Patronized for having a womb, and not in the good way

So today I talked to a doctor about my prescriptions.

“You’re not on birth control?” he said.

“Doctor,” says I, “if I get pregnant right now, I can start a religion.” He looked confused. “I’m not having sex with anyone.”

“You should really be on birth control, Seer.” They never call me Miss or Ms. It’s always a relationship of power with the ones that insist on me.

“I’ve never been pregnant before.” He looked incredulous. “Besides, I have condoms and Plan B in the house.” I’m getting defensive at this point. I actually considered telling him about my sexual history so he would shut the fuck up.

“Condoms are not 100% effective.”

“Nothing is 100% effective.”

whore pendant

Not even this pendant is 100% effective against pregnancy.

“Well,” I said, sighing, “I can talk to my gynecologist. I know the stuff I’m on is teratogenic. We’ve discussed an IUD before.”

“That would be an excellent idea.”

“But I’m very careful, Doctor.”

“Still, you should consider it. Consider the copper implant. It’s just a piece of copper. Everything you’re on is dangerous. I don’t have anymore questions for you, Seer. Do you have anymore questions for me?”

That was it.

But why was this relevant? He wasn’t a gynecologist. He deals with the other end of my body. Yes, it’s great that he’s concerned with keeping me from causing myself and others pain. At a certain point, isn’t it just harassment?

I’ve also had at least two doctors tell me I should seriously consider whether or not I think I’m fit to breed because of my diagnosis. Yes, it can be genetically transmitted. I’m glad I get to make this decision knowingly. I just wonder if they have these conversations with all their patients who maybe considering having children, or just their patients with wombs? Something tells me to be skeptical.

Why do so many conversations with doctors end up back at my reproductive organs? It’s not like I’m constantly thinking about breeding every time I see them. They never even ask me if I’m a lesbian! Is that what they teach them in med school? You can only be of service to ladies if you treat their wombs? What about all the other stereotypical lady problems? Like being beaten? Are they looking for those warning signs? Or osteoporosis? Or sluttiness? Or even worse: bitchdom?

Advertisements

31 comments

  1. mhbenton

    As a man, I’ve been allowed only one “in-your-face” experience of a woman’s care at the hands of doctors, and really I think it’s male doctors. I was married at the time and the woman concerned was my wife.

    We always wanted a child and found she needed surgery to that end, a surgery that nearly ended her life. She did conceive and it was then the issue started. I accompanied her to most, I am sure I missed a few, of her appointments. I was amazed at the attitude of the doctors towards her, they treated her like a child. It upset me so much I ended up arguing with the doctor but I was going to get answers to the questions she was asking.

    I am not saying my ex-wife cannot stand up for herself, she very much can. The problem was the doctor, he simply refused to hear what she was saying. I stand 6’3″ and dress out well over 200LBS, when I want to get a man’s attention, I do it in a loud, forceful way. It got to the point where the doctor did not want me to attend anymore of her check-ups, something she refused to consider. I’ve never had a doctor treat me that way, my wife said it was common for women.

    Your observations hit home with me and makes me wonder how to fix it. How do we change what appears to be institutional bias against women? The doctor seemed to be saying “Trust me, little girl, I know best.” As her husband, it offended me greatly but I do understand I will never truly know how deeply it offended her.

    As good intentioned as your doctor may be, there is no excuse for being an ass.

    • Seer McRicketts-McGee

      It’s early where I am! I just responded to the wrong comment.

      Fix it? I have no idea. We (all the ladies I know, that is) all commiserate about this kind of monkey business. All the women I know will roll our eyes, but I know I seem to accept it on the same plane as having people stare at my bodacious ta-tas. No, it shouldn’t happen. But I’m still not sure if it’s t he hill I want to die on. I spend my real energy other places.

      It’s annoying. That’s what I’d call it. But I blow off steam by talking about it.

      Does it really keep women from getting the health care they need? If it does, then it needs to stop. Again, how? That seems insurmountable.

  2. dressingmyself

    I’m in a completely different healthcare system (National Health Service) and when I was 10 years younger and like forever before that, every time I saw a doctor he/she would ask me about contraception. I thought it there must be some kind of national target.
    The most annoying time was when I thought I had fluid on one of my lungs and I wanted the doctor to listen to my chest. Instead he asked me about contraception. I felt like saying I wasn’t even considering sex until I could breath without pain. If I was a man I think he would have just got out the stethascope. (not sure if that is the correct spelling, sorry).

    • Seer McRicketts-McGee

      Edited: It is early where I am–early for me. I’m not caffeinated, either. I responded to the wrong comment.

      This comment kind of undermines my response to the other one.

      That is weak. I haven’t had it that bad before. I’m usually just surly, and not that bad off. My regular GP is a good egg, and he’s the one I saw when I was covered in hives from head to toe (allergic reaction–or cancer?–was what I was told). He doesn’t harass or badger. Same for the lady pee-pee doctor, a.k.a. gynecologist (why anyone would want to spend their days looking at pee-pees, male or female, is beyond me).

      But lung rattles trump lectures of any sort. Bah.

  3. peaches

    Wow. I have never been treated like that by a doctor. I’ve been treated dismissively and like a child, but they don’t tend to dwell on my reproductive organs/capabilities.

    They know they’ve got you, too – it’s damn hard to find a new doctor, especially when you have an ongoing health issue.

  4. The Sensible Seamstress

    I only go to female doctors now. And I blatantly tell my daughter that female doctors are better than male ones (yes, I know she’s only 3, but you can never start too early). I once made an appt with a male doctor because I was losing weight so rapidly and didn’t know why. The first words out of his mouth were: “I’d like to prescribe some antidepressants for you.” WTF? That’s only one of many inexplicable and condescending comments from male doctors, and now that I see only doctors with wombs, I have never looked back.

    Thanks for starting a discussion on this! These things need to be said! I’d like to see some comments by chauvinist male doctors explaining their attitudes. Ha – like that’s going to happen.

    Seer, my last two posts on my shared blog thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com are about gender bias in sewing – you might find the one about Boy Scouts funny! I hope you come visit!

    Love your blog – glad I found you!

    • Seer McRicketts-McGee

      The way to my heart is so through my ego, darling.

      But for what it’s worth, the Turdiest Doctor I Have Had in Recent Memory? Lady Doctor. Yeah, That Lady? Paging Dr. Turdy McChuckers. Dr. Turdy Mr. Chuckers, someone has left an upperdecker in the restroom.

  5. subWOW

    Well said! That being said, I can’t decide whether doctors are more condescending or car mechanics or my co-workers.

    p.s. I love the pendant you found and I love the header picture. I hope you never get sued for using it. At least you gave the proper credit. But with Germans… you never know…

    Just kidding!

  6. letterstolife

    I am sorry you had to go through this. I am actually writing a similar post for my own blog. My story/situation is a little different, but I can sympathize because it’s like other people seem to feel like they know best for MY uterus. Apparently, without my consent, my uterus is a topic of discussion that I’m not even part of.

    Maybe you should look into another doctor. You know your body best.

    • Seer McRicketts-McGee

      He’s just filling in for my regular doctor…who has also had that conversation with me, now that I think about it. I think every doctor has had The Talk with me. I don’t know if I have less agency as a lady or as a patient. Neither class has much agency. I’ve kind of resigned myself to it. I have to admit, race is a way touchier issue for me. That’s where Seer gets prickly.

      Edit: my regular doctor is a lady, and she’s very good. Knows the chemical structure of my scripts. But she still had The Talk with me. With these docs, it doesn’t matter what kind of junk they have.

  7. Digital Dame

    I once saw a doctor (male) for a severe earache. What did he ask me about? Wanted to know when my last PAP test was, because he’d just take care of me… I’m only sorry now I didn’t report his smarmy ass.

      • JaniceJimerson

        No, this doctor is not in the clear, and the ear bone is in no way connected to the hip bone. Bones in the ear stay in the damn ear my friend. They don’t have a damn thing in hell to do with any other bones in the body. The doctor was out of place to concern himself with anything between the legs. He should have been reported to the medical board of that state. He would not be the one to take care of any problems between the legs!!! That is not his fucking specialty! And he couldn’t by any law do shit in that area!

        Janice

  8. ed

    So you ended up being just a mother.

    Just another mother, like a chimp, a cow, an elephant, a whale, just another mother, like an insect, or an octopus, or a worm. Just another mother.

    Your kids will not thank you, your husband will not like you, your own mother will pity you for making her own same mistake.

    Just another mother.

    For a moment of frenzy, of uterine voracity, irrational and irreversible, you destroyed your body, your beauty, and your own intellect.

    Parental-brain-atrophy-syndrome, where your brain biologically adjusts to the need of your infants, descending at their own subhuman level, with just one dimension, food, or perhaps two dimensions, food and feces.

    You left your ambitions, your achievements, your potentials outside your life and outside the lives of those who really loved, only to become a receptacle of an unknown body of an unknown person that never will be yours, and to whom you will never belong. Strangers united in a pool of blood and dirt.

    And dirt has become your life, and your life has become dirt. Urine, remains of food, excrements, diapers, vacuum cleaners, old soap, crusts, a life of dandruff and diseases, vaccine and lice, high school and drool.

    You lost your dignity through your open legs, first inwards and then outwards, first-in-first-out, garbage-in-garbage-out, a boomerang of boredom.

    Do you remember who you were?

    Do you realize your loss?

    Nobody chooses prison voluntarily, except for mothers, except for you.

    You chose the life of a slave in a cavern of dirt.

    People around you, who know that you are just another mother, do have compassion for you, but no respect. They know all about your emptiness, your pain, your despair, all dressed in the robes of a Virgin Mary.

    And a Virgin Mary you are not, because Mary was not a Virgin, and you are not a Mary.

    You were manipulated into just another life wasted on the heap of trash of a lost humanity dedicated to popular procreation and proletarian proliferation, to please the leaders of a domain of plebeians.

    The world lost you, and you lost the world.

    Good bye, ugly mother, good bye, old cow, with dried-out utters and distorted hips, good bye, and so alone you will die.

    • Seer McRicketts-McGee

      You really ought to be writing for children. Series, hopefully. I work with books, and know that Christian and Islamic series for children are quite popular, but I think that you could fill another void here, Ed.

    • KeepingYouAwake

      So you ended up being a sad little piece of a man, trolling the internet to leave well written comments stating your disgust. Excessive, long and winding comments that show your skills in imagery. Your wordplay.

      So there you sit, or do you stand, in your pool of self pity? Your pile of metaphors that you hope to use to bring someone else down and heighten your own ranking.

      I hate mothers, you say from your soap box. I don’t care for your decisions, you claim. Perhaps if you really try, if you work your hardest, you can make your voice heard.

      You did accomplish something here. You were heard. Your voice rang out like a fart in a classroom. It was loud and smelly and now nobody wants to be your friend. That’s okay though, right? That’s what you wanted. You’re a lone wolf. A rebel. You need only yourself.

      You’re a “man”.

      I’m a man, and I love and support my wife, who is the mother of my child. We are a pack, if you like metaphors. In the animal kingdom, a functional pack is successful because each member has their own skills and responsibilities. A lone wolf stalks their pray, but struggles to survive without the support of their pack.

  9. goldnsilver

    I’m going to be the arsehole here and disagree.

    I find what that doctor said to be appropriate. He was going through your meds and wanted to know why you weren’t on one thats common for most women. He had questions – he can’t trust your gyno because he knows that doctors make mistakes, so he has to double check.

    Personally, I love doctors who ask questions. I’ve had a few diagnosises turned over because my doctor cared enough to thoroughly check. I’m not just a uterus, but a uterus is part of my body – so it’s going to come up in conversation.

    I know that sometimes it can be frustrating with doctors, males in particular, because they can take on a dismissive air. I think this is part of their way of coping with asking extremely personal questions to people they never would in normal life.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t institutionalised problems in the attitude of the medical professions, particularly towards women. However, I found this example to be without warrant of that claim.

    • Seer McRicketts-McGee

      I’m really okay with being asked questions. It’s when we get into a five-minute argument that I’m not capable of being sexually active without getting pregnant that I get a bit irritated. I’ve had sex before. I’ve never been pregnant. I don’t think I’m alone here.

      He didn’t ask if I were getting my liver checked regularly, and liver damage is a potential problem with my medication–more likely than fetal damage, since I already have a liver. He didn’t ask about side effects, and I’ve only been on this medication for 6 weeks. It just felt condescending.

      Just my experience, not saying that this is the only way medicine works.

  10. goldnsilver

    He didn’t ask if I were getting my liver checked regularly, and liver damage is a potential problem with my medication–more likely than fetal damage, since I already have a liver. He didn’t ask about side effects, and I’ve only been on this medication for 6 weeks. It just felt condescending.

    That’s a very good point. Fair enough.

    If he didn’t double check about your other medications, and only went on about the pill, then that it very odd and he is a bit of wanker.

  11. brilliantmindbrokenbody

    …you know, reading things like this make me love my regular doc all the more.

    I’m a complicated, complex patient with multiple overlapping issues (a connective tissue disorder, fibromyalgia, migraines, asthma, sinus issues, bipolarism, Raynaud’s, insanely sensitive skin…the list goes on and on). My GP asks a lot of questions and remembers the whole list of things pretty damn well.

    In the almost-a-year I’ve seen him (since my former GP left the practice), he has asked me about birth control only a couple times. Once when we were going over the list of medications the computer said I was on, to make sure it was accurate. And at that, it was ‘Are you on ortho cyclin or are you on the patch?’ because the computer said both. Once when I had to explain that I couldn’t remember when my last period was because I take the pill in a way that means no periods (because periods exascerbate the connective tissue disorder). Once when I gave him a copy of the results of my most recent PAP.

    Having dealt with a ridiculous number of doctors, and having an array of specialists I have to see, I find his lack of condescention and willingness to focus on what I want a real breath of fresh air. I have enough doctors who are difficult to talk to or won’t explain their decisions!

    …best of all, if I dislike the treatment option he’s suggesting, all I have to do is say so and he gives me the other options. He may be the only doctor I’ve ever met who is like that, and if/when he leaves this practice, I think I’ll follow him.

    ~Kali

  12. Margi Macdonald

    Well. We had it the other way recently.

    My 16yr old daughter needed her uterus and its related activities seen to, and before we knew it, we were being ‘actively encouraged’ to get all shot up for the next round of H1N1 ( here in Australia we’re heading into autumn )
    We are not in any risk groups for serious flu-related illnesses. I had to remind the GP of that.

    I think so much of how Docs think is informed by bell curves of statistical probability, drug company marketing, and the latest and greatest public health initiatives.

    This is why they so often give us such bizarre, ill-fitting attention. They’re simply no longer adept at responding to the unique needs of individuals. Evidence-based-medicine is a one-size-fits-most approach to health care. Unfortunately.

  13. Pingback: If My Boy Learns to Sew, Will It Make a Difference? « The Sewing Experiment
  14. Pingback: Falling through my days | Occipital Hazard
  15. Pingback: On race and dating: is racial preference the same as other physical traits? | Occipital Hazard
  16. Pingback: Occipital Hazard’s greatest hits (and admittedly, a few misses) of 2010, according to me | Occipital Hazard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s