A kind reader has brought to my attention a shocking error that I made in my post ‘House Husbands’. Clearly not one to beat about the bush, she writes:
‘Step one is to learn the difference between a vagina and a vulva.’
She is, of course, referring to this line from my post…
‘Spending a few minutes of your day slowly and gently wiping unidentifiable, crusty deposits out of your daughter’s vagina….’
Now, at the time of writing, I decided to choose a commonly used general term for female genitalia because I thought that this was the best choice (though obviously not the most anatomically correct choice) given the context. What I did not consider (but luckily this kind reader did) was the possibility that other readers (perhaps those so simpleminded as to completely misunderstand the kind of text they were reading) might treat my post as an instructional pamphlet for infant genital hygiene, and thus make the serious mistake of actually attempting to clean inside their daughters’ vaginas (in the strict anatomical sense of the word). It’s lucky for me that this kind reader was so quick to alert me to such a possibility, and give me the chance to issue this urgent erratum.
Now you may also be wondering (as I did, initially) what the kind reader means when she refers to learning ‘the difference between the vagina and the vulva’ as ‘step one’. Upon reflection, I think she is referring to the final comment I made in my post about hoping to be a good father. In other words, she is perhaps suggesting that the first step towards being a good father is to have a thorough familiarity with the specific anatomical terms for each part of the female genitalia, and to always use the correct anatomical term at all times, regardless of the context.
I must confess that this had never occurred to me before: that one should prioritise a familiarity with anatomy over, let’s say, the cultivation of empathy. Or perhaps empathy is a later step in my kind reader’s twelve step program for recovering fathers (though judging from her comment, it doesn’t seem to be something she values very highly). At this point, I just can’t say, but I have written to her, asking her to elaborate on the steps, so I will perhaps be able to enlighten us all at a later date.
Finally, a disclaimer: Just to head off any ‘helpful’ emails from Latin Nazis, I do understand that the title of this post is grammatically incorrect. It’s a joke, and if you don’t get it, then you are clearly a terrible father.