“We really need to come up with a female equivalent of “phallic” to do all this justice. Vulvic?” – Chitra Ramaswamy, in her Guardian Article Why Janelle’s Monae’s Vagina Pants Make Me Cheer.
“Yonic!” I offered silently, and scrolled down to check that this was already mentioned in the comment section of the article. There were plenty of ladies in the know, which was awesome.
“Yonic” refers to forms that resemble the vagina or the vulva, borrowed from the Sankrit word “Yoni”.
I studied English Literature, so I was used to using the word “phallic” to describe this elongated object over here or that image of a dagger over there in essays. I remember sitting in lectures, though, wondering what the female equivalent was.
The fact that there’s no academic term for something that looks like female sex organs, but there is one for male, is just as crazy as all the other ways we deny or control female sexuality.
Not saying the body-part-that-must-not-be-named turns it into something too weird and gross to think about, which, I can vouch, can have lasting effects on a woman’s self-esteem and body image.
And not having an academic term for something that looks like a vagina is in the same ball park.
“Even what might be deemed frivolous aspects of language can have far-reaching subconscious effects on how we see the world” says Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Symbolic Systems Lera Boroditsky.
I think being able to see vaginas everywhere and comment aloud about how YONIC it looks normalises them in a healthy, body-positive way.
I agree with Eva Ensler, playwriter of The Vagina Monologues, that “one of the most radical things a woman can do is to love their body”.
So, here I am, offering another tool to re-programme our brains into seeing & loving our selves, in the form of the formidable Vagina, Vulva, Yoni.
When I was sitting in lectures wondering about the opposite word for phallic, I was just as guilty as Ramaswamy for not googling it. I had never heard of the word in all my years of academia as a student of literature, so I assumed it didn’t exist.
I was so relieved to discover it’s existence. Yonic! What a great word, I frickin’ love it.
So here I am, sharing that moment with you.