I’m baaaaaack, bitches. Remember what I said before about how medical school sometimes sucks your soul right up and makes it hard to do the things that you love to do? That still holds. I’m in constant awe of my friends who maintain long-distance relationships; my SO and I have a hard enough time spending non-study time with each other and we live less than 10 minutes apart. But now I’m on break and I’ve had some time to lollygag and I’m feeling refreshed (read: terrified to go back to school and face four weeks of uninterrupted pre-exam stress), so I’m here to throw down some bloggin knowledge. Also one of my New Year’s Resolutions (I know they never work, but I still make them) is to get back on here at least once a month and write words. So there’s that. Also among my resolutions, in case you were wondering: exercise in the morning and stop sleeping in like a little lazy sloth woman all the time; get back to yoga, please, 1-3 times per week; and grow my hair out until I can donate it and then chop it off and donate it to a) cancer patients, or b) someone who wants a truly awesome weave. I’m not even kidding about that second part. Onto business.
Hey, did you guys know that having a vagina is both awesome and terrible? I love being a woman, and I’m pretty lucky that my gender identity and my genitals agree with one another (they hive five each other a lot because they’re like, “Yeah! We agree!”). That fact saves me an awful lot of anguish. I can’t really explain why I like being a woman; I just do. It’s a powerful and beautiful thing for me to be, and I feel very comfortable in my own lady-style skin (except I’m pissed off at it right now for breaking out from all the aforementioned stress.) I’m speaking from a place of acknowledged privilege, though, when I say that I feel comfortable both being a woman and exercising control over my own life decisions. And even that, I’m learning, is more complicated than I thought, especially in medicine. But I get that my experience of womanhood is so different not only from the people with whom I spend most of my time, but also and especially from many of the women whom I’ll ultimately care for and from those with whom I’ll never come into contact. So I’m going to talk about my own experience since it’s the only one I know, acknowledging that it might sound pretty blind and skewed here and there. Okay. Big ol’ caveat established.
Y’all it’s freaking expensive to be a lady and pay for birth control, beauty potions, razors that cost like two bucks more than their marketed-to-men counterparts, etc. I know that those things are (sort of) optional luxuries. Except the birth control (I mean, it shouldn’t be a luxury. Or access to it restricted through legislation based on exactly no science but rather the whims of people who have zero vaginas, thank-you-very-much). Whatever, I’m not really going to unpack that huge mess o’ crap I just built; suffice to say that I realize that even the choice of whether to buy lotions and potions or not is more than whether I want to do that. Even so, whatever pressures and powers have molded me to feel this way, I like my womanly rituals. I really enjoy putting makeup on my face when I feel like it. Shaving my legs makes me feel nice. Sometimes I sit around in my silk dressing gown and pretend I’m as glamorous Liz Taylor and it’s awesome.
See how this is incredibly complicated? I can’t even talk about whether I like makeup or not without being like, “Gah this is a mess.” But now let’s talk about medicine and lady parts. You know how some people say, “Guys, race is no longer a problem in this country, and the fact that we’ve been doing target practice on unarmed black teenagers and choke-holding people for funsies is just a coincidence and remember about Barack Obama”? And you know how those people are dumb? Well, the same dumb people say that being a professional woman is no harder than being a professional man. That is a falsehood. I’ve had several people tell me that, among my classmates, I am the outspokenly radical liberal feminist. I find this both hilarious and awesome. But the reason is simply because I have opinions about being a lady and I sometimes express them. And that’s radical.
We have these little sessions where our medical school tries to indoctrinate us to want to be physician-scientists, because apparently it’s a glamorous and wonderful life to have, wherein researchers are invited to come talk to us about how their lives are the shit. On two occasions both of our guests have been women; in fact, I’m just now realizing that the guests have always (I’m pretty sure) been either both men or both women. Anywhosists, I won’t deal with that. On the first occasion on which our guests were women, I asked, “Do you ever feel like people take your work less seriously because you are young women?” Both said no (although I kind of doubt that it’s totally true that has never happened). The point, though, is that I could ask that question and have it be a question. Because it still is one. Is it possible that somebody might dismiss the seriousness of my professional work because I have a vagina? Yes, that is totally possible. If I act assertive might some people label me a bitch? Yup. And there are absolutely men I know who are class A dicks most of the time, but they don’t worry about whether that might hurt their medical careers. And it probably won’t.
It is also a reality that if I choose to become an OBGYN who provides abortions, I will have the unique position of performing the only medical procedure that is legislated the way it is based on how people feel about it. Aside from physician-assisted suicide, abortions are the only medical service that I might someday provide that I could totally get shot over. Is that because the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of not providing abortions? Nope. It’s because some people, the vast majority of whom have absolutely no medical or scientific training, don’t think it’s a good idea to give women control over whether and how they build a family. And what do I have to say about that? I say a very strong no thank you.
And on top of all this I have to think about how my career is going to impact my own decisions about whether to reproduce or not and when I want to do it. And how the biological processes I’m learning in my training will change my choices. Like, my eggs are really going to get old and less … good at baby forming. And that sucks. (Although I did also learn that men’s sperm get less good at baby forming, too, so ha! We’re not the only ones.)
Anyway, this post is getting inordinately long and I have brunching to do, but I could obviously write about this for, like, a hundred years. And I probably shall have more reflections to make as I get further along in both my training and my age (can I just be 25 for a few more years? Kthanks.) But for now I shall say goodbye and see you in a month tops!