Syllogismism

Jumping up and down

Posted in Dudes, Mysognistic Bullshit, Women's Bodies, Women-Blaming by Dizzy on December 26, 2007

I was in and out of the hospital for a few weeks a couple of months ago with some crazy intestinal bullshit that made me walk all hunched over popping chewable fiber tablets, terrified of eating bread products or spicy food. I was suddenly a hundred years old. I most definitely blame the patriarchy.

I went in to see my doctor in the morning a few days after the last hospital visit with some new belly pain and she forced me to go to the ER because she was worried my condition may have worsened. I really, really didn’t want to go. The last time I had gone to the ER with stomach pain I was there for 4 days and left with a mild morphine addiction. They sure are liberal with that stuff when they don’t know what’s wrong with you, lemme tell ya.

On this ER visit, I was attended to by a creepy ass old doctor with a long grey ponytail that despised me. I could tell this by the way he sneered at, chuckled, and dismissed my complaints. I wanted to scream at him that my doctor had forced me to come. I wanted to go home and curl up in bed for the rest of the week. I was mos def not on a mission to get narcotics. If a cup of Maalox was gonna make the pain go away then please, give me the goo and let me be on my way. Please please please, don’t admit me.

But this guy straight up hated me. He didn’t believe a single word that came out of my mouth. I knew this the way that people just know things.

Needless to say, I didn’t trust him much either, so when his evaluating presses on my abdomen became a little too gentle and caressing, I got tense. It wasn’t egregious fondling, and if it had been my own doctor I would have thought she was just expressing care, but it was a little too gentle for a doctor that had showed nothing but skepticism of my illness and contempt for my existence since I walked in the door.

He fed me some tummy medicine and came back a few hours later to see how I was feeling. “I think I’m fine” I said. “No more pain.” I got up and waddled around the room in a haphazardly-tied hospital gown and old undies, declaring myself fit as a fiddle. It worked! The Maalox worked! Can I please go home now? Then the doctor says:

“Jump up and down.”

“Jump up and down?” I asked.

“Yeah, let’s see if you’re really feeling better.”

“No.”

“What?”

“I will absolutely not jump up and down in front of you.”

Looks at me quizzically. “You won’t?”

I sit back down on the bed, determined. “No. No. I won’t.”

He looks at me from the side, with his eyes all squinty, and writes something down.

I lose my shit. “I’m not a crazy person! I’m not! Why are you looking at me like I’m crazy? Seriously, I can’t jump up and down in front of you. No! No. But I feel better, I feel just fine. Let me go home, okay? I won’t jump up and down. No. Definitely not. And I’m not insane.”

Looks at me as if I’ve just threatened to blow up the hospital. “I’ll just have to take your word on that.” Audible Pfft. “You can go.” Wave of the dismissive hand. “I’ll have the nurse bring in the papers.”

Of course I acknowledge the possibility that there was some sort of medical necessity at work there and that my doctor was truly attempting to determine, via the random jump demand, if I was lying about feeling better. In this scenario, my creepy doctor was looking out for my well-being.

If this is truth, it’s partial at best.

Taking in the whole scenario, I think it’s clear that dude was on a serious fucking power trip, to say the least. Me: A sickly woman in a stiff, cold, sterile bed, mostly naked under a thin hospital gown, who has expressed fear about her impending bankruptcy from these endlessly escalating hospital bills and wants nothing more from this man than to be allowed to go home. This is a portrait of vulnerability, and we all know how appealing female vulnerability is to men who get off on their assumed patriarchy-given power to demand things from women that they have no right or reason to demand.

Maybe I’ve been fortunate in my choice of female doctors and therapists, because in all my years, no female doctor has ever demanded uncomfortable personal information that was irrelevant to whatever I was there for. No female therapist has ever asked me for sexual details. No woman has ever demeaned me by asking me to jump up and down in front of her for any reason, ever. No woman has ever asked me to do something that made me feel like my vulnerability was being taken advantage of. That’s not to say that no woman has ever done such things, but never to me.

Or maybe I’m more conscious of my vulnerability and discomfort with male doctors than with women and more suspicious of their motivations. Yeah, maybe that’s it.

Or maybe I’m absolutely right to think that men in positions of close authority over women’s bodies are allowed to force a level of intimacy that is uncomfortable and wholly unnecessary, and that this is true especially in the most sanctioned of authoritarian relationships – the ones where the disparity in power is accepted near-universally.

Whatever little sovereignty a woman may have over her experiences, her body, her choices – these are negated entirely when in the presence of an authority man. Especially when she is at her most vulnerable, when she is most dependent on his assessment of her.

The man in this kind of power position has the legitimate right to take for himself anything and everything that belongs to a woman, all in the name of her health and well-being. He can demand her humiliation with little challenge, as long his demands aren’t outright illegal, because the world expects its men, especially those with his kind of power, to dominate the half of the species that are supposed to exist solely for the purpose of arousing, satisfying, and comforting the other half. And because the patriarchy expects its authority men, its doctors and psychiatrists and police officers, to verify for the rest of the world how not-quite-human women really are, what with their odd afflictions and emotions and behaviors, by treating them as not-quite-human.

He can tell a woman to jump up and down in front of him. He can ask her questions that nobody should ask for any reason. He can softly caress her belly when he should be pressing down on it. He can write down notes about how crazy she is because she didn’t do what he told her to do. And she’s the one with the problem, because she’s a woman. He’s a doctor. Enough said. End of story.

And I say boo.

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10 Responses

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  1. juke said, on December 27, 2007 at 8:25 am

    His license to practice medicine probably came from a crackerjack box.

    What a fucker.

  2. Rachel said, on December 27, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Shit – that really is quite creepy.
    Hope you’re doing better now.

  3. Holly said, on December 27, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Oh my god, Dizzy! I am so sorry to know that you’ve been sick, and even sorrier that the doctor treated you like that.

    For what little it’s worth, I have distrusted the entire medical establishment since I was treated like SHIT during an extended intestinal illness. I have always been struck by this statement from “Howards End” by EM Forster: “The sick had no rights; they were beyond the pale; one could lie to them remorselessly.”

    I wrote a big-ass paper on how badly the medical establishment treats sick people–especially sick women–and collected statements like this:

    in contemporary America there is an assumption among physicians that the diseased and the beautiful cannot be encapsulated in one and the same category. Young physicians often see beautiful patients as exemplary or “good” patients, patients who will follow doctor’s orders and therefore will regain health. The aged or poor patient, on the other hand, is seen, even by the trained physician, as one who is a “bad” patient, a patient who will probably “make trouble” and whose health will not improve. Indeed “lower-class” patients were often diagnosed as being more gravely ill and were given poorer prognoses than those of other social classes when, in fact, they differed from those patients only in terms of the visible (or stated) criteria of class. –Sander L Gilman, “Disease and Representation: Images of Illness from Madness to AIDS”

    and

    there is clear evidence that behavior and occurrences that both we and medieval people see as “illnesses” are less likely to be described as something “to be cured” when they happen to women than when they happen to men. Women’s illness was “to be endured,” not “cured.” Patient suffering of disease or injury was a major way of gaining sanctity for females but not for males. –Caroline Walker Bynum, “Holy Feast, Holy Fast.”

    The fact that the medical establishment feels, by and large, so justified in distrusting women and blaming them for their own suffering is one reason I can’t watch “House”–that doctor’s sneering disdain for people so ICKY as to get sick and so self-obsessed to consider their pain IMPORTANT to someone like a DOCTOR makes me pretty damn sick. Likewise, I also can’t watch “Grey’s Anatomy.” The way illness is made this backdrop for all this posturing by these doctors is more than I can stomach. I absolutely do not understand the popularity of either show, and wonder how many among the audience for either have been hospitalized for any length of time. I’m sure there are some, but everyone I know who has spent much time as a patient in hospitals can’t stand either show.

    I really, really hope you get well and don’t have to deal with pricks like that old goat again.

  4. Fatadelic said, on December 27, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    What an awful experience for you. Good on you for refusing to play his power game.

  5. sigh said, on December 28, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    MDs are particularly unaware of their own powersickness. Goddess bless you for knowing when to say NO to a fuckwit.

    I have had a female doctors deny me what I needed, but she at least felt guilty about it Her (patriarchal) training required what I was unwilling to give, so we parted ways. She knew it was a difference in place rather than me just being crazy, so it wasn’t like a male doctor.

    thanks for sharing your experiences. I hope vulnerable women learn that authority man is a threat. Love that expression “authority man” Can I steal it, if I cite you.

  6. syndicalist702 said, on January 8, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Sounds horrifying. My skin crawls just hearing it. Glad you feel better (at least physically).

  7. edie said, on January 9, 2008 at 1:44 am

    If only you knew how alluring your boobs looked bouncing up and down through the thin, cheap fabric of a hospital gown. It’s called flattery, people!

    Second the boo. xx.

  8. mytahgo said, on January 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Let both your doctor and the hospital’s administrator (or ombudsman, or whatever) know about Dr. Creepy. Chances are you are not the first person to have had to deal with this clown.

    Hope you are feeling much better.

  9. Nada said, on September 3, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Why would someone introduce you as a feminist to their friends? Because you are apt to view everything through the colored lenses of your feminism. Such an introduction serves simultaneously as an ideological tribute (with a touch of condescension from your older friends) and a warning. You’re right, everyone should be a feminist, and more people than you think are, up to a point. But this post of yours illustrates your readiness to view anything as an offense against women. Its possible the doctor is actually a creep but your experience is entirely subjective – you “just know” and you interpret everything through that filter.

    You have stomach pains and you’re in the emergency room. You could have one of 500 or more different medical problems, including obviously ones related to your reproductive organs and the way you use them. So why is it so surprising he asks you intimate questions?

    Then, instead of dealing with you in a strictly cold and mechanical way, in the face of your obvious hostility he made an attempt to give you a small comfort gesture, a tiny rub to your belly beyond the bounds of mere necessity. Its obvious in your mind that he secretly wants to grope you. Never mind that he may be as uncomfortable with you as you are with him. He asks you to jump probably to see if you have gastroesophageal reflux, which can ultimately cause esophogeal cancer if left untreated (a friend of mine is dying of it as we speak). But you’re just concerned that he wants to see your breasts bouncing around. The indignity of it all!

    You show some awareness of your bias, you acknowledge the possibility in passing, but quickly dismiss it in favor of your feminist analysis. So next time just ask for a female doctor. Females are more sensitive to subjective issues. Maybe they wouldn’t ask you to jump up and down. But when I presented with hemorrhoids my female doctor declined to see me, sending in her male colleague instead. Hmm, should I blast her for her feminine squeamishness? If I ever get colon cancer, remind me to find a male doctor. I want someone who’s paying attention.

    I also had to go see a surgeon who had to inspect my groin for a possible hernia. He informed me that despite the opinions of 2 other doctors, I didn’t have one. After finishing the exam he pulled up my underwear for me as if I were a toddler who needed help getting dressed. I was quite offended. I saw the doctor as egotistical and insensitive. He was right and he was also an egotistical jerk. Such people are everywhere and if we had a matriarchal society we would still have them. I got over it. I advise you to do the same, universally.

  10. Dizzy said, on September 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

    What are you even doing here? Do you just go around the internet finding feminists to chastise? What the hell is wrong with you?

    I advise you to fuck off, universally.


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