Sunday, June 15, 2008

"First, do no harm."

("You might feel a little prick.")

Right, so, Lina has the backstory on this one, here and now here. Very short version: there's this...person? calling himself "Dr. Crippen," who apparently took exception to a woman posting on her own small blog about her own traumatic medical experience. Specifically, that she likened it to "rape," was questioning whether it could be called know, basically starting to process this traumatic experience. On her blog. Not, we note, threatening lawsuit against the good online Doctor here, or indeed anyone else (that I'm aware of). (Attention, please: this is important). See the posts at Lina's for the details.

Back? So, as we see, the gist of boyo's feckin' problem is that he is Offended that the woman is likening her traumatic experience of having someone, a doctor, in this case, painfully pushing foreign objects into an orifice and ignoring her pleas to for him to stop, to "real" rape. Or, well...then again, as it turns out, who knows: perhaps Crippen would also take exception to someone's personal, painful account of that other, "real" rape experience, you know, assuming any other "real" rape survivor or indeed anyone else at -all- asked his damn opinion about her own personal shit in the damn first place (which no one has). Viddy:

(ain't hyperlinking, he can get his damn technorati boost and/or find his way back here to whine by some other means)

Imagine a large, well-furnished room. It is well lit, with no windows. It is soundproof. A psychological experiment is to be conducted. John, a twenty-one year old man, and Mary, a nineteen year old woman, are placed in the room and the door is closed. Eight hours later, the door is opened and John and Mary are interviewed separately and asked to describe what happened during the eight hours in the room. They both give honest and plausible accounts. At least, you think they are both honest but there is a problem. Their accounts are completely different. How do you establish who is telling the truth?

It is not possible.

Change the scenario a little. The room becomes a student bedsitter in a University Hall of Residence. John and Mary voluntarily enter the room together late at night after a party. They have both been drinking. The next morning, Mary leaves the room in tears and tells a friend that John made her have sex against her will. The friend calls the police. John is arrested. John agrees that they had sex, but says it was consensual. How do you establish who is telling the truth?

It is not possible.

blahblah some stuff wherein he sounds nominally sympathetic to the difficulty of securing a rape conviction in the UK, with stats, but including another slam at the woman first referred to here with yet another insistence that SHE at any rate did NOT experience REAL rape, NO. (Trust him: he's a Doctor). He winds up with:

Sometimes, men get a very raw deal indeed.

It is not deemed politically correct to put the case of the male “victims”** of rape and so it was good to see a courageous article by an American psychologist putting just such a case. The article is courageous because she is female...

(quel shock, it's Dr. Helen Smith. tangentially, is there such a thing as a person who unironically insists on being referred to by hir doctorly honorific at all times who -isn't- a total choad? anyway:)

**(of course, here he means -not- actual male rape victims, without scare quotes, as in, men who have been raped, yes, Vern, it does happen, really; he means, of course, men who have their career and lives destroyed by false accusations).

...You get the idea. We are in, short, in rather drearily familiar territory.

--Oh, and he's also concerned about giving "real feminists" a bad name, is this Dr. Doctor (PhD) person. (From such concern, I am verklempt, overall, really). Which, another tangent, tickles me, because, you know what? The person he's currently targeting is someone with whom I am not exactly BFF; is, in fact, a radical/cultural feminist of the sort that I'm rather notorious for snarking at/about, and while I don't know that I've directly tangled with this person so much, I've certainly taken rather strong exception to things she's said, in public, in comments variously, if not an actual entry (too lazy to check). Who, I'm pretty sure, does not consider me a "real" feminist at all, albeit for entirely different reasons than The Doctorly Doctor who is a Doctor (and is also a Doctor). It doesn't matter, see.

Point is, I am not writing this post because we are BFF's forever, this woman and me, or suddenly in synch politically, or even feminist sisterly solidarity as such. I am writing this because some shit is beyond the pale, and needs writing about. And because rampant misogyny, ableism and--yes! I agree with the author! rape apologists suck ass. As for my feminist creds, or the supposed harm I am doing to feminism by saying "hey, you know what? This guy is a sexist, hateful wankstain, and he's being a gratuitous, GIANT asshole to someone who didn't ask for it to boot"? Or anything else, as far as that goes:

"We value your opinion."

Anyway. Moving on.

So, let's just take Dr. Whosis' deep and abiding concern for the "real" victims, whomever they may be, as a given, for a moment. Let's look for just a moment at this idea that whereas forced penis-in-vagina (or other recognized as "sexual) penetration is "real" rape, this, for instance:

A woman who is raped while giving birth does not experience the assault in a way that fits neatly within the typical definitions we hold true in civilised society. A penis is usually nowhere to be found in the story and the perpetrator may not even possess one. But fingers, hands, suction cups, forceps, needles and scissors… these are the tools of birth rape and they are wielded with as much force and as little consent as if a stranger grabbed a passer-by off the street and tied her up before having his way with her. not true, is not in fact rape, this, no matter how "unpleasant" (in Dr. Thingie's term) the experience may be for the woman.

Well, trin has a good and thoughtful response to this:

When things go wrong in medical procedures -- particularly when the people giving them are inattentive or disrespectful -- the experience can be deeply violating.

I had some major surgeries that went terribly wrong, necessitating several emergency surgeries. Those surgeries, because they were emergency procedures, were not things to which I could meaningfully withdraw consent.

Was I raped? No, no I wasn't -- and the doctors had nothing in their hearts but the desire to help me. But it was an *intensely* violating series of experiences that contributed to PTSD that I have.

In therapy and other places, I used the word "rape" to describe them -- because they involved people cutting into and entering my body when I didn't want them there, fiddling around with my insides, and closing me back up.

I don't use that word now, because I don't know what sexual violation feels like. They're not the same thing. However, what I experienced *was* in many ways a deeply distressing series of violations, and I still call it *that*.

The fact is that for some people, certain medical procedures can be VERY invasive. Since ___ reports that the person giving the treatment *did not stop* even when she said she wanted to reschedule later with someone else, her words don't surprise me in the least.

And, while I realize that it may *sometimes* be impossible to allow someone to withdraw consent in the middle of a procedure for safety reasons (or so senseless not to give it, as it would have been if I'd refused those emergency surgeries, that nonconsent isn't a real option unless one is willing to die)... this does not sound like one of them to me. (If I'm mistaken, please let me know.) And if that is the case, well, there's a word for not stopping when someone says no, and being shocked at ___ using it misses the point entirely.

The point is that SHE SAID NO. At which point a responsible person would withdraw immediately, or do whatever is medically necessary and then withdraw.

...As I've said, I don't call what happened to me "rape" any more out of respect for people who have experienced something I haven't. But I will say that it was really freeing to me when I first named it that, because it meant I could actually CALL what happened to me violating, invasive, only-consensual-because-I-didn't-want-to-die...

a commenter:

Actually, having experienced both rape and invasive or penetrative medical procedures that were not being performed in a professional manner with appropriate care given to my concerns and my comfort, both physical and psychological, I DO use the word rape to describe the latter.

At least in part because I could damned well tell that the medical practitioners in question were ignoring my requests for some kind of change in what was happening to me - pausing for a little while so I catch my breath and recentre, stop and try another approach, etc - because they were in power and knew they could do whatever they wanted to me, and I couldn't do anything.

And so forth.

Ah, but: feelings. Subjectivity. "The personal is the political," That's the rub, isn't it, Crippen? So nebulous. So "postmodern," sez you (great, on top of everything else, be like nails on a blackboard to academics everywhere). I mean! It Could Go To Court! It could go to court, and some poor man's CAREER would be RUINED, (even if he didn't actually see the inside of a jail cell, ever), and that would be VERY BAD. At the very least, this is all DEEPLY OFFENSIVE (which is not, please note, about -feelings;- or at any rate, -your- feelings, which unlike everyone else's are Objectively Obvious and SRS BZNS):

You are missing the point. What you do not seem to understand is that categorising unpleasant medical experiences as rape degrades and demeans women who really have been raped. That is NOT to say that some woman have not had some appalling experiences during child birth. I know they have.

But it is still not rape. And categorising the whole of the medical profession as potential rapists is deeply offensive. It is an abuse of all that real feminists stand for. It is the lunatic fringe of feminism and serves only to bring ridicule.

Rape is a dreadful, dreadful experience for any woman. This sort of hyperbole is akin to people who misuse Nazi atrocities, or the Holocaust to make minor debating points.

Finally, why are most of you not even prepared to discuss the issues rationally?


(oh, goodie, we're on first name terms, at last). Well, John, it's like this: we can't discuss it rationally because we are all hysterical creatures who are in dire need of your sturdy, capable, professional hands to set our wandering wombs back on the correct path. Duh.

But just based on your post here,, where, above the "adversial legal systems" tag, you say,

The English common-law system, adopted by so many other countries, is adversarial. In all criminal trials there must be a “winner” and a “loser”. It is like a boxing match. The judge is the referee, there to ensure that the rules of the game are followed. The judges of fact are the jury, who must declare the "winner" making their decision on a “beyond all reasonable doubt” basis. Most members of the jury have probably had sexual experiences whilst under the influence of alcohol that they have later regretted. Mary may say she did not want to have sex with John, but she had been drinking heavily, and went back to his room consensually. The seeds of doubt are sown.

...What is the solution? Is there a way to achieve a fair result in rape cases? Can we ensure that women who come forward will be treated fairly and sympathetically and neither man nor woman will start at a disadvantage? I do not believe this will ever be possible with the English (American) common law adversarial systems...

much less comments like,

These women say they are traumatised. The near impossible job for the Law is to try and assertain if that is the case when often there are no independant witnesses or evidence.

We all do things we regret. We shouldn't expect the Law to sort things out for us afterwards.

Convictions for rape should be made on objective not subjective evidence.

...I'm going to go out on a limb and guess, again, that your real concern is not so much emotional or even semantic, but legal. Amirite?

Okies, but here's the thing, see: The woman whose post you fisked? And keep dragging up to make your points? Was not talking about legal shit.

She didn't threaten to put you, o Doctorly Doctor, on trial, nor indeed (so far as I know), any of your comradely professional comrades. She was talking on her personal blog about her personal trauma. You are not on trial here, and, even more to the point, neither is she; she is not required to -defend- herself to you, Random Asshole; she is not REQUIRED to call or -not- call what happened to her "rape" or "violation" or "unpleasant experience which is still traumatizing me years later and I need to talk about this please" or "Agnes," just because you, Professional Type Rational Mr. Dr. Doctorly Medical Professional PhD, Esq, Ass., PITA, STFU, don't like it. Really.

So, what, in short, the fuck is your gorram problem already?

Oh yeah: "offensive." And I guess this post here is just really REALLY offensive and hurtful, then. To you. And those who think like you. (Please note: unlike you, I am not assuming that most -real- Professional Medical Persons share your views on this). Oh, I feel just awful about it.

It'll pass.

And, yeah, you know...well, I can't be arsed to read John's blog there closely enough to determine whether "Dr. Crippen" is a (no doubt completely postmodern and ironical) nod to this Dr. (Hawley Harvey) Crippen, much less whether the first commenter on that "rape victim" post chiding him as "very naughty" is some kind of running gag allusion to this quaint little bit of doggerel:

Dr Crippen killed Belle Elmore
Ran away with Miss le Neve
Right across the ocean blue
Followed by Inspector Dew
Ship's ahoy, naughty boy!

...or if it's all just some grotesquely hilarious coincidence, or what.

In conclusion (and, no, I am -also- Not Bovvered that I am Getting Personal; this is not "slander," son, this is a flame. Can you say "flame?" I knew you could!!):

Fuck you, you whiny misogynist creepazoid ratfucker, with a rusty, unsterilized, very -dull- medieval medical instrument, in a hitherto unperforated body part of your choice. No kiss, no anesthetic, no reach-around.

And now, I must rinse.

ETA: Want a second opinion? Oh hay, here's another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another.


PhysioProf said...

This shit is just the Hugo Schwyzer syndrome taken to its fullest logical conclusion--teh menz know better what you wimminz should be thinkin', sayin', and doin'. As a man, it sickens the fuck out of me.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, except unlike Hugo, he's a right-wing--

oh, wait. Never mind.

belledame222 said...

but yeah, this one's more straightforward MRA-ish. also a total fucking waste of space.

Trinity said...

Right on, Belle. It's just... agh. And that she apparently had to shut down her blog due to trolls... well, doesn't surprise me given the comments over there, but how appalling. I can't imagine what it might be like to get trolled in response to, say, this out of the blue.

Which is exactly the sort of shit these people are pulling, and they need to cut it the fuck out already.

ThePoliticalCat said...

Nice. Nice, nice, nice. Kick 'em where it hurts, belledame, and be sure to put the boot in but good.

Caroline said...

You know, what pissed me off about him was when he said I missed his point. Um, no I didn't, I talked about it. It's just I wanted to talk about the way the whole thing was managed. Why can't you / we / feminists [can't remember] talk about this in a reasonable way? Cos I didn't stick to his agenda and I wanted to talk about how bloody dreadful the whole thing was?! Worst thing is, after I said "Fine, reasonable, let's go" he never came back. Mind, it's only been a day, shouldn't read anything into all that.
I don't know what he was thinking, you'd think he was the bloody doctor who dealt with Debs in the first place! I cannot see how, if he wants to talk about medical rape / abuse / bad obstetric care, why THAT was the right way to go about it!? Christ.

belledame222 said...

hey, welcome, TPC.

Lina: yeah, classic, really. Gee, bozo, if we all "missed your point," it -could- be that the fault lies at least partially with you, right? or, ooh, I know! it's "postmodern!" (sort of in the same way that "Cuttin Up Hookers" t-shirts are "postmodern," but what the fuck ever). Your words, your intention, they do not matter; what matters is the reading, yes? Yes. I mean, -be fair-. I mean, who's to say about these things, really...

belledame222 said...

Worst thing is, after I said "Fine, reasonable, let's go" he never came back.

-fails to see how this is a bad, all things considered-

(buk buk buk BUK buk buk buk BUK buk buk...)

Nick Kiddle said...

"Missing his point" here means approaching the subject from an angle he's not comfortable with, doesn't it?

I need to blog about this myself, with mention of the %&^$ midwife who didn't think to say, "I'll just see if you're fully dilated yet" before sticking her fingers in...grrrr.

saorla said...

Well said Belle. What a condescending arrogrant fucker.

hysperia said...

Oh geez oh boyo, I'm late coming to this post but damm he pisses me off. Many docs absolutely suck at dealing with women in respectful and empathetic way and I hate those doodz, I really do. There's feeling like you were raped even if the incident doesn't fit the legal definition and then there's actually really being raped by a doc but not in such an obvious way that you have any chance whatsoever of getting charges laid, never mind a conviction. Having experienced both, IMHO AAAAaaaghhhh, I'd like someone to show him what I mean. But I've no interest in showing him myself. OINK.