feminism · public humiliation

On Surviving Public Humiliation

Recently I went to a guest lecture by an Internal Medicine Doctor that promised to examine the latest treatments, remedies and aids for cancer.

I situated myself on the inside of the second or third row and expected a long evening of power points but instead I got a personal dose of public humiliation.

The doctor took the stage and proceeded to lament lifestyle choices that lead everyone to cancer and searching for an audience scapegoat, let his eyes land on the young blonde student on the inside of the third row.

He left the stage, walked to where I was seated and proceeded to critique everything about my health from my nail beds, to the fold of flesh on my abdomen, to my thighs, my tongue and the circles under my eyes until he had rendered me a walking cesspool of disease without my consent.

Now, I would not hold myself up as exemplary, but I ran 4 years of varsity cross country, eat my vegetables and try and grab a good night of sleep here and there so I have been doing a lot of thinking of why he chose me. There were plenty of gentlemen my age and health level in the audience, fitting the description I am sure he was looking for. Why did he feel that a female fulfilled his agenda more sufficiently than a male audience member?

As he left me to return to the stage, I sat there with a burning face trying to decide what was the best reaction to something like this: was leaving the lecture a weaker decision than staying in my seat? By staying, was I supporting his actions?

I chose to remain in my seat, burning with indignation. I have a sister who has struggled with a life threatening eating disorder for the past decade and have watched many friends deal with the same insecurities, so WHY is it considered admissible for a male doctor to publicly pick apart a young female in a crowded room in front of complete strangers in the name of science? In a presentation where a simple power point example would have been sufficient, I was left wondering how some of my feminist heroes would have responded (including my mother, who I am sure would have given this doctor the finger shaking of his life.)

I step off my soapbox for the moment to ask you, Reader, how would you have reacted?