Dec 19 2012 1:00pm

Author Jill Sorenson on Vagina Envy

Aftershock by Jill SorensonToday we're happy to welcome author Jill Sorenson to Heroes and Heartbreakers. She's been a frequent visitor here, and she has a new release—Aftershock—out now. Aftershock is about the events following a real earthquake (not the earth-shattering quakes heroines often have!) and how two people can find each other in a crisis. Jill is here to talk about a much more serious topic than natural disasters: The vagina. Thanks, Jill!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen my vagina tweets. I’ve been known to drop the v-bomb. I can’t remember why I started doing this, but it probably stemmed from my frustration over anti-vagina sentiments.

While the magic penis is loved by men and women alike, vaginas aren’t as celebrated. There are products designed to transform our lady parts into something smoother, prettier and more palatable. Most romance readers aren’t interested in f/f (two vaginas, eek!) and some are so turned off by descriptions of female genitalia that they prefer to read m/m.

Here are a couple of things readers seem to find distasteful:

1. Female body fluids, especially in generous amounts and when described as milky or creamy (two normal qualities). Male body fluids tend to be much more copious and acidic but are rarely grimaced at in romance.

2. Word choice. Every combination you can think of, from flowery euphemisms like “dewy petals” to in-your-face “wet cunt,” will have its detractors. There is no widely accepted terminology for female parts. 

Maybe talking about vaginas will encourage us to be more comfortable with our bodies and with each other. I’m just trying to spread the vagina love. I know the word itself is a boner-killer. It sounds like a heart condition (angina) or a sneeze (gesundheit!). Should we try to think of a new word, or is that too much like vajazzling, putting glittery bits on our junk? I’m not against waxing, piercing or playing dress up. Have fun with your vagina! What I object to is the idea that natural = ugly.

“Women’s pubic hair is just gross.”

The above quote is from a recent female-authored article. I’m so disappointed by statements like this. Not only are women internalizing a lack of respect for the female body, we’re perpetuating it. How many young ladies are too embarrassed to receive oral sex because they feel self-conscious about their bodies? I don’t think our sexual partners want us to be so inhibited. This is a lose-lose situation.

It’s time to end to vaginal discrimination! Maybe if vaginas had better names, we’d like them more. Let’s get vagical and brainstorm ideas. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

1. Vageen. It’s sort of French-sounding, for fancy vaginas.

2. Misty. If my vagina had a pet name, this would be it. And I would tell a young Clint Eastwood to Play Misty for Me.

3. Vagigli, a la Jennifer Lopez

4. Vagenie

5. V.J. (how about a VJ?)

6. Mrs. G

7. Lady jewels

Okay, those are all silly. It’s difficult to think of a word that appeals to mature women and conveys the importance of this hot, sexy, cozy, pleasure-giving, life-making, underappreciated body part.

Author Sarah Anderson has asked the vagina question before. I don’t know if we’ll ever reach a conclusion. Instead of renaming our parts, maybe we should just stop degrading them. Do we need a new term or a different attitude?

Tell me what your favorite word is or make up a new one! It can be fun, silly or sexy.


Jill Sorenson writes sexy romantic suspense for Harlequin and Bantam Dell. Born in a small town in Kansas, she moved to California at age twelve and fell in love with the Pacific Coast. After graduating with honors from CA State University (English major/Spanish minor), she decided to follow her dream of becoming a published author. She now lives with her husband and two young daughters in beautiful San Diego.

Visit her at

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Amber Belldene
1. Amber Belldene
Jill, thank you for this awesome and hilarious post. Amen. One of the things I love about romance novels, especially the recent trend in erotic ones, is the way they have made women more comfortable and open about our sexuality. And yet, the vagina-ick factor persists. Thanks for this "monologue"-- I couldn't agree more that we need to love our own bodies and enjoy letting other people love them too.
Amber Belldene
2. LiseKim Horton
Great post, great argument in favor of equal time and consideration for the vagina. Given that it is, so to speak, in the spotlight these days with other non-fic titles waxing on (yes, pun intended), it is a timely question. I agree that there are some erotic romances out there paying great homage to our side of things. As for the appellation? Hmm. As a writer who pens the erotic stuff, I truly love the simple terms that sometimes readers reject as misogynistic (but I think they're just uber hot). As for a euphemistic equivalent? I get a kick out of coochie and for the antiquated of heart, quim. When feeling more aggressive? Jaws.
Amber Belldene
3. Tiffany Reisz
I love vaginas! I use the word all the time in my sex scenes. No one gets freaked out. You just retrai your readers to accept the word. If you use it in a sexy context, it'll sound sexy!

Susan M
4. MomBlogger
Wonderful article and one that warrants thinking about and commenting for sure.
I've had several good steamy scenes in a book ruined by horrible (shivering - ugh) wording. Can't stand "juices flowing down her thighs" ewww, I mean really? someone turn the faucet off already!
as for great words for "vagina" tht is a difficult one. Although the use of vagina is not a scene killer for me, it also doesnt raise the steam level either.
I don't mind "pussy" or "cunt" or even an occasional "quim"

But when describing, make sure not to use "sopping wet" or "love nectar" (eww) or "female parts" (really? can't think of a single good word so they use female parts? but dont have a problem writing "cock"? lol)

just my little bit of opinion added.
Any chance you'd like to guest post this topic on my blog sometime? ;)
Amber Belldene
5. KT Grant
It's all about the hoo-haa for me. Hee.
Pam M
6. Libratini
I rather like the 60s-era 'box', to be dressed up any way you please (hot box, treasure box, you get the idea). Says something about my age, but it is pretty much a non-squick word, and boys and girls generally associate a box with good stuff (i.e., presents). And young men still play with Xboxes and what not, yes? More good stuff.
The thing that gets me wincing or rolling my eyes is that total-Brazillion completely shaved/plucked/waxed/bare thing. A man who likes his women that bare just seems like someone who wants his females a whole lot younger than I am comfortable with. Yes, a trim and partial to get it out from under the elastic on the panties or swim suit, but bare? Ick. (And yes, I hear from my daughter that there are some very nice sensations to be had with 'bare'.)
But still, ick.
Michelle Palmer
7. ChelleP
Funny and insightful post! I just finished a book where the author described the VJ scene (thanks for that term, Jill) with the words "perinum" and "labia". Really?? Not sexy. More like an OBGYN visit.

Give me a quim or a cunny anyday! Guess it's obvious I like it old school. haha
Amber Belldene
8. Jez
I find copious body fluids to be a turnoff.

I have been learning to embrace cunt, but vagina still sounds too clinical to me.

Hmm, I hadn't considered 'box' before. I'll have to try it out and see how I like it.
Jill Sorenson
9. JillSorenson
Thanks Amber! I totally agree.

LiseKim, I have no problem with most of the graphic terms. I wonder if women can invent or accept a sexy new word without male input. Isn't that part of the attraction, taking something men like to say and making it our own?
Jill Sorenson
10. JillSorenson
Tiff, I will try that. I think the cultural shift towards vagina is already happening. Vday is here!
Jill Sorenson
11. JillSorenson
Momblogger, I'm always read to guest vagina! Women seem to find excess female fluids more off putting than excess male fluids. Is it because we identify with the heroine, and don't want to imagine ourselves as messy?
Amber Belldene
12. Jaelynn
I prefer the terms 'vajayjay' or 'vagoo' (silly though it sounds) and I have no problems with the word 'cunt' or 'cunny'. I absolutely LOATHE the use of the word 'pussy'...I feel that one is more derogatory, and any man who calls mine that is going to never Get It. Ever.

On the flip side, I have no problems against the generic word 'vagina'. I also don't mind 'box' (treasure box made me giggle, though! ^_^). I find the term 'netherlips' a little off-putting, however...and I've seen it used. =P
Jill Sorenson
13. JillSorenson
Libratini, I don't think there's anything weird about prefering to go bare. I just don't want young women to feel more flawed and self-conscious than they already do. Also, waxing is expensive, and no one can be perfectly smooth every day. If young men are demanding this, they're setting themselves up for less sex!
Sarah Stultz
14. RVASarah
I tend to like "bajingo" because of a very early episode of Scrubs (thank you, Dr. Reid!) I also like "papaya" some other food euphemisms because the vagina is supposed to be delicious and yummy. ;-)
Amber Belldene
15. Jessi Gage
Fun discussion. Anyone feel like compiling a list of purple prose reference to the vagina? Off the top of my head, I can remember reading: silken sheath, silky channel, and honey pot.

My daughter is 3. At the moment we call anything in her diaper area her privates, but we plan to teach her the proper terms for all her parts as soon as she's able to point and distinguish them. I've also used "vagina" in my romance writing, but usually more when a woman is recognizing her arousal as opposed to during a sex scene.
Amber Belldene
16. Anna Cowan
The hero of Sherry Thomas's TEMPTING THE BRIDE writes erotic novels, and his hero calls his lover's vagina a 'quaint'. I thought it must be an old form like quim that Thomas had come across in research. It really tickled me, for some reason!
Amber Belldene
17. Violetta Vane
I'm OK with pretty much any term, but it's tough picking the right word when writing with the full knowledge that two-thirds of readers hate "cunt" and the other third hate "pussy".

I'm fond of labia but not vagina. I also like mound, and clit, and slit! Nice one syllable words. I think panty-sopping can get overdone, but I do love a well-described juices scene.
Ieshea Altrock
18. Iesheabeast
Personally I like the oldfashioned terms for either sex,I feel at times like we should just pick up a porn novel.I would prefer less of a juicy description and more imagination. I pick up a book that uses pussy instead of a modest term like quim or vagina and I just skip sections of the book but I feel the same about cock or a weeping manhood.I like the term penis or just manhood.
Amber Belldene
19. JillSorenson
RVA Sarah, I've never heard either of those! I like fruit euphemisms also. Not just yummy but colorful, juicy, red etc.

Jessi, I think "honey" is nice.

Anna, I'll have to read that one. I'm a big Thomas fan.
Amber Belldene
20. JillSorenson
Hi Violetta! Yes, that's the problem. Not what am I comfortable with, but what are readers comfortable with? I often stick to softer, less jarring words like "her sex." I've also used clit, slit, lips, pussy, sheathe, center, cleft, slick heat.

For all my vagina-thumping, I've never used it in a sex scene that I recall.
Alisa Kwitney
21. AlisaKwitney
First of all, in England, there's a lovely term -- muff. Not sure if it's still in use, since these days everyone seems to want to leave the beaver looking like a Chinese crested, or a Sphynx cat. Nerd that I am, I've used the term "tribble." Second of all, Jill, I am a huge fan of the original Poseidon Adventure and the Discovery channel's survivor-science series, and have been wondering why no one's done a disaster romance. Between the subject matter and your wit re twats, Aftershock just jumped to the head of my tbr list.
Amber Belldene
22. Shark with Lasers
Just don't call it a mound and I'm good. Mound makes me giggle for all sorts of inappropriate reasons.
Lisa Mckinney
23. EliseChevre
I think the appropriate term depends on the genre and of course who's talking about it.
I got a giggle out of "tribble" and I like LiseKim's "Jaws" reference... so, jaws of life, lips of love, sweet treat, sweet lips, hot spot, hot sweet center...
Time for my afternoon sweet fix.
Amber Belldene
24. Selki
Honey bush, honey lips, clit, pussy (sometimes), rubyfruit (from Rita Mae Brown's *Rubyfruit Jungle*), squeaky bits, wiggly bits, hot spot, fountain.

I'm A-OK with good descriptions of juicy scenes.
Amber Belldene
25. Shelli Miller
I liked Vageen and VJ and Lady Jewels! Awesome! I'm going to start calling mine and Vageen with a French accent and when I want oral sex, I'm surely going ask my husband for a VJ. "Hey, honey, I'll give you a BJ if you give me a VJ!"
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