The editor of the leading medical journal The Lancet, which embroiled itself in controversy when it referred to women as “bodies with vaginas” on the cover of one of its September issues, apologized Monday for causing offense but chose to defend the obtuse phrasing used in the publication.
As The Daily Wire reported, the weekly medical journal called women “bodies with vaginas” in an article entitled “Periods on Display” for the September 1 issue. The quote, “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected,” was featured on the cover.
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
But The Lancet was met with criticism from many who argued that the journal was itself marginalizing women by referring to them in such a strange manner.
Richard Horton, the editor in chief of The Lancet, responded Monday to the backlash saying that he understood “the strength of feeling” the article “provoked.”
“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,” Horton said in a statement.
He continued, “ I apologise to our readers who were offended by the cover quote and the use of those same words in the review. At the same time, I want to emphasise that transgender health is an important dimension of modern health care, but one that remains neglected. Trans people regularly face stigma, discrimination, exclusion, and poor health, often experiencing difficulties accessing appropriate health care.”
Horton defended the article as a “compelling call to empower women, together with non-binary, trans, and intersex people who have experienced menstruation” before telling people to read the full article.
As the Daily Mail noted, the full article does not exclusively refer to women in the language of the cover quote but refers to women as women several times. The Mail also reports that some people chose to cancel their subscription to the historic journal in response to the controversy.
Several doctors and academics blasted The Lancet for its strange terminology for women, calling it dehumanizing.
Philosopher Michael Shermer tweeted “‘bodies with vaginas’ If only we had a word for that. @TheLancet: are there also ‘bodies without vaginas’ & ‘bodies with penises’? Call me an old school civil rights champion but doesn’t this language shift dehumanize women? Even objectify them as ‘bodies’ instead of person?”
Dr. Madeleine Ní Dhálaig tweeted, “Naming women as ‘bodies with vaginas’ is a new low, all in the misguided pursuit of woke points. You can be inclusive without being insulting and abusive. How dare you dehumanise us with a statement like this?”
Another academic, Dave Curtis also hammered the medical journal. “Only just seen this. How completely awful. Just wrote the Lancet to tell them to take me off their list of statistical reviewers and cancel my subscription and never contact me about anything ever again. Absolutely inexcusable language to refer to women and girls.”
The Lancet has been in publication as a medical journal since the 1820s.
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