Possible Bodies

Anarcha's Gland

Item number: 059
Item title: Anarcha's Gland
Author(s) of the item: Anarcha, Betsy, Lucy, Pechblenda, Klau Kinky
Entry of the item into the inventory: 13 May 2017

A re-naming project for decolonizing the body.

The 19th century American gynecologist Alexander Skene gave his name to the 'Skene's glands'. These glands are analogous to the male prostate and associated with female ejaculation.

Skene practiced his gynecological research on enslaved women. From 1845 to 1849, his colleague J. Marion Sims experimented on at least three of them at a plantation in Alabama: Anarcha, Betsy and Lucy. Anarcha was probably operated about 30 times, without anesthesia. These experiments, considered to be a step toward modern vaginal surgery, allowed Sims to design several new medical instruments, including the speculum.

In honor of the enslaved women who were victims of Sims' experiments, Pechblenda rebaptized the Skene’s gland to Anarcha’s gland and the Bartholin glands to Lucy and Betsey glands.