If you stare into a mirror and say “vagina” three times in a row, Mayor Eric Adams will appear and deliver a speech about women’s health in New York City. “We would have a lot more research and care options for women’s health if we weren’t so afraid of saying the word ‘vagina,’” Adams said this morning at City Hall, where he outlined his (admirable) plans to address women’s health inequalities.
Adams laid out the tenets of his ambitious goal to make “New York City the healthiest city for women and girls in the nation,’’ starting with a Women’s Health Summit this March that will gather leaders across different industries and affected communities. According to the Mayor’s Office website, he plans to relaunch the Sexual Education Task Force, expand access to medication abortion at city health clinics, launch a provider education maternal health campaign that focuses on hypertension and diabetes, and exploring the expansion of pelvic floor therapies.
Throughout the speech, Adams listed off facts about the bleak health ecosystem for women: They’re diagnosed on average four years later than men, vaginal discomfort is more often misdiagnosed than it is correctly diagnosed, and the national Black maternal mortality rate is at least three times that of white women. He even got personal about his mother and sister’s experiences in the city’s health system, where they sought medical attention for menopausal and menstrual care, respectively.
This is all fantastic news. Of course, in true Adams fashion, he felt the need to add: “Something is wrong we can talk about erectile dysfunction but not clitoral stimulation.” I get what he’s saying, but something indeed does feel wrong when Adams, specifically, talks about clitoral stimulation. How can we rise to be the healthiest city in America if we’re mentally tortured by that utterance?!
In all seriousness, it is refreshing to witness a public official lay plain these inequalities and call out this bullshit. When the public official in question is prone to double-speak and bullshit himself, it’s hard to be entirely optimistic—but Adams, to his credit, has been steadfast in his dedication to protecting women’s access to reproductive healthcare, signing into law this week the ability to access abortion pills at NYC health clinics.
Hopefully, the city will help dam the “rivers of racism, social and economic inequalit[ies], lack of research and innovation” that “are all feeding into the sea of the gender health gap,” per Adams’ speech. May we see a future where New Yorkers can bravely scream “vagina” from their open windows by this time next year.