We have all heard the same snide comment before; “Someone must be on their period.” The same stereotype that women are over dramatic and so out of control of our own emotions that we cannot make rational decisions is getting old. Yes, women go through hormone cycles. So do men. Did you know that? There is barely any research on the patterns of fluctuation of testosterone in men and what it correlates to, but we know plenty about how hormones affect women. Why? Because no one stopped to wonder what in the world made men act so irrationally.
These stereotypes that women are histrionic in nature are quite literally dangerous. Misdiagnoses are 20 to 30 percent more likely in women than in men. A good, yet horrifying, read is Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus. The book is about how she was repeatedly told by doctors she had a UTI when she was actually suffering from endometriosis. This cliché idea that women are always over inflating their feelings leads to doctors assuming that women are not actually in as much pain as they claim to be. Ruptured appendixes are thought to be period cramps. Depression and anxiety disorders are written off as mood swings. Women’s pain is dismissed when studies actually show that women feel pain more intensely than men. On average, men are treated more quickly than women for abdominal pain, who spend more time waiting for painkillers they might not even receive. What will it take for people to start taking women seriously?
The unfortunate truth is that this issue is not going to change overnight. I can offer facts and statistics about the situation, but what advice could one possibly give to fix thousands of years of sexism? It is up to those in the medical field to rid themselves of their biases. We can acknowledge the disparities, educate others about them, and push for the changes to happen. Unfortunately, for now this is the world we live in. Fighting to be taken seriously, having our feelings dismissed, and our struggles silenced. Women are demonized for going through hormonal cycles while men’s emotions have never been viewed as a problem to be solved. Ironic, considering that studies comparing men and women’s emotional regulation and expression are inconclusive either way.