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Gynaecologist calls out Twitter for banning books adverts over use of the word 'vagina'

Publisher says Twitter blocked promotional tweets for book, citing 'adult sexual products and services' or 'inappropriate language' 

Dr Jen Gunter calls out Twitter after platform bans 'vagina' in promotional tweets for new book
Dr Jen Gunter calls out Twitter after platform bans 'vagina' in promotional tweets for new book

A gynaecologist and author has criticised Twitter for its censorship after her publisher was unable to use the word “vagina” in promotional advertisements for her new book.

This week, Dr Jen Gunter released her new book The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina: Separating the Myth from the Medicine.

However, before the book’s release, Dr Gunter publicly asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey why her publisher Kensington Books was unable to run paid advertising for the book - given that vagina is “an anatomical term”.

“Just so you know my publisher is not allowed to use the word ‘vagina’ to promote my book on Twitter,” Dr Gunter wrote. “The image can have it, but they are not allowed to use ‘vagina’ in the text.

“Dear @Jack, vagina is an anatomical term and not a ‘dirty’ word.”

The California-based doctor included a promotional tweet about the book from her publisher, which said: “We aren’t allowed to say the name of this book in the ad, but trust us you want it!”

In follow-up tweets, Dr Gunter said that she believes the censorship is because of our “societal inability to say vagina like we say elbow”.

“Our societal inability to say vagina like we say elbow is one reason I insisted on VAGINA in the title,” she wrote. “When we’re not allowed to say a word the implication is it’s dirty or shameful.

“Not being able to buy an ad because of the word vagina for a book about vaginas is ridiculous.”

Dr Gunter’s tweets have been met with support from thousands of people on Twitter, who have also questioned why the platform censored the word in promotional tweets.

“What’s the matter @Jack? Scared of a little section of female anatomy? Where do you think we all started out?” one person asked.

Another said: “Dear @Jack, please allow Twitter to grow up. Thank you.”

“Jack, if it weren’t for vagina, you wouldn’t be here,” someone else tweeted.

In response to an inquiry from The Independent, a Twitter spokesperson said it had removed the promotional tweets due to “a combination of human error and violations” but that the word “vagina” was not the issue.

“We did not take action on promoted tweets from this account because of references to sexual organs as those are permitted within our rules. The rejection of some of the promoted content from the account was due to a combination of human error and violations, including the use of profanity and adult products.

“We have reinstated the tweets we took down and have informed the account owner of the reasons why we blocked the content that violated our ad policies.”

However, Kensington Books told The Independent that the tweets weren't reinstated until Dr Gunter "kicked up so much outrage on Twitter about us not being allowed to use the word 'vagina' (or for that matter, the words 'vaginal' and 'OBGYN')".

According to the publisher, the tweet was initially rejected for "inappropriate language" but "now they're saying they'll let us pay to promote it".

"We have not, however, received any additional explanation and Twitter has not rolled back its rejections of other posts related to the book," according to the publisher, including one that displays the book cover and reads: "No clickbait, no bulls**t, just science."

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Kensington Books also said that other attempts to promote tweets for the book were rejected in all instances for either "adult sexual products and services" or "inappropriate language".

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