Lancet 'dehumanizes' women as 'bodies with vaginas', slammed as sexist
'Absolutely inexcusable language to refer to women and girls,' Genetics professor David Curtis wrote to The Lancet, canceling his subscription
Top medical journal Lancet's latest bid to be more inclusive towards trans women backfired as they have angered many readers by describing women as 'bodies with vaginas'. The phrase, which appears on the front page of the September issue of The Lancet, has been dubbed as 'sexist' and 'dehumanizing' by many. Used in an article titled 'Periods on Display', the entire sentence reads — "Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected." The article revolves around an exhibition at the Vagina Museum in London which explores the taboos and history association with menstruation.
Many readers have called for a boycott of The Lancet as they proceeded to cancel their subscriptions. Some academics have termed the stance as 'insulting and abusive' and 'a misguided pursuit of woke points'. The century-old medical journal is the latest to come under criticism for inclusive terminologies. Recently, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals were lambasted for use of terms like 'birthing parents' instead of 'birthing mother' and 'human milk' in place of 'breast milk'.
Our new issue is here! On the cover—'Periods on display' and the cultural movement against menstrual shame and #PeriodPoverty.— The Lancet (@TheLancet) September 24, 2021
Plus, @WHO air quality guidelines, low #BackPain management, community-acquired bacterial #meningitis, and more. Read: https://t.co/eP1Lx7D116 pic.twitter.com/DchfiHnYEs
Author Susan Dalgety was among the firsts to criticize the phrase, tweeting, "Are we just supposed to accept this? Are we extremist for objecting to women and girls being de-humanised. Are we really just “bodies with vaginas” to medical professionals?"
"Does @TheLancet have no shame about dehumanizing living, breathing, thinking, feeling women as mere 'bodies with vaginas'?" Psychology professor Geoffrey Miller asked.
Are we just supposed to accept this? Are we extremist for objecting to women and girls being de-humanised. Are we really just “bodies with vaginas” to medical professionals?— Susan Dalgety (@DalgetySusan) September 24, 2021
Does @TheLancet have no shame about dehumanizing living, breathing, thinking, feeling women as mere 'bodies with vaginas'?— Geoffrey Miller (@primalpoly) September 24, 2021
David Curtis, honorary professor of genetics at University College London, said, "Just wrote the Lancet to tell them to take me off their list of statistical reviewers and cancel my subscription and never contact me about anything ever again. Absolutely inexcusable language to refer to women and girls."
Prominent feminist Claire Heuchan wrote, "This framing makes it sound like a coincidence that 'bodies with vaginas' have been neglected by medicine, as if it were not the product of a discrimination and oppression specific to the female sex. Medical misogyny... exists - and refusing to acknowledge women perpetuates it. Until [the Lancet starts] writing about 'bodies with penises', dehumanising and neglecting research specific to men, I'm going to call this erasure out for what it is: sexism."
However, the Vagina Museum dismissed the criticism stating that the uproar has been created by individuals who have not read the article. "It looks like some individuals are having a knee-jerk reaction to a pull-quote from the cover of the Lancet from a review of our Periods exhibition. And you haven't read the article, and it shows," they tweeted as a response.
It looks like some individuals are having a knee-jerk reaction to a pull-quote from the cover of the Lancet from a review of our Periods exhibition. And you haven't read the article, and it shows. https://t.co/Uanz8ElGIY— Vagina Museum (@vagina_museum) September 27, 2021
Here's the full quote, but go read the entire article and learn why it's so important to display and discuss menstruation in a museum space. pic.twitter.com/Se8ThC8rSF— Vagina Museum (@vagina_museum) September 27, 2021