One woman says she switched providers after her male doctor called her a “good girl”. The term can be seen as patronizing and misogynistic to some women, especially when they’re a fully grown adult.
She shared her experience online and many people on the internet quickly came to her defense, while others accused her of overreacting to the comment.
Poor Choice of Words
The patient published her account on the website Mumsnet, an online network for parents covering a wide range of topics.
The fertility specialist made the comment during a routine appointment. She said his words left her feeling “really uncomfortable and foolish.”
At first, she pretended like nothing happened.
“I think he thought he was being funny or charming or something,” she went on. “I think I was expected to smile and find it funny. But no. It wasn’t funny.”
Even though she thought he was a good doctor, the comment made her feel uneasy about going back for another appointment down the line.
“I generally felt very comfortable with him before this but don’t know now at all if I’d feel comfortable going forward,” she said. “One of the procedures he recommended I have done is a transvaginal ultrasound and I don’t think I can have him do it now.”
The relationship between a doctor and their patient is sacred. The patient should feel relaxed and comfortable when talking about their health with a provider, especially during sensitive or invasive procedures like a transvaginal ultrasound.
The post “Am I being unreasonable?” elicited a range of responses online, mostly from other parents. Users asked the woman to provide more context for the comment.
Finally, she revealed that the doctor said, “As you’re such a good girl, I’m going to prescribe X, which is a smaller needle and hurts less.”
Many people on Mumsnet said she did the right thing by seeking care from another provider.
“I’d want to nip that in the bud immediately,” one wrote. “It smacks of a patriarchal view of medicine and is just plain creepy.”
“Urgh, someone said that to me once and it still makes my skin crawl,” wrote another user.
“I totally understand why this makes you uncomfortable,” wrote a third.
“It speaks to an intrinsic belief he holds, consciously or unconsciously, in which you are childlike to him and doing what he tells you, when he tells you, requires some sort of praise in a paternal way.”
Others said she should think twice before abandoning a good doctor. “I’m not sure that this is something to write off a great doctor for,” wrote one.
“Did he mean it in a jokey way?” asked another. “It’s not great but not something I’d refuse to see an otherwise great doctor for again.”
“I think you could be being a bit over-sensitive. It’s not the best choice of words but also maybe he was trying to lighten the mood. I’d let it go,” someone else wrote.
This isn’t the first time the words “good girl” have started a heated debate online. The website is full of posts with similar sounding questions, although unrelated to healthcare, such as:
“Would you be offended if you were a 33-year-old woman and someone called you a good girl for doing something? It kind of annoys me but don’t know if I’m being too sensitive?” wrote one user in January.
“What is it with some men calling [a] woman a ‘good girl’? Am I being unreasonable to be offended? I’ve only dated one man who has used this phase towards me, but I have heard it a few times. But what’s with it?” wrote someone else in 2019.
Psychologists refer to this type of language as benevolent sexism, where women are framed as innocent, pure and in need of protection.
According to a 2019 study published in Frontiers of Psychology, young women that have experienced benevolent sexism said it has had a largely negative effect on their lives. It can undermine their confidence and cause them to second-guess themselves or lose faith in their own abilities.