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Women's Bodies, Women's Health

Sexism in Science: “Why Pregnant Women Don’t ‘Tip Over'”

The latest scientific discovery is that pregnant women “don’t tip over” because of “evolutionary adaptations in the female spine.”

So look at these photos:

bgut6.jpg

belly_randy.jpg

fcag0gh01cakhigzsca1it2m3ca23o1uwcas0c4lzcarpvmakca8bs7waca14heqocaiakdv5ca8lyfndcabyyij6catb9jbqcaw1kdqica2cn406ca8h541lcadfjkmwcaawlt3hca90rhp6caw4ff27.jpg_41886204_belly203.jpgbeergut9im.jpg

Now look at these photos:

jennifergordonap_450x638.jpg

402304991_9c8a99e5a9.jpg

dsc02580.jpg

pregnant-belly-paintings-1.jpg

The women in all but the bottom photo are nine months’ pregnant (and some of the women in the bottom photo may be, as well).

Why would anyone think any of these women might “tip over”?  But if they did for some reason, why wouldn’t the men with the beer guts in the above photos also “tip over”?   And especially given that in general, women have broader hips, fatter butts and thicker thighs than men do, such that the huge beer bellies seem even more precariously balanced resting atop the flat rears and chicken legs? 

Whatever changes scientists may have discovered in the spines and bodies of pregnant women would seem to me to be as likely to be the body’s adaptation to the pregnancy.  Bodies generally do adjust to added weight, i.e., when people gain fat, the body adapts to the greater body weight by also adding muscle to support it.    

Those of us who are mothers know all of the many bodily, physical adaptations of motherhood over the years.  I have one hip that will always be higher than the other, for example, because of my many years of carrying children on my hip.  My breasts are larger after having had children than they were before I had them, because of the growth in milk ducts.   I have very strong upper arms and forearms because I’ve used them to lift so many little ones over so many years.   I have eyes in the back of my head.  :p 

Anyway.  These are examples of the body’s adjusting to various stresses, strains, changes and repetitive movements.  Why is it that this particular connection is made as to men — i.e., men’s muscularity (or not) is understood to be a result of the work men do (or not) — whereas women’s bodies are endlessly scrutinized for evidence of “natural”, “inborn,” innate, or “evolutionary adaptations” which oh-so-conveniently mark us as “uniquely suited” to the gender stereotypes male heterosupremacy imposes on us?  The way the study is being reported is also sexist and insulting with article titles like, “Women Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down,” mocking and stereotyping pregnant women as fragile incompetents whose balance seems so precarious it becomes a matter of scientific research– the obvious inference being that their abilities to work and function normally in daily life are suspect.  In fact, we all know that there are millions and probably billions of women whose pregnancies pass unnoticed until the eighth or ninth month, or who function completely competently on the job, including physically demanding jobs, and in their daily lives even when they are noticeably pregnant.

Finally, as an aside, note the way ordinary men compete for the most impressive beer belly (Google “beer belly contests”) happily and proudly displaying their guts for photos and posting them to the internet. 

What would happen if women (who were not pregnant) did the same? 

This rant brought to you courtesy of Heart, tired of sexist approaches to scientific “research.”

Heart
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Discussion

40 thoughts on “Sexism in Science: “Why Pregnant Women Don’t ‘Tip Over'”

  1. I freely admit that I don’t know about this, but in advanced pregnancy, despite general weight gain, isn’t the baby a solid mass in one spot? General belly weight is kind of diffuse…heavy, but heavy all over. With a baby, you have an extra localized weight.

    Posted by Miranda | December 14, 2007, 9:40 pm
  2. Miranda, I don’t really think so? You have an average of 7 pounds of baby, but the only really solid mass to the baby at that stage is its head — maybe two pounds or so? — because of the hard skull. Late in pregnancy the baby is head down, with the heaviest part resting on the bony pelvis, which is a pretty stable spot. The rest of the baby is soft; even the bones are soft and flexible compared with adult bones. The baby also floats in the amniotic sac which contains about a quart of amniotic fluid; it isn’t fixed in one position like a lump, in other words. The placenta probably weighs a pound or so, and it is attached to the wall of the uterus. Weight directly related to the baby/amniotic sac/placenta is only about 12 or 13 pounds or so.

    Posted by womensspace | December 14, 2007, 9:50 pm
  3. You have to assume that if men (scientists or not) are doing the research and reporting on women, that they are never going to get anything right about women.

    It would be the same if it were the reverse.

    I think we have to look at who is doing the research.

    I know every time I see men writing about Hillary Clinton, that my suspicion level goes up about 28%, and that’s on a good day.

    Feminism turns the tables for women to comment on men, and we are tough and delight in the counterargument, or our ‘reversal” to put back the original reversals men reverse on women… now say red rubbler baby buggie bumpers…🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | December 14, 2007, 11:08 pm
  4. heart, i’m glad you picked up on this. i actually saw an article about that study and was considering blogging about it, but it was just so dumb i couldn’t articulate what i wanted to say. as usual, you’ve summed it up very well.🙂

    yet another reason why i HATE studies.

    Posted by ladoctorita | December 14, 2007, 11:35 pm
  5. This reminds me of a book I was unfortunate to skim through last night called “What to expect when you’re expecting” by Misogynyst PhD (what’s in a name?). The doctor included, for the men, a how-to-get-through-your-wife-not-being-sexy guide with an enjoy-it-while-you-can attitude about the exotic dancer breasts the mother recieves for feeding–quote that. He wrote “exotic dancer breasts.”
    Oohhh noo noo, women could NOT post pictures unabashedly celebrating their not-patriarchally-approved fat to skeletal system ratios with the societal acceptance of this beer belly brouhaha.

    But I like to think being a feminist has indeed given me a better spine.
    I like to dream all sexists would just tip on over.

    Posted by pisaquari | December 15, 2007, 12:12 am
  6. Oh how perfectly frigging ridiculous!!!

    pisaquari: ‘exotic dancer breasts’???? wtf??? That is so beyond sick.

    ‘But I like to think being a feminist has indeed given me a better spine.
    I like to dream all sexists would just tip on over.’

    I totally second this.

    Posted by allecto | December 15, 2007, 12:33 am
  7. As a midwife I see lots of pregnant bellies..and i think the nice round bellies are the sexiest and most beautiful bellies ever🙂
    I think its a natural pull for people to want to touch a womans pregnant belly, and i get to do this all the time..

    OTOH i find the mens bellies gross and stupid🙂

    moongoddess

    Posted by moon goddess | December 15, 2007, 12:57 am
  8. Heart that is exactly what I was thinking when I saw the title. I was completely bewildered. It would never occur to me that a woman should “topple over”, that it would be a mystery for “science” (idiot sexist men) to “discover” why she does not, when she is carrying a living human inside of her.

    I wish I Had the words to express my disgust

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 3:07 am
  9. It’s total proof of the “othering” (the aliening) of women. You see women do not have human spines, like men. They have woman spines (for the men babies).

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 3:09 am
  10. It’s also perhaps evidence of how much men -wish- that we would ” tip and topple over” during pregnancy..how they wish it was a completely incapacitating state, and the burden that they legislate it into. Instead of the right and privilege of women. This “study” highlights, that to men it is so counterintuitive that pregnancy would be anything other than a disaster for women, because from birth they are told how great it is to be men (birth disabled). It’s obvious why. Even men who have enormous guts wobble but do not “topple over”. It’s pregancy shaming at its greatest, and total moranic ignorance caused by sexism.

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 3:17 am
  11. Can you make an article “Why beer-gutted men wobble but don’t topple over. The beer-gut spine”

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 3:19 am
  12. When I was in middle school, the teacher had all the students line up against the wall with their chairs. We had to put the chairs about an arm’s length in front of us. Back against the wall, feet together, we were all told to bend at the waist and pick the chair straight up. It was an experiment we were told. She said she just wanted to see how strong we all were.

    All the girls easily picked up their chairs. Not a single boy could, no matter how big or how strong the boy was. The teacher joked with the boys. Were they weaklings or something? Could they not pick up a simple chair? Look at all the girls. They could do it. Were girls stronger than boys?

    It was hilarious to see the looks of embarrassment and frustration on the boys faces. They struggled. They strained. They grunted. Their faces turned red with the strain, their arms trembled. But they could not pick the chair up without losing their balance and falling over.

    After a good laugh, the teacher explained to us all that it has to do with the way our legs fit into our pelvises. A girl’s legs fit into her pelvis at an angle, giving her much better balance. Boys don’t have that angle. Their legs fit into the pelvis straight. And that is why the girls could easily pick up the chairs and the boys couldn’t, no matter how hard they tried. It’s one of the ways we differ, and how we can tell the girls from the boys.

    Posted by Luckynkl | December 15, 2007, 5:53 am
  13. This has more to do with the human body’s center of gravity, and our bipedalism. If you strapped one of those fake pregnant belly on a man he wouldn’t topple over. You could say that men inherited the “evolutionary” spine for not “toppling over” but it is just intuitively obvious to me as the human body’s center of gravity. nothing about a pregnant woman, or a beer bellied man, says to me that they could tip over. It bewilders me. This “study” and its language is so offensive. At one point it compares pregant women to bowling pins. Bowling pins topple over because something hits it. Not because it is tippy. And the whole “pregnant women wobble but don’t topple over”..we don’t wobble in danger of toppling over………..

    ……..

    That is an interesting difference though Lucky

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 8:35 am
  14. pisaquari writes : “But I like to think being a feminist has indeed given me a better spine.
    I like to dream all sexists would just tip on over.”

    HA !

    Posted by Zippy | December 15, 2007, 9:34 am
  15. Yeah, Kiuku (and all), I’m sure not arguing that women’s bodies are not uniquely suited for pregnancy~! HA. Of course, our bodies are and male bodies ain’t never going to bring forth life no matter what.

    I’m reacting to the bizarreness and offensiveness of this “study” (which, incidentally was undertaken by a woman! Though I doubt women’s money funded the thing.)

    I mean, do we really need for scientists to do studies to determine whether women’s bodies are uniquely suited to bear children. Hello. I realize academentia fell over the edge into postmodern hell decades ago by now, but is everyone so far gone they’ve forgotten that:

    Female = Bears Babies
    Males = Not

    The end?

    If we are equipped to conceive, nourish, carry, and bear, then all the spinal adaptations or whatever are a foregone conclusion, except that they aren’t “adaptations” and we don’t need any studies to show that they are, they’re just part of the constellation of factors which enables us to bear children.

    Doh.

    Why do we need $$$$$$$$ studies and “experts” and scientists in order to “discover” this penultimately obvious factoid? Then broadcast it like it’s news somehow and sure enough, mainstream media — WaPo, CNN, NYT, Reuters, AP — all of them! Report this shit as “news” on the scientific front!

    Honestly, you have to wonder whether the masses of intelligentsia in this country are so far gone they forgot that females bear children and males don’t, that has to do with bodies that can or cannot bear children, and that is the end of that story!

    Yeesh.

    I’m right there with you, Kiuku, the reporting of this “study” is a sexist, misogynist attack on female persons, meant to be undermining and humiliating to us. Pregnancy is not in and of itself an abnormal/diseased/disabling condition for female persons. It’s part of life and most of us who get pregnant go on about our business and don’t much miss a beat until the very very last few weeks when some of us need more rest than usual (and even that isn’t always so).

    If pregnant women have appeared to be in danger of “toppling” over, that is undoubtedly because of the bullshit clothes available, until very recently, for them to wear, little cutesie tootsie ruffly jobs with puffed sleeves and prim collars and a buttload of gathering up above the boobs with a result that fairly screams: “LOOK AT MY GIGANTIC PREGNANT BELLY.” When in fact, most of the time it isn’t gigantic at all. About 12-13 pounds of a woman’s pregnancy weight gain are in her uterus, and the rest is in her boobs, her hips and thighs (as insurance there will be plenty of fat supplies for breastfeeding), extra blood, about a quart of it, coursing through her veins, etc. So most women’s pregnancy weight gain is an “all over” weight gain, not just in her abdomen. But again, until very recently, maternity clothing seemed designed to amplify the size of the abdomen in every conceivable way.

    Of course, there are also high heels to consider, again, until very recently, expected in the work place and worn by women wanting to abide by professional dress codes. High heels are definitely going to compromise a pregnant woman’s balance, then again, they compromise ALLwomen’s balance.

    One thing I appreciate about the last 20 years or so is the way, increasingly, women just say “screw it” to maternity clothes and wear their regular clothes with the enlarging belly proudly displayed. When they dress normally in t-shirts, sweats, etc., it’s obvious that a pregnant woman is not a medicine ball with feet.

    But prior to this raising of consciousness about the pregnant body as normal and healthy, the preoccupation of maternity clothes designers was, wierdly, to infantilize and virginize pregnant women as much as possible with all of the pink, lace, bows, rosebuds, gathers and frou frou, like the woman herself was the baby, and of course, this is all about madonnas and whores, and a pregnant woman must absolutely be a madonna, the chaste property of some man somewhere. Anyway, the result was a woman in a puff of fabric with legs and arms sticking out, at times wearing heels! All of which has to do with sexism and misogyny, with any adaptations to the spine more likely to be adaptations to being pregnant while elevating one’s heels 2-3 inches above the ground and attempting to walk around like that.

    It’s the blindness to all of the above, the total ignorance of feminism and the theorizing of feminists over the past 40 years that really pisses me off. Here is a female scientist doing this goddamned study and including NONE of the above.

    Argh.

    Posted by womensspace | December 15, 2007, 4:48 pm
  16. I can’t believe scientists acutally wondered about this! I mean I have been pregnant three times and it never once crossed my mind to wonder why I didn’t tip and fall over! You just don’t, just like you don’t tip and fall over when you aren’t pregnant even though upright walking looks precarious at first glance.😉

    Yeah it is an othering of women. They are saying men’s spines are the default and women’s are the adaptation of that default.

    Posted by Sidonzo | December 15, 2007, 7:09 pm
  17. All of this kind of reminds me of that ridiculous term “reproductive organs,” which I regard as an incredible insult to lesbians who have no intention of ever reproducing any being! We produce, we don’t reproduce! Next time some damn idiot doctor asks me about birth control, I swear I’m going to swing a double headed ax in their direction!

    What a horrifying mismash this all is. Aren’t men able to ever think of women as human, and finally reject their “sexual obsessions and needs to rule and dominate women!?”

    Perhaps they should simply be put on probation in medical science, and let women do all the clinical trials using the female as norm! Ugh and double ugh!!😦

    Posted by Satsuma | December 15, 2007, 10:23 pm
  18. I don’t know what insults me more… the fact that these men are called “scientists” or that they feel they can dish out the findings of this “research” (aka: boloney!) and expect us women to believe it?!

    But I’ll bet every guy who read the report acted like they had a light bulb go off above their head. 🙂 They probably thought… “Ohhhh… so THAT’S why they don’t tip over, huh?!”

    ~CW

    P.S. Gawd, those guys are SO UGLY!! Gives me the chills, those pictures! Ugh!!

    Posted by ~CW | December 15, 2007, 10:48 pm
  19. Satsuma,

    The female -is- the norm. It is incredible insanity to think otherwise, and shows that science, run by men, is insane. This study is insane.

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 10:58 pm
  20. Heart,

    That was a GREAT post!!!!

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 10:58 pm
  21. Men have nipples. Men can carry weight on their midsection.

    Female=Norm.

    Posted by kiuku | December 15, 2007, 10:59 pm
  22. OMG@Satsuma–Finally, someone else as pissed about this crap as myself. I’m in my 20s and have dealt with the birth control questions and/or forced pregnancy tests at Dr.’s offices since my early teens (I came out at 17). It just seems like people assume it is IMPOSSIBLE for a woman not to be having sex with a man. Fine, i can understand that as a lesbian I am a minority and I don’t have a problem with the INITIAL question, really, of what form of birth control do i use, yadda yadda, but further questioning is crossing the line. Joe Schmoe isn’t asked if he has sex with men, if he’s SURE he hasn’t had gay sex lately, and then lectured on male-male safe sex. And I’m sure the same goes for heterosexual women. And just to entirely vent my spleen, those “cutesy-fied” customizeable makeup compact-esq birth control cases make me want to puke. Phew.

    Posted by Tiffany | December 16, 2007, 2:50 am
  23. hey, tiffany and satsuma, as a medical student i really appreciate you sharing your experiences. it’s always important to hear what NOT to do as a doctor.🙂

    tiffany, it’s absolutely ridiculous that you were forced to take pregnancy tests and asked if you were sure you hadn’t had sex with a male (what, like you were gonna forget?!). that’s a perfect example of the doctor NOT LISTENING to what the patient has to say. the initial line of questioning, however, is not necessarily because lesbians are a minority, but more because a) sexual heath is a part of everyone’s wellbeing, regardless of gender, sexuality, practices, etc. and b) women take oral contraceptives for a myriad of reasons, many which have nothing to do with heterosexual sex (intense cramping, heavy menstrual bleeding, acne, etc.).

    personally, when taking a sexual history, i ask all patients if they are sexually active and whether they have sex with men, women, or both. i then follow up by asking about safe sex and birth control regardless of their previous answers. it’s part of the patient’s physical health, so it’s helpful information for the health care provider to have, and i think it’s also important to let the patient know that the subject is not “off-limits” and to give her an opportunity to ask about it if she’s interested.

    i absolutely don’t intend to diminish everyone’s personal experiences—many, if not most, physicians ARE totally ignorant about the sexual health needs of lesbians. i just wanted to point out that there may also be patient-centered reasons to ask a lesbian about birth control.

    thank you again to tiffany and satsuma. may the next crop of young physicians be better . . .🙂

    Posted by ladoctorita | December 16, 2007, 4:22 am
  24. I was in the hospital with severe abdominal pain when I was 22. It turned out to be a blockage in my intestine, but it took forever to convince the hospital personnel that it couldn’t be pregnancy related because I was a virgin. They kept promising to ‘not tell my mom’ and so forth.

    Posted by Miranda | December 16, 2007, 12:03 pm
  25. Gah. Hearing about other women’s doctors always makes me really happy to have my doctor. All I got was a basic: “Are you sexually active?” “No.” “Not with men or women?” “Nope.” and then we moved on.

    The mention of forced pregnancy tests makes me think of college, where a common complaint among female students about the health center was that the nurse practitioners had apparently decided that any and all symptoms in a female patient were signs of pregnancy and would simply Not. Let. Go. of the idea. They’d ask some really inappropriate questions (“Are you sure? Have you gotten drunk in the last month?”) in pursuit of this idea. Of course, this meant a lot of time got wasted in these pointless pregnancy interrogations, time that should have been spent figuring out these women’s real, non-pregnancy-related problems. And they really did do it for just about any complaint, so you’d get stuff like this:

    Student: “I tripped and fell while playing soccer. I think I’ve sprained ankle. Could you take a look at it?”
    Nurse: “Do you think you could be pregnant?”
    Student: “I- wait, what?”

    Though perhaps this is explainable by the fact that doctors apparently think pregnant women should be tipping over.

    Posted by keen | December 16, 2007, 4:02 pm
  26. You’ll be a great doctor, ladoctorita.
    Tiffany and satsuma, I can relate! A couple years ago, I went to the ER for lower back pain associated with a UTI (which I’d already been diagnosed with and was on antibiotics for). I was alone and scared that there was something wrong with my kidneys, and I was scared about money because I’d been unemployed for two months and had no health insurance, and I started feeling woozy/nauseated and having trouble breathing.
    The male triage nurse/med student/whoever he was started firing questions at me, and when I paused to tell him I was feeling a little nauseated and short of breath, he rudely said, “That’s because you’re hyperventilating. You look fine,” and went back to interrogating me. He insulted/made fun of me for being unimmunized (“Well, I sure hope you never catch anything!”), then re: the UTI, advised me to “prevent UTIs by peeing before and after intercourse.” Nevermind that I ALREADY HAD the UTI and was a SEXUALLY INACTIVE LESBIAN! Spare me your bullshit assumptions and heterocentric “tips”!
    Then the male doctor pestered me with questions about being pregnant, and when I said I wasn’t, he asked if I was “sure,” until I snapped at him, “I DON’T HAVE SEX WITH MEN.” He made me pee in a cup anyways so they could test if I was pregnant! I freakin hate it when they act like I’m lying!!! He then wanted to give me a pelvic exam, which I refused to do – no man has ever touched my vagina and none ever will, thankyouverymuch – but he’d only “let” me refuse if I promised to go to Planned Parenthood within 24 hours. I signed a form saying I would, and then didn’t.
    Turns out my lower back pain, only coincidentally near the kidney area, was a stress-related muscle spasm. Wow, I WONDER what could have been stressing me out!!!!

    Posted by Eeni B. Bella | December 16, 2007, 4:05 pm
  27. This was just funny.

    Posted by laiven | December 16, 2007, 5:03 pm
  28. Wow, Eeni, what a horrible experience.

    I’m so happy to hear that it wasn’t a kidney involvement. It’s easy to get pyelonephritis from an untreated bladder infection. I’ve had it, and suffice it to say, it’s scary.

    ((( Eeni )))

    Fortunately, 40 years later, I’m too old (63) to be considered a Bad Pregnant Girl any more.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | December 16, 2007, 7:02 pm
  29. Mir at Blogher has some interesting responses from around the blogosphere (mine included):

    http://www.blogher.com/researchers-discover-pregnancy-doesnt-make-you-fall-over

    Eeni, keen, Miranda, everyone, your stories remind me of why I stand far far far askance from patriarchal medicine and its institutions (and why I am so grateful for ladoctorita, may her tribe increase!).

    Posted by womensspace | December 17, 2007, 12:00 am
  30. Do you think the endless pregnancy interrogations might be from fear of being sued? If you say “no, I have not had sex, I cannot be pregnant” and they give you some meds and then for whatever reason you actually are pregnant and it causes a miscarriage or whatever.. can’t the patient then sue them for not testing first? Just playing devil’s advocate here–they don’t know you from a bar of soap. They don’t actually believe anything you are saying nearly as much as they believe their tests. That is where a lot of it is coming from IMHO. It’s not nice to be not-believed, but that is why it’s better if you find a good doctor you develop a relationship with.

    And no I’m not pushing mainstream medicine. It has it’s place but I was raised in an all-natural, anti-immunization blah blah.. house and I’ve done just fine with out it for decades at a time.

    Posted by Arietty | December 17, 2007, 12:35 am
  31. Ha! When I was in my early teens, I was a lesbian who WAS on hormonal birth control. Try explaining that one to a new doctor.

    On top of that, to this day I am yet to meet any medical professional who is not specifically employed in a field relating to sexual health who will give lesbian/bisexual/queer women accurate information relating to sexual disease prevention. How are we supposed to break the myth that lesbians don’t need to worry about such things if even our doctors promote it?

    Posted by hexy | December 17, 2007, 4:41 am
  32. I think Arietty may be correct about the doctors being worried about liability in case the professedly non-pregnant woman is given meds that could harm a fetus, BUT why can’t they act like human beings and just tell the women that? “The reason I’m going to ask you the following question is because you may need a medication that could harm a fetus, …” Wouldn’t that preface help the hapless non-pregnant woman to understand why the doctor wants to be double-dog sure?

    Oh, Eeni, I am glad you managed to avoid a pelvic administered by a jerk! This is a particularly sensitive subject with me.

    When I was a teenager in college I came down with a yeast infection caused by my wearing a combination of synthetic underwear and jeans all the time (100% white cotton panties could have prevented it, but I didn’t know that then). I went to the college clinic, and the doctor was irate at having to do a pelvic when he wanted to go ahead and leave for the day (how is this for a stereotype–he said he wanted to get to the golf course!). He roughly plunged the instrument into me and gave me an extremely painful pelvic that made me bleed. The female nurse winced as she watched but didn’t say anything to Dr. God. After the lab results were back, he wrote a prescription for the yeast infection, and the meds burned like fury. When I called the clinic to request an alternative medication the receptionist put him on the line, and he grimly informed me that if I wanted a second medication, I would have to get a second pelvic from him.

    I called the clinic back later and told the receptionist I needed a pelvic but would NOT get it from Dr. God. She scheduled me in with a younger, gentle male doctor who kept asking me about the possibility of my having an STD. I explained I had never had sex but had a yeast infection I needed an alternate medication for. When he called me back later with results of the second lab test his opening words were a cheery, “Good news! There were no STD’s, just a yeast infection!” For years I was insulted he hadn’t believed me, but later on it dawned on me that Dr. God had taken my virginity with his brutal pelvic and that the second doctor had seen the internal trauma and thought I had had sex. Still later I had the spooky realization that the doctor had subjected me to instrumental rape. Up until that point I was still laboring under my the attitude instilled in me by my Depression era parents that you just had to take whatever a doctor dished out to you.

    It is good to hear from those of you who are in good health and have successfully avoided official medical contact as much as possible. Since I went through an uneventful menopause two and a half years ago, I just have not been able to bring myself to go back to a gynecologist for routine annual checks when I’m feeling better than I ever have. I struggle with whether I’m being dangerously shortsighted or just having some influx of intuitive crone wisdom about this issue.

    Posted by Level Best | December 17, 2007, 3:34 pm
  33. *giggles*

    I was walking over some of our recent horrific ice and snow encrusted streets with a man who was much taller, stronger, and has grown up enduring these kinds of harsh winters, while I grew up in the South.

    He fell down twice, I? Not at all. Why? Lower center of balance – “natural” result of my clearly superior body type without all that silly weight placed to ridiculously in the top half of the body.

    How’s that for spin?

    Posted by Amananta | December 17, 2007, 5:52 pm
  34. Over time, you usually find good doctors. I have little problems with doctors now. I know what they know and what they don’t know. I’m very tough on lesbian health issues, and give them tones of information. I even rate their offices for level of “lesbian friendliness” — the looks on their faces are always fun when I give them one of my little ratings sheets.

    Doctors, like any other professional group have to be trained.
    They are socially clueless group, but they can be trained.

    Sit, stay, good dog!🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | December 18, 2007, 12:27 am
  35. The talk about the study among folks I know is that the sample was awfully small (not good for drawing sweeping conclusions) and that bone plasticity wasn’t really accounted for. I suspect that some of those beer-belly men might show wedging in at least one lumbar vertebra. I suspect I might have some vertebral wedging since I had more than the average number of pregnancies. I’d like to see the whole study, just to hit it point by point. Or maybe not. So far all I’ve read are articles about the study, like the NYT article.

    Like some have already said, women do tend to have a lower center of gravity, which serves us well in a few ways. Still, we are a variable species. Some men have a lower center (I’ve seen men pick up the chair occasionally), some women have one that’s higher (can’t pick up the chair). Women tend to have a pelvic structure that’s different from the male in ways that faciitate childbirth. Still, there are variations.

    I get twitchy when I read crap articles about science. I tend to want to defend (portions of) science when journalists write poorly about it, just to grab the reader, because I know that they’re going to tweak it all to hell. Who said “bowling pins” – was it the journalist or one of the anthropologists who authored the study? Good grief, that’s absurd.

    I think I can be a scientists and a woman (and a feminist). I think women can do science. I think they ought to. I think they ought to on their own terms, though, and there’s the rub for an awful lot of them. We have to do some re-defining and that doesn’t always fly when a young woman is trying to land certain jobs or tenure or…

    Me, I’m old enough I don’t give a shit anymore.😉 I do wish I’d had the same attitude as a young woman…

    Posted by archaeomom8 | December 18, 2007, 6:50 am
  36. Let me just add my voice to the chorus of victims of forced pelvic exams/pregnancy tests. I went in to my university’s health center after 5 days of gastroenteritis – slight fever, diarrhea, nausea, dehydration, stomach pain, weakness, dizziness, confusion, etc.

    The doctor at the urgent care center – a woman – refused to give me any treatment until I consented to a blood pregnancy test and a pelvic exam. I told her I was not pregnant, that I was on birth control and had not been sexually active since prior to my last menstrual cycle and used condoms besides, but she still would not treat me. So, because I was dehydrated, nauseous, weak, and otherwise ILL, and thus in no position to really argue, I consented to a pelvic exam I did not want. It was my first pelvic, and since then I’ve had one other that left me feeling exceptionally triggered, and after that I chose to go off of hormonal birth control rather than subject myself to that again (the second pelvic, a few months after the first, was required for the B.C. prescription).

    By the way, the treatment was IV FLUIDS, which present absolutely zero, zip, nada risk to a fetus, so they deliberately kept me nauseous, dehydrated, and semi-delirious in order to get me to consent to this unnecessary, psychologically traumatic, invasive procedure.

    Yea, I’m still pissed about it, two years later.

    Posted by Shira | December 18, 2007, 7:59 am
  37. Thank you. That is the most sexist evolutionary bullshit I’ve seen being passed off as science in a long time.

    Posted by apostate | December 24, 2007, 7:25 am
  38. Doctors are always convinced one is pregnant, just not admitting it.

    The study is pretty funny, though.

    Do pregnant women really faint? I have heard of it but not seen it.

    Posted by profacero | December 30, 2007, 2:51 am
  39. P.S. Level Best – I have actually had a couple of doctors say this: “The reason I’m going to ask you the following question is because you may need a medication that could harm a fetus, …” and it is indeed far more civilized.

    Instrument rape, yes. I haven’t gone through what you have but still … I don’t do the annual exam thing and I am pretty sure I know what I’m doing / that I’m not endangering myself.

    Posted by profacero | December 30, 2007, 2:56 am

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