Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Bad Girl, Bad Girl.

By Wendythomas @wendyenthomas
Bad girl, bad girl.

I made earlier reference to the culture of misogyny in breast cancer. This is one of the things that really surprised me, after all, you’d think that a field of medicine dedicated to women’s health would be, well, empowering of women and their choices. 

Nope. Not at all. 

Oh sure, they pretend to be pro-women – there’s an awful lot of pink everywhere, but personal empowerment? No, they want you to be a good girl – shut up and don’t question anything. 

My first few (and not last) experiences with this started at the breast clinic. After an examination, the doc sent me to get a mammogram. 

The mammogram technician apparently found it impossible to talk to me without using a baby voice. Apparently if they suspect cancer, you lose all identity as an adult woman with any kind of autonomy. In their eyes you become a child, someone for whom others must make any ongoing decisions. 

I addressed the tech and told her that I was fine, she didn’t need to coddle me or treat me like a baby. 

She took umbrage and the temperature in the room quickly plummeted. 

Good girls do not push back, they behave. 

At the same clinic, after I got the call from the doc confirming my biopsy report that I did indeed have cancer, I was transferred to the nurse to answer any questions. 

“Is there anything I can do for you?” She asked me. 

“Yes, I said, just don’t give me any of those fucking pink ribbons.”

She said “What?” 

And I replied, “don’t give me any of those stupid pink ribbons.” 

Later in my medical notes she wrote “patient used inappropriate language and once I redirected her, she was appropriate.” 

Jesus Christ, I had just been told I had cancer – my entire life had just been changed with one phone call – did she want me to express rainbow and lollipop platitudes? 

I mentioned this episode to my primary doc (whom I truly respect and who is male) and he said that women are the worst when it comes to belittling other women. That they had taken a page from male behavior and that saying patients behaved “inappropriately” is the new “hysteria of yore.”

He said he sees it over and over.

Men are allowed to swear, in fact if my husband had gotten a cancer diagnosis and said “what the fuck?” I’m sure that no one would have blinked. 

But women? Delicate compliant good girl flowers must toe the line. 

By branding me as an inappropriate patient, there was now a red flag in my record. 

This one is not a good girl, she’s an angry bitch. Look out for her.

I have seen this so many times before. I’m a writer. I use language to express myself. I have been called out mostly BY WOMEN for my “inappropriate” language. Often these women are hypocrites who use the same language, but “WENDY USED IT!” It’s an easy way to align yourself with the male culture and to acceptably attack other women.


But here’s the thing, when I’m angry, or frustrated, or want to make a point, I swear – it’s the right thing for me to say at the right moment. Get the fuck over it. 

I should have left that clinic that day, but I didn’t know. I didn’t know how manipulative they were. I didn’t realize that I was bumping up against a male culture in women’s health care.  (spoiler alert: I soon learned and eventually did leave – thank God.) 

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