Birth Small Talk

Talking about birth

What do dead white men have to do with it?

I had a little rant on Twitter recently. It’s a great place for it! I was making a point that so many bits of the female reproductive system are (still) named after dead white dudes. This is known as eponymous terminology. Hannh Gadsby is tagged in there as she spoke about this eloquently in Douglas – asking what it might feel like if the dangly regions on men were known as Karen’s clutch!

I didn’t give it much more thought – then a few days latter, I was tagged in a Tweet written by one of the authors of a fabulous blog post about eponymous anatomical terms. It is the most delightfully detailed, well researched, list of eponymous terms and their alternatives. I highly recommend that you take a look. They argued against my conclusion that there is always an alternative.

The fact that grabbed my attention most, was that of 700 eponymous anatomical terms, 699 were named after men (or male gods) and only one was named for a woman. As authors Butler, Lee, and Cadogan highlighted, “the only human female eponymously affiliated with a macroscopic anatomical structure was Raissa Nitabuch (Nitabuch fibrinoid or Stria fibrinoidea interna, the internal fibrinoid layer of the maturing placenta)”.

They have promised further posts exploring eponymously named medical tools (like the speculum named after American slave trader James Marion Sim) and procedures (like the manoeuvres used during palpation of the pregnant uterus named after the German doctor Christian Gerhard Leopold). I’m looking forward to reading more!

Categories: Feminism, Language, Philosophy, Reflections


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