Can you imagine a world where men were not all up in every woman’s business? Don’t get me wrong. We’ve made leaps and bounds over the centuries. We can buy our own property, have our own bank accounts, and dowries aren’t even a thing anymore. Well, in most places. But honestly, the most important thing is that men can’t seem to stay away from our bodies. Some lawmakers in Texas don’t think we deserve even a sliver of bodily autonomy. While that is infuriating, it should not be shocking, because they’ve always been all up in our business–our lady business, that is.
Nothing illustrates this point better than naming female reproductive anatomy after the men who discovered it. Have you heard of Gabriele Falloppio? Apparently, Fallopian tubes and a few other anatomical areas are named after him. Oh, and the Greek God, Hymen? Well, you don’t need me to tell you what part of our anatomy he’s associated with. Even all the way back in the 16th century, Vesalius decided to immortalize him in this way. And of course, who can forget Ernst Grafenberg? He laid claim to the discovery of the G-Spot. Yeah, okay, Ernst. Most of the men in the 21st century still haven’t figured that out yet, but you’re telling us that you found it in 1950?
Of course, female reproductive anatomy being named after men is nothing shocking at this point. But still, it’s annoying AF and honestly doesn’t even make sense.
Why Does the Language Matter?
Think about it for a minute. When someone talks about the pouch of Douglas, do you have any idea what they’re talking about? Better yet, does it tell us what its function is? No. No, it doesn’t. I didn’t even know without looking it up, and it’s part of my anatomy! Naming anatomy after the people who discovered it, as opposed to using the name to describe its function, is patriarchal nonsense. Thankfully, this process has started to evolve. Most of the old names that had been used have been updated to more accurately represent the function.
Another problem is that some people have discovered not one, not two, but multiple organs. As the New York Times points out, “Gabriele Falloppio lays claim to a tube, a canal, a muscle, and a valve, not to mention a flowering buckwheat plant.” Calm down, Gabriele.
Most importantly, this archaic system of masculine language sends an underlying message about how we’re expected to treat our bodies. Oncologist, Jerome Groopman, points out masculine overtones may make a patient feel a war is going on inside their body which can negatively impact their wellbeing. It can imply that if they don’t get better they have somehow failed.
Female Reproductive Health Isn’t A Boys Club
For example, blaming oneself for not fighting hard enough to get well and be well. All the time language like lazy ovaries (ovaries not functioning as expected) or failed pregnancy (miscarriage) is used by medical professionals to describe natural occurrences within the female reproductive system. Why are words with such negative connotations used? It’s absolutely a double standard when it comes to men. I mean, have you ever heard of a low sperm count being called lazy sperm?
Naming, language, and lingo are only a small part of the battle when it comes to how we get women more involved with our own bodies. Like I said, even though society has come leaps and bounds in the expectations and roles it has for women, STEM fields still don’t include enough female representation. Research from AAUW reports women currently only make up 28% of the workforce in STEM fields. It’s time to make change.
Change can be hard, but in this case, it is essential to remove some of the negative stigma associated with how we view female reproductive anatomy. One request I’d like to make on behalf of myself, and potential parents everywhere over 35. Please, please, do away with the term geriatric pregnancy. Because, y’all, 35 is not geriatric. Out with the old and outdated, and in with the new, logical, and respectful.
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