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If Carrie Bradshaw Can’t Say “Vagina”, Where Are We?


Sex and the City, you let us down!  As the 90’s gave way to a new century, you were the show generations of women found and loved in large part for the messaging of sexual empowerment.  You were the shining star for normalizing the female preoccupation with sex, love and friendship.  You elevated previously taboo subjects from whispered girl-talk to column-worthy, movie-worthy and book-worthy content.

And yet, in the Sex and the City reboot of the 2020s, And Just Like That…, the sophisticated, empowered, self-assured, frank and mature Carrie Bradshaw sinks her podcast and the employment of those associated with it because she can’t publicly speak about vaginal health and wellness.  What?!

To clarify, Carrie is the host of a sex related podcast, Sex and the City.  In Season 2, episode 2 (“The Real Deal”), while recording the sponsored segment for a vaginal suppository, which was described by producer/once-a-week-night-stand Franklyn as a “vaginal wellness product”. Carrie was visibly disgusted and confounded by the words she was paid to read.  “This is for all my listeners with a vagina.  Ever feel not quite right, down there…” (she shivers and retorts “I’m not feeling quite right up here…what is this?” suggesting the copy is ridiculous, confusing and offensive).  “Down there?”, she asks, “Why is it underlined?  Just to make it more awkward and obvious?”  Awkward? 

This copy is what brings Carrie Bradshaw to a screeching halt?  What is so objectionable:   the concept of special care and handling for the vagina or the speaking about it above a whisper?   It’s quite common for people to be squeamish about using the biological term for the  muscular segment of the female genital tract, but why?

Carrie Bradshaw is not alone.  According to a recent UK study, half of all women feel embarrassed about intimate health issues.  No wonder we feel shame when naming our vaginas.  We are generations of women learning about sex through third parties, pamphlets and hushed, often misinformed, conversations.  Parents sing about head, shoulders, knees and toes while making up nicknames for our genitalia; and grown women continue to use those childish names through adulthood.  

We are the founders of a vaginal suppository company which exists for women’s wellness.  It is obvious why we care about this episode, but why should anyone else?  We believe it is important for girls and women to find their voices when it comes to their bodies and their health. 

In the US today, one in four girls (and one in 16 boys) will be sexually abused before they turn 18(1) while only an estimated 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to authorities (2).  One in 5 women (and one in 16 men) are sexually assaulted while in college (3). Yet it is estimated that a whopping 63% of assaults are never reported to the police. (4)  How can we explain the lack of reporting without looking at the cultural shame around the terminology?   Women and girls are ashamed to name their genitalia, speak about their genitalia, ask questions about their genitalia and advocate for their genitalia.  No wonder they avoid conversation about protecting their genitalia.  

When Carrie Bradshaw was asked why she won’t talk about her vagina, she responded “No one, no human being speaks like that.”  Here is a list of people we should all hope will speak like that, and therefore speak out when needed:   parents, therapists, family practitioners, OBGyns, pelvic floor therapists, crisis hotline volunteers, police officers, family therapists, school counselors, coaches, caregivers, and most importantly girls, teens and women. 

We love how this episode acknowledges that women outgrow their identities.  The sinking of the Sex and the City podcast served the show not only as a vehicle to sink the Carrie/Franklyn relationship, but also to allow Carrie to realize she may be outgrowing Sex and the City.  As women in our mid 50s, we relate to and support the need for women to continue to grow and evolve.  We just wish the vehicle to end the podcast wasn’t Carrie’s refusal to speak about vaginas on behalf of a vaginal health product. 


Carrie Bradshaw, we love you for awakening us in the late 90s.  But, why aren’t you with us in the 2020s?   You gave us permission to seek enjoyment with our bodies by living a sexually awakened life in an up-town setting. Carrie Bradshaw lightened our shame and allowed us to wear our sexuality as comfortably as you wore your Manolos. 

Now it’s 25 years later and you’ve aged (fabulously) along with us.  The stigmas back then were about sex when single and you shined a light on what was in the dark corners.  The stigmas of our 50s are different, but just as important.  Vaginal suppositories can be a tremendous source of relief for many “people with vaginas”.  Instead of us feeling “humiliated, mortified and want(ing) to die” (your words, when trying to rewrite the copy, not ours) about vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, lack of libido, and endometriosis pain, you could have empowered us, once again, as a fellow 50 something, to tend to our sexual wellness. 

We are imagining a show where the copy you refused to read was full of innuendo and vaginal nicknames.  Imagining a show where you, in your maturity, refused to use vague or childish words for the vagina and insisted on using the proper word proudly.  We are imagining a show where you were willing to walk away from the Sex and the City podcast before you would perpetuate the shame and stigma around the female genitalia.   That Carrie Bradshaw would have served us as well as she did during Y2K.   That Season 2 Episode 2 would have indeed been the Real Deal. 

Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childsexualabuse/fastfact.html
  2. https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf
  3. https://www.rainn.org/statistics/campus-sexual-violence
  4. https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf

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Comments (1)

Thank you! I was also shocked and disappointed while watching that episode. Thank you for your products and for your work. We need more people to be aware. This is something I have been doing with my granddaughter – when she asks questions about her body I give her real answers. Thank you again.

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