"Trust that thing in your gut that tells you this sh*t ain't right."
Comedian Sarah Silverman has spoken out about a ‘shitty mammogram’ she had with a male doctor, inspiring many other women to open up about feeling vulnerable in medical situations.
Sarah said that she usually has to get an ultrasound scan after her mammograms, due to her “dense breasts” – but during her last two appointments, the radiologist doing the ultrasound has made her feel extremely uncomfortable.
He applied the ultrasound gel to her breasts with his bare hands, then started talking to her about another procedure she was getting while she was standing there topless.
“Finally I said, ‘Hey, can we talk about this when I’m dressed or while you’re doing the ultrasound? I’m not comfortable with my breasts out just shooting the shit with you’,” she wrote.
He smears the gel on with his hands and NO GLOVES on, and when he glides the ultrasound wand thing over my breasts he drags his fingers on them and it fucking bothers me. Again, as I told him last year, I said, “Hey, do you need to be touching me with your fingers?” And he said, “No.”
“Look, I truly don’t think he was getting off on it, but it is his job to be aware that this is vulnerable for a woman,” she continued. “Wear fucking GLOVES – this isn’t a date.”
The comedian said this would be the last mammogram she got “from this dude, or any dude” and that it’s taken her many years to realise she can speak up for herself.
“Arrogant fucks like this doctor take advantage of women’s socialised instinct to not speak up… Trust that thing in your gut that tells you this shit ain’t right.”
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I had a shitty time at my mammogram appt today. I have to get an ultrasound after my mammograms because I have dense breasts (insert joke here) and this radiologist — the same man I had last year — I do not like him and here is why: He opened my gown and put gel on my breasts and smeared it around with his bare hands. Then he started talking to me about my chest X-ray (I also got a chest X-Ray) and was pontificating with my boobs just out and covered in gel and cold and finally I said “Hey-can we either talk about this when I’m dressed or WHILE your doing the ultrasound? I’m not comfortable with my breasts out just shooting the shit with you” Okay so — he smears the gel on with his hands and NO GLOVES on and when he glides the ultrasound wand thing over my breasts he drags his fingers on them and it fucking bothers me. Again, AS I TOLD HIM LAST YEAR, I said “Hey! Do you need to be touching me with your fingers?” He said “No”. And he pulled them off of me. Then he added “I do that for balance.” I said “Well I believe in you and I think you can do with without your fingers on me” Look, I truly don’t think he was getting off on it, BUT it is his job to be aware that this is vulnerable for a woman. Wear fucking GLOVES – this isn’t a date. For him to be so arrogant that he didn’t even internalize the problem when I said something to him about it last year is obnoxious and probably a subconscious power thing if we’re getting deep. That was my last mammogram with this dude. Or any dude. Look. I’m a grown woman and I’m fine. But this guy does this with everyone and I know that personally it took many years into adulthood before I spoke up for myself. It’s uncomfortable and too easy to think it’s all in your head. And arrogant fucks like this doctor take advantage of women’s socialized instinct to not speak up. All this to say speak up. Trust that thing in your gut that tells you this shit ain’t right. ♥️
Sarah’s post has opened up a conversation around around bedside manner – are you feeling uncomfortable just because you’re in an already vulnerable situation, or is the medical professional behaving unprofessionally?
Lots of women have been sharing similar experiences they’ve had during medical checkups and procedures, saying it’s hard to know when a line has been crossed.
“#MeToo on this shit,” replied actress Elizabeth Banks. “Those of you in the industry – please do the best you can to empathise with the vulnerability of women in this situation and act accordingly.”
Actress Juliette Lewis told of a time when a male gynaecologist started asking her about her films as he was internally examining her:
[It] was so very upsetting. I said, “Umm can we not talk about that, this is uncomfortable.” Why some feel the need for ‘small talk’ is so odd. Just be a doctor!
It’s clear that this is yet another experience that is shared by many of us, but rarely spoken about. Fear of situations like this shouldn’t stop women from getting highly important medical procedures – know that you can speak up if you don’t feel safe or comfortable.