My current WIP, a novel titled The Wedding of Earth and Sky has not one but two childbirth scenes. Both are described fairly graphically (for important plot-thematic reasons). And this presents me with a problem.
It’s impossible to talk about childbirth without talking about vaginas.
Now, I’m perfectly happy talking about vaginas in my novel, but I’d like to be able to do so with language that matches the tone and setting of the story. And the word vagina is entirely unsuited for this task. The word is:
- Modern, which clashes with the Bronze Age setting
- Clinical, which creates a psychic distance between the reader and the details which are meant to be visceral and intimate
- Latinate, which mixes poorly with the earthy, homey feel created by the largely Germanic vocabulary I’ve used elsewhere.
But all of the other one-word options are worse. The word cunt avoids all three of the problems above, but it introduces a new problem, which is that it’s vulgar and may provoke the reader to recoil or snicker. Other options are childish, or something worse.
At present I’m mostly using euphemism and circumlocution, which at least allows me to maintain my tone and setting. But it’s extremely annoying that there is no vocabulary available to me that isn’t fatally tainted by one thing or another.