Over the last few days the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon has been trending on twitter and has sparked interest across the globe. It originated when a female engineer @IsisAnchalee was told she didn’t look like an engineer and started the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. This was followed by a female surgical resident Dr Heather Logghe suggesting that #ILookLikeASurgeon might be next and sure enough the twitter world responded. Female surgeons from America, UK, Australia, Europe and elsewhere posted their photo claiming that they ‘look like a surgeon’ – because they are surgeons – celebrating the diversity of surgeons and smashing the gender stereotype.
So many female surgeons have been told they “don’t look like a surgeon” – so obviously there is some image of what a surgeon is supposed to look like that has been emblazoned onto the minds of the populace and that still reigns supreme. Of course once upon a time….. ALL surgeons were men – and so clearly ANY woman is not going to fulfill that image – even though some of us may have tried to emulate those manly traits that inhabit the patriarchal stereotype of ‘the surgeon’. Indeed even if we succeeded in adopting those traits and acted accordingly we still did not look like men – so no matter how hard we tried, we could never fit the bill of ‘looking like a surgeon’ even though we already were! Could it be as simple as that? Could it be that no matter what a woman did or said, she would never be considered to ‘look like a surgeon’ simply because she isn’t a man and doesn’t possess the necessary anatomy, even if she did have the ballsy attitude?
Of course the stereotype is not just a man – it is a man in a pin stripe suit, an arrogant man who holds court in the ward or operating theatre and who can instill fear into the heart of nurses, junior doctors and students with just a look or a word, who assumes the all powerful status of being the one to tell you exactly how it is, no matter who you are (patient or staff) and whom no-one dared to question or counter. A man who commanded and controlled, who was an authoritarian dictator, who battled night and day to save lives and who was both given and assumed a God-like status. Of course this God-like status was the false God of the authoritarian dictator who could do and say whatever he liked irrespective of the effect on others and who bears no resemblance whatsoever to God in truth. He is the surgeon of films and tv shows that perpetuate the stereotype – and so no wonder female surgeons are oft frequented with ‘you don’t look like a surgeon’ – and we never will whilst that stereotype dominates the consciousness. Of course I have to add that there are lots of male surgeons who do not fit this stereotype either thankfully! But certainly this image that to be a surgeon one must be a man is one that needs to be and is definitely worth smashing – and the twitter storm of beautiful faces is doing just that!
I know from personal experience it is definitely possible to adopt the stereotypical patriarchal traits of “the surgeon” – someone who is arrogant, superior, hard, tough, demanding, takes no prisoners, does not suffer fools, who prides themselves on the long hours they work, who gives orders and expects them to be obeyed without question or counter and who in many cases had more balls than the men and whose ruthlessness and aggression was justified by it all being done in the name of providing good care for the patient. I lived that stereotype for many years. Stamina was my middle name. My identity and sense of self-worth was wrapped up in being a surgeon – it gave me power over others, commanded a certain respect because of my profession and was a key part of my identity. I prided myself on being tough and hard, strong and in control – I thought it was a good way to be, that that was what was needed to be a good surgeon.
However, since those days much has changed, especially my relationship with myself and from there my relationship with others and my work. I have discovered much about myself and why I was the way I was and what was underlying those ill-behaviours. The way that I am with myself and with others has completely changed – I am no longer the tough nosed, hard, domineering surgeon of days gone past. My sense of self-worth and my identity no longer come from being a surgeon – surgery is what I do, but it is not who I am. So who am I?
Who I am is purely and simply love – love is the essence of my being (and everyone else’s) and surgery is one of the ways that I get to express the love that I am through what I do. If we need two little letters in front of our name (Dr) or a list of qualifications after our name to feel better about ourselves, then we can be sure that our sense of self-worth is derived from things that are outside of ourselves, by measures that society have deemed are what makes us a good person, a worthy person – rather than coming from the innate divinity that rests within. When we have the latter as our foundation then outer identfiers are seen for the false pillars they are and more importantly we have an inner strength that is true and indomitable.
When we are dependent on the outer recognition we can be easily offended when people do not give us the recognition we are seeking – hence why some female doctors or surgeons can be offended when they are called ‘nurse’ by patients – as all their years of hard slog to be a doctor or surgeon is not being recognized. When we feel that we are somehow superior or better than another just because we have studied longer or harder – we are in deep, deep illusion. For when we know who we are, it doesn’t really matter what people call us, as our sense of self is not dependent on the outer – there is an inner unshakeable knowing that who you are cannot be offended by any labels or identifiers that are not true.
We come to know that before any role or job title we are people first and foremost – whether that’s a nurse, doctor, surgeon, dentist, accountant, hairdresser or carpenter – these are all what we do for a living but they are not who we are. The truth of who we are is so much grander than any role we play or adopt. We also know that there is true equality – that no-one is more worthy or less worthy – for all are love in essence, even though we may not all be expressing that love! To be mistakenly called a nurse is no sleight nor should it cause offence – and those that are offended have a shaky self-esteem built on outer pillars that can crumble to dust. Personally I have nurses in my family and some of my best friends are nurses and of course many are work colleagues – they are hard-working professionals who care deeply about people – but before all of that they are people whose essence is love and worthy of respect without needing to do anything, as we all are.
People like to be accorded their appropriate names and titles and it’s a part of how we work in current day healthcare and there is no problem with that provided the equality of all is recognized first – but that is not what happens. People use their job titles to have power over another, to bully and abuse and so we have a healthcare environment that is not actually very caring. But imagine what it would be like if we treated each other as people first, people who are love, and not our job titles? Is it possible that could annihilate the medical hierarchy and level the playing field in a way that was beneficial for all? No more power plays and struggles – just people helping people, collaborating instead of competing, working harmoniously together instead of fighting and arguing creating disharmony, stress, and tension; where the most junior person in terms of professional rank feels equal and valued in person to the most senior in rank and can express accordingly? Surely that would be a healthcare service and environment worth providing?
It may be stating the obvious but we are women before we are surgeons – we were born female but we did not come with a scalpel in our hands from the womb. Where I and many others have made a mistake is thinking that we needed to be like the men to play in what was their assumed territory – instead of connecting with and bringing to surgery the qualities of the true woman.
A true woman is someone who is comfortable in her own skin, who does not need to put on any face or mask, who does not need to pretend to be something she is not, who is natural and at ease, steady and consistent, who can be tender and nurturing as well as strong and firm, who does not suffer any abuse, she is not emotionally driven and neither is she scared of her own vulnerability and fragility; she is a woman who cares deeply both for herself and others and who beholds all equally with the same quality of love. Now there is a Godly way to be! The true woman lives within all women for that is what we are – they are innate qualities that we can connect with and live from and bring to all that we do. In this way we can truly claim #ILookLikeASurgeon and surgery is what I do, not who I am – for who I am is so much more. When we bring the truth of who we are to what we do – then the true magic begins and the magic of God is known.
I have been blessed to learn about life, love, God and the human condition from Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine and through applying the teachings in my life, I continue to unfold and deepen my own connection to the true woman within me and bring that to all that I do to the best of my ability and definitely without perfection! But they say a picture is worth a thousand words and that the camera never lies – so I posted pictures on my twitter feed as a surgeon before and after applying these teachings and you can see for yourself if you feel there is a difference.( or click on the links below)
For me now it is a no-brainer – living the love we are is the key to true health, wellbeing and to being a surgeon….without needing that identifier to feel worthy or better about myself for it is not who I am, it is what I do.
No hurt nor wound,
No illness nor disease,
No word nor deed,
Can alter that
Eunice J Minford ©