WOMEN
11/12/2015 05:09 pm ET

How Shonda Rhimes Unwillingly Coined The Term 'Vajayjay'

She never wanted to use the word in that “Grey’s Anatomy” episode.
Jason LaVeris via Getty Images

Shonda Rhimes created the word "vajayjay" for a scene in her show hit "Grey's Anatomy" -- but she was not happy about it.

In an NPR interview published on Thursday, "Grey's Anatomy," creator Shonda Rhimes spoke with host Terry Gross about Rhimes' new book Year Of Yes and her busy schedule as a showrunner for three hit TV shows. As always, Rhimes did not disappoint with her poignant a discussion. 

When Gross asked Rhimes if she ever felt limited because her shows are on network TV, rather than a premium channel, Rhimes replied that these boundaries or "fences" often fuel her creativity. 

"We're very creative within our fences, and because we have the fences, they make for very creative moments," she said. "We come up with some stuff that I don't think any of us would've come up with had we not had the fences."

She said that without these boundaries the term "vajayjay," that's featured in a season two episode of "Grey's Anatomy," would've never existed. "I never would've come up with the phrase 'vajayjay' had I not had the fences," she said. During the memorable "Grey's" episode, Dr. Bailey is giving birth and yells at her colleague who's assisting with the delivery of her baby to "Stop looking at my vajayjay!

Apparently, Rhimes' first option was not to use "vajayjay" but the actual anatomical term "vagina." Crazy, right?

"We can [say vagina] and we do, but we had reached a point, at some point in I think it was season two of 'Grey's Anatomy,' where I think they had said we had used it too much or something," she told Gross. "And I really had a problem with the idea that we couldn't use it because we had an episode where you could say 'penis' 17 times or something... but you could only say 'vagina' a certain number of times before somebody just had a heart attack."

Rhimes said she was very upset with the double standard and told the Broadcast Standards and Practices team how ridiculous this limitation was. "This is a medical part of someone's body; it's a piece of someone's anatomy," she said. "We actually should be calling people's body parts what they are. This seems ridiculous to me that we're saying we're offending someone's sensibility by naming something that 50 percent of the population possesses.'"

Sadly, Rhimes said the BSP team simply would not budge. "In the end, because there was just no more time, I had to come up with a different word, and the word we came up with was 'vajayjay.'"

Although, she wasn't happy with not being allowed to use the word "vagina," Rhimes said there was a small silver lining: "At the very least, what it did for many women who were never going to say the word, it gave them a language to talk about it, which I thought was helpful." 

We feel you Shonda. For what it's worth we think "vajayjay" is a great alternative to "vagina."   

Listen to the full NPR conversation below:



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