Skip to main content

I've been thinking about wombs lately -- big sassy ones, little skinny ones, wombs decked out in all their fertile finery.  Normally I'd be pondering uteruses, but right now the word womb is resonating with me.  Jiggling me a little.  Sort of giving me the creeps.  I thought I'd tell you why.

First, though, a word about this series, from Elise:

Feminisms is a series of weekly feminist diaries. My fellow feminists and I decided to start our own for several purposes: we wanted a place to chat with each other, we felt it was important to both share our own stories and learn from others’, and we hoped to introduce to the community a better understanding of what feminism is about.

Needless to say, we expect disagreements to arise. We have all had different experiences in life, so while we share the same labels, we don’t necessarily share the same definitions. Hopefully, we can all be patient and civil with each other, and remember that, ultimately, we’re all on the same side.

Womb: Not Just a Nightclub in Tokyo

Over the centuries, the word womb has meant everything from belly to bowels. Men used to have wombs.  Here's a description of one poor fellow's (probably fatal) health challenge:

c. 1205 LAY. 19800   "His neb bigon to blakien, his wombe gon to swellen"

I think this guy probably just wanted some privacy:

c. 1430 Pilgr. Lyf Manhode II xxxiv "...berest him to priuee chambres to voide his wombe"

(Both quotes from The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989)

Womb vs. Uterus: Which Side of the Pond Are You On?

Womb.  Say it with me now.  The word has a ripe, chunky sound -- Old English with a touch of the Norse.  If it weren't already in your vocabulary, I could probably convince you that it was the name of a primitive waterproof pouch used in keeping ship's biscuits dry, or maybe the name of the ritual beverage served at Viking funerals.

These days, in the U.K. and other parts of the English-speaking world, womb is the common name for the uterus.  It's not unusual to see a headline such as, "Author Tyndale Dead at 89 From Womb Cancer".

In the U.S., though, womb is generally used only in reference to pregnancies, and then only rarely.  The other place you'll hear womb is in Bible stories.

I think that's why these headlines disturbed me:

Womb transplants could become reality

Triplets born to woman with 2 wombs

Perhaps I'm a little sensitive about this -- over the past six years, as I've watched the erosion of Roe, as decency police have started harrassing people on airplanes, I've sometimes felt like we're twenty minutes away from living in The Handmaid's Tale.

The Secret Life of the American Uterus

When does a uterus become a womb?  Does it start off as a uterus, become a womb during the fertile years, then revert to its cool Latin name once the eggs have stopped dropping? Does my ninety-year-old neighbor have a womb?  Does my seven-year-old daughter?  My husband is relieved that he's not obligated to have one anymore -- he sees the trouble I have with mine and just thanks his lucky stars that he's living in the 21st century.

Frankly, it's not just the word womb. When I see terms like "covenant marriage" in the news, or when I hear anyone outside of a church refer to Jesus of Nazareth as "Christ", I get that same Handmaid-y feeling.

What about you?  Are you seeing particular words in the media that are giving you the creeps?

Originally posted to mxwing on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 07:00 PM PST.



I call mine

52%13 votes
0%0 votes
12%3 votes
20%5 votes
12%3 votes
4%1 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site