Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gender

The middle aged nurse was fanning herself furiously while two colleagues commiserated with her about hot flashes. I was the lone male within ear shot and pretty soon they were telling me how unfair it was that women had to go through menopause and men didn't. This soon led to a discussion of who had it better in life, men or women. "Men don't have to breast feed," they said. "Men don't get to breast feed," I countered. They also thought it unfair that men could father children until they were a very late age, unlike women. That's true, although I'm not always sure it's an advantage.

I was reminded of a conversation I had in high school with a female friend. Somehow we too were discussing the relative advantages of being male versus female. When I asked her if she would rather be a guy, she said, "Oh no! Guys have to worry about the draft and a career and things like that." Okay, maybe she wasn't the most liberated woman I have ever met, but there was some truth in her statement. On my eighteenth birthday, I had to register for the draft, something none of my female classmates had to do. And it was pretty much only guys - and their significant others - who were glued to the TV screen one night a year waiting to see what their draft lottery number would be, a number that would basically determine whether they were sent to Vietnam or not.

On the other hand, I admit that there have been many times in a delivery room, as we waited for a mother to deliver and heard her cries while in the throes of labor, that I have said to the nurse with me, "I am so glad I'm not a woman." And I am, especially at those times. Let's face it, it just doesn't seem right that a seven pound little being can come through that thing it comes through.

One thing is for sure, though. If you're a premature baby, you're better off being a girl. Everything else being equal, premie girls do better than premie boys. I'm not sure why; maybe it's a natural selection thing, because we need more women than men to propogate the species. Whatever the reason, that fact did little to soothe my menopausal friends.

P.S. A new Grand Rounds is up at Doc Around the Clock.

20 Comments:

Blogger Amie said...

I agree with your statement Men don't GET to breastfeed.

I love being a women, and I am thankful that I GET TO experience, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. I cherish all of them. Although periods I could do without.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Cherrie said...

It is my understanding (and I don't have references for this) that males die more often in utero and in infancy, preeme or not.
I do believe male children are more fragile than female. Case in point, males have a higher autism rate then females.

I don't know when that ends... maybe males are more fragile all the way through their lives.

I am SOOOOooo glad to be a woman however. I wouldn't trade that birth & nursing experience for any thing in the world.

9:09 PM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

The preemie boy thing is sooooooooo true!! I look at these babies sometimes, and the ones who start out exactly the same. It seems that the difference between who turns out well and who has a lot of problems often comes down to being male or female!

Do you find that race also makes a difference? I'm not saying this to be racist in any way, but rather just making an observation. It seems to me that white male babies do far worse than hispanic or black babies on our unit. Wondering if you see that as well.

Take care!
Carrie :)

11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well...women can always be assured that they are the mom. Not so with men. Nonpaternity events happen. Sure there's genetic testing now, but I'm sure alot of cuckolded men don't even think to test.

Now that I'm a mom myself, I think that is one of the worst crimes imaginable--against both the "dad" and the kid. It takes so much love and work to raise a child, to trick someone in that way...oh how impossibly cruel.

11:57 PM  
Blogger CGI-angel said...

How many men even 'want' to breastfeed?? lols. At least men dont have to deal with post-breastfeeding nightmares like deformed nipples, saggy boobs...not to mention a 50 lb weight gain to the size of a house!

In general I still feel women get the short end of the stick, since society will always subconsciously think of women as being inferior. There's been quite a few incidences where I've been mistaken to be the coffee girl or secretary while strolling around studio grounds,(which really piss's me off x10). When a guy tells ppl he's a computer nerd-its no big deal, whereas a female-its a shocker...goes to show society thinks of women as being more incompetent. Men dont have to deal with female bosses hitting on them and being treated like crap after rejecting their advances.

How many men are willing to quit their jobs to be Mr. Mom? Noticed how with most doctor couples, the Dr. wife still has to take time off her career during pregnancy or watch the kids but the Dr. husband doesnt.

I'd say my dream job would be a star-footballer playing for the italian nationale at the Worldcups....unfortunately that option crashed & burned the minute I was born a female.......

12:00 AM  
Blogger Flea said...

[attention hypersensitive, young, or culturally-deprived readers: what follows is a joke. No offense is intended to those who were not sentient beings during the sexual revolution]

ND,

You just don't get it.

best,

Flea

5:27 AM  
Blogger Ex Utero said...

NeoDoc,

Your site has been crawled by a med student... and a pretty good she did I think. Thanks for having such a great site and getting her excited about learning.

You can find it here:

http://talesfromthewomb.blogspot.com/

8:32 AM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

Hey ND,

I've linked to you on my blog. Would you mind placing a link to my blog on yours? I'm trying to get mine in a format that I like! I actually just bought MacJournal yesterday which allows me to write posts on my laptop and upload them into blogger. Thought that was neat, too. :) Us neonatal/peds bloggers have to stick together! ;)

Here's my site link:
http://neonursechic.blogspot.com

Thanks, if you can!

Carrie :)

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neonursechic, I`m a mom who spent a lot of time in the NICU unfortunately, and I did notice that girl babies are stronger and that hispanic and black girl babies are the strongest of all. I don`t think its opinion anymore, most of the nurses and dr`s thought of the racial strengths as fact. I don`t think its a matter of one race being stronger than another as much as it is that some races are more mixed up than others. Mutts rule, like in the dog world, and have less problems overall. Hispanic culture especially is very strong because all 3 races are blended in many Latino people. Sorry to derail!

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's sort of odd that we don't have more research into it. The term "WWB" for wimpy-white-boy is too well known and acknowledged by all of us to not have some decent evidence!

Olga
OB RN in Tucson

1:19 AM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

Haha....I wasn't going to be the one to say "Wimpy White Boy" here, but glad other people know the term, too! Definitely gotta be something to it!

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Amka said...

cgi angel,

It is an incredible joy to breastfeed children. I've been angered and saddened at how roughly media has treated us women, telling us that we are worth noting only if we have the picture perfect bodies only found in CGI. My husband could care less about the shape of my breasts and nipples. He is, however, very impressed with me breastfeeding each of my children well past a year. He loves to see me nurture them. He thinks I'm sexier now than when I had perfect little perky boobs.

If a woman chooses to have children, it is very hard to leave them with someone else. That is why more moms stay home. It isn't a cultural conspiracy. We want to. Women who've planned to go back to work feel very conflicted. We can't stand that someone else is experiencing our child most of the day, even if it is our own spouse.

It is hard to put this gently, but I saw some of the clothes you are wearing on your blog. If you want to be respected for more than a sex kitten, you are sending the wrong message. Call it a weakness in men, but when you show them the cake and wave the fork around in their face, they are going to want to eat it.

Many women do get a lot of respect at work. One of the first steps is dressing the part, though.

Sorry you can't play the sports you want, but there are plenty of men born who don't have the ability to play world cup football. Just because one dream can't happen doesn't mean there aren't ten more out there waiting to bring you joy and fulfillment.

1:38 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks, everyone. I, too, have used the term "wimpy white male". Historically, black premature babies have had better survival rates than white premature babies, other things being equal, but that survival advantage disappeared in the late 1990's.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the one that said "How many men WANT to breastfeed?" Also I live for the day to see a man with his legs up in stirrups. What about "our monthly's?" How would men handle having blood pumping out of that thing for 5 days a month, not to mention all the cramping, bloating, leg pains, etc? Goodness, I bet the rate of absents in the work force would skyrocket. They would be laying at home with ice and heat packs on every body part.

Then when he has a really bad day at work and comes homes to tell me about it, I can just contribute it all to PMS...Wonder how he would feel about that?

2:12 PM  
Blogger D.P. said...

Hmmmmm, I'm glad I'm a woman. I wouldn't trade the experience of feeling my children growing inside me and then bringing them into the world for anything.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm right there with amka and d.p. I love being a woman. I'm reminded of the joke--God's giving out attributes to Adam & Eve. He's got only 2 left, and Adam picks. "I want to pee standing up." God says, "Sorry, Eve, that only leaves multiple orgasms."

11:05 PM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Which is better? Depends how your brain's wired up.

I know guys who go through all sorts of pain and anguish, just to attain somatic masculinity.

I know gals who do the same, just to attain somatic femininity.

They understand each other, the journey's the same, just the direction's different.

It would be nice to have been able to be a mother, and to breastfeed. Can't say I'd miss the episiotomy though, the 12 stitches needed when things ripped anyway, the morning sickness, PMT, nor the monthly curse. But a lot of women are in that situation for one reason or another.

I could never be a mother. But with technical help, I have been able to be a biological parent. And to me, no matter what my body shape or endocrine system, that's the most important thing.

3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad and happy and priveleged to have given birth.

Sure, it hurt, but my god it was amazing. I feel very sorry for my husband that he'll never get to grow a baby, birth and feed it.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all u racist feminist bitches..

11:30 AM  
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