Men: desist from this thing immediately please

Men: desist from this thing immediately please

Imagine the scene, you’re sitting listening to a speaker opine on a topic and when they reach their concluding slide instead of a great slide summing up their message they have a picture of their children. Pause for us all to admire Thomas and Em’s extreme cuteness. Then they make some annoying reference to their progeny being way smarter than they are or some other shitey humble brag. 

A certain subset of men then make reference to their amazing wife (a stay at home mum) who keeps them in clean shirts and feeds everyone. I don’t know how she does it! 

I feel the more kids they have the more likely they are to mention it. 

Why do they do this? Women don’t. Is it to brag about their overall successfulness? “not only have I conducted a randomised controlled trial but I have fathered three children”? It’s vile. If I ever get to the point where I am important enough to be chairing meetings I’ll start telling the offenders that it is pathetic. 

Take the slide of your kids out. Don’t ever make reference to them again in a talk. Nobody cares about your children. 

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What does feminism mean to a SAHM? 

This week I went out for a meal with 2 friends, one works full time and has 2 children and the other does not work and has 2 children, she is a stay at home mum (SAHM). We had a lovely meal and talked about our plans for the summer and our children.

Then the non-working friend began to complain about her husband, that he does nothing to help at home and leaves all the care and feeding of the children to her. When she went to the toilet my working mummy friend and I both thought she had no right to complain and declared “she doesn’t work! What a cheek, her husband earns all the money, the least she can do is see to the house and cooking”. 

It wasn’t until a few days later that I started to reflect on this attitude; that earning a decent amount of money and working, means I expect my husband to do his share of tasks in our home. Do women who earn no money forego the right to a helpful husband? Clearly they do not. 

Whilst on maternity leave  (a total of three years people, I took every day they would give me) I had a look into this world and found that there are two types of SAHM. There are those who don’t work because it is not sound financially: 3 kids in child care (at a conservative estimate this costs £15000 pa per child) when you only earn £17000 is insane, and those who don’t work because they choose not to either because they are so wealthy (the lunch out, gym member, holiday in Dubai, Range Rover brigade)  or they have chosen to be a full time mum and are spending less money accordingly (home made bread, road running, holiday in a tent, beaten up Mercedes estate brigade). 

Neither of these types of women are any less entitled to their feminism than me. I feel terrible that I wasn’t an understanding and sympathetic ear to my friend when she wanted to discuss her husband’s failings. 

She is in the Range Rover brigade and used to have a fabulous job and gave it up because he told her he would provide for them all. She is no less a feminist than me and yet I was so prejudiced by my own misogynistic views that I have confirmed what she was hoping I wouldn’t; that washing and ironing are her responsibility. 

Also this week a male colleague was disparaging a very senior person that we work with, highly intelligent and successful but allegedly, the recent recipient of new breast implants. “She’s an idiot. She’s got breast implants”. I asked him if he was serious, he said he was.

Being a feminist is a stay at home mum with huge fake tits as much as it is anyone and I’ll stand up for their right to be taken as seriously as I expect to be. 

 Probably a feminist. 

Manterruptions

Manterruptions

Before every theatre list we have a team huddle, the nurses, anaesthetist and us get together to discuss the list. It is a safety briefing distinct from the Surgical Pause that is done immediately prior to the case. 

In it we have a surgical summary, an anaesthetic summary, confirm they have been fasted or are ERAS, allergies, discuss the antibiotic plan, thromboprophylaxis, positioning, equipment etc. 

We (surgeon) go first, summarising the case and plan of the procedure. Nobody interrupts us. Next, the anaesthetist. If my boss is a man, and the anaesthetist is a woman he will now interrupt her. Almost always. 

It’s reaching the point where I am tempted to tape 40 surgical briefings and include 10 male surgeon with female anaesthetist, 10 male surgeons with male anaesthetist, and then do the same with female surgeons and make anaesthetists. My hypothesis is that we (females) don’t interrupt anyone and make any points afterwards and that male surgeons interrupt the anaesthetist.  

Election 2015: plenty of women being interrupted on here too

The boys need to learn some manners. I’m not sure if this project would be publishable or not but it might make for interesting discussion at our joint departmental meetings! 

Tabloid Tits

Tabloid Tits

Goodness what a fuss has been made this week regarding the British institution of Page 3. American readers may not be familiar with Page 3, it is not the sort of thing you would have over there for sure. In “The Sun” newspaper, the UK’s most widely read tabloid, there is a topless “beauty” featured on Page 3, known as a Page 3 girl. They are usually called Nikkala, Becci, Jaqqui or some other variation and we only know their first name and age, as well as their thought on that day’s pertinent news issue. For example “Nikkala, 21 from Loughborough says why can’t we all just get along and muslims do what they want and we will do what we want?” Insightful stuff.

The Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch and this week he pulled Page 3, there were no nipples, no naked ladies. He also owns The Times (which is his newspaper for clever people) which informed us that Page 3 was gone, only for it to return on Thursday. White van man, generally thought of as the typical British male, was sad at the disappearance of the tits and most relieved when they came back. “What’s the harm? It’s just a bit of fun? It’s harmless innit?” said most white van men everywhere.

Then the nation came over all prudish when Rita Ora, a pop star had on a low cut top at 7pm, viewers were apparently shocked and the BBC fucking well apologised for it! Now, I have no issue with Miss Ora going on TV in a low cut top, she has fabulous tits and she has every right to look how she wishes on TV within the constraints of what is socially acceptable. The daily mail of course were outraged and led the tutting. How dare those prudish morons at the BBC apologise for what an adult woman wore, she looked great, she isn’t a poltician she is a singer, she looked appropriate and sexy.

I hate Page 3. I hate that patients of mine will have The Sun opened at Page 3 when I do a ward round, I feel it is rude and derogatory. I hate that the doctors mess buys The Sun and that there are tits out during my tea break. I love breasts, I think they are fabulous, I am all for seeing them on TV in great little white suits and in the flesh either popping out of sexy tops and looking hot or feeding babies and pouring milk all over the place. I love mine, I love my friends boobs, they are fabulous things, I can see why men obsess about them.

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BMA News….from 1963

I know I go on about the same stuff over and over. Today’s BMJ is not particularly annoying, nothing too controversial unless you are in Northern Ireland and have strong views on termination of pregnancy. The accompanying BMA news is however quite annoying. The BMA have a new series of articles about what it is like being married to a medic. “Doctors, do you know what your partners really think of you? Ask them to tell us the best and worst things about living with a medic.” Write to news@bma.org.uk

Can you believe this is of interest? There is some lovely girl in today’s BMA news telling us all about life being married to her wonderful A&E trainee husband who doesn’t “talk in acronyms and seven-syllable words, like some medics we know”. Nothing like alienating your audience!

She is lovely and super sweet and gives an account of life with her husband that wouldn’t be out of place in Chat magazine or The People’s Friend. She clearly adores her husband who works (gasp) 12 hour shifts and then comes home to a house with 2 kids and a wife who try and give him peace so Daddy can study and write papers.

I have nothing against this lovely woman and her lovely life with her husband that she adores but what the fuck are the BMA news editors doing putting this stuff in a magazine for doctors?

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Then they have more advice from an F1 on how to make nurses like you if you are a girl junior doctor;
1. Become an expert with the kettle
2. Make sure you watch the length of your skirt hemline
3. Tie your long hair back. “Imagine how annoying it must be to have your long hair scraped back into a bun while the junior doctor’s long blonde locks are flowing” . Imagine indeed, or instead imagine how it must feel to earn a quarter of the money that Dr Goldilocks earns..
4. Bake the odd Victoria sponge
5. Read Heat, OK or Now magazine so you can talk to the nurses.
What a patronising wee cow, I read Heat magazine anyway because I like it, I read The Sun (because I like Dear Deidre) and I talk to the nurses and porters like people because I am a person.

BMA News this is fucking terrible. Am I the only person who reads it? I am going to have to write to you and stop ranting about it here. This is a magazine for doctors, we know how to talk to nurses and get along just great with them and we know what it is like being married to one because we get told by our partners. Cut the damn thing down to one sheet of paper and stop publishing shitty filler pieces. I’m tempted to see if I can get published posing as a dopey wife!

The Making of a Woman Surgeon by Elizabeth Morgan MD

Trawling through the internet one day I came across this little book published in 1981 (when KBW was playing doctors and nurses at Playgroup) by one Elizabeth Morgan, a plastic surgeon who as well as being the medical columnist for Cosmopolitan under Helen Gurley Brown’s editorship, was one of very few women to become a surgeon in the late seventies. It’s a rather clumsy title but well worth the ridiculous price of 97 pence that amazon had it listed for.

“Any woman is strong enough to do any surgery except surgery on the shoulder, hip and knee joints of an adult. Then she needs two or three men to help her.”

Hmmm. Not sure that I agree with everything she says in her book but it is an interesting account of her training, written from contemporaneous diaries she had made in the two seconds each day she wasn’t working.

“I felt betrayed when another woman surgeon, just as capable as I was, wept and complained when things got tough”. Now we are all a little bit guilty of this, I have no patience with crying (do it alone in the toilet or in the car, but never at work) and have been a bit scornful of the pathetically pregnant who waddle from 12 weeks and are too tired to operate, but I am working on being more sympathetic. Not everyone has easy pregnancies. Dr Morgan is not a crier and does not show weakness or doubt to colleagues.

I love how americans have people they “dated” it sounds much less significant than ex-boyfriend. “Do you know so and so? Yes I dated him years ago”: way less dramatic than “Yes, we went out for a year and then he dumped me and I cried for six weeks and gained a stone”. Anyway, there is a psychiatry ex boyfriend who is the only one who comes close to the inner Lizzie, in suggesting she is closed, defensive and exhausted and that surgery has changed her.

She is (like me) weight obsessed: “I was beginning to feel fat, because I had gained five pounds since coming to Boston and I was now 135 pounds..A diet I thought masochistically, would be the perfect compliment to all my suffering”.

She weighs the same as me! The mad eating disordered competitive monster that lurks inside me now wants to find out how tall she is. What she doesn’t touch on much are the issues that bother me on a regular basis: leading a team, handling conflict with men, endlessly having to assert my authority as people assume I am not in charge and that a (more junior) man is. Telling nurses (usually women) what to do, dealing with not being popular when you do have to point out mistakes, being a crap mum the days I work and being a girl (heels, skirts, wearing pink) at work. Even the practicalities of being a girl, bleeding every month,can turn a 10 hour operation into even more of a stress wondering if blood is slowly seeping through your scrubs*.

Anyway, I read this book with great interest, an account of her training as it happened. Light on any deep and meaningful observations, heavy on “this one time I…” In some ways the world has changed completely since she wrote this and women doctors are soon to be in the majority (by 2017 over half of UK doctors will be female) but we are still under represented in surgery. I suspect Dr Morgan was too busy being a surgeon to think to much about being a woman. Certainly when she wrote this book she was unmarried and childless, so had none of the guilt and pressures that I have. Working late on birthdays and missing first days of school and failing to sew in name labels and not making swimming galas and not being the wife you might be if you were only at home a bit longer each day..

I have waited a long time to publish this post, mainly as after reading and researching this book I realised that she is still in practice as a plastic surgeon in the US and I didn’t want this to impact on her in any way. If you wiki her you can read all about her subsequent career and life and she also has a website for her private practice. I suspect it would be more interesting to read about her thoughts on being a woman surgeon now she is well established in her career and has 30 years to look back on. The copy of the book I bought from a second hand book seller is from the Paw Paw Public Library in Michigan and has never been checked out by anyone. It’s found a home with me now though.

*reasonable people will wonder why we don’t excuse ourselves to go to the bathroom for 2 minutes. You wouldn’t dare, you wouldn’t want to seem so weak, you would lose your position at the table and be told not to scrub back in. It’s a test.

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