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Way In

A woman's place

Is there a Christian position on naming parts of the human body? The question has been causing something of a stir around a book by the US writer Rachel Held Evans.

In A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which is not out till October, Evans writes about her first abstinence pledge, aged 15, 'marching to the front of the room to pin my promise to God and to my vagina onto a giant corkboard'.

The publisher, Thomas Nelson, said the 'vagina' had to disappear or Christian bookshops would refuse to stock the book. Evans protested that she was allowed to use it in accounts of rape and mutilation, 'but I cannot use the word "vagina" when the context involves a certain degree of ownership and power over my own body'.

She pointed out the double standards - Christian books by the same publisher with lines like 'My testicles were very, very angry'.

Eventually Evans bowed to the prudery of Christian bookshops, 'because we've needed a new roof on our house for four years now', and blogged angrily about it.

Her readers started an Amazon petition to get the word reinstated, printed Team Vagina t-shirts and lobbied Christian bookshops. 'Mom will be so proud to learn that all these people on the internet have an opinion abut my vagina,' Evans tweeted.

And so, it has been decided, the offending word stays where it was put. Whether the bookshops will cope with unexpurgated womanhood remains to be seen.