I named my uterus Judy a few years ago. It made sense at the time. Calling it “Judy” gave me the freedom to air my bodily grievances while surrounded by strangers. Those closest to me knew who Judy was, and the general public, who tend to be grossed out by off-the-cuff uterus talk, didn’t have to endure such a vile conversation.
“Are you okay?” a friend would ask, and I would reply, “Yes, I’m sorry. Judy’s just being a real bitch today.” It was a nearly perfect system. Until I met and became good acquaintances with two actual human women named Judy.
The human Judies in my life are delightful people who never cause me any pain or discomfort. They’re always polite and funny and perfectly charming, and frankly, it’s causing quite a few problems in my life. Now whenever I talk about Uterus Judy, I run the risk in my small town of someone thinking I’m talking about one of the Human Judies and vice versa. The phrase “Judy said the funniest thing to me the other day” when delivered to the wrong ears could undoubtedly make one pause, causing my friends to walk around, conversing with one another in private due to their concerns over my mental health.
“I’m really worried about Emelie,” they’d say. “Have you noticed that she seems to have… befriended her uterus? She thinks it’s talking to her and telling her all these jokes and stories about its life. I mean, I’m glad she’s learning to love her body, but this is taking it a little far, don’t you think?”
This would lead to several phone calls, to mental health experts and my gynecologist, what with the issues being so closely related and all.
“It all started so innocently,” my husband would later say in the documentary they would obviously make about me. “I really thought she had just given her uterus a nickname so that she could discreetly talk about having cramps, but when she started laughing and referring to it as something – no, someone – who brought her great joy during the workday, I knew something was wrong.”
Obviously, the Human Judies wouldn’t want to come to my defense after I had talked about them so horribly in public, so I would be doomed to a life in a small, padded cell, cursing the name Judy until I, too, believed the stories.
It’s natural to assume that the whole purpose of naming my uterus in the first place is that I don’t like to make people uncomfortable, or more importantly that I hate small talk. This is not the case, but while we’re on the subject, I think most women can relate when I say that I don’t give a shit about the weather when there’s a war going on in my lower abdomen. I hate having to say that I’m doing “fine” when I have bad cramps or when something is troubling me that would be deemed inappropriate to discuss in public. It makes me hate being in public at all, especially because half the time I don’t see what the problem is. I don’t understand people’s discomfort with talking about not just “womanly problems,” but about bodily issues at all.
When someone sniffles and says they have a cold, we all recoil. “Oh, the doctor said I’m past the point of being contagious,” they’ll say. We don’t care. “You’re gross and full of germs. You’re practically a leper. Get out!” But what about the things that aren’t putting us at risk of illness? Like mole removals or an inverted nipple? Why are those concerns off limits? Where do we draw the line? I’m not really sure, but this is where I think my naming rule can be applied so that you can skip the small talk and discuss the things that are important to you over lunch in a restaurant.
Take that mole removal, for example: “I finally got that guy Henry off my back. It only took fifteen minutes to smooth things over, and it turns out that there was really nothing to worry about. After putting off the conversation for so long, though, this is a huge relief.”
Or that inverted nipple: “Well, you know how Norma was being so reclusive? I asked around, and it turns out that she’s just a bit of an introvert, so thankfully there’s no concern there.”
But as I’ve said, it’s not other people’s comfort levels that I’m worried about. I didn’t name my uterus for the sake of anyone’s comfort other than my own. I named my uterus because when I think about it, it’s an entirely different being living inside me. I am just a host of this vicious monster that rears it’s ugly head once a month, and I prefer not for people to go around thinking that we are one and the same. Before I continue, I want to point out that I do understand that my uterus is part of my body and therefore part of me, but let’s just consider the foot for a moment.
I can control my foot. I can tell my foot to tap or kick or take a step forward. My foot and my brain are on good speaking terms, and I think it’s fair to say that whatever my foot does is my decision.
I have no control over Judy. In fact, it often feels the other way around. It’s not me that is causing the pain and the mean looks I’m giving you, it’s Judy. While you’ve been telling me about your day and thinking that I’m annoyed with you or that I find you dull, it’s really just that bitch Judy who won’t stop stabbing me from the inside out. Judy is the jerk here, and I would prefer not to be responsible for her actions.
However, now, of course, I run the risk of a human Judy sitting just a few tables away from us at lunch and mistaking my complaints about Uterus Judy for herself, thus opening a can of small-town drama worms on everything – all because of Judy (the uterus), that bitch.
I know what you’re thinking: I should just change the name of my uterus. It’s not like it’s a legal identification or anything, and you’re right, it should be a simple thing to do, but then I’d have to update everyone on the name change, and I run the risk of meeting yet another person with that new name. You know, I don’t know a single Roberta. Yet.