Guest Post: Has Gynecology Ever Faced Its Shameful Past?

This guest post is written by K. Badgers, a valued contributor to this blog.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana

Memory is intrinsically entwined with politics – there are restrictions on who is deemed important enough to remain in the history books and in the public eye. As a result, not everyone deserving leaves a legacy, whereas certain practices and beliefs are perpetuated to become part of our customs and culture which aren’t in the interest of the greater good. The root of several modern-day problems – including the widespread medicalization of the female body – can be identified by looking back into history. As the above quote by Santayana suggests, it’s often important to recognize these key, damaging moments of the past in order to successfully move forward.

Bad Medical Practice has Roots in Nazi Directives

In one of the most prestigious German research organizations, the Max Planck Institute, whose predecessor the Kaiser Wilhelm Society was founded by Nazi researchers, it was discovered in the 1980s that about 700 brain preparations from patients deemed “mentally ill”, and euthanized during the Nazi regime were still part of the collections at that time. In fact, the brain sections were used in research right into the 1960s. The Max Planck Society decided that all brain sections prepared during the Nazi era should be buried, and a memorial for the victims was erected in a Munich cemetery in 1990. In 1997, Max Planck President Hubert Markl set up an independent committee to investigate and document the connections of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and its institutes with the Nazi state apparatus. Despite the work of the committee, in 2013 a finding in the archive revealed that not all brain sections had been discovered and buried in 1990, so the investigation is continuing until the present day.

The Nazi obsession with “mental hygiene” follows the same twisted logic as that of “racial hygiene”. According to Nazi directives, the purity of the Aryan gene pool had to be preserved by all means, so alongside the non-Aryan races, religious minorities, homosexuals, the mentally ill and the physically disabled were persecuted, murdered and sterilised as well. A little-known fact concerning the Nazis is their obsession with cancer, as cancer was an adequate metaphor for unwanted elements taking over the healthy body of the nation, metamorphosing, uncontrollably spreading, taking space and nutrition, just like a tumour does within a host body.

As Robert N. Proctor documents, the Nazis initiated mass screening for cancer, with a special focus on the cancers of the female reproductive tract, in fact the idea to control the reproductive organs from every healthy adult women by penetrating them with tools and fingers(well-woman exam) comes from a Nazi doctor called Robert Hofstaetter. 7227d398ebdc4b6bf026b3b57709aee7The colposcope, the instrument used to this day to magnify the cervix during cancer screening was invented by a Nazi war criminal, Hans Himselmann. Another nazi doctor initiated “cancer awareness months”, where women would be urged via media campaigns to submit to annual (women over 30) cancer screenings. Cancer fear was deemed being “a special weakness of the female sex” so the whole scheme was supposed to be for the good of womenfolk, but of course the first and foremost concern was to secure healthy, strong wombs to give birth to a healthy, strong Aryan nation.x400_300_1283173040553911.jpg.pagespeed.ic.zpaMPXHNw5M6Fd5yZDU2This militant checking of women’s reproductive organs unfortunately still continues to present-day Germany, but according to an article published in the May 2015 issue of the British Medical Journal (“Germany aims to stop nudging the public on screening”) hopefully not for long. (

More on the Origins of Non-Consensual Medicine

A similar case from the USA would involve the story of the HeLa cells. HeLa is the first immortalized (which means it can be sustained and reproduced infinitely) and most widely used human cell line for all kinds of scientific inquiry. While other immortalized lines are now available, HeLa was the first one, and up to date it is referred to in more than 74,000 scientific publications.

HeLa cells have been used to explore the complex processes involved in the life cycle of cells, as the foundation for vaccine development, understanding viruses and other infections, and devising new medical techniques, such as IVF. However, there is a major problem with HeLa: the original cell sample was obtained without the consent of Henrietta Lacks during a biopsy for cervical cancer at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital. Lacks was black, poor, and a mother of 5 children, the first of whom she had at 14. She died shortly after the biopsy in the “coloured” ward of the John Hopkins Hospital. In 2013 German scientists sequenced the genome of a HeLa cell line and published the data, which has the potential to reveal confidential information about the living relatives of Lacks. After protest from the Lacks family, scientists, bioethicists, and many others, the HeLa genome sequence was removed from a public database.o-HELA-CELLS-facebookThe cell line has generated millions in revenue, but the family of Henrietta Lacks has still not received any whatsoever financial compensation. From 2013 researcher requests concerning the HeLa cells will be reviewed by a 6 member panel, including two family members, and Henrietta Lacks is to receive an acknowledgement in the publications using her cells. In 2010 a memorial has been erected in a cemetery in Virginia, where Henrietta Lacks lay in an unmarked grave.

The Founding Father of Gynecology Leaves a Painful Legacy

Another case in the USA involving unwilling black medical subject matters, where no whatsoever official retribution has been done concerns the case of Marion Sims, slaveholder and “founding father of gynecology”. He still has 3 statues, one in New York, one in Alabama, and one in South Carolina, which proclaims:

Where the love of man is
There also is love of the art

Sims’ research subjects were slaves whom he bought for the purpose. He used no anesthesia, as he believed black people have a more primitive physiology, with a naturally lower pain threshold. One woman, Anarcha, had to endure more than 30 of such surgeries on her vagina, as Sims used her to develop a surgical technique to repair vaginal fistula.ginecologo_de_las_esclavas_el_especialito_t670x470

The reasoning of Sims towards his contemporaries, to justify his experiments was that his research subjects suffered terribly (and let’s remember the old southerners theory of the lower pain threshold) Sure the women suffered terribly, but more from their living conditions than the fistula. The vaginal fistula in itself is not a fatal condition(slavery has caused way more deaths than vaginal fistulas!) and in some rare cases certain kinds and degrees of fistulas even heal on their own.

Petra Kuppers has carried out detailed research into the history of Anarcha and Sims, and she has initiated the Anarcha project, which is described on its homepage as below:

“The Anarcha Project is a collaborative performance project that evokes haunting memories of three Alabama slave women who in the 1840s persevered through years of medical experimentation at the hands of J. Marion Sims, “the father of gynecology.”
We resurrect the memories of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsy through performance material developed out of two years of archival research as well as live and on-line workshops with hundreds of writers, artists, performers, activists, academics, and students. The workshop participants’ responded to these women’s stories with remembrances both imagined and real.

With its infusion of dance, spoken-work poetry, theatre, music, and projected images, The Anarcha Project celebrates folkloric healing practices, explores ethical relationships to history, and interrogates the on-going abuse of marginalized people in health care practices today.”

The Cost of Challenging Sims’ Legacy

Other artists remembering Anarcha are a collective, who produced the website, which has a page dedicated to Anarcha, depicting the Sims statue replaced with that of Anarcha The Hungarians share the cheerful news release through the clearly made-up sounding entity “CERJA” – and one can’t help but shudder at the thought of the southern slaveholders legacy reaching so far.

They have said over an email correspondence “it is not that we particularly wish to see a statue of Anarcha, we wish to see the statue of Sims go. She did not volunteer, to “contribute to science” or whatever, but violence was done to her, and in portraying her as an active agent, we would further perpetuate the violence. The point of the stunt fits along the aim of our website- to make women realize they are not inherently weak and diseased, but constantly violated. Anarcha was test subject number one, and there are countless other test subjects, women are still not afforded agency and dignity when it comes to reproductive medicine.”

In their native Hungary it is illegal to ‘promote abortion’, so they are left with ‘tactical media’, such as the map of reproductive rights around Europe, or rather, the map of absurdities- how come in Denmark or Luxembourg women need 17 kinds of prenatal tests, and the Slovakians 35 kinds? Their package referring to Luton (a town near London, with a large no-frills airport) excitedly chirps about how since the limit for abortion on demand is 24 weeks in the UK, so you have time to work a few weeks in the Luton Amazon warehouse, should you be short of funds. There are photos of desolate bus stations, lonely, dirty highways, gloom, doom, struggle- the reality of being female under the patriarchy is not made of pink and fluff and makeup and cupcakes.

In Indonesia when girls are forced to undergo virginity tests (doctors inserting things into healthy vaginas without any medical reason) there is a global outrage, but in Germany and the USA women are still encouraged to submit to dangerous, useless well-woman exams and cancer screening (doctors inserting things into healthy vaginas without any medical reason), in fact they are often denied contraception if they don’t do so.

Current Attitudes Reflect the Past, Foster Abuse

The legacy of Sims and the Nazi doctors is far reaching, from the cradle to the grave it is part of the industry turning girls into women. To quote one German magazine aimed at teenagers “du bist normal” you are normal, but don’t you want a doctor to affirm your normality? The German teenagers on online message boards talk among each other ( invoking the famous quote of Simone de Beauvoir) “you don’t become a woman unless you have been to a gynecologist”.speculum-gynecology-historical-medicine

I should add here a quick remark: Obviously the routine surveillance of healthy female bodies (regardless of age) has no whatsoever scientific basis, see here:

Within contemporary feminism gender is increasingly privileged over sex, and so-called identity is worshiped, as if some Harry-Potter-make-believe-word-magic, or whatever complex performativity and intersectionality theories became would adequately describe the lived experience of women, who in fact were persecuted, abused and exploited thorough history based on their reproductive capacities, not on their “feminine side” or any manifestation of self-identification. (explained here:

Meanwhile, the statues of Sims still stand, and his legacy still lives on. The difference is now that the victims are not chained or handcuffed anymore, but thoroughly groomed, brainwashed, gendered to accept medical surveillance. In fact being a good, cooperative subject of surveillance becomes a matter of identity, the identity of “mature, responsible women”, and identity is sacrosanct, since in order to fit with mainstream feminist doctrines, we all have to adapt to the guilt ridden, middle class, liberal Anglo-american worldview. Two taboos prevail: “victim blaming”, and identification based on anything else but feelings, and biological sex is not a feeling at all, it is not in one’s head. Body processes and conditions are becoming too risky to mention, as they could be “triggering”. It is often stated how identifying women based on having or not having a female body(call it schemata, plan, figuration, whatever) is so-called biological essentialism which reducing women to the status of walking incubators. These people have no clue that the uterus has functions beyond child bearing (for example it part of the endocrine system, it is involved in a woman’s orgasm, in distributing the blood supply of the pelvic organs) so it is in fact them who resort to the patriarchal rhetoric of the reproductive-organs-as-separated-units, as if they were not parts of individual women, but a distributed pool of biopolitical reserve.

The general lack of awareness of the medical establishment’s ongoing abuse of women is a complex phenomena. Vested interests and profiteering clearly play a role, but ideology seems to be the main enabler, the docile, neoliberal citizen internalizing misogyny and enacting self-regulation and self-management.

In my opinion women would not want to admit they were sexually assaulted and even paid for the privilege, the truth would be too much, the sheer amount of violence faced by women is often much to bear, it is easier to believe the world is a just, fair place, where your interests count, you are cared for, and as long as you do the right things, nothing and no one is going to hurt you. Perpetuating this line of thinking is easier than organizing and carrying out acts of civil disobedience or direct action.


  1. gynecology is sick and fucked up and the sooner it’s gotten rid of the better. according to (u.s statistics) “Approximately 0.6 percent of women will be diagnosed with cervix uteri cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data” meanwhile “Approximately 14.0 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data.” ibid.

    so why aren’t men taking matters into their own hands and assholes? why don’t we open up guys’ butts and check their prostates and withhold completely unrelated medications and treatments from them until they comply? it’s for their own good! it would save lives!! hashtag save the assholes!

    seriously, it WOULD save lives. so why aren’t men doing it? i want the gynecology “community” to answer that, since they named themselves as a group that pathologizes healthy and in fact biologically hardier bodies. i want to see andrologists hounding and shaming and patronizing and humiliating males to be forcibly penetrated and abused under the guise of care. i want men to either end their sick abuse of us and give us restitution or they should be spread-eagle in stirrups. it’s your call, men, and it’s for your own good. really.


    • endlessleeper: Jesus Christ! Look, getting pissed at how extrapersonal decision-making is aimed at women is correct- but you shouldn’t have the mentality that this sort of thing gets aimed at people that don’t have it coming (don’t forget that WOMEN do plenty to other WOMEN. Never mind that altruism doesn’t produce ownership, so “saving lives” isn’t something that’s an accurate phrasing.

      I don’t think “saving someone’s like” is something that trumps all else, especially considering that someone can’t very well value life so much that they do NOT care what happens to it. Usurpation, erosion through supplantation, whatever you want to call it- is its own problem.

      If someone went to a restaurant & the server actually shoved a salad down that person’s throat, that would be an attack.even if the salad has potential health-bolstering effects or the server is the same gender. Doesn’t matter if they do this in the course of their occupation, either.

      • Alex, it’s not women’s fault. We are living in a patriarchy, which is a sex caste imbalance of power. Women are taught to preform femininity – which enacts submissive, pleasing behaviour and presentation. Men are taught masculinity – to be the dominant entitled gender, whose presentation is about strength, comfort and utility. Gynaecology is apart of this power-based construct, that’s why so much abuse has gone on within this profession and continues to..

      • alex, your phrase “altruism doesn’t produce ownership” is excellent, but i hope you understand why i posted that comment–because NOBODY ever mentions the male equivalent of gynecological appointments, and when you point it out, it sounds really fucking horrifying. i dis-covered this blog a few weeks (months?) ago and was incredibly relieved to see it, so i want the women and girls reading this to see my intentionally amped-up comment and think, “jesus christ, that’s fucked up, why should i accept that’s going to happen to me just because i’m female?” the horrible things that happen to women are routine, and our natural biology is innately ill. that’s a bogus reversal, and that’s MALE manipulation of women.
        and i have been hurt by women in a medical setting many times, but it’s nowhere near as bad as what the men have done to me in the same setting. it happens, sure, and it’s disgusting, but MEN designed and implemented this system. i thought about adding a disclaimer to my original comment, but that looked incredibly clunky and kind of patronizing. since lots of the readership and target audience is female, it felt tasteless to condescend, though perhaps the shock value necessitated a /sarcasm tag. fuck text, i guess.
        also, i’m not entirely certain what you mean by saving someone’s life not trumping all else.

      • and just for the record, my follow-up was not intended for you entirely, it was my springboard to clarify for the women and girls who need this blog. also the fact that andrology makes you so hideously uncomfortable is pretty fucking telling!

      • I mis-typed something: I meant to say that “you shouldn’t have the mentality that this sort of thing SHOULD be aimed at people that don’t have it coming.”

        I just re-read my post & saw that it sounds like I was saying that the people this is directed at have it coming, which I don’t believe. Sorry about that, all.

      • Hi Alex, I do agree with you to some extent. Women in the nursing and medical professions are quite militant about encouraging other women to submit to invasive testing, but I think that cervical screening is a product of misguided feminism and patriarchy. I think it was always an “excuse” to maintain control over womens bodies (seeing as we seemingly, have achieved equality in all other areas of our lives, this remains one of the last vestiges of male privilege and entitlement). I think other issues come into it though as well, such as profits and often, misguided doctors – as well as misguided patients. Also, maybe this sort of thing is not necessarily endemic to males as a whole but maybe, males within the medical profession (after all, you surely have to question why a man would risk ridicule and his personal and professional reputation by entering the profession of gynaecology).

      • I was also relieved, like when I found out about intactivism; people against a bad thing, I’m also against, which I don’t hear much against, attemptedly “justified”, & promoted by “medicine”.

    • Well said. One look at the way prostate cancer screening is marketed to men vs. the way cancer screening is marketed to women really shows the disparity. Prostate cancer actually IS fairly common cancer. They developed a blood test to spare men from the internal exam, and even with that, men are always told that it’s UP TO THEM to weigh the pros and cons of being tested. They’re told to read the literature, talk it over with their doctors and make their own choices.

      Compare that to cervical cancer screening where women have it shoved down their throats, are not encouraged to research or think about it, and are not encouraged to weigh the pros and cons with their doctors. They are told they NEED!!! this screening for this rare cancer, and meanwhile other cancers that actually DO affect a lot of women, such as melanoma, are all but ignored.

      • women’s health problems are basically entirely ignored unless they happen in body parts that, surprise surprise, men sexualize!!! pussies and titties are sooper sexy, but male asses and female hearts/skin/eyes/livers/whatever aren’t, dontchaknow, because if they were there would be articles about female organ health in playboy and men would get off on watching videos of consenting, totally informed women having completely routine, fully clothed full-body checkups (though let’s hope i don’t give any sicko ideas)

      • Oh yeah, bikini medicine is ridiculous, and it’s the sad reality. It’s either whatever is sexually appealing or whatever can help women be baby-making machines. There are so many other medical issues that are so pressing for women, and they’re all shunted to side by the endless emphasis on gynecology. I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, but I have a huge family history of melanoma as well as several other risk factors . I’ve had to basically beg, plead and badger to get a dermatology referral. And meanwhile the insurance company has bugged me about the fact that I’ve opted out of paps. Yeah, guys, let’s worry about the cancer I have a .0001% chance of ever getting and ignore the deadly one that I have a much larger risk of getting…

    • I found a paper. This Most Dangerous Instrument Propriety, Power, and the Vaginal Speculum, that goes over the history of gynecology, observing women’s “insides”, the developmental of and uses and abuses of the speculum (e.g., Sims’ unwilling patients, and how speculum exams were used against sex workers in France and Germany), notions of “clean women” and “unclean” women. Also how the use of the speculum is to keep women in (our) place, how women fought for the right to their own speculums to see their own vaginas (and to perhaps treat problems with home remedies), and the notion of any woman using a speculum – right into the 1970s and 1980s!

      It’s a long read, but well worth it!

  2. I actually did mention it (not sure where or how long ago, it’s come up a few times). It was generally as advice for bringing this topic up with a man. That some men tend to argue about this type of situation and I said to try saying “What if someone were to try getting aggressively gay with you?” You could always add in “aggressively fag-out on you” instead, but the point is made extremely clear. Making the point that “properties don’t change by designation- just like if a doctor poisons someone with a needle, it’s still murder” tends to be very clarifying.

    There can be problems with trying to discuss things like this with both men & women, but more with men. I think a lot of guys have kind of a list of things that are in the category of “problems” or “attacks,” and get a little like they would if someone was telling them that the sky wasn’t blue. Of course, these arguments are basically arguing that what happens is NOT what occurs.

    Also I mentioned, on the subject of this being directed at someone by other of the same sex, that no one would say that what those priests did to those young boys or that whatever happens between two guys in a prison cell is okay because they were both male. Again, something that clears away the fog pretty quick.

    Same with gratification arguments. People saying things like “they wouldn’t be getting any gratification from it” is not only a little presumptuous, it’s also not really the whole point. If a woman runs another woman over with her car, that’s an attack- regardless of the fact that she’s got a similar anatomical configuration, that the vehicle is not designated a weapon on its own, or whether she derives ANY gratification at all. Gratification would only be an accentuating factor, anyway.

    Don’t mean to come off defensive, just figured that I’d re-post some of that stuff so you could see it.

    • Also, in answer to your question: I think that people figure that they can do whatever they decide if they somehow attach it as a rider to “saving lives.” It seems all someone has to do is say that they were trying to save someone’s life & it’s like some people just instantly lose sight of the fact that they attacked them.

    • As for the push for men to screen for prostate cancer, I witnessed this lately. I was listening to a radio show where a man was pushing for men to get PSA testings regularly. No mention of digital rectal exam (DRE) which many men find uncomfortable and unacceptable. The PSA level itself is not useful unless changes are noted over time. Also this person failed to mention the risks of prostate cancer treatment as do most of these programmes promoting men’s cancer screenings. Prostate treatment has a very high risk of men never being able to have a natural erection again and even urinary incontinience. Some studies showed that many prostate cancers would never kill a man during his lifetime so the risks of treatment were not worth it. Are these risks being discussed with men as informed consent?

      • I saw something like that when I was watching NCIS a while back. It was a German doctor talking about how much of an issue it is for the doctor to do exams like that & someone should disregard their own issue with it (being as it’s apparently much smaller for them). The tactics of trying to present a situation in a marginalized way & guilt trips (for being so disregardive of the doctor’s problems by focusing on your own- how mean).

        Disregarding any utility issues or risks of overtreatment, of course. Never mind that there’s a pretty serious conflict of interest with medical advertising in the first place & that one can always wind up in a situation where they cause problems- whether through antagonism or incompetence.

  3. Hi. Of all the articles I have read here regarding the treatment of women this is the most harrowing. My blood boils for the victims. Their legacy to us is to become more vocal more forcefull doing everything we can to change the lives of women and girls today and tomorrow. It is up to us and only a few others. Show this article to as many as you can, email the link to all your friends and family – spread the word. Let this be our ‘awareness’ week.
    Take to writing articles and submittkng them to magazines, create web pages highlighting what gynology really is. Engage strangers in conversation about it. Get active in some way and start saving lives.

    Also, I know articles like this make us angry but lets not start saying things like it should be done to the men, see how they would like it. Because some men did this and invented that, doesn’t mean all men would. My husband is just as angry about our situation as we are. He certainly wouldn,t condone it. It should be about making life better for ‘all’ of us.

  4. I meant to mention: I love this article, and I am really glad that Henrietta Lacks was mentioned here. The medical industry profited off her cells to the tune of billions of dollars, and meanwhile her family didn’t even have the money to get her a headstone.

    There have been a number of other lawsuits about genetic material/etc. being taken and used without the individual’s consent. Very disturbingly, the courts have actually upheld that anything removed from a person during surgery, etc. is “medical waste” and may be used, studied, gene mapped, et al without the person’s knowledge, consent or compensation.

    • Hi Diane. I had never heard of Henrietta Lacks until now. I think the statue to this Sims should be taken down at once. I’m suprised it hasn’t been already.

      • Hi Linda – There was a really highly regarded nonfiction book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” that came out a few years ago. I think it was the first time mot people had heard of her. I know that was the case for me. The author did an amazing in-depth study of Lacks and the theft of her cells. Among other things it was pointed out that Lacks’ family wasn’t even informed the cells had been harvested or grown. They only found out like 20 years later when a reporter called to ask them about the HeLa cell line, IIRC.

        And I totally agree. That statue of Sims needs to be removed and smashed to bits.

  5. I really hate the idea that a “woman” doesn’t become a “woman” until she has had a pelvic exam. I’ve heard this saying many times and it makes me sick. It’s like, so, I can be a married woman whom her husband has been the only one to touch her “there”, but I’m not a “woman” until and stranger puts his or her hands there? No, thanks! So, basically, unless a woman is raped, then she is not a woman? That’s ridiculous!

    I was on a website where a woman was complaining that her friend was in her 40’s and had never had a pelvic exam. Another woman commented and said “well, she has missed a rite of passage into womanhood!” The degree of brainwashing is astounding!

    • This is a little like saying a man not getting something stuck up his ass in prison missed a rite of passage into manhood.

      Actually, there was a book on that I was reading: Birth as an American Rite of Passage by Robbie Davis-Flyod.

      It’s a mistake to believe that serious things wouldn’t be swayed by “frivilous” or “petty” things. It works for multi-million dollar business deals, war strategies, or legislative actions- why not medical situations.

  6. I wanted to share an article on Outpatient Surgery Magazine (–07-01-15) about a lady who was bullied into signing consent form. She had repeatedly stated she did not want a hysterectomy. This case proves why it is important to have a personal advocate such as your spouse present during surgeries to make sure your wishes are honored once you are under anesthesia. It is encouraging that fathers are often allowed to be present for C-Sections. It should be no different for other surgeries. You can easily be abused under anesthesia.


    • That’s pretty fucked-up. “Well, just sign the consent form for the surgery that you refuse.” If someone was ordering steak & the idiot waitress kept saying “So, chicken?” that wouldn’t be seen as acceptable conduct. It would be seen as sub-par & frankly, a little odd.

      Also, this surgery that this doctor is harping on can simply be done at a later date. Why the intensity?

      My guess: She either wants to have a choice in whether she cuts someone’s organs out or she’s getting paid extra if she does this kind of surgery. Maybe it could be some kind of subconscious bullshit, but I figure it’s one of those two.

      • if a person is willing to do something & knows the other person doesnt want it that makes them a person who is willing to do whatever itis & whatever is necessary to accomplish it including in this case seeing vagina i guess, (although they may not go through there for that surgery) cutting through flesh leaving scar etc all without consent:a bad person
        , & upon being charged to have commited the crime of involuntary surgery should be charged also with “invasion of privacy” (medical) rape as defined by non concentual “penatration” of a body orifice, invasion of personal space, assault, theft of money, (genital) mutilation(, pain), abuse of trust, emotional stress etc

  7. Especially sickening is the amount of male medical students who want to specialise in obgyn. When questioned why would anyone choose to be an “expert” in something they have no idea about how it feels, they often say that gynecology and obstetrics is a very attractive because field they get to do a lot of procedures and surgeries, combined with psychiatry and daily consultations. Plus it also means dealing with generally younger and more pliable patients.

    Unfortunately, pregnant women and women desperate to get birth control to avoid an unwanted pregnancy are very easy targets, and indeed are generally younger and pliable. And doctors know it! And, of course, the doctors won’t miss any opportunity to invent a reason to perform a “procedure”, be it a pap smear, colposcopy, pelvic exam or a useless, harmful surgery. That’s why there are no poor obgyn doctors: waiting rooms are fol of brainwashed women who think they will drop dead if they won’t let doctors to rape them every year or two.

    It is psychologically much easier to inflict pain and torture the organs the male doctor doesn’t have. It wouldn’t be so easy for a male doctor to butcher another man’s “jewels” on an everyday basis, especially when they know that the butchery is totally unnecessary, has no health benefits, and definitely doesn’t “save lives”.

    That’s how, well into 21 century, we still hear the bull$hit like “pap smears save lives”, “cervix doesn’t have nerve endings”, “women don’t need anesthesia for gynecological biopsies because they are meant to have babies and must be fine with pain”, “cervical biopsy is a simple, painless procedure”… Of course it is painless, because the male author of the medical book/guideline said so. He surely knows how it feels.

    Medicine is still overwhelmingly run by men, that’s why women are constantly told how they should feel. The patriarchs of medicine know better.

  8. Going to sound somewhat dramatic, but I figure medicine is run by monsters- not men. At least in this country.

  9. 1 Oct 2015: women can get BC pills from pharmacists in California, 1 January 2016 for Oregon women. Articles talk about BP check and United States Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (this is where the “dr ‘require’ pap” comes from (, but also being doctor-free. I don’t see pharmacies requiring more than a yes/no q&a considering they are NOT being reimbursed for time/tests/exams/vaccines (that’s why they advertise “$35 sports physical, no insurance”). I’m also reading mixed answers on whether or not insurance will still cover the pills. IMO, they should either cover the pills completely or make pills as cheap as condoms.
    One thing all articles are saying: all eyes are on California to see what happens. Sorry for any typos, on phone.

  10. I just read some click-bait article about how Indonesian women are forced to undergo humiliating “virginity tests” to enroll in the army. The comments section was, thankfully, short, but full of crap like “what do you expect from a backward third world country” and “we should just drone them!” etc. Of course the practice is barbaric, but it’s amazing how quick we are to recognize the violence when it is not filtered through the authoritative language we are used to. Of course we do almost exactly the same thing, only using the thin veneer (and growing ever thinner) of medical legitimacy to rationalize the direct, physical violation of women as a prerequisite for birth control. Only difference is at least more powerful countries have denounced the Indonesian practice as being against basic human rights agreements that Indonesia has agreed to. Here, there is no higher power to name the heresy.

  11. This is an excellent web site and I realize that this it is geared toward how women are treated in the healthcare system. PLEASE remember that the issue is NOT men abusing women, it is PROVIDERS (physicians, nurses, etc.) abusing PATIENTS. This site focuses on how women are abused.

    Men are EQUALLY abused in healthcare. The dirty little secret is that the double standard to discriminate (and abuse) males is taught in the formal medical curriculum:

    “Genitalia: Boys always; girls when indicated (e.g. all sexually active girls and those with any symptomatology) should have an external inspection and an internal pelvic examination. Desirably, all adolescent girls should have pelvic examination at some time as a matter of routine.” Hofmann, A and Greydanus, DE; Adolescent Medicine, 2nd Edition, 1989.

    Women can abuse too: Dr. Twana Sparks, an ENT who [sexually] abused (male) patients in front of other medical personnel and is still practicing (, AND the $500,000 verdict against anesthesiologist Tiffany M. Ingham who verbally abused a (male) patient in front of other medical personnel (

    There is NO argument that physicians abuse nurses, but look at how female nurses treat other female nurses:

    As to healthcare’s shameful past (it is NOT just gynecology): Did you know physicians had been the largest professional group to join the SS? (source:

    We do not need to look to the past either, let us look at current events (July 2015); A new report finds that the American Psychological Association gave federal officials what they wanted when it came to torture: an ethical policy that aligned with government interrogation techniques. The APA has issued an apology and said it will ban psychologists from participating directly in interrogations.

    What did this lead to? Rectal feedings of prisoners. (

    Healthcare WANTS patients divided. We need to be united! Again, it is NOT men abusing women, it is PROVIDERS (physicians, nurses, etc.) abusing PATIENTS.

    Archie B.

    • “Men are EQUALLY abused in healthcare”.
      There’s no doubt men experience violation and mistreatment within medicine, but not on the same scale as women. This blog has accounts from hundreds of women who have been exposed to unmistakable gendered abuse by medical practitioners – the surveillance of reproductive cancers (‘bikini’ medicine), childbirth abuse, and dismissive attitudes towards women, sexual abuse and withholding healthcare…

      “Women can abuse too”.
      Yes women can and do, however they are in the minority. You only need to look at worldwide stats, in almost every nation of the world, all the evidence points to men enacting violence against women and men. It doesn’t matter how many times you yell in capitals, it won’t change the fact that men do the majority of harm.

      “Again, it is NOT men abusing women, it is PROVIDERS (physicians, nurses, etc.) abusing PATIENTS”.
      The medical systems of oppression and abuse you refer to are part of a patriarchal hegemony. This is not something women have constructed; women work within it, but most women don’t benefit from it (rape culture, the pay gap, unpaid domestic work, anti choice politics). Like any oppressed group, there will always be women who don’t question the hierarchical sex class they’re placed in, though just because it’s mainstreamed doesn’t make it fair.

      • Si,
        Every patient is abused! Please do not minimize any abuse. As I noted, THIS SITE focuses on WOMEN’s issues in healthcare. Just because this site does not mention abuses of men, does mean that they do not occur.

        The majority of nurses are STILL women, physicians are almost 50/50. I presented references which you seemingly ignore and replace with misandry. The reason that men may appear to be less abused is because we opt out of abusive healthcare settings ( and would rather face a slow, agonizing death.

        Looking at world wide statistics, a significant portion of the abuse that women can be attributed to 2 factors; First men tend to be soldiers in conflict and get killed. Women tend to be more (forgive this term, I do not use it to marginalize anyone) collateral damage, hence survive to live a very visible life shaped by trauma.

        The second factor is certain religions make women second class human beings. One might argue that the elimination of religion would do more for the status of women. This is further illustrated to women’s positions in society in communist governments.

        If you want to get technical, the most downtrodden and abused group world wide (and in healthcare) are children.

        What you are doing to the abuse that men have suffered is no different than that of Representative Todd Akin of Missouri. I believe that this is not the view or the tone that this web site has. Compassion, just like the truth AND human rights MUST be equal for ALL!

        Archie B

    • Archie B.
      I’ve seen Bernstein’s blog, seen your many posts, and I recall you’d posted many thoughtful and well-reasoned comments. That said, overall, I found that blog to be not much more than an apologist for the status quo, a place mainly occupied by and dominated by male concerns, and a place that didn’t feel safe or welcoming. I stopped wasting my time visiting it long ago.

      So, moving on. I completely agree with Si and couldn’t disagree with you more. Your opening comments say a lot that is telling ….

      “I realize that this it is geared toward how women are treated in the healthcare system. PLEASE remember that the issue is NOT men abusing women, it is PROVIDERS (physicians, nurses, etc.) abusing PATIENTS. This site focuses on how women are abused.”

      For me, this rings of someone totally out of touch with the evidence. You can cherry pick examples of men being abused – and those instances matter and are deplorable – but to actually state that men are “equally” abused is to be uninformed or willfully blind to the facts. I’m really hoping that you don’t take a similar position in stating that men are equally victimized by domestic violence; that men are equally victimized by rape? I read too many ridiculous posts on Bernstein’s blog that were slanted in that direction to ever waste my time going back. If you are bringing that uneducated, inaccurate and unhelpful perspective here – no matter how politely cloaked – then I suggest you stick with the other blog and not come back.

  12. A Banterings:
    “The reason that men may appear to be less abused is because we opt out of abusive healthcare settings and would rather face a slow, agonizing death”.
    So some men don’t go to the doctor, maybe they should, especially if there is a more serious concern. The idiom ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ might apply here, medicine can and does save lives.
    Discrimination towards women as patients happens, not only by overtreatment in reproductive health care. Many women on this blog have tried to access medical treatment and our concerns have not been addressed because the doctor is more interested in our reproductive bits, not the reason we came for. Also life threatening ailments can sometimes be overlooked because of gender bias, women are just not taken as seriously as men, women’s health concerns can be written off as emotional ‘it’s just stress dear’.

    “The majority of nurses are STILL women, physicians are almost 50/50”.
    Gender inequality within medical the profession still exists, 29.5% are male senior consultants to 10.9% women. Generally it’s still men that hold the balance of power when it comes to medical decision-making, not nurses.

    “Looking at world wide statistics, a significant portion of the abuse that women can be attributed to 2 factors; First men tend to be soldiers in conflict and get killed. Women tend to be more (forgive this term, I do not use it to marginalize anyone) collateral damage, hence survive to live a very visible life shaped by trauma”.
    War is not good for anyone. The military, conscription, all designed and implemented by men, remember the patriarchy. Women who do want to join the military have to fight essentialist stereotypes, and sexual harassment to be accepted as soldiers. Yes men are not the only victims of war; civilian women and children are also causalities.
    You accuse me of misandry and yet you reduce women to “collateral damage” during wartime, and claim that women “survive to live a very visible life shaped by trauma”. Wow!

    “If you want to get technical, the most downtrodden and abused group world wide (and in healthcare) are children”.
    Yes children suffer too; both girls and boys are negatively affected under patriarchy. Girl children especially suffer, in some countries girls don’t go to school when they start their periods, because they lack access to sanitary products. Girls as young as 8 are forced into marriage to much older husbands, and girls as young as 12 are cruelly injured in childbirth because their bodies are too immature to give birth.

    There is a genuine problem with global violence against women and girls, this has been acknowledged by governments and NGO’s all over the world. This is not some hack feminist conspiracy; violence against women is a real thing.

    “Violence against women is one of the most widespread human rights abuses. Every day, thousands of women and girls are abused and murdered by their families, raped in armed conflicts and attacked for defending women’s rights.”

    “As I noted, THIS SITE focuses on WOMEN’s issues in healthcare. Just because this site does not mention abuses of men, does mean that they do not occur.”
    “What you are doing to the abuse that men have suffered is no different than that of Representative Todd Akin of Missouri. I believe that this is not the view or the tone that this web site has.”
    You are right, this site is for women it’s in the name, ‘for women’s eyes only’, we are discussing issues that effect women, and many women come here for validation and support. I don’t quite get the comparison to a republican misogynist though. I’m really not interested in an MRA that has taken it upon himself to chastise us for for not including ‘teh menz’, there are plenty of other bioethical sites you can go rant on.

  13. I NEVER DENIED THAT WOMEN SUFFER VIOLENCE. You on the other hand solely blame men of perpetrating the violence both in healthcare and the world and deny that men suffer any abuses because they are not mentioned here.

    As for “collateral damage” obviously you have NOT read the disclaimer: “forgive this term, I do not use it to marginalize anyone” which by the way is a technical term used in war-related calculations.

    Just as Representative Todd Akin of Missouri marginalized violence against women, YOU marginalize abuse against men.

    I am NOT chastising you or anyone for for not including ‘teh menz,’ (moderated: comment deleted)

    “…not some hack feminist conspiracy; violence against women is a real thing.”

    YOU PUT WORDS IN MY MOUTH! AGAIN, I NEVER DENIED THAT WOMEN SUFFER VIOLENCE! You can NOT even see what I am saying simply because I am male.

    Until you see the problem is healthcare and NOT men, you are never going to solve this problem. (moderated: comment deleted) I will NOT address any more of your comments!

  14. Maybe I just skimmed too much, but what is the argument about? Really- it seems that A.Banterings & Si are more or less loudly agreeing with each other & A.Banterings is getting madder & madder.

    Women ARE typically targeted more than men. Males being attacked medically happens, but there is more of an eye-to-eye mentality with men. Probably because males are more volatile (at least in the sense of impulsively breaking a skull) & that the medical profession IS something of a boys-club with a boys-club “heritage.”

    The issue isn’t men, per se- but there is a mentality that is somewhat more typical to men that even gets passed along to women in these professions (if they weren’t simply cut from the same cloth to begin with). I personally blame a lack of vicious responses. Read “vicious” to mean more like “POW camp” than “street fight.”

    P.S.- I am a man without being any of the metro-sexual cliche traits that honestly DO seem to typically come along with- well, being something other than an enemy to women (in this part of the world).

      • Is it because odds are so much worse against women? I get that, I just thought that he was saying it happens equally IF it happens. Kind of like someone gets shot as much as they get shot.

        To be honest, I’ve started wondering if it’s “women” or “women as an easy target” with all the dictatorial bullshit & general attack. It certainly seems like there’s people that go after whatever is easy & try to run those people’s lives. That drive to . It could be children, women, old people, a strong man in handcuffs- anything. I think it frequently IS women, I just wonder sometimes why it’s women.

        I get that the “deck is stacked” against women, but I don’t think that any of the “isms” (racism, sexism, etc…) really HAVE to include a capacity to use infrastructure against those they dislike. It’s the alignment that is the point in a reference of alignment- not conduct, but the way someone’s “stance” is. The conduct would be “racistly hostile conduct” or some such.

        For instance: Someone can still BE racist, even when they don’t have any bullets in the gun to shoot that other person with. I maintain that someone is still woman-hating or sexist or whatever, even if he’s not physically able to kick the shit out of her.

        An interesting side-point that doesn’t TOTALLY relate to this that I’d like to make is that sometimes the “oppressed” can just this infrastructure against people. In Europe, apparently, racial & religious persecution is the “card” pulled when other people basically don’t do as they say. Giving them benefits, building what they’d like to go into, rearranging the culture to match theirs, whatever it is. There’s always some indignant bullshit about oppressing them.

        Is it because they ARE that race or religion & aren’t getting what they want? Like it being “racist” against dogs if you pried one’s jaws off of your leg. Yeah, sure- SOME don’t seem to act that way, but why should the ones that do enjoy that reputation.

    • I am not angry at all. I have let go of my anger a very long time ago. It just bothers me when ANYONE’S suffering is minimized…

  15. A. Banterings: Some things you might want to look into:

    (1) Lars G. Petersson. Various books, but he gets into abuse in the military.

    Medical Patient Modesty (both a poster on here & a separate website) mentions abuses toward males plenty.

    It’s not real common, but references to these things ARE out there.

  16. Alex,

    I know Lars and we correspond when he gets time with his latest humanitarian project in London.

    I also correspond with Misty.

    Look at what Si said:

    “…please do some reading on feminism, and maybe you might ‘get’ why we are so tired of men like A Banterings…”

    My comments are edited but this is allowed????

    I have advocated for ALL patients and refuse to have ANY abuses in healthcare marginalized. What this demonstrated is blaming and bashing of males.

    I am done with this web site. I understand that the focus was on women’s treatment by providers, but I did not realize that it was at the expense of ALL men.

    • I don’t know what you were saying that got edited, but I think it hits a nerve that you were saying it’s not a men abusing women situation & is a providers abusing patients situation. See, it’s not JUST providers abusing patients- it’s an avenue for males to get pushy & start shit with females (of various ages, mind you).

      I don’t think it’s innate for men to be enemies to women, so I tend to disagree with the idea that some people (male & female) have- that men are all “predatory” & just control it to various degrees. It was never restraint or restriction for me to not rape or otherwise torture women. Or other dudes, for that matter- sometimes fights go in twisted ways, depending on the situation.

      As for it being MORE LIKELY to be from a man, I absolutely believe that. It’s not right to marginalize the fact of sexism or gender-based hostility in something that takes place a medical setting. Just like if people from the various tribes in America got medically sterilized, it would be inaccurate to ignore the racially-based hostility there (something that continued into the 1960s, at least).

  17. One last thing, the most vocal attacker of women’s reproductive rights, and someone who believes that women have no choice in their reproductive healthcare choices is Dr. Amy Tuteur. Read her blog, “The Skeptical OB” ( and see who abuses women in healthcare….

    • Her blog is absolutely ignorant. Of course herbalists and midwives can make mistakes in judgements. Medical doctors do ALL THE TIME and so do not even care. The problem is more about the whole medical system for profit that is so harmful. Midwives where I live (Ontario) are highly regulated and not allowed to care for women who have certain conditions so yes the mother really does not have choice but then neither do the midwives if they want to practice.

      I would agree that men as also abused by the medical system as well and women and children. There are several websites around that have been put to people’s attention here about the abuse of infant circumcision. If you are really feeling frustrated why don’t you make your own website?

      • They say ONE person can’t make a difference, I disagree, they can and do…over time you reach like-minded people, often those who’ve been silenced by the system. I know many women have felt unable to speak frankly about cancer screening and bad experiences, you sense the flood gates opening when they find themselves in like-minded company, even if that’s only one woman and it pours out…
        I recently spoke to a woman online who was OVER-joyed to hear her inner voice was right all along. She’ll go through a healing process too, it might be rage initially, then hopefully, a desire to help and empower other women.

  18. Thanks for your sharing. Both articles are very interested in women’s issues. I really like the sentence: “The root of several modern-day problems – including the widespread medicalization of the female body – can be identified by looking back into history”. I’ll share this article extensively.

    • Elizabeth you are so right, and it’s all thanks to women like you and Linda that women like me are reached and in turn spread the word.
      I recently had the smear discussion with my 19 year old daughter who at first reacted with horror I refused but she did her research and agreed that heart disease killed more women than cc.
      Whether she screens later is her decision but at least she has the facts
      She’s also relieved she never had the cc jab ( she has her own medical problems.. Arthritis she was diagnosed at9. Years of age!!
      Thanks again…

      • Kat
        I’m not surprised at your daughter’s reaction, we don’t hear about choice when it comes to pap testing or mammograms, it’s all “should” and “must”…so many/most women think it’s a must (or even compulsory) or if you refuse you’re being silly, foolish, reckless etc.
        Women (and doctors) need to hear that some women choose not to have cancer screening. It IS a choice, whether they want us to see that or not.
        Sorry to hear about the arthritis, I hope she can find ways to get relief and it’s not too disruptive to her life.

      • Thanks Elizabeth!! My daughter is a star she very rarely complains and on the whole her condition stays stable. She manages with less meds than she’s allowed so if she does flare she’s got something in reserve to hit it with.
        But I darent of risked getting her the cc jab and I’m glad I didn’t. She would have been one of the first cohort to go through it and I didn’t want her to be a guinea pig. It seemed the jab came out of no where marketed as cc cure!! Then it emerged they would still “need ” smears. Then it wasn’t life long protection (so what’s the point of having it?)
        Now they’re arguing over how many doses and stories emerging of awful side effects. Of course we don’t know if vaccinated girls will develop more problems later in life!!

      • Kat, I was very unhappy when the HPV vaccine came out, but my daughter insisted that she wanted it and dutifully went along to all 3 jabs. Now they are saying only 2 are necessary. You are right, I remember at the time it was sold to girls as a “vaccine against cancer”, was “a life saver”, and a no brainer not to have it. 12 year olds could hardly know they were being treated as guinea pigs in this experiment, and would be expected to still have to undergo smears, in reality, for monitoring the effectiveness of the vaccine more than for their health. I remember the leaflet given to girls told them that “screening was still essential”. I wrote to the NHS to complain about this, but got no reply.
        So now they are saying that HPV can lie dormant and re-appear in later life, so it looks like they have infected our children with a potentially dangerous virus that could re-emerge and cause them problems in old age. If you complain you are simply told, that having regular pap tests until old age would prevent that. Like your daughter, mine has about 5 years to go before the summons to the programme. I want to do all I can now to make sure that doesn’t occur.

      • @adawells
        Regarding the vaccine, if it is what they are telling us, if shouldn’t infect anyone, because the story goes that they are not using the real virus, more like something that mimics the virus and causes the body to respond with immunity.

        The thing that bugs me however, is that with all the vaccine hype, they are still trying to push the “dormant HPV” theory.
        It is either one, or another. Either our body is able to fight the virus and develop immunity against it (and therefore, the virus can’t go dormant), or the vaccine offers very little protection. That’s why there are no life-long, 100% effective vaccines against the viruses that can lie dormant, like herpes. These vaccines tend to wear out over time, and often don’t prevent the infection, but rather just soften the symptoms and reduce complications.

  19. I keep wondering where government employees & medical personnel got so willful? Why do people spoil them so much?

    I really think (and I know this sounds a bit tyrannical ) that if you don’t like their alignment on something, you can just replace it with your own. “Oh, that’s a requisite? You’re requisite is cancelled.”

    The idea that these things have to be changed from the inside is nonsense. It DOES sound really “cloak & dagger,” but as cool as some of the spy shit is- it’s not the only way to go about doing things. If nothing else, I’d think it would give them a good jolt & might even have a “jedi mind trick” effect. They’d potentially be less likely to try pushing around someone that’s easily as arrogant as them & totally self-serving.

    Doesn’t really have to look crazy, either- if they make a claim like that, you’d just state that this exists for you & as such you call the shots. You’re in complete command of your service, basically. Maybe comes off as exceedingly arrogant & maybe other people argue, but it just comes off “misinformed” or like you drew some inaccurate conclusions about the situation.

    You don’t need to think that way, you’re just carrying yourself in a “tsarist” manner for effect & covering for yourself at need.

    • Thanks Ada!! My daughter was virtually the only girl in her school cohort who didn’t have the jabs and I remember I had to state on the form why I didn’t want it done well as I said above my girl is no one’s guinea pig and we didn’t know how the jab would affect her arthritis coz jab is so new and I was concerned as to its safety. I’m so glad I refused.
      I’ve had the chat about smear with my daughter, she’s read up on it. At least our girls will have the true facts to weigh up..

  20. Hi Kat. I try to do my bit and spread the word to women but i have done nothing in comparison to Eliz. Shd has been avtively spreading the message for years. Well begore i was aware of the argumrnts surrounding cancer screening. I can not begin to imagine how many women she has saved because of her tireless efforts to inform women. There is not a forum in existencd that shd has not been on. Ada as well. I go on a few forums here and there but thd problem is when i register and comment it invariable comes up what i gave said and done. My husband is not always happy with me doing all of this as hd sees no sense in it only that i might cause trouble for myself so i try to hide my internet activities as best i can. I can not take any credit for rescuing you it was all eliz, who i credit with rescuing me because i was reading her stuff on other sites before i joined this one. I just got you on the tight day like it was karma or something.

    • Why wouldn’t your husband get that you want to work against these situations? At the very least, it’s good for knocking things of course that are directed toward other people & future generations. I’d imagine there’s kind of a rightful vengence thing going on, too.

      Why wouldn’t he get that? I’d think he’d be pretty pissed after hearing everything from you.

  21. Hi Alex. Yes you think John would be glad i’ve taken control our health. He doesn’t totally get why i would want to go on about things all the time. He thinks ‘ok she’s not doing those anymore. Move on’

  22. I read that Marion Sims also inserted a shoemaker’s tool into the skull of slave infants in an attempt to correct facial bone deformities. Of course the babies died, and he would perform autopsies on them. Can you imagine the nightmare these women lived in?!

  23. So heartbreaking. Mental Health (my profession) has a horrible history like this as well. Unfortunately the roots of some of this remain in contemporary medical model based practices.

  24. Hi ladies,

    Just thought you’d enjoy this update:

    The statue of Marion Sims has been taken down from Central Park, NYC. Rejoice!!

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