You never stop learning. And neither does a woman.
Until now, labia was a term for me, with which I associated nothing negative, but something very beautiful. The same goes for the pubic bone. When I’m at the gynecologist’s office, those are exactly the terms I use. Lately, I’ve been talking about my vulva there instead of my vagina. I had to practice that first. Because when I talked about the vulva, he followed up and asked, “But you already mean the mucous membrane, not the outer labia, right?”
But I am also aware that the term arises in the comprehension and that we should definitely critically question our language once again. With my daughter and son, I still spoke of vagina and willy, but also of labia, without thinking of shame. But it’s different with children.
When my son was three years old, he did something he wasn’t supposed to do. And I told him, “Otto, you don’t do that”. He thought about it for a moment and then asked me, “And women?”. Phew, that’s when I realized how much language can shape.
Inspired by a few comments and direct messages on Instagram that I had received as a result of the previous post about the female abdomen, I first read into it.
From the specialist publisher Thieme there is an article in the German Medical Weekly on exactly the question: “Das Schambein und die Scham“° … “In this article we ask whether the reference to the pubic bone that goes with it is still contemporary, and propose an alternative designation.”
It says, among other things, “There have been recent efforts to banish Latin terms derived from pudere from internationally agreed anatomical terminology, as they are the only anatomical terms that actually carry a moral value.”
“There are several German terms of anatomical structures formed with the word Scham. These almost all refer to the female external genitalia, which in its entirety is called pudendum femininum or vulva, or in German “die weibliche Scham.” The Latin pudendum derives from the verb pudere (to be ashamed), which in classical Latin was clearly associated with shame, but also with disgrace.”
It continues “While English does not know “shame bone” (but only pubic bone), other Germanic languages use the same term as German: schaambeen in Dutch, skamben in Danish and Norwegian. However, in Norway, this term has been called “unattractive” in an anatomy textbook as early as 1919 (!) and replaced by underlivsben (lower abdominal bone) , which has become widely accepted in Norwegian medicine. The Danske Ordbog, a kind of Danish dictionary, at least states that many prefer the term kønsben (genital bone) to skamben.”
And so I adjusted the illustration once again. Pubic bone became lap bone and labia became vulval lips. I also tried to recreate the clitoris in its full size, although this is actually a cut through half of the body and this is not a 3D illustration pressed into 2D.
I will never be able (or want) to please everyone here and on Instagram. However, I recognize that we should all be open to learning. What bothered me personally was the finger-pointing at what wasn’t pleasing, instead of first acknowledging that this illustration of the female abdomen was already more complete than most illustrations that woman and you can find on the web and on Instagram. Google “female abdomen“, go to “images” and count the images that also show the clitoris at all, in whatever form. One hand is enough for that, if any.
I as a urologist find both pictures really great! In both pictures we find everything we have as women and whether German, colloquial or medical terms……… we find ourselves yet in each picture to find……👏💪🤗 And who has technical questions, can contact me at any time🤩
urologist Dr. Nicole Weirich.