Mothers of Gynecology.

Mothers of Gynecology

Field review by the editors.

Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery is now home to two monuments related to women's reproductive organs: a statue of James Marion Sims ("the father of gynecology") and this one. The Mothers of Gynecology monument was in fact created as a counterpoint to the Sims statue. Artist Michelle Browder was dismayed that Sims, who did his Montgomery work in the 1840s, got all of the credit, while the enslaved women that he experimented on -- without consent or anesthesia -- were ignored.

The Mothers monument, which was unveiled in September 2021, features three women: Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey. They range in height from nine to 15 feet, and are welded together from copper-tinted metal parts: Lucy has bike chains for hair, Betsey has a tiara made from a speculum (a tool designed by Sims), and Anarcha has a hole where her womb would have been. The women have sharp objects attached to their skin to suggest pain, and Browder said that she used junk metal because, like the women, it had been discarded.

Some modern scholars question if Sims should have a statue at all, since evidence for his claims rest mostly on his own autobiography and a biography written by the principal booster for Montgomery's Sims statue (which is a copy of one formerly in Manhattan). The Sims statue cannot be taken down, because Alabama passed a law in 2017 forbidding the removal of any monument more than 40 years old.

Mothers of Gynecology

515 Sayre St., Montgomery, AL
I-85 exit 1. On the north side, drive west along South St. Turn right (no stoplight) onto Sayre St. Drive two blocks. The sculpture will be on the right, just south of the corner of Sayre and Mildred Sts.
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