By David Futrelle
On Saturday. The Guardian posted a story called “Me and My Vulva,” looking at photographer Laura Dodsworth’s attempt to, as writer Liv Little put it, tell “the stories of 100 women and gender non-conforming people through portraits of their vulvas.” The Guardian featured some of these portraits alongside interviews in which the vulva-havers in question discussed their complicated feelings about their own vulvas and vaginas.
Well, it turns out that some cis men have complicated feelings about vulvas as well, feelings so complicated that they can’t quite believe that the word “vulva” is a specific word, with a specific meaning, that’s worth including in sentences from time to time.
Enter one overconfident fellow called Paul Bullen, who offered what he saw as a correction to the Guardian’s headline:
Since the correct word was in fact “vulva” — Dodsworth’s photos are pictures of the external genitalia — a number of Twitterers stepped up to correct his correction.
One of the correctors was San Francisco OB/GYN Jen Gunter, an actual world-famous expert on, you know, that whole area down there, and the media’s go-to Gwyneth Paltrow-debunker when the actress and would-be wellness maven tries to convince those with vaginas to do things like steam or stick rocks in them, both of which are evidently very bad ideas. Dr. Gunter has literally written the book on vaginas, or at least a book, titled The Vagina Bible, which will be out in August.
Dr. Gunter tweeted:
Here’s the link, by the way.
But Bullen, like many men in similar situations, refused to accept his defeat, and simply kept going, suggesting that those who refused to accept his “correction” were simply a bunch of vulva snobs.
Er,”euphemism treadmill psychology?”
Er, I’m pretty sure that the Vagina Monologues involved considerable discussion of things going into vaginas so I’m going to say no to that.
When it came to Dr. Gunter’s quite specific expertise on this issue, Bullen evidently felt it was outweighed by his confidence as a man with opinions on the internet.
He’s using an awful lot of words to basically say: “Ok, the ‘correct’ definition I used isn’t actually correct, according to the dictionary, but since people use the word incorrectly a lot this incorrect usage is actually the correct one and all you correcty-pants people are actually incorrect with all your fancy correctness, I am very smart.”
Ultimately, THE DICTIONARY ITSELF (or at least Dictionary,com) felt compelled to intervene, noting that the word “vulva” is indeed the correct word for the external genitalia — which is, again, what
Dodsworth’s photos depict.
Bullen wasn’t fazed by all the talk of dictionary definitions because, in his mind, he’s smarter than the dictionary too.
When some critics accused him of mansplaining, he tried to mainsplain mansplaining to them:
Dr. Gunter gently corrected him on that:
She also reiterated the rather basic point — which Bullen seemed unable to grasp — that the photos in question were photos of vulvas, not vaginas.
Last night I felt compelled to weigh in myself:
None of this — not even my especially brilliant tweet — stopped Bullen from endlessly repeating his point, and the, er, “debate” went on and on and on until, only a few hours ago, Bullen finally decided to stop posting on the subject.
In case you’re wondering if Paul Bullen has bad opinions on any other subjects aside from the correct use of the terms “vagina” and “vulva,” the answer is yes.
Bullen has also recently retweeted white nationalist congressman Steve King, white nationalist “journalist” Faith Goldy, and the white nationalist website VDare. You may notice a trend here. Not that Bullen would necessarily agree that any of these white nationalists are in fact white nationalists. Indeed, he has already used his powerful MAN LOGIC to convince himself that King has never said anything even vaguely white supremacist-ish.
But there’s more! Turns out Bullen is one of those people who contends that the Covington Catholic students photographed several years ago wearing blackface were not wearing blackface.
But, hey, at least his love life is going well:
I don’t know if Bullen has yet managed to make contact with either this woman’s vulva or her vagina.
We Hunted the Mammoth is independent and ad-free, and relies entirely on readers like you for its survival. If you appreciate our work, please send a few bucks our way! Thanks!