Women in Pain

“Take some ibuprofen”

“Are you fucking kidding me!?”

It was the 3rd time I’d been back to the GP describing the excruciating pain in my back, shoulder and arms following an accident on a bus. Tears flooded my eyes and began to drop uncontrollably onto my lap. The GP gave me that pitying look that all women know, that borderline eye-roll of here we go another hysterical woman. I’d described the pain over and over again, the pins and needles which ravaged my arms, and my hands, the sharp stabbing pains across my shoulders and my back. But still, the only diagnosis I got, was the implied accusation of hypochondria, all too obvious from the looks, the comments, the lack of basic care. If it wasn’t hypochondria, it was anxiety, it seemed that anything was more plausibly the result of a bus accident than a woman’s actual physical pain. It made no sense.

After 18 weeks of pain, 3 trips to the GP, mounting anger and frustration – I broke. I could not sit their passively in that cold GP chair any longer while given fleeting glances of you’re lying every time I described my pain. I could not sit and listen while my pain was dismissed, and reduced to something curable by over-the-counter ibuprofen so I made a scene. I cried, I showed my frustration, my anger, my pain. And like that – to rid the sterile office of the hysterical woman – appeared an appointment, finally to see a specialist, to have tests done, an acknowledgement that, no, I hadn’t been fucking lying for months on end!

It sounds like a happy ending, a what are you moaning about moment? But nearly 10 years later, multiple MRIs, neurological tests, blood tests and appointments later I live with a condition that is basically ignored and has only reluctantly been diagnosed after years of fighting to prove that my pain exists. I don’t bother to go back if it worsens or if I’m worried about it; because mentally, I can’t go through the accusations, the disbelief, the frustration, again – and for what – some ibuprofen?

When I was 17 and going through all of this initially, I thought it was just me, did I look like a liar? Was I unconvincing? Did I not look unwell? Not only did I suffer from physical pain but the whole situation caused so much emotional anguish, I truly thought it was something about me individually that made me unbelievable. I think the reality is exceptionally worse.

The “gender pain gap” can be seen all over the world. A 2001 study by researchers at Maryland University The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain found that women are more likely than men to have their pain dismissed, and if it is acknowledged, they do not receive the same aggressive treatment as their male counterparts. Women suffer even more when their pain is considered a gynaecological problem and such pain is put down to “just being a woman” so, er, get over it – basically. Too many women I know personally and professionally have had their pain ignored. Have been told they’re lying, exaggerating, looking for attention. Not just by Doctors but by their partners, their friends – why is a woman’s pain so impossible? It feeds into the Freudian (PSEUDO scientific) image of Anna O the hysteric, nervous and emotional woman who has become a typecast for women everywhere in that, any pain we may endure, is really just a symptom of our nervous female “condition” – psychological, and not physical. The fact that medical professionals are indoctrinated by this idea is problematic not only in terms of the inherent sexism but the actual demonstrable impact and threat to women’s health that it poses. Let’s not forget that race, age and ability also play a key factor in the recognition of pain and cause a further widening of the gender pain gap. But at the heart of all of this is a medical profession that actively delegitimises the voices of people and their pain due to an archaic patriarchalism which still, to this day is costing lives.

When I think about the gender pain gap I remember so vividly the glee on the doctors face as he turned up the volts in my Nerve Conduction Velocity Test and his disgust at my visible pain as he shot electrodes through my neck – “why are you crying?” He asked condescendingly in a how-on-earth-can-volts-of-electricity-through-your-body-hurt kinda way.

“Fuck off you sadistic cunt” or so I wish I had said.

“Believe in the UK”

Believe that the “UK” is a nation founded on abuses of power. Believe that the “UK” is the proponent of colonialism. Believe that as a result the “UK” enslaved peoples all over the world for its own gain. Believe that the “UK” can return to its former “glory days” of economic prosperity whilst ignoring the staggering social impact of this. Believe that the “UK” can go it alone, that it doesn’t need the support of other countries which have been integral to the “UK” we know today. Ignore all of this to believe in the “UK”, to believe in yourself, to blame immigration and whimsical EU laws for your own failures. Believe in the “UK” in which even once severed from the ties of the EU you’ll still look in the mirror and hate yourself, just a staggeringly worse off version of yourself – unless you’ve gained from this severance in which you can be reassured that the public hatred will never end. Believe in the “UK” if you want to put your own misdirected interests above those of the whole, if you want to return to a fictitious nation based on selfishness. If you want to deny that any divisions exist across the North and South, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England believe in the “UK.” Believe in the UK, because you haven’t got anything else left, because the image of the past is so much more appealing than the present; the future. Believe in the “UK” – Believe in Brexit.

Measurements

There’s no peace,
Not in this life
Defined by body types
and whether you have a gap between your thighs

Success, written in the curvature
of your arse – or chest –
Measure me?
Be my fucking guest.

Do I meet the requirements?
Have I passed the test?
Too large, Doesn’t fit the mould
they said

Nonetheless, bodies reduce to bones
a skeleton: equal in the end
No evidence is left
What did you expect?

So, how big is your coffin when you die?
How many attendees at your funeral,
what did you leave behind?
A bank balance

-That’s nice

 

Vaingloriousness


“There’s nothing wrong with an enlarged gap between rich and poor”

Said a privately educated middle class university student.  An enlarged gap between rich and poor is evidence of the failings of society, politics and economics. The fucking failings of mankind. The urge to retaliate to this imbecility is insatiable, to name and shame, out this idiot for his close minded naive opinions; but he’s not the only one.

I, for one, didn’t realise we were living in 1920s America where economic prosperity was stipulated by narrow minded money obsessed bankers with no understanding of the poor such as Andrew Mellon. I didn’t realise it was every man for himself. I thought we’d evolved somewhat past that point.

Do milestones such as the Great Depression and the Financial Crisis not signify that the ‘every man for himself’, hierarchical, money obsessed economy model doesn’t work? We’re still in a deficit, there are still people living below the breadline. Really- what is the point?

But we’ve got out own Andrew Mellon, our own big money-big business-crush the poor chancellor of the exchequer: George Osborne, who fails to understand over half of the population.

In light of the public shock facing the Philpott case Osborne claims:

“The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the welfare state, and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

It isn’t a fucking lifestyle issue. It’s an issue of evil. Society can produce ‘bad’ people. But not evil. It’s intrinsic. It’s not due to the benefits system and the welfare state that Philpott to murdered his children- it’s because he was intrinsically evil- anyone would have to be to do that. Nature not nurture: fucking naivety. Maybe rather than looking at reforming the welfare state it is the judiciary system that needs to be analysed; because really, is his ‘life’ sentence good enough?

Society is unjust. Rather than punishing Philpott adequately for his crimes, MPs are calling for the welfare system to be analysed and thus punishing the poor. It’s blatant stereotyping and it’s completely uncalled for. As it stand only 3% of the total cost of welfare goes to the unemployed including the Philpott family and 40% is spent on the elderly- how does it seem right then to claim that the welfare state needs reforming due to this case? A reform that would simply widen the gap between rich and poor, desecrate equality and destroy lives. Statistics and figures should have no prevalence over people’s quality of life. Money should mean nothing but it consumes fucking everything.

In a society based on logic the concepts of ‘underprivileged’ and ‘deprived’ would not exist and people would not be perceived as either rich or poor

-but simply people.

 

American Psycho

The coverage of the 20th of July cinema shooting was more than extensive. Almost everyone can recall the crazed look, orange hair and those eyes of 24 year old James Holmes; former neuroscience PhD student and murderer. But what about the even more recent Sikh temple shooting? The face of Wade Michael Page should haunt us too, but the media has not contrived him of the lunacy that James Holmes abhors; although each act equally cries lunatic, fanatic and pure evil. James Holmes was motivated by pure insanity, randomly killing innocent people with no particular reason. Maybe this is what makes us more scared? These are everyday people, visiting the cinema, just like us. No particular age, gender or race was targeted which in the media has fuelled more fear. However, Wade Michael Page is motivated by hatred and racism to an exclusive group: Sikhs. This kind of behaviour is not unbeknown to us, and for the majority we are not part of this group. In adherence to this, media coverage on the Cinema shooting completely outweighs that of the Sikh Temple shooting. But is this right?

America, a country never celebrated for it’s acceptance of other races simple disregards this shooting as another racist attack- nothing different from the lynchings of Black Americans in the 1920s, the mistreatment of Native Americans and the restrictions upon certain ‘types’ of immigrants also in the 1920s. When will they ever move onwards? Even our own media reflects this idea though; the notoriously right wing Daily Mail have put stories about fraudsters and benefit cheats above a serious and shocking incident: the Sikh Temple shooting. However, the Daily Mail had the story on the Cinema shooting as front page news and have followed it meticulously since. This difference in coverage is wrong. Both stories should be treated equally.

The only difference that I can highlight is that of race and this is something that we should be more scared of: 


this blasé attitude towards racist acts.