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Feb 18 2006

Gyno Knows Best

I reveal no secrets when I say that the idea of the male ob/gyn sorely inflames the revulsion center in my obstreperal lobe. This morning, as the rosy fingers of dawn reached across the sky to chuck me under the chin, this inflammation was exacerbated by a tiptoe through an ob/gyn listserv.

The thread in the listserv to which I was directed (by one of our patriarchy-blaming MDs) begins with a male ob/gyn whining that one of his adult patients wants him to recommend a female gynecologist for her teenage daughter. The discussion turns into a celebration of (mostly) male resentment over patients who have the gall and stupidity to prefer women doctors when “chromosomal arrangement” is clearly irrelevant to medical expertise.

Of course it is! Or rather, it’s irrelevant when the chromosomal arrangement is XY. That’s because, in a patriarchy, men have a perfect right to be in charge of female reproductive organs. And since the context is “medical” rather than “sexual,” any gender preference manifested by the patient is, as one of the male ob/gyns put it, “illogical.”

Because of the lame listserv architecture, the thread is difficult to follow, and as a result I’m sure I’ve missed a few gems, but here are some of the lowlights:

Dr. A: I suspect that many men overestimate the pain of a normal birth.” [context]

Dr. B: My assertion has never been that one needs to have had a baby [...] to provide good care, but that it is not unreasonable for a person to prefer someone who at least has the same equipment to care for their sexual health.
Dr. C: Nonsense! [context]

Dr C: My mother fixed this problem when I was born and named me Lynn. Many a woman has been quite shocked when a 6’4″ male walks into the exam room. When they say they thought I was a woman, I simply respond by saying, “too late now.” [context]

Dr D: Our hospital referral line was responding to requests for a referral to an OB/GYN would you like a women [sic] doctor and until one of our male OB learned this and complained about discrimination did they stop [context]

But here is the pièce de résistance, a female ob/gyn (thanks a bunch, sistergirl!) who opines that a woman patient whose history of abuse has made her leery of the idea of a strange man cramming his hand up her vagina should, for her own good, be “desensitized” by disallowing her preference. “Going along with [a patients' preference for a female doc] is not ultimately healing.”

This patronizing arrogance is astonishing, but not surprising, given the supremely misogynistic nature of the medical establishment. Women, who their whole lives have been conditioned to exist in a perpetual state of reaction to male authority and who have justifiably found this situation unsatisfactory, clearly have no business expressing this sort of “sexist” and “discriminatory” preference. Social control of women morphs into medical control.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in a patriarchal society — which, let me refresh your memory, is a society more or less built on the fetishization of female genitalia — any dude who springs out of bed one fine morning to declare “I will be a gynecologist, by Jove!” is precisely the sort of dude who should be confined in an asylum.

I mean, in what other profession does a man view disembodied pussy as a source of revenue?

193 comments

7 pings

  1. Delphyne

    Hurrah! This is the question I’ve been wondering about for years. Why would a man want to become a gynecologist? And the only answer I’ve been able to find is an ugly one.

  2. Mandos

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in a patriarchal society–which, let me refresh your memory, is a society more or less built on the fetishization of female genitalia–any dude who springs out of bed one fine morning to declare “I will be a gynecologist, by Jove!” is precisely the sort of dude who should be confined in an asylum.

    Knowing a lot of doctors in my family (but no male ob/gyns), I don’t think specialization choice happens that way. I know a lot of people who’ve gone into specializations not because it’s the one they wanted but it’s the one that they could succeed at. For instance, one of my relatives wanted to be a radiologist but is instead a (female) ob/gyn…

    Also, there is no other medical profession which has a large component of dealing with a very wanted condition for some people: birth. I think that the alienation of men from children and childbirth is actually a problem. I mean, I’m not a doctor, but I happen to like babies (got no time for one of my own at the moment…). If I were to be a doctor, and if I wanted to be a doctor for happy things, then there really aren’t very many choices. Pediatrician, but that deals with illnesses of children of all ages. The other is ob/gyn. I share some of your “ick” factor about the “examining genitals” bit, but I’ve been told that some men become ob/gyns because the maternity ward is usually the “happy part of the hospital.”

  3. hedonisticpleasureseeker

    As a lifelong victim of the HMO (I grew up in Minnesota, where the HMO was invented), I’ve had a steady parade of unchosen gynecologists, male and female, good and bad, checking out my twat. I find this fact MOST ironic: The very best gyn I ever had was a middle-aged man in private practice, and the very WORST one was the woman at the family planning center I visited to get The Pill when I was a teenager. So while I prefer women gynecologists (I go to a women’s center now), I TRY not to judge, even though the idea of a male gyn skeeves me on principle.

    (For what it’s worth, that one fabulous male gyn was so good because he was just an extraordinary human being all around. He didn’t even presume my lover was male, like all the others, female gyns included. He always referred to my lover as “your sweetie,” just in case I was gay. Nothing he ever did to me caused any pain – - it’s as if his very hands were anesthetic. He had so many private patients he had to stop taking new ones. Extraordinary human beings such as he are exceedingly rare. I’m sure he’s retired now.)

    Here’s something to throw on the debate: A doctor once revealed to me (about 20 years ago) that most men do not “choose” gynecology. Apparently, the conventional wisdom is that male doctors end up specializing in gynecology or proctology when they get very bad grades in med school, because it’s the only specialization that will take them. Hopefully, now that there are so many female gyns now, the medical field no longer accepts the losers.

    Here’s my most horrific male gyn story: I had a new male gyn tell me I was probably “abused” as a child because I winced when he shoved his hand up my twat and my ass. He was like a jackhammer, but apparently I was supposed to be okay with this? He suggested I get therapy. I left the office crying and feeling like I’d just been raped, thinking, “Well, I guess I need therapy NOW . . .” It goes without saying that I refused to let him touch me again.

  4. virgotex

    “Going along with [a patients’ preference for a female doc] is not ultimately healing.”

    and raping her is?

  5. Melissa

    Just a suggestion, but have you thought about checking out a midwife? Many of us are trained in well-woman care, and (at least up here in Canada) we get vast amounts of training about the social aspects of reproductive health as well.

  6. MzNicky

    Twisty: I had a visit the other day from my parents (they’re in their ’80s). Dad was telling about his latest visit to the urology group that has been treating him for bladder cancer in recent months. Seems part of the exam involved the insertion into his penis of a catheter, which this time would have involved the sole female practitioner in the group — a horror, he concluded relievedly, that was circumvented when one of the usual males stepped in instead. MY MOTHER then added, “Can you imagine having something like that done to you by a person of the opposite sex?” Since she is my mother, and I knew she was not being ironic, I said, “Well, yeah, I can, since this is what women who go to the gynecologist have almost always faced until recent years.” I still don’t think either of them heard or understood, but then, that probably explains my ambidextrosity for blaming the patriarchy.

  7. Ms Kate

    How many female urologists have you heard of?

    Riiiiiggghhhhtttt.

  8. Ms Kate

    BTW, I think Mandos has a very good point. The doctors who ran the extremely progressive and sensible OB/GYN practice I used for my second child’s birth were both male. They had women on staff and a bunch of midwives (including a midhusband!), but they were male just the same. They were very woman centered and most excellent – and when my son came out butt first, they caught him as he came. No c-section. These guys were also at the forefront of learning and teaching ways to treat various gynocologic issues without hysterectomy, and known to be supportive of child free women as well.

    On the other hand, I’ve met/known some real bitch on wheels OBs and GYNs with two X chromosomes. Some doctors are jerks, some are not. Gender neither precludes or guarentees sensitivity.

    It is fair to say, however, that if said daughter is not comfortable being manhandled for any reason, get her to a woman doctor and shut the fuck up. I think this guy should give a serious two thinks to finding himself or his son a woman urologist if that’s where he’s coming from!

  9. emjay

    Ms Kate, I was going to say the same thing: if a man says that a woman shouldn’t care about going to a male ob/gyn, ask him if he minds going to a female proctologist or urologist.

    It is not a hospital’s job to desensitize me after my sexual abuse. If I call any type of medical practice and they won’t let me see a female doc, I am more likely to go without care than see a male doc. I am willing to see a male dentist, ENT, and podiatrist. For anything between the neck and knees, I’m going to someone with the same equipment.

    Interestingly enough, I’m contemplating loosening that rule. As a lesbian who is planning to get pregnant, I’ve been refered to a gay male ob/gyn who is apparently responsible for lots and lots of lesbian offspring and is loved by every lesbian within a 100-mile radius. I’ve visited a couple of female ob/gyns and my female internist and all have been quite dismissive of a lesbian trying to get pregnant. “Find new doctors” is high on my to-do list, and after lots of frustration I’m wondering if a gay man who comes highly recommended might be preferable than the constant search for a woman who doesn’t immediately dismiss my concerns.

  10. sunny in texas

    when it got to be time for my daughters to have a first gyno exam, i always request the female doctor where i go.
    i, myself, happen to trust the male gp i have(first time THAT ha ever happened). but the girls get a woman because it might be easier for them to talk to a woman doctor about stuff they don’t want to talk to me about. i also don’t want them to ever think that men know their gear better than they do.

    my ex MIL was in her 50s when she got her first NON painful pap smear. she came home talking about it like it wasn’t supposed to be that way. i got to be the one to inform her that no it’s not supposed to hurt and no, you don’t ordinarily spot afterwards.

  11. Dani

    “I think that the alienation of men from children and childbirth is actually a problem.”

    The alienation of men from their OWN children is a problem. If I believed that it were so that men became obstetricians (nothing will convince me about the sanity of them becoming gynecologists) out of awe for the lifegiving powers of women, then I’d be a little less freaked out at the idea. But after all the horror stories I’ve heard about men doctors in the maternity ward, I feel that their choice to adopt that profession has more to do with their affinity with the rest of the medical profession’s love of power and prestige than any commitment to the ‘care’ part of healthcare. In most cases, it’s the nurses who offer this anyway.

    This is actually a gripe I’ve had with men in the medical profession in general lately. Like last week when a crappy dentist who can’t administer anesthesia properly to save his life, told me the pain I felt as he drilled into the inner recesses of my tooth was ‘psychological’. Or the (again male) resident who partially ripped of the skin of my Mother’s breast when removing the surgical tape during a procedure she was undergoing for Breast Cancer (“Oops. My bad.”). Men are taught to listen to women’s pain, which is the most necessary attribute of a good doctor.

    If a man really wants to reconcile himself with his inner maternal spirit (or whatever), here’s a radical idea: take up a childcare or teaching profession, or just be the one to stay home and raise the kids. There’s a lot more to motherhood than the triumphal moment when the baby pops out its wrinkled head for the first time. It’s also the day-to-day drudgery of raising it…but I guess 18 years of this isn’t as worthy of admiration in a patriarchy as the few minutes when the doctor proudly proclaims a new life to the world.

    Besides the very significant gross-out factor, my other main objection is how the hell a man can empathize (or even genuinely sympathize) with my medical relationship with my genitalia and reproductive system. Personally, I’d no sooner let a man give me a pap smear than I would a veterinarian give me a root canal.

  12. Dianne

    Generally, I prefer female ob/gyns and, if I were male, would prefer female urologists for one simple, practical reason: smaller average hand size. That counts when the doctor is going to put his or her finger in a narrow body cavity with lots of nerve endings.

    The male ob who did my c-section was quite good. The only reason I didn’t stay with him for routine aftercare was geographic inconvience. (Of course, I strongly suspect that he was gay, for whatever that has to do with anything.) However, on average I would rather have a female ob/gyn: it’s just easier to deal with someone who has some idea of what a pap smear, menstral cramps, and labor pains feel like than someone who is totally clueless.

  13. wolfa

    “Too late now”? Are his patients locked in until he gets to examine them or something?

  14. CafeSiren

    How many female urologists have you heard of?

    Actually, a man near and dear to me was recently distressed to learn that his female GP was being replaced by a male GP — precisely because his annual exam will now involve larger fingers. But then again, this woman didn’t set out to be a urologist.

  15. Kat

    I’ve always been icked out by the whole pelvic exam business. Do we really need these so often, even when we’re not experiencing anything out of the ordinary? I mean, men don’t have routine rectal exams every 1-3 years, do they?

  16. Hattie

    What a change these responses to male OB-Gyns signal. In my youth, in the 50′s and 60′s, most women I knew would never trust a woman to have the competence to deal with their reproductive systems. They would not feel “safe” and in good hands with a mere female in charge of their equipment. Even the best ones were insufferably paternalistic.
    Over the years, I have had some unbelievable adventures with male OB-Gyns, the only gender of OB-Gyn available to me for many years. There was the one who insisted that I had to take the Pill to avoid pregnancy. When I asked him to fit me for a diaphragm, he allowed as how he did not know how to fit one and that if I got pregnant, not to come to him asking for an abortion. Then there was the guy who had me strip and spent 1/2 hour staring at my body before he began his examination. And the one who had a tantrum because I refused to let his nurse induce labor in the a.m. on my due date without examining me (!). I went into labor that evening. He must have had a date or something and was infuriating at having to deliver my daughter instead. He yanked her out with forceps to hurry things along, and she had a bump on her head for weeks.
    These pleasant experiences all took place in Switzerland, which is male dominated to the max and whose medical system is highly overrated.
    We are so much better off these days. Of course the guys in the field don’t like the competition. They had it good when they were the medical representatives of the husbands of oppressed women who had been taught to submit to male authority.
    I love the idea that men are too sympathetic to women in childbirth and imagine that the pain is worse than it is. HA!!!

  17. will

    “any dude who springs out of bed one fine morning to declare “I will be a gynecologist, by Jove!” is precisely the sort of dude who should be confined in an asylum.

    I mean, in what other profession does a man view disembodied pussy as a source of revenue?”

    I find this statement to be ridiculous. For a moment, I will leave aside the technical aspects of what might make an ob/gyn practice interest (combination of surgery and having patients that you can know and help).

    I can certainly understand that some women might feel more comfortable with a female ob/gyn than a male or a male ob/gyn than a female.

    But to suggest that a female ob/gyn is going to be more understanding than a male ob/gyn because she understands what it feels like ignores that fact sympathy and understanding are not gender specific. That female might have never had a baby or worked until the day she delivered or a myriad of other things. As a result, she might not have much sympathy at all because it was relatively easy for her.

    Why do you question why males become ob/gyn’s and not why females become ob/gyns? Are you suggesting that it is sexual for men, but not women?

    What is different about the motication for men than for women? Men cannot want to take part in the childbirth process? Only women can be sympathetic to other women?

  18. Hattie

    the women-to-women and the women-to-expert forums reopen shortly.

  19. Frumious B.

    “my ex MIL was in her 50s when she got her first NON painful pap smear. she came home talking about it like it wasn’t supposed to be that way. i got to be the one to inform her that no it’s not supposed to hurt and no, you don’t ordinarily spot afterwards.”

    The lousy female gyn I used to go to always hurt me, there was always blood on the slide, I always spotted, and I always had a little pain in the very middle of me for the rest of the day. She was one damn lousy doctor. One time I complained that she had hurt me, and she took that to mean she should dig a little deeper to find out why. Lady, it’s because you’re too rough, not because I am built funny. I only stayed with her b/c there’s a 3 month wait to get an appointment with someone new. Always. What’s up with that, anyway? The male gp I used to go to was a really nice guy and a pretty good doctor, and noticed how extremely uncomfortable I was as I lay on my back in a dress while he waved my leg in the air (note: when going to doctor about hip pain, wear pants) and took measures to preserve as much of my modesty as he could given the situation without making it worse by commenting on it. Dog bless him. Am I ever going to drop trou and spread my legs for a pap with him? No. Uh uh. Too much social conditioning not to be naked in front of men. The clincher for no male gyns for me are two experiences from high school: 1) Male doc refusing to prescribe pain killers for a bladder infection b/c “how will you know if you are feeling better?” Fortunately those meds are now OTC. 2) Male doctor telling me the pain I was feeling wasn’t menstrual cramps b/c “those are more of a dull ache”. And you know this how? He didn’t even ask if I was in the middle of or about to get a period, which I wasn’t. Thus I continue to search for a decent female gyn.

  20. Dianne

    ‘I’ve always been icked out by the whole pelvic exam business. Do we really need these so often, even when we’re not experiencing anything out of the ordinary?”

    Yes. At least until the HPV vaccine gets going. Cervical cancer doesn’t cause symptoms until it is very far advanced, but pre-cancerous lesions can be picked up on a pap smear and treated well before they are dangerous. A yearly pelvic exam can be the difference between getting a minor (if not at all pleasent) local procedure and getting your uterus and ovaries removed, undergoing a chemo/radiation treatment that makes twisty’s look fun, or dying of cervical cancer. Sorry.

    “I mean, men don’t have routine rectal exams every 1-3 years, do they?”

    They don’t have to start them until they are 45 or so, but after that, yes. A rectal exam every year can be the difference between having a relatively minor prostate surgery and dying of prostate cancer or between living and dying of colon cancer (though really both men and women need colonoscopies every 5-10 years to best avoid that.)

  21. Elinor

    I’m not automatically suspicious of male ob/gyns. My mother had one to deliver me and my brother; he was also our family doctor for over a decade and he was well known for being gentle, responsive, etc.

    In addition, well, there’s Henry Morgentaler, who is and was a pretty huge figure in the Canadian abortion rights struggle, and if it’s for fetishistic reasons I’ll eat my hat.

    That said, I’ve always preferred to have female ob/gyns myself, and the sense of entitlement coming off these doctors’ comments makes me sick. A lot of women are just more comfortable being naked around strangers if they are female; we’ve spent our entire lives using all-female changerooms, washrooms, etc. so why is this surprising?

    The comment about “desensitization” is truly god-awful. I can’t even enumerate the ways in which that’s horrible and wrong.

  22. CafeSiren

    But to suggest that a female ob/gyn is going to be more understanding than a male ob/gyn because she understands what it feels like ignores that fact sympathy and understanding are not gender specific.

    Will, sometimes you gotta have the equipment to know. I say this not theoetically, but out of experience, to wit:

    Several years ago, I had an abnormal pap, and so had to go in for a “punch biopsy.” I was too anxious about the possible results to worry about the ominous-sounding procedure itself. For those of you who haven’t had one, it involves inserting something like a long-handled hole-punch and using it to snip off a bit of cervical tissue for further examination.

    This all happened at a student health clinic where most of the exams were done by woman nurses, but there were only two actual OB/Gyn’s on the staff. By unlucky chance, I drew the old white-haired dude, who proceded to prep me for the exam, all the while muttering about the dire consequences of young women having indiscriminate sex (did I mention I was 31 at the time?). Then, he did the “punch.”

    Yeeowch!

    I twitched, stiffened and tears sprang to my eyes. But the good doctor assured me that “you don’t have any nerve endings there, so that couldn’t have hurt.”

    This may be chalked up to incompetence and insensitivity, rather than sex, but just the same, I’ll never have a male gyn again.

  23. will

    Why isnt it simply the search for a good doctor?

    The problem with a bad doctor isn’t that they are male or female. It is that they are a bad doctor.

    Women have the right to have quality medical care. Quality ob/gyn care involves medical expertise as well as an understanding of the invasiveness and vunerability of ob/gyn care.

    It sounds as if people here assume that female ob/gyns automatically have it and male’s do not. Vote with your backs! Go to excellent, understanding doctors whether they are male or female. If you give your business (so to speak) to a female simply because she is a female, you are losing an opportunity to reward the good ones and punish the bad ones.

  24. Frumious B.

    What’s with this woman hater?

    ‘The mom would have her young daughters see a FEMALE physician, presumably because males are, well, they’re MEN!!! (“Not with MY daughter yo (sic) won’t!!”) But then they get the female docs to put them on The Pill. Reason being, so they can go out and have sex and not get “in trouble.” ‘ – Joe P.

    umm, it was for irregular periods, but whatever…

    Dianne, American Cancer Society recommendation for pap smears is every 3 years now.

    American insurance company recommendations continue to be every year if you are on the pill b/c obviously if you are on the pill you are a whore (see above).

  25. Alexandrine

    “Dr. C” is creepy. “Ha ha! You thought you were getting a female doctor, you silly girl! But here I am, a man–a giant man who can use my size to intimidate you, too! Freaking out my patients is so much fun!” And that woman who wants to force frightened and traumatized patients to see doctors they are extremely uncomfortable with for “healing” purposes is even worse.

    My husband prefers female doctors. He was born with a disability, and had way too much experience growing up with patronizing, old school patriarchal male doctors who refused to listen to a thing he (or his mother, who did a lot of the talking with his doctors) said. For myself, given a choice between a male doctor and a female doctor without knowing anything about either, I’d take my luck with the woman first. But I’d be willing to see a male doctor who was recommended to me by someone I trust as a good doctor.

  26. rude one

    i trust female ob/gyns more for probably somewhat bigoted reasons, but their motives are no clearer than those of male ob/gyns or dentists of any sex.

    people do weird things for money. it’s not a he/she thing. whatever gender and motivation, i’m certainly glad i can get an expert to look at my moister parts every now and again.

    you’re great, twisty, but if men were insisting on male urologists, i suspect you would be taking the opposite tack here.

  27. will

    “But the good doctor assured me that “you don’t have any nerve endings there, so that couldn’t have hurt.”

    This may be chalked up to incompetence and insensitivity, rather than sex, but just the same, I’ll never have a male gyn again. ”

    Cafesiren:

    So if you have a bad experience with a female doctor, is it because she is female or because she is a bad doctor?

    The doctor that you had was an idiot. Everyone knows that procedure hurts like hell.

    What if you had a female doctor who had that procedure, but it didnt hurt her very much? Is she going to be as sympathetic?

    My point is a bad doctor is a bad doctor.

    I can certainly understand the point of the person who said she was more comfortable being unclothed around other women. You should be as comfortable as possible but that doesnt mean that male doctors are perverts or less compentent than women.

  28. Jode

    The inability of those docs to understand that some women have a problem with males during an intimate exam just reinforces my desire to see a female gyn.

    It’s not prejudice to prefer a female gyn; it’s a comfort issue. I don’t feel comfortable unclothed in front of a stranger of any sex (never had gym class), so to decrease my anxiety, I’ll pick the one I feel least uncomfortable with. There was some posting there about how the medical profession desensitizes one to nudity; well, it hasn’t desensitized me to MY OWN nudity, just to that of others.

    If I had to see a psychiatrist, I wouldn’t go to one who looked like my mom; that’s also a comfort issue, but the difference here is that the psychiatrist wouldn’t take it personally.

  29. rude one

    reading over the other comments, i realize that perhaps my preference for female doctors isn’t so baseless after all.

    due to some bad communication, i needed plan b once, and the male doctor i ended up with dragged his feet HARD about forking it over. when i asked if i could have some extra as a back-up, that was a no-go for sure. then he wrote me a birth control pill prescription, though i’d made it crystal clear i would not take them (i prefer condoms as needed to pumping my body with unnatural hormone levels at all times).

    i picked up the pills anyway, which i’ve occasionally used as plan b (google can tell you how). i know what i’m doing — i’ve been at this for 15 years with no unplanned pregnancies — and no female doctor has ever disrespected me so utterly as this male doctor.

  30. Dianne

    Furmious: Pap smears can be done less frequently in a woman who is low risk (ie has no history of either HPV or abnormal pap smears). For someone at higher risk, it’s still better to screen more frequently. Cervical cancer is usually slow growing but pap smears are relatively insensitive and it’s possible to miss early lesions that might be only mildly progressed after one year but more seriously so after 2 or 3 years. But technical improvements are making pap smears more sensitive so maybe that claim will be obsolete in a few years. I’d certainly rather only have to get a pelvic exam every three years. I have the vague idea that the pill can make cervical cancer act more aggressively, which would be another reason for wanting more frequent pap smears in women taking oral contraceptives, but I’m not sure I’m right about that. That claim may be full of santorum.

    All this talk about doctors who don’t believe that pelvic exams can hurt reminds me of a story I heard once. I’m not sure it really happened, but I rather hope so. Doctor X (a particularly nasty ob/gyn attending whom I hesitate to call “misogynistic” because I think the term isn’t inclusive enough to describe him: he hated men too), after a rather rough and painful pelvic exam says to patient, “Stop whining. You don’t have any nerves down there. Do you really think that that hurt?” Patient responds with right hook to the jaw and the comment “Yes. Did that?”

  31. Ms Kate

    American insurance company recommendations continue to be every year if you are on the pill b/c obviously if you are on the pill you are a whore (see above).

    Not so fast, Fruminous. Individual doctors may harbor this garbage thinking, but insurance companies are generally loathe to pay for anything they aren’t convinced of by actuarial data.

    The population on the pill is a population that tends to be more sexually active. But pill users are also taking synthetic hormones which can influence carcinogenesis in responsive tissues. Furthermore, birth control pills regulate hormonal cycles, meaning that certain types of changes may be masked or go undetected.

    Just because patriarchy exists and it sucks and flavors all that it touches, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of ourselves!

  32. Sara

    In response to Kat, I am inclined to say yes – we do need those exams so routinely. (Disclaimer – I am a medical student, and thus may be a bit brainwashed by “the establishment.” But hear me out.) Early detection of gynecological cancers can be key in catching them before they have changed from a totally treatable condition with virtually 100% cure rate to a more invasive condition.
    To quote “Cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But between 1955 and 1992, the number of deaths from cervical cancer declined 74 percent. The main reason for this decline was the introduction and use of the Pap test, which detects abnormal cervical cells, to find cervical cancer early.”*

    However, having said all that, the American Cancer Society says that if you use the new liquid-based Pap, it is acceptable to have an exam every 2 years, and for women over 30 who have had 3 normal exams in a row and who don’t have other risk factors, they can switch to every 2 or 3 years.

    I think it’s good to think about avoiding excessive invasive testing, but I think that the more important problem is the group of women, mostly of lower SES, who never get a Pap at all or never get one until there is a problem. These women will continue to die in greater numbers from preventable cancers until we can find a way to make healthcare more accessable.

    In response to Will, yes – thank you. I know many OB/GYNs of both genders, and they go into the profession for a variety of reasons. Also agreeing on the “bad doctors can come in any gender” thought. I go to school with some men who will make very fine sensitive doctors, and some women who I wouldn’t want to go to with any sort of problem, let alone a GYN one. The point remains, a bad doc is bad because they are insensitive or ignorant, NOT because they have a certain set of genetalia. I don’t see anyone saying they’d only go to an oncologist who’s had cancer. Does that mean that cancer docs can’t be empathetic and treat their patients well? I sincerely hope not. I know that some women have personal reasons for preferring women for such a sensitive exam, and I can respect that. But I do not think that gender bias (in either direction) should be that basis – women do not always make better doctors, period. Neither do men. Intelligent, caring people make good doctors. My dream is that some day the “bad” docs will go out of business – patients will feel empowered enough to leave behind the docs that don’t respect them, and nobody will have to endure bad practice of medicine any more. Idealistic, I know, but let me dream.

    *http://www.fhcrc.org/research/diseases/cervical_cancer/

  33. will

    well said, Sara.

  34. Elinor

    No kidding, Alexandrine. If that were me in the examination room and Dr. Lynn said “too late now,” I would say “no, it is NOT too late” and leave. Just for that statement, I would leave. If a doctor is that arrogant and dismissive before the exam starts, how will he be during the exam? If he doesn’t give a shit about my comfort when he walks into the room, am I supposed to believe he’ll start caring once he’s got the speculum in his hands?

    It sounds as if people here assume that female ob/gyns automatically have it and male’s do not.

    Will, I don’t think that is what people here are assuming at all — certainly not across the board. Certainly that is not the point I was making. It’s all very well to say competence is not gender-specific — and it isn’t — but if a woman, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to take her clothes off in front of a strange man, she is not obliged to “get over” that discomfort for the sake of the male doctor.

  35. will

    I agree that she isnt obliged to “get over it” just for her doctor. As I said, every woman deserves to be treated with respect by her doctor. Period.

    But wasnt the point of the post that men somehow are horrible ob/gyn’s?

    The examples were given as reason to avoid all male ob/gyn’s. The statements were provided not as examples of insensitive or bad doctors but of reason why men are bad ob/gyns.

    Thus, if I posted a bunch of ridiculous, indefensible statements made by female doctors, I wouldnt suggest that you avoid all female doctors.

  36. Matt25

    [Men] don’t have to start [rectal exams] until they are 45 or so, but after that, yes.

    I had my first rectal exam at age 18, and have been getting them pretty consistently at checkups since then. Based on the way the doctors approach doing it, I think I find the procedure much less unpleasant than the average male patient, which I guess makes sense given my sexual orientation. Nevertheless, I tend to like my women doctors’ exams better, and not just because of smaller finger size. They just seem to have (on average) a gentler attitude and less of a tendency to act as if they know what my experience is going to be like.

    Testicular exams absolutely freak me out, on the other hand. I’ve never had a woman do one of those, but some of my male doctors have more or less implied that it doesn’t bother them, so it shouldn’t bother me. In other words, having the same anatomy seemed to result in less rather than more empathy.

    This experience leads me to suspect that a part of the problem with male doctors may be that they have (again, on average) a greater sense of entitlement to decide what their patients are feeling, or should be feeling, and that this might be so even if they have, or could have, undergone the same medical procedures as their patients. Although I’ve had many good experiences with both male and female doctors, I’ve had fewer bad experiences with the women. So, other things being equal, I tend to prefer women doctors–in general, not just for “sensitive” procedures.

    I guess my point is, my preference for women doctors is mild, but it’s there. Put me (hypothetcially) in the situation of being an ob/gyn patient, and I’m sure it would get a lot stronger. I’m sure there are male ob/gyns who are excellent, but unless I already knew one I’d be playing the odds to minimize the chances of an experience like some of those described above. If I had abuse issues, much more so.

  37. kate

    Will says: “Men cannot want to take part in the childbirth process?”

    I want to find those men that truly, meaningfully want to take part in the childbirth process.

    I want to find the ones who can’t wait to have their stomachs heave every peice of food and in response to every slight odor for the first four months, then feel their bodies become stretched beyond belief, unable to walk or move around, chronic heartburn, poor bladder control, widened hips and ribs, risk of toxemia and other disorders.

    I want to find the men who will lay on the delivery table, and push a watermelon out of the their penis.

    Oh yes, I want to find the men who can’t wait to have swollen breasts, have to deal with gawking morons when having to nurse.

    I want to find those men who will sacrifice years of their own personal ambitions because their first and foremost job is housecaring and child rearing and to like it and shut up about their their dreams of personal success. And of course, I want to find those men who will take the blame when the child is less than perfect, his mate leaves him or he can’t find a way to balance child rearing and earning a living.

    Sure Will, come on, show we what part you want.

    On a positive to you Will, you point up what I agree with: “It sounds as if people here assume that female ob/gyns automatically have it and male’s do not. Vote with your backs! Go to excellent, understanding doctors whether they are male or female. If you give your business (so to speak) to a female simply because she is a female, you are losing an opportunity to reward the good ones and punish the bad ones.”

    I have three children and my experiences with ob/gyns is pretty limited to those experiences as i must admit, without health insurance I haven’t been keeping up on my regular pap smears. I guess I should make an appointment somewhere.

    Anyway, the first ob/gyn was a young doc who was as cold as ice and I couldn’t understand for the life of me why he was in that particular field as it seems that he didn’t give rat’s ass about women. Almost every visit he referred to me as some other woman and then would look at his file, and say, “Oh, sorry…” and search his file for the right name.

    When wheeled in to the delivery room when the child was crowning and my body was feeling like it was ripping apart, the nurses admonished me, “Not now, not now, don’t push now.” Whilst saying to eachother, “Where is he?” “Doesn’t he know she’s here?” Another nurse retorted, “I guess he doesn’t want to be interrupted for his morning coffee.” He was there to catch the kid, snip the cord, did his other duties and promptly left. I told later that because I didn’t have insurance, this doc did not register me as being affiliated with his practice, I guess for fear of compromsing his standing with the hospital, so when I entered the hospital that night, no one even knew who I was and there was all kinds of flurry about what to do with me.

    My second child, in another state, I decided I’d do something different and see a female gyn. I went to the appointment and lied about having had a child previously. I was nineteen and filled with guilt because i still wasn’t married (that’s another story). The woman had me down on the table, jamming her fingers inside me saying all the while, “Why did you lie to me? I can tell you’ve had a child. You have stretch marks.” She must have prodded my insides for a good five minutes while chiding me, like I was going to sit there and tell her that I felt like the dirty whore the whole world was telling me young unmarried mothers were while she had her fingers inside me, ramming me impetulently. I never returned to her.

    THen there’s the third child, in yet another state where I saw a male gyno who was located down the street from where I lived. Mind you, I had no way of communicating with anyone about who was good and who wasn’t, it was hit or miss.

    I was lucky. He was sensitive and caring and although I don’t think any pap smear or ‘exam’ can ever be less than humiliating, he was perfunctoral and also understanding. He had a pic of Magnum PI on the ceiling, “At least you’ll have something to look at.” he said, I liked his sense of humor. He knew I was too young to already be on my third child. He knew that something was wrong with the much older than me assbag I was married to, he knew that I lived in poverty and it wasn’t all my fault.

    Once he came up to me and said, “You have a donation today?” when I began to explain how I had no money to pay and no insurance because my then husband wasn’t working, he said, “I’m only kidding, don’t worry about it, I want you to not worry about money, lets just focus on you staying healthy and not getting all worked up over that. I’ve got plenty of paying patients.”

    Prior to delivery he told me that the powers that be at the hospital didn’t like it when he referred non-insured patients and not to be upset if they give me a run-around, that its a sucky system, but there it is. He said to call him before I had to go, at home, no matter what hour so he would know to get ready and be there. And he was, true to his word.

    I never paid the guy because I never had the money and he never bothered me about it. He saw all my children for well child visits and never asked for a dime. He always asked me how I was doing and made it clear that he didn’t think that my ‘marriage’ was much of such. I wasn’t hearing anyone at that time for further help, but I know he would have tried to help me get out of there if I was ready and had asked.

    O still think about him and I know he’s in practice in the same place. I am climbing out of years of poverty and when I get the money, I intend to pay him even though it was years ago, I want him to know he did right.

    Yes Will, you are right. There are good and bad among all. The patriarchy would never be so successful if there weren’t so many women out there willing to assist.

  38. obsoletepostergrrrl

    The reason I want a female gyno is not because I think her gender will make her a good doctor or because she will automatically be more sympathetic. I want a female gyno because of the power imbalance between my doctor and me. Being in a doctor/patient relationship already gives a doctor power over me, adding male privilege to the picture puts me in a situation where I have little voice. While he may not use this power in an unscrupulous manner, he could. That is not a situation I am willing to put myself in.

    I am appalled that this discussion of when it is permissible for a woman to want a female gyno is even taking place. Since when it is it up to us to approve or disapprove of the reasons a woman chooses a female doctor? The fact that women are being forced to justify their choice of doctors shows the level of control this culture exerts over female bodies.

  39. will

    “I am appalled that this discussion of when it is permissible for a woman to want a female gyno is even taking place. Since when it is it up to us to approve or disapprove of the reasons a woman chooses a female doctor? The fact that women are being forced to justify their choice of doctors shows the level of control this culture exerts over female bodies”

    I must have missed that part of the discussion.

    I believe that every single poster has said that any woman can decide who she wants to choose for herself for whatever reasons she wants.

    I do not understand your comment about the power imbalance. A female doctor does not have the same power that a male doctor does? I am not following your meaning.

  40. Ms Kate

    “Male privelege” is a nice feminist theoretical structure which OPG uses to express herself, and to not to have to answer to counterarguements that just about any doctor that has an asshole can be one too.

    It has a nice ring to it. Very academic. Very empowering to sling around. It isn’t a preference, it’s power and prevelige deconstructionist discombobulatory obfuscatory and only for those in the know!

    Unfortunately, “I don’t want a man touching me and I don’t have to justify it” doesn’t have the same academic whoomph as “I don’t want him exercising his male privelege”. In my mind, however, it is far more feminist to say “you know, I really don’t have to justify this to anybody – my body, MYOFB!, rather than couch it in inaccessible semantic code words designed to set up your own easy-bake heirarchy of exclusion.

    MYOB! is another.

  41. kathy a

    when i read this, what caught my eye was the idiotic notion that “men tend to overestimate the pain of a normal birth.” and then, holy cow, the way to overcome PTSD from rape is to be forced to see a male ob/gyn. sheesh.

    i had wonderful male doctors when i was pregnant with my first baby, and despite complications requiring a c-section, everything was good. they were good docs; they showed respect for me; never talked down, never made assumptions, always explained, always gave credit to how i felt and what i wanted.

    whole different thing when my daughter was born, overseas and at a military hospital. the docs i saw pre-delivery were fine, but when she decided to emerge, i got stuck with “super-patriarchy-doc”! a doctor so wonderful, he never introduced himself to me! he thought i was “not really in labor” and went to play cards, up until the time of delivery!! i wanted pain meds, but i couldn’t get them, because by the time HE figured out i was in labor, it was too late! and THEN — during the actual delivery, when my body was 100% in charge — this damned moron told me to “stop pushing.” let me tell you, he did not get a tip for service. i believe he is the person who thinks men overestimate the pain of regular childbirth. it is probably lucky i never learned his name.

    i really agree with the good doc/bad doc points people have made.

    and i really agree that if someone has a reason for seeking a female OB/GYN, that is fine. it is more than fine for people who have been victimized — surely these doctors are not so uneducated as to believe severe trauma should be disregarded, or that parents should choose a more frightening way to do first exams than one that is easier for the child.

  42. firefly

    I’m the patient, I pay the bills, I get to choose my doctor just like I get to choose my lawyer, my accountant, my dentist and any other professional I’m paying. It is no one’s business but my own what professionals I choose and why. (Like maybe if I was raped I would choose a woman therapist, my husband used to do divorce law-lots of guys chose him because he was a man over the woman lawyer in the area .)
    The doctors on that site sense of entitlement is so off the charts-acting like women are children who should be good little girls and do what daddy doctor tells them-that they even put down their real names, office location and e-mails! Anyone could make a list of these jerks, and print it all over the internet as in “OBGYN’s for Women to Avoid!”
    (Boy their partners in practice will be so pleased with these fool doctors come monday morning-all this good free publicity and all for their offices. I’m sure these posts will have women lined up to make appointments-If there is one thing no woman wants to know it is the secret thoughts of her OBGYN-male or female.)

  43. Elinor

    The examples were given as reason to avoid all male ob/gyn’s. The statements were provided not as examples of insensitive or bad doctors but of reason why men are bad ob/gyns.

    That isn’t how I read it; I didn’t get the impression that Twisty thought all male ob/gyns are incompetent. I think that technical competence is beside the point. It’s not that the commenters are bad doctors (although given their expressed attitude towards their patients, I’d be willing to bet that they are); it’s that they exhibit a really typical variety of patriarchal male entitlement. They, as men, believe they are entitled to access to women’s naked bodies, regardless of our wishes. Our refusal to grant them this access is taken as an insult, as unacceptable discrimination, as bigotry.

    If a hospital refused to hire a male obstetrician I’d agree with you — competence should be all that matters.

    I don’t think you could find comparable statements made by female doctors — even female urologists. In this culture, there isn’t an expectation that men owe women access to their bodies or that women should be allowed to speak for men.

    I don’t think male gynecologists are perverts or incompetent. I’ll leave it to Twisty to clarify how she feels about that; I have a feeling I don’t entirely agree with her. But I do find this “a bad doctor is a bad doctor” argument really simplistic.

  44. Summer

    MsKate: Excellent points, though I disagree with the entire notion of being “more” [or less] “feminist.” Speaking of the subject at all makes a woman more a feminist than the patriarchy would seem to prefer, and qualifies, for me anyway, as “enough.” Which is maybe what you meant when you closed with “MYOB is another.” I presume you meant “MYOB is another [easy-bake code for setting up a hierarchy of exclusion.]” Yes? No?

    Then again, the whole “what is feminism?” question has been very hard for me to answer in any kind of specific way.

    Will: The fact that you actually felt it necessary to say (way up there), “Women have the right to have quality medical care,” lies right at the core of this and so many issues regarding women’s health care.

  45. Carpenter

    I was just reading about this very thing, albeit in an oldish book, Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology which I think is from 78. What got me was that many of the things she was saying, like abot estrogen replacement for post menopausal women being potentially harmful, have come the fruition.
    I am generally distrustful of the medical profession, having taught many a pre-med;in general I find doctors to be bad scientists. That is, they tend to be dismissive of anything outside the range of things they memorized in med shcool, and they don’t aren’t generally good at diagnostics becuase they dont bother employing the scientific method. Hence they wouldn’t be likley to listen when you say “that hurts”, which is an empirical obsevation, but instead they would just say, “according to so so so it shouldn’t hurt that much therefore it probably doesn’t…just suck it up”. I can only assume female gynos would be less likely to do this becuase at least they have some first hand experience.

  46. Ancrene Wiseass

    Wow. Great thread.

    And I’ve learned something: apparently, Pap smears, done properly, aren’t supposed to make you bleed and cramp up. Chalk that up as one more reason for me to hate my appalling student health service–and, by the way, most of these rough exams have been conducted by women, because I’m more comfortable with women doing my gyno exams.

    Will, I absolutely agree with you that male doctors (ob-gyns included) can be excellent and that female ones can be terrible, and that it’s best to work on the basis of individual, rather than gender-based, selection. The single most incompetent doctor I’ve ever run across in my life–who put not only me, but two of my friends, in life-threatening situations–was a woman. (Then again, I’ve had plenty of experiences with male doctors which were pretty appalling, and I had one who couldn’t be bothered to look at anything other than my breasts for the entire exam, despite the fact that the injury was to my ankle.) And, though I love Twisty passionately, I disagree with her assumption that men who wish to go into OB/GYN work are universally suspect in their motivations.

    Here’s the thing, though: thanks to the marvelous condition of our health-care system in this country, it’s often very hard to know much of anything about the individual doctors whose names are handed to you on a list of those available to you for insurance coverage. So, yeah, given a choice among doctors I know absolutely nothing about, I choose to have my gyno exam done by a woman. And that’s about my comfort level, which–pace Dr. Face-Your-Fear’s comments from the board Twisty’s citing–is damn important. My gyno exam room is not an arena for me to confront my fears about the possibility of being sexually abused by a pervy male doctor while my feet are up in stirrups. Or of simply having to deal with an insensitive guy who lacks both the equipment and the empathy to understand that yes, dammit, pelvic exams and other gyno procedures can be both painful and traumatic.

    I’m also going to back up obsoletepostgrrrl on something here: yes, there is a difference in the power a male doctor has vs. the power a female one does. It’s a sad, but true, fact which results from living life in a patriarchy. Other things being equal, men simply have more power than women. And when the power differential provided by the doctor-patient relationship is compounded by that gendered one, yes, it can make a very big difference.

    This is something that Dr.-Boy-Named-Lynn is well aware of when he walks his jerkwad 6’4″ self into an exam room and tells women who thought they’d be examined by another woman that it’s “too late now” to back out. (By the way, seriously! I’d be double-quick about telling Lynn that he was much mistaken about it being “too late” and that, if he planned on forcing me to be examined by him, he’d better get ready to face criminal charges. And that’s not because he’s a man. That’s because he’s a blowhard misogynist who enjoys intimidating women.)

  47. larkspur

    All other things being equal, I’d choose a female OB/GYN over a male one. I’m just more comfortable with someone who, when we’re both fully clothed, is more like me in this polarized society. But how often are all other things equal? I want a good doctor, a kind and skilled doctor, and if that doc is a man, okay. There are a lot of factors in choosing a doctor. For example, I’d tend toward choosing a younger male doctor than an older male doctor. Either can be a big loser dickhead, but I’d be more inclined to trust a man who’s gone to medical school with lots of women.

    In reality, most of my routine exams are done by a friendly, extremely competent female nurse practitioner. I don’t have to see a medical doctor, usually.

    Will, I appreciate your comments. Here’s the thing: I’ve never exercised my option for child-bearing, even though I have all the requisite parts. Shouldn’t I be a less preferred choice if I were an OB/GYN?

    If I had a daughter, I’d go along with what she preferred, and I’d also be sure she knows that whenever she gets the “uh-oh” feeling, she’s perfectly justified in bringing the action to a screeching halt, even if it’s in the office of a big shot doctor. (As I’d teach a son, too. Question authority, right?)

    (Hi Twisty. Give Bertie a tummy rub for me, okay?)

  48. Keeshond

    My mom, not exactly the most progressive woman out there, would only see male OB/GYNs and was overly suspicious of and hostile towards female ones. She once made the comment that “you have to wonder why a woman would enter that field.” Did I mention we didn’t agree on much?

    Some lame OB/GTN comments/moments that have stuck with me that I blame the patriarchy for:

    1) (From a magazine article for pregnant women, written by a dude) “You may experience some mild discomfort during childbirth.”

    2) Women have very few never endings in their vaginas. I actually read that in a number of articles in the early 90s. I always figured it was a rumor circulated for the benefit of men with tiny penises.

    3) Douchebag gyno from Kentucky who made a habit of branding the initials of his alma mater onto women’s uteruses.

  49. A White Bear

    After reading your post, Twisty, I happened upon this Village Voice article on professional submissives, with such stomach-turning quotes like:

    “I surprise myself at how far my pain tolerance has evolved. For example, I had a client sew my vaginal lips shut, and I didn’t make a peep,” Ophelia boasts via e-mail. “I had another client who took 18-gauge needles, heated them until they were red-hot, and used them to pierce the insides of my butt cheeks. I could hear my skin sizzling as the needles penetrated me.”

    Byron Mayo, co-owner of the BDSM advertising hot spot Eros-Guide.com and former owner of a commercial San Francisco dungeon, has nothing but praise for the skills pro subs bring to their trade. “You can touch places in a really good sub session that most marriages don’t get to in years. The result is a sense of psychological intimacy most of us crave but rarely get,” he says. “In a world of political correctness, confusing role models, and enforced ‘equality,’ the ability to tell a beautiful, intelligent, and demure woman to get on her knees and do what you say is a fantasy come true.”

    I understand that people claim painful sex helps them understand fear and trauma and rape and all of that, but there’s something really eerie to me about an entire field of non-penetrative prostitution in which a man pays to torture a live woman who becomes really proud of herself for not responding with screams or calls to the police. Is this some kind of bourgeois misogynist dissociation from suffering? Like, we’re so horrified by what our government does to innocent people in torture camps and by what men do to women every day that we have to repeat it, commodify it, and praise its “open-mindedness” or whatever? Ugh. I feel like I need to throw up.

  50. Elinor

    “In a world of political correctness, confusing role models, and enforced ‘equality,’ the ability to tell a beautiful, intelligent, and demure woman to get on her knees and do what you say is a fantasy come true.”

    I wanna be a rapist! The world is mean to me because it doesn’t let me be a rapist! Waaaaaaa!

  51. tigtog

    I find it revealing, White Bear, that the number of male subs willing to have their testicular sacs sewn to their cock appears to be zero.

    This other VV article by the same writer on rape fantasies is pretty disturbing too.

  52. A White Bear

    Most of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s columns make me deeply sad. I think it’s fine if she wants to use the Voice as a forum for her sexual insecurities and advertising her desire to get spanked — all of us have insecurities and sexual predilections — but why is she such a vocal advocate of the “right” of women to sell their blood and flesh, literally asking men to cut their bodies into pieces, and of the “right” of men to want to torture, demean, and silence women?

    I wonder — why are all these first-person accounts of how right it feels to be anally raped, used like flesh in a butcher’s shop, and bought and sold — why are they all written by women? I read one of them, incidentally, and found out it’s all about Daddy. “Daddy humiliated me, and therefore, it’s reasonable for this stranger to ignore my cries of distress and hurt me. In the end, I see God or something.”

    Why isn’t there a better way for women to deal with the harm done to them as girls by their fathers? Is being physically abused and sexually humiliated the only therapy?

    I used to feel this way, to some degree, because it was much easier than finding someone who really loved me to undo the damage rather than repeat it. I’ve been lucky, though.

  53. Ms Kate

    Which is maybe what you meant when you closed with “MYOB is another.” I presume you meant “MYOB is another [easy-bake code for setting up a hierarchy of exclusion.]” Yes? No?

    Sorry, that was a fragment of one of the other sentences that got clipped, replicated, and stuck to the bottom. Meant nothing. Sorry.

    By “more or less feminist” I meant “more or less of an assertion of personhood”. Even the most feminist-theory grounded of explanations or justifications is still an explanation or justification. When it comes to who touches your body in whatever way for whatever reason, you don’t need one. Nobody needs one. Period.

  54. Frumious B.

    “The population on the pill is a population that tends to be more sexually active.”

    More sexually active than who? Of all sexually active women, the question of who needs to be screened and how often should be based on who is at most risk for cervical cancer. Here is some studies from PubMed on HPV, oral contraceptives, and cervical cancer which find no increased risk of cervical cancer in oral contraceptive users, even compared to users of other hormonal contraceptives:

    From Int J Cancer: http://tinyurl.com/dhoer
    J Am Acad Nurse Pract (review article): http://tinyurl.com/ak5o4
    Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev.: http://tinyurl.com/ey7tc

    This one, on the other hand, does show an increased risk

    Ann N Y Acad Sci. (review article): http://tinyurl.com/ch2vy

    from the abstract:
    “In many studies COCs have been associated with an increased risk of cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer, but there might be alternative explanations for these epidemiological associations (COC users can start having sexual intercourse at an earlier age, they have more sexual partners, and they rarely use barrier methods of contraception), so OCs act as a promoter for HPV-induced carcinogenesis.”

    ie, it’s not the pills that are the problem, it is the multiple partners and lack of condoms. OC use is a confounding factor. Now, incorporating studies such at these into best-practice in a clinical setting should result in pap recomendations based on a sexual history of the patients (HPV infection state, multiple sexual partners, lack of use of barrier contraceptives). Instead, we have the pill-user-as-whore model. The every-3-years recommendation is relatively new; I would say less than 5 years old, maybe less than 3. The fact that doctors have not adjusted their practices and the insurance companies have not jumped on the bandwagon and stopped insisting on yearly pap results before paying for OC prescriptions shows just how deeply ingrained the whore model is. Show me some data which say that OC using, HPV negative, monogamous women with normal pap results have higher incidence of cevical cancer than non-OC using, etc, etc, women and I’ll quit my bitching.

  55. gayle

    “I wonder — why are all these first-person accounts of how right it feels to be anally raped, used like flesh in a butcher’s shop, and bought and sold — why are they all written by women?”

    That’s and easy one: They are hand picked and proffered to titillate the VV’s male readership! And women unfortunate enough to encounter these articles better keep their damn mouths shut unless they want to be called out for being puritanical or bourgeois or anti-sex or GOD FORBID, anti-men!

    And the men who object aren’t treated much better. Didn’t the guy who used to write the porn reviews at the Voice get dumped after he spoke out against a particularly disgusting and dangerous trend in porn? (I’m sparing you the details of the act itself, you don’t want to know, at least I didn’t.)

  56. Twisty

    Will in 35: “But wasnt the point of the post that men somehow are horrible ob/gyn’s?”

    No. But I don’t expect all blog readers to read for comprehension.

    You will note that the most egregious excerpt–the one about the “desensitization”–is attributed to a woman ob/gyn.

    So, just in case you don’t have time to actually read the post, here’s the primary point: some doctors are complete assholes.

    Here’s the secondary point: people should be allowed to decide whose fingers they want up their cootchie, and their reasons should not be questioned.

  57. will

    “here’s the primary point: some doctors are complete assholes.

    Here’s the secondary point: people should be allowed to decide whose fingers they want up their cootchie, and their reasons should not be questioned.”

    I agree completely with your second point. As I said previously, I do not think anyone has disagreed with that idea.

    You said I didnt read your post for comprehension. You accused me of not understanding your post. But the very first sentence you wrote was not gender specific. You said “I reveal no secrets when I say that the idea of the male ob/gyn sorely inflames the revulsion center in my obstreperal lobe.”

    Then, you finished with “any dude who springs out of bed one fine morning to declare “I will be a gynecologist, by Jove!” is precisely the sort of dude who should be confined in an asylum.

    I mean, in what other profession does a man view disembodied pussy as a source of revenue?”

    So, now, you say your post was meant to say, in a gender neutral way, that “some doctors are assholes.”

    I love your website, but, with all due respect, I do not think that you are correct to say that I have such poor reading comprehension that I didnt understand your post.

  58. xtimu

    Yo, I just have to say that this website opens my mind in every way.

    I for one found the arrogance displayed obgyn fourm to be completely nauseating. This has been said, but I will say it agin. Women should be able to pick their doctors on WHATEVER basis they choose. Don’t like western medicine too much? Be free to choose a holistic practitioner. Don’t like haitch-holes? Don’t go see a doctor who is a man! (I kid, I kid. Personally I have bad experiences with both xy & xx doctors.) But see, yo, it’s my choice. If I don’t like big hairy man hands near my nethers, it’s **my** body so **I** get to say who gets to get near ‘em. Not you, dear doctor, or you ole patriarchy.

    People pick doctors based on lotsa factors. I know people who have changed/chosen doctors based on whether or not the doctor had the same skin color or ethnicity as them. Whatever makes the patient comfortable so that the patient can discuss her problems with her doctor should be the criteria.

    But no, those guys have such an inflated sense of entitlement that they think the patient should be comfortable with whomever sticking their inspector gadgets into her orifices. I would like to see them take all their energy they’ve been using to complain about how they’re “discriminated” against and use it to create equality and a society where women subjugated.

    Isn’t it sad that it is just a dream?

    Meanwhile they get to pick their patients by deciding which insurance to accept etc.

  59. xtimu

    gah!

    two typos at least. shux.

    “displayed _on the_ obgyn forum”

    i meant “and use it to create equality and a society where women _are not_ subjugated”.

    so very sorry bout that!

  60. firefly

    I think the bottom line, so to speak, is that women and men both have the right to pick the doctor of their choice and owe no one any explanation. Health care is about what is in the best interest of the patient- mentaly and physically. NOT what is in the ego needs of the doctor. That should be self-evident to patients and doctors alike. We as women patients don’t need to reassure male doctors that they are “good doctors” too, nor to reassure random males that they can make good doctors. Cause at the end what has this turned into but another case of women fufilling the role of reassuring the male ego, even when they are the patients paying the bill, even when the doctors are the ones who are suppose to be meeting the needs of the patients. Maybe I like going to women doctors, for the same reason I would choose a woman lawyer or therapist. Because I can focus on my issues and not worry about addressing their ego baggage. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a damn about my doctor’s emotional needs.

  61. LL

    Ok, I haven’t read the rest of the post and I haven’t read all the comments and I will admit to having a male OB/GYN (it’s a long story.)

    But!!! “It’s too late now”?????????????/ What a bleeding asshole. Obviously, it’s something that’s important to these women, or they wouldn’t have brought it up. I’d like to think that faced with that attitude, I’d say “y’know, nevermind – I’ll find somebody else. Go away so I can change.”

    On another note, a hunk of Brillat Savarin, a box of Wheat Thins (it’s good, trust me) and a bottle of Malbec make a fabulous blog-hopping, junior-patriarchy-blaming meal.

  62. Twisty

    Will,

    I apologize; I was snippy. Like many feminists who hate patriarchy, I get tired of writing all the time “I dont hate men, I don’t hate men.” I believe that the personal aspects of the post to which you allude, i.e. “I personally prefer a female gyno because in a patriarchy the male/pussy relationship is one of uncomfortable ickiness for me” are not the equivalent of “male gynos are all incompetent.”

    But seriously. Isn’t pussy literally the moneymaker for the ob/gyn? Am I missing something?

  63. Flamethorn

    The least unpleasant pap I’ve had was by a female general practicioner, not a gyno at all. Not that any of them have really been horrific.

  64. Edith

    I’ve never had a Pap smear. I’ve also never had sex with a penis and I don’t usually use tampons because I really, really, really hate the feeling of having ANYTHING up my vagina. I haven’t been abused. I have no history of cervical cancer in my family. Maybe I’m being irresponsible, but I’d rather not not put my cooch in any kind of discomfort. Reading these comments, it seems like a lot of you have had awful gyno experiences, regardless of the gender of the gyn. I think the whole system is fucked — does this really need to be part of my experience of Being A Woman, having a stranger poke and prod me every year?

  65. larkspur

    “…Isn’t pussy literally the moneymaker for the ob/gyn? Am I missing something?…”

    That’s true. It’s why I don’t agree with Delphyne’s assessment. (“… Why would a man want to become a gynecologist? And the only answer I’ve been able to find is an ugly one.”)

    OB/GYN is a big, lucrative specialty. It’s unique in that treating healthy women is routine and appropriate. Our reproductive systems are complicated environments, and we don’t have to be “sick” in order to tend to them. (It’s also true that there’s crass exploitation of our health care needs for profit, but that’s not unique to gynecology.) A community can support numerous OB/GYN practices because such a large segment of the population uses their services. It’s a whole different situation with, say, neurosurgeons. Neurosurgeons are more like mountain lions: each one needs a certain amount of roaming space. An average community uses many more OB/GYNs than it does neurosurgeons.

    I’m just saying that I can’t automatically ascribe weird or ugly motives to any physician, male or female, who chooses an OB/GYN practice. It’s a sensible choice, in terms of making a living, and as a consumer, I don’t mind having a big roster of practitioners to choose from.

  66. Julian Elson

    I’m less inclined to judge someone for being picky — for any reason at all — when it comes to something so intimate as their doctor. I think that any reason at all is a valid reason for saying, “sorry, I need someone else.”

    I don’t think that this is universally the case. I wouldn’t necessarily approve of a woman who insisted that she have a female investment broker, or a white person who insisted on having a white investment broker.

    However, in the case of a gynecologist, I think that the intrinsic discomfort of being the patient validates pretty much any motive, from “I want a woman” to “I want one of the same race as me,” even if we wouldn’t consider such motives valid for a less uncomfortable, intimate form of service.

  67. A White Bear

    Gayle wrote: They are hand picked and proffered to titillate the VV’s male readership! And women unfortunate enough to encounter these articles better keep their damn mouths shut unless they want to be called out for being puritanical or bourgeois or anti-sex or GOD FORBID, anti-men!

    I should note that I once, on a previous blog, wrote a very tame anonymous response to Bussel’s work, basically saying that her writing lacked focus or something, and suddenly found that (a) Ms. Bussel linked to the post basically saying I’d caused her to feel like she had to toughen up (as if she didn’t know this before? as a tabloid sex writer?) and (b) that various misogynistic defenders of RKB had begun to write on their blogs that I was obviously a “clampc*nt bitch” who “pranced around campus in sweaty underthings” or something. The details were unbelievable. The main leader of the anti-me society started describing how he imagined I looked, physically, what was the history of my sex life, and said that since my writing tended to be on academic issues, that I clearly needed some kind of sex therapy to reorganize my principles. Sure, Derrida wrote about language and he was a genius; I write about language and I’m a clampc*nt bitch.

  68. Sunya Harjis

    Gosh, pussies.

    I have trouble stating my thoughts on this issue in clear, non-rage-laden tones. It should go something like this, but bear with the rough patches. This is hard work for Sunya:

    I don’t think pelvic exams are worth the physical invasion, the anxiety, or most of all the widespread and oppressive pressure to obtain them.

    A stupid death from cervical cancer is to me preferable than the biannual rendering-up of my hoo-hoo to the probing fingers of a white-robed “professional.” There are many, many, many risks I – and millions of other women – take with my personal health, and the risk of cancer does not turn me aside from them any more than the risk of cancer turns aside all the other women in America from smoking, drinking, eating fatty foods, exercising seldom, inhaling environmental toxins, drinking bad water, driving cars, taking drugs that should have been FDA approved etc. etc. etc. etc.

    All educated human beings make trade-offs where the risk of disease is concerned. I don’t understand why pelvic exams occupy such a sacred space in our collective cancer mythology that smoking women will get their pussies examined but won’t stop smoking, but, preventable death or no, into that pink room with that leg-spreading chair Sunya will not go.

    FURTHERMORE, what worries me greatly is the prevalence of sex-organ-specific cancers in women. Men get prostate cancer but that’s about IT. Women – cervical cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cysts, the list goes on and on. I don’t honestly believe it’s a simple case of the “complicated environment” of women’s genitalia. My much darker suspicion is that the whole family of gynecological dysfunctions are less like chicken pox (inevitable in certain groups) and more like hip displasia in, forgive me, Twisty, Golden Retreivers: the result of bad ju-ju in the creation and perpetuation of the breed. To put it bluntly: I think, in a nightmarish little corner of my mind, that many of the problems with womanly plumbing are a kind of reaction to stress and oppression – it is the patriarchy’s fault. Like how animals start to scratch themselves til they bleed or start shedding all their hair when in captivity, women’s bodies eat themselves, in small and terrifying ways, incidentally but increasingly on genetic lines, because it sucks so fucking much to be a woman.

    I think if it’s genuinely important to reduce the rates of terminal cancers in women, we ought to start not with invasive medicine, but with wide-spread Swedish-style social upheaval and the preventative medicine of failing to reduce women to walking piles of fuckability.

  69. A White Bear

    Sorry to have posted this off-topic series of comments. I just couldn’t shake the rage I felt, and then things happened later tonight that made me even more upset about Twisty’s post and RKB’s article, so I published the whole thing here. I’m waiting for the anger to subside.

  70. antelope

    Julian, I asked Merrill Lynch for a woman to help me place my 401(k). Not right off the bat, but the guy they gave me at first was the type who liked to boast extensively about all the restrictions he puts on his teenage step-daughter so that she can’t spend too much time with “the horndogs who only want one thing.” If there’s one thing more annoying than the horndogs who only want one thing, it’s the guys who clearly get off on thinking about the horndogs, while simultaneously believing that they’re superior to the horndogs & can put the horndogs to good use as a rationalization for thoroughly controlling the women in their lives. Not surprisingly, he took a very patronizing attitude towards me also.

    Now I have a woman who takes what I would call a matronizing attitude, and bores the crap out of me with her excessive & plainly fake interest in my life, my job, my family, etc., but all in all she’s easier to take, and more willing to get down to business when I ask her to. Both of them ignore any attempts to get outside the usual investing box on my part and have probably just guided me wherever they get the best kickbacks.

    Let’s put it this way, when I’m dealing with a profession where I know for a fact I’m going to get fucked, I would rather have a woman, because it’s (usually) easier for me to spot & understand their particular manipulative strategies & to pick my battles. Also, it’s important to maintain the principle that men only fuck me when I choose to fuck them back.

  71. thebewilderness

    On a purely economic note I would much prefer to pay a woman to discuss the health of my naughty bits with me than a man. I also buy local produce and wouldn’t darken the door of a wallyworld. On a more personal note I think men who want to be ob/gyn are suspect, and I don’t trust pediatricians who are men either. I think these things based on personal experience not on propaganda promulgated by the patriarchy. Twisty, I so totally heart the blame button.

  72. Sara

    “But seriously. Isn’t pussy literally the moneymaker for the ob/gyn? Am I missing something?”

    Practicing medicine is the moneymaker for the OB/GYN, as it is for any other doctor.

    I’m not sure why this discussion is making me want to jump to the defense of OB/GYNs of both genders, but I’m going to chalk it up to my own stress over med-school-related things, and not to the fact that this line of thinking, if extended, makes all doctors power/profit seekers at the expense of whatever body system they’ve decided to specialize in. Perhaps I’m bothered by the departure the conversation has taken, from blaming a certain group of insensitive folks posting on a message board to implying that all OB/GYNs are in it to have power over women. As a woman and a future physician, I would take offense to that generalization, but I am going to assume that I’m reading too much into this.

  73. Rebecca

    I think the really key argument for women GYNs is that A) they have to go through this every year too and B) many women (for trust reasons or whatever) don’t want a strange man looking at or putting his hand into his vagina. It’s all well and good as an intellectual discussion, but when it comes down to it, it’s an unpleasant enough experience without incorporating a strange man into it, regardless of how sensitive of an individual he happens to me. Yes, there are plenty of women who feel comfortable in that situation, but there are many others of us (myself included) who do not.

    And to not get off track too much, I don’t believe that a man OR woman in the medical establishment belongs involved in NORMAL birth, but that’s a whole different argument that doesn’t need to be had here.

  74. SisterJ

    I have given up on OB/GYNs altogether, and see a Reproductive Endocrinologist for my GYN care. That’s because most OB/GYNs just want to deliver babies. They have very little interest in a woman’s nasty bits, unless there’s a cute baby coming out.

    Being a non-pregnant patient under the care of an OB/GYN is like having a runny nose in an emergency room filled with gunshot victims. You’re gonna wait a while. But the sickest part is, you can’t go anywhere else to have your runny nose treated. You have to stay in that gunshot ward because your regular doctor doesn’t do “noses”.

    Eventually, your runny nose turns into a bacterial infection, which becomes pneumonia, which collapses your lung… and now you can be seen. That’s the kind of care GYN patients enjoy when they’re thrown in with OB patients. And it further illustrates why doctors who just want to deliver babies should be separated from doctors who actually want to treat women.

    My view on OB/GYN gender preference? If it weren’t for the dearth of dedicated GYNs, more women would demand a female. As it is, we just lie there and take it, grateful to be seen at all.

  75. Grace

    I have never had a male gynecologist in 10 years of Pap smears. My mom, bless her, dragged me to the doctor at age 17, at which point I had never used tampons let alone have sex, so the first thing ever to penetrate me was a metal speculum. This was not pain-free, but as far as I can remember in six years of going to the GYN while still a virgin, I was always treated sympathetically.

    I agree with Twisty – it’s not about whether or not male gynos are competent, it’s about the patient’s comfort level. Having never been seen naked as an adult by any man other than my husband, I would be extremely weirded out by having a male doctor do a Pap smear. On the other hand, my husband’s last testicular exam was done by a female urologist, which didn’t bother him at all, and when we spent a summer on a hippy organic farm, he was happy skinny dipping in mixed company (as was the other young woman there, so it wasn’t just a guys-get-naked-and-girls-are-too-scared thing) while I always kept my suit on. I don’t mind looking at other people’s naughty bits as long as they don’t expect me to reciprocate. It’s a matter of personal taste.

    I have read in a textbook on birth order dynamics that the older brothers of sisters are more likely to become gynecologists. I find this slightly disturbing.

  76. Kate

    Dear Twisty, I have just stumbled into your blog, and I cannot believe how fortunate this morning has been for me. I haven’t stopped laughing for a couple of hours now. Besides that, I’ve also been newly restored to inspiration and empowerment. While I am quite sure that you receive adoring fan mail constantly, I had to let you know of my admiration and appreciation of your mind. Fabulous. Thank you.

    Your sister spinster aunt,
    Kate Nance
    Houston, Texas

    P.S. I hope to send you future stories of Texas politics. Would that be alright?

  77. firefly

    I think the money quote on the doctor board was this one (posted by a male OB-GYN prominant in the area I live-big ads in the local paper every week…)
    “I hate to make this tougher than it is, but I’d suggest that the question NOT be whether the patient/client can “prefer” a caregiver of one sex or the other, but whether the patient has the right to refuse to be cared for by a caregiver purely based on the caregiver’s gender. What I would “prefer” is very different from what I’m permitted to do.” Dr G
    It isn’t about how competent male Ob-gyn’s are but about the attitude a male doctor would have (like this one) that somehow I don’t have the right to choose my doctor, that what I “prefer” in doctor selection is somehow not my right to choose. Dr. G infers that I as a patient have no right to refuse an exam by a male doctor. I as a woman insist that I have the RIGHT to REFUSE to be touched by anyone I don’t want touching me for any personal reasons I might have. Remember the initial complaint was by a male doctor about a 16 yr old who wanted to be examined by a woman doctor. What kind of a message would a mother be sending to her daughter if she ignored this request?

  78. Twisty

    Sara in 72 “Perhaps I’m bothered by the departure the conversation has taken, from blaming a certain group of insensitive folks posting on a message board to implying that all OB/GYNs are in it to have power over women. As a woman and a future physician, I would take offense to that generalization, but I am going to assume that I’m reading too much into this.”

    Sara, this is one of those posts that opens a can of worms. I think it’s clear from the comments that, for many reasons, a whole lot of women are profoundly dissatisfied with their gynecological experiences (it’s hard not to take a pelvic exam personally). They are using this forum to express it. That’s pretty much what this blog is for. If the sentiments expressed are bumming you out, I would maybe not be be so quick to dismiss them as offensive as I would to examine them for possible truths. Patriarchy-blamers aren’t just a bunch of loony hysterics making shit up; the medical establishment really is deeply flawed. As a future MD, this stuff may not be pleasant to hear, but happily you are uniquely positioned to fight the Dark Side. You go, girl! And don’t take these posts personally; nobody’s calling you an asshole!

    As a personal aside, I’d just like to mention that the one male gynecologist I ever had is currently in prison.

  79. Dianne

    “And I’ve learned something: apparently, Pap smears, done properly, aren’t supposed to make you bleed and cramp up.”

    NO! Unless you have some problem with your cervix, you shouldn’t bleed at all and while I’ve never met anyone who actually likes having a speculum stuck in their vagina, but it shouldn’t be worse than mildly uncomfortable. There are a few things that a doctor can do to make it easier. Warm the speculum. Use the smallest size speculum that works. Go slowly. Watch the patient’s face and stop whatever it is you’re doing if she shows signs of being in pain. Ficking apologize if you hurt her. If your gyn doesn’t do that…well, despite what some of the doctors quoted seem to believe, you can always change.

  80. Les

    I am never going to a male doctor again of any kind. In my experiences, male doctors don’t have a lot of respect for patients, have less for women and even less for queer women. I can only imagine what it must be like for queer women of color. (Women of color in general are more likely to be sent home from emergency rooms with tranquilizers when they are in fact having heart attacks.)

    Lesbians die of preventable cancers at an alarming rate, including cervical cancer. Why? Because doctors act like assholes towards us. Also, the regrettable false common wisdom that pap smears are for straight women. No, they’re for everybody. alas.

    I’ve gotten pap smears exactly twice in my life, both rather recent. I understand that it’s important and I’ll go get another one next year if I can. Fuck not having health insurance. And the fucking 6 – 10 month wait to get a new OB/GYN who I’ll have to pay cash for.

  81. Dianne

    “And the fucking 6 – 10 month wait to get a new OB/GYN who I’ll have to pay cash for.”

    But that’s impossible. Everybody knows that there is never a delay in getting medical care in the US because of our wonderful efficient capitalistic medical system(/sarcasm).

  82. SneakySnu

    Larkspur says: “OB/GYN is a big, lucrative specialty. ”

    Yes, and it’s also one of the areas with the highest rates of malpractice suits–many probably justified.

    My problem is with the whole damn medical profession, promoting gung-ho Rambo attitudes in specialists with little attention to treating the body of the patient with respect. I’ve had such varied experiences with male and female doctors that it’s hard for me to generalize. My family doc, for instance, is very gentle when he does my PAP smear (and since I have HPV, I have to have them done frequently) and he has the secretary come in the office while the exam is taking place. That last bit may be Canadian law. I don’t know.

    I had to have a LEEP procedure done to remove the high cervical dysplasia from my cervix. The female gynecologist who did the procedure was horrible in terms of her relation to me. During the LEEP, she had a lengthy conversation with the assisting nurse about her cottage in lake country, interrupted only a couple of times by a “Ok, this is going to pinch a little bit,” and “You ok?” Like she cared.

    My current OB for my pregnancy is a man whose manner I like quite a bit. He hasn’t had to do any kind of vaginal exam yet; I imagine he leaves such things to the nurse practitioner. Which is fine with me.

    I’ve often thought that I would like to have a female rather than a male OB/GYN, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to choose. Mostly what I’d like is for doctors to take the knowledge and experience of the patient seriously. I’m an academic, I’ve done vast amounts of reading on my various conditions. When I ask informed questions of the doctor, I am most often treated with condescension. It appears you are awarded with some special power of reading comprehension when you go through med school.

  83. firefly

    This is not anti-doctor, or even anti-male doctor- what this is an issue about is patient choice versus rights of doctors and it maybe decided by the courts. Pennsylvania recently had a case of a white racist being admitted to a local hospital for an procedure (one of those cases where the patient didn’t know what was wrong with him until he was seen by a hospital doctor-think “House”.) The racist patient was assigned a black doctor and the racist patient refused to be treated by the black doctor and insisted on his “rights” as a patient to a white doctor. I believe the whole situation went to court with the patient “right” to choose race of doctor versus black doctor claiming that the request was prejudiced and if the hospital granted the patient’s demand it was engaging in discrimination against the black doctor.
    It is clear from reading some of the posts on the OB-GYN Board that this is what they have in mind. Except instead of race it is sex. So that a woman patient refusing treatment by a male doctor would be violating the civil rights of the male doctor. And any practice or hospital or medical institution who gave into a female patient’s request for a woman doctor would be engaging in discrimination against male doctors. I can easily see this as the future subject of a right-wing court case. The right is dying to use discrimination law cases to mock women, gay and minority rights.

  84. Cheryl Seelhoff

    Has someone here already wondered aloud why there are few-to-zero woman proctologists, i.e., woman M.D.’s who decide to make money being all about men’s dicks? Seems like there are some issues around gendered power that could be teased out there.

    I get all of the minuscule amount of gynecological care that I do seek from my amazing, not-CNM, licensed midwife friend who I would trust with my or any woman’s life. She has never done any sort of internal examination on me without warming both lubricant and speculum. She has never once caused me pain. She recommends noninvasive, natural remedies always, first. She uses state-of-the-art medical laboratories to evaluate pap smears. The beds in her clinic (where women are examined) include waterbeds. There is absolutely no comparison between the care I have received from her over the past 20 years and the care I got before I met her which included care from male gyns and obstetricians, every last one of which was some kind of asshole, I just had to wait a bit to find that out on occasion.

    Out here we’ve got a gem of a gynecologist who is finally in jail for 20 years after having raped and/or otherwise sexually assaulted a huge number of his patients, also after having performed unnecessary surgeries on them and prescribed unnecessary addictive drugs. After they were addicted, of course, he would rape them some more and then tell them if they told anyone, he’d say they were drug addicts and couldn’t be believed.

    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2006/02/08/65168.htm

    This is not something anyone would have to consider if she went to a woman midwife or other healer.

    Heart

  85. kactus

    The best gyno I ever worked alongside was in an emergency room in Milwaukee. He was a new resident and was getting ready to do a pelvic on a young woman. Imagine my surprise when he warmed the speculum first. In response to my surprise he told me that he had seven sisters, and all of them had told him the best thing a gyno can do first is warm the speculum. That was 15 years ago and I’ve never seen that young doctor since–I wonder if he’s become cynical and just uses cold speculums on general principal, or if he’s still listening to his sisters.

    In contrast, two years ago I went to see a female gyno because I was having bleeding in between my periods. The first thing she told me was that I had to lose weight. I asked her what my weight had to do with bleeding and she came up with some bullshit about the fat pushing the blood cells closer to the surface so that I’m bleeding more! I told her I’ve been fat my entire adult life and never had a bleeding problem before, so why now? And then I asked her what her response to my bleeding would have been if I were a thin woman who came in with the same complaint. Would she just go ahead and do the exam and find out what was causing the bleeding?

    Well, that shut her up. And sure enough during the exam she found several polyps, some in my vagina, many in my uterus, that needed to be removed and biopsied. After those polyps were removed the bleeding stopped completely.

    I refer to them now as my “fat polyps.” And I’ve NEVER gone back to that doctor.

  86. will

    Twisty:

    You seem to keep coming back to wanting to bash male ob/gyn’s. Am I reading this incorrectly?

    I do not disagree with you at all that ob/gyn’s have historically been male and historically, many of them have been extremely patronizing about women’s health care. We are not that far from the time when single women were not often not prescribed birth control unless their father’s approved it. We are not that far from a system where child birth was done in operating rooms with no real care or concern for the mother’s comfort.

    However, starting in the early 1980′s (approximately), there was a huge push for changes such as birthing rooms and other improvements. Many of these improvements were pushed for by male and female ob/gyn’s.

    Yet, now, you continue to imply that female ob/gyn’s are inherently better than male ones. If that is not what you are trying to say, please correct me. But you seem to take every opportunity to make that implication. The only reason I keep coming back to that is so that, if that is your contention, let’s discuss it.

    Once again, any woman is free to choose her provider for whatever reason she wants because it is important for her to feel comfortable. When you imply evil intent or incompetence to a male ob/gyn, you do a disservice to the women who choose male doctors.

    Several people have been offended that anyone should question a woman’s choice of an ob/gyn. But, why is it ok to question or put down her choice of a male ob/gyn?

    Patients, male and female, have the right to demand respectful, competent physicians. We should demand improvements in the way health care is provided.

  87. will

    “Patriarchy-blamers aren’t just a bunch of loony hysterics making shit up; the medical establishment really is deeply flawed. As a future MD, this stuff may not be pleasant to hear, but happily you are uniquely positioned to fight the Dark Side.”

    I agree. But, you should fight effectively. The problem is bad doctors.

  88. will

    I wanted to add one more thing. The vast majority of doctors who preform abortions are male ob/gyn’s. Before you crack on male ob/gyn’s too much, you might want to ask yourself how a rush to push male ob/gyn’s out of business will impact women’s already dwindling abilities to obtain an abortion.

  89. Twisty

    Will, I just hate to see you taking this so seriously. I’m mocking male gynecologists as a class because spinster aunts just wanna have fun. Here, pretend I’m doing standup in front of a brick wall. “What’s the deal with male gynecologists,” etc. Hilarious! Why? Because I’m a member of an oppressed class giving shit to a privileged group before a sympathetic audience. OK, so I’m no Dave Chappelle. I won’t quit my day job.

    And don’t worry about the rights of men! Although legal abortion may go the way of all our other civil liberties, male gynecology is in no danger of extinction whatsoever. This is a patriarchy, after all, and Patriarchy Is Forever.

  90. Heart

    Will, the reason there was a push for changes in birthing procedures and facilities in hospitals in the 80s is that this is a battle feminist and otherwise woman-centered women finally won. When feminists like Raven Lang and Doris Haire began writing pamphlets like “The Cultural Warping of Childbirth” back in the early 70s, when they began demanding the right to birth at home with midwives, the patriarchal medical establishment fought back and fought back hard and in solidarity, barring midwives from hospital practice, lobbying legislators to outlaw midwifery and insurance companies to deny coverage to women who used midwifery. It wasn’t until women birthed at home with midwives *anyway* and refused to be cowed that patriarchal medicine finally (to some extent) caved and supported midwifery, but not for such noble motives, also because there was an opportunity to make money by creating “home-like” birthing facilities in hospital. In any case, it’s wrong to say that male doctors ever pushed for this. They didn’t. The insistence that control of birthing be returned to women came from the women themselves, most of them feminist.

    Heart

  91. Violet Socks

    FWIW, here’s how I’m reading Twisty: male OB/GYNs make her feel icky, it’s her right to feel icky, and any doctor who would deny her right to choose her own physician based on ick factors or anything else is a condescending bag of…well…patriarchy.

    It’s traditional in feminist discourse to state your own biases, so here’s my story: I’ve always felt an instinctive preference for female doctors, particularly OB/GYNs, just because of personal comfort. But as it turns out, the easiest Pap smear I’ve ever had was administered by a man, two of the best doctors I’ve ever had were men, and the two worst doctors I’ve ever had were women. So I understand both sides here: I’m totally down with the feeling of wanting a woman doctor, but I also know from experience that women doctors can be world-class A-holes and male doctors can be wonderful.

  92. larkspur

    Will, there’s no “rush to push male ob/gyn’s out of business”. But face it: we’re consumers. In most marketplace situations, we’d drive the trends and standards. But medical care, and specifically women’s gynecological medical care, is a unique situation. We haven’t been viewed as consumers, but as passive receptacles. We’ve been told what we should expect and accept. It’s made for an extremely inhospitable environment.

    I don’t know if it’s possible to force marketplace changes, as consumers, when health care is already so problematic, i.e., we’re constrained by insurance network demands, or who’s available at the clinic. But we have to do it anyway. A lot of the change is happening because of people like Sara. A lot of it will change further as new professors continue to replace “traditional” (patriarchal) ones at medical schools. I’d like some of it to happen because individual doctors themselves notice a downturn in their practices, but I’m not sure if that’s any more than a wish on my part.

    I think some remedies are (a) going to highly skilled non-physicians for our routine care (like nurse practitioners), (b) depending on our trusted regular family physicians for well-woman checkups, and (c) not being afraid to vote with our feet. I know the latter is easier said than done, because it sucks to get branded as a troublemaker, and it sucks if the offending doc is the only one your plan will pay for. But I swear (and maybe it’s because I’m older and don’t give a flying fuck about a lot of stuff), if a cold speculum ever touches my parts again, I’m just going to yell. “OMG, that’s cold! What the hell are you thinking! Are you freaking insane?” and I’d make him or her answer me.

    Women in situations where they must seek regular gynecological care – fibroids, HPV, cancer – have my concern and sympathy. I live in Northern California. If any of y’all want me to go to serve as your medical pit bull, I’d be glad to go to an offending practitioner and snarl, bark, or be an advocate in any other way.

  93. Sara

    Thanks for the reply, Twisty. You’re right, I’m in a place to do something about it, and I’m very thankful for that. I didn’t mean to diminish anyone else’s comments by expressing my own discomfort, and I thank you for offering some perspective in which to frame the discussion.

    Actually, I go to an Osteopathic medical school, so I’ll be a DO, not an MD. We learn a lot about the significance of touch and the power we have to help the patient’s body heal itself, so the pelvic exams we learn tend to go better than the ones same-level MD students do. I know this after talking to the women and men who trained us on how to do these exams on their own bodies. What special people. They said that we were more comfortable with and better at touching patients in an appropriate way, and that we were generally nicer and better at interacting with the patients. And our professors made a big deal about the warm speculum – said there’s no reason not to do it. They also encouraged the men in our class to get up onto an exam table with stirrups, so they could feel just how vulnerable those women would feel. Not all of the guys did it, but the ones who did… well, they were impressed. So. Change is on it’s way.

    Patients looking to exercise their (very important) freedom of choice of physician can look for docs with DO after their name instead of MD – you’ll get a doc with all the knowledge of an MD and then some, and you’ll know that they were at least exposed to the *idea* that the patient is a person.

  94. Heart

    In fact, now that I’m thinking about this, male doctors who *did* support midwifery were often forced out by their male colleagues. I once published an article written by a male family practice doctor in Texas who, in the 70s, had occasion to attend a neighbor’s home birth. He was moved by the experience and started attending home births for other women who sought his help. The story is too long to tell here but ultimately he was so harrassed and hounded by male colleagues that he left the practice of medicine entirely and became a carpenter. That’s how sympathetic to women’s concerns male patriarchal medicine has historically been.

    Heart

  95. will

    VioletSocks reminded me to put out my own personal bias.

    I have a close relative who is a male ob/gyn. (Heart, he did push for better care for women with birthing rooms.) He has three abortion clinics. He has participated in several abortion rights lawsuits. He works his ass off to support those clinics even though they are not financially lucrative. Long ago, he helped start a free clinic so that college women in the area could get medical care when the other doctors didnt want to “help single women have sex.”

    He has always supported midwives and provided back-up care so that the midwives could function because he strongly believed in a women’s right to have the deliver that she wanted, not that some hospital wanted her to have.

    I have also seen him and other ob’s get sued everytime a baby does not turn out perfectly.

    I have seen him leave a practice that had two other doctors (both female) because they did not want the largely hispanic medicaid women in their waiting room.

    So perhaps I get a little touchy when someone implies that male ob/gyn’s do not provide the care that a female ob/gyn provides.

  96. will

    By the way, I believe that ob/gyn’s are coming out of residency programs at a rate of 70% women/ 30 % male.

  97. smush

    hey will, im delurking for you.

    i have read every comment on this whole thread and i find it notworthy that the only topic you seem really interested in discussing is not the actual point of the original post but whether or not make gynos are getting a fair shake, and coming down on those of us who, for whatever reasons, don’t trust their motivations.

    i understand what you’re trying to say, and i appreciate your discomfort with twisty’s off-the-cuff statement that all male gynos are sickos; obviously no one here believes there aren’t some awesome male gynos out there and some shitty female ones. however, i’ve only ever been sexually abused by a male gyno, and i know if i get unlucky and get a shitty female gyno, she’s just going to be a garden variety bad doctor. but with a male gyno, i cannot ignore the spectre of possible sexual abuse.

    “But to suggest that a female ob/gyn is going to be more understanding than a male ob/gyn because she understands what it feels like ignores that fact sympathy and understanding are not gender specific. That female might have never had a baby or worked until the day she delivered or a myriad of other things. As a result, she might not have much sympathy at all because it was relatively easy for her … What is different about the motication for men than for women? Men cannot want to take part in the childbirth process? Only women can be sympathetic to other women? ”

    and there’s the whole point. going to a gyno is about way more than ‘the childbirth process’, and while sympathy isn’t gender specific, the yearly pelvic exam we’re talking about certainly is. my woman gyno may never have had a child, but neither have i; i dont really care about that part. i care about the fact that i know she understands what it feels like for me to be naked, except for a sheet of paper, staring at the ceiling as another person i dont even know or want there jams his/her hand and then various objects inside me and then tops it all off by groping my breasts. a man is simply not able to know what that feels like to lie there and hope to god the person doing the groping is really only just takikng care of business.

    i’m sorry, but when it comes to what feels to some of us (and i stress the word ‘some’ here) like an obligatory yearly sexual assault, emotions are going to run high; perhaps this is not the right place to get your knickers all in a twist about whether or not we’re being fair to the guys.

  98. Violet Socks

    VioletSocks reminded me to put out my own personal bias.

    I heart Will. And your close male relative sounds like a great doctor.

    But Twisty, do give up your day job. You’re much funnier than Dave Chappelle.

  99. Delphyne

    I’m a bit surprised that people should be *shocked* about the questioning of male gynecologists. The only two that I ever had to deal with were dreadful, full of their own self-importance as male doctors prodding women’s bodies around.

    And just off the top of my head I can remember these two who certainly confirm the “ugly” hypothesis -

    http://www.nhsexposed.com/healthworkers/doctors/hallofshame/ledward1.shtml

    http://www.thisisthenortheast.co.uk/the_north_east/news/neale/

  100. Twisty

    Smush in 97: “i’m sorry, but when it comes to what feels to some of us (and i stress the word ’some’ here) like an obligatory yearly sexual assault, emotions are going to run high; perhaps this is not the right place to get your knickers all in a twist about whether or not we’re being fair to the guys.”

    Thanks, Smush. I like to think I would have articulated this point had I not been drunk.

  101. will

    “Ihave read every comment on this whole thread and i find it notworthy that the only topic you seem really interested in discussing is not the actual point of the original post”

    Smush:

    Not to belabor the point, but I read the actual point of the original post as a bash on male ob/gyn’s. As I pointed out above, Twisty started off with her topic sentence of bashing male ob/gyn’s, then finished up with a bash on male ob/gyn’s. With all due respect to her formidible writing skills, I made a reasonable interpretation of what she said.

    As I have said repeatedly, you can go to whomever you want to go for whatever reasons you want to go to them. I would never consider questioning that reason.

    But, when you stand up and say, “male doctors should be distrusted”, then you question all women who go to male doctors. You are doing what you accuse me of doing.

    So, I believe that what you are saying is “don’t question why a woman would go to a female ob/gyn, but it is ok to question why a woman would go to a male ob/gyn.”

  102. Twisty

    Will, seriously, this “what about the men” crap is clearly addressed in the FAQ.

  103. will

    Come on Umpire Twisty! That was a strike!

    I was attacking the patriarchy for questioning women who choose male ob/gyns.

  104. Chris Clarke

    Violet;

    Dave Chappelle gave up his day job.

    Will;

    This is a pleasant and informative place for those of us feminist-oriented men to hang out who have our unfairtoniceguysometers set to go off at some level a mite higher than “slight breeze.” Don’t fuck that up. Just sayin’.

  105. Jodie

    Slightly off topic, but there is a huge study being done to see if a blood test will work just as well as a Pap test. If so, in future docs may still need to visualize the area, but not as often and it won’t be quite so invasive.

    I hope it works.

    BTW, Sara, I *heart* DOs. While I haven’t worked with many, the ones I have were more likely to work with patients who wanted to try alternate therapies in addition to or instead of traditional therapies; were more likely to suggest nondrug interventions for side effects (but wouldn’t withhold drug therapy if pt wasn’t interested); were more likely to take the time to listen to what the patient had to say.

    The medical establishment is changing. In my current job (working with H&N surgeons), I’ve seen more than one resident set to rights by teaching docs because s/he was not listening to what the patient wanted, or because s/he didn’t explain the procedure in terms the patient could understand, or wasn’t comforting enough after giving a difficult-for-the-patient diagnosis.

  106. will

    Chrisclarke:

    My reactions only had a little to do with perceptions of “unfairness.” Women should strongly demand excellent health care. It is an extremely important issue.

    Women should not accept anything less.

    Thus, you should attack the problem viciously and consistently.

    I believe you write about science. When you use resources and energy to attack a symptom, you have fewer resources and energy to attack the root problem.

    I also think this is a very interesting discussion and a very interesting forum. If twisty wants me to shut up or if my comments are out of line, I certainly will shut up.

  107. Ms Kate

    Slightly off topic, but there is a huge study being done to see if a blood test will work just as well as a Pap test. If so, in future docs may still need to visualize the area, but not as often and it won’t be quite so invasive.

    Fine, that works for the cervix.

    The annual exam isn’t just a pap – it’s a check on other issues, like ovarian tumors, uterine tumors, etc.

    And for the poster who brought up the black doctor issue, I have to say it gets a bit more complicated with gender. Some religions forbid women to be touched by men-other-than-husband. Even when they won’t be burned to death by their brothers for having a male doctor take their pulse (let alone check their coochie), some women in such situations simply don’t seek health care because of such prohibitions and their fear of being unclean as a result. Add in the sexually assaulted (who also won’t seek care if given no choice) and it gets more fraught than simply “he’s black he can’t touch me”.

    BTW, women can sexually assault other women. They don’t in the same numbers as men do, true, but they can. Keep that in mind.

  108. Chris Clarke

    I believe you write about science. When you use resources and energy to attack a symptom, you have fewer resources and energy to attack the root problem.

    I also write about grammar, logic, rhetoric, politics, entertainment, and food. Which entitles me to go make popcorn to snack on as I enjoy watching you pick unnecessary fights with people who agree with you, using non-sequiturs such as the above-quoted that contain missing modifiers.

  109. firefly

    Not going to let it go are you Will. The thing is there is always a point when a suppressed group reaches a level of self-determiniation that they no longer need a white knight from the ruling class to fight for them. The damsels in distress are now capable of fighting for themselves. Women have reached a point where there are enough women doctors, lawyers, and other professionals that it is within their power to choose champions from their own class. Sometimes when this happens, when the oppressed group kicks the white knight off the horse and jumps on the charger themselves- the white knights left standing in the dust get ticked off and feeling all betrayed and unappreciated. Thing is the oppressed have just as much rights to their rights as do the white knights. Equal rights is not noblesse oblige.

  110. will

    “I also write about grammar, logic, rhetoric, politics, entertainment, and food. Which entitles me to go make popcorn to snack on as I enjoy watching you pick unnecessary fights with people who agree with you, using non-sequiturs such as the above-quoted that contain missing modifiers.”

    I wasn’t attempting to pick fights with anyone. As I said earlier, I think it is an interesting question. You are correct. I wrote my post poorly. Thank you for pointing that out so I can learn me some grammar. I am glad that you got some pleasure in pointing out your superior writing skills.

  111. Hattie

    This is the hugest discussion you have ever had, isn’t it. And thanks, Twisty for reminding us all that this blog is about women blaming the patriarchy, not a blog about women trying their best to win their rights without being unfair to men!

  112. Sunya Harjis

    Look, Will is a troll. I’m just saying: whether he thinks he is or not, or whether you, in your own personal opinion, whoever you are, thinks Will is a troll or not, Will is a troll. He’s an attention whore and a troll. Nobody should be responding to him. Nobody should be quibbling with him. His opinion deals with no relevant point and he plainly intends to ram his bad ol’ nonentity self down the throat of anyone who comes within 50 rhetorical feet of him, so – fellow ladies and gentlement, as a favor to Aunt Sunya – just back away and drop him already.

  113. will

    I am a troll and an attention whore because of what? Why do people resort to attacks on someone personally or grammatically instead of discussing the issue?

    I enjoy reading Twisty’s thoughts. She thinks in a different way than I do and her posts challenge me to think about a lot of different topics.

    I also happen to think that Twisty is an intelligent person who not offended if someone disagrees with her or tries to discuss topics that she raises. She doesnt strike me as someone who simply wants a bunch of “yes” people around her all the time.

    I have tried to respond to people’s comments as a dialogue. Is that not proper here?

  114. Elinor

    I think he landed in trollville with the strawman in #88.

    I missed the point where anyone suggested a “rush” to put male gynecologists out of business. And that’s pretty cute, threatening our reproductive rights in that way.

  115. Casey

    I’ve never had a male ob/gyn. When my mom told me how when she was younger, there were no female ones, i was horrified. she took me to a place that is all female, and i still go there now. makes it easy, and i don’t get tricked by any “lynns”.

    even after those years of having male ob/gyns (when she had no choice) my mom drove 45 mins when her water broke w/ my younger brother to get to a town that had a midwife because she didn’t want to give birth w/ a male doctor and that was all that was available in the little town we lived in.

  116. ginmar

    Yeah, Will’s a troll. He’s popped up elsewhere, too. “Be it on your heads if men get forced out of the business of abortion if you girls….” Whatever. Funny how we wound up talking about the poor doctors instead of women, isn’t it?

  117. Violet Socks

    Will is not a troll.

  118. Q Grrl

    I had the rare opportunity to have my first pelvic exam (age 16) performed by the same man who delivered me into the world. He had huge, huge hands that were soft as butter — and as nervous as I was, I thought it was pretty cool to “know” these hands again and think of how they helped me out when I was but a lowercase q.

    … when I was 20 I worked in a MD’s office and overheard one of the new male GP’s discussing enthusiastically how he believed that only a “vigourous” gynecological exam was appropriate. Anything less was subpar in his book. Interestingly, he was also the only person in the practice that I refused to be alone with; and that was before I heard his pelvic exam wisdom.

  119. ginmar

    He better stop giving such a perfect impression of one, then. Let’s see: the constant mistatement of feminist arguemtns, the subtle uses of MRA arguments, the tone…Hm.

  120. will

    Ginmar doesnt like my tone? Is it too churlish for you?

    Am I a troll by suggesting that women need to be concerned about the rapidily dwindling number abortion providers?

    I am strongly in favor of abortions rights. I think that there is great reason to be concerned about the fact that there are so few doctors willing to perform abortions.

    Ginmar, you’ve called me a troll on several blogs because of my “tone.” Yet, you never address the substance of my comments.

  121. Elinor

    Am I a troll by suggesting that women need to be concerned about the rapidily dwindling number abortion providers?

    This is the most trollish comment he’s made so far. “Why, I was only saying women need to be concerned about abortion access!”

    Let me remind you of what he actually said: The vast majority of doctors who preform abortions are male ob/gyn’s. Before you crack on male ob/gyn’s too much, you might want to ask yourself how a rush to push male ob/gyn’s out of business will impact women’s already dwindling abilities to obtain an abortion.

    Disingenuous. Dishonest. Troll.

  122. anne

    I also do not think Will is a troll. He is being respectful and he’s trying to engage what Twisty is saying. He is giving his opinion, and he is not being cruel, unreasonable, or disingenuous. That’s what I think.

  123. Violet Socks

    Look, Will has stated his biases: his family contains a male ob/gyn who has long been committed to abortion rights. I know from other blogs that Will has been involved in the pro-choice movement most of his life. It seems to me that he’s just making the point that blanket discrimination against male ob/gyns is not constructive for women’s health issues. Granted — that’s not really the point of the thread, which is about women’s right to determine their own medical choices and the way the patriarchal medical establishment pooh-poohs that idea. But I think Will is speaking honestly here from his own concerns. His statements are not so different from those of us women who have piped up to say that some of the best doctors we’ve had were men and some of the worst were women.

  124. anne

    p.s. As to the subject matter (sorry, Twisty…) – I also far, far prefer a female doctor to be my gynecologist. The second exam I ever had in my life was with a male… he insinuated that I had had an abortion because I had gone to a PP clinic for my first exam (for reasons of my own, not for an abortion). I found that incredibly insensitive. He was also cold, blunt, and rude. He seemed to really dislike women. Thereafter, I sought out female doctors.

    In the Peace Corps, I had a really horrible female gyn – the worst Pap smear taker I’ve ever had!… but since then I’ve had two simply fabulous female docs. I have to agree that both sexes can be good or bad doctors, just as humans can be good or bad… but I prefer to have a female doctor because I’m just not comfortable having a male examine me.

  125. Sharoni

    Will, you have no basis of comparison between male/female gynecologists. Your relative may be a wonderful, earnest, working-for-women kind of guy, and I appreciate that there are those kinds of gynies out there. However. Being female, having had to go to gynecologists for some 40 years now, I have been to both and I will never go to a male again. In my experience, males TEND to be patronizing, they also TEND to deny that women know enough about their own bodies to have an opinion about the treatment of same, they TEND to treat women as second-class citizens and they TEND to take an “it’s all in your head” attitude toward many female complaints. Personally, I don’t want to be treated that way by anyone, much less someone I am paying and who has their hands all over and even into my naked body. I also grant the point that there are female doctors who act like assholes, but out of 32 years of seeing only female doctors, only one of them has had any of the aforementioned problems. I promptly changed my physician. I blame the patriarchy for promoting this attitude in males of all stripes, but especially in doctors. I blame the patriarchy for the attitude that women are ignorant of their own bodies. I blame the patriarchy for the attitude that women are second class citizens who can be easily discounted BECAUSE they are female. Twisty, may you live forever and see the downfall of the patriarchy.

  126. Joolya

    Almost anyone can get cervical cancer – penetrative sex is not necessary, condoms don’t prevent its spread, and the virus can lay dormant for years before a lesion develops. Unfortunately, this means Pap smears for all . . . UNTIL WE GET OUR DAMN HPV VACCINES!!!!!
    Belive me, I know – I had to get the biopsy and watch my cervix being cut on cctv. Fortunately, all my experiences (so far) with OB/GYNs have been not awful, aside from the one where I was told I had had an abnormal Pap and given a brief lecture on how having multiple partners out me in a high-risk category.
    The subject of HPV and the fact that the vaccine against it hasn’t yet entered my bloodstream and the bloodstreams of every human on the planet is enough to make me scream.
    I mean, we get measles and mumps vaccines – why the hell isn’t the HPV vaccine yet just a part of the normal spectrum of shots???
    Why isn’t every single OB/GYN banging on the door of the FDA to get all their patients this vaccine???
    Because of the patriarchy, of course.
    Sorry to change the subject, slightly …

  127. Starla

    For me, I’ve always preferred a male gyno. I know I may be in the minority when it comes to this.

    I have just always felt more comfortable around male doctors than female ones. I would never object to a female doctor, and have had many in the past, but if I have a choice, I almost always choose a man.

    I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because the very first doctor I can recall was a man.

  128. ginmar

    Yeah, I like the, “But I was ONLY….” Yeah, that’s not manipulative at all.

    The worst place of all to get exams is in the military. I think they take all the flunked students from veterinary school. They keep the speculums in the freezer, too. Meanwhile, with a female doctor, I’ve yet to encounter that patronizing attitude, the ‘it’s all in your head’ mindset. In fact, all of my medical providers now are female, and the two times I’ve had to deal with men they were so offensviely bad that I reported both of them. One was a mental health screener who asked, “Well, why—blah blah blah?” the other one was a guy who literally told me my back and shoulder injuries were no big deal and to take some more pain pills for it.

  129. Garnigal

    This is a very interesting thread to me – my brother-in-law is an ob/gyne. He frequently gets comments such as “why? Dear God, why?” and speaks often about being in a female dominated discipline (he only started his practice last year.)

    His biggest reason for choosing that field? He wanted to do surgeries, but not exclusively.

    The reason his patients give for liking him and not switching (not that he’d have any issue – he’s associated with a hospital and gets all the on call work he needs)? He’s completely no-nonsense and no bullshit.

  130. anne

    Um, ginmar – it can be harder to get into veterinary school than it is to get into med school. Patriachy blame all you want, but don’t bash vets.

  131. Ron O.

    Sara (#93) my only strong preference is for a DO, rather than an MD. The DOs I’ve seen (admittedly a very small sample) were all very good listeners.

    I know a woman who is more comfortable with a man OB/Gyn. She gets more uncomfortable when a woman is touching her vagina than a man. I don’t get her preference since it is not sexual, but whatever, it’s her preference.

    Theoretcially, I have a slight preference for a male urologist or proctologist. Practically my only experience happened while living with no insurance. Sitting in Charity Hospital with a testicle swollen to the size of an orange, I didn’t care that much about the gender of the person treating me. The look on the face of the 20-something, African American women, first-year resident who treated me was priceless. I could just imagin her thinking “I’m a doctor now and I’m going to be professional about examining this white guy’s balls.” I’d have cracked up if I wasn’t doubled over in pain at the time.

    I was suprised at first that my partner, a women-studies major cum materinity nurse has a male OB/Gyn, but her other Drs are women. The Drs. gender turned out to be unimportant to her. Also, she has no modesty & wasn’t bothered with him seeing her vagina.

  132. Katherine

    I start training to be a midwife later this year–my ultimate Patriarchy-blaming strategy. The patriarchy’s hold over reproductive rights isn’t only in the area of abortion, but kicks in if you decide to have a kid, too. I’m hoping to combat that by actively doing women-oriented care and offering an alternative to the medical model of pregnancy and childbirth care, which is profoundly anti-woman and coincidentally, dominated by men. I am not against male practitioners if they operate under the midwifery model, which is anti-interventionist and trusting of women’s bodies and minds, but men in positions of power who betray women’s trust are the worst things ever. I also know that I personally would not choose to go to a male for anything regarding my reproductive system. I don’t like having to depend on men for a lot of necessary services, but I will definitely never trust my private parts to them.

  133. will

    “Will, you have no basis of comparison between male/female gynecologists….. However. Being female, having had to go to gynecologists for some 40 years now, I have been to both and I will never go to a male again. In my experience, males TEND to be patronizing, they also TEND to deny that women know enough about their own bodies to have an opinion about the treatment of same, they TEND to treat women as second-class citizens and they TEND to take an “it’s all in your head” attitude toward many female complaints.”

    Sharoni:

    From what you wrote, it appears that the last time you went to a male gyn was 32 years ago.

    I suspect/hope that there is a huge difference in attitudes toward patients and particularily female patients in the last 32 years. Thirty-two years ago, patients were not involved in the process at all. Patients did not have the ability to educate themselves about their own medical care. A patient was a passive participant in her care.

    That is not an acceptable way to practice medicine any more.

    You have every right to see whomever you want. But, I would suggest that,although your thoughts on how male doctors tended to be 32 years ago are probably correct, those attitudes toward patients might not still be true. Or perhaps, more accurately, are much less true now than they were then.

  134. firefly

    I too am of a certain age, have been having gyno exams for 30 something years with a gyno-cancer for the last ten. Been through it all- hysterectomy, radiation, chemo. Have had tons of gyno docs-male and female. One big difference between the women medical professionals and the men, when it came to talking about the impact of aging and illness on my sexuality-the male docs without exception were concerned about the impact on my husband and my physical ability to perform in relation to his needs-the women docs and nurses wanted to know how it affected me, my attitude, my sexuality,my enjoyment,my life.

  135. Twisty

    firefly in 132 “the male docs without exception were concerned about the impact on my husband and my physical ability to perform in relation to his needs-the women docs and nurses wanted to know how it affected me, my attitude, my sexuality,my enjoyment,my life. ”

    Yup.

  136. thebewilderness

    What makes will a troll, I think, is that he bludgeons you with his point until the discussion twists into what he wants to address. He really doesn’t care what you all are talking about among yourselves. I still say Twisty has the most polite, articulate trolls in cyberspace. While I don’t know you fromm Adams house cat, Will, I do so wish you would go away. I suspect we are all very tired of you by now.

  137. Violet Socks

    thebewilderness, you do not speak for me, and I think your remarks are cruel and uncalled-for.

    aaaagggghhhh — Twisty, I know patriarchy-blaming is supposed to be fun, but I just have to say this:

    Distinguishing between trolls and people who simply have a different point of view is a worthwhile skill to cultivate. Will has been respectful and has tried to communicate on a subject he cares very much about, from a pro-woman point of view. If his name were Willa you’d never call troll. Enough with the piling on. Jesus.

  138. Erin

    I think something getting lost here in a lot of the comments is that women are perfectly entitled to prefer whatever doctor they want for whatever reasons. Who the hell is some random doctor to tell me it’s not a valid choice if I prefer not to see a doctor with short brown hair? Or if one with freckles (or a penis) creeps me out?

    The arrogance displayed by the doctors on the listserv would make me not want to go to any of them. It’s not for them to say what is and is not permissible for me to prefer. And for them to get offended at my preference is just more arrogance. How dare I, a mere woman, have my own ideas about who I want looking at my vagina?

  139. Burrow

    Ugh, I wish I couldn’t believe it, but dear sweet patriarchy has made it so that I can and do.

    Smush in 97: “i’m sorry, but when it comes to what feels to some of us (and i stress the word ’some’ here) like an obligatory yearly sexual assault, emotions are going to run high; perhaps this is not the right place to get your knickers all in a twist about whether or not we’re being fair to the guys.”

    That needed to be stated again, and you’ll see why.

    I prefer women gynos, and even though the one I have now is wonderful and explains everything she does and why she’s doing it (I like this, I know some people might not) I still got triggered during my last annual exam. I thought it would be a piece of cake as I recently was getting what seemed like an exam every other friggin’ month after my LEEP (ow procedure that burns off damaged tissue on the cervix). I even waited a year and a half since my last annual to get one b/c I hate them so, and I was so surprised to find out that my exam this time had led me to the horrible downward spiral of PTSD triggering that more often then not culminates in a trip to the hospital b/c I can’t stop crying and can’t go to sleep.

    I could only imagine how much worse the incident would have triggered me if it was a man regardless of how sensitive, etc, he is, because I love my gyno and think she’s the best I’ve ever had.

    Every gyno I’ve had since the first one (doc at a free clinic when i was the tender age of 16) who told me that the exam “shouldn’t hurt me” presumably because I had slept with a couple of people. Silly me I forgot to realise that I shouldn’t be sleeping with anyone, nor making a conscious choice to make sure that I didn’t have any diseases, etc. I should have been like all the other teens and not cared.

  140. Kat

    Is it just me or are we spending a lot of time reassuring Will we don’t hate male doctors? I appreciate his polite phrasing but it still doesn’t seem right to me.

  141. Twisty

    O let us not descend into labelizing mayhem! I think we are all pretty well clued in to the various subtleties of opinion on these topics, so I will ask the gentle patriarchy-blamers to knock it off already about a) the precarious future of male gynecologists and b) whether or not Will is a troll. The subject of this post is:

    Some Doctors Are Misogynist Assholes

    Focus!

  142. Joida

    Will, I don’t know if I’d call you a troll, but you’re arguing from a defensive standpoint and definitely not patriarchy-blaming. The problem, discussed in this post, is not bad doctors, but bad patriarchy. If you believe that patriarchy exists, there’s no reason to think that the ob/gyn profession is free of its influences.

    Questioning male doctors is not the same as questioning women who go to male doctors! I personally don’t think the idea that women inherently make better ob/gyn’s is so absurd. Women are more likely to be better at understanding and sympathizing with women. Women are more likely to be advocates of women’s health and women’s welfare. What’s so absurd about that? I don’t see anything wrong with encouraging women to see female ob/gyn’s. Women are not responsible for propping up the status quo of the ob/gyn profession. If women’s preference leads to male doctors having trouble making a living, then so be it.

    I also don’t think it’s inappropriate that Twisty pointed out the perversion of male ob/gyn’s. While not all male ob/gyn’s are perverts, your odds for a pervert-free checkup is much better if you go to a female ob/gyn. Again, unless they’ve already got male ob/gyn’s they’re comfortable with, there’s no reason women have to sacrifice themselves to prop up the patriarchal status quo.

    The rate of women coming out of residency programs doesn’t equate with the rate of employment of female ob/gyn’s (you yourself pointed out that the vast majority of doctors who perform abortions are male). To use them interchangeably is to ignore the existence of patriarchy.

    There’s no reason to believe that women will lose their ability to obtain abortions if male ob/gyn’s disappear. As I see it, the only reason there are so many male ob/gyn’s is that women were shut out of the profession. In fact, if more women insisted on seeing female doctors, that would give female doctors more opportunities. The number of male ob/gyn’s is an indication of men’s sense of privilege. Yes, Will, the power that female doctors have over female patients is different from the power that male doctors have over female patients. You don’t need a patriarchy-blaming certificate to know that. The ob/gyn profession is not free of society’s tendency to objectify and control women’s bodies. The fact that there are men who are abortion and women’s health advocates does not give the ob/gyn profession a get-out-of-Twisty-blaming card.

  143. ginmar

    Er, Anne, the whole point is that if a guy uses a speculum that feels like it was designed for an arctic Holstein, he’s definitely flunked something. I remember one assembly-line examination where every woman came out limping.

  144. Joida

    I think I just contradicted you, Twisty. Let me tell you exactly what your post was about cuz I know better… heh

  145. xtimu

    mebbe you should change the name of the thread here…
    “to wi(tro)ll knows best”

    hmmmmmmmmmm?

  146. Twisty

    No, no, Joida. Your comment actually exceeds my post in terms of content quality. I wish I’d written it. No joke.

  147. krissy

    Hey, re the Male or Female doctor…
    2 years ago I was having a lot of trouble with late periods even though I was a virgin, and I noticed a real difference between the male and female doctors I met. I had a lot of trouble with pain/irregularity etc. that I knew was different FOR ME. The male doctor took this seriously, because it didn’t fit, I guess, with what he’d read in the textbooks. The female doctor went, “Tch stupid girl, it’s perfrectly normal, happens to me all the time”.
    Re: physical exams — a woman doctor I guess. I’ve only had one pap-smear (painless but bloody scary). Can’t imagine a guy,,,, ew!
    I have strange prejudices…
    Obviously these are individual cases, so I guess it shows it all depends on the person you’re dealing with. Doctors I’ve met since, male and female, have been CRAP. The last one, male and Japanese, went “oh sorry, you can’t have children” and kicked me out, but I doubt the female alternative (also Japanese) would have been much different!
    Stupid paternalistic mysognistic country, oh well I’m only stuck here for another two weeks….!!

  148. Elinor

    Will has been respectful and has tried to communicate on a subject he cares very much about, from a pro-woman point of view. If his name were Willa you’d never call troll.

    I would, and probably faster than I did. But okay, we’re to move on, so I’m moving on.

    As I see it, the only reason there are so many male ob/gyn’s is that women were shut out of the profession.

    I don’t know if that’s true for ob/gyn work in general. I wonder if, in the case of abortion, it’s about the safety risks — perhaps women are more wary. Or perhaps there are other reasons. I have no idea how many women or men are learning to perform abortions now; I know that in Canadian med schools abortion is often not part of the regular curriculum and students have to seek it out on their own, and given the intensity of the controversy in the States, I’d be shocked if American med schools were different.

  149. Grace

    Joolya – the HPV vaccine is not in everybody’s bloodstream because it was only developed VERY recently – results of the clinical trials have JUST been made available.

    Since the results could not be clearer, I certainly hope that the fucktards who think that somehow being protected from cancer would make teenage girls more likely to have sex, will be appropriately stomped on in the FDA approval process. I’m not holding my breath. But there’s nothing to get outraged about now. If it isn’t part of the normal vaccine regimen in 3 years, then yes, we can start blaming.

  150. Amber

    Twisty in 78: “As a personal aside, I’d just like to mention that the one male gynecologist I ever had is currently in prison.”

    Me too, Twisty. I always had a bad vibe about him, but he was the only choice on my insurance that was “in network” or whatever. Now I have no health insurance and I go to planned parenthood, where I haven’t seen a male doctor around the building, much less hovering near my vagina. Ha.

    Overall my experience with non-gyno male doctors has also been icky. They have been very demeaning to me, and refused to ever address the problem I was coming to see them about, always harping on my losing weight. (Don’t lecture me about how obesity causes a bunch of problems, I get it). But when I need you to check out my ear infection, chronic headaches, etc etc… and you keep making snyde comments about my weight and how I should be losing it, it makes me angry.

    Losing weight? No dude, never thought of that one.

  151. Amber

    In my last comment that should have been something like, “crowd who is reading this comment, don’t lecture me on obesity blah blah.” When I reread it it sounded like it was directed at Twisty and Twisty alone. Which it wasn’t.

  152. Tamakazura

    Heh, I still haven’t had to see an OB/GYN (although I just had an emergency room adventure with what was probably an ovarian cyst, which may mean I will in the near future)…but I can say that I, personally, would probably be more comfortable with a woman doctor. A competent male doctor with an appropriate attitude would of course be preferable to an incompetent female doctor…but as some other people said, all else being equal, I’ll take the woman.

    I can, however, imagine motives that would lead a man to the OB/GYN profession that aren’t squicky – especially if he’s witnessed a woman he cared about suffer due to, or frustrated by, the care they’ve received. But then, I realize this is terrifically idealistic thinking on my part.

    I’ve had my pap smears and pelvic exams performed by a nurse practitioner (a woman) in college and my general doctor (also a woman) now that I’m Out In The World, and never had anything more than a slight feeling of discomfort while they were being performed. I’m a worrier, and I’ll take that couple minutes of discomfort every year or so over the worrying that I tend to do over every possible thing that could go wrong with me, but that’s my personal trade-off, I admit.

  153. Violet Socks

    If anyone is interested:

    Over at my blog I posted some statistics Will has about the
    dwindling number of abortion providers. Before things got a little awkward on this thread, Will was trying to make the point that abortion-friendly ob/gyns are increasingly rare and should be valued regardless of whether they are male or female. That’s not the point of this thread, of course, but if anyone wishes to take it up, I’ve provided a place.

  154. Elinor

    Will was trying to make the point that abortion-friendly ob/gyns are increasingly rare and should be valued regardless of whether they are male or female.

    If that was his point, he has a funny way of expressing himself.

    I’m not disputing the problems with abortion training and access and I am aware of these figures for the States (in fact I think the 87% figure is a bit outdated and the situation has become worse). However, I don’t see that as a reason why I should go to a male gynecologist for my Pap smears. I don’t particularly like to be “warned” in that manner — “sure, do what you want, but if you don’t do what I want the consequences will be dire.”

    There is, I need hardly point out, no innate difference between men and women that would require men to be the ones who perform abortions. If we’re going to discuss abortion access, perhaps we should talk about the med schools that don’t put abortion in the curriculum, the violence and harassment doled out to abortion providers, or the lack of government funding for abortion services (not to mention other health care) in the US, just for a start, rather than whining about women who prefer female gynecologists.

  155. nerdlet

    “I only stayed with her b/c there’s a 3 month wait to get an appointment with someone new. Always. What’s up with that, anyway?”

    Hopefully the least controversial comment in this thread: Seeing new patients takes longer, so there are only a certain amount of new patient appointments that most offices will allow on a certain day, and they’re often at set times as well.

    And if you’re going to see a specialist, it’s going to take longer than a GP.

    Love the “blame” button, btw!

  156. Violet Socks

    If we’re going to discuss abortion access, perhaps we should talk about the med schools that don’t put abortion in the curriculum, the violence and harassment doled out to abortion providers, or the lack of government funding for abortion services (not to mention other health care) in the US, just for a start

    Actually those are exactly the kind of statistics Will sent me and that I posted.

  157. Krapsnart

    I’m finding this thread fascinating, for several reasons. The first is that my aunt’s husband used to be an OB/GYN (before he lost his licence) and that when I was a teenager, I was pressured something fierce by my mother’s family to let him do a pelvic because I’d had an undiagnosed yeast infection for months, if not years. (I’d thought it was supposed to itch like that.) I finally gave in, and although he was very professional and cured the infection, I’m squicked out to this day that my uncle had his fingers in me.

    The second is that I had a miscarriage a year and a half ago, and my GP wanted to send me to an OB/GYN. I could have gone to the man at her clinic within a week or so, or waited for months for an appointment with a woman. I wanted answers relatively quickly, because I’m already in my mid-30s and my clock is ticking pretty loudly, so I bit my tongue and went with the man. He was quite a bit older, and refused to believe me when I told him that I tend to ovulate quite late in my cycle. Look, mister, my cycle is very regular and I know exactly when we conceived. But he wouldn’t listen.

    Third is that I’m pregnant again (almost eight weeks), and there’s a chance that it could be high risk because my mother was recently diagnosed with a bunch of different blood abnormalities that, should I have them, can cause stillbirth. The (female) geneticist I saw today is referring me to a (female) hematologist, and if my tests are positive they will refer me to an OB who specializes in placental blood clots. This OB happens to be a man. I’m sure he’s well qualified and knowledgeable, and that he will take good care of me and my baby and all, but. I’m already set up with a midwife, and have a strong distaste for the medical model of pregnancy care, but if my baby is at risk I will have far less choice about prenatal care and delivery. I am not happy about this, and am keeping my fingers crossed that all will be well and I can keep the midwife and deliver at home.

    I don’t have any great societal-level generalizations to make here; I’m just offering some more data points from a woman who is also not so comfortable with men she doesn’t know well rooting around in her hoo-ha. That’s all.

  158. tigtog

    Our family doctor is male, and came to medicine as his second profession (his first degree is in Mechanical Engineering). His pelvic exam technique is gentle and he warms all the apparatus first. My first Ob/Gyn was a woman (referred by my GP), who was excellent. I have also had female GPs who were fine. You find who suits you and stick, IMO.

    I noticed when I worked in hospitals as a physio that the junior doctors with the best attitude to patient care and allied health workers were always the docs who’d done something else first, and given up that career in order to go back to school for their medical degree. So, if moving to a new town and in doubt, I advise seeing if any of the docs did something else first and try them before any of the docs who went straight to med training from high school.

  159. will

    “rather than whining about women who prefer female gynecologists.”

    Elinor:

    As I said over and over again, I do not have any problem with women prefering female ob/gyn’s. None whatsoever.

    My issue was the inference that there was something abnormal and perverted about all male ob/gyn’s.

    And I would much prefer not to discuss whether I am a troll or a woman-hater. But I wanted to make clear what I meant.

  160. Sarah Jane

    It concerns me that male OB/GYNs (at least the ones quoted above, who I sincerely hope do not make up a representative sample) are so unaware of the sensitivities of their patients. I’m sure it IS frustrating as a male OB/GYN who is genuinely concerned about women’s health and comfort, and who works hard to be good at what he does, when many women patients are still more comfortable with a female doctor. But if a man can’t understand why women might feel that way, and why for some women with difficult experiences in their past it may be a significant health risk to not have the option of being examined by a female doctor, then he is not a good OB/GYN, because he is lacking in the very basic understanding and empathy necessary in any doctor, in any specialization. But for the patriarchy, I sincerely doubt that many such doctors would still be in practice; as it is, they are surrounded by a system that not only protects them against the very legitimate complaints of their patients, but also probably reinforces their attitutes.

    In my own experience, I’ve had a grand total of 3 well-woman exams, all from female doctors, and they’ve been a real mixed bag. The first was remarkably painful with both dull, crampy pains and sharp, pinchy pains from a doctor who seemed generally unconcerned and told then-virgin me that if this hurt, then sex probably wouldn’t be too much fun the first time. Um, thanks, I think. The second two exams were much better; one from a Planned Parenthood doctor who was hurried but fully competent and who made sure I was comfortable, and the other from a wonderful family practitioner who spent time listening to my concerns and made sure the exam was comfortable both physically and emotionally. Even though she’s a couple hours away at this point, I’ll probably go back to her next year.

    I wouldn’t have a problem going to a male OB/GYN in the future, but I’d probably also take more precautions than I do with a new female doctor, either by requesting to meet the doctor prior to the appointment, or requesting to have my husband in the room with me during the exam. I have to believe that there are competent, caring male doctors out there, and I’d be more than willing to give someone a chance to prove that he is one of them. I’d also be screaming loudly if he proved not to be, however.

  161. t. comfyshoes

    Anybody seen this yet?

    http://urostream.blogspot.com/2006/02/sexism-at-its-best.html

    Female urologist discriminated against by her male patients.

    Totally different dimension than the women patients having a problem with male gyns, it looks like.

    Of course, the plural of anecdote is not data, but here’s another data point anyway.

  162. Kerlyssa

    Honestly. I don’t want some strange guy putting his hand up me- there’s enough random gropage by guys in this world. And jesus H, I just moved and all this talk about pelvic exam horror stories is making me want to cry. There’s doctors that DON’T use lube and warmed speculums? I’d jump off the damned table and the pants would go back on ’til someone with a clue came in.

    Will, if you don’t want people to think of you as a troll, then tighten up your posts. You say you only are talking about male doctors=evil, but go back and reread your posts. All of them. You wander, and other people notice, even if you don’t because in YOUR mind what you mean is perfectly clear. The first argument you have to keep track of is your own.

  163. Catharine

    Poor Will… another victim of the Patriarchy… okay, on the other side of the Patriarchy, but still…

    Will, sweetie… nobody cares. Nothing personal. Your experience isn’t their experience. In fact, they’re experience is the only experience that really counts here, since I’m pretty sure you’ve never had someone cram their hand up your vagina, grab your ovaries and go fishing around in there for god-knows-what…. They have. So have I. You? Not so much, I’m betting.

    For the record, they’ve never met your doctor relative, so clearly he’s not the one they’re talking about. Judging from everybody’s personal account of their own histories, he’s also clearly in the minority.

    So, please… before you strain something… take a pill, have a nap, and get over your big bad self. Take Chris’ advice. You’ve come to the wrong place for this.

    ~C~

  164. Elinor

    The story about the female urologist was interesting. The guy could have been a bit more polite, true. But I do see the same issues at work; I’m not sure “sexism at its best” is the best way to describe that situation. Certainly it’s sexist to believe a woman won’t be competent, but if you just don’t want to get naked in front of a stranger of the other sex…well, that’s not surprising. We’re raised to get naked in front of strangers of our own sex, if we get naked in front of strangers at all.

    The Happy Feminist’s post on this issue has been getting some Masculine Privilege Action as well…courtesy of a sweet pseudo-Freudian fellow named Richard.

    As I said over and over again, I do not have any problem with women prefering female ob/gyn’s. None whatsoever.

    The vast majority of people on this thread have made it extremely clear that even though many of us prefer to be naked around other women (and are not obliged to justify that decision), we do not think all or most male ob/gyns are perverted, bad doctors, or anything else. If you had stuck to that point we would be fine. But when you advocate that we choose doctors only by how objectively good they are (which isn’t easy, since most of us don’t get to try out every doctor in town, and it’s difficult and unnecessary to form a fully objective opinion about something as subjective and personal as this) or watch out before criticizing male ob/gyns because OMG no more abortions, you bring up different issues and belie your repeated statements that you don’t care what doctors women choose to see.

  165. Rana

    What gets me most about the guys you quoted is not that they are male doctors in a field aimed at treating women, but how goddamned _arrogant_ they are.

    Hey, bozzos, I’m the one paying the bills, I’m the one getting fingers poked inside of her, I’m the one who has to sit there in the flimsy paper gown in the chilly office. NOT you.

    So if I insist on having a doctor who is less than 5 feet tall, or want only doctors with piercings, or only fat doctors, or _whatever_ — it’s my goddamned RIGHT to make that decision.

    So you don’t like it. Get over it. You’re a provider of a _service_, which _I_ am _paying_ for — you are NOT God!

    As for what makes this a patriarchal issue: you have male physicians berating female patients for wanting to exercise their rights as consumers, as patients, and as people.

    I’m not seeing the reverse. When _male_ patients make the same sorts of arguments, _they_ are listened to, and respected, not scolded.

  166. Burrow

    My local PP (where I go) has a heat lamp above the bed. I cherish the little things.

  167. Mickle

    (I posted this at Happy’s place as well)

    Will,

    This is why it isn’t “simply the search for a good doctor”:

    I’ve written before about my murky memories of my yearly trips to the cardiologist. The most memorable part of all those trips though, was telling my mom that I wouldn’t go back after what did turn out to be my last appointment.

    I wasn’t going back because there was nothing more humiliating than taking my shirt off for a strange man at age twelve and letting him put gunk and wires all over what I thought to be my ugly and abnormally large breasts. I would have honestly rather died. And certainly not because he was old or because I thought that he would look at me sexually. I didn’t really have the language at that age to conceptualize that even if I had thought it, thank god.

    It was humiliating because I knew that I was supposed to be pretty, and yet thought I was not. Letting him see me naked meant letting a complete stranger know my true worth – feeling quite certain that he would find it very lacking.

    It was humiliating because I knew that I was supposed to find it so. The breasts that I was expected to expose before strangers – and let them touch them without complaint – were, every other time, to be kept so hidden that I needed a special undergarment to make them decent enough for going out in public. My mother had begun to tell me to sit with my legs closed even when I was wearing pants.

    It was more humiliating that he was a man not because of the sexual possibilities that never really entered into my mind, but for the same reason that my cousins and I whispered when talking about menstration – it was something distinctly personal and distincly female and thus something to always be kept hidden and often a source of shame. Other girls and women were automatically less suspect because they were more likely to share our secrets and embarrassment – not because men or boys were automatically evil. No, it was rather obvious to us that we were the ones who were wrong in some way.

    I do expect adults to be more self-assured than kids in the middle of puberty and I’m glad that there are women who so comfortable enough with themselves and their bodies that they don’t feel that they need a female ob/gyn, but I also think that it’s completely unreasonable to expect even a simple majority of modern women to be so.

    The very thought of doctors treating patients in the manner described above fills me with all the rage, anger, frustration, and vulnerability that I felt when I was twelve and thought that I had no control over my body , my self, or my worth – and felt that others were constantly telling me that no right to have control over any of these.

    I was certain that I would fight with my mother over going to the doctor’s again – and lose. Thankfully, there was no fight – my mother quickly agreed. Some may question if it was the best choice, but I think that it was vitally important that I was able to have a say it what happened to my body period, but especially during such a vulnerable time in my development. Which is why I just can’t get over the fact that one of the stories Twisty sites involves a girl who is not much older than I was at the time, and likely at the same exact stage of puberty. My experiences with my new cardiologist at age twelve was traumatic enough, I can’t imagine what most girls go through in their early teen years when their first invasive doctors visits involve their most private parts and quite often bad doctors.

    There are words for people like these, and none of them are nice.

    “The problem with a bad doctor isn’t that they are male or female. It is that they are a bad doctor.”

    No, the point is that the patriarchy encourages them to be bad doctors and that there is reason to believe that female ob/gyn are less likely to give in to the patriarchy. Just like, while there are plenty of male patriarchy blamers and plenty of women who don’t blame the patriarchy, if you have to play the odds (and in our health care system you often do) then the odds are better if the doctor is female.

  168. anonymous

    I had the unfortunate experience of being introduced to “women’s health care” by a male Lynn myself. It left me damaged and mistrustful of the medical establishment. I blamed myself for what happened, and I suppose I still do (for not being strong enough to say NO or stop the man giving me so much pain). I still cannot go to a doctor without someone else present (of my choosing, not a nurse), and I worry about my health, but do my best to avoid going to a doctor.

    That experience was degrading, traumatic, and it was only after I was referred to another (also male) doctor that I had what could be considered a normal exam and given any explanation for things (what was wrong, how it is diagnosed, what this doctor was going to do and why). It took many years before I could face the original incident enough to request my medical file. That man even lied on my medical record, calling me “hysterical” when I was thought to be entering shock and was barely responsive from sitting for hours in pain in the ER waiting room.

    I know that everyday there are women all over that face much worse situations than what I have been through, but that one incident affected me, my well-being, and my relationships for more than a decade. Also, I wish I could healthily express my anger, but I blame the patriarchy.

  169. ShyLilHarlequin

    I prefered a female ob/gyn over a male because of the simple fact that I felt more comfortable with the thought of a female handling my needs. I am not one who likes to ‘flash her goods’ about. I’m a shy person and the thought of any male other than my significant other seeing my most private parts just makes me feel ill.

  170. lauredhel

    A quote from today, on the same OBGYN list.

    “I have, on the other hand, seen one OB put a curved peon into the vagina of female babes and open it up for the purpose of tearing the hymen. He would say, “You will thank me later on.” The first time I saw it I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I asked him and he explained that this was a perfectly acceptable procedure.”

    http://forums.obgyn.net/ob-gyn-l/OBGYNL.0602/0917.html

    Words. Fail.

    (“peon” is a type of forceps – http://www.vet-tools.150m.com/sciessors.VT.htm )

  171. tenderhusband

    Good morning Group: My first post on the original subject of paitient confort during gyn exams/procedures.

    If you remember from your school reading of (The emperor wore no cloths)

    Plot synopsis
    Many years ago there lived an emperor who cared only about his clothes and about showing them off. One day he heard from two swindlers that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they said, also had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position.

    Being a bit nervous about whether he himself would be able to see the cloth, the emperor first sent two of his trusted men to see it. Of course, neither would admit that they could not see the cloth and so praised it. All the townspeople had also heard of the cloth and were interested to learn how stupid their neighbors were.

    The emperor then allowed himself to be dressed in the clothes for a procession through town, never admitting that he was too unfit and stupid to see what he was wearing. For he was afraid that the other people would think that he was stupid.

    Of course, all the townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said:

    “But he has nothing on”!

    This was whispered from person to person until everyone in the crowd was shouting that the emperor had nothing on. The emperor heard it and felt that they were correct, but held his head high and finished the procession.

    Origins
    It has been claimed that Andersen’s original source was a Spanish story recorded by Don Juan Manuel (1282-1348).

    Analysis
    This story of the little boy puncturing the pretensions of the emperor’s court has parallels from other cultures, categorized as Aarne-Thompson folktale type 1620.

    The expressions The Emperor’s new clothes and The Emperor has no clothes are often used with allusion to Andersen’s tale. Most frequently, the metaphor involves a situation wherein the overwhelming (usually unempowered) majority of observers willingly share in a collective ignorance of an obvious fact, despite individually recognising the absurdity. A similar twentieth-century metaphor is the Elephant in the room.

    The story is also used to express a concept of “truth seen by the eyes of a child”, an idea that truth is often spoken by a person too naïve to understand group pressures to see contrary to the obvious. This is a general theme of “purity within innocence” throughout Andersen’s fables and many similar works of literature.

    “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” or “The Emperor Has No Clothes” is often used in political and social contexts for any obvious truth denied by the majority despite the evidence of their eyes, especially when proclaimed by the government. Amazon.com alone lists 17 works with one of these two phrases in the title, and this ignores political magazine articles and non-mainstream authors.

    ___________________________________________________________
    My take on the story and how it relates to male gyn’s and female paitients.
    ___________________________________________________________
    While mainstream society may turn a blind eye to the sexual
    overtones of a gyn exam I do not. Countless women and their spouses have been brainwashed into thinking that a thin paper sheet over her lap perserves the ladies dignity, and the title of Dr. perserves the couples intimancy. There are a few small children (myself being one) that sees the truth. My wife flat on her back with legs spread wide and another man between them.

    Society and the doctors themselves tell us that they have the magical clothes spoken of in the story. This time it is a white coat and when it is worn by a male dr he no longer can think of a naked lady with her legs spread wide as a sexual being, or himself as a sexual creature above natural thoughts or feelings.

    Have a great day group,

    Respectfully:

    Mike aka tenderhusband and Moderator at how husbands feel.

  172. tenderhusband

    Will:
    Visit this site and check out what this *respectable* male gyno had to say to his students.

    http://forums.obgyn.net/ob-gyn-l/OBGYNL.0606/0630.html

    Here is a posted statement by Joanne Bulley MD.
    (“Dr. Rudi Ansbacher, an obgyn attending at Univ Of Michigan, at least once told the medical students that if they “did an adequate breast exam, no lubricant is needed for the speculum exam.”

    Nothing could be further from the truth. As Jamie put it – in the exam room there is one sided vulnerability.

    I had a hard time respecting anything else he said during any further months on rotation at the U of Mich.

    Joanne “)

    Will, this attitude is exactly why I prefere my wife not see a male gyno.
    The attitude of dr. Ansbacher is also why many women choose to see a female Dr. for intimate care, and why there choice should not be questioned by or explained to you.

    Respectfully Submitted:
    Mike aka tenderhusband and moderator at how husbands feel.

  173. Lara

    tenderhusband/Mike, I don’t think gyn abuse in the rape culture is about sexuality or about “natural” sexual thoughts and feelings. It’s about power and subjugation. Sex is just the weapon.

  174. hedonistic

    Women, do you need anymore proof our beloved Twisty is not with us right now? I move for group moderation until she returns. BAH.

  175. tenderhusband

    Lara: Thanks for the reply. I too do not belive that control of women by the medical profession is all about sex. I just brought up the point within the issue that a male Dr. cannot completly detach his sexual thoughts during this type of examination or procedure. This is the only area of our society where cross gender intimate contact is permitted or accepted.

    During the last visit that my wife had to a male gynecologist I could feel that he enjoyed the power that he held over women and their husbands in the choice and tone of words that he used. My wife on the other hand was detached and just ready for this to be over so she did not even remember most of what he said. This is another reason why it is good to do healthcare as a team, two sets of ears are better than one.

    Ladies, if you have not read this book perhaps you might enjoy it. Male Practice-How Doctors Manipulate Women, by Robert S. Mendelson, M.D. You can buy a used copy on ebay for $5 or less delivered to your door. It contains a lot of doct. information that backs what I belive, women have been long treated as the “cash cows” of the American medical profession.

    Have a nice day all:

    Mike aka tenderhusband and moderator at how husbands feel.

  176. Lara

    “Tenderhusband”, I’ve read your work. You seem to believe that a woman at best co-owns her vagina, and you spend an inordinate amount of time whining about how gynaecological examination make you feel. “Gynecology and Jealous Partners”? Give me a fucking break.

  177. tenderhusband

    Laura: I guess then you belive that what is your’s is your’s, and what is your husband’s is yours. You sound as if you would be a wonderful “partner” in a marriage. Always your way or the highway.

    Myself, I belive that when I entered into marriage I gave up rights to my body to my wife and she gave up rights to her body to me. So yes, I guess I do feel as if I *as you put it* co-own her vagina. It is a two way street however and I accept the same ruls both ways. (example) I hate wearing a seatbelt, always have, always will. Since I married I wear my seatbelt because as my wife puts it. “You are mine, I love you and I want you around for a long time.”

    I’m not an anti feminist, and I did not post here looking for a fight. Funny how when I posted a similer comment on an anti feminist board I was treated with the same disrespect and called a man hater.

    Have a nice day.
    Mike

  178. saltyC

    Hey those of you still trying your luck living with men, I leave you TenderHusband to wrestle. Me, I opted out of the game a little while ago and am so relieved I don’t have to deal with such attitudes in my life anymore.

  179. Lara

    TH, I give you, the Twisty FAQ. Share and enjoy.

  180. hedonistic

    He probably has no idea this is not a safe place to be paternalistic. Didn’t read the FAQ, yup, yup.

  181. Hogan

    This is the only area of our society where cross gender intimate contact is permitted or accepted.

    Wait what? I’m pretty sure you and I live in the same society, and that sounds wrong to me.

    Myself, I belive that when I entered into marriage I gave up rights to my body to my wife and she gave up rights to her body to me.

    Wait WHAT?

    Do you believe there are any human relationships that CAN’T be reduced to property ownership? Or, maybe, SHOULDN’T? Including, maybe, your relationship to YOURSELF?

    SORRY about the YELLING, but GOOD GRIEF.

  182. Karyn

    I dated a male ob/gyn and found porn on his home PC–go to a female.

  183. Victoria

    I find the volume of defensive comments sticking up for male ob/gyns somewhat amusing.

    YES, there can be bad female doctors and good male doctors

    YES, what really matters is the care and empathy of the doctor involved

    But NO, in a typical consulting session and the way the medical *industry* now runs, no value is placed on maintaining a relationship with a doctor. You might see him/her for one minute before “they” get with the speculum. And if that’s the way the industry works (in order to be cost effective, because obviously that’s the most important thing, right??? … !!) people have to make their judgement on which ob/gyn to choose on superficial, often flawed criteria.

    If you’d like to allow me a free of charge 30 minute interview with my ob/gyn before choosing to go ahead with my next pap/smear, I’ll give a male one an equal chance as a female one. In the meantime, I’ll be choosing female doctors.

    Now if half of your would put as much vitriol into counselling your own male colleagues against these insensitive practices (that, as one poster has pointed out, risk discouraging some patients from *ever* having tests that may save their lives) as you have in defending those colleagues against this post, perhaps we wouldn’t all be having to have this discussion.

  184. Michaela

    Actually women need to carefully consider whether exams that are often done routinely are even necessary…
    There is evidence to suggest that pelvic exams in asymptomatic women are totally unnecessary – it doesn’t happen in Australia – and shouldn’t be happening anywhere – an annual pelvic exam for every healthy women is just ridiculous.
    The need for smears and their frequency should be assessed having regard to your individual sexual, family and medical history. Many women don’t need smears at all or only every 3 years or so…insist on an individual assessment or find a Dr who will listen…
    I was hounded for years about smears and finally sought advice from a senior female gyno – my husband & I were virgins when we met and there has never been anyone else – I haven’t been exposed to HPV so don’t need smears at all.
    If I haven’t forced the issue and refused to submit, I’d be going through that unpleasant procedure every 2 years!
    There is also lots of evidence now that breast exams should not be done routinely on asymptomatic women – & the need for mammograms (and/or their frequency) should be discussed with your Dr.
    Unfortunately the medical profession does not encourage women to think for themselves – it seems like it’s fine to intimate, frighten and pressure us…
    It’s totally unacceptable – do your research and go armed with questions, don’t just submit & don’t allow Drs to treat you like a child.
    I worked at the Medical Board for a few years as a young lawyer…I heard some shocking stories of abuse of female patients by male doctors.
    I don’t see male doctors at all – with a female doctor I don’t have to worry about any of that (but I still need to know my stuff)and the other factor – I feel much more comfortable with a woman – I’m the person paying for the service after all…
    I don’t feel I need to justify my choice of Dr to anyone…
    Once women were ridiculed if they wanted a female Dr, thankfully, that’s changing with more and more female Doctors appearing…
    I know of one young woman who was pressured to see a male Dr – was told by the nurse not to be silly and that the Dr saw hundreds of woman every year (so what, what does that have to do with her preference & feelings?) she was sexually assaulted and will carry the trauma of that abuse for the rest of her life.
    My advice to women out there – don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable, end the consult and get a second opinion or see a female Dr…don’t be afraid to say, “No”….if you’re patronized or pressured – just leave….
    I know it’s difficult for a young woman to stand up for herself in the doctor-patient relationship particularly, when the woman is in a vulnerable position – the power dynamic is a difficult one…
    I would sleep better at night if I knew all young women (in particular) saw only female doctors and the rest of us knew how to stand up for ourselves….
    Wishful thinking…I know!

  185. Michaela

    Also, wanted to add…are you all aware of the new blood test that will replace the Pap smear – the Cervical Specific Antigen blood test (CSA Test)…
    I understand it will be available in the States shortly…
    At the moment there are lots of high risk women who don’t have smear tests for lots of reason eg victims of sexual assault – this non-invasive test is urgently needed…
    I’ve read that pathologists and Doctors may not welcome the Test – a simple blood test as opposed to smear testing (you need a Dr (& possibly a chaperone) and pathologist…
    The smear is relatively inaccurate (70% roughly)while this test is almost 100%….
    I have already contacted several politicians in Australia and women’s health action groups to get behind this Test – to make it available to women asap…
    Search the Interest for the CSA Test…hasn’t it been kept quiet?

  186. Michaela

    If you’re interested in doing some homework…
    http://medicineandman.com/blog/2005/07/13/blood-test-for-cervical-cancer-csa-test/
    Info on the CSA blood Test

    Re: Routine breast exams in asymptomatic women
    see…www.racgp.org.au/afp/200805/200805thistlethwaite.pdf

    Re: pelvic exams in asymptomatic women
    see…
    http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/200806/200806stewart.pdf

    Happy reading!

  187. nic

    Beware of the male gyno if you have any uterine problems as they are 60% more likely to perform hysterectomies (desexing/castration) than female gynos.http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1615070

  188. DLB

    I’ve never understood why some expect women to explain their choice of Dr. Surely, women and men are entitled to see the doctor of their choice.
    Until fairly recently in Australia there were few female gynaecologists.
    I think today we’re reached close to the 50% mark, but 25 years ago, it was woeful.
    I noticed while studying in the States women have FAR more invasive exams than other women.
    I was shocked at these annual gyn exams that seem to start in your teens and go on for the rest of your lives.
    I’ve had one invasive exam in my entire life and shopped around, basically interviewed three female gyn’s until I found one I liked….hopefully, I won’t need to see another one, but if I do, I’ll go back to her.
    I wouldn’t justify my choice of Dr to anyone, it’s my business and others can see the Dr of their choice.
    I had a few frightening experiences with men as a young woman and trust became an issue for me. I simply couldn’t see a male doctor for anything invasive.
    Even at this point in my life, I’d just feel more comfortable with a woman – end of story.
    I think when people attack women for seeing female doctors it amounts to defensiveness (in male doctors) and fear of losing business and ignorance, arrogance or insecurity in others.
    I do think American women have far too many routine exams and they lead to huge numbers of diagnostic tests, biopsies and even surgery. I know your doctors perform 600,000 hysterectomies every year, which is HUGE and quite terrifying.
    I’d stay away from the gynecologist unless you have a medical problem.
    I also found the comments made by those doctors quite disgusting – actually that whole website makes me ill. It’s a bunch of doctors trying to frighten women into unnecessary tests and exams – scare mongering to make money.
    None of this would fly in this country, we know it’s absolute nonsense – no healthy, symptom-free woman needs routine exams.

  189. Jezebella

    DLB, given the prevalance of HPV in America – and perhaps elsewhere – having regular pap smears if at all possible is essential to saving women’s lives here in the U.S. Several kinds of HPV can cause cancer but must be caught and treated early. Many other STI’s can be asymptomatic for years, but left untreated can cause major health problems for both a woman and her sexual partners. Regular exams are crucial for people who are sexually active, whether by an OB/GYN or an LPN at a reproductive health clinic. You are free to stick your head in the sand about being symptom-free, or perhaps you are not and never have been sexually active, but advising all women to forego regular exams is misinformed and irresponsible.

  190. Comrade Svilova

    I’m glad that you bumped this thread, Jezebella, because it reminded me to make an appointment with my (female) gyno. I’ve been putting it off too long.

    I know it’s years late, but I just want to add that my personal reluctance to see a gynecologist regularly comes from the unpleasant experience I had with my first such exam. The male doctor called me a “good girl” and patted me on the head when I scrambled off the table in pain. He also cheerfully told me that if the exam was that bad, the first few times I had sex it would hurt “quite a bit!” My mother was in the examination room with me, thankfully, and she immediately changed to a different doctor and apologized for bringing me to a doctor who obviously was clueless about treating women as humans with dignity.

    If a woman had said the same things, it would have scared me and pissed me off, but I wouldn’t have also felt humiliated and violated.

  191. Sarah

    in what other profession does a man view disembodied pussy as a source of revenue?

    The pimp profession?

  192. Uppity

    An older conversation but a good one, I’ve had this argument a dozen times (about that very thread on that very listserv in fact). It comes down to not just squickiness about nudity in front of strangers, but the power imbalance. The doctor is an educated expert, fully dressed, often in a white coat, upright, and performing the procedure. The patient OTOH, is undressed, lying down, not an expert, female and in an all around vulnerable position. The power imbalance of male verses female added to the equation exponentially increases the vulnerability. As apparent by the doctors on that forum, they are very much aware of their position, and not only are they not sensitive to their patients plight, but they are downright arrogant, elitist, obnoxious and beligerent about their RIGHT to practice medicine on the masses. A male OBGYN working in this situation day in and day out is thriving on that power imbalance, not actively subduing it. He might have the best doctoring skills in the world, but he’s doing his patients an injustice.

    A female doctor does not solve the problem, for a woman to survive med school, she’ll have most likely become Margaret Thatcher-esk in her devotion to the P. Choosing a female ONGYN is only a choice for the lesser bad.

  193. agasaya

    All,

    The patriarchy offers many material rewards for offering their brand of Kool-Aid to supplicants among the tribe. Patients are not regarded by most as ‘clients’ but more as ‘supplicants’. That can blind many women physicians into looking upon patients of their own sex as mere sources of revenue. The origin of that brand of bad doctoring is still rooted in patriarchy, rather than skill, Will.

    There are attractive fees for representing defense clients in malpractice suits and industry in toxic torts, This makes for a powerful attraction that can draw some female practitioners to eschew any identification with the particular vulnerability of women in these circumstances.

    I was in an ER the other day (I’m being poisoned with pesticides by industry due to my particular forms of activism) and the female toxicologist told me that a particular type of pesticide (the type found in RAID cans) “…is not toxic when inhaled…”.

    Wonder where she trained? She boasted of her superior training when I told her flat out that she was wrong. Read the label on the cans, ‘dear’, if you can’t be bothered to read the journal research which is NOT sponsored by the manufacturing company.

    Unless the funding stream is secondary to the reasons behind an individual becoming a physician, it’s hard to find good docs in any area of practice.

  1. Is there no sin in it?

    Why I am a feminist

    Over on Twisty Faster’s home planet, a long discussion has ensued from her sickening post derived from online conversations among gynecologists in which a female doctor claims that rape/molestation victims specifically requesting female gynos should …

  2. BlogHer [beta]

    Discrimination or Gender Preference?

    Let me start my saying that I don’t really understand this topic at all. I grew up as a military brat and you got whichever doctor you got. I married a military dude and spent 20 adult years with military healthcare and again, you got whichever doct…

  3. A Poll for the Ladies « Women’s Health News

    [...] Posted by Rachel on February 24th, 2006 A few days ago, I came across Twisty’s post on male OB/GYNs – she doesn’t like them. An acquaintance had referred her to the online archives of the OB-GYN-L discussion list, where OB/GYNs were discussing the topic of women who prefer that their gynecological care providers not be men (see the “Sad but true” threads). Many of the male docs seemed to think it was prejudiced and ignorant for women to prefer female providers. Twisty discovered such gems of comments there such as, “My mother fixed this problem when I was born and named me Lynn. Many a woman has been quite shocked when a 6′4″ male walks into the exam room. When they say they thought I was a woman, I simply respond by saying, ‘too late now.’” One female doc was told she should get out more when she repeatedly argued the point that some women are simply more comfortable with other women for this type of intimate care, and their choices should be respected rather than belittled. [...]

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  7. A Poll for the Ladies | Womenhealth

    [...] few days ago, I came across Twisty’s post on male OB/GYNs – she doesn’t like them. An acquaintance had referred her to the online archives of the [...]

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