The Wombsday Machine, and Other Alternatives to the V-Word


IN THE OLD DAYS Michigan’s state slogan boomed: Say Yes to Michigan! Their tourism department promised: Great Lakes, Great Times!  Today Michigan’s official slogan is the curious: Pure Michigan!, while their business bureau proudly announces that Michigan is all about, Getting the Upper Hand!

The Upper Hand indeed.

Last week in Michigan, Rep. Lisa Brown was banned indefinitely from speaking on the floor of the House of the Representatives for offending the all-male body and Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas by using the linguistic and anatomically correct word, “vagina,” in her speech opposing Michigan’s obscenely restrictive anti-abortion bill. A law that would criminalize all abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation—regardless of rape, incest, risk to the mother’s life, severe genetic abnormalities, or stillbirth.

In what context did Brown drop the V-bomb?

“I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.”

Oh, no she didn’t—oh yes, she did Michigan!

Brown’s sister-in-arms in the War Against Women, Representative Barb Byrum, was likewise banned. Her transgression? Violating the House rules of speaking out of turn.  A rule broken as often, and forgiven as quickly, as it is in kindergarten. Still, No means no!  Whether she was ordered to go to her room and not come out until she can be a good girl is unclear. Vagina.

Getting the Upper Hand!

What is clear is that this is part of a disturbing trend of women being absented or silenced in the debate over laws governing their own bodies. No pro-choice women were permitted to speak during committee; Planned Parenthood was not allowed to testify; Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate from Washington, was barred from speaking out against Arizona Representative Trent Franks’ proposal to ban all abortion after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia—that’s D.C.—Holmes Norton’s turf. Now Brown and Byrum are being prohibited from representing the concerns of their constituents on the matter of choice and personal autonomy.

Given the recent hijinks in the Michigan House of Representatives, I’d like to propose they change their slogans, either put a twist on the old slogans: Say No to Michigan, Great Lakes, Bad Times for the Ladies! Or, Pure Bullshit!

As for Getting the Upper Hand, we shall see about that.

But enough with all the ugly. No one likes an angry woman. It’s not becoming. I want to help. I don’t want the boys in the He-Man-Woman-Haters Club to feel uncomfortable or barfy or weird. I don’t want them to feel threatened. I’ve felt threatened and it stinks. So instead of being Mean Old Mary Jane, I’m going to be Polly Problem Solver.

I can’t defuse the V-bomb alone, but I can offer some handy and helpful new words and terms you can use in place of the word-which-must-not-be-spoken.

So, rabble-rousers stop making those, “Keep Your Dick in Your Pants and Your Laws Out of Mine,” bumper stickers. And “You Want to Keep Your Balls? I Want to Keep My Civil Rights,” buttons and let’s focus on civility, charm and decorum.

Here are some super nicknames we can all use to make talking about the V-spot less embarrassing and yucky to others. Note the cool categories that these nicknames just happen to fall into. Wow!

THE VAGINA EXISTS FOR ONE REASON, AND ONE REASON ONLY—AND IT’S NOT DOPE SMUGGLING, it’s all about the babies. Let’s all say it together, Baby chute, Baby Cannon, Baby hole.

VAGINA AS PROPERTY OF THE PATRIARCHY: Top of the heap: The Hubbyhole, “Where Daddy’s Ding Dong Goes” and “Nancy”. I just chose Nancy, your husband may choose to name your vag…something else entirely. Ernest Borgnine, perhaps.

THE VAGINA FULFILLS A HUNGER. Food nicknames are so popular! What will it be? The Bearded Clam, Honey Pot and Pink Taco are all faves, but why not try a Hot Pocket, a Bikini Biscuit, a Bologna Flap-Over, or a Cooter Muffin. A taste: “I know it’s only our second date but I’m getting my bikini biscuit waxed.”

THE VAGINA IS A DESTINATION. Baseball fans, prophets, sailors shoot for these happy places: Field of Dreams, The Promised Land, Safe Harbor, The Golden Furrow, The Grotto. For some homebodies, the destination the vagina represents is more domestic—The Penis House, The Fun Hatch, The Garage. For example, “Sorry I missed roll call; I was up late working in my new staffer’s Garage.”

For those who envision a woman’s vagina as a landscape full of danger, mystery and intrigue focus on The Forbidden Area, Zone X, and The Furmuda Triangle. For example, “I meant to go home after that second bounce, but I got lost in The Furmuda Triangle.”  The personal is always political, and in this case the subject of sex and political intrigue dovetail beautifully in The Grassy Knoll and The Cock Depository.

VAGINAS AREN’T SCARY AT ALL, THEY ARE CUTE AND FURRY… (OKAY THAT’S THE VULVA BUT GO WITH IT…I GUARANTEE YOU THESE GUYS DON’T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE) Who doesn’t want to nuzzle Muff, Bunny Tuft or Fuzzy Wuzzy?  Stretch out on the Love Rug, or slip into the Dick Mitten?

YOU KNOW MAYBE IF I SQUINT I CAN PRETEND IT’S A LIL ANIMAL. It’s a Bunny, a Puddy Tat, a Panty Hamster, The Pink Mink. If you are kind and pet it gently it will be your friend for life.


“Nothing” is a popular and storied nickname, made popular by the Victorians. (Dirty minxes!) Thus the double entendre in “Much ado about Nothing”


If you insist on making the vagina something evil, I’m offering: Sin Bin, The Death of Adam, or The Wombsday Machine. I’m personally fond of Wombsday Machine.


Almost as fun are these goofy nicknames: Furry 8-Ball Rack, Bone Hider, Tackle Box, Snake Charmer, Moose Knuckles. (Okay I’m not sure about “Moose Knuckles”)


For those beautiful dreamers who imagine a future in which the pussy is all powerful (or equal with equal wages) I introduce you to Cuntopia and The Republic of Labia. Try this: “Mitt Romney and the GOP deserve to be strung up for trying to legislate what goes on in The Republic of Labia.”


Say Yes to Vagina! Pure Vagina!

Getting the Upper Hand!

Now back to bumper stickers and button making.



About Elissa Schappell

Elissa Schappell is the author of the short story collections Blueprints for Building Better Girls and Use Me. A former senior editor of The Paris Review, she is the co-founder and editor-at-large of Tin House magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
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6 Responses to The Wombsday Machine, and Other Alternatives to the V-Word

  1. Jeffro says:

    We’re having a similar cluster-f in Vagina, I mean Virginia with McDonnell, a Republican controlled statehouse, and Attorney General Ken “Don’t Touch My” Cuccinelli (who I might add, is also running for Virginia Governor in 2013. Help us). Although their initiatives sound laughable, they are dead serious; not only that, they are getting them through and signed. I pray Cuccinelli doesn’t win in ’13. I mean, this is a guy who covered up the exposed breast on the Virginia state seal when he first got into office. These guys really make Virginia sound like a state of morons. We aren’t. But apparently, we have enough morons in the state to elect these guys. It’s really disappointing. Virginia is actually pretty moderate. I often think Virginia, Colorado, and Michigan share a lot in common — including the village idiot.

    • Major Weekling says:

      There must be something to it, psychologically…with so much spiraling out of control — the U.S. economy, the world economy, the environment, etc. — it must give comfort to the simple to control with an iron fist those things that they can control. Hence the fig leaf.

      These are not men of vision, and have no business in leadership roles.

      Thanks for reading + commenting!

  2. Jennifer Kabat says:

    Great I’d rather they all turned to anorexia for a sense of control than my vagina (see I said it, made someone squirm). Really anorexia is supposed to give those out of control a feeling of it and I can name some republicans who could go on a diet. Meanwhile my man ‘Bama needs none.

  3. Phat B says:

    It’s a toss up between pink mink and dick mitten for me. Maude Lebowski for senate!

    • Major Weekling says:

      I’d like an all-Michigan list: the Detwat, the un-penis (or U.P.), the wolverine, and my favorite, the Ann Arbor.

      Maude for President!

  4. Kurt Baumeister says:

    I agree on the Wombsday Machine. That’s a keeper. Also inordinately fond of Fermuda Triangle and Moose Knuckles. Republic of Labia indeed. You should consider a merger of Dick Mittens and Mittens Romney for a future column. Don’t know where that might go. But it could be fun.

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