Discomfort/pain, shame/embarrassment, and/or a feeling of being violated, as a result of penetration of the sexual organs by a person in whom a woman has no sexual interest, achieved through coercion, fear, and/or intimidation.
This is a basic description of rape. It is also a basic description of what many women and girls experience when they visit a gynecologist.
An even simpler description of rape is “unwanted penetration of the sexual organs”. The only difference between what a gynecologist does to a woman and what is usually considered “rape” is that the woman says “yes”, but what does “yes” mean when a person is coerced into thinking that “no” is not an option? The medical community tells women that a pelvic exam is something necessary for their health, that all women should begin submitting to them at the age of 21, or something bad will happen to them.
Sometimes when a woman is raped, she is not physically held down and forced. She may allow it to happen because a rapist may threaten to kill her (with a weapon such as a knife or a gun). She may submit in order to save her own life.
With a pelvic exam it is the same. A woman is told that if she doesn’t get one, her health will suffer or she may potentially die, and she submits because she believes it will save her life. Medical propaganda and urging by family/friends is basically a knife or a gun.
Concepts like “consent” and “choice” lose their meanings when a gun is held to someone’s head. I doubt most women would actually want to visit a gynecologist if they didn’t fear for their health. Fear is the only reason medical exams exist, and penetration by way of fear is rape.
While I cannot argue the details of physical health risks/benefits, I have a general inclination towards natural healthy living and not placing undue trust in authority figures called “doctors”. It occurs to me that women have been around longer than gynecology and were able to survive without it for centuries, but I want to put physical health aside for a moment because my main concern is emotional health.
The medical community seems hell-bent on treating people like pieces of machinery with little regard for a person’s privacy or dignity. There is nothing healthy or natural about a woman or a girl spreading her legs for a stranger/acquaintance in a lab coat. The fact that many women feel anxious about this experience combined with the fact that it involves contact with the sexual organs should be an obvious sign that there is something wrong with it.
Some people try to refute that a person should be upset about a pelvic exam. They may call this person irrational, say this person has a phobia, or say this person needs counseling. I think this is denial, because if these people really admitted the truth of this experience then their worldview would crumble. In the case of women, they’d no longer have a yearly compulsion to make them feel normal, and it would upset them to admit that they themselves were victims. I also think it is Stockholm Syndrome, where someone being abused begins to identify with and even defend the abuser (the doctor). Suggesting that there is something wrong with a person who does not want to allow someone else access to her genitals is making an extra effort to blame the victim. It’s twisted and horrible.
Let me put it bluntly. Having a medical degree doesn’t make it okay to touch (nor to look at) someone’s private parts.
Suppose a woman is in a sexual relationship. The two goals of such a relationship are procreation and intimacy. Privacy is the essence of intimacy. Performing maintenance on the sexual organs is weighted far too heavily on the raw utility of procreation/survival with no regard for the sacredness of intimacy, which can damage the relationship.
Even if a pelvic exam were somehow not rape and a woman didn’t find it offensive, there is no way I would ever date or marry someone who believes it is okay for her sexual organs to be penetrated by another person’s fingers and metal tools. If this person weren’t a “doctor”, most people would call this cheating. It would violate the concept of physical intimacy, and while admittedly, any healthy human relationship also involves emotional intimacy, what would be left without the physical is just friendship, which might be rewarding but not quite as meaningful as it could have been.
(I am not saying that you have to have sex with your girlfriend. Sex can get you into trouble, and there are other forms of affection. But that’s your choice. I am only saying that it’s a bit disturbing if someone else is being more than or just as intimate with your girlfriend as you are.)
— In case any of this seems sexist, I have no plans to ever have a prostate exam. —
— If the label “rape” seems strong, don’t think I am suggesting that every doctor who performs a pelvic exam should literally be arrested. If the exam was requested by the patient then it’s a gray area. The point I am trying to make is that the experience of a pelvic exam is comparable to the experience of being raped (or molested), and that makes it an emotionally unhealthy activity that should be avoided. A pelvic exam is like rape. Rape isn’t about violence. It’s about the loss of control over one’s own body. —
Privacy and free will are both important, whether in a relationship or not. A person of either gender should be treated with respect, not subjugated, dehumanized, and humiliated for fear of some consequences, and there are two ways to accomplish this while still maintaining a woman’s physical health.
A woman could eat healthy, exercise, believe in herself, avoid doctors altogether, and seek out natural treatments for any physical ailments that may arise (what I do). Remember that doctors and medicine are an artificial invention of human beings, and think how people survived (or simply didn’t) before doctors ever existed.
As an alternative, if gynecology were performed, then it should be in an advisory-only capacity. Only a woman herself or someone with whom she already shares physical intimacy (lover or husband) should perform any physical exam, and gynecologists should only be trained in similar situations. Gynecologists should be able to create exam kits and reference books with detailed instructions, and that’s as far as it should ever go. I’m sure this would result in less precise diagnosis, but every choice of principle has consequences. It’s what makes life worth living.
We are both spiritual and physical beings, and nothing is worth the loss of human dignity.