anatomy lecture

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This dude who mansplained ‘vulva’ to a gynecologist gets blasted online

He called her expertise ‘part of the problem.’


Alex Dalbey

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 11, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 7:22 pm CDT

Mansplaining is always painful to watch, but one man took it to a new level by telling a gynecologist on Twitter that she’s wrong about the word vulva.

The exchange started in response to a Guardian article titled “Me and my vulva: 100 women reveal all” about Laura Dodsworth’s latest photography project, Womanhood, in which she photographed 100 vulvas belonging to women and gender-non-conforming people.

Apparently thinking that the woman who wrote the article and the woman who has done multiple art projects about genitals must have less knowledge than him on the subject, a random man named Paul Bullen responded, saying, “The correct word is vagina.”

Gynecologist and women’s health advocate Jennifer Gunter made the noble decision to put in the work to try to educate this mansplainer. She introduced her credentials; let Bullen know that vulva was, in fact, correct; and linked to a post she wrote about the difference between the vulva and the vagina, with a handy Venn diagram that shows where there is overlap.

“I’m sick of people forgetting the poor vulva and referring to everything in the female lower reproductive tract as vagina,” wrote Gunter in the 2015 post. She explained in the short post that this inaccurate language being so pervasive is symptomatic of a culture that doesn’t value women’s sexuality. “No one confuses male anatomy, when people say penis they don’t really mean the testicles,” wrote Gunter. “Vagina as a catch all means it doesn’t matter enough to get it right.”

Bullen, rather than listen to the person whose job it is to understand these parts, turned his mansplaining knob up to 11.

In several tweets, Bullen essentially argued that Gunter’s expertise is “part of the problem” and that it’s natural that she (an expert) would “prefer the technical terms.” But because people often call it a vagina, that use is legitimate. As so often happens, rather than admit he was wrong, Bullen pretended his original claim was different.

Gunter was not having any of it.

For his part, Bullen is still refusing to acknowledge that he was wrong, claiming that people “misconstrued” his “provocative statement.” He even mansplained mansplaining, so self-awareness may be a long way off.

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*First Published: Feb 11, 2019, 12:32 pm CST