Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gender Wars and The Patient Modesty Debate: Sowing Seeds of Alliance

Gender wars can serve a valid purpose. Historically, socially, personally: Their seeds can grow into multi-colored displays of equity or germinate into dominant monolithic icons of power and control. It’s safe to say they will always exist, until we create a third gender to take our frustrations out on.
But are these battles expected to grow out of every situation? Can’t certain struggles simply take root in the duality of cooperation? When we find that we have a common struggle, will we always debase it to whose is worse before we agree to simply make it better for everyone?
The truth is that the “Medical Modesty” gender war has to end, or neither will reap benefits for very long. If we do not defend and help each other we will simply be considered a fad: a temporary and unique ‘genre’ in the medical arena.
A recent example: A few months ago I decided to investigate and collect data on male sexual abuse, the aftermath, and unique stress syndromes that male survivors may experience. Obviously this information would be useful in determining medical modesty preferences (if any), as well as avoidance in seeking care. It is no surprise that this problem is more rampant than generally believed. What is a surprise are the amount of people and sources who want to argue about which gender’s sexual abuse is more important. The issues of privacy, modesty, and respectful care involving abuse survivors quickly becomes a debate between genders: Why females would be/feel more threatened, why men would/wouldn’t have consideration, why would a woman investigate male sexual abuse and whose point of view was I intending to speak for.
And for this I have to ask……. “why”?
Do I really need to pick a gender side to be on? Do any of us really need to stop at the line drawn in the sand, or can we simply advocate for each other? Must we always first decide “who’s ahead” before leaving someone behind? Of course not. We need to stand together as a co-operative unit, support each other, and use our gendered talents for the benefit of each other and not for petty arguments.
*Remember: If the issues are not supported by both genders, then they become less valid for either.
It is not smooth sailing for anyone. Modesty in medicine stems from many reasons and has its unique struggles for each individual. With that, it is our responsibility is to speak up when encountering inequity or abuse. So I would challenge any woman who defends her ethical rights in healthcare to also defend those of the man beside her. And any man who stands up for his modesty/morals in healthcare to do so for the woman beside him as well.
Some issues are larger than gender. They are, instead, desperately human.