Repost of another entitled ‘The Audacity of Bodily Autonomy’

I’m still all out of my own eloquence and inspiration for posting, so I’m going to utilise someone else’s again. This is a post from someone who has no end of eloquence. She’s right on the button.

Surgeon sued for giving anesthetized patient temporary tattoo. The tattoo was not at all medical in nature. She had surgery for a herniated disc and the next morning discovered a rose tattoo had been placed on her abdomen below her panty line. The doctor doesn’t deny doing it. In fact he claims he does this with all his patients to lift their spirits after surgery. Now, the really interesting (and disturbing) thing about this situation is how people have reacted to this woman’s decision to sue. The comments on this article are just the tip of the iceberg. Many people seem to be outraged by this woman being willing to sue this doctor for marking her (however temporarily) in her pelvic area without her permission.

We’ve all gone the rounds about the politics of choice as it applies to reproduction. But the idea that women’s bodies are public property doesn’t stop there. Catcalling, comments on weight, comments on hair or makeup from strangers are all just symptoms of a larger societal delusion that women’s bodies are a commodity first. Somehow we’ve gotten stuck in this idea that a woman’s valuing of her body as a part of her self comes second because her first role is to belong to the world at large. Women who refuse to accept that paradigm and insist on being recognized as people first whether it be by yelling back at catcallers, refusing to let strangers touch them, or filing suit when they feel they’ve been violated are then castigated for having the temerity to think that they can dictate what happens to their bodies. Apparently we’re just supposed accept these ‘lesser’ intrusions and not take steps to reclaim that sense of safety because nice girls know their place and don’t delude themselves that they have a right to feel safe and comfortable.

Well, I’m with the women who yell back, who walk away, who press charges and file lawsuits. Because it is past time we got past this idea that being nice = being a willing victim that never complains. I don’t want to live in a reality where people think marking an unconscious woman without her permission is a-okay because it’s temporary, or he didn’t mean any harm, or there’s no proof that he ‘actually molested her’ so she shouldn’t seek legal recourse. I know I’m talking crazy, but wouldn’t be nice to live in a world where women were viewed as people first? Where people didn’t blame the victim, but instead celebrated her willingness to fight back?

Well said.

The comments on the original piece are, well, typical.

10 responses to “Repost of another entitled ‘The Audacity of Bodily Autonomy’

  1. I shouldn’t say it, but I do enjoy reading angry and misinformed comments from people who have no grasp of what they are saying.

    Interestingly though, if that was a surgeon over here then he’d stand a good chance of being struck off for doing that. There are certain lines you don’t cross and I think he leapt over it with both feet.

    However the impression it gives of a ‘sue now, ask questions later’ are incredible.

  2. Perp, I thought that too. I think the place would be up in arms if it happened here.

    “However the impression it gives of a ’sue now, ask questions later’ are incredible.”

    How do you mean? From the woman or the commenters?

  3. To a certain extent from both. From the woman in question, it is partially understandable – to a point.

    However what people fail to realise is that they ultimately pay for the privilege through their insurance anyway, so it isn’t really free money if you know what I mean.

    It makes me laugh when people say ‘sue them’ etc. Having spent lots of money being sued and then countersuing someone, I know the real life implications of such actions, whereas it seems the majority of pent up internet posters probably don’t. It just becomes a throw away comment that is a sad reflection of the times we live in.

    A few years ago I was involved in a car crash on the outskirts of your steeply town. Luckily I was fine, a little shocked but uninjured. The number of times my insurer suggested a personal injury claim despite knowing I was okay was sickening. I’d like to think most people would do what I did and refuse, but if people see such easy money I think they get tempted by it.

  4. There will never be a point when women are seen as more than a corporeal commodity. It is so ingrained in society that it is programmed or subliminal in almost every social occasion.
    A little unrelated and excuse the poor etiquette of ranting on a stranger’s blog – some friends, my lesbian partner and I went for drinks. As has become almost inevitable at the end of the night a drunk, late thirties early forties guy came and sat at our table and made obnoxious and unsubtle advances. We are all relatively attractive in a nerdy way, but not the sort of women who men would go out of their way to pursue. It seemed the entire interchange was about power, as we could only ask the man to leave but not make him leave. He treated us like it was a gift to have him come and monopolise the end of our evening with lairy comments and misdirected advances. After about twenty minutes of politely but firmly dissuading conversation, when his comments towards me became too sexual in nature and disrespectful to my girlfriend, I told him i am gay, this is my girlfriend and I’d appreciate it that he kept his comments to himself. He then turned nasty, called me a bitch who should be grateful for his attention and started to be aggressive to a diminutive male friend of mine at the table.
    Okay, okay this guy is just an asshole. Most men would not behave like this. However, the thing that struck me was the attitude of the manageress. As soon as the man started raising his voice, she asked us to leave. We had eaten and drunk there all evening without causing trouble, and had only asserted ourselves so as not to be insulted and objectified.
    She said that one of us had to leave and she had no bouncers to throw him out. The body is a minefield of power relationships. Due to the cultural signification of our bodies as (hetero) sexualised sites and his masculine body as that of physical and social power we were penalised.


  5. Sorry, commenting more on the comments that your post .. this “so sue me” attitude really gets my goat! My father was an NHS dentist for nearly 40 years .. he did a “voluntary” service at a local hospital – all he got paid was his petrol – he didn’t even claim that .. most of the attendees were extractions because, to be quite honest, if you need to go to a hospital as an emergency, there is no hope .. he had prisoners handcuffed to the chair, loonies and all the rest .. he was nearly “struck off” because he extracted a tooth from some woman who then went to the BDA and told them that he had cause injuries “consistent with being in a head on car collision” … now having taken out teeth for some few years (including one of mine) he was fairly expert in it .. what she FAILED to tell the BDA was that she HAD BEEN IN A HEAD ON CAR COLLISION 2 WEEKS PREVIOUS!!!!!

    Sorry, totally off point, but felt I needed to let it out!

  6. Perp, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t believe the same applies to the woman who was tattooed. First, she DOES feel that she was injured by what happened, and second, I don’t think her insurance would cover this. Also, I don’t believe that she’s suing for the money, per se – I believe she’s making a point.

    Fledermaus, thank you for sharing that experience. I can just imagine it now. Big burly man thinks he’s doing a poor lesbian a favour by offering her some of his cock. That’s what she needs you know – a good old seeing to. Christ! THAT, we will never get past, it seems. But I’m shocked at the actions of the manageress. Have you complained? I suppose she is the person you would complain to, alas. I think your analysis of the role of the body in such a situation is fairly accurate. You had the sexualised (passive) bodies, and he had the sex-er (active) body, so it appeared to her that you invited his advances and deserved his wrath when you then spurned him. Because that’s how it always works between the passive (woman) and the active (man). [Sex-er is really not the ‘word’ I was looking for there, but it’s the best I can come up with right now.]

    Cat, I agree that what happened to your father is terrible. I haven’t read all the comments to the piece, but I assume that some were talking about gratuitous suing of anything that moves? For the record, I don’t believe that the woman who was tattooed is wrong in suing – I think she’s right to both make a point and to sue.

  7. I’ve no doubt that she thinks she is making a point, albeit a point dictated to her by a lawyer rather then her own thinking.

    I’d say my point is that she is being led by someone who is looking at a hefty percentage of her compensation, rather than a desire borne by herself, because if that were the case, then would a simple apology not suffice?

  8. No, an apology does not suffice – it is the fact that whilst she was drugged and entrusted to medical care he committed an act on her body that was unprofessional and gratuitous.

    My girlfriend is a Doctor (non-surgical) and I showed her this post. She was outraged. You cannot do something so intimate, regardless if you believe it was just a nice gesture, whilst somebody is vulnerable and in your professional care. It’d make you wonder what else he felt at liberty to do…

    In a country where a practitioner was banned from practicing medicine for six months for prescribing sleeping pills to a suicidal patient (a very different case) -then the answer is no an apology doesn’t cut it. However disciplinary action rather than money may be this person’s aim. It would be mine…

  9. No, an apology (hollow as I’m sure it would be) would not suffice, Perp. Apologies are too easy. Such a case requires action which the practitioner will actually notice and pay attention to.

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