Some liberal doctors in Australia are calling for the renaming of key body parts including the “Adam’s apple” and “Achilles tendon,” because they are “offensive.”
A specialist obstetrician in the state of Queensland, gynaecologist and anatomy lecturer, Dr. Kristin Small, is urging her students to drop gender bias and what she calls irrelevant and misogynistic medical language.
She believes the terms invoke the jaded beliefs of older generations and wants more practical and descriptive terms for body parts.
“I think we have a personal choice to decolonise our language and these historical terms will fade out,” Dr. Small told the Brisbane Courier Mail.
Dr. Small makes sure her students still know the accepted, older terms for exam purposes but maintains there are always alternatives for the “dead man’s name.”
Council member for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr. Nisha Khot, said these terms won’t exist in the future.
“The young trainee doctors are mostly keen to learn the more relevant language and are often shocked when they hear the origins of some medical terms,” she said.
“The push for change may have started in the area of women’s health but the conversation is now in the wider health community. It just makes sense for the medics but also for the patients to use more understandable terms,” Khot added.
The newspaper reports she also wants to defeat a patriarchal history of medical definition which reinforces the fact women are not represented in most of the 700 parts of the body named after people.
The word “hysterectomy” originated from a time when women were treated for female hysteria by removing the uterus.
Surgical instruments and tactics are also named after men, such as the Pfannensteil incision, which was named after a man who published a paper on incisions in 1900.
The Achilles tendon, the tough band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, is named after the mythological Greek warrior, Achilles.