(originally written in 2010)
I work for doctors, a few female doctors, but mostly male doctors. On a day like today, when I am working exclusively with the male doctors, trying to accomplish simple tasks becomes complicated and ultimately infuriating. I will call it what it is, it is sexism. I have a job to do, and I shouldn’t have to fight for some baseline respect every time I try to do it.
I have learned if you don’t have a penis, you will barely be acknowledged by certain male doctors. If there is a surgery suite full of female assistants, and the doctor needs a surgical instrument, he will say the name of one of one of the male assistants who works there, even if they are not in the room. Even if they are not at work that day. We hand them the instrument instead, and they either say nothing, or they complain about the instrument, or the way we handed it to him, or the way it was packed, or the color of the sky, or what they had for breakfast, and why we didn’t do any of those things better. If one of the other penises is in the room to hand him the instrument, the doctor will respond by saying, “Thank you, sir!”
I’ve gotten to the point where I will say, when they call me by one of the males’ names, “Hello, my name is Laney. We’ve met before. How can I help you?”
Dealing with this every single time I work with them has caused me to become a bitch, because obviously, if a woman has to demand respect from a man, she is automatically a raging bitch. Respect is nice, it’s polite, but honestly it’s usually not even my goal. My goal is taking care of the patients. Like it or not, those doctors need me, and like it or not, they have to talk to me in order for their patients to be taken care of. When you walk into a room with your vagina, and are immediately disregarded, then you learn to get bitchy pretty quickly. ‘Bitchy’ gets things done.
If I start asking questions about something I believe is wrong, and you ignore my question but tell me to, “Calm down…” I will ask you not to talk to me like that. If I am on the clock, I won’t cuss when I say it. If I’m not on the clock or on work premises, all bets are off.
I can’t change whether people do or do not respect me. I feel sad that there are still so many men out there who live within a male-superiority mindset. Ignorance always makes me sad. All I can do is make sure I get done what I need to do, if I have to be a bitch to do that, then so be it. I feel that we can all get more done if we, as women, push the bar of expectation up higher. From ourselves, we need to refuse to accept any sex based oppression or lack of respect from men. From men, we need a gender-blind expectation of equality. Expect us to accomplish things as well as you do (or think you do), and we will readily meet and exceed those expectations. We have to work together, the penises and the vaginas, like it or not. If we could leave the genitalia out of it, the world would be an amazing place.