Oh well, just read this post, and had to come write about it before sitting down to study for the night. The issue the author raises on the blog is a VERY important one, but dilutes it with her abject ignorance.
The basic premise of the post is the right to choose physicians of a particular gender. That right has always been there. No one is stopping anyone from seeing a particular doctor or forcing them to go to “male gynecologists”.
The laughable thing is this: the author starts off on such a bitter note about doctors (I am not going to state why I think this might have been the case, since that would be speculative and not evidence based), that it invalidates all the (ridiculous) arguments she forwards thereafter. My good friend Deb has done a systematic analysis of her post, but I am going to take it a step further.
So, how does it feel when you end up in a hospital for delivery and the gynecologist about to examine you is a male? Yes, you read it right- a male gynecologist? Or how it would be to consult a male radiologist for a mammogram? A male radiologist who examines female genitalia? Though female gynecologists are aplenty, women often find themselves in tough corners when it comes to taking medical help in extreme cases.
This is an extremely ignorant and biased view for several reasons. First, the overt tone of hostility and surprise at “male gynecologist” is extremely derogatory. She works on the assumption that a male physician examining a female patient is always a sexual thing. That is extremely naïve and if anyone tries to hide it behind the façade of conservative orthodoxy, let me rephrase and reclassify it for them: Gender biased BIGOTRY! Secondly, the fact that gets lost in the absolute trash logic is the matter of socio-cultural significance. Patients should have a choice in the matter of seeing a doctor. And doctors should have the right to choose their patients (OMG! A doctor refusing to see patients? Now is there another igno-rant on that somewhere round the corner?). But these matters should not be considered in case of an emergency.
Consider this: you are a female, and you go into a cardiac arrest in the middle of a busy street. I am a MALE doctor, who happens to witness you go into a slump and finds you lying pulseless. Now, would anyone object if I gave you chest compressions to save your life? Thank God the November 2010 BLS/ACLS guidelines have done away with mouth-to-mouths or there was another perversion charge I would have to ward off!
The assumption that doctors “get off” on the sex of their patients is not just ridiculous, it is extremely ignorant and discriminatory. I agree there are charges of sexual harassment against doctors, but would it be logical to lump all of us in the same class?
India is not a country that has limited medical aid and so why should the women compromise?
SERIOUSLY? This shows the author has no idea of the medical dynamics of the country. In a crude manner of speaking, 75% of the doctors serve 25% of the patients in India. Breaking it down, it means the urban/rural divide in medical healthcare is so gaping, that the powers that be are considering forcing us into compulsory rural rotations post-MBBS. Somehow, I find it a little unnerving that someone who has so little idea about the medical situation in the country would dare forward such a preposterous and insulting post.
You can all it medical ethics, professionalism or anything under the sun, but a MALE IS A MALE!
I must say I never thought that males were anything but males… it would be “perverted” to do so! In an age where sexual and gender based discrimination is not just frowned upon, but actively discouraged, I find it highly ironic that the author sticks to the typical stereotypes painting males as the sexual predators. And I am sure, every profession has its share of perverted men and women, so get off our case already.
I think it would be presumptuous to assume that ALL the sexual perverts go to medical school for an average of ten years to earn their rights to be a MALE (IS A MALE IS A MALE) Gynecologist so that they can get off on their weird fantasies.
Of course, the case is otherwise too. It might be unnerving for a few men too, when being asked to cough out and at times a prostate examination by a female doctor also has the same effect.
Real life incident from our surgery posting: one of my co-interns was a VERY attractive girl, and we were in the ER as Surgery interns. There was a massive deluge of cases and we were all up to our neck deep, wading through them, trying to clear out the ER as fast as possible. Just as I had got done with my share of the cases and was stepping out for a bite (after almost being on call in the ER for 8 hours at a stretch, without a break), my colleague came up to me with a rather sheepish expression on her face. She wanted me to examine her one patient and she promised that if I did not ask anymore questions, she would pay for lunch next day. The prospect of a free meal is always welcoming for the overworked and underpaid intern, so I jumped at it. When I went to see her patient, it turned out that he had an inguinal hernia and when my colleague was examining him, he had, well, a bit of an incident, that left both the doctor and the patient a little red in the face and hot in the ears. In case you do not realize what an inguinal hernia examination involves, here is an example:
But does that mean we should move for a law to have all female medical students barred from studying surgery? I know that’s stupid, right? Well, not to our blogging crusader for gender… umm… inequality:
And will the Government bring a bill to say- ” Women doctors for women and male doctors for men“??? That is a million dollar question.
I am answering it: NO! Now where do I sign up to get those million dollars lady?
The blogger goes on to say:
Again, i am not trying to say here that every doctor on the block is sex- starved, unable to control their libido.
Right. All she is saying is:
…but a MALE IS A MALE!
You must look at the way they handle their stethoscopes when they check women!
How many of you know the unfair advantage doctors take on such unlucky women?
…their sexual apparatus goes on an overdrive, sensing helpless victims.
I could go on, but then I risk ending up quoting all of her nonsense article!
A typical example of her disconnectedness from the reality of the situation:
There are Government hospitals and primary health centers that have a single male/ female doctor taking care of everything starting from a delivery to mammogram. Probably that might be the reason why most rural women shun these hospitals.
Most PHCs would be so relieved to have mammography services, that they would not give a damn about the gender of the doctor doing the business. The assertion that gender bias is what is keeping rural women away from the hospitals also paints in my eyes the image of a city-dwelling, arm-chair warming, pseudo-intellectual who likes to spend time imagining themselves to be crusaders against all things icky when they get some time off from being boardroom parasites.
Sexual Boundary Violations ( SBVs) have burgeoned at an alarming rate in India- which include unnecessary physical examinations, inappropriate touching, sexual jokes with patient, sexual touch and finally there are cases of sexual intercourse too…
Unfortunately, when a patient comes to see a doctor, there is bound to be some form of embarrassment involved. Her assumption that aal-iz-well if the doctor and the patient are of the same sex is ridiculous. The blogger does not realize that sexual boundary violations will occur EVEN if the doctor and patient are of the same sex. Gender really has nothing to do with boundary violations.
And as for sexual jokes and innuendo, I would ask her to thank us. Doctors are more restrained today than they were a decade ago when it comes to such acts. Read The House of God, lady, and you shall realize that we are angels. The strong reaction to anything perceived as a sexual overture towards a patient or using a joke or acronym (e.g. TTFO: told to fuck off; PRATTFO: Patient reassured and TTFO; FLK: Funny looking kid; etc. check THIS for more examples or the references quoted below, especially the ones by the fantastic Dr. Fox) has rendered the art of medical slang into a vestigial organ, dying a slow but sure death. Rejoice…
Anyways, one thing that irked me no ends about her post was the fact that the blogger reduced the whole thing to a sexual mish mash but never considered the fact that there are people who go for people of the same sex. What would she advocate if the patient or (GOD FORBID!!!) the doctor happened to be gay? In that case would not her stand on the male-for-male and female-for-female (yeah, news flash, females can be gay too!) bill be counterproductive for the purpose of sexual policing? I guess these doctors or patients would then have to declare their sexuality in a form so that they get an adequately asexual clinical examination.
However, the real problem would be with bisexual people. First, they would have to make a law to prevent them from studying Medicine unless they changed their sexual orientation. And second, all patients who declared themselves to be bisexual would be turned away from hospitals that did not have un-sexed doctors (now would our blogging crusader not call THAT an oxymoron?). Now THAT is an ideal world! Aaaah… no more icky touching down there!
Its not like that patients do not have a choice in choosing their physician. They do, and as a litigation fearing doctor, I encourage them to. Even if for the wrong reasons, as a patient, you have the right to choose your physician on the basis of your personal preference or prejudice. However, when one bases their personal grudges and takes it out in the public forum in the form of an odious blog post, I feel compelled to dispel the myths.
Most doctors work off the best years of their lives in underpaid, less than hospitable situations to get to where they are at. Insinuations such as the ones the author has levelled have diluted the main issues that she should have focused on instead. Getting more female doctors in the business. And training male doctors in such a manner that the female patients do not feel violated following an encounter with them.
The right to choose your doctor is not my point of debate. The point I am trying to make is that, gender difference in doctor-patient relationship is a reality. The issues arising thereof cannot be solved by carpet bombing doctors with more legislative burden, but by creating a medical education system that teaches doctors, males and females, the issues regarding sexual and personal boundaries. By creating more opportunities for females to reach the higher levels of studying (creating more reservations for females is yet another symptomatic management strategy that will not work out in the long run) we have to ensure that the skewed gender ratio is adjusted. By creating incentives for the doctors to go back to villages to work for the people there we have to ensure medical care for all…
Doctors are so much in the public eye, it becomes a knee jerk reaction to blame the whole profession for the follies of a few.
4. Peter B. Hukill, A. L. H., and James L. Jackson (May 1961). “The Spoken Language of Medicine: Argot, Slang, Cant”. American Speech (American Speech, Vol. 36, No. 2) 36 (2): 145–151.doi:10.2307/453853 . JSTOR 453853