Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Medical Femininity


My friend was talking to her nine year old son about what he wanted to be when he grew up.

"How about being a doctor," she asked.

Her son rolled his eyes.

"I CAN'T be a DOCTOR, Mom! I'm not a GIRL!!"

She was stunned.

That her son's experience of doctors is entirely female says a lot about the professional strides women have made.

Still, the notion of progress is called into question in that it remains anathema for a boy to envision himself in a role he perceives as inherently female.




47 comments:

Magpie said...

Wow. That's pretty stunning, on a lot of levels.

Mrs. Chicken said...

How fascinating. Doesn't seem to matter what we do or how we do it ... they still don't want to be considered "feminine."

Hmm. Food for thought.

Craze said...

Wow, that's pretty heavy stuff. However, I still believe it's good progress.

Karen said...

Still, I'll take it.

urban-urchin said...

hopefully if this is destined to be the case then being president of the usa will be seen as a feminine job in the not to distant future....

(btw-not an endorsement of HC just sayin'...)

Memaw's memories said...

We are also seeing more women in the roles of doctors in part because it's extremely hard for a male to be accepted in med school, unless he's also a minority.

Julie Pippert said...

I'm boggled by it when my daughters and their friends do it. They have these sometimes logical sometimes arbitrary sorting criteria for Boy Things and Girl Things. It doesn't seem to matter so far, how much I tell them that really, it's not about boy or girl, but I think it gets in there, and will eventually show.

Still from the beginning, they seem compelled to sort by boy v. girl.

First obvious difference between people?

I've read a lot of ideas. Nothing has solved it for me.

In the end, I've decided it's not sexist until it is intentionally and knowledgeably so.

So we have to just keep teaching on top of this natural urge kids seem to have to group by gender.

Lisa Milton said...

Hmm. So different than when I was growing up...

andromedaart said...

i love it when we can glimpse what is going on in our kids' heads. i often wonder how my son perceives things in his 3 year old mind. interesting that he thinks being a doctor is for girls. my son wants to be a baseball "teamer". and he probably will be. he has a great arm!

Jonathon Morgan said...

I've started taking Edan to women's basketball and softball at the local college for fear she'd think only boys played sports. After one game she told me she wanted to grow up to be "a basketballer." I was elated, until she explained that what she really meant was a cheerleader.

Damnit. (No offense to former or current chearleaders. It was, you know, just missing the point a little.)

Mrs. Schmitty said...

VERY interesting. Makes you think, huh?

Bon said...

ah, you. felt like a win, and then i got to the wisdom of your last line.

ah yes. right. the devalued feminine. i wonder if we can find our way past that, someday?

Don Mills Diva said...

I'll take it too - I think his is entirely reacting to his personal experience as opposed to any perception of medicine as a feminie occupation...

Don Mills Diva said...

I'll take it too - I think his is entirely reacting to his personal experience as opposed to any perception of medicine as a feminie occupation...

Yamagoo said...

Well the pendulum rarely swings back to just the center.
I don't think it's unusual or even remotely strange that any boy would want to be seen as feminine in anyway. Nor should they. I do marvel at the perceptions of these little people. It's like getting to see the whole world from scratch, with new, beautiful eyes!

LSM said...

If it makes you feel any better, our pediatrician, who is male, was telling me just the other day that he had to convince his granddaughter that she could be a doctor even though she was a girl. And, his own practice has three female doctors, so it's not as if they aren't around here too. So, maybe it's just a gender identity thing rather than an anti-feminine thing.

Shannon said...

I think it's innate for children to categorize things that are masculine and feminine. That is where the parent, family, and community steps in to teach them that it is OK for males and females to interchange their roles in society.

So, I don't think the last statement can really be applied to children. I do think, though, that it could be applied to adults who take on his point of view of what is considered a male or female job, because they should know better.

Beck said...

Now that I think about it, my kids have only had female doctors - although our nurse-practioner is a guy. And while I'm glad that women are able to be anything they want, I want my sons to be able to have EXACTLY the same chances.

furiousBall said...

how about beard growers? hmm. whatcha got about that ladies? yeah i thought so... and no fair Bea Arthur is not a woman.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Maybe he can be a nurse.

He'll grow up and realize that he can be whatever he wants to be.

Even if he is a boy.

motherbumper said...

Balance is hard to achieve in all aspects of life - especially in this part we call progress. Why do always have to work in extremes? grrrrr... but still - it's an overstep in the right direction.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Amazing, yet so true. There's still a divide there, but at least we're making progress right??

TRS said...

Wow.
So fascinating from a sociological perspective.

And what change from my childhood.

I have to agree with the others here that it is just sorting genders into categories. Natural for children to do.

I remember thinking when I was very small that women didn't drive cars if men were available to drive them. As in... yes, mom can drive - but if dad is along dad drives... because men are supposed to drive. Women drive to get along when men aren't there to do if for them.
Now that I'm older and wiser I know women let men drive so we don't have to listen to them wince!

Ok, Where Was I? said...

Such a good point. (gee, you're smart!)

Mimi said...

Oh. Part win, part *sigh*.

THE MOM BOMB said...

So interesting that you posted on this. In my online writer's class, we just learned that a lot of successful female children's book authors that cross into "boy" genres use their initials instead of their full names. Why? Because boys still don't want to read anything written by a "girl". JK Rowling comes to mind . . .

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Love what Sarah, Goon Squad had to say. I'll take this as progress.

Jennifer H said...

While it's startling to hear something like that, it says a lot about our progress.

My daughter said once (echoing me)that girls can be whatever they want..."even skateboarders!"

Cassey said...

I don't know if it's such a bad thing. I think kids like to but things in caterogies-black and white. My son (4 yr.) had flip-flops and we were getting my daughter (2 yr) a pair and she said, "No, those are four year old shoes!"

Lightening said...

LOL. I had to read that TWICE as I was expecting it to say the opposite to what it did. How interesting. Perhaps things are finally starting to do a turn around???

imaginary binky said...

He could always be a candy striper. I hear there are openings, and the uniform rocks.

JCK said...

I LOVE IT!

As for it being anathema for a boy to see himself in a role he thinks is for a woman...will that EVER change? Somehow I'm imagining our cavemen ancestors grunting and moaning when asked to take the trash out.

Lasik Surgery Vision said...

I would love to see my girl to become a doctor :)

Deb said...

Brilliant dichotomy.

canape said...

That is awesome.

canape said...

That is awesome.

Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Amen hon, Amen!

I started to write a piece on the reverse of feminism and how opening up non-traditional roles for boys, viewing female roles as ok for males too, has been forgotten. But then I thought I was crazy and the only one who thought such crazy things.

Anonymous said...

It applies to Computer science too. Universities have issues attracting women in this field and with them dropping out druing college.

Some of the causes identified in research:
- Children view computers as "male"
- Boys become consumed with how it works more than what it can do - Girls want to do somehting constructive with the computer
- In college they drop out because - they think they aren't right for the field because they don't eat/sleep/breath computers like most of the guys. After class girls want to do "something else". Professors are mostly male and assign problems that frequently are about football or rocket ships not solving business or social issues.
-Families don't enforce sharing of PC when there is a boy and girl in the family. If the PC is not in a shared room it is frequently in the boy's room because "he spends more time on it".

Research also shows business needs the skills that both men and women bring in order to ensure that computer systems are alligned with business requirements and priorities.

Grandma Seattle - IS Director

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

blows me away!

Geologychick said...

WOW! Out of the mouth of babes!

NotSoSage said...

And the battle continues.

Fascinating, though. Joe and I were discussing this just the other day. That the strides that we've made mean that our little girls are feeling more and more confident about "doing the things that boys do" but that boys doing "girl things" is still taboo.

There was a very interesting documentary on this related to the types of musical instruments boys and girls play on our national radio, CBC. If you are interested, I'll dig up the link.

Gingers Mom said...

I personally don't think there is anything wrong with boys wanting to take after the strong men in their lives. Men and women are of COURSE equal in every way. But I can see a place for gender differences. I think that is sometimes dismissed too much nowadays. But I of course agree both men and women can be doctors and all sorts of careers.

IRISHKAT said...

That is a very good insight and such a different view from when I was his age.

Veronica Mitchell said...

One of my friends' kids said, when she met their new rabbi, "He CAN'T be a rabbi! He's a man!" Their previous rabbi had been a woman.

LceeL said...

That's not conditioning. That's just a boy being a boy. Girls are anathema to him, right now. Because he's a boy. He hasn't been taught "you can't do girl stuff'. Little boys have always reacted like that to 'girls'. Give him a couple of years, however, and that WILL change. Not because of indoctrination or inculcation, but because of growth and hormones.

mothergoosemouse said...

Maybe that old riddle about the doctor who cried "I can't operate on this boy - he's my son" will finally die a well-deserved death.

Melinda Zook said...

Very interesting. Wow, how the view of the world has changed for our children!