Our allies at Skeptic North cover a Canadian acupuncturist who claims that cervical cancer is a disease for prostitutes and promiscuous women.
My research about cervical cancer at the time told me it was very rare and that it occurred most often in women who had multiple sexual partners, who also had multiple sexual partners. In other words, the nurse said, it’s mainly a disease of prostitutes.
Well, I said, “That’s not me!”
Although my gut instinct was horror that she would imply that women with cervical cancer are prostitutes or they deserve their illness, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was simply recounting what this extraordinarily judgmental nurse had told her. Maybe she wasn’t actually implying that only whores** get cervical cancer as some sort of retribution for their immoral behaviour. (Though in my head I couldn’t help wonder if she also feels that AIDS is a “gay disease.”)
Or maybe she totally was. I watched her accompanying video, which basically repeats the information on the website for those of us too lazy to read.
So immediately I fell into research. And what I found out is that there’s a very specific profile of a person with cervical cancer. That person usually has many sexual partners. She’s very promiscuous. And her partners, in turn, also have very many different partners. What is really came down to was a description of a prostitute. And I knew that wasn’t me.
The human papilloma virus, HPV, is transmitted through sexual contact, it’s true. However, it is not transmitted solely to prostitutes or promiscuous women. Anyone telling you otherwise is trying to shame you for having sex. Period. It’s trying to turn a disease into a moral issue, using the existence of a sexually transmitted virus as a way to excoriate normal folks for having sex.
Let’s be perfectly clear. The only folks who have any sort of problem with people having consentual sex with other like-minded individuals are those who believe there’s some deity or another who has proscribed against having sex for pleasure. This sort of reprogramming, of telling people that their natural drives are evil or inherently wrong or what have you, is exactly the sort of mentality that leads unqualified speculations by unqualified pretenders to knowledge like this acupuncturist telling people who have HPV that they deserve their fates.
You all know someone who has HPV and survived cervical cancer. And fuck you very much if you think that makes that person bad in any way.