Speculum (because it’s almost Friday [in Australia])
At Macquarie University, where the popular perception amongst the older generation is that student activism is at an all-time low, there was a bit of excitement when we heard that a student publication would be launched. We all fancied it would be the start of a new era of student extracurricular activity.
Well, today I saw the first issue. Jovan showed me his copy. It’s a glossy magazine. “It’s called Speculum,” Jovan told me. My jaw dropped. Jovan said, “Isn’t that…?”
I finished his sentence: “…A tool used in vaginal and anal examinations?”
The psychology guy next door said, “Does that mean that we are a bodily cavity to examine?”
Much hilarity and bad punning ensued.
Now, what, you might ask, does that have to do with applied anthropology? Umm… Well, there is a fine academic tradition of deconstructing the gynecological exam. Consider “Dramaturgical Desexualization: The Sociology of the Vaginal Examination” (1971) by James M. Henslin and Mae A. Biggs, which analyzed the ritual steps taken and role playing involved as a woman prepares for a gynecological exam, in which, as they argued, she was turned from person into pelvis in order to deal with “the problematics of genital exposure” in a nonsexual context. See also “Public Privates: Performing Gynecology from Both Ends of the Speculum,” by Terri Kapsalis.
No, really, I’m just grasping at straws here. I just wanted to have an excuse to share with all of you the funny name of the new student publication at Macquarie. But hey, David, Cassie, Ben, Ben, and Emiko, bravo for getting it off the ground, even if I have no idea how you chose the name.
PS Let me preempt clever commentators by saying that yes I know that speculum means “mirror” in Latin, thanks.