I’ve been thinking about an article I read in Slate yesterday. The article is about Christian blogger Rachel Held Evan’s new book and how a major Christian publisher decided not to carry it. You can read the article here:
Why? Well, she said the word “vagina.” In her new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Evans uses the v word as well as the f word, and by f word I mean feminism. Which, for many traditional Christians can be just as dirty of a word as fuck (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
It got me thinking about all the obvious frustrations—the stranglehold of purity and self-righteousness many Christian publishers and bookstores hold over the Christian writing scene, as well as the ridiculousness of using a word that simply refers to female anatomy. I haven’t read the book so I’m not sure how she used it. Maybe she was talking about her lady parts or maybe she used it in a derogatory way like “Hey little brother, stop being a vagina.”
On the one hand it makes sense. Christian bookstores and publishers do not want to publish books of a lewd or obscene nature, because to them it does not work towards the glory of God. I get it.
But what are we allowed to talk about and still get published? I’m afraid I’m screwed If I ever try to write a book with even the slightest of Christian undertones—oh, wait, I am. I talk about God too much for people not interested in religion to read, and I probably use enough colorful language to scare away fifty percent of the Christian population. To me, the question seems to be why certain writers use certain language and what kind of worldview Christian publishers are interested in promoting.
In the Slate article Evans remarks that “If Christian bookstores stuck to their own ridiculous standards, they wouldn’t be able carry the freaking Bible.”
The Bible talks about sex, rape, murder, and love in a way that is entirely realistic. What many Christian publishers and bookstores seem to want is a slightly altered view of reality where no one struggles with sin (or if they do they describe it in very vague ways) and where if someone stubs their toe they don’t say damn it, they say dang it.
For someone like me, in my writing, I say what some consider a “cussword” every now and then. Not to make a point, or to be “edgy,” or excuse sin, but because that’s literally what I’m thinking. I’m not saying it’s okay, but when I’m frustrated, sometimes I say the f bomb. So, if I’m a writer who’s trying to tell an honest story about who he is and his relationship to God, and who one time got frustrated and said shit, should I cross this word out and say “crap?” Maybe, I think it’s a bit dishonest though, untrue to life.
And really though, if Rachel Held Evans was literally talking about her vagina, what other word was she supposed to use? Any other word I can think of right now that related to vagina is um, well, it just sounds dirty.
Vagina is the only anatomically correct word to use.