I write this post with a sense of urgency...not that it is a matter of life and death, not quite, but stemming more from not wanting to lose the thread of an insight, something that has dawned on me with full force. Not that I was unaware of it before, but awareness has many levels, and each time a new level reveals itself when the "student" is ready.
From my limited or maybe not so limited experience in life, from my dealings with people, of various backgrounds, nationalities and cultures, I can say without wanting to sound too pompous, that I have a little knowledge about people...
My being "middle aged" helps a great deal, along with a keen sense of wanting to know, to understand...and to give meaning to experience...Futility is not a word I have fondness for - hence my ceaseless quest...
Again, the subject matter will touch upon the Eastern male - by Eastern I mean the Oriental male. Al Rajul Al Sharqi as we call him in Arabic. I am in this context referring not so much to the male gender in his purely biological dimension, but to the culture of the male gender. I use the word culture short of a better word, trusting that the appropriate term will break through those lines as they unfold on this page.
From my dealings with women in general and Arab (Eastern and I will use those two terms interchangeably for convenience sake, bearing in mind that this is no treatise but a blog post),
I realize that a woman reveals herself in her intimacy, in her intimate parts to two "authorities" - her partner (husband) and her doctor (gynecologist in particular). These two "authorities" are the ones who are made most privy to her intimate parts - not just physical parts but also mental parts.
As a matter of fact, a woman might even share more with her doctor than her husband, when it comes to intimate matters, (not necessarily limited to the sexual sphere). Both fields in the medical profession - Gynecology and Psychiatry are the domains where women reveal the most.
I have many medical acquaintances, colleagues who share with me stories mostly males...
And I could not help but notice something pertinent - in both these medical professions, both gynecology and psychiatry, the male gender is extremely uncomfortable (to say the least) to discuss anything pertaining to the intimate problematics of their female patients beyond the obvious. The obvious meaning "something that needs to be promptly fixed." (an infection, a pregnancy that needs attention, a phobia, a depression, etc...)
The above is made much easier if the woman is married. The doctors in question are less reticent to discuss with the female patient any problematic that may be lurking beyond the surface and which might be indirectly related to the immediate issue at hand.
I shall give a very simple example : A woman presenting herself with a Salpingitis will be treated differently conditional upon whether she is married or not. That does not mean that both women will not be given the appropriate treatment but it does mean that the unmarried woman who presents herself to a gynecologist with an fallopian tube infection will cause a stir in the doctor's mind. To put it very simply - he will judge her. Here is a woman not married, who obviously had a sexual relation and is here in his clinic.
The same goes for a psychiatrist treating unmarried women. A psychiatrist is very much likely to be more open and less judgmental if the woman in front of him is married than if a woman is not. In particular if the underlying reason for this woman's visit is related to the area of relationship with the opposite sex and touches upon her sexuality either indirectly or directly.
The reason for this "stigma" from both these medical professions, stems from the fact that despite all the "scientific" knowledge these doctors possess (and female doctors are not excluded here either), in their minds, in their psyche - woman as sexual being per se is unfathomable. Meaning that a woman's sexuality (in the large sense of the word) can only find expression within well delineated parameters - marriage. Anything short of that is not well received at all. Open mindedness in the Eastern world - in particular the Arab world stops at the perineum. At the doors of the vagina.
I am presenting this by using examples derived from the medical profession and I do so purposely. Because if the medical profession is so uptight about this female area, can you imagine what the rest of the society looks like ?!
The consequences are vast and in some instances very serious.
An unmarried woman with an unwanted pregnancy will most likely be aborted by a quack, an unmarried woman who has been sexually abused, raped or simply has a problem on that front that she would like to explore will refrain from seeking help and if she does will not be totally open about it, an unmarried woman who has a gynecological problem will pretend that she is married so as to avoid judgement and unnecessary questions, so on and so forth...
I am sure there might be some in the medical professions who have moved beyond...but am not quite sure if they are many of them around and if their moving beyond is not prompted by financial considerations - like the doctor who is known to charge exorbitant prices for an abortion or for restoring lost hymens.
But really the crux of this post is not to have a go at the medical profession in the Arab world, it is simply to use those examples as a yardstick by which one can measure...to have a feel for the issue that I am trying to explore in those brief lines...
Bearing this in mind, it comes as no surprise that women have become proficient at hiding their "secrets" even from themselves.
This post is by no means conclusive nor is it meant to be...