When you want someone to stay calm and collected, you tell them to keep a cool head. When someone has a fierce mean streak we call them hot tempered. As a society, we naturally make associations between being emotional and heat, and being rational with cold. Now, as it happens, there is some scientific backing to that generalization. A study published in Acta Psychologica (that I read about on Women’s Health The Scoop) found that when people experienced exposure to cool temperatures, they were more able to understand other’s point of view. Being cool physically allowed the study participants to place themselves in another person’s shoes, imagining how they would feel in the situation. Other research has shown that warm temperatures are linked with feeling friendly and similar to those who you share the space with (think sitting around a fire with friends). This may make you feel connected while simultaneously allowing you to project your feelings onto others, imagining they are feeling the same way you are. Physical coolness emphasizes the distance between you and another person, which can limit this reaction, and let you more fully observe their feelings without the interference of your own.
I can’t even tell you how many times I went to the health center on my college campus for a cold and a cough, and ended up being questioned about my sex life. Their go-to diagnosis was, “Well, she’s probably pregnant (or if not, maybe she has an std).” I always assumed it was because I attended a Jesuit university that the nurses were a little paranoid about sex outside of marriage, and wanted to discourage it at all costs–even when it was not medically implied. Yet, this article on Women In The World of The Daily Beast and a more recent health care experience made me realize that maybe it’s a phenomenon other than that. For me, in college this line of questioning was nothing more than a minor annoyance/funny story to tell in the caf about the health center’s continued incompetence. Both of my parents are medical professionals, so I learned about your more basic illnesses and how they should be treated at a fairly young age. With that knowledge, I was able to bring the nurses around to medicating my true illness (usually a sinus infection) without a lot of unnecessary pregnancy tests.
But for some, it isn’t that simple. When doctors jump to the conclusion that all young women are, to quote the author of the article, “reckless harlots,” it can jeopardize their health by ignoring the real problem, create unnecessary stress, fear and shame, and subject women to needless (and often costly) medical procedures. What is going on in medicine today that leads practitioners to lean towards sexual shaming when ladies visit the doctor’s for unrelated ailments? And are men being subjected to the same line of questioning when they visit a doctor for the sniffles?
Catherine Schurz contacted 20 hospitals and urgent care facilities on the East Coast, and found that many organizations agreed with this line of questioning for women of menstruation age. They admitted there is no standard policy for testing women for pregnancy or STIs, and many said they would test for pregnancy without permission, and without even asking if the women was sexually active first, if they had any inkling the women could possibly be pregnant and withholding the information. And while I thought I had left this type of sentiment behind with college and university health centers, I experienced the same type of treatment in a Manhattan ER after I fainted and hit my head pretty hard. After hours of waiting and wondering when they’d check to see if I had a concussion, a doctor swung by, confirmed that my pregnancy test was negative, and discharged me with the advice that I should take some advil and see my primary care. Though many questions and a whopper of a head ache remained, at least I wasn’t pregnant? It makes me wonder what leads doctors to doubt the information that women are providing them is true, and what contributes to their inklings that a woman is withholding potentially telling medical information.
Have you run into this experience with doctors?