Vajayjay? Honestly? May 1, 2008Posted by phledge in family, fat, feminism, medical school, yellow bile.
I’m ashamed to say that, as I alluded to in a comment, I am indeed not very good at confrontation. Upon reading SM’s brilliant analysis of what words can do, I let my sister get away with it. And this is the one to whom I’m closest, the one with whom I can talk all kinds of issues and still feel safe and loved
So, my sister M is an RN, and a damn fine one at that. She’s an excellent diagnostician and she is very sensitive to what her patients need; she doesn’t have a problem telling doctors that either, especially when they’re wrong (she works in a teaching hospital so it’s good for them). Sometimes, though, even the best of us can become frustrated and exhausted while working with patients—or any other population, for that matter—and this morning she called me to tell me about one particularly obnoxious “vajayjay patient.”
Alrighty, first: don’t call your patients names. You can tell me that so-and-so was doing such-and-such and it was really bothering you, but namecalling a) takes away the humanity of the patient and b) deemphasizes and invalidates the legitimate complaint.
Second: you are a health care professional and you use the word “vajayjay?” For fuck’s sake, your children always use anatomically correct language, and they’re six and three years old.
Third: this was the only place I’ve heard of the word, a nickname commonly utilized by “middle-age African-Americans.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the word (unless you count #2, above), but I personally feel like my, or my sister’s, usage of the term borders on cultural appropriation. Maybe I’m just a little sensitive to that, but we are a very white family and I don’t know if we’ve earned the right to use someone else’s language in that way. This one’s a little iffy. Women readers of color, any thoughts?
Finally, best for last: what makes a vagina/vajayjay/any euphemism for the female genitalia a bad thing? Why are cowardly people “pussies?” Why are mean women “cunts?”
What I’m getting at is that all of these thoughts crowded my head while I listened to M complain about her night on the ward, and this one patient, who kept changing his mind about which pain medication worked best for him and would ring his call button so frequently as to warrant my sister sitting next to his door doing her charting. And I didn’t call her on any of them, just like I haven’t called my professors on their fat-hating, or my physician on being pwned by the pharma reps that deck her office with boughs of Viagra clocks and Prozac pens. These are things in which I vehemently believe, but I have not brought myself to a place where I would stand up for them. I guess I’m just a