This Science for the People is exploring the intersection of science, society, and sex with the origin story of the birth control pill. They speak to author Jonathan Eig about his book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution. Writer Rose Eveleth also returns to talk about the history and design of the vaginal speculum.
*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.
Rose Eveleth, editor at The Atlantic, spent the last few days targeted by threats and abuse for being the first to say the same thing we did, but being a woman while doing so.
Today, she came back with a ridiculously good article – “Why No One Can Design a Better Speculum” – on the racist/misogynist history of the despised speculum and why we’ve been unable to substantially improve on the basic design for 150 years:
One might expect our modern spirit of innovation and disruption to turn its eye on the speculum. Surely something invented so long ago, under such dubious circumstances, could use an update. And many have tried. In the past 10 years, new designs for the speculum have continuously cropped up, only to fade away again. But while medical manufacturers continue to improve the design in little ways, there has been no real contender to displace the duck-billed model. The speculum’s history is inextricably linked to extreme racism and misogyny. But for all that, it just may be the best design we’re ever likely to have.
– Rose Eveleth, The Atlantic
The article does include images of specula and technical illustrations of female anatomy, which may not be considered “Safe for Work” in your workplace.