Fascinating article in today’s New York Times:
The pudendal nerve provides sensation to the vagina and vulva, or outer female genitalia. The term derived from the Latin verb pudere: to be ashamed. The shame nerve, Ms. Draper noted: “I was like, What? Excuse me?”
It grew worse. When her teacher handed her a copy of the “Terminologia Anatomica,” the international dictionary of anatomical terms, she learned that the Latin term for the vulva — including the inner and outer labia, the clitoris and the pubic mound — was pudendum. Translation: the part to be ashamed of. There was no equivalent word for male genitals.
That’s when she really got fired up.
Anatomy as a science had its start in 16th-century Italy, as the purview of learned men. At the time it was a stretch to find a female corpse, let alone a female anatomist. Little wonder, then, that some words might sound a little off to modern ears. What surprised Ms. Draper was that this one had made it through 500 years of revisions and updates — and virtually no one knew what it meant.
If you don’t want to read, it’s a 14 minute listen. Play it on your way to the gym or the grocery store. pudendum no more