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'Individuals with a cervix': CNN story on cervical cancer screening avoids using the word 'women' — and observers have a field day


'So the definition of a woman has changed? It's now a forbidden word?'

Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A CNN story on cervical cancer screening begins with this sentence: "Individuals with a cervix are now recommended to start cervical cancers screening at 25 and continue through age 65, with the primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every five years as the preferred method of testing, according to a new guideline released Thursday by the American Cancer Society."

Also a word search revealed that the Thursday story doesn't refer to "women" or "woman" a single time.

What was the reaction?

As you might imagine, the phrase "individuals with a cervix" has been getting pretty much all of the attention in the comments of a tweet of the story, with retweets and comments far outpacing likes as of Friday morning.

One Twitter user defended the "individuals with a cervix" phrase, saying "all of the ppl replying 'don't you just mean women!' conveniently forget 1. trans ppl exist and 2. chromosomal abnormalities often result in ppl who aren't biologically female having a cervix (and those chromosomal abnormalities aren't as rare as one might think)."

Another user commented, "An accurate headline my OBGYN would agree with. Bc she gives pap smears to lots of people who aren't women; I was there last week. And yes! Lots of women have cervixes too. But as a doctor, she knows that having/lacking a certain body part doesn't make someone a woman or a man."

And a user even argued that using the word "women" instead "excludes women without a cervix and men with a cervix."

However, it seemed most commenters found the phrase "individuals with a cervix" nothing more than dog whistle for political correctness and woke culture:

Others were equally dumbfounded and put off by the phrase:

  • "Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina. You're welcome," one user noted.
  • "This is beyond crazy!!! It's not an implication...we were born with those the definition of a woman has changed? It's now a forbidden word?" another user asked.
  • "My humble and antiquated opinion...Anyone can act and be exactly as they wish and should have total freedom to do that within the norms of society," another user noted. "But to impose the feelings of a very small minority over the needs of a huge majority seems upside down to me."
  • "Stop erasing women and pretending it's progressive," another user stated.

But this take may have won the day:

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