My little sister called me the other day.
I’m a horrible phone person. Most people in my family are. In this age of cell phones we can see who is calling and, most of the time, we aren’t motivated to pick up the phone. Text me, please. So she was a little irate that she’d called the previous week and I’d never bothered to return her call. Justified, I guess.
My little sister has recently relocated to another state having found her very first real job as an adult with a master’s degree. Fun stuff. What wasn’t so fun was the gynecologist appointment she had about two days before moving. The doctor found abnormal cells yadda yadda blah blah… hpv. The doctor wanted her to come back for a cone biopsy and, when my little sister informed her she was moving, she pressed the issue, making it sound fairly urgent.
Naturally, my little sister called me in a panic.
I calmed her down, talked to her a little bit about hpv, how common it is and how most of the time it amounts to nothing. I mentioned how one of our other sister’s had an abnormal pap before and nothing ever came from it.
She then did what most people in my family do after they call me for medical advice (I’m not a doctor, I just play one for my family because they apparently equate my biology degree with a medical degree except not really because they just want my opinion before they call someone who is a real doctor, see)… Anyway, she called her family physician.
Instead of telling her facts the doctor said “You know, you got this from a guy… you might want to rethink some of your choices.” Instead of giving her real medical advice, he tried to shame her. Which… and I hope you pardon my language… is utter bullshit.
I’ve been fuming about this ever since, completely up in arms that someone would try to make my baby sister feel shame for having contracted hpv. All I could do when she called me crying over it was tell her “honey, I don’t know any solid stats but it is my understanding that MOST people will encounter hpv in their lifetime if they are sexually active.”
And tonight, I finally spent 2 minutes looking for that statistic. You can go there and scroll down and look for the sentence I’m about to quote.
“Most sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives.”
Oh… You mean my little sister isn’t a slut? I already knew this. I have to assume the doctor in question had to know this statistic… and yet he took the moment to do a little shaming.
I could go on a rant here about men and their perception of women and how women seem to have fallen for the dumbest ideas men have. I could go on and on about how society feels so comfortable labeling women and how women label each other as well. However, those thoughts are best considered on your own. Delve deep, people. Figure out what you find acceptable in this arena and then don’t just ignore it when something happens to go against your principles. Say something.
Happily, my little sister went to a new gynecologist where she now lives. She had a fantastic experience, a doctor who gave her the facts about hpv and who also told her it probably is a huge waste of time to do a cone biopsy but that they will certainly monitor the situation in case one is needed.
Oh, and not once did she allude to my sister being a slut. Go figure.