Monday, March 27, 2017

A Man's Modesty. A Man's Respect. A Man's Voice.

You are likely familiar with the common claim that the male is the default. 

The presumption that when it comes to the world at large, in terms of gender, things are supposedly set up, interacted with, and even thought of from a male perspective. This leads to the idea that if its not male it won't be considered or it wont be considered as much. And while there are some valid uses of this observation there some places where it simply doesn't apply no matter how badly someone wants it to.

I came across this a few weeks ago and it got my gears turning.

Robert Underhill, the writer of this article goes straight to the head of the problem early on:
The relative male-female parity amongst physician ranks generally affords both men and women with sufficient options.  The problem for men is lack of options at the nursing and tech level, where most intimate care occurs.
I don't know about any other guys but I have to say that yes I do notice that when it comes to intimate men are not given a lot of options and its just assumed guys are okay with women performing those functions. In fact I would go as far as to say that this actually goes in the territory of casting men as a monolith. But what is at the heart of these assumptions and double standards? Modesty. Or an assumed lack thereof.

If you look at a lot of pieces and articles about why men don't go to the doctor you'll see that a lot of them start and finish with something to the effect of, "Men think that proper medical care is a sign of weakness. blahblahpatriarchyblahtheydontrespectwomenblahblahtheythinkmedicalcareiswomanly". Point being there is often an effort to either blame men for not going to the doctor or pretend that its not an issue (and probably a few cases of making it about women if you look hard enough).

Now to be clear I'm not saying men have zero responsibility for their medical care. What I am saying is that if this were an issue like, let's say why there aren't many female CEOs, I bet you wouldn't stop at, "There aren't that many female CEOs because women don't put in the work." right? We know there are external factors at work that need to be addressed in order to foster the development of female CEOs. Why can't the same be done for men? Here is what Underhill had to say,
Partly because it is the elephant in the room that the medical world does not want to discuss and partly because men are afraid to speak up.  Why won’t the medical world acknowledge the issue?  Because they’d then be obligated to do something about it.  Why won’t men speak up?  Because all too often when he does he gets “you don’t have anything I haven’t seen”, “don’t be silly”, or “we’re all professionals here”.
I have to say I've had this happen a few times when dealing with female nurses and just like any insidious gender expectations I just rolled with it because hey a "real man" wouldn't have a problem with a woman checking his intimate body parts right? Hell he should want he to get a look at them. Well the problem is doing so basically guarantees that the issue will continue unquestioned.

Yeah that's not gonna fly with me anymore. If something doesn't feel right I say so. If I'd rather talk to or be handled by a guy I speak up.

Even if the clinic doesn't have any male staff the very least they can do if they have any respect for you as a man and a person is to acknowledge your discomfort and hesitation and try to earn your trust.

I don't think its an intentional fault of nursing staff to think that men just don't have a sense of modesty. In fact nursing staff gets informed of this from the same source that nearly everyone else does.

Traditional gender roles.

You know those roles that say men are fearless, never uncomfortable, never are embarrassed about anything, and never need a helping hand. 

Just like with other people that are working their way through fighting off the old gender roles men can certainly use a helping hand.
What can you do to ease the embarrassment, or at least not make it worse?  Ask him if he’d prefer your male co-worker do the intimate procedure.  Knock and ask if it is OK to enter the room.  Close the door or pull the curtain.  Kick anyone out that doesn’t need to be there; don’t turn it into a spectator sport.  Ask for an OK before bringing a student into the room and properly introduce them, including what exactly they are.  Use a sheet to keep the genitals covered before you pull the gown up to examine the abdomen.  Ask before lifting the gown to check the catheter.  Basically give him the same consideration you’d want your Dad, brother, husband, boyfriend, or son given in the same circumstance.
And gentleman one more word of advice.

In the event that you find yourself wanting that helping hand don't be scared to ask. If someone violates your space speak up. If you'd rather have a guy work on something or examine something for you, don't be silent about it. Remember this one thing: