Women behaving badly

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Today has been an unbelievably frustrating day in the hospital, but I don’t want to bring anyone down. In an effort to promote peace, harmony, and blogular happiness, I’m going to instead write about something everyone can get excited about: the patriarchy.

Earlier this year, the venerable American Medical Association (the AMA) put out this press release, which describes the findings of a recent study of young women’s behaviors on Spring Break and their subsequent gnawing regrets.

I found the press release appalling. For starters, by leaving men out of the story, it tacitly sent the message that women drive the bad behavior that happens on Spring Break. I mean, come ON.

Even worse, by not addressing men’s behaviors or feelings, the release seemed to imply that only women regret doing dumb things while drunk, and that only women use alcohol as an excuse to do outrageous things. In doing this, the AMA neglected both the roles and the health care concerns of college-aged men in these scenarios. It’s almost as if they were saying that there’s nothing that we as health care providers can or should recommend for our dudely patients in this age group–that raping and pillaging while hammered is just what they do.

I wrote to my regional student representative to the AMA: “Presenting data on women behaving badly in a situation where men are also behaving badly suggests that women should shape up, while men should…well, keep doing what they’re doing.”

He huffily dissented and proceeded to shower me with factoids about the AMA, as well as a bunch of verbiage about the context in which the study was done. It was all part of a study on advertising; it was funded by a grant whose purpose is to help all college students make good choices; yadda yadda yadda. None of this really mattered to me: the press release was context-free, and it still sent the message it sent.

There were more emails. More from him, more from one of his dumpy little underlings, and then a final, sneering one introducing me to the director of the study, who passed me off to the public relations people, to whom I explained (while feeling up fruit in the grocery store) What Their Problem Was. But the study was built only to study women, they whined. Whatevs, I said. If your study only inquired of women, it was built on a faulty foundation, because men are subject to parallel pressures and risks, and they merit equal investigation. Your study is the suck.

She pretended to validate my point of view, I pretended to think she gave a damn, and we called it a day.

It so happens that I am now a resident where the huffy AMA representative is in medical school. And several days ago, when each team acquired a new set of medical students, he turned up on mine. I was very excited about this: it was going to be my chance to introduce him to the angry intern behind the angry feminist. But alas, he had been assigned to us in error, and he was whisked away before I got a chance to get totally wasted and accidentally do even one table dance.

I am full of gnawing regret.

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5 Comments on “Women behaving badly”

  1. ETR Says:

    Sorry, darling,
    There are too many really frustrating days. But they do get forgotten about by *new* frustrations. *New* challenges. *New* distractions. There’s nothing slow about this enterprise. And maaaaaaan, am I glad there’s someone taking a stab at documenting what it’s like to move through this quagmire. You sound nearly perky, I’ll have you know. Bring on the unremitting snark. More snarkiness demanded!

  2. LF Says:

    “Your study is the suck.” This is why I love you so much…

    And for the record, I liked reading all the negative, frustrating stuff – it’s truthful. Just because some people like living in denial doesn’t mean you have to. Bitch all you want, I’ll happily read!

  3. HH Says:

    Um. WHAT?!? The obvious question is, why did they need a STUDY to have this very basic information? Anyway, I just read the release in question, and it’s more than a little gross in its ommissions. Called the media relations person named at the bottom of the piece — her name and number are THERE, everyone! — and left a message inquiring about why the study did not include young men. Keren, you can do better than table dancing on this one. I think you could easily turn your blog bit into an awesome submission for “Bust” or “Bitch,” so that many many more of us, you know, NOISY ones would know about it. And then maybe ALL of us could tell them that their study is THE SUCK. If you don’t have time, let me know, ok?

  4. BWs Says:

    too bad he was whisked away – i can just see your claws and teeth projecting your gnawing angry feminism right into his little throat…sounds like it could’ve been fodder for a good ani defranco song! :-p

  5. K2 Says:

    As a researcher, I really feel very frustrated when other professional researchers don’t listen to feedback. No study is perfect; therefore, it is helpful in future planning to hear from other folks. This is how you ensure that future studies are not the suck. Yikes, what a bunch of babies they are.

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