Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, and Rossana Unson tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
Do you remember how your mom (most likely) called your genitals by cute pet names? That time when the words “flower” or “ping-ping” (thanks, yaya) also meant “vagina?”
There. I said it. The very word most of you cringe at. The word we’re expected to whisper. The word only that type of woman has the guts to say.
Well fine, I’m that kind of woman. Even when I’m not raised to be this bold, even though my mom once got really angry at my 40-year-old sister for condoning her colleagues’ tendency to call her “Gi-na Vagina” while I giggled softly to myself, I was definitely raised old school-style. No genitals ever came up in any family conversation in our house.
Today, I say the word out loud without batting an eyelash and with my daughters listening. I didn’t want them to grow up with the shame a lot of us have from realizing that we do possess these sexual things called vaginas.
I didn’t mean to pollute my poor girls’ minds. I just tried my best not to make them cringe. It’s not as if I’m shouting expletives, right? “Girls, don’t be afraid of words! Say them without flinching. You have a vagina. We have them!” I’d say, over and over until their skulls can’t take it and its mere mention won’t be an issue.
I firmly think that if they can face these words then they can certainly have the right attitude when it comes to sex and more importantly, their bodies. At least, I hope so.
I got to give my eldest, who hit puberty at that time, the sex talk that came after teaching those words. I never had the ‘’birds and the bees’’ talk with her, but I did bring up sex in a nonchalant, not overly serious manner. When a few people in school found themselves starting a family—unplanned, of course—I knew I had to start talking. I brought up responsibility, safe sex, and waiting. (Yes, I know it’s a tad unrealistic of me to think she actually will wait but it is worth a shot.)
These days, she doesn’t flinch when saying the word “masturbating” to me. (The word came up when she mentioned a commercial where the guy looked like he was jacking off under the blankets, but he was actually scratching his foot.) I take that as a sign of parental success. I just got her to talk about something sexual so casually, as if she’s dropping a story about school. I vow to give my youngest, who is now 11, the talk when she’s ready, too.
I’m darned hoping my girls will hear about sex from me rather than from unrealistic books, glamorized movies, or heaven forbid, the very misleading world of the Internet. Because if I learned anything, not talking about sex isn’t going to make it go away.