Birth, Feminism, and the place of males in the whole thing - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 85 Old 11-13-2007, 09:21 PM
 
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Except that you do have "some kind of magical power because you happen to be giving birth". Your intuition and your knoweledge of your body and the intimate knowledge of your baby that you get from carrying it inside YOUR body for nine months. Father or not, nobody else has that.
No; I don't. Intuition is not 'magical power', and frankly my DH knows exactly as much about my baby as I do. I know when it's kicking; that's all. When he says 'How's the baby?' we both know that I really have no more idea than he does. Maybe some women have a closer connection with their unborn child--maybe some men do, too! But maternal intuition is not infallible--just look at all the MDC mamas who 'just knew' that their child was a boy or girl, only to be proven wrong!

At any rate this is unrelated to the point I was making, which is that a father has a right to say what happens to his baby. If I 'maternally intuited' halfway through labour that I'd really prefer a C-section, I hope DH would ask me for a damn good reason! And if I decided I would feel more comfortable with him out of the room for the birth, I hope he'd say 'Honey, we agreed that we both wanted to be here'. Why? Because it's not MY baby; it's OUR baby. It would have been physically impossible for me to conceive this child on my own--so what gives me the right to pretend that the baby's father is irrelevant? Yes, I expect him to be supportive. But I do not expect him to defer to my every whim as if I have some secret, arcane, goddess-like touch-me-not power. It's not about me. It's about our baby.

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#62 of 85 Old 11-13-2007, 09:38 PM
 
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I shall henceforth follow behind Smokering, nodding my agreement as we go.
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#63 of 85 Old 11-13-2007, 10:21 PM
 
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Awww.

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#64 of 85 Old 11-13-2007, 11:00 PM
 
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I just wanted to add that OB/Gyn isn't about the glory and warmth about bringing new life into the world. It's a highly surgical field - next to being a general surgeon - and it's attractiveness to people has to do with its surgical approaches.

Let's be frank: the medical model of dealing with women's healthcare is one that is misogynist and very male oriented (linear thinking).

I have a hard time ignoring what doctors (men) introduced once they turned society against midwives.
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#65 of 85 Old 11-13-2007, 11:30 PM
 
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I agree, the entire OB prenatal model of care is based upon invasiveness. And I agree that I cannot ignore the continuing campaign against midwifery and a non-invasive model of care.
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#66 of 85 Old 11-13-2007, 11:50 PM
 
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No, but I've talked with a fair share. I never said all OBs are in it for surgery - but if you look at the scope of practice of an OB/Gyn, you'll see there's a higher mode of surgery than there is of lullaby births. There's no need to be catty here - we're talking about something that is well known. Obstetricians are surgeons - they have been since the beginning with the arrival of forceps.

I'm not sure where the defensiveness comes from. It's been documented in history pretty darn well. We see the current climate of obstetrics within a technocratic model. It's not woman-centered, it's not evidence-based and it IS very surgical. (Not to mention the field of gynecology with the prevelance of hysterectomies, etc) This approach is not new - it's been around since the beginning.

Modern medicine approaches the human body in a very male-oriented way. It's very linear, very left brain, very black and white, very heroic.

I'm not anti-man. I am a feminist, which means I'm pro-woman and pro-man in very equal ways. I am opposed to the technocratic model of birth and women's health issues. This, to me, is deeply rooted in mysoginst thinking and myths about women's bodies.
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#67 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 12:02 AM
 
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Hmm, interesting that is what you take from it. Looking from the other side, how do you know why people become OBs? Do you really know? Have you talked to many? Because I have and it's pretty clear from their discussions that it's common knowledge that the field is appealing because of it's surgical aspect.

Anyway, I do want to keep this civil. I have had very different experiences in my discussions with OBs, GPs and CNMs. Your mileage, of course, may always vary.

The technocratic model of childbirth is misogynist. Without a doubt. Whether it's a male provider or female provider, the approach, the education and the beliefs are all similar. There are some variances, of course, but what we have seen in modern childbirth in the last 100 years points to something very different than woman-centered.

There are some amazing accounts of medical residency, the field of obstetrics, the history of midwifery and the takeover by doctors, and the struggles that current OBs deal with. Some books on this I'd recommend:

From Doctor to Healer: The Transformative Journey by Robbie Davis-Floyd
Childbirth and Authoratative Knowledge by Robbie Davis-Floyd
Born in the USA by Marsden Wagner
Pursuing the Birth Machine by Marsden Wagner
Birth by Tina Cassidy
Pushed by Jennifer Block
Witches, Midwives and Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Making of Man-Midwifery by Adrian Wilson
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#68 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 12:13 AM
 
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No, I don't know many OBs. But then, I wasn't the one claiming that all OBs take the job for a single specific reason.

Whether or not the techocratic model of childbirth is misogynistic is irrelevant, when discussing whether or not *a* male OB/GYN should be present at a birth. Just because someone is male does not mean he is The System.

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#69 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 12:18 AM
 
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I never said that because someone is a male he is The System. I was not talking about men vs women here, I'm discussing the technocratic model of birth - and that includes female and male providers.

I'm a little concerned that this is more of a tit for tat thing here...rather than the discussion as a whole. ? Perhaps I'm missing the point of this thread?
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#70 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 01:31 AM
 
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I like to think men become OB's because at heart they are really big softies who prefer to specialize in a field that is predominantly healthy vibrant women and cute babies instead of sick and dying people.

That doesn't mean I want one around me unless I'm in desperate need of surgery.....and in that case, I would hope he went into obstetrics because he was fascinated by surgery, wanted to prove that he could be the best surgeon in the world, and thrives everytime he gets called in to do a c-section!

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#71 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 04:06 AM
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My experience with a male OB was this:

He was VISBILY delighted to hear me say these things:
"I want a labor without pain medications of any kind, if that is possible."
"I want to breastfeed my child as long as I can, and start right away."
"I want to have as few interventions as possible in my labor."

He supported my choice to have my son room-in with me, and supported the lack of pain meds in my labor. He did not episiotomy me. He is a great doctor, with an excellent manner, and I was sorry to see him move.

However, this OB had moved to his wife's rural, not especially lucrative to practice in, hometown to make sure that they were available to her parents, so that they were not alone in their old age. Once her mom passed on, and her family had all moved away, they moved their extended family back to his family's home area so her dad would have a larger extended family network to depend on. Thus I think his practice method simply reflects his overall attitudes to life, family, and people in general.

I think if we look at all the excellent practitioners of any sort of medicine, we will find that those practitioners who are compassionate and loving in all aspects of their lives are the same ones.

My two pennies, and of course YMMV

Maura
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#72 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 04:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
No, I don't know many OBs. But then, I wasn't the one claiming that all OBs take the job for a single specific reason.

Whether or not the techocratic model of childbirth is misogynistic is irrelevant, when discussing whether or not *a* male OB/GYN should be present at a birth. Just because someone is male does not mean he is The System.
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I never said that because someone is a male he is The System. I was not talking about men vs women here, I'm discussing the technocratic model of birth - and that includes female and male providers.

I'm a little concerned that this is more of a tit for tat thing here...rather than the discussion as a whole. ? Perhaps I'm missing the point of this thread?
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Originally Posted by pamamidwife View Post
I just wanted to add that OB/Gyn isn't about the glory and warmth about bringing new life into the world. It's a highly surgical field - next to being a general surgeon - and it's attractiveness to people has to do with its surgical approaches.

Let's be frank: the medical model of dealing with women's healthcare is one that is misogynist and very male oriented (linear thinking).

I have a hard time ignoring what doctors (men) introduced once they turned society against midwives.
Speaking from a similar experience of talking with many OBs, and many students choosing their career fields, the surgical aspect of OB is definitely a big draw for many folks. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met someone who went into OB from a point of view of wanting to support feminism and woman-centered care. I know that doesn't mean such folks don't exist, but I've never met one. I personally entered medical school to go into OB, but once I did my OB rotation and found out how heavily surgical the field is, and how the training is so heavily focused on surgery, I changed my mind and became a family doctor. Almost every OB I've ever met chose the field because they enjoyed surgery and wanted to be in a mostly happy field with a lot of positive outcomes. I've met very few who have even ever attended a physiologically normal birth that wasn't a precip, let alone who strive to promote them.

The modern technical model of birth arises out of long push to move birth out of the sphere of women's work, in the home, guided by "soft" things like intuition, tradition, and support. The study of this history is absolutely fascinating and can help you realize how the current model of birth arose. This history is full of misogynism. While no one can say for sure what any one person's individual motives might be, one has only to work in the modern medical birth world a very short time to see how the system itself is fairly anti-woman. As someone who went into birth work from a feminist point of view, my first week of OB almost killed me, and I almost quit altogether. I realized quite quickly that there was no way I could survive the training needed to be an OB, even with my best intentions as my driving force. I could not in good conscious treat even one woman as just someone to learn on, could not be happy about the chance to practice my surgical skills because someone needed a cesarean birth, could not look at a 4th degree episiotomy extension with joy at the chance to learn. Granted my experience is limited to the 4 different hospitals I had OB training experience in, but the training atmosphere was more or less the same in all of them. Surgeons like to operate. Surgeons in training need to operate to learn. Surgery wasn't what turned me on, birth was - especially birth where I got to be with woman, providing support and encouragement and seeing the amazing strength of a woman who stretches her abilities to bring forth a new life.

To Pam's list, I'd add: The Woman in the Body by Emily Martin, a great look at how women's bodies came to be medicalized and birth technicalized.

While I don't think men need to be banned from birth work (think of Michel Odent!), I do think if the model shifted to be more pro-woman, with women in power, and women's unique bodies and experiences venerated, there would be few men interested in participating. If the men want to stay OB surgeons, I'm fine with that - as long as surgeons aren't the main care providers of healthy women. If men want to enter into the female-dominated sphere of birth and provided woman-centered and empowered care, I'm fine with that, too. I think such men would be few and far between.
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#73 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 05:09 AM
 
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Speaking from a similar experience of talking with many OBs, and many students choosing their career fields, the surgical aspect of OB is definitely a big draw for many folks. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met someone who went into OB from a point of view of wanting to support feminism and woman-centered care. I know that doesn't mean such folks don't exist, but I've never met one. I personally entered medical school to go into OB, but once I did my OB rotation and found out how heavily surgical the field is, and how the training is so heavily focused on surgery, I changed my mind and became a family doctor. Almost every OB I've ever met chose the field because they enjoyed surgery and wanted to be in a mostly happy field with a lot of positive outcomes. I've met very few who have even ever attended a physiologically normal birth that wasn't a precip, let alone who strive to promote them.

The modern technical model of birth arises out of long push to move birth out of the sphere of women's work, in the home, guided by "soft" things like intuition, tradition, and support. The study of this history is absolutely fascinating and can help you realize how the current model of birth arose. This history is full of misogynism. While no one can say for sure what any one person's individual motives might be, one has only to work in the modern medical birth world a very short time to see how the system itself is fairly anti-woman. As someone who went into birth work from a feminist point of view, my first week of OB almost killed me, and I almost quit altogether. I realized quite quickly that there was no way I could survive the training needed to be an OB, even with my best intentions as my driving force. I could not in good conscious treat even one woman as just someone to learn on, could not be happy about the chance to practice my surgical skills because someone needed a cesarean birth, could not look at a 4th degree episiotomy extension with joy at the chance to learn. Granted my experience is limited to the 4 different hospitals I had OB training experience in, but the training atmosphere was more or less the same in all of them. Surgeons like to operate. Surgeons in training need to operate to learn. Surgery wasn't what turned me on, birth was - especially birth where I got to be with woman, providing support and encouragement and seeing the amazing strength of a woman who stretches her abilities to bring forth a new life.

To Pam's list, I'd add: The Woman in the Body by Emily Martin, a great look at how women's bodies came to be medicalized and birth technicalized.

While I don't think men need to be banned from birth work (think of Michel Odent!), I do think if the model shifted to be more pro-woman, with women in power, and women's unique bodies and experiences venerated, there would be few men interested in participating. If the men want to stay OB surgeons, I'm fine with that - as long as surgeons aren't the main care providers of healthy women. If men want to enter into the female-dominated sphere of birth and provided woman-centered and empowered care, I'm fine with that, too. I think such men would be few and far between.
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#74 of 85 Old 11-14-2007, 04:07 PM
 
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#75 of 85 Old 11-15-2007, 06:42 AM
 
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You know, while I don't completely agree with your mom :, there is a part of this I agree with.

It's been my experience (mostly working with female obs; I've only ever been to one and not for childbirth) that female OB/GYNs don't compare their patients to themselves physically, but certainly in other aspects. If there is a female ob/gyn that worked until 38 weeks pregnant, she expects all her patients to do the same. If you find one that went out on bedrest at 24 weeks, then she is usually much more open to that idea for other women.

I worked with a female ob/gyn that wouldn't treat patients agressively for thrush with breastfeeding. She would swear up and down that it was "normal" for breastfeeding to feel like shards of glass for months. And, for her, it did. Cause she didn't get her thrush treated. : Other than that quirk, she was actually a competent doctor.

But, I just find that female ob/gyns that have had some sort of pregnancy/childbirth/female issues tend to really forecast their experiences onto their patients.

Not all, but a glaring number.
I have made similar observations. Males don't tend to get invested in you doing it the way they did or their wives did the way I notice some women can. Not that there are not wonderful female OBs and midwives. But I have given birth with male OBs and female and male CNMs...and found them all caring and compassionate.
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#76 of 85 Old 11-15-2007, 09:56 PM
 
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I agree that the only male who has a place in the birth is the father, and even the father's role is limited to as much support or help as the mother requests. I think its disgusting that men comprise the overwhelming majority of women's health practitioners in this country. DISGUSTING. They have no place in it, and I wish things would go back to when everyone understood that.
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#77 of 85 Old 11-16-2007, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do think if the model shifted to be more pro-woman, with women in power, and women's unique bodies and experiences venerated, there would be few men interested in participating. If the men want to stay OB surgeons, I'm fine with that - as long as surgeons aren't the main care providers of healthy women. If men want to enter into the female-dominated sphere of birth and provided woman-centered and empowered care, I'm fine with that, too. I think such men would be few and far between.
Yes. That's put much more nicely than "I'm a raging man-hater and I don't want those jerks anywhere near my vagina when I'm trying to push a baby out of it". That's why she's the doctor, folks!

Less clinically, I also feel:

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Originally Posted by Mama Poot
... the only male who has a place in the birth is the father, and even the father's role is limited to as much support or help as the mother requests. I think its disgusting that men comprise the overwhelming majority of women's health practitioners in this country. DISGUSTING. They have no place in it, and I wish things would go back to when everyone understood that.
In the present model of care (technocratic, as I have come to understand), it really IS disgusting. Modern technocratic birth is, in and of itself, anti-feminist, and for that reason, the people who practice within that system are anti-feminist by default. But more so the men, because they're men. I don't care if that isn't fair, it's just the way I feel.
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#78 of 85 Old 11-16-2007, 03:34 PM
 
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Wow. I just read this entire thread, minus the posts that got removed. Great discussion.

I started to add a response and then deleted because i really don't think I have much to add to what has been said. I would never choose a male practitioner unless he had skills (eg breech delivery) that I couldn't find in a woman. My soul has always rebelled against the idea of a male other than my partner touching me so intimately. Quite frankly I find a female doing a vaginal exam nearly as repugnant and as such, I don't do annual exams - I'm just not motivated in any way to do such a thing.

I'm with Jen as usual about men involved in birth or gyn in general - if they're prepared to offer the kind of care that women actually need, then by all means. But I too suspect that far fewer men would be interested in practicing within a woman-centric model.

As to decisions in birthing - my partner, too, is a feminist - even more than I am. He defers to me in birthing decisions, since it is not just the OUR baby but MY body. He is interested, involved, and has opinions, but respects that I am the one doing the work and that I am the one who will directly experience the long-term physical ramifications of the birth, and as such, final decisions about where and how to birth, are mine. Since my decisions are generally firmly based on research facts, there has never been a conflict on this point.
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#79 of 85 Old 11-16-2007, 05:26 PM
 
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Subbing to read later.

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#80 of 85 Old 11-24-2007, 08:11 PM
 
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While I don't think men need to be banned from birth work (think of Michel Odent!)...
Michel Odent is an excellent example of a man who understood childbirth. That is why he made the following statements:
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"It is not mere coincidence that in all traditional societies, women in labor are assisted not by men, but by other women who have had children themselves...."
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"It is very important that midwives be women... Labor, birth and breastfeeding are in part sexual events, and the gender of those people present must be taken into account. The contact between the birth attendant and the woman in labor can be exceedingly intimate and intense. A woman in labor is in an especially vulnerable physical and emotional state, apt to become dependent on her birth attendant, at least for a while. The sexual overtones that might accompany such contact with a male attendant could hamper the woman in labor in acting as openly and spontaneously as whe would like, or afterwards might even make her feel ashamed of what she has revealed about herself"
I should also point out that Odent eventually concluded that men, and doctors in general, needed to get out of obstetrics as much as possible, and followed his own advice by leaving the field himself.
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#81 of 85 Old 11-25-2007, 02:10 PM
 
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My experience with a male OB was this:

He was VISBILY delighted to hear me say these things:
"I want a labor without pain medications of any kind, if that is possible."
"I want to breastfeed my child as long as I can, and start right away."
"I want to have as few interventions as possible in my labor."

He supported my choice to have my son room-in with me, and supported the lack of pain meds in my labor. He did not episiotomy me. He is a great doctor, with an excellent manner, and I was sorry to see him move.

However, this OB had moved to his wife's rural, not especially lucrative to practice in, hometown to make sure that they were available to her parents, so that they were not alone in their old age. Once her mom passed on, and her family had all moved away, they moved their extended family back to his family's home area so her dad would have a larger extended family network to depend on. Thus I think his practice method simply reflects his overall attitudes to life, family, and people in general.

I think if we look at all the excellent practitioners of any sort of medicine, we will find that those practitioners who are compassionate and loving in all aspects of their lives are the same ones.

My two pennies, and of course YMMV

Maura
I think that this is the main thing that makes a good ob/midwife/fp. If the person is not compassionate in his/her life, then they most likely won't be compassionate and understanding to a woman in labor. I love my male ob/gyn, and switched to him after realizing he was a much nicer person than my female midwife. He is one of the kindest most understanding people I know.

Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker. - Linus
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#82 of 85 Old 11-25-2007, 02:12 PM
 
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I agree that OBs, including male OBs, are not evil or anti-woman, but the obstetric system certainly is. It was established by an all-male medical system at a time when women were regarded as inferior and contemptible, and the entire system is based on that attitude. It has changed somewhat over the years, but not nearly enough.

I, also, don't understand why men go into gynecology. Equating it with specializing in cardiac medicine or podiatry is just ignoring the obvious. Having a strange man put his fingers up your vagina or feel your breasts involves more issues than I can name - modesty issues, power issues, you name it. We have agreed to just pretend there is nothing to it, but that just isn't the case. I think there is something inherently demeaning in a woman being asked to lie down, put her legs in stirrups, and let some man rummage around in there. I am also suspicious of the tendency to advise pelvic exams far more frequently than preventive health care warrants. I'm not saying OB/GYNs are perverts, just that they are acting on the assumption that female organs are suspect and more prone to failure than usual, and need to be constantly monitored.

When women first began going to male doctors for intimate exams and childbirth, it was agreed that the process would offend their modesty, but since only men could be doctors in those days, women were encouraged to suppress those feelings in order to get the health care they needed. Maybe that was a valid point; but today, women are able to become doctors. Women patients no longer have to endure this situation. So why are men still becoming gynecologists?
Why isn't it demeaning to have some strange woman rummage around down there?

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#83 of 85 Old 11-25-2007, 03:21 PM
 
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Why isn't it demeaning to have some strange woman rummage around down there?
It is, and should be avoided except in cases of absolute medical necessity. However, I still feel that having it done by a male gynecologist takes things to another level. To me, it seems so obvious that I can't understand why I need to explain it. If you are naked in a changing room and another woman walks in, it can be embarrassing; but not at all the same thing as if a strange man walks in. People can claim "It wouldn't bother me, because I'm comfortable with my body," but I just plain don't believe them.
Given all the feelings associated with nudity, genital contact, male and female relations and the power issues associated with them, having to strip and spread your legs for a fully dressed man is problematic, and not in the best interests of women taking control of their bodies and their health care.
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#84 of 85 Old 11-25-2007, 04:05 PM
 
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It is, and should be avoided except in cases of absolute medical necessity. However, I still feel that having it done by a male gynecologist takes things to another level. To me, it seems so obvious that I can't understand why I need to explain it. If you are naked in a changing room and another woman walks in, it can be embarrassing; but not at all the same thing as if a strange man walks in. People can claim "It wouldn't bother me, because I'm comfortable with my body," but I just plain don't believe them.
Given all the feelings associated with nudity, genital contact, male and female relations and the power issues associated with them, having to strip and spread your legs for a fully dressed man is problematic, and not in the best interests of women taking control of their bodies and their health care.
You may not believe me, but it really doesn't bother me at all. I have no problems at all seeing a male ob/gyn. He is a professional doing what I am paying him to do, nothing weird about it at all. And just because I see a male dr doesn't mean that I'm not in control of my body or health care.

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#85 of 85 Old 11-25-2007, 05:50 PM
 
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To me, it seems so obvious that I can't understand why I need to explain it. If you are naked in a changing room and another woman walks in, it can be embarrassing; but not at all the same thing as if a strange man walks in. People can claim "It wouldn't bother me, because I'm comfortable with my body," but I just plain don't believe them.
I would be extremely uncomfortable if I were in a changing room and a strange man walked in. However, that has as much to do with the fact that I'd be wondering the what the h**l he was doing there in the first place, yk? Hard to believe he'd be there accidentally, or with benign intent. However, it wouldn't happen to me, because I don't use public changing rooms - ever. I never have, and I doubt I ever will. Why? I don't want a bunch of strangers around me when I'm naked - male or female makes no difference.

In any case, this is a somewhat flawed comparison, as the circumstances aren't the same.

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Given all the feelings associated with nudity, genital contact, male and female relations and the power issues associated with them, having to strip and spread your legs for a fully dressed man is problematic...
I find having to strip and "spread my legs" for a fully dressed anybody to be problematic in terms of power dynamics and all the rest of it. I find a pap to be about as unsexual as anything can get, so the male/female part of it doesn't really register to me. Within the medical profession, the two least threatening figures I've ever dealt with were both men. The worst was also a man - and the three runners-up were all women. The other men and women I've dealt with have run the gamut from caring and empathetic to cold and callous...with enough women being represented to make them balance out. Most of the worst have been women, but so have some of the best.

FWIW, other than my c-sections, the most assaulted I've ever felt has been at the hands of women...like the lactation consultant who pushed my dh out of the way, grabbed my baby and my breast and latched him...without so much as telling me who she was. I've certainly never had any men in the field treat my body with so little respect.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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