Pussy Riot has been out of the news for months, but it’s been a tumultuous few days for mainstream media organizations squeamishly struggling to place vaginas in headlines nonetheless.
Last week brought news that scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine had successfully implanted lab-grown vaginas in four teenagers using their own cells.
In covering the breakthrough, several major outlets shied away from the word that got Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown silenced in 2012. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, took a vaguer approach: “Breakthrough in Quest to Grow Body Parts,” its headline read. CNN followed suit, including a specific quote to help readers grasp the monumental nature of the story: “Creating body parts in a lab: ‘Things are happening now.’”
In fact, that euphemistic phrase—“body parts”—proved a lifeline for similarly minded home page editors at Fox (“Scientists grow human body parts in lab”), Yahoo (“UK scientists make body parts in lab”) and elsewhere. In fairness, it’s not altogether inaccurate. Scientists also managed to grow new nostril tissue for patients whose noses were claimed by skin cancer.
Then there was the case of the WGN Morning News anchor who managed to make it through a story about the lab-implanted vaginas without incident, only to remark, with the camera still rolling, that it was “a tough story” for her to read. “What do you want to call it?” her co-anchor aggressively interjected. “A coochie-coo, is that better? Say what it is, it’s just biology.” Here’s that uncomfortable exchange.
The fun, at any rate, doesn’t seem to be over yet. Join us live as we watch the mass media apparatus report on what may well be the most ill-advised and inexplicable corporate tweet of all time: a (now deleted) US Airways Twitter image of a toy 777 crashing in an unidentified woman’s vagina.