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sexually charged gestures

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by BabyPsychDoc, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. BabyPsychDoc

    BabyPsychDoc 2+ Year Member

    What is the threshold for sexual harassment in the US?

    I came from a country where a threshold was sky high. Faculty regularly attempted to invite female students and residents "to sauna", and tried to snoggle us at any opportunity. I usually would either sleep in the nurses room, or would not sleep at all when oncall after a friend of mine woke up in the middle of the night with the attending cosying up to her.

    Now having spend several years in the UK, I find myself uncomfortable with male attendings patting me on the back or trying to grab my shoulder or eyeballing me and suggesting that they "would love to do a caesarean" on me. Granted, these are OBGYN attendings, and I have never experienced anything remotely similar with any other specialties. I just grunt and bear, and count days (11 more days to do, btw!:)) to the end of this rotation. I mean, what do you expect if a recently appointed attending just gave birth to a son of another attending - and the said baby was conceived when the male attending was married to another woman, and the female attending was a fellow under the guy (quite literally, under him as it turns out:rolleyes:)?

    My husband thinks in the US this kind of gestures would form a basis of a successful sexual harassment suit. But he is not a physician, and in fact only worked in corporate environment in the US, dealing with IT. Kind of different environment and different type of people. So, I am wondering if things are different in medicine? I mean, after watching Gray's Anatomy, one gets impression that interns do not do anything other than banging other interns, attending or patients all the time.:rolleyes:
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  3. roja

    roja 7+ Year Member

    Oct 20, 2003
    NYC--->San Francisco
    Sexual harrassment is an issue that is taken very seriously. It certainly still exists, but not like on tv, and not like what you are describing.

    Regarding your 'case scenario', opinions differ on consensual sexual relationships between attending/residents, resident/resident, resident/medical students.
  4. LADoc00

    LADoc00 There is no substitute for victory. 10+ Year Member

    Sep 9, 2004
    First off, what is the hell is snoggle?? Seriously, what is that?

    Secondly, I am highly skeptical of this story....Attendings tyring to cozy up to you in a call bed? WTH, youre breaking my balls here. You cant be serious.

    An attending wanted to Caesarean you? WTF. He implied he wanted to split you open as a flirt?! WHO DOES THAT? HANNIBAL LECTOR?

    Im not buying into this...

    Calling troll. A good troll too.

    Where did you train? In a brothel?!!

  5. Faebinder

    Faebinder Slow Wave Smurf 10+ Year Member

    May 24, 2006
    Why not just tell them you are uncomfortable with the gesture? If you do that infront of one other person they will never repeat that again...
  6. radslooking

    radslooking 2+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2008
    I highly doubt she is a troll. She has 300 posts, her location is listed as the UK, and she gave a very involved and not particularly humorous story. Why would somebody troll like that. Anyhow, no you wouldnt get away with things like that in the US. And if you did get caught "snoggling" someone in their call room-whatever that is--the repercussions could be dire here. Of course, I'm sure it's been tried before, but I doubt it will be to the level you're accustomed to in the UK.
  7. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Chief Administrator Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    BabyPsychDoc is not a troll, has never been known to tell outlandish tales and is most certainly telling the truth.

    Snoggle is a common term used in the UK and other British countries. To snog is to make-out, probably with tongue. Snoggling is a combination of kissing and cuddling. The treatment she describes of woman in other countries is not uncommon unfortunately and having personally experienced male attendings (outside of the US) making lewd gestures, and physically touching me, I have no reason to believe she is not telling the truth.

    At any rate, BPD, your husband is correct. Medicine, even Surgery, has had to change its behavior in light of many successful sexual harassment suits. You cannot get employed these days in a hospital without a mandatory lecture on what is acceptable behavior.

    As roja notes, what happens between consensual adults is a different story than harassment. The hospital is not more a hotbed of sexual activity than any other large corporation. There will be some shenanigans going on, but I'm sure there is at Walgreen's (ie, Boots) as well.

    What constitutes harassment is also up for debate but most men in the US have been scared (and scarred) enough to play things very close to the vest. On more than 1 occasion, I've had a female medical student express concern about the sexual atmosphere in the OR and whether or not I felt harassed. I needed to tell them that given as I was as prone to "dirty jokes" as the male attendings that I did not feel in the slightest harassed but rather it made me feel welcome. But I can understand that for some, the attitude and constant sex talk made them uncomfortable.
  8. sirus_virus

    sirus_virus nonsense poster 2+ Year Member

    Nov 6, 2006
    You forgot nurses and drug reps.
  9. BabyPsychDoc

    BabyPsychDoc 2+ Year Member

    I did my medical school training and the first few PGYs in my country of origin, which is now an independent country but used to be a part of the USSR. A country with strong patriarchal attitudes and minimal respect for women. I appreciate it may be difficult for you to understand that countries like that still exist, and I have no way to convince you I am telling the truth. (If you are interested, though, here is a link giving examples of how women are treated in a country which is situated next to my country of birth . In an attempt to preserve some anonymity, I am not posting a link to my country's page, but trust me there is little difference).

    The "Hannibal Lector" attending was paying me compliments (in his opinion, at least) by proposing to do a C-section on me - we just spent a terrible half-an-hour struggling with a caesarean on a woman with BMI of 54. Maybe I am overreacting, but I do not like males with admin power over me eyeing my shapes and making comments on them.

    And, unfortunately, sexuality seems to penetrate the whole department's culture. Another male attending recently openly commented on another female resident's legs, and that sparkled a lively discussion among a mixture of male and female staff. Lovely atmosphere.

    I do not mind dirty jokes as such - it is the touching and discussion of personal attributes that irritates me.

    Why don't I just tell people that they make me uncomfortable? Because I am afraid of possible retaliation, and have generally preferred taking the passive aggressive approach and avoiding the people that make me uncomfortable altogether:(. Plus, passive aggressive seems to be the preferred modus operandi for Brits in general. Perish the thought of telling a jerk that he is a jerk - you might offend him! (I forgot to mention, that this being the only OBGYN dept in 30 miles radius, and certainly the best one in 100 miles radius, I do not want to alienate people there more than I absolutely have to - after all, I might need that caesarean in a while!:oops:)

    Anyway, thanks to everyone for your responses. Interesting to see how different things are even in the developed world, on either side of the pond.
  10. BabyPsychDoc

    BabyPsychDoc 2+ Year Member

    here is some an excerpt from the information that website provides on my country of birth:

    The only way out I saw was leaving the country. And so I left.
  11. HCE

    HCE 7+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2007

    Agreed. BabyPsychDoc is a serious and articulate contributor in the Psych Forum.

    The company I work for has a zero tolerence for sexual harassment. Any allegation that someone feels uncomfortable with sexual innuendo of any kind, let alone things more blatant as described by BabyPsychDoc, is taken quite seriously.
  12. HCE

    HCE 7+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    This might be one of those areas where the litigous nature of American society has helped to improve things. I'm not so sure that we are more enlightened here in the States on this issue so much as companies and hospitals are concerned with the potential for being nailed with a big judgement against them for ignoring complaints of harassment.

    I also think the dirty joke stuff is just as intolerable as racist jokes....people need to grow up and act professional.
  13. BSN2DOC

    BSN2DOC 2+ Year Member

    Sep 16, 2007
    US laws are incredibly strict on sexual harassment. I am a male and was sexually harassed many years ago -- I reported it and the other individual was fired the following day.
  14. LADoc00

    LADoc00 There is no substitute for victory. 10+ Year Member

    Sep 9, 2004
    If someone either tried to:
    A.) Snoogle me, whatever the hell that is..OR
    B.) Claimed to want to "Ceasarean me"
    that is grounds for a very serious beat down. No question. One that would involve a concealed weapon, a black body bag, a 50lb weight and a stagnant pond.
  15. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

    May 15, 2008
    The comment about a residents' legs would definitely not fly in the USA in most environments. The comment about wanting to C section you is just a little weird...I think he was trying to say it would be much EASIER to do one on someone like you vs. someone who is so heavy/obese. So maybe it was a clumsy attempt at humor. I don't know, I wasn't there.
    For what it's worth, I think you are doing the right thing in ignoring if someone is touching you or giving you a blatant sexual come-on, that's different. I'm not sure I agree that touching you on the shoulder is, or should be considered, sexual harrassment. Was it a massage or just an "attagirl" kind of shoulder touch? When you are a trainee better to keep your nose clean, and not tick people off, as you've said.

    Thanks for posting here...interesting to hear from one in UK.
    Keep up the good work. I recently survived residency!!!

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