Stop the Censorship of Anatomical Language

UPDATE: V is for victory - it’s also for Vagina!

We are delighted to announce that after Instagram was alerted to our petition, we were put in touch with the team there and they quickly restored the hashtag #vagina A Facebook Company Spokesperson has responded with: “We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake and it has now been restored.”

A huge thank you to Instagram and the BIGGEST thanks to everyone who signed and shared our petition and got the conversation going – like everything, we couldn’t achieve what we do without you.

Thank you too to all of the other organisations who supported this petition and got behind the message- vagina is not a dirty word.

We will continue to share gynae health information loudly and proudly, follow us and spread our life-saving gynae cancer awareness @eveappeal. Let’s fill the #vagina with gynae health information!

 

Vagina-

An anatomical word, a part of the body where you can get cancer, an organ that we need to feel comfortable talking about so that we can access basic healthcare like cervical screening.

INSTAGRAM-

A huge social media platform used by millions, which does so much good in helping us – a small gynaecological cancer charity – spread information and awareness about potential signs and symptoms has hidden the word vagina because of ‘potential offence’.

The information we, and many others share using the hashtag #Vagina, is about education and empowerment around health.

Vagina is an anatomical word for part of the body –  just like arm, elbow, nose or penis.

There is a culture of shame and embarrassment surrounding gynaecological anatomy. It causes many women and people with gynae organs to not have a good understanding of their gynae anatomy, how their body works, or know what’s normal for them. This stops people spotting when something changes and noticing any key symptoms of cancer. It also makes it more difficult to talk about their anatomy with a health care professional – that’s why using the proper anatomical word is so vital.

Research that we’ve carried out over many years tells us this. We have the evidence:

·       Less than 40% of women have heard of vulval cancer, and just over half have heard of vaginal cancer (YouGov, May 2021)

·       Just over 20% of people know that an itch in the vagina or on the vulva could be a symptom of cancer and just over a third are aware that a skin change on the genitals could also be a symptom of cancer (YouGov 2021)

·       Nearly a quarter of women would find it difficult to talk to a GP about a change to their discharge or the smell of their vulva, which could be a sign of a gynaecological cancer (YouGov April 2021)

·       A  2019 a survey by cervical cancer charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that 81% of young women were put off going for cervical screening with embarrassment cited as one of the reasons

The hiding of anatomical words on social media platforms perpetuates this culture of shame and is costing lives.

Why is it that the word vulva isn’t hidden? And that when you search for #penis, dozens of hashtags show up. The current hiding of the word vagina disproportionately affects women and people with gynaecological organs and perpetuates the lack of awareness over anatomy and that the external genitalia is called a vulva.

We are calling on Instagram to stop banning our anatomy so that we can continue to educate, inform and raise awareness of gynaecological health and cancer.

If you believe this is wrong, please add your voice and let Instagram know that VAGINA is a not a swear word and share with your friends and family to do the same. Please add your voice and let Instagram know that VAGINA is a not a swear word.