Blood Calumny

Hysteria is one of those loaded words: loaded with history and misogyny. Some people don’t realize the full implications when they use it to describe extreme distress. It’s more than colorful language. The word originated as a medical diagnosis.

In the past, doctors and psychologists attributed a multitude of complaints and disorders to errant movements of the uterus inside the body. The word “hysteria” translates literally as “wandering womb.” And because the majority of doctors defined gender based on body parts, men were viewed as immune.

The word hysteria is tied up with all sorts of misconceptions about normal biology, trauma responses, and gender inequities–not any existing inequities, mind you, but false inequities arising from the created myth that a uterus makes a person weaker and less reliable. While modern medicine agrees this is bullshit, the legacy of inadequate care for people with a uterus and the tendency to disregard their symptoms and treatment needs remains.

For the new book of menopause horror, Bodies Full of Burning, I took the idea of a wandering womb outside of the medical office, outside of the female-gendered body, and outside of the body altogether. I sent the angry, misunderstood organ with its clenched Fallopian fists out into the world to avenge its “host” for insults against his maleness.

Yes, I said HIS. Yes, it’s complicated.

I’m pleased my story “Blood Calumny” found it’s perfect home in a book that makes no false claims to be limited solely to women’s issues or experiences. Other trans voices are included, and though I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on my author’s copy yet, I’m looking forward to digging in and seeing the variety of intense takes on this fiery theme. Here’s the blurb and the link:

Read “Blood Calumny” in Bodies Full of Burning

“With Bodies Full of Burning, Nicole M. Wolverton has selected 16 stories which show how deadly the change of life can be. From state-sanctioned surgeries to transformative encounters with mythical creatures; strained relationships to fiery vengeance, these tales offer thoughtful insights into a topic rarely viewed through the lens of horror.

Featuring all-new fiction from:Joanna Koch, Marsheila Rockwell, Monique Quintana, Megan M. Davies-Ostrom, Carman Webb, D.A. Jobe, Dr Bunny McFadden, Julie Ann Rees, Victory Witherkeigh, B.J. Thrower and Karen Thrower, E.F. Schraeder, Jennifer D. Adams, Ali Seay, Jude Reid, Shelby Dollar and Max Turner.”

Published by: Joe

Joe Koch writes literary horror and surrealist trash. A Shirley Jackson Award finalist, Joe is the author of The Wingspan of Severed Hands, The Couvade, and Convulsive. Their short fiction appears in publications such as Vastarien, Southwest Review, Pseudopod, and Children of the New Flesh. He’s been a flash fiction judge for Cemetery Gates Media as well as co-editing the art horror anthology Stories of the Eye from Weirdpunk Books. Find Joe (he/they) online at and on Twitter @horrorsong.

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