Of Singlism and Speculums December 26, 2011Posted by Onely in As If!.
Tags: infantile singles, single patients
As if a visit to the Ob-gyn weren’t enough fun already, there I was filling out the new-patient paperwork and being asked yet again to write in my marital status.
Because, apparently, whether you’re married or not directly correlates to: whether you have (or need) someone who’ll remind you to take your medicine, whether anyone is around to knock on the bathroom door if you’re silent in the tub for more than two hours, whether you’re happy or whether you’re going to kill yourself, whether anyone is beating on you or not, whether you feel lonely or not, whether you eat well or not, or any number of factors that could impact your treatment plan. Right?
Annoyed, I put “N/A” next to “marital status”, though what I really wanted to write was “loose woman”. Then I moved on to the next question, which was:
Name of spouse/parent:
Copious Readers, have you ever been asked for this information on a doctor’s form? If so, what did you do? My reaction was instant panic:
I don’t have a spouse. So if I don’t have a spouse, who takes care of me? Well, a parent, obviously, according to this question. Yet I don’t remember seeing a parent when I left the house this morning. Oh dear, did I misplace my parent?
It took me a few seconds, but eventually I remembered that I live alone and take care of myself. I’d always thought this was a perfectly valid way of life, but the doctor’s new patient form didn’t allow for this option. It seemed to imply that either you’re married, or you live with a parent.
Because marriage is commonly–albeit illogically–regarded as a gateway into adulthood, singlehood is often regarded as an extension of childhood (erego, singles must live with parents). This trope was clearly reflected in the wording of the questionnaire.
At first I thought maybe this was just their ham-fisted (a word one should never apply to an ob-gyn) attempt to determine who my emergency contact was, but no–there was another box further down soliciting that information. When I wrote my mom down as an emergency contact, I felt as if I were playing into the very single-as-childlike stereotype presented by the “name of spouse/parent” question–even though my mother lives several states away (and even though I don’t believe that there’s anything inherently childlike about single adults living with their parents anyway).
This cascade of insecurities made me ashamed and cranky. Or maybe it was the fact that I was about to have a pap smear. Which, by the way, hurt like a mother.
Photo credit: monarchmedicalproducts