Professor Wants To “Decolonise” The Names Of Certain Body Parts Because They Are “Irrelevant And Misogynistic”
There are many names for things that we learn, and we probably don’t stop to think too much about why it’s called what it’s called. For example, think back to any class you had in high school where you had to learn a lot of different names for things and what their definition was. You might have been so preoccupied memorizing the names and definitions that you didn’t ever put together the history of how the names came to be.
One OB/GYN from Australia has done her research. She knows not only the names of all of the body parts, but she also knows why they are called what they are called. In many cases, the body parts were named after someone. In most cases, the person they were named after was a man. In some cases, this man was even a king or a god. It doesn’t matter. Dr. Kristin Small thinks it’s time for these names to change.
I teach anatomy and have found there is always an alternative to the dead man’s name for body parts. Fallopian tube = uterine tube. Pouch of Douglas = rectovaginal pouch. We have a personal choice to decolonise our language. Make use of it.
— BirthSmallTalk (@birthsmalltalk) June 24, 2020
Dr. Small is an OB/GYN in Queensland, Australia. She is also an anatomy lecturer. She still teaches her students the official medical names for body parts, even when they are names she doesn’t agree with like body parts that were named after men centuries ago.
While Dr. Small still teaches these official names, she is also teaching her students that there are alternatives to these names. For example, instead of saying “Fallopian Tube,” you could just refer to the same body part by saying “uterine tube.”
Names for body parts that come from people’s names are called eponyms, but Dr. Small refers to these names in a different way. She thinks of them as “dead man’s names,” and she believes that every one of these names has an alternative. She encourages her students to use the alternative, and she believes that the eponyms should be completely phased out.
Dr Nisha Khot, who is a council member fo the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, agrees with Dr. Small that eponyms should be phased out, and she’s confident that they eventually will be. She explained, “It just makes sense for the medics but also for the patients to use more understandable terms.”
Do you think it makes sense to change the names of body parts so that instead of being named after men they are named more descriptively or do you think these Australia doctors are overthinking the body part names?