Remove the “shameful part” of the female anatomy

In 2019, with support from Dr Broadfield, Ms Draper began research for an article arguing that pudendum was inappropriate as a medical term and should be deleted. “It was a fascinating project,” she said. “I just had to get to the bottom of it.”

At first, shame did not know sex. First century Roman writers used “pudendum”To designate the genitals of men, women and animals. But these were the women to whom the shame stuck.

In 1543, the word appeared alongside a strange illustration in an anatomical atlas by Andreas Vesalius, a Flemish physician sometimes called the “father of modern anatomy”. The image, although labeled as a human uterus, unmistakably resembles a penis, but with a tuft of curly pubic hair near the head, reflecting the idea that women were just men with internal parts of the head. imperfect bodies. (Also remember the shortage of female corpses.)

A century later, a Dutch anatomist by the name of Regnier de Graaf highlighted the role of the clitoris in female sexuality. “If these parts of the pudendum had not been endowed with such an exquisite sensitivity to pleasure,” he wrote, “no woman would be willing to take upon herself the tedious enterprise of nine months of gestation, the painful and often fatal process. . to expel the fetus and the worrying and tedious task of raising children.

In 1895, anatomy officially recognized a pudendal region in men and women. But 60 years later, only the “pudendum femininum” – the female shame part – was still listed. It will later be simplified to “pudendum” and used as a slightly more formal synonym for vulva. Today the word appears in almost every medical textbook, including recent editions of “Grey’s Anatomy, “Williams Obstetrics,” and “Complete gynecology.

Mrs. Draper was not the only person bothered by these roots. In 2014, Bernard Moxham, head of anatomy at Cardiff University in Wales, collaborated with Susan morgan, from the same university, to examine gender biases in the teaching of anatomy. Most medical textbooks, they found, showed the male body as the standard and only presented the female body when the time came to show the reproductive system, genitals, and breasts.

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