In a survey conducted by The Eve Appeal for Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, 1,000 men were asked to label an important body part, and half of them couldn't do it. These men were asked to identify the vagina on a diagram of a vagina, vulva, cervix, ovaries, and the fallopian tubes — but only half of them could correctly label the vagina, according to The New York Post. That's incredibly disappointing, to say the least.
According to the survey by The Eve Appeal — a United Kingdom national charity that raises awareness and funding research for gynecological cancers — only 500 of the men questioned could correctly label the vagina. In the study, many of the men believed that the vulva — which includes the labia and clitoris, among other body parts — is the vagina. The vagina is "an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that provides lubrication and sensation," according to WebMD. In case any of the men involved in this study are reading this right now, it is a canal entirely inside the body, not the visible part outside of it.
In even more disappointing news, just one in five men in the study thought his partner’s vulva was attractive, according to The New York Post. In the words of the current U.S. president and tweeter-in-chief: sad.
The study found that many men weren't even comfortable discussing gynecological health issues, which is actually more dangerous than it is sad. The Eve Appeal's mission directly involves gynecological health, and Athena Lamnisos, from the organization, said, according to The New York Post:
Men can play a vital role in identifying the symptoms of gynecological cancer, prompting their partners to visit the GP. Early diagnosis can save lives.
But if men can't even accurately identify a pretty important body part like the vagina, which most women (and some men) have, then they likely also lack crucial education about women's health, sexual health, consent, and other issues that are critical to one's emotional and physical well-being.
In fact, a stunning 17 percent of the men polled "know nothing about gynecological health issues and don't feel that they need to know, as it is a female issue," according to The Huffington Post. That's a pretty appalling attitude to have, and the fact that so many could say they have zero knowledge of these health concerns is very concerning.
The fact that so few of the men polled for the study could even correctly identify the vagina — or other usually, but not always, female body parts — is further proof that sex education is failing in a big way. How are so many men walking around, presumably having sex with or having children with people who have vaginas, with no idea where the vagina is?
But what may be even more shocking is that the Eve Appeal did another, similar study in 2016, where they asked British women to label the different parts of reproductive systems, according to Metro. And in that study, nearly half of women (44 percent) couldn’t correctly point to the vagina, and 60 percent could not label the vulva. This indicates that everyone is uninformed when it comes to women's reproductive systems, and that hurts everyone — not just men.
Sadly, 21 percent of men from the ages of 18 to 44 in the study also said that it’s “too embarrassing” to discuss gynecological health with their partner, according to Men's Health. It's clear that we need to be better about communicating about sexual and gynecological health. Because not only is it also "embarrassing" that so many men are so clueless about it, but if men don't know anything about vaginas and don't think they need to, that might only reinforce or exacerbate things like the orgasm gap, high rates of STDs and STIs, and even concerns like not knowing how to navigate the issue of sexual consent.
The bottom line is: we need to do better. Janice Rymer, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, may have put it best when she said:
The alarming results of this survey highlight the need for better sex education.
There's plenty of resources out there when it comes to learning about sex education. Let's use them.