They’ll say they’re not erasing women, they’re just encouraging you not to use the word “woman.” We’ve heard women described as “menstruators,” “vulva owners,” “birthing people,” and now, thanks to the medical journal The Lancet, “bodies with vaginas.” Check out the cover of its latest edition, featuring coverage of “the cultural movement against menstrual shame and #PeriodPoverty.”
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
The backlash was profound, enough to move Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton to issue a statement:
— The Lancet (@TheLancet) September 27, 2021
The statement reads, 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 dehumanised and marginalised women. Those who read The Lancet regularly will understand that this would never have been our intention. I apologise to our readers who were offended by the cover quote and the use of those same words in the review.
Interestingly, the review was of a new exhibit at London’s Vagina Museum, which this summer tweeted, “Instead of ‘women and girls’, say ‘people who menstruate’ or ‘people who have periods.'” Instead of women and girls.
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) September 25, 2021
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
"Bodies with vaginas" is the language of serial killers.
Do you also talk about "bodies with penises" or do you grant men the dignity of not being reduced to body parts?
— For Women Scotland (@ForwomenScot) September 24, 2021
If you are going to use a body part to describe women who menstruate use uterus not vagina. But better yet, stop being misogynistic by reducing women to their body parts.
— Ox Goes North (@maisie_pip) September 26, 2021
Well, historically it was women who had vaginas. Now that very specific feminine attribute is up for grabs.
I wonder why women are being eradicated to make room for men? We've fought for women's freedom for generations, why just give a walk over?
— Tekkno 💙 (@MadchenTekkno) September 25, 2021
Women, we are women! If there are more groups that you want to refer to, you can mention them by adding them, but never subtracting our biological, scientific and natural place like women.
— Nelda Hinojosa (@neldahinojosa) September 26, 2021
Thanks Lancet for highlighting how utterly absurd this situation has got. I hope all the contributing bodies with vaginas and bodies with penises are comfortable with this terminology. I must remember at my next gynae exam to request a doctor with a vagina.
— Alexandra Jones (@jones_ajaxsolo) September 26, 2021
This is what happens when you go far outside your circle of competence in an attempt to sell more subscriptions under a banner of inclusivity.
Medical journals should go back to basics. Leave political and social justice to the journalists.
— john.falatko (@johnmfalatko) September 26, 2021
Given your editor's weak response, it seems The Lancet does not at all grasp just how appalling a headline this is. Dehumanising in the extreme, and frankly shameful from a respected journal.
— Robert Ferris (@DrRobertFerris1) September 27, 2021
How is it that "one of the world's leading general medical journals" with a motto of "The best science is a good start" seemingly doesn't know what a woman is?!
"bodies with vaginas" is unscientific and incredibly demeaning.
— Calvin (@calvinrobinson) 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
This ratio is epic. When are you going to back down?
— Devonshire Dan (@DevonshireDan1) September 26, 2021
The reasons behind the need to change "women" to "bodies with vaginas" is not inclusion, it comes from fear, which describes perfectly the times we live. You either accepts these demands or you are ostracized from society. Progress? Too many people think it is. 🤦
— Fabricio D. M. (@Fabricio_BDM) September 26, 2021
Utterly de-humanising. Women and girls. As a leading journal you help set the standards @TheLancet and women MUST be seen as more than "bodies with vaginas" or you're propagating the misogyny that's responcible for so many atrocities atm – #VAWG
— Lisa Gould (@DrLisaGould) September 26, 2021
What fresh he'll is this?? Are you seriously referring to me as my genitalia?? If a coworker or manager called me this, I'd be making them talk to HR.
— Daydream (@daydream90) September 26, 2021
Erasing women is not inclusive. And reducing women to “bodies with vaginas” is unbelievably dehumanizing and repulsive. There is no social good here, only rank misogyny.
— e (@E_Over_Under) September 27, 2021
When you attempt to use “inclusive language” and manage to offend 51% of the audience, you are doing it wrong.
— Glyn Williams (@Carniphage) September 26, 2021
Again, they’re just trying to be “inclusive.”
Harvard Medical School tweet refers to biological females as ‘birthing people’ https://t.co/9EUVjyZhYk
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) December 26, 2020