Polish Government proposal: Submit to compulsory gynecological examinations, or be fired

by cherryblossomlife

cylindrical metal speculum for examination and treatment in Sims posture

“The Polish government wants to give an order so that women would be forced to undergo cytological, gynecological examinations (also called cervical smear tests). In other words, the Polish government intends to make such examinations obligatory. The Polish Minister of Health wants to make women devoid of their work if they refuse to undergo these cytological, gynecological examinations.” (Quoted from a petition currently being organized by Polish women).

“Devoid from their work” means they will be fired.

Sadistic male-dominated societies have often used the practice of compulsory gynecological examination in order to control women. The Contageous Diseases Act  was passed in England in 1864, whereby women could be stopped on the street and subjected to invasive tests by men:

The Act of 1864 stated that women found to be infected could be interned in locked hospitals for up to three months, a period gradually extended to one year with the 1869 Act. These measures were justified by medical and military officials as the most effective method to shield men from venereal disease.”

As we can see, men have conjured up this horror in the past, and today a new generation of men, drunk on power and misogyny, have decided to use this very same method to psychologically,  physically and sexually control women anew.

So I would like to discuss this subject against the backdrop of the history of gynecology.

Over the years, gynecological tests and experiments on women have been painful, cruel, perverse and unnecessary. The literature on the subject makes for sickening reading. Women have been used as guinea pigs and lab rats so that men posing as doctors could “study” the effects of this or that gynecological procedure. They purported that  experimentation was needed in order to help women, but as I will explain below, men’s interference is usually the root cause of women’s gynecological problems in the first place. 

The vivisection of black slaves by Dr Marion Sims , the so-called “Father of Gynecology”, is one example  of such horrors. He would experiment on black women by cutting into their vaginas without anaesthetic, sometimes up to thirty times on one woman alone.

Speculum

At Auschwitz, Dr. Carl Clauberg and Dr. Horst Schuman, among a number of other men, tortured Jewish women by injecting chemical substances into their wombs during experiments. Thousands of Jewish and Gypsy women were subjected to this treatment. They were sterilized by the injections, producing horrible pain, inflamed ovaries, bursting spasms.
Ninteenth century French doctors were  unhealthily interested in gynecology because they were keen on making sure women’s reproductive organs were in tip top  condition so that French women could out-breed the Germans next door.

Speculum


In Britain, Isaac Baker Brown was convinced that women who wanted to divorce their husbands would change their mind if he performed clitoridectomies (excision of the clitoris). And so he did. On many, many women. In “On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy and Hysteria in Females,” he argued that the operation was both safe and effective. “The “mental illness” of seeking a divorce was an especially important indication, for which Dr. Brown found excellent results. He claimed several patients gave up on their motions, returned to their husbands, and thereafter led the lives of exceptional wives and mothers.

In the U.S and the U.K, gynecologists excised the clitorises of little girls as young as three in order to “cure masturbation”.

I believe that when patriarchy finally falls, the medicine men will be remembered, above all else, for their amazing ability to invent illnesses.

In Gyn/Ecology, (a book which is very hard to read because of the details of the harms men have inflicted on women), Mary Daly states:

“It is important to emphazise the fact that from the inception of their profession, gynecologists have used black, immigrant, and other poor women as guinea pigs, experimenting on them without their informed consent, in order to later use the “expertise” thus gained in lucrative private practice. Yet a class analysis is inadequate here, for it falls short of explaining all of the dimensions of andocratic atrocities. The fact is that experimentation is part of the routine procedure of gynecology for women of all classes. As I have already indicated, poor and non-white women are usually totally uninformed of how they are being used for “study”. So also middle- and upper- class women are often simply not told anything, or when they are given “information” , their msieducation gives them the illusion of informed consent. There are, then, varying ways in which women serve as unwitting/unwilling “material” for gynecologists.”

It is impossible to escape the fact that for hundreds of years men have been obsessed with gynecology, and have enjoyed experimenting on women.

The point is that experimentation on women’s bodies is standard and universal gynecological practice and that is it legitimated by the divine right to “study”. Even the more critical medical journal articles invariably call for “further research”. The potential object of such studies is Everywoman. (Daly)

This particular patriarchal obsession of “caring for women’s reproductive health” transgresses time and place, so that we see the same institutional “concern” replicated today in the form of the European Union Campaign for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer in Women.

There is no such equivalent campaign for men, as far as I have seen. Men, as adults and humans, are trusted to take their health into their own hands. There are no reminder letters for men, no rounding up of men and herding them to clinics. It’s women’s “bits” alone that are viewed as intrinsically faulty, not men’s.

What is rarely mentioned is that the Pill is connected to a number of disorders and diseases and recent evidence has linked it to cervical cancer. This is unsurprising. Perhaps it is being downplayed because then women might stop taking it, leaving the pharmaceutical industry millions of dollars out of pocket, and forcing men to revert back to condoms. Hormone replacement therapy, imposed on post-menopausal women, is also responsible for cancer.

Men’s interference extends to childbirth. Once men had driven midwives out of the labour room– a systematic process which began with the witch burnings, and continues today with modern-day witch hunts of midwives– and once they had appropriated women’s skills and knowledge for themselves, there began a long process of introducing gynecological interventions which led to the tortuous deaths of thousands of women and babies.

Forceps and episiotomy are two interventions purported to help women. Episiotomy is an unnecessary procedure whereby an Ob/Gyn will cut a laboring woman’s perineum with scissors in order to hurry up the birth. Men cannot be patient. They cannot wait. They must intervene and interfere whenever possible. Midwives, such as the revolutionary Ina May Gaskin, have been fighting against this practice for decades. A growing  body of research is proving what women knew all along: that rather than preventing pelvic floor dysfunction after childbirth, episiotomy increases the risk.


Midwives know (have always known) that a woman’s body is capable of birth, and that such intervention is derived from  misogyny. A midwife will wait for the perineum to open gradually, just like a flower bud opening into bloom, in order to allow the mother to slowly push her baby out in her own time. She may use oils or a number of other tricks–not tools– of the trade to encourage the stretching of the skin. To a midwife, the ability to help a woman deliver her baby with the perineum intact is a mark of  her professionalism.

In countries where episiotomy is rife the incidents of third degree tears and incontinence are much greater. (The epidural drug, however, does create a need for intervention, due to the swift drop in the mother and baby’s blood pressure,  which necessitates a hasty delivery. When coupled with the fact the labouring woman cannot feel the baby, cannot move her legs, and cannot push, the epidural drug often leads to what is known as the “cascade of intervention” and a statistically high chance of the birth ending in forceps or C-section)

Judging from history then, we can see that men are obsessed with the concept of women’s sex-specific organs being faulty. To look at the hand-wringing that goes on over diagnosing breast cancer and cervical cancer, one would be mistaken for thinking that women die of nothing else. In The Whole Woman, Germaine Greer details the mistakes that are made in detecting cervical cancer: women are told they have cancer when they don’t, and other women with cancer are overlooked. She cites research which shows that women have not stopped dying of cervical cancer since mass screening was introduced. The death-rate has been dropping, but at the same rate as it was before smear tests were the norm.

This is a controversial topic. Amidst all the mess of gynecological experimentation and intervention, there may indeed have been the odd woman whose life was “saved”. If we manage to turn a blind eye to the death and destruction that led to it, and the Machiavellian means by which the knowledge came about, she can be held up as a testament to the “truth” of gynecology. But as Daly points out  “the ultimate irony occurs when a woman-identified woman who dares to counterattack these “helpers” of women is made to appear hostile to women. “

Whether you are a believer in gynecology or not, I think at this stage in the game,the very least women can expect is a female Ob/gyn. Research funding should be directed at women scientists and doctors. And men need to get out of the labour and delivery rooms, out of women’s vaginas and out of gynecology: they’ve outstayed their welcome. Or failing that,  somebody at least tell them that gynecology jokes aren’t funny anymore.

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31 Responses to “Polish Government proposal: Submit to compulsory gynecological examinations, or be fired”

  1. “In Britain, Isaac Baker Brown was convinced that women who wanted to divorce their husbands would change their mind if he performed clitoridectomies (excision of the clitoris). And so he did. On many, many women. In “On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy and Hysteria in Females,” he argued that the operation was both safe and effective. “The “mental illness” of seeking a divorce was an especially important indication, for which Dr. Brown found excellent results. He claimed several patients gave up on their motions, returned to their husbands, and thereafter led the lives of exceptional wives and mothers.”

    No doubt they were threatened with further “medical interventions” if they talked about divorce again! It is thuggery, ‘do something we don’t like and we will find a “medical reason” to cut you up a bit.’

    “Whether you are a believer in gynecology or not, I think at this stage in the game,the very least women can expect is a female Ob/gyn. Research funding should be directed at women scientists and doctors. And men need to get out of the labour and delivery rooms, out of women’s vaginas and out of gynaecology:”

    Forever and ever Ament (feminised form has a t)

  2. Radfem analysis of gynecology is so chilling, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to read gyn/ecology for that reason. This shit is just…pure unadulterated woman hating, pure male supremecy, pure sexualized torture and sexual abuse. That’s all it is.

    Sheila Jeffreys gave a talk on depictions of rape in classic literature and she gave what was essentially a trigger warning ahead of time, when she said that these depictions upset us not because they depict sex, but because they depict sexual politics. Woman hating sexual politics. And that’s just what’s happening here: this isn’t medicine, or women’s medicine, its something else. Sexual politics.

  3. Oh, and those depictions of rape were presented as being instances of sex, only. Not rape. Ie. Men “taking” women in that oh so sexxxay way that’s also a crime. Just like gynecological procedures are depicted as “medicine” but they clearly aren’t are they? They are depictions of sexualized torture of women, legitimized.

  4. I can hardly read this. It makes my blood boil. Only female gyns for me. My sister had cancer of the cervix, and so I do get pap tests. But with a good gyn, this is much easier than when I had male gyns (many decades ago). I know that cervical cancer is not hereditary, but I still get them just in case, peace of mind.

    I could write a book about the harms I and most other women I know have suffered as guinea pigs. I think every woman can. The stories are endless. I agree, CBL, that I believe that when patriarchy finally falls, the medicine men will be remembered, above all else, for their amazing ability to invent illnesses. and so much more.

  5. PIV is thought to be a cause of cervical cancer. And the very few times I’ve been to a ob/gyn, their main obsession was birth control pills and if I was sexually “active” with men. The survey that you fill out at the doctor’s office was so filled with hetero sex with men questions, I almost walked out.

    One doctor said they were a waste of time for women who never have sex with men. I found that revealing. Women could put men out of business by not using them if we feel we need to go to a gynecologist. I always found it weird that men went into this field of “medicine”– that creeped me out. Knowing what I now know about men’s sexual weirdness and the extent of male hatred of women’s bodies, their obsession with cutting up their bodies to be “turned into” women…

    Wow, vote with your feet!

  6. Yes Sheila thanks for that! My understanding as well is that any apparent link between non-barrier method contraceptives, and cervical cancer is that its contact with semen that causes cervical cancer. Condoms prevent cervical contact with semen. So does no piv, but almost NO ONE is willing to put women’s health and lives ahead of men’s piv entitlement, and framing of piv as “sex.”

    And ob/gyns who obsessively screen patients regarding piv and piv centric sex are really using a very honed diagnostic tool without actually telling women the biggest most unspeakable truth of all: that piv is dangerous and puts you at risk for all kinds of things. Piv-diseased and damaged vaginas and unwanted pregnancy are a fucking goldmine to gyns and they have every interest in the entire world in having women do it anyway.

  7. Oh. I haven’t had PIV since my divorce in the 1970’s. 😀 (does happy dance here). My sister is married. Maybe I’ll forgo the Pap testing. I do have a wonderful gyn, though. She treats older women, is good with alternatives to big pharma, etc. I’m on very low dose bioidentical hormones and work with her and an alternative MD.

    Hardly any doctors will tell you about bioidentical hormones because they are under the spell of big pharma. My family has a history of really bad osteoporosis. I got it at a young age and it became quite extreme at a relatively young age. I’ve watched the older women in my family in great pain for decades and also 100% bedridden because of it. Seriously frightening. The doctor told me never to fall, etc. So I went along with the bisphosphonates and for a short time big pharma hormones. These were like poison. Then I found this alternative MD who knew a lot about all of it, including how bad the bisphosphonates are. He gives me very low dose cycled bioidentical hormones (not the super high doses given movie stars to keep them sexxaay). Also other supplements. My bones are much better. It’s not perfect, but to me, it’s worth the risks. I don’t want to be bedridden for one or two decades because my spine collapses.

    The kicker is that I’ve had other doctors put down this regimen. I fired one immediately (an endocrinologist). They just want you to take the big pharma drugs. Big pharma has waged a partly successful campaign against one form of bioidentical estrogen. They want you to take either their toxic brew of artificial hormones (which caused me to be quite sick) or bisphosphonates, which also caused me to be sick. Bisphosphonates are dangerous long term, too, they don’t build bone, just keep it from turning over, and is not as effective as what I’ve done.

    One of the supplements that I take is strontium citrate. There is a drug called strontium ranelate that has decent research at building bone. It has a safety profile similar to calcium since they are similar. It is not available in the U.S. or Canada. Big pharma has blocked it because they want women on the dangerous drugs (fake hormones or bisphosphonates). They make more money that way. I also take very high dose vitamin D, since mine was way low. My doctor tests me regularly to make sure I’m in the safe range. Never take high doses of it without regular testing, though.

    So, here’s the thing. All the doctors for years only gave me two dangerous options that hurt me. They don’t care and the drug companies are evil. The two go hand-in-hand. If I hadn’t done some research on my own and also looked hard for good doctors who did not go along with this, I’d be in bad shape by now. Instead I’m in good shape. But decent doctors are rare as hen’s teeth. I tried quite a few. Luckily this doctor takes health insurance. He spends a lot of time with each patient,and I worry he’ll go bankrupt. No way to get rich how he practices. The gyn does not know as much, but she’s very open and on board. I don’t feel her rushing me out of her office either.

    I hope that this is not too off-topic or a derail. But I think that older women deserve to know that there are other options so they don’t end up in a nursing home. These are some that worked for me. They are cheaper than the conventional prescriptions, too. Certainly taking high dose vitamin D is dangerous unless you get tested regularly. You can buy strontium citrate at the health food store. Perhaps women’s collectives can do research on these things in the future and even locate doctors.

  8. Some forms of cervical cancer, are caused by some strains of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), or genital warts, which can spread by sexual/genital contact. Prior to the Pill, the most common contraceptive was the condom, this reduced disease transmission. Cervical cancer was quite rare in women, usually only found in a handful of post-menopausal women. During the 1960s-70s the rates skyrocketed, across younger age-groups in western countries, which confused health researchers why such a hitherto rare form of cancer was becoming so much more common. It took several years, but the HPV link was finally found. The population disease rates rose in direct correlation with Pill usage, because the condom had gone the way of the dinosaur. Other STDs, like syphilis which had almost been wiped out after WW2, also came back with a vengeance.

    HPV has been generally endemic within human populations for centuries, and is mostly harmless and without symptoms. But there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of different strains, only a handful are known to have a causative link to cervical cancer. Even so, the risk is not that high, and early detection and treatment methods have reduced morbidity/mortalality a great deal. But still, they had to come up with a new vaccine for this handful of strains, an obscenely expensive vaccine, for big pharma to push onto girls in mass vaccinations. Gardasil was the first one.
    I think those of us here, can well think of a better method – no PIV.

  9. The medicine men invented a drug called Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a nonsteroidal estrogen which caused cervical cancer:

    “Between 1943 and 1970, DES was widely prescriped in the United States to prevent miscarriage. Estimates of the numbers of women who received the drug range fmo 500,000 to possibly 2,000,000. Although it was not effective for preventing miscarriage, in another sense it was horribly effective. IT is now widely known that DES causes precancerous conditions and cancer in daughters of the women who took this drug during their pregnancies. INdeed, and estimated 90% of the young women exposed to DES have adenosis, the development of abnormal vaginal and cervical cells, a condition that may lead to cancer…
    Thus, pregnant women who were brainwashed into taking this drug to ensure having offspring are now chastized by the knowledge that they were unwittingly instrumental in the damaging of their daughters” (Gyn/Ecology)

    THis is yet another example of men causing gynecological problems in women.

    FCM, Gyn/Ecology was such a struggle to read 😦

  10. seriously, nothing makes a gal more ill than those old fashioned line drawings of the pure torture that medicine typically has been for women. uuuugh.

    there is NO WAY you could get me to submit to a hospital birth unless my life was in danger from the “delivery”- my mom created me and my sister naturally, but she had to call the docs eventually because she contracted an infection when she was creating me- when it’s necessary, it is, but I would avoid it so strongly at almost any cost. also, it’s incredible to believe how myopic the view is from misogyny. the fact that penises are MUCH more likely to transmit disease than vaginas means that men are the ones who should be isolated for disease, not women. fucking incredible reversals, always. absolutely incredible. it is much easier for a woman to contract herpes, HIV, what have you. for a man, contracting an STD means that the fluid has to go against the flow, but for a woman, everything’s going in the right direction. there’s enough emphasis on “logic” in patriarchy for this to be understood. just nuts, totally insane. they did this in the US as recently as WWII. Massive amounts of girls pulled out of their lives, plenty of whom were not even prostituted, adn put in “homes”, where they were quarantined and brainwashed before being released. read about it.

  11. Besides being horrendously misogynist, a lot of gynecological practices are designed to cover things up, to hide secrets. Kind of like safe access to abortion hides the fact that men seem to have so little respect for women’s bodies that they keep causing unwanted pregnancies. We aren’t supposed to think about that, we’re just supposed to be grateful we have a way to reduce the harm that’s being done to us.

    Cervical cancer and the need for pap smears is another one that covers up secrets. The odds for cervical cancer increase unbelievably the younger the age when a girl is first exposed to intercourse. There’s a reason why we are targeting that vaccine to girls around 10 years old. An appalling number of young girls are raped before they have even matured, which makes them at risk. An immature body has no natural defenses. So rather then asking the men to stop raping the children, we just have this whole campaign to convince every single woman to go have her regular pap smears and every girl child to get her immunization. Nobody ever explains to us or anyone else why we might need to do this.

    Naturally I’m not opposing abortion or pap smears, but I am opposed to the secrets they keep, the implication that women’s bodies are just defective and vulnerable to disease, and the fact that nobody has ever suggested that perhaps men should change their behavior in order to reduce the harm that is done to women and girls.

  12. rainsinger, actually the rate of cervical cancer in 1975 in the US was about 15 per 100,000. I can’t remember the reference but trust me it was always rare. Doctors have made up the bs that pap smears brought down the cervical cancer rates because in the early days uterine cancer was included in those figures.
    Lets not forget too, how many women have had hysterectomies over the years. It was invented along with oopherectomies to make women more compliant and industrious back in the 19th century. How many women have been convinced to dispose of their uterus once they are finished with having children is a disgrace.

  13. An excellent and timely article and the comments are as illuminating as ever.

    “Australian feminist Germaine Greer wrote a chapter on the dangers of cervical screening. (1999 ‘The Whole Woman’, Random House, pp. 135-147)

    “Men have the right to take care of themselves, or not, as they see fit, but women are to be taken care of whether they like it or not. Screening is many times more likely to destroy a woman’s peace of mind than it is to save her life. Women are driven through the health system like sheep through a dip. The disease they are being treated for is womanhood.” (p.147)”

    Taken from one of the comments against the main article in this blog,

    http://feministsforchoice.com/pap-smears-save-lives.htm

    From ‘Pheonix’ onwards, especially the comments from ‘Alison (Aust)’ who provides links to some excellent studies.

  14. Oh and I’ve signed the petition in support, as I think it’s a fecking disgrace that women are being treated in this way, SOLEY for the purpose of continuing PIV. Spittingly angry doesn’t cover how I feel.

    The following quote is taken from the Cochrane review on breast cancer screening.

    Authors’ conclusions
    Screening is likely to reduce breast cancer mortality. As the effect was lowest in the adequately randomised trials, a reasonable estimate is a 15% reduction corresponding to an absolute risk reduction of 0.05%. Screening led to 30% overdiagnosis and overtreatment, or an absolute risk increase of 0.5%. This means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily. Furthermore, more than 200 women will experience important psychological distress for many months because of false positive findings. It is thus not clear whether screening does more good than harm. To help ensure that the women are fully informed of both benefits and harms before they decide whether or not to attend screening, we have written an evidence-based leaflet for lay
    people that is available in several languages on http://www.cochrane.dk.

    It concludes: “It is thus not clear whether screening does more good than harm.” – would bold it but I don’t have the facility to do that. It’s clear to me that breast screening does more harm than good – it didn’t factor in the exposure to radiation from mammograms for example, just mentioned it.

  15. Thanks for linking to that Maggie. The comments there were (mostly) very sensible.
    Niki made an interesting point:
    ” The fact that Australians have a longer life expectancy and far lower hysterectomy rates than the U.S speaks volumes that these routine yearly tests are not of benefit to the female population but rather to the gyn’s bottom line.”

    And yes, I’m really disturbed about this new injection that’s being aimed at young girls. No doubt it will have side affects that won’t be discovered until years later. And it’s a sick state of affairs that, as yttik says, one reason fact that young girls are susceptable to cervical cancer at all is because their fathers and uncles are fucking them. ANd all men are fucking women, all the time. ANd yet it’s US that have to pay the consequences, not them.

  16. I find the complete lack of respect for informed consent in cervical and breast cancer screening paternalistic and unacceptable. I believe these programs fed into a very paternalistic profession and so telling women a “screening story” and using scare campaigns – to basically herd ignorant women into screening “for their own good” was fairly easy to achieve. The difference is stark in prostate screening – the facts emerged very quickly and doctors were advised to obtain informed consent – the guidelines make this screening optional – the man should decide…whereas we get “should” or “must” screen with no risk information, no mention of informed consent.
    Women are basically ordered into screening, risk information is deliberately suppressed and Govt-set targets are the focus. I believe these programs have been used to turn women onto other women as well – to isolate women who refused to obey an order to screen – this isn’t cancer screening, this is control. They also use censorship to keep the facts from women – I’ve had many posts removed from Govt health sites.

    I was shocked to get to the facts and almost 30 years later, most women are still unaware of the facts – very few women are giving informed consent for cancer screening – which is a legal and ethical requirement for all cancer screening.
    In Australia our doctors even receive an undisclosed target payment from the Govt for pap testing – undisclosed…targets and informed consent don’t work – the UK recently changed these payments, but they have some amazing advocates for informed consent.
    There is no one protecting, warning and informing women in this country. IMO, these payments are unethical and are a potential conflict of interest. (Financial Incentives Legislation and PIP scheme) So, most Australian women read a brochure that does not inform them of the actual benefits and risks of testing or rely on their doctor’s advice, who receives an undisclosed target payment. Papscreen also provides doctors with “tips” to increase their screening numbers and encourages opportunistic screening in the consult room. No mention of informed consent.

    There are no randomized controlled trials for pap testing – this was always a rare cancer that was in natural decline before testing started – it occurred as frequently as mouth cancer. Those factors are still around today, but any decline in the incidence/death rate and the screening authorities grab the credit. (Things like more women have had hysterectomies these days (1 in 3 US women will have one by age 60!), fewer women smoke (Quit campaign), better condoms post AIDS crisis, better hygiene and less sexually transmitted disease (the last two mentioned by Dr Gilbert Welch in his book, “Over-diagnosed”) Dr Welch also mentions that stomach cancer has fallen by a similar or greater margin with no screening, so without RCT’s you never know for sure whether anyone is helped…

    The lifetime risk of cc is 0.65% – take out false negative cases and consider these other factors and FEWER than 0.45% can be helped by pap testing – to “possibly” achieve this end – the lifetime risk of referral for colposcopy and usually some sort of biopsy in Australia is a huge 77% (Kavanagh et al, “Lifetime risk of colposcopy in cervical screening”)
    Any screening test that over-detects and over-treats to that degree to “possibly” help a very small number IMO, is unethical and especially without informed consent.
    In the States the last lifetime referral rates I read – 95% (Richard DeMay, “Should we abandon pap smear testing”)
    Almost all referrals are unnecessary and false positives, yet many women are left believing they had a cancer scare or actually had cervical cancer. This increases the fear of the cancer and makes women more compliant…so a tiny problem is now a big problem in our minds.
    LEEP and cone biopsies are dismissed as “minor” procedures, yet this should be a matter for each woman to decide – I certainly don’t consider these things “minor” treatments. Cervical damage can mean infertility, miscarriages, premature babies, cervical stenosis etc

    I’d urge every woman to do her reading and demand respect for informed consent – whether that be testing, no testing, reduced testing – every woman is entitled to examine her risk profile and protect herself from harm – to know the risks.
    Even high risk women only have a remote chance of benefiting from testing and should avoid over-screening.

    Australia, the US and some other countries over-screen and that increases the risks for no additional benefit – women under 30 don’t benefit from testing, but produce lots of false positives. “No country in the world has shown an decline in the incidence of or the mortality from cervical cancer in women under 30, irrespective of cervical screening.” (“Cervical cancer screening” in “Australian Doctor” July 2006 by Assoc Prof Margaret Davy and Dr Shorne.)
    This article also suggests that women could test for high risk HPV and if negative and in a monogamous relationship, could forget screening, and revisit the subject if her risk profile changes…at the moment these women are tested as doctors “can’t assume her risk profile won’t change” – testing carries the risk of a false positive and it’s an unpleasant tests (some say painful, embarrassing etc) – it should be the woman’s decision – she should be given the info she needs to make her own decisions. The profession is used to making decisions for us, accepting risk on our behalf, but we’re on our own with all of the negative outcomes. Not good enough…men are not treated this way.

    Australia tests too early AND too frequently…and with no informed consent.
    Finland has the lowest rates of cc in the world and sends the fewest women for biopsies (lifetime risk 35%-55%) – they offer 5 yearly testing from age 30 to 60. “Time to change the Policy” by Dr James Dickinson.
    Our program is now long out-of-date – proposed changes STILL have not been announced – to start screening at 25 and move to 3 yearly testing. I saw some research in the “Lancet” recently which shows the Govt and doctors are comparing the pap test records of young women with HPV vaccination records – I suspect this is why we haven’t excluded young women from the program…the delay is inexcusable….but did anyone ask these young women whether they’re happy to test for no benefit, to accept high risk of worry and/or over-treatment to further this research?
    IMO, there has never been any respect for womens’ rights in cancer screening, so unethical conduct by the Govt and doctors is largely considered acceptable, if it’s directed at women. A double standard exists…
    Of course, any young woman harmed by this program has a strong case against her doctor and the government – she has not given informed consent to screening. The evidence has been clear for many years – testing young women leads to worry and harm for no benefit. (Young women are the most likely to produce a false positive, but they are common in all age groups)
    As far as other women are concerned: it is virtually impossible to give informed consent on the basis of the info released to women and the non-disclosure of target payments. Women harmed by this program should seek legal advice – IMO, keeping women ignorant has protected doctors and the govt from negative outcomes after over-treatment – and this is something that affects very large numbers of women.

    Interesting that HPV related oral and head cancer affects more people (men and women) than cervical cancer, yet is almost completely ignored…the HPV vaccination program is only now considering vaccination for males.

    Mammograms – same thing – no informed consent, risk information suppressed and the gov target of 70% of the eligible population is the only consideration. Over-diagnosis is a hidden and serious concern in breast screening.
    See: “The risks and benefits of mammograms” at the Nordic Cochrane Institute website and listen to the lecture by Prof Michael Baum at UCL recently, “Breast cancer screening: the inconvenient truths”….at the Medphyzz site.

    The American well-woman exam should be called the sick-woman exam – it is unnecessary in symptom-free women and risks your health. Fortunately, more of your doctors are speaking out – Dr Carolyn Westhoff in “Questioning the value of the routine pelvic exam” and this next piece deals with your doctors’ refusing women birth control until they submit to unnecessary gyn exams or elective cancer screening – this is coercion.
    http://www.managingcontraception.com/newsevents/dr-bob/pelvic-exam-necessary-for-contraception-rx/

    I think more women are waking up and fighting back – we simply can’t rely on doctors or the Govts to provide us with honest information – our healthcare is controlled by politics, misguided pressure groups, vested interests $$$ and high emotion.
    I have also declined mammograms, based on information not released to women.
    Dr Joel Sherman’s medical privacy site has a section on women’s privacy issues and in the side bar, you’ll find my references – see research by Angela Raffle, UK expert, “1000 women need regular smears for 35 years to save one woman from cervical cancer”….
    http://patientprivacy.blogspot.com/2009/05/womens-privacy-modesty-concerns.html
    Thanks for a great article…

  17. dlb2,
    Thank you so much for your post.
    You mentioned that cervical cancer occurs about as frequently as mouth cancer. This is interesting to me because when I was 17 a close friend of mine actually did have mouth cancer, and then– would you believe it– another girl in my school had some sort of throat cancer. Both underwent chemotherapy. Another friend had lupus (which she believed was connected to Chernobyl, but that’s another topic)
    Anyway, my point is that I never understood why cervical and breast cancer were the *focus* of the medical establishment, when women are just as likely, if not more likely to get other types of cancers. In Wales, the rate of bowel cancer is the highest in Europe, for example, and I’ve read it could be connected to a lack of vitamin D because of the weather. Well, the more I saw of all these government campaigns aimed at curing women of their femaleness, the more it seemed obvious that they were trying to say that female body parts kill you. All very strange.

    Breast cancer is part of it too. In Smile or Die, Barbara Ehrenreich details the misogyny behind breast “awareness” campaigns and the treatment of women in general, which she only discovered after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself.

    I am starting to go bra-less whenever possible—all part of my journey into feminism, but it got me wondering whether BRAS might not be altogether a Good Thing for breasts. Our breasts might overheat, or the underwiring might cause stress, and even being “held up” in order to look pert is not really natural is it.

  18. Great post cherryblossomlife. It’s one of those posts that’s critical reading for us radfems, but makes for such tough reading! I couldn’t read it all in one go as I had to keep stopping to churn over in my mind what i’d read. I will one day try and read Gyn/Ecology.

    As UK readers might know, they have recently rolled out the vaccination against the HPV virus and all teenage girls are be vaccinated in school. Plus I kept getting letters from the doctor saying I was overdue for a spear test. For crying out loud, i hadn’t sex let alone PIV in 2 years!!!! Whilst I obviously support measures taken to genuinely help women and girls e.g. the amazing fistula doctors in Ethiopia, as we read above, men have twisted it into something sickening.
    Fired from their jobs! Women – submit to these necessary tests or you risk being broke and jobless! Proof these measures have absolutely nothing to do with our welfare and everything to do with control.
    Can you imagine if men were forced by law to undergo regular prostate checks (in the Sims position!!) and fired from their jobs if they refused?!

    Why don’t they just “diagnose” with all women with Femaleitis and be done with it… they have plenty of “cures” anyway.
    And I fully recommend going brafree! I haven’t worn a bra for about 18 months and it’s brilliant, so freeing. It may be slightly sore at first but that is just because your ligaments are not used to working on their own – it’s a bit like taking a plastercast off your leg and needed to re-build the muscle.
    Take a look at Dr Susan Love’s work as she has done a lot of research into the danger of bra wearing. Some of the possible problems may include blocked lymph glands and a build up of toxins, increasing the likelihood of cysts or tumours. FCM I believe you also talked about thoracic outlet syndrome. Also the ligaments can also atrophy and become so weak they are literally unable to support the breast – making a bra mandatory. I believe that this last point is the real reason behind pre-teen girl’s “training bras”. If a young girl wears them from the moment her breasts develop, her Cooper’s ligaments will never have the chance to develop and strengthen. After just a few years of wearing her bra, she will find going brafree quite painful because it’s too hard work for the weak ligaments. After a decade or two, she will give up on going brafree for any length of time as it’s just too painful. This, of course, fully supports the LIE that women’s breasts are too weak too support themselves!!! It’s just a modern-day version of the corsets that women were made to wear because their stomach muscles “were too weak to hold them upright”. It’s a well-thought out plan – make the girls “train” to wear a bra, ensure her ligaments do not strengthen, and as a women she HAS to now rely on the same bra that weakened her in the first place. The clever menz!!!
    You can re-strengthen your breasts by weaning yourself off the bra. For example wearing it less and less (looks like most people here take theirs off as soon as they get in from work anyway) and only when you really “have” to. Certainly switch to a non-underwired bra asap, and or a crop top. Basically wean yourself off (some women may take longer than others depending on breast size, how long you have worn bras etc) the artificial support and allow your breasts to (re)-strengthen gradually. There are many ways of camouflaging your chest if you work/live in an place where obviously brafree women are frowned on (therefore at risk of losing jobs etc) with camisoles, vest tops, loose shirts/blouses, jackets etc. I have heard from plenty of large breasted women, breastfeeding mums and cancer patients who have decided to go brafree.
    I got rid of my bras and after about 3 months I could run, do high-impact sports and dance without a bra and it doesn’t hurt anymore!!! 😀 Yippee!!! It has saved a lot of money too – bras are expensive and they wear out quickly as well.
    Plus I think the “natural and relaxed” look of a low lying, droopy unbound breast is FAR for beautiful. I sometimes think of the children’s song “do your ears hang low” and think it applies very nicely to my breasts – and that’s a good thing!
    Sorry to overtake this with comments of bras and breasts but I suppose it fully fits into the men inventing women’s illnesses problem. I will blog about this sometime.

  19. I appreciate the post about going brafree, LLFF. I never wear one at home, but don’t like to be stared at when I go out and also at work it would not be acceptable. Yesterday I was just thinking about this and wondering if anyone had found a solution other than wearing camisole tops, vests, etc. In the winter I always wear a jacket, so, no problems. But in the summer it’s too darn hot to wear an extra garment. I once asked at a bra shop, but they only had some adhesive things, and that doesn’t sound too promising either.

  20. Have you tried the aahhh bra? It’s like a fitted sports top, but gives you support – and it’s very comfortable.
    I have a heavy and fairly large bust and like to feel supported…but sometimes the heavy duty bra leaves marks and cuts into me here and there – not good for your breasts.
    Not sure if they’re in the shops yet – I bought mine over the phone after seeing a commercial on TV…
    I can’t go bra-free – too uncomfortable and I’d end up with two black eyes if I moved too quickly!

  21. Thanks for the tips on going bra-less LLFFA. 🙂 I am finding that layers hide the “obscenity” of me not wearing a bra, although there’s no way to disguise the fact I’m not wearing one.
    And yes, the first day it hurt like hell. Today is the third day and they’re feeling a lot better.

  22. Haha! 2 black eyes!

  23. I found a shirt in my closet that I haven’t worn in at least 2 years that I just discovered I don’t need a bra with and I am so happy!! Also I’m allergic to latex, so found latex free bras online which are amazing. Nothings better than my new favorite shirt though, I want to wear it every day!

  24. A surgeon, Mr Fergusson, has been cleared of removing a woman’s womb and ovaries without her consent. She went in for a minor operation and he whipped out the other organs without asking her. He was cleared on the grounds that it couldn’t be proven there wasn’t a problem. Here’s what the b`*`@%$#rd had to say about what he’d done:

    “”I acknowledge that hurt and I have felt very humbled over the years by causing it. I feel huge compassion for her and I want to apologise publicly for the stress I have caused her.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2000/feb/18/futureofthenhs.health

    Fuck you.

  25. you’re welcome – hope some people find it useful! (have you noticed how virtually all women’s clothing are designed so that they “need” the wearing to have a bra on – or are designed for bra-bound breasts? e.g darts, stitching, necklines are all designed to look good on high, gravity defying chests and if you go brafree the whole shirt suddenly looks wrong?).

    I’ve was brafree at work for quite a while before some dude made a comment. I got fed up and started wearing looser clothing to conceal my shape instead as I didn’t think dudes like him had the right to see my body or what I was or wasn’t wearing underneath. It’s easy in winter as you can just wear more layers, in the summer it’s tricker but I find Asian clothing such as cotton kaftan-style tops or tunics work well as they are designed for modest/religious cultures in very hot countries so you can go brafree without anyone knowing and also stay cool, and they are quite pretty as well.

    That news article about removing the women’s womb is just sickening. I think the women’s comment says it all “This shows that it is open season on women’s bodies…….This decision makes a mockery of the process of consent. It means anyone going in for the most trifling operation can come out minus their major organs. This is the end of the road and it is very bad news for women”.

    I had a really long conversation/debate with my mum about smear tests and other check ups the other day and how as women we had been groomed to see our bodies as inherently flawed and in need of checks/medication etc all our lives. tried to suggest that maybe it would be better for all if we were encouraged to see ourselves as inherently healthy instead, and only go to medics for healing when something did go wrong. she thought I was mad.

    By the way, I came across this amazing site about “freebirthing”/unassisted birthing! I expect birthing is one of the most over-medicalised and interfered-with natural process that women do, and these women have said chosen to have NO intervention whatsoever. http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/ Healthy women’s bodies are perfectly able to birth their babies themselves and doctors and even midwives can interrupt and upset the process. The stories are quite incredible and talk about the intimate/sensual/spiritual side of birth that would be impossible to achieve in a hospital. You can tell that it is radical as they have no names or words for many of the things they try to describe (male-language fail!) for example the Birthforce, the Great Mother…. The writer doesn’t even describe herself as a radfem. I had a while ago decided not to have children because of the risk of a terrible birth trauma/birth rape, but this had actually changed my mind!! mum still thinks I am mental though :op

  26. Hi LLFFA,
    Yes it was the natural birthing movement that brought me to back radical feminism. I was lucky enough to live in a region where there were independant midwives, so they could attend my births. BUt I can completely understand why women would choose to give birth alone than to go to hospital. I actually think rejecting the technocratic, medicalized model of childbirth is pretty radical. I mentioned Ina May Gaskin in the article above. She has really pioneered this movement in America.

    I can easily describe my birth experiences as “beautiful”

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