessness.
But over time, I’ve really grown to like her, even if she’s a little demanding and sometimes doesn’t know when to stop. Treating her as a “her” instead of just a part of me has, in a way, given her more dignity than I expected it would. I can’t always trust her, but I can listen to her, because she’s got shit to say.
God, I sound like I’m Vagina Monologuing. I’ll stop. But I thought it was worth mentioning.