Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Boobs

Alternate title: A tale of two cleavages

This week I had what we call practical, or simulation examinations in one of my courses. It's where I have a simulated patient (someone who pretends to have a certain diagnosis) that the students have to perform some clinical skill with. Included in the scoring of the exam are elements such as the performance of the actual clinical skill(s), how well the student explains what they are doing to their "patient", and if they adhere to a professional dress code, among others.

The dress code includes basic rules such as no torn, dirty, or excessively wrinkled clothing, no jeans, no shorts, and no skirts or dresses shorter than 2 inches above the knee as well as what we call the "4 B's". The 4 B's stand for bellies, backs, butts, and boobs, or the parts of the body that we require remain covered by clothing, including while the student is reaching both arms overhead, bending over, or leaning forward. If it seems odd to you that we have to actually tell students that exposing their bellies, backs, butts, and boobs is inappropriate, you are probably old like me :p

We try to deal with dress code issues as a part of this exam because our male faculty are not comfortable commenting on the dress of our female students (we don't have dress code violations with male students, well, except once a male student wore a t-shirt with a mostly nude woman on it from one of the ubiquitous strip clubs found in college towns). So, it falls to the female faculty to address. It's not exactly my favorite thing to do either, but I understand how the already sensitive subject could be even more difficult for a male to approach with a female student.

I had three incidences of dress code violation this time. One occurred when a student raised her arms overhead and exposed about 2 inches of "belly" between the bottom of her shirt and the top of her low rise pants, and the other two involved "boobs".


I got very different reactions from the students regarding the "boob" incidences. The first student, a young woman who is quite well endowed, didn't have a dress code violation during the exam, but I wanted to, um, congratulate her on her efforts toward that end, and encourage her to continue.

Learner: You did a great job with the dress code today. It was a good idea to wear that tank top with a higher neck line under your top.

Student 1: Yeah, I wanted to make sure I was covered.

Learner: Good. There are some times you don't do as well with the dress code though.

Student 1: I know, it's not easy for me (said with chagrin).

Learner: I understand that it isn't really fair in some ways because there are a lot of tops the other girls in your class could wear without it being an issue, that if you wore would not work. I mean, you have the boobs you have, you need to find some ways to deal with it. Trust me, you won't want to be showing that much cleavage in a clinical setting. Your tank top/camisole thingy worked well for you today, that seems to be a good option for you.

Student 1: Thank you, I'll have to get some more. I know what you mean, when I did my (clinical rotation) some patients made some comments.

Learner: Oh, that's not good.

Student 1: I know, I don't want that to be the focus. I know I need to do better and I will.

Learner: Good

The other student, who is more average sized, was wearing a top that was so low cut that even when she was standing up straight you could see way too much cleavage and when she bent forward you could clearly see her bra. She also has a tendency to dress like she is going out to a club instead of class, so I needed to address the dress code in general with her as well.

Learner: There's a problem with your top (I put my hand on my sweater to indicate the neckline)

Student 2: I thought this was a nice top.

Learner: It's too low cut. When you bent forward I could see your bra.

Student 2: I have a tank top on underneath.

Learner: Well, I couldn't see the tank top, I saw your bra.

Student 2: [eye roll]

Learner: A tank top underneath is a good idea, but the neckline needs to be higher than the neckline of the top to help.

Student 2: Yeah, okay [arms crossed]

Learner: It has also been noticed that you are pushing the limits of the dress code in class.

Student 2: [another eye roll]

Learner: Some of your shirts seem better suited to a club than a class room or clinic, like that off the shoulder top you had on last week.

Student 2: Okay [looking away from me]

Learner: It's important to project a competent professional image to your patients.

Student 2: I know.

I got the impression that she thinks I am over reacting and that it is just a matter of changing styles, not professionalism or appropriate modesty. I have a feeling she is going to complain about me. Oh well. It won't be the first time.

* I debated about whether or not to title this post "Boobs", but then I started to wonder... what would happen if I did? Would I get more hits? ( I need to get over this "everything is an experiment" way of thinking.) I feel a little cheap...

23 comments:

Roci said...

...what would happen if I did?

You got MY attention.

perhaps you are being too harsh. Male patients actually like being treated my attractive women showing their goods. it is good for the doctor's follow-up statistics too.

Male Samizdat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Learner said...

Roci,

From experience it's not in the student's best interest. Bend forward over a patient with a head injury or dementia while "showing the goods" and it is like engraving an invitation for them to say or grab something.

Learner said...

MS,

Yeah, I should have thought that someone would request pictures... I do find the male fascination with breasts kind of curious. But, I suppose that's because I can see them any time, so it's not novel or different for me (or something like that...)

She doesn't seem to care that she is dressed in a distracting manner - her self-expression is all that counts.

This is a good point too. It is an added element of distration patient's don't need when they need to focus on their treatment.

Ame said...

i live in an affluent county ... and has been said to me, the women here will be sagging everywere in the nursing homes but will have full, firm, robust boobs. and honestly, i get SOOO tired of all the cleavage. i guess when they pay 5g's for those things, or more, they want to show them off. but i get sick of it.

AND ... the last place i care to see body parts is in a medical environment. there are enough body things to deal with ... i don't care to see the staff expertly displaying their own.

***

(btw - SXM - went to visit my fiance's best friend in icu last weekend. after just a few minutes, i had to walk out of his room. the nurse right outside the door smiled and said, "I'm his nurse." i guess she was thinking he needed her. i said, "Yeah, I think he was wanting you ... but ... is there a place I can go where there aren't any hospital beds?" i think she asked something or said something ... but i was about to pass out, or something, and i just said, "I don't do body things. I need to get away from body things. Is there a place where I can go where there aren't any hospital beds?" she smiled and was VERY kind as she put her hand on my back and gently led me to the waiting room behind a closed door. ahhh ... i began breathing again. i hadn't thought before this post, but she was fully covered ... except her kind smile ;).

Learner said...

Ame,

I don't know any women who have had breast augmentation (at least not that they have told me, or is otherwise obvious to me). I know several women who have had reductions though.

I have a very, um, expressive friend who when she sees a woman with a really low cut top will say, "Put them away honey, if I wanted to see them I'd look down my own top".

I'm sorry to hear about fiance's friend. ICU isn't one of my favorite places either!

Anakin Niceguy said...

I attribute all of this to the absence of fathers to lay the law down ... on their rear ends if need be.

Ame said...

Anakin - i'm glad you said that ... i keep wondering ... WHERE ARE THE DAD'S?!!!

i was sitting behind a family in church, and sitting right next to dad was well-developed teenage daughter in a tube top ... and i just wanted to SCREAM at him!

Elusive Wapiti said...

"...male faculty are not comfortable commenting on the dress of our female students"

Because they'd know the hell they'd get if they did. Instant complaint, if not a sexual harassment charge.

I have to disagree with my friend Roci here. Not so much from the patient angle, but from the coworker angle. I personally don't appreciate it when women sex up the work environment.

Depending on the woman, if she's "cool" or not (i.e. not an axe-wielding sex harassment complaint waiting to happen), I may make something of it. As in hostile work environment complaints to EO. Anonymous of course, because I would be taken less serious as a man in the first place, and don't want to invite retaliation from the female(s) involved in the second.

It's much more riskier as a guy to deal with stuff like this because everyone expects us men to be more tolerant of that sort of thing, we get the "you gotta be kidding me" treatment a lot, and we are much more vulnerable to accusations of any sort by women.

I bet Student Two thought you were either some kind of prude or a dress code Nazi or something.

Dressing like a hooker is darn near a right these days. But Lord help the man who responds to that, negatively or positively. Unless of course, hooker-woman likes the guy in which case he can get away with murder. Ah. Such is the case with sex-harassment law these days. The only bad conduct is conduct from an ugly or poor dude and is therefore "unwanted".

"WHERE ARE THE DAD'S?!!!"

Ame, a good question. I can't relate...no way my daughter would step one foot out of the house dressed so immodestly. I'm tolerant of a lot of stuff, but I won't countenance immodesty from children of either sex.

Believe me, males notice instantly when a female displays sexual signals. And if a teenage girl doesn't think men 3x her age notice, she's fooling herself. It's not innocent fun. It's serious business.

Roci said...

"...and it is like engraving an invitation for them to say or grab something."

Then I see we are in complete agreement. So why is this bad again? It could save a fortune on morphine.

Perhaps each emergency room should have an attractive woman "breaking the dress code" standing int eh background to distract the patient while the doughty crone works on him medically?

Ame said...

EW - "Believe me, males notice instantly when a female displays sexual signals. And if a teenage girl doesn't think men 3x her age notice, she's fooling herself. It's not innocent fun. It's serious business."

what i don't get is why this is so allowed and tolerated ... and why NO ONE is telling these young girls/women what it's doing to men?!!! i simply do not get it, and i'm a woman.

i tell my girls all the time (and they're 11 and 9) that how they dress affects boys and men. why doesn't anyone tell girls this stuff?

why don't they say something from the pulpit in churches?

i think that if i ever taught a teenage girls class i'd bring over-sized black t-shirts for them to put on over their clothes before i even began teaching the class.

do mom's not know or care how men view their daughters? and how about dad's? what are they NOT thinking?

anyway ... you just stepped into one of my HOT-button-topics!!!

Learner said...

I attribute all of this to the absence of fathers to lay the law down ... on their rear ends if need be.

Hi Anakin, I don't know if either of these girls has a father at home or not, but I agree that there is a lack of male guidance and discipline in general. It seems that even when fathers are present that their influence over their daughters behavior can be limited by the influence of friends, the culture, and in some instances, the interference of the mother.

Learner said...

Ame,

I've seem teen girls in tube tops, or other similar clothes, sitting in church with their parents too. I often notice a tendency for the mother to be dressed in a less modest way too.

A friend of mine was having some struggles with her 16 year old daughter about inappropriate dress issues a few years ago. The particular article of clothing under debate was the shorts or sweat pants with words like "PINK" printed across the rear. What finally ended the argument was my friend saying "Do you want men like Mr. X (an older man the daughter did not like) staring at your butt?!?" This seemed to open the girl up to considering that the way you dress could not just attract the attention of some "cute boy" but also others. And, regardless of your intent dressing that way is going to invite things she doesn't want.

I think this is difficult for girls and young women to understand because the idea that a woman should be able to walk down the street buck nekkid and not be bothered by men she does not want to "bother" her is pushed so much.

Learner said...

EW,

Was it you who posted something about women being set up as victims (or something like that) by feminism a little while back?

In an effort to not "blame the victim" we prevent women from examining how their own behavior may put them at greater risk for "unwanted attention". The logic of "if you "show the goods", you can't object when someone takes you up on the offer" seems to be an affront. I guess it's the whole freedon without responsibility thing.

Learner said...

Roci,

Then I see we are in complete agreement. So why is this bad again? It could save a fortune on morphine.

Well, to be honest I am not sure if you are joking or serious. But, from the point of view of the "gropee" if she prefers to limit who can assume the role of "groper", wouldn't it be a good idea to not "show the goods" in such a way that she is writing a check that she has no intention of cashing?

Anonymous said...

In nursing school - this would have been about '92 or so - we had to practice physical assessments on each other. I was the only male in my "clinical group". The lesson that day was auscultating - listening to -heart and lung sounds, from which we get certain clinical clues. Someone who was, shall we say, sort of hedonistic, volunteered to be my partner ( i.e. I'd be putting my stethoscope down her shirt). She made - aloud, for the benefit of the class -- fun of me (you're not high enough! etc) since I was being shy about putting the stethoscope where it needed to be for optimal position. Over the years I have collected some funny stories, which perhaps I will share in private.

Learner said...

Nosi,

One of the young men in my program is unfortunate in that his cheeks and ears turn bright red when he is embarrassed. One of my female students (actually it is student 2 in this post) takes great delight in embarrassing him regarding the touching that is necessary in lab. Then when he blushes, she squeals "you are so cute!" the same way you would talk to a baby or puppy. As someone who is also a very obvious "blusher", I want to smack her, but I also don't want to call additional attention to her teasing him. Would you have wanted your prof to say something to the girl teasing you?

Soulfuric Acid said...

There is no respect in gender relations any more.

A favorite lyric of mine:

"All the boys are monsters,
and all the girls are whores,
so if you lose the one you love,
there's always plenty more."

Caustic, but true on many levels.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"EW,

Was it you who posted something about women being set up as victims (or something like that) by feminism a little while back? "


Boy, Learner, I don't remember. I gripe and whine so much about feminism...

"I often notice a tendency for the mother to be dressed in a less modest way too. "

That I think is the key point. The example that Mom sets. Dad can try to lay down the law, but if mom dresses immodestly herself, well then Dad can only protest so much.

Learner said...

SA,

I had to look those lyrics up...the "Squirrel Nut Zippers"? I have heard of them before but not that song.

Regarding the sentiment in the song, I'm not sure what to say, because 1. I am trying to understand these sorts of things in the light of some things I have recently learned, and 2. I guess I just think that if I am capable of demonstrating respect when dealing with members of the opposite gender that other people are capable of it too. Maybe that is about the human tendency to think other people feel or think in a way similar to you.

Learner said...

Boy, Learner, I don't remember. I gripe and whine so much about feminism...

Honestly EW, my memory is so bad lately that I could have been wrong too!

Anakin Niceguy said...

I think nurses should wear those traditional uniforms with the little hats. They look cute in them. :-P

Learner said...

I think nurses should wear those traditional uniforms with the little hats.

Anakin, including the male nurses like noseintheair? lol Just kidding!

My mom was a nurse and that was the kind of uniform she wore. My sister, the ER nurse, tells me that nurses stopped wearing the little hats because they were "walking germ and bacteria traps". Eww.