I’m usually a calm and laid back person, but the other day I found myself caught up in a tide of public anger. The Lancet, that esteemed journal produced by the British Medical Association, was being castigated for its seeming misogynist cover line. It read, “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected.”
In the words of their editor-in-chief’s subsequent apology, they, “conveyed the impression that we have dehumanised and marginalised women.”
Like many others, I was disappointed, though not surprised, by this apparent reduction of women to mere vessels for their reproductive equipment. It’s an attitude that many women still come up against in the dealings with the medical profession. Unlike many others, I located the article online and read every single word of it. The cover sentence had been truncated. The article was about an exhibition at the Vagina Museum, which sought to explore and demystify menstruation. The actual copy read, “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected—for example, the paucity in understanding of endometriosis and the way women’s pain has been seen as more likely to have an emotional or psychological cause, a hangover from centuries of theorising about hysteria.”
I find nothing to disagree with in the full sentence. It takes an average of eight years for a woman to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. That’s eight years of agonising pain and fertility issues. Eight years of being dismissed by doctors and told it’s all in their head. We know too, that new drugs tend to be tested on young men, rather than a full spectrum of the population. We know that women are often palmed off with paracetamol and anti-depressants. That’s why you’ll find several articles that deal with issues that affect women disproportionally in the magazine this time. We’re looking at autoimmune disorders, including fibromyalgia, why the menopause might be the next big thing in marketing and exploring the world of people trafficking in the UK’s massage parlours.
There’s a lesson here for us all about getting the whole story. About looking beyond the headlines and the hysteria they are designed to provoke. About recognising that controversy and division sells newspapers or creates viral content. In a world of misinformation, we need to critically evaluate everything we read and everything we are told. We’ll continue to do our best to be a trusted source of information for all holistic therapists – whether that’s bringing you the latest consumer trends, sharing research papers or looking at the role healing plays within the NHS.
Alison and everyone at Holistic Therapist