How we live now

Life for Canadian dentistry students who are careless enough to be women can be quite unpleasant, it appears.

“It was hell,” said the resident, CBC News is calling “Sarah”. We have agreed to protect her identity because she fears retaliation​ and damage to her professional career.​

Over the course of her final year in residency she says she and other female peers were targets of misogynistic jokes, comments and text messages made by a fellow male resident.

“When I started I was one of two females and the jokes [and] the acceptance for certain kinds of jokes were shocking to me.”

“He would make comments about other [female] residents weight or about her height. When we were studying cranial-facial abnormalities he would pick each one of us and say that we look to have this syndrome.”

Sarah says eventually it evolved to text messaging.

“I got a text message from him asking where he could find girls like me, I asked what he was talking about and he said ‘oh, because you’re a whore.'”

It’s not the worst thing that could happen, but it’s not something anyone should have to put up with, either. It’s not cool. If they were already professionals it would be called unprofessional; since they’re students, it’s…well it’s still unprofessional. It’s not the way to treat people.

Another female resident sent screen shots of the the text messages to the program’s director. Sarah says the next day, the male student sent an email to class apologizing.

The letter read,

“It’s been brought to my attention that my behaviour to residents in the program has been unacceptable, inappropriate and not in a professional manner.”

He needed to be told that?

If he didn’t know that without being told, it’s debatable whether he should be in any kind of doctor-patient field to begin with. Casual sadists shouldn’t go for jobs where they work directly with and on human beings. I wouldn’t want that guy sticking sharp things into my mouth.

The student didn’t consider the email sufficient.

Finally she filed a formal complaint with the faculty, who launched the investigation. During this time, she says she was still forced to sit two chairs from this resident, despite pleading with the faculty to have him moved. It was not until Sarah hired a lawyer that the university obliged to switch him out of the class.

“What upsets me the most is that if his comments would have been towards an ethnic group or about someone’s sexual orientation … or religion, it would be unacceptable.” she said.

I think that’s probably right. Verbal abuse of women is normalized.

H/t Ibis


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    I have recently discovered, several years after my mother’s death, that she hadn’t given me accurate, complete information about a multitude of family matters. She mentioned once that my nephew had passed a note to a girl in his high school class. The note supposedly read, “Hi, I’m Dweezil (name changed here). I sit behind you in English class. I wonder if you would like to come to my church youth group with me on Sunday afternoon – we do a lot of interesting stuff and I think you’ll have fun.” The girl supposedly gave the note the principal, and my nephew was suspended for 3 days, for sexual harassment. He was supposedly so stressed by this that he had to go on antidepressants. Everyone I mentioned this to independently observed that it made no sense, that if this actually happened as outlined above, then things have gotten insane in the schools, to the point that such innocent trivialities are now punished with such heavy-handed tactics.

    Fast forward to a coupla weeks ago, and my aunt informs me that what she heard from my mother was that the girl’s family hired an attorney and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against my nephew. Sounds like it was something quite a bit more significant than an awkward teenage note, now doesn’t it?

    Is this simply a matter of protecting the junior family member, or is there a significant element of protecting the family males involved? Difficult to tell – my brother the miscreant’s father isn’t talking, though his son, recently divorced, has also been arrested several times recently for property-related crimes. Is this another example of where a male’s disrespect toward women ends up turning out to be a disrespect for people in general and society’s laws as a whole, and finally a raging sense of entitlement and self-importance in the end?

  2. Bernard Bumner says

    The lack of professionalism goes to the top – failure to expect or enforce proper standards of behaviour is simply unacceptable.

    These types of behaviour and the attitude that they evince should be particularly concerning in someone being trained in a field of medicine.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Is this simply a matter of protecting the junior family member, or is there a significant element of protecting the family males involved?

    Occam’s razor would suggest the former. You need to make shit up to get to the latter, but that doesn’t usually seem to be a problem you (evidence: your previous suggestion that it’s not unreasonable to think that Bill Cosby is literally a serial killer).

    Your rambling anecdote sounds like simple family embarrassment at the assholish behaviour of a black sheep. Gender in this instance seems almost entirely irrelevant, especially since the assholish behaviour this unpleasant individual has gone on to commit is property crime rather than something about which you can get all self-righteously feminist on his ass. Some people – male and female – are just gits, and it seems your nephew is one. It’s interesting you blame only the male members of the family for this. No credit to his mother for raising him that way?

  4. says


    There’s no more “making shit up” to conclude that maleness was a factor than that youth was a factor in the rush to protect this boy.

    It’s not unreasonable to think Bill Cosby might be a serial killer (though without more specific evidence, I grant that it’s unreasonable to conclude he is one). His practice of drugging his victims is quite dangerous and over decades of doing it, more than one may have died because of overdose or allergies or mixing of meds or adverse reactions due to medical conditions he was unaware of. I’m sure you can also think of other highly plausible scenarios that might have resulted in a victim’s death. Not to mention that a sexual predator escalating from drugging and raping to rape & murder is not unheard of.

    “Self-righteously feminist” as though all we feminists do all day is look for women to be hurt by men or by patriarchal culture so we’ll have an opportunity to get on a soapbox. It reminds me of Michael Farris characterising CSA workers as being disappointed that reports of child abuse aren’t worse so they can have a Priority 1 case.

    “Blame only male members of the family”? The whole point of Blanche’s post was about how her *mother* lied to her to whitewash her nephew’s bad behaviour in school. She doesn’t mention “male members of the family” except to note that her brother isn’t saying anything about it. And, for the record, no one but the miscreant in question is being blamed for his actions at all. Why do you assume he was raised by his mother? Oh right, because when a guy does something crappy, it’s always a woman’s fault.

  5. Decker says

    University administrators are a lazy bunch. It would have been easy for them to put a stop to the harassment had they just done their job. The foot dragging and the refusal to acknowledge that there even was a problem made ‘Sarah’s’ life hell. That first text message should have spurred administrators into action. A male student calling his female counterpart a “whore” is totally unacceptable, and that incident should have been addressed immediately.

  6. says

    sonofrojblake never misses a chance to shit on feminism. One wonders what the attraction of FTB is for him.

    Chances to shit on feminism, I suppose. I guess some people enjoy that sort of thing. No accounting for taste.

    Decker, of course, is just a reactionary racist.

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