This is a subject that has been bothering me for about a year now, ever since this conversation in the Men’s Lib subreddit. At the time the conversation came up, I was just starting to participate in the sub and was too shy to voice a dissenting opinion, but the issue has persisted in weighing on my mind, because I respect the contributors in the Men’s Lib forum, and did not think they could take a stance so contrary to women’s rights and a basic respect for consent. And then recently I came across this blog post which said essentially the same thing: that there should be more male OB/GYNs and obstetric nurses, because of “gender equality.” So I am finally going to write about it.
The “small” number of men in women’s healthcare is not something that should be criticized, or something that anyone should attempt to change. Women’s healthcare is not a field where people can argue about “equal representation.” The reality is that saying there “should” be more men in women’s healthcare is trying to shame women into giving men access to their genitals, under the guise of political correctness. If we’re going to talk about what “should” be the case, women should have complete and utter control over who their medical practitioners are, and what they allow those medical practitioners to do to them. There is no number of men accessing women’s bodies that is “too few,” if women don’t want to give them access. Obstetrics and gynecology are not like piloting an airplane or becoming a teacher, where I think there is substance in examining the social impact of an imbalanced sex ratio: women should be able to choose who touches them and examines them, based on any reasons whatsoever, and anyone, man or woman, who tries to shame women for not giving men access to their bodies is very much not on the side of social progress or human rights. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with people with female bodies choosing people with female bodies to care for their female bodies in a specifically and exclusively women’s field.
We have thousands of years of history of men controlling who can provide medical care for women, and restricting women’s ability to provide medical care to women. Men controlling women’s medical care is part of men controlling women’s bodies and reproduction, the keystone of patriarchy. We should not be shaming women for allowing “few” male medical practitioners access to their bodies, we should be celebrating that women’s healthcare is in women’s hands now, as it should be, and that most women are now empowered enough not to permit male medical practitioners access to their bodies when they don’t want to give them access, which is in huge contrast to how things were even 50 years ago.
To quote the amazing Shannon Thrace:
If you’re spending your time arguing that a nurse has the right to get his hands in a woman’s vagina when she doesn’t want them there, you are a rape apologist. If you think she should drop her pants without complaint for any and all who feel qualified to get into them, even if she’s uncomfortable, then you are a rape apologist. If you recast her discomfort as bigotry, that is rapey as fuck.
News flash: A woman’s vagina is not a public service and her refusal to make it available is never “unfair.” Any and all decisions she makes about its availability or lack thereof are valid.
News flash: No one has the right to touch another person without her consent. Not if they’re in a medical setting, not because you don’t like their definition of “gender,” not because the rebuffed person feels offended or denied. News flash: You wouldn’t be the first rape apologist to feel rebuffed, offended or denied.
News flash: People who respect women don’t try to override their discomfort. That’s a rapist’s tactic.