The folks at the period-tracking app Clue wrote a 1,027-word piece freaking out about what kind of language people could possibly use to talk about periods and women’s bodies without being so “gendered” that it’s exclusive.
“How do we accurately describe the domain that Clue serves (“female health”) without using gendered language?” asks the piece, co-written by By Lisa Kennelly, Director of Marketing at Clue, and Mike LaVigne, Chief Product Officer at Clue.
“What about all the other places we communicate?” it continues, explaining that they also “have a website, a blog, a newsletter and various social media channels.”
“Using the word ‘female’ or ‘female-bodied’ is offensive to some,” the piece states. “It’s seen as dehumanizing or still too gendered.”
The rest of the piece continues to weigh different options for the kind of terminology it could use to discuss periods and women’s health (whoops, sorry, they said that’s one of the bad ones because “not everyone who has a cycle is a woman”) — without excluding anyone, but can’t seem to find anything that isn’t problematic.
For example: Calling people “uterus-havers” or “people who menstruate” is “inaccurate, because Clue’s users don’t always have a uterus (hysterectomy) or menstruate (menarche, pregnancy, menopause, birth control).” “Reproductive health”? Well, that “could work sometimes, but tends to connote too much about fertility and babies which is not relevant for many people, and also could apply to people with either male or female biologies.” “Cycle health”? Well, although that “gets closer,” “it’s also not relevant if you don’t currently have a cycle for whatever reason.”
Ultimately, they conclude that although “‘[w]omen’s health’ may be more humanizing than ‘female health,’ as ‘female health’ can also feel too clinical or abstracted,” “female health” is probably “the best option” to describe “the area that Clue serves.”
“We feel it best captures the area of health that Clue is currently designed to support, while being the least exclusive of all the ways to describe that biology,” they decide. “We also feel it is the best option in terms of communication and accessibility — in other words, we hope our community will understand the rationale behind this choice when this term is used in our communications.”
(“Hope our comminity will understand”? You hope people will understand why you’re using “female health” to describe “female health?” Um, yeah, no problem, I definitely understand, what I don’t understand is whatever the hell else I just read.)
Look. Linking having a period with being “female” shouldn’t be this complicated. Sure, there are people who don’t identify as women who have periods, and women who don’t have periods, but to think that if you don’t write an agonizing diatribe like this that people might think your app is transphobic or whatever is actually absurd.
#related#But apparently they disagree. Because even though they they do concede to referring to the “area of health” that they “support” as “female health,” they then end the piece by explaining that they understand that it’s not really good enough and that the “term is, of course, open to change.”
“We’d like to have partners to help us figure this out and come together to find an accurate way for us to use helpful, accessible terminology across a global set of languages and cultures,” they state.
Thank God. After all, if they hadn’t included that, I would be absolutely certain that this company was actually some kind of transphobic monster-force that’s destroying the world.