My Daughter Said Vagina, Why the Dirty Looks? by Stacey Honowitz

     A very interesting thing happened to me this week when I took my daughter to her ballet class.  Now, she only goes one day a week,  and I am not very familiar with the other mothers that are hanging around waiting for their daughters in the class. It is not one of those scenes out of “Dance Moms” but they are all there,  waiting patiently for their adorable, little pink powder puffs to come running out of the room. I am usually late, because I am coming from the office but my parents are gracious enough to drive her to the studio and wait until I get there. My mother in fact, has probably drummed up more conversation with the other women than I have.We live in South Florida which indeed is a melting pot. The studio is run by a Russian couple, and the clientele consists of kids from all over including Russia and South America. 

     Every Friday we arrive at the studio, and I am that mother, who is pushing her kid through the door while she is still putting on her ballet shoes. I am secretly whispering in her ear, “lets move it, we are so late” while practically shoving her into the middle of the class. I always turn and politely look at the other mothers, who have scowls on their faces as if I interrupted a  performance at Lincoln Center.  I guess you can tell  from my tone, that although I am thrilled she is involved in dance, ballet class is not a pressing matter in my book. I am happy that she enjoys it, and has friends in the class,  she does not run home and practice her twirls in front of the mirror. I know that a lot of these parents do take it more seriously than we do, and I respect them for that, but I have never seen so many women look so serious about watching three year old girls prance around a room. One time, my daughter refused to go into the class unless my father joined the class. What a hoot, watching a man in the center of a room with ten little pony tailed cutie pies dancing around him. I thought the other  mothers would have a nervous breakdown, as my mother and I were peeing in our pants. I am sure the others felt as though he was disturbing the “vibe” of the class.

     Well, needless to say, because we always seem to be on a “late” schedule, my daughter sometimes forgets to go to the bathroom before she goes in. I think the whole idea of having to take down her leotard is annoying, and I am always badgering her to “get going.” Due to circumstances beyond her control, she sometimes comes fluttering out in full ballerina gear, shouting “mom, I have to go to the bathroom”.  I quickly jump to attention and go running in the bathroom with her to help her disrobe in a quick manner. The other day that’s what happened. She got to class late, we rushed in, and about twenty minutes later, the door flew open and out ran my little ballerina. “Mom, she screamed I have to go, and come in and help me wipe my VAGINA so I can go back in!” I am very used to her using the proper language for her genitalia. It doesn’t phase me at all. I took a quick glance around the room, and boy you should have seen the expression on everyone’s face.

     We came out of the bathroom and I ushered my daughter back into class. When I turned around I had several pairs of eyes staring at me, and finally a woman with a heavy Spanish accent asked “did your daughter say vagina?” I said “yes, she did, why?” She appeared to be very offended by the use of the PROPER word. She didn’t say anything, she just hung her head and shook it from side to side in disbelief. Another chimed in and said “this is not the right place to use words like that.” Well, I just could not believe it, these women were actually mad that my daughter mentioned her vagina. Funny, that’s the first time they decided to talk to me. They only looked in my direction and spoke when it came time to criticize. Get over it ladies, it’s called a vagina, every girl has one, and knowing that it’s the proper name for your genitals is not immoral.  Being a supervisor in the Sex Crimes Unit of the State Attorney’s Office makes these discussions a lot easier for me, but I was in totally caught off guard that they found her use of the word disrespectful.  I will apologize if my daughter ever disrupts the class, or calls someone a bad name, or disrespects an adult, but I will never apologize for my daughter properly calling her private parts by their proper name, even if she said it a bit too loud.


  1. 2 Responses to “My Daughter Said Vagina, Why the Dirty Looks? by Stacey Honowitz”

  2. This entry had me in stitches!! Can only imagine the looks on the faces of the other women in the waiting room. I must say, it is ironic that the technical terminology for a sexual organ causes such disdain in people. I think that our upbringing and the extent to which social norms are pressed upon us as law during childhood has so much to do with the shock one may feel as an adult as to hearing any talk in general about genitalia. In fact, considering the other words that some children hear to describe their body parts are far worse in my opinion, the parents should have been thankful that a fellow “dance mom” was teaching her daughter the proper names.
    The taboo aspect of sex and all that comes with it is actually quite paradoxical, when taking into account the over sexualization of the American society as a whole. While we yearn for and drown ourselves in social media of a sexual nature, when situations appear in real life we quickly shy away from the discomfort of sex. Even more interesting, I find, is the ease people have to call sexual organs every name under the sun rather than their proper names. I notice that quite often when words such as penis and vagina are used in lieu of slang terminologies, many seem to become uptight, almost cringe at the mention.
    Again, cannot help but laugh at the story, but on a more serious note, teaching a child the proper names for their parts is so important. Mentioning that you work for the sex crimes unit I can only imagine the situations in which a child properly defining where a violation occurred would be vital. However, if they are unaware that their “insert cute, kid friendly name here” is in fact a vagina or a penis, the communication of information becomes strained.
    I can’t help but to think of the Sandusky trial in such an instance. If those abused by this man had the knowledge and ability to communicate that knowledge with adults perhaps it would have made a difference. Not only the knowledge is vital, but also creating an open line of communication between a child and his or her parent. Think about it, if a teenager feels discomfort talking with a parent about sex, how would a child when the parent cringes and scolds for the mentioning of anything of a sexual nature; a child will never feel it is acceptable to mention it again based on the parent’s reaction.
    Without a doubt, Stacy’s anecdote brings up important issues that are often avoided, but need to be considered!

    By Ashley on Jun 13, 2012

  3. It’s actually a very good idea to ensure your children, regardless of their sex, know the proper names for their genitals. It can help if, God and Goddess forbid, anyone touches them sexually. They can say exactly what happened to whoever they report it to, instead of the person taking notes having no clue what the child is actually talking about and not realizing he or she is reporting abuse.

    But some parents care more about stopping their children knowing proper names for things than their safety

    By Me on Jul 11, 2012