The device used in routine gynecological exams to inspect the cervix has barely evolved since American physician James Marion
Sims designed one back in the s. Sims was a plantation doctor who used his speculum to pioneer treatments for fistula and other childbirth complications, and he often experimented on women who were enslaved. His contraption was made of pewter; today, it’s stainless steel or plastic. Other than that, not much about the speculum has changed. It still makes a jarring noise when engaged (like a wonky can opener), it’s still a rude temperature (like an ice cube) and it still induces that horrible feeling of being stretched wide open (like, why?). There have been— and are still!—attempts to modernize it, but in the meantime, women have to tango with -year-old tech.