Failure to Use the Anatomic Names for Female Genitals: Ethical Illegitimacy?
I was a bit surprised and perplexed when I found and read an Essay in the current May-June 2012 issue of the Hastings Center Report, one of the major ethics journals. Sarah Rodriguez and Toby Schonfeld wrote the Essay titled "The Organ That Must-Not-Be-Named: Female Genitals and Generalized References". It is all about the observation that in various public presentations, the vagina is referred to as "it" or "the v" or the female genitalia, presumably the vagina, as "down there" and failure to specifically name the vulva,clitoris, mons or the vagina itself.
My concern with the Essay is whether this is really a vital ethical issue and whether TV's hiding the anatomic names from their advertisements of women's products is worth an ethical dialogue as hoped for by the authors in their final paragraph excerpted here: "Our purpose is to encourage not a monologue about the vagina, but rather a dialogue. Part of this discourse involves recognition on the part of women, men, their doctors, and advertising companies that female genitalia, like male genitalia, are multiply constituted, diverse, and, of necessity, named. We must start using words like vagina in order for the words to become normalized and for the speakers of the words to be empowered and respected—something Betty Ford did for “breast” in the 1970s."
I think there are so many more significant ethical issues around us in this world and the way humans are treated that printed space and reading time should be better applied to them. Go to the link above and read the free full Essay and then return and share your opinion regarding my concern. Oops! Well, I guess we will have started the authors' dialogue. ..Maurice.
Graphic: Image from Wikipedia modified with Picasa 3.