I am in my late twenties which means a number of things. The first, an increase in pregnancies. The second, an increase in sexual awareness among female friends and family. The third is doing squats before it’s too late and my hind quarters can no longer be saved.
Bar the last one this list involves the vagina a great deal and what I’ve found is that men seem to play a central role in this learning experience, be it an educational role or a medical role, or a central social role. From gynaecologists to sexologists, men seem to be telling women about their squishy bits and what to do with them. This upsurge in advice has posed the question: Does one need to have at least driven a car to be a mechanic?
I recently had a conversation with a group of friends about whether I would completely trust a male gynaecologist. My argument was “no uterus no opinion” to which my friend said that the doctor would have the requisite anatomical knowledge if he was at the point where he could professionally treat lady bits.
This is all well and fine but where does it stop being about what one can gleam from a textbook and an 8am lecture on Pap smear 101? Is this professional knowledge not slightly stunted?
Anyone who has ever gotten a Pap smear knows a little bit of empathy and comradery between you and the doctor goes a long way.
Furthermore, having seen the way male gynaecologists sometimes speak of “slight discomfort” one gets a little sceptical about having this man at the helm when I’m pushing something the size of a watermelon out of something that had previously only passed fluids.
This hesitation extends to sex education.
Can a man teach a woman about the pleasure her body can experience? Can a man really teach a woman how to experience and receive pleasure? There is a sexologist in Kenya who is teaching women how to squirt (which is not a myth or urinating in bed) among a host of other tips tricks and skills.
It would make far more sense for a man to teach a couple how to have sex (same way a tango teacher can teach both partners). Is that not the equivalent of someone reading a flight manual, taking a few flights as a passenger then sauntering into the cockpit and saying “Switch off the autopilot I’ve got this”?
In a reversal of roles, I wonder to what extent men would be comfortable getting a prostate examination from a woman? To have a woman ask them “That ball sack is looking sickly … what’s that about?” Would they be as comfortable with this as a man telling them the same? Would there be a line round the block at her office?
The idea of a male gynaecologist or sexologist is not in itself problematic for me, it is just the idea of a man telling me my existence. It takes me back to a conversation with an Uber driver in which he attempted to teach me the ins and outs of female pleasure despite the fact that I was the only one in the cab who had both received pleasure as a woman and given it. Mansplaining.
What we do know comes down to who can tell people about their bodies and their experiences. The world is set up in a way where some can tell others about their experiences. The Global North can tell the Global South, white people can tell black people about their culture (the study of anthropology is based purely on this) and men can tell women how to orgasm.
Although many a thing can be studied, the learned and lived experience must count for something, letting people speak and know their own existence. How can you know the true pain/discomfort of a Braxton Hicks contraction if you haven’t even experienced mild period pains? To what extent can you teach a woman about multiple orgasms when the female orgasm is far more powerful than that of a man (true story, from science)?
Can you work on a car if you’ve never driven or owned one? Possibly, but your ability to service that engine will be limited.
Side note: Does anyone know a good gynaecologist because I clearly have trust and commitment issues?