joking about sex was based on the assumption of heterosexuality of the docto

Joking about sex was based on the assumption of

This preview shows page 19 - 21 out of 27 pages.

joking about sex was based on the assumption of heterosexuality of the docto patient, and it might be used more often in heterosocial encounters in the intim context of the physical exam. Joking reaffirms the legitimacy and normalcy of some sexual behaviors, and taboo nature of others. But it does this by inverting the normal and the taboo. O what makes a joke funny is the absurdity and impossibility of the situatio describes. Thus, some of the health care workers who were interviewed felt fortable joking about sex with opposite-sex patients and elderly patients. By p ing out what is absurd, it affirms what is normal and expected. Sexual joking is a means through which men establish intimacy, although typically this inv challenging each other's masculinity and sexual prowess. Male joking of this requires that participants appear invulnerable to these attacks (Lyman 198 situation impossible to maintain in the context of a medical examination. Co quently, this type ofjoking is absent from the accounts of our respondents, exce the case of the male nurse who uses joking to demonstrate his heterosexuality t male patients. Finally, joking can decrease the social distance between patient their health care providers, and hence it can be used to help comfort and empat with patients. Even so, it is used selectively, often only with elderly patie reflecting the ageist assumption that old people are asexual. Several health providers did acknowledge that sexual joking is potentially dangerous in het social encounters in the examining room because of its sexualized overtone This content downloaded from 129.62.12.156 on Tue, 05 Sep 2017 02:35:41 UTC All use subject to
Image of page 19
Giuffre, Williams / DESEXUALIZING PHYSICAL EXAMS 475 Consequently, most of the doctors and nurses interviewed said they assiduously avoid any such joking because they fear it will be misconstrued as a sexual interest. Threatening the Patient Four female physicians and nurses encountered problems desexualizing the physical examination of their patients because they experienced unwanted sexual advances from male patients. To control such patients, they threatened to physically or verbally punish them. Some men also reported sexual harassment from patients, but they never threatened them to control their behaviors. Seven physicians (5 of them were women) and 11 nurses (9 of them women) said they experienced sexual harassment from patients, ranging from male patients who attempted to fondle or grab them, to engage in sexual innuendo, and/or to expose themselves. Some of these behaviors were experienced as threatening; others were seen as "nothing to get upset about" and "a part of the job." Recent studies indicate that sexual harassment affects many women in the health care industry. Phillips and Schneider (1993) found that 75 percent of female doctors surveyed reported sexual harassment from patients, most of whom were male. (See also Schneider and Phillips 1997.) Grieco (1987) found that 76 percent of nurses surveyed experienced sexual harassment from both physicians and patients. Foner's
Image of page 20
Image of page 21

You've reached the end of your free preview.

Want to read all 27 pages?

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture