surinenglish

Institutional sexism

So the war on sexism rages on. At a recent appointment with the social security gynaecologist, which in Andalucía, where we have a woman Socialist leader, is still called 'family planning', I was left wondering whether the woman doctor who attended to me was still stuck in 1918 and very much part of the blatant institutional sexism.

Apparently we women cannot just go along to make sure everything is fine "down there". It is all part of a bigger plan to make sure we are healthy enough to bear children; after all, that's what we are here for, isn't it?

The first question the doctor asked me was how many children I had. Not, "Do you have children?" or, "Have you ever been pregnant?" (the two can be mutually exclusive, obviously), but the assumption that as a woman of a certain age (41 to be precise) I would have popped out at least one by now.

It was my first visit to the 'family planning' doctor at my local health centre. They knew nothing about me. Have they not had training to handle such questions in a more sensitive way? Perhaps I had desperately wanted children, but not been able to. This is not my case, fortunately.

Anyway, horrified, but seemingly not too taken aback to make a little joke, I replied that yes, I do have a 'boy'; he has four legs, is furry and is a Labrador called Leo. I'm not sure that my answer went down too well but I wanted to make a point.

Later I was informed that "all was well" and that I should, in principle, have no problem conceiving. I reiterated my earlier comment that I have never had any intention of procreating.

Point taken, albeit not welcomed, I was then asked if I wanted to be prescribed any contraceptives.

Just as I thought we were getting there, the final questions assumed that I had a partner and that my partner was a man...

Institutional sexism and old-fashioned values, it would seem are prolific.

To think that we have a female socialist leader in Andalucía and that relatively young female doctors think nothing of these types of questions is a clear and depressing sign that this war is far from being won.