So after a quick jaunt to the zoo with the kids today, we were driving out of Louisville and I saw a billboard that left me gob smacked. The advertisement was for Baptist Healthcare Systems. Picture if you will a bright pink rectangle with scrolling swirling white lettering which reads “Sensitive, just like a woman.” Closing with the emblem of the hospital across the bottom of the billboard. Upon sight I commented that this must be a great scandal and I’d probably find some kind of local article about it when we get home. I also exclaimed how wrong this is to place this kind of gross stereotyping so blatantly in a public place. But I still felt confident that this must be a new billboard and I am just one of many who are reacting harshly to it.
We made the trip back home and within a few minutes I searched for any information regarding this egregious billboard. I found nothing. Not even anything.
Now it could be that my over emotional lady brain is reacting in true fashion, what with me and all of my kind being so sensitive and all, but something seems wildly amiss. Of course I understand the point behind the advertisement. The good people of Baptist Healthcare Systems are trying to communicate that they have a wonderful bedside manner and should the need arise for one of us of the fairer sex to be in need of any healthcare, specifically healthcare that might involve our ever so delicate lady parts, to please consider their fine establishment.
There’s a few problems with this. For one, I already know that at least the marketing department of Baptist Healthcare does not view me as a patient to be listened to and considered for what ever my symptoms may be. They see me as a woman. And being a woman they already know that I possess certain traits which need to be handled with kid gloves. Also, I know that I won’t be taken seriously. By pinning this label on their patients, they are sending the message that if a woman comes to them and presents a list of ailments, the doctor might wave a hand and say “Oh, you are being sensitive,” It has happened in lesser situations, hasn’t it?
So what’s the big deal? One might ask. Women are more sensitive… it’s not like that’s a BAD thing! Okay, sure let’s go with that for a second. To say that all women are anything is a stereotype… and that is a bad thing. What if the billboard had said “Flamboyant, like a homosexual,” or “Athletic like an African American,” You get my point. None of these are bad traits either necessarily, but they are extremely stereotypical. To put a label on the expectation of a persons behaviour is limiting. So repeat after me everyone!
“Only SOME women are sensitive.”
The other thing that bothers me about this billboard is that it represents a mentality that is downright dangerous. Surely we are all aware of what some are calling the War on Women, in which funding for healthcare and education is being chipped away on a worldwide scale. The reason? Women are not to be trusted with their own bodies, much less the potential for the spark of life that might at any moment erupt from her fecundity and must be protected at all costs. Women are being vilified and in some places criminalized for taking part in certain activities before she is even pregnant!
You read that right.
The thing is, I wasn’t even angry about the billboard. At first I felt annoyance and offence on behalf of myself and my daughter. But once I got home and realised that no one is showing any tangible objection to the presence of this sign, I became afraid. Very afraid.
But I’m probably just being sensitive.