In 2016, the pair requested a whole bunch of medical college students and anatomists whether or not they had any issues about the truth that the phrase “pudendal” stemmed from “to be ashamed.” Most didn’t. One anatomist added that “it’s attention-grabbing the place it comes from, but it surely’s established terminology now.”
This blasé angle appalled Dr. Moxham. It wasn’t simply the inherent sexism of the time period, he mentioned: “There is a component of that, there’s no query about it. Nevertheless it additionally, I feel, is each scientifically and biologically inappropriate.” As a basic rule, anatomical phrases are alleged to be informative and descriptive. “Pudendum” was neither. “That is the one time period which has an ethical context to it,” he mentioned.
There are different phrases that replicate antiquated notions about ladies. The phrase hymen, which persists in almost all medical textbooks, shares the identical root as Hymen, the Greek god of marriage. Nymphae, a barely older time period for the labia minora, comes from the Latin phrase for bride or stunning younger maiden. Even the phrase vagina, which interprets into sheath, scabbard or shut overlaying, means that this organ’s major operate is to accommodate a penis, which isn’t correct or scientifically impartial.
Dr. Moxham knew that even established phrases might be modified, and thought they need to be, as a part of efforts to weed out racial and gender bias in drugs. He had simply stepped down as president of the Worldwide Federation of Associations of Anatomists, which was working to launch the latest version of the “Terminologia Anatomica.”
In 2016, Dr. Moxham proposed that the federation’s terminology group — which was, on the time, all male and largely European — take away “pudendum” and associated phrases from its upcoming dictionary. He couldn’t sort out all of sexism inside anatomy, however eradicating this one troublesome phrase appeared like a simple job. “I couldn’t see any drawback in any respect,” he mentioned. “I simply couldn’t have imagined.”
‘That’s simply not going to fly’
The terminology group describes its mission as stewarding a vocabulary that’s “nimble and adaptive in order to stay related in a quickly evolving world of medication, biomedicine and health-related professions.” However in observe, progress is sluggish. The guiding rule “is to be conservative when contemplating modifications to terminology and logical in implementing modifications,” Thomas Gest, an anatomist and the previous chair of the terminology group, mentioned in an e mail.