A Guardian article about a photographer’s portraits of vulvas became the unwitting source of Twitter drama this weekend after a man commenting on the article claimed, incorrectly, that the paper should technically have used the word “vagina” instead. But when another user corrected him and accused him of trying to “mansplain” to women “something you obvs know nothing about it,” Bullen unabashedly doubled down.
Hi Paul ????????
No it’s not. But thanks for the mansplaining on something you obvs know nothing about.
— Mich (@decolover61) February 10, 2019
That’s an incorrect use of the word mansplaining. :-). Not that I want to legitimize the term, but by its own definition it requires more than just having just a man who is explaining something. Even if some in the audience are women.
— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) 10 February 2019
Despite widespread derision, Bullen continued to stand by his statements by making a series of increasingly abstract arguments that he claimed vindicated him.
Relatedly, if a pregnant woman speaks about the baby in her belly, I would not tell her she should be referring to it as a fetus. Fetus is a technical term appropriate in scientific contexts. Even a doctor does not ask “Would you like to see your fetus?”
— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) 11 February 2019
<whispers>It's not her belly
— Ten Second Cynic (@TenSecondCynic) February 11, 2019
And when a friendly gynecologist stepped in to show him definitively, that the correct term in this case was in fact “vulva,” Bullen still refused to acknowledge that he was in error. Instead, he shifted the goalposts by suggesting that what he had actually meant to do was to make an “empirical claim” about “standard usage” and that Dr. Gunter’s “expertise” was actually “part of the problem” preventing her from agreeing with him.
oh my god pic.twitter.com/41cPFUqcbE
— i bless the rains down in castamere (@Chinchillazllla) February 10, 2019
I thought we would circle back to your original tweet because the claims you are now making are refuted by it. You said “correct” not “modern vernacular” or “slang” or “common use.” The correct term is, indeed, vulva.
But do go on… https://t.co/DMkqi7Sk0Y
— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) February 11, 2019
Twitter, unsurprisingly, was equal parts outraged and amused by Bullen’s determined obstinacy.
Vulva was used because it is vulvas that have been photographed and it is vulvas that are being discussed in the article/photography piece. It's that simple. Vagina is not the correct word. Vulva, Paul, vulva. #issavulvabruh
— Transatlantic Notes (@saltwatersong) February 11, 2019
we must go deeper
— Adam J. Thaxton (@raygungoth1) February 11, 2019
It is neither polite nor respectful to correct erroneously how someone refers to their own genitalia.
— werewolf jerusalem jukebox musical (@occultural) February 10, 2019
And as users scrutinized his Twitter profile — uncovering, among other things, that Bullen had a decided penchant for retweeting Donald Trump and far-right neo-fascist group the Proud Boys — one user noted that this wasn’t the first time the wannabe know-it-all had made an embarrassing mistake.
‘Certicate In Editing’ hmmmmm surely you meant ‘Certificate In Editing’ ……….. pic.twitter.com/zVLOdUSiEv
— polly molotov ❤️???????????????????? (@NursepollyRgn) February 10, 2019
Read the full story at The Poke.