Apple doesn't like vaginas, and they're not alone

Not being allowed to engrave the word 'vagina' onto an iPad may seem farcical, but it's all part of a much wider problem facing women around the world

Share

This week, under somewhat unique circumstances, an American woman discovered that Apple wouldn't engrave the word "vagina" onto her iPad. The reason? The word is considered “inappropriate language” by the company. 

However, the female customer soon discovered that "penis" and "dick" were acceptable. This strange breed of sexism isn’t new to Apple — it has already been discovered that its autocorrect function would rather assume you’re talking about bacon or cabins rather than vaginas.

All of this would be laughable, maybe even trivial, if it didn’t belong to a wider trend of people who are so uncomfortable with the word "vagina" that they want to censor it.

Back in 2012, US State Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking in the Michigan House of Representatives because she used the word during a debate on abortion.

Mike Callton, a Republican State Rep for Michigan, said that Brown’s use of vagina was so vile and disgusting that he would never mention it in front of women or “mixed company”.

In 2013, a biology teacher said "vagina" during a tenth-grade high school science lesson in the US. Upon hearing that their children had learned the correct anatomical term for female genitalia, numerous parents pushed for an investigation into the teacher’s conduct.

So what’s wrong with the word "vagina"? Is it the pronunciation? Do the three syllables and long vowel sounds make people cringe? Or is it more the fact that vaginas are often attached to women and linked with sexual shame and disgust?

Apple’s decision to class the word "vagina" as "inappropriate" makes no sense. But at the same time, such an attitude has become sadly predictable. We live in a world that holds women’s bodies in high disregard, and a dislike towards the word ‘vagina’ is a hateful product of this. Especially after the recent Hobby Lobby ruling, a multinational corporation’s choice to censor this word is alarming.

 

Apple’s restriction displays an indisputable gender bias that is completely unacceptable. Silencing and prohibiting use of the word "vagina" but permitting "penis" is one of the clearest examples of phallocentrism anyone could imagine. Doesn't Apple’s sleek branding suggest that they're a bit more forward-thinking than this?

Women’s reproductive rights are under huge threat from governments, who treat vaginas like public property, as well as schools, who refuse to teach children about family planning. Global sexual violence against women has reached epidemic levels. Somehow, female genital mutilation still exists.

In order to combat all of these issues, we need to stop stigmatising and shaming women’s bodies. Everyone — individuals, governments and companies alike — has a part to play in this.

We need to be talking about vaginas much more. We need to do so candidly, intelligently, with respect and without censorship. Most importantly, we need to be talking about the rights of the humans that they belong to.

No part of anyone’s body is intrinsically offensive or inappropriate. For global corporations to say it is is not just disrespectful, but dangerous.

READ MORE:
What's the point in the Tour de France?
What happens in Shagaluf no longer stays there
The debate on climate change proves that balance shouldn't get in the way of truth

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Supporters of New Democracy wave Greek flags during Antonis Samaras pre-election speech.  

Greece elections: Where does power lie? This is the question that ties the UK to Athens

Steve Richards
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project