Shonda Rhimes Fought to Say "Vagina" on Grey's Anatomy
Audiences got "vajayjay" instead.
Back in 2005, in an episode of Grey's Anatomy called "The First Cut Is the Deepest," Ellen Pompeo's Meredith Grey spends most of her screen time carrying a severed penis in her hand. Turns out, the whole episode was a major pain for ABC's standards and practices department, because Pompeo explained that it was fine to say the word "penis" on TV, but when they needed to say the word "vagina," it crossed the line.
Pompeo revealed the double standard to Jimmy Kimmel, saying that to get around the rules, creator Shonda Rhimes tossed in "vajayjay," a term she heard on set.
"There was a big fight — I may be butchering this story but — there was a big fight because with standards and practices," Pompeo said on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. "You can say penis, but you couldn’t say vagina, at the time."
Pompeo makes it seem like Rhimes came up with the word herself, the super-producer explained it a little differently.
"That's where the term vajayjay came from," Pompeo continued. "[Shonda Rhimes] made up vajayjay because standards and practices would not let us say vagina. And Shonda's argument was like, 'We said penis in that episode 97 times. You can say penis 97 times, but you can't say vagina?' They were like, 'Yep, yep, you can't say vagina.' So she came up with vajayjay, and that's how that problem was solved."
Back in 2006, Rhimes told O, The Oprah Magazine that she overheard a production assistant use "vajayjay" when they were looking for an alternative.
"It was the greatest phrase I'd ever heard," Rhimes said.