Society is in mid-metamorphosis.
And much of the modification relates to language.
It’s a curious revolution, as what we call something has no impact on what something is.
For instance, if I want a car to be a truck and therefore call it such, I’ve merely changed the meaning of the word.
The new definition: car.
The above could be applied to many things, particularly in politics.
And though shifting syllables does nothing to alter actuality, the world is fighting over phonics.
Amid the battle comes medical journal The Lancet, which recently heralded its new edition.
On September 24th, the publication tweeted, “Our new issue is here! On the cover — ‘Periods on display’ and the cultural movement against menstrual shame and #PeriodPoverty.”
Accompanied was a quote:
“Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected.”
As you’re likely aware, an avoidance of the word “woman” is quickly gaining ground.
Related labels are also being liquidated.
Earlier this month, Florida International University issued its “Inclusive Language Guide,” which forbade students and staff from saying “ladies and gentlemen,” “she” or “he,” and “mother” or “father.”
Even the government’s in on the act — on April 29th, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors touted a terminology overhaul.
Nixed: sex-specific pronouns.
And Joe Biden’s summertime budget spoke of “birthing people.”
On the scientific scene, two UK hospitals have championed “desexed or gender-inclusive language.”
Among other identified expressions, abolished is “breastfeeding.”
And in July, The Practising Midwife made a monumental move:
Back to The Lancet, its cover’s statement was from the article “Periods on Display.”
Online, not everyone gushed with approval.
A sampling of the shoot-downs:
“Are we just supposed to accept this? … Are we really just ‘bodies with vaginas’ to medical professionals?”
“Bodies with vaginas? … You can’t write that and then talk about menstrual shame in the same sentence.”
“‘Bodies with vaginas’ is the language of serial killers.”
“Does @TheLancet have no shame about dehumanizing living, breathing, thinking, feeling women as mere ‘bodies with vaginas’?”
“I hope that one day medical science will discover a name for ‘bodies with vaginas.’ Dr. Fauci, the vicar of science on earth, might help.”
Hence, on Monday, Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton commented on the kerfluffle.
His statement, in part:
The Lancet strives for maximum inclusivity of all people in its vision for advancing health. In this instance, we have conveyed the impression that we have dehumanized and marginalized women. Those who read The Lancet regularly will understand that this would never have been our intention.
A mea culpa was served.
I apologize to our readers who were offended by the cover quote and the use of those same words in the review.
But don’t get it twisted:
At the same time, I want to emphasize that transgender health is an important dimension of modern health care, but one that remains neglected.
“Trans people,” he asserted, “regularly face stigma, discrimination, exclusion, and poor health, often experiencing difficulties accessing appropriate health care.”
The “bodies” quote, he explained, was a “compelling call to empower women, together with non-binary, trans, and intersex people who have experienced menstruation, and to address the myths and taboos that surround menstruation.”
What of the taboos surrounding “woman”?
Those, if I had to guess, won’t be so much emphatically addressed as avoided — as we continue our cultural hard reset.
Meanwhile, stigma associated with menstruation, Richard said, demands “serious action.
The outlet is fighting “menstrual shame and period poverty.”
And if you’re unfamiliar, per Global Citizen, the aforementioned poverty indicates “a lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management.”
That’s certainly something we should oppose — for bodies with menstruation, which are sometimes bodies with breasts, which are generally bodies with vaginas.
There are all kinds of bodies — our new era’s made it so.
Just ask a British Member of Parliament:
Update your utterances accordingly.
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