by Jessica Martin-Weber
People regularly come to Facebook and ask what they should do when the answer is call 911 or go to the ER. Far more often than one would think.
But you know what? As much as it drives me crazy, I get it. Particularly for women.
There are times when yes, someone posts to social media when they should be calling 911 or rushing to the ER. We see it all the time.
You know what else we also see all the time?
Women who doubt themselves to the extreme.
And why wouldn’t they?
Every single day women are told they are incompetent, unknowledgeable, hysterical, and out of touch. Every singe day women are questioned about what they experience as though they can’t be trusted to know what they have gone through. Every singe day women suffer in pain and sickness because their health care providers don’t believe them. Every single day mothers have had their concerns about their own bodies and the bodies of their children dismissed. Every single day women are told what they see in their children and feel in their own bodies is just in their head. Every single day mothers are laughed at for asking questions as though they should just trust whatever they’re told. Every single day mothers are judged for their children’s appearance, behavior, health, and knowledge in ways male parents rarely encounter.
Every single day women question their own abilities and decision making skills because for so much of their lives everyone else has done the same to them.
Hysterical. Emotional. Irrational. Illogical.
When you’re constantly told you’re controlled by your feelings as though that’s a negative thing, when do you learn how to trust those feelings? When you’re constantly told you couldn’t possibly understand, when do you begin to trust your understanding?
In case you’re wondering, we’re not making this up either. Nope, this isn’t just all in our head. Women do experience a significant amount of sexism in their health care alone receiving lesser quality treatment than their male counterparts. You can read about it here, here, here, here, here, here, and here to get you started.
I get personal messages regularly from moms embarrassed because they aren’t sure what they should do and have been taught all their lives to question their decision making skills. These women come to the group, to the page, and to admins personally questioning their ability to make a decision for their child yet afraid for their child’s safety.
People, often women, particularly mothers, come to social media to get information and yes, even permission, to see a health care provider for themselves or their children because they have been conditioned to not trust themselves.
And then so many “educated” people who think rather highly of themselves and their parenting skills jump in and tell this insecure mother how stupid she is for asking FB instead of taking her child to the ER. They say things like “obvious” and “alarmed you didn’t…” and “how could anyone…”
Once again undercutting these women who believe they can’t trust themselves to make a decision.
Judgmental comments shaming them for not knowing when to call for the right kind of help does absolutely NOTHING to change that. In fact, it makes it worse.
I get waiting to call, not sure if you’re overreacting or being silly. Afraid to do something stupid that could end in your fear being used to humiliate you or even get you in trouble. I totally get it.
Because women expect to be ignored. Expect to be wrong. Expect to be seen as silly. Expect to be judged. Expected to be mocked. Expect to be considered ignorant. Expect to have their emotions dismissed. Expect to have their knowledge questioned. Expect to be seen as hysterical, ridiculous. Expect to be treated as though they are stupid. Expect to be judged.
And fear being blamed.
When you see a rather obvious question being asked on social media and you feel that the poster was stupid in asking and should have rushed to the doctor, consider simply telling them that you understand their concern and if you were in their shoes you would rush to the doctor. You could even dare to affirm her. Then wish her well.
Maybe next time she’ll not be so afraid of sounding ridiculous taking her child to the doctor.
Maybe next time her confidence will have grown a little and she won’t need your permission to listen to herself.