Saturday, September 3, 2016

Objectify Lesson

Today was the Fifth Avenue Mile. Jenny Simpson won. She and 4 others were just in Zurich. Let' has it here:

"Four-time Fifth Avenue champion and Olympic 1500m bronze medalist Jenny Simpson; training partner and Olympic steeplechase bronze medalist Emma Coburn; British national record holder and 1500m Diamond League champion Laura Muir; American 800m national champion Kate Grace, and 2015 world championships steeplechase finalist Stephanie Garcia all will depart Zurich this morning –albeit a bit tired– and are ready to run down Fifth Avenue."

Man, they were fast. I mean, for women. 
Actually the press coverage of Fifth Ave is pretty balanced. Unlike the olympics. 

I might be a little touchy on this issue today. As a doctor, I am in a still male-dominated field, although that is changing when you see the breakdown of medical school classes by sex. And by sex I mean gender, not what happens in every call room every day during every episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Today on call, I was soundly treated with disrespect by both a physician (man) and nurse (woman). All while protecting and caring for a dying patient who was in agony but now has symptoms controlled. After I cooled down a bit from the idiotic discussions I had, I realized the following:
1) No one would EVER speak to a man doctor like that
2) Patient well-being is something I have to fight for on a regular basis, because if you want to do something right, you have to be able to take shit from others who are perhaps following the party line without one ounce of subtlety or compassion
3) It does me no good to get all upset about these things
4) I miss Matt Miller, who always had my back

Being a female physician who is bald and not particularly beautiful does not help the situation. 

Still, I know my stuff. I put patients first. And I can run faster than a lot of "boys" my age. Also, I have a kid in jail so I am totally bad ass.

It is actually too soon to joke about that, but I am trying to keep my chin up and be tough. 
I recently attended a wilderness medicine course (a very testosterone-heavy field, btw). I took a half day session on women in the wilderness, from an amazing nurse in her 60's who is a back country skier and can find her way around with a compass and map. No GPS needed. Anyway, I learned some great skills, including how to pee standing up without pulling down my pants, and while writing my name in the snow or dirt or whatever. This nurse is part of a team leading a medical mission trip to Guatemala next February, and my youngest daughter and I plan to go. My youngest daughter, age 15, is thinking she wants to be a general surgeon someday. She has the toughness, the dexterity and the work ethic for it for sure. I cannot wait to travel with her on our first medical mission trip together. That is, if I survive this call weekend.

Toughness: inherently male? Maybe. Though I do remember giving birth and that was pretty gnarly. Also, I remember being told my worth was based on prettiness, not how I moved through the world with others. Also, I recall that I cannot get through a single day at work without someone commenting on my looks, usually a patient. It is tiring, actually. I sometimes fantasize about looking like Cristina on Grey's Anatomy, thinking then everyone would love me for my looks AND my toughness.

Then I recall how my 15 year old Chinese-American daughter has to deal with assholes discussing her eye shape, or her skin tone, or "where she is from". So maybe Meredith is the better choice, though being blonde and slight probably carries its own struggles, when trying to be a serious player in the world of male professionals. .

Yeah, I definitely would go with Cristina. 

Or Jenny Simpson. Especially if I could have her 4:18 mile pace.

Here is the thing. Michelle Obama gets criticized for wearing no sleeve dresses. Hillary Clinton is ridiculed for wearing pants suits. Malala Yousafzai gets shot for trying to go to school. France wants Muslim women to wear bikinis at the beach. College women are taught how to avoid rape, instead of college men being taught how to not rape. Crazy.

I could write a list a mile long about the injustice and the idiocy and my righteous indignation. 

None of us should be objectified. None of us should be disrespected, afraid, or shamed. 

Now excuse me while I dismount from my high horse and share my absolute favorite moment from any olympics ever, with the coolest running cat in all history. First time the women were allowed to compete in the marathon in the olympics. I think it is (about damn) time for some other female firsts too.

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