November 16, 2011

Stereotypes and Tents

A friend of mine just sent me this awesome article written by Mindy Kaling, one of the writers of the office, about female stereotypes in film that are absolutely ridiculous - but we love them, and maybe crazier, start to aspire to be like them or think we are like them.  For example:

The Woman Who Is Obsessed with Her Career and Is No Fun at All
I regularly work sixteen hours a day. Yet, like most people I know who are similarly busy, I’m a pleasant, pretty normal person. But that’s not how working women are depicted in movies. I’m not always barking orders into my hands-free phone device and yelling, “I have no time for this!” Often, a script calls for this uptight career woman to “relearn” how to seduce a man, and she has to do all sorts of crazy degrading crap, like eat a hot dog in a sexy way or something. And since when does holding a job necessitate that a woman pull her hair back in a severe, tight bun? Do screenwriters think that loose hair makes it hard to concentrate?

Other gems include "The forty-year old mother of a thirty-year old male lead", the "ethereal weirdo" (think juno or the female lead in garden state), and "the skinny woman who is beautiful and toned but also gluttonous and disgusting" (think skinny girl stuffing her face with cake).  I've been on my own sort of stereotype smashing spree because, sparing you the details, I've been getting some pretty awful reactions to my telling people that I am strongly considering the field of ob-gyn. 

the consensus generally seems to be that I'm not going to be a very good mother, a very good surgeon, very good at diagnosing things other than pregnancy, surrounded by mean awful people, and overall pretty miserable with my life.  The field itself is sometimes perceived as being "too estrogen heavy" (helllloooo it's birth, it REQUIRES estrogen) which inevitably results in catty gossip, backstabbing, and comparing who has cuter dansko clogs, right?  NO.  From what I've seen, ob-gyn is not a field of just women, and the women and men in the field are serious, smart, competent doctors who went into ob-gyn because the physiology of pregnancy is like nothing else, because we still haven't figured out fertility, or menopause, and the reproductive cycle of a woman is one of the only topics in health vital to the continuance of our species, so it's been pretty fine-tuned by evolution and involves tons of genes, messaging cascades, and signals.  And  while some of my very favorite ob-gyn attendings were men and many of the people I love and respect in my life are men, I feel a different kind of energy in groups of just women.  It's not catty or gossipy or back-stabbing energy, but strong, calm, nurturing power.  Especially with pregnancy, it feels like going back to our tribal roots, when the birthing process was a tent filled of the women of the tribe who each had been through it or would soon, who had felt twinges in their own bodies that resembled this sensation, who empathized with the feeling of looking at your child for the first time, of the power of that bond, the implications of how the rest of your life will change, that's a lot to hold and I think there's something programmed in women to understand that in a different way.

And if we can bring medical knowledge and skills to the tent, well then, all the better.  

1 comment:

  1. Loooove it! And there can totally be a birthing tent on the commune. ;)