Woman's Reaction Over Male Doctor's Comment Divides Opinion: 'Plain Creepy'

A woman who opted to change doctors after her physician called her "a good girl" has divided opinion online, with some accusing her of over-reacting to the comment.

The woman shared her experience on the parenting forum Mumsnet, saying the male physician's remark had left her feeling "really uncomfortable and foolish."

At the time, she wrote, she "pretended he hadn't said anything."

"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."

Although she acknowledged that he had previously been a "good doctor", the fact that he specializes in fertility issues left her feeling uneasy about future appointments.

"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."

Hundreds of comments were left on her post on the forum's "Am I being unreasonable?" thread. Several Mumsnet users asked the woman to provide more context and she revealed that the doctor had said something like: "As you're such a good girl, I'm going to prescribe X, which is a smaller needle and hurts less."

Some commenters warned the woman against reacting rashly to a throwaway remark. "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."

A third posted: "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."

However, other Mumsnet users thought she was right to seek the services of another doctor. "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."

Another commented: "Urgh, someone said that to me once and it still makes my skin crawl."

A third user wrote: "I totally understand why this makes you uncomfortable.

"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."

In this interpretation, the doctor's remark may fall into the category of benevolent sexism, in which women are framed as innocent, pure and in need of nurture and protection.

According to a study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology in 2019, benevolent sexism has been shown to have a hugely negative impact on young women, undermining their confidence and faith in their own abilities.

This isn't the first time this month that the topic of sexism has sparked a debate on social media.

Another woman went viral on Reddit this week after claiming that her boyfriend had asked her to stop having girls' nights with her friends because this was "sexist."

Earlier in November, unsettling video footage of a female bar worker being hassled by two men demanding to see her feet sparked concern on TikTok.

Doctor and female patient.
Stock image of a male doctor and female patient. Hundreds of comments have been left on a Mumsnet post about how a physician's remark left his patient feeling "really uncomfortable and foolish." Thomas Northcut/Getty