is “vagina” a countable noun?

WARNING: This piece uses the word “vagina” quite often.  If you do not like this word or if you are one of those people who lower your voice when you come to this word in your speech, please stop right here and move onto another piece – how about my recent piece on  “One Wild and Precious Life”?

Yes, Peter Hansen referred to women as “vagina’s” [sic] in his email to his senate colleagues.  I don’t want to be called “vagina”.  I mean, it’s just not cool.  At. All.  Mom. Teacher. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Woman. (Even “female” I’m willing to accept.) Those all work.  Vagina – not so much.  So I think he’s a pig – and an idiot.  An idiotic pig.

But you know what else is offensive about all this?  It is Peter Hansen’s misuse of the apostrophe. I think he meant to write “vaginas” rather than “vagina’s”.  But spell-checker is picking up “vaginas” and giving me that angry red squiggly underline – maybe it did the same thing to Hansen.  He panicked and just went with his trusted spell-checker’s advice: “vagina’s.”

This is making me wonder – maybe spell-checker doesn’t like “vaginas” because there is no such thing as “vaginas”?!?!  I mean, can you even count vaginas?  I don’t know.  Maybe this is a question for Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty. Do you think she’ll think me weird if I asked her? But then again is this an existential question as much as it is a grammar question?


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