In 1545, a French anatomist dissected a human clitoris and called it shameful member —the embarrassing member. While the Latin term for the vulva, to be ashamedmeans “part to be ashamed of”, the German word for the lips is Labia, in Spanish, “lips of shame”. The history of the female body has been written mostly by men and has been “tainted with shame” for centuries, as criticized by science journalist Rachel E. Gross (Long Beach, California, 33 years old). in his book Dark Vagina.
Ask. In the book, he mentions that there are some parts of our bodies that are less well known than the bottom of the ocean or the surface of Mars. Are you referring to our vagina?
Response. Yes, I mean all the organs of down there [usa esta expresión intencionadamente]. Until very recently, we didn’t know what the vaginal microbiome looked like. [el conjunto de microorganismos que se encuentran en la vagina] nor that the ovaries were capable of producing new eggs. We also did not know that the uterus is one of the most regenerative organs in the body and a few weeks ago we learned how many nerve fibers there are in the clitoris. This gives us an idea of how recent this knowledge is and how little we knew before.
P. While the G-spot is named after the German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, the fallopian tubes are named after the Italian anatomist Gabrielle Falloppio. How does it affect women that the history of their own body has been written by men?
R. This is partly why research has been so focused on reproduction. Historically, men have viewed the female body as inferior and different from the male, as defined by its ability to create life. The ovaries have long been viewed as baskets for eggs. But its second function, which is actually more important, has been neglected, and that is to create hormones that support the whole body. Estrogens and testosterone sustain your bones, blood, and brain, whether you become pregnant or not.
P. Would this story be different if it had been written by women?
R. Definitely. Here I include those women scientists who attempted to write this history and ran into systematic obstacles and biases that prevented their work from becoming more widespread. Also to the homosexual and minority scientists who had a different look. The surgeon who just discovered the number of nerve fibers in the clitoris is a transgender person who performs surgeries on trans men. His goal was to increase the sexual function of trans men using the nerves of the clitoris. This is a great example of how to learn more about our body.
If women had written this story, they would have been interested in female pleasure and general health. surely they would not have seen menopause as a disease, but as a natural phase of life. They would have tried to understand it instead of trying to immediately medicalize it and solve it as a problem that women are losing their femininity and fading away. Even so, all the scientists were raised in the same system and women have internalized biases too.
“Heavy bleeding, endometriosis or infections are not considered important, they are ‘just’ female problems”
P. A few years ago, an endometriosis expert told her that “nobody in Congress really cares about the uterus when there’s no baby inside,” she says in the book. Does this still happen?
R. Definitely. Most of our research dollars go towards fertility and reproduction. Much of the medical fields have neglected the clitoris because it is not considered reproductive. It is related to sexual pleasure and doctors are uncomfortable talking about it. We know so little about so many female body parts because male anatomists were not asking the questions that would have led to those answers. They were not curious about sexual pleasure, the clit shape or the vaginal microbiome.
P. Is there a general ignorance among women about how their vaginas work?
R. Absolutely. In some countries you can barely say his name and euphemisms like “down there” and even “front ass” are used. If you are taught that this part of your body is so embarrassing and indescribable, how can you be curious about it? In the United States, the sex education it is very poor. Basically, they tell you not to get pregnant and not to get an STD (sexually transmitted disease). So you are unlikely to think of it as something interesting, fascinating and pleasant. We need to talk more directly about pleasure and not frame it as something shameful or guilty.
In society, there is this intersection of two forces that makes it so difficult to be curious about your own vagina as its scientific study. The first is the yuck factor. Vaginas are considered rude and male scientists freak out. They can’t even say the word and they feel uncomfortable. The second is that things like heavy bleeding, endometriosis or infections are not considered important, they are ‘just’ female problems.
“Historically, scientists have viewed women as carrying babies who don’t need orgasms and have less sexual desire.”
P. Why is it important to know where the clitoris is and what it is for?
R. The clitoris brings a lot of pleasure and well-being to people. It was empowering for me to realize how vast it is and how it is interconnected with everything around it. It is not a tiny thing, nor is it simply a “tiny penis,” although it does have many important similarities to this organ. Yes ok the clitoris Dismissed as frivolous or not relevant to medical science, male erections have often been highly medicalized and invested in by Big Pharma. What is the reason for this difference? In part, male scientists have historically viewed women as carrying babies who don’t need orgasms and have less sexual desire than men.
If you understand that your clitoris hugs the vagina and urethra, that it has many nerve endings, that it’s the most sensitive part of your body, and that you can’t orgasm without it, your sexual experience changes. It makes you realize that your body works perfectly. Most of us won’t have an orgasm suddenly due to penetration. You are going to need to focus on the clitoris and realize that your body is not at war with itself, it is not the clitoris against the vagina, it is all unified. Not expecting your body to need to do the impossible during sex improves your sexual well-being and allows you to explore what you really like instead of what society tells you should work.
P. What is the most widespread myth about our vagina?
R. That he G-spot It’s a magic button, and if you find it, you’ll have an incredible orgasm. Many women’s magazines often tell you to find it. The G-spot is the place where the bulbs of the clitoral arms and other tissues and glands of the vagina meet. But really, it’s not magic. You just have to explore your own body and see what works for you.
P. The Latin term for the vulva to be ashamed means “parts you should be ashamed of”. Should the language used to refer to female genitalia be changed?
R. To be ashamed is a medical term that reflects how medicine has not dealt equally with the female bodies than of the masculine and has not considered how he refers to them. There are many other examples and this is a problem. Even if you are not aware of it, some of these words are very common and can subtly shape your relationship with your body. It’s good to know where they come from and be aware of the history. There are many that we probably won’t change, such as the vagina, the clitoris, and the labia. But it is important to understand that anatomy is not neutral and that some of these names reflect that men dominated the history of medicine.