Say Vagina

A Poem

By Jessica Mandanda
© Orianne Lopes, extracted from the series Les Mélanies, 2013

I learnt how to pronounce Vagina when I was in University; I was 16 at the time and I had already been “deflowered” then, so for the first 15 years of my life, I walked around with a body part whose name I could not speak because no one ever said it out loud. I never learnt how to pronounce it.

I could say sex, I could say penis, I could say the other acronyms for penis, dick and the like but I could not say Vagina, and sex was weird cause I could not say Vagina out loud

I learnt to say the alternate word, ‘pussy’, cause the vernacular words for Vagina just felt so awfully wrong on my tongue but pussy’ felt wrong too

Vagina, a simple word to describe a body part that serves so many purposes ranging from life giving to taking a life to cradling that which is equated to life itself; the penis.

A word we have been taught should be kept under wraps as we cover up our lady bits because as much as people want to see it we must live this façade of made up shame that our long dead ancestors made us embody. We made worse by making Vagina such a terrifying thing to have and say

But women have existed for over a billion years, and a majority of the Earths population is female, do you know how many Vaginas that is?

Do you know how many “great men” have fallen because of Vaginas?

But yet I must continue upholding this cloud of shame over having one

Vagina, a simple word for a seemingly complicated body part that those who claim to have power over it still to this day can barely manage to find the switch that turns every other part of a woman’s body into a rocking sea of ecstasy

A body part that defies multiple laws of physics and has its own chemistry in the bringing of life, a biology seemingly so complicated yet delicate that even the experts praise the might of the Vagina and tradition chooses to overlook its glory, covering it with layers of shame that seem to intensify each year of its maturity

Vagina, sounds so exotic right? Say it with me, Vagina, Vagina, Vagina!

Learn to say it, because like it or not, as you read this, millions of Vaginas are birthing multitudes of Vaginas

Such a heady power and who does not want to hold that power?

So say it, call it as it is, Vagina.


My name is Jessica Mandanda, a Young African Queer Feminist from Malawi. I am a communications specialist, a writer, activist and sexual and reproductive health and rights champion. I am an advocate for Body autonomy and body positivity.

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