The dirty secret of the medical gender gap is slowly being revealed. As more and more women find their voices to speak up about injustices in many parts of their lives, medical care and wellness is coming to the forefront. It is becoming increasingly clear that the medical system and its biases are geared towards men in every way.
Pharmaceutical and medical studies are primarily done on men. Medical products, treatments and drugs are done based on men’s bodies, even oral birth control – something men don’t take – is based on male hormones and was invented by a man!
Women’s pain is less likely to be believed, treated or diagnosed. They wait longer in emergency rooms, are treated with lower doses of pain killers, and more likely to be told it is psychosomatic and sent home.
There is this prevailing idea of the ‘female hysterical hypochondriac’ and nowhere is that more evident than in gynaecological issues. Studies show numbers like 1 in 10 women have endometriosis, but it takes an average of 7-8 years to get a diagnosis. This attitude of gender bias and a medical gender gap is real, it is perverse, and it is killing women. In May of 2018 a 22-year-old woman in Sweden called the emergency department saying she was in critical pain; she was dismissed and after a 5 hour wait died from a stroke and multiple organ failure. We have all just heard the heart-breaking story of the NS woman who went years knowing something was wrong but being unable to access primary care because she had no family doctor and was dismissed at every emergency room visit, she went to who is now battling stage 3 anal cancer. This issue is very very real, and it is time to start talking about it.
Why are we talking about this now? Because no one has done it before. This is not a new topic – it is just new to have it out in the open, to offer it as a public topic of discussion. To take it outside of the private conversations between women that often feel taboo, shameful and hidden. We want this issue to be seen, heard and talked about in a way that takes away the sense of embarrassment and guilt that many women hold when it comes to their health. We want to create communities of people who can come together in support, share their stories and experiences and know that they have been heard. We want to welcome and share the stories of as many women as we can – cis, trans, femme, non-binary – because we recognize that not all women have uteruses, and not all people with uteruses are women. We want people to find connection with one another and feel less alone and isolated in their experiences because they see themselves reflected in the show and the audience that gathers behind it.medical gender gap