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.