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The embarrassment and alienation we often feel when the word 'vagina' comes up in conversation is fairly new. Slang terms for the vagina right up until the end of the nineteenth century were affectionate, often downright cuddly, and usually positive. It was only in the last hundred and twenty years that the hostile note attending the vagina became a slur rather than an endearment. The vagina deserves an understanding of its own cultural lineage and ancestry because what is true of the female body in general is more true of the vagina than of any other aspect of the feminine. And the way we understand and envision the vagina at certain moments in history is a metaphor for how we are willing to see women in general and how women are encouraged to see themselves. From the Greeks and the Romans to Freud, from pornography and health to goddesses, from worship to denigration and even mutilation, here is a history of this wonderful organ, the 'dark continent' of female sexuality, well deserving of its own story.