It just doesn’t seem right. I recently discovered that some of our uniquely female body parts are named after men. Yup. I came across a video of standup comedian Matthew Broussard talking about this (and props to Matthew’s mom, a biologist, whom he credits with teaching him to use correct anatomical terms for women’s genitalia).
Some of these male-monikered lady parts include the G-spot (named after German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg), Bartholin’s glands (first described in the 17th century by Danish anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Younger), the Skene’s gland (sometimes referred to as the female prostate, made “official” by British gynecologist Alexander Skene, who lived in the 1800s), and the fallopian tubes (named after their discoverer, the 16th century Italian anatomist Gabriele Fallopio).
Granted, there was a dearth of women in science and medicine back in the day, which likely explains why men got naming rights. But turnabout is fair play, or what’s good for the goose is good for the gander—especially in light of how men are so eager these days to insert themselves into our reproductive business. So I propose that we (re)name certain parts of the male anatomy after women. To wit:
Prostate: This walnut-sized gland secretes fluid to nourish and protect sperm. Since the digital rectal exam to check the prostate is such a vital preventive health measure, I propose that this gland henceforth be called the Hampton-Halsted prostate, named after Caroline Hampton Halsted, a scrub nurse who was the first person to use sterilized rubber gloves in the operating room in 1889.
Penis: This one was hard. For its function as the external male sex organ and the appendage that so visibly represents manhood, I narrowed it down to two women for whom the penis could be eponymous:
- In a nod to the role actress Butterfly McQueen played in “Gone with the Wind” and her famous line, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies,” we could call it the Prissy penis. An atheist, McQueen was honored by the Freedom from Religion Foundation with its Freethought Heroine Award in 1989 (which has an apt “keep your theology out of my biology” tie-in). Plus, this name lends itself to what could be a modern-day push-back feminist rallying cry to “Grab ‘em by the Prissy.”
- Or we could name it after Virginia Johnson, the American sexologist best known as a member of the groundbreaking Masters and Johnson sexuality research team. The Johnson penis has a rather amusing redundancy, don’t you think?
Glans: The head of the penis (semi-seriously referred to as the head men too often use for thinking) could be named the Ginsburg glans, after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for her well-thought-out advocacy in advancing women’s rights as a constitutional principle.
Urethra: Urine flows through the male urethra from the bladder to the tip of the penis. The urethra also serves as a conduit for semen and sperm. For this dual ability, let’s name that tube the MacGregor-Pickett urethra after two trailblazing women who likely knew more about the urethra than most guys. Dr. Mary Childs MacGregor was the first female American urologist (she founded the urology service at the New York Infirmary and became its first chair of urology in the 1930s), and Dr. Elisabeth Pickett was a surgeon who became the nation’s first female board-certified urologist in 1962.
Scrotum: This pouch of skin containing the testicles should henceforth be known as the Spade scrotum, honoring Kate Spade, the woman who founded a company based on her dream to design the perfect handbag.
Testicles (testes): In a nutshell, these are considered the most essential organs of the male reproductive system because they’re where sperm and testosterone are produced. Therefore, I propose they be called the Sanger testes, named for Margaret Sanger, the woman who devoted her life to legalizing birth control and making it universally available to women.
Epididymis: This is defined as a highly convoluted duct behind each testicle, along which sperm passes to the vas deferens. For both its highly convoluted nature and the alliterative value, I think it’s only appropriate that this duct be called the (Sarah) Palin epididymis.
Vas deferens (also referred to as the ductus deferens): This duct transports sperm from the testicle to the urethra. In recognition of its function, I propose we call it the Liddy vas deferens in honor of Elizabeth “Liddy” Dole, the first woman to hold the post of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Spermatic cord: This is a collection of vessels, nerves and ducts that run to and from each testicle. They’re surrounded by fascia, forming a cord-like structure. For her lifetime commitment to serving as a conduit for information and inspiration about feminism, let’s name this the (Gloria) Steinem spermatic cord.
Seminal vesicles: These are two sac-like glands that secrete their fluid content into the ejaculatory ducts, contributing about 60% of the fluid passed during ejaculation. This fluid contains fructose, proteins, citric acid, inorganic phosphorus, potassium and prostaglandins. For her groundbreaking ability to produce equally distinctive concoctions that revolutionized American cuisine, I suggest we name these glands the Child seminal vesicles, after chef and author Julia Child.
Cowper’s glands: Originally named after English anatomist William Cowper, these glands are responsible for producing pre-ejaculate fluid to make the environment of the urethra more hospitable for sperm, thereby aiding reproduction. Since hospitality is a key part of their function, how about we rename them Pearl’s glands, after the famed Washington, DC, “hostess with the mostest” Pearl Mesta?
Frenulum: In men, the frenulum is the thin piece of skin on the underside of the penis that connects the foreskin to the shaft. Sometimes referred to as the F-spot, the frenulum has a high concentration of nerve endings, so it’s particularly responsive to touch. I propose we rename it the Dr. Dot F-spot, after the British celebrity masseuse who’s gained notoriety for her gentle bite massages.
So, ladies and gents, what do you think? Got recommendations of your own for what we should call various male or female parts? While you’re noodling it over, here’s this week’s haiku—inspired by the asshats men in Washington, DC, and elsewhere who keep trying to legislate women’s bodies:
What’s in a name? A
dick by any other name
is still a dick, no?