Taking It

Looking up at the Statue of Liberty

“He just hit on me again…” She shook her head in disbelief as she sat down the phone receiver. “The man comes in with an STD and then wants my phone number so we can hook up after he finishes the medication.”

“Again? Did he hit on you when he was here?”

“Yep. Twice.”

“Was he disrespectful?” I caught myself. What constitutes disrespect? He didn’t call her a cunt or force himself on her but then isn’t continuing to ignore her refusal as sign of disrespect? Particularly given the context.

“I don’t guess so…”

“I can fire him or have the office manager call him up and tell him to stop.”

“No. That will affect our survey results… likelihood to recommend practice and friendliness of the medical assistant….” Her pay raises and evaluations were linked by the healthcare system to those patient satisfaction measures much like 5% of my income depends on meeting certain thresholds for patient satisfaction.

“Well, you already told him no. That’ll affect it, too.”


I think back on all of the times I have laughed off unwelcome advances over the years, people who really and truly crossed the line, and I said nothing. I stood tall and laughed it off, not showing my displeasure.

What will he think if I tell him to back off?

“It doesn’t happen often does it?” people ask. 

Depends on if you meet their definition of “pretty” or not. Then there is the question how often is too often? How far is too far?

Admittedly, “Doc, you sure look nice today,” is a far cry from “I’d like to fuck you.” 

Complements are nice. 

Harassment is not.

It isn’t like my medical assistant wears short skirts and low cut blouses. She wears baggy scrubs. I wear professional attire. Pants. A skirt to at least my knees. A blazer. Maybe jeans on a Friday. We don’t flirt with patients. We aren’t asking for it.

In the past, I have considered these sorts of encounters a part of the job. Now I want to tell this man that what he is doing is crosssing a line but is that going too far?Maybe no one ever said anything to him before. Maybe no one ever will. Maybe he will become the president of the United States or a powerful media mogul in Hollywood. Maybe I am just being overly sensitive. 


113 thoughts on “Taking It

  1. I just finished writing/editing two reference books on rape, so I’ll hold off on the rant, but ugh. I can’t imagine a woman (and some men, too) who has never experienced this, and of course, it doesn’t matter what you are wearing. No, you are not being overly sensitive!

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Often times I just let them talk on- then they would get the message- not interested. I was told to do that, now days if you do that they tell you- you are playing hard to get and they curse you… I just shrug it off and walk away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are not being overly sensitive. Write his sorry ass up. I am fed up with people getting a pass harassing someone else. It is bullying. I have 3 daughters all who have had to deal with this at various levels. Heck, I wrote about myself being hit on by a male customer this Summer..still creeps me out.I will admit I probably have a hair trigger when it comes to this stuff. My eldest daughter was literally chased by a frick’n semi several years ago, with her baby daughter in the back seat. My 16 yr old daughter (at the time) was exposed to multiple perverse comments while working @ a local golf club. I would STILL like to go in there and bust up some skulls (in love mind you) and as a dad who has had to take one of his daughters to the emergency room after a sexual assault….I have zero tolerance for dirty old (or young men) messing with people I care about…zero…nada…

    Liked by 5 people

    • I hope more men stand up to it, too, when they see/hear it. Weinstein’s behavior was well known. How different would that story have ended if he had been dealt with 30 years ago by the men around him who knew what was going on?

      Liked by 5 people

      • I could tell you stories…. (I’ve done it twice….called someone out on this sort of stuff…) One story… I was on a tour of a Pella window factory years ago…one of the other contractors repeatedly kept saying suggestive stuff to one of the ladies in our group of mostly men. I didn’t know either one but it was SO unprofessional, and repetitive I said something later to my window rep about it…who in turn reported it to his supervisors…who in turn confronted the contractor..who in turn called me a few days later @ 6 AM in the morning…asked me what the heck I was thinking..that was a robust conversation as I recall. It takes a lot to piss me off, this just happens to be one of those issues.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. You are NOT being overly sensitive. and people’s livelihood should not be linked to surveys. You should not be afraid to take up for yourself because your survey will come back negative. That’s just wrong.
    And those who prey on others should be called out. They should be told, this is not acceptable and we will not stand for it.
    We’ve been disrespected by men like that for too long.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I find it’s safer to laugh it off / ignore it / pretend I don’t hear it in a brief situation, when it’s not likely I’ll ever encounter the man again. In dealing with it repeatedly, well, I don’t. I feel for your assistant. It’s creepy. I dislike that pointing out his creepiness could have negative impact on her review, or the grade of your practice. There should be a counterpoint.
    Furthermore, if it were the assistant of a male doc, the male doc could speak to him about his behavior and get completely different results. That eats at me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Grrrrr….I wont get on my soapbox…okay stepped away from my soapbox. You are not being overly sensitive and you nor your medical assistant are asking for it, even if she wasnt wearing baggy scrubs. It so sad that this still goes on. My sons friend (an attorney in a large corp) is being blatantly sexuality harassed. She asked her father, who is also an attorney for HR advice and he said, you will screw up your whole career if you bring a complaint. What? Someone’s own father advising his 28 yr old daughter to put up and shut up? When do we start to out our foot down and say no!
    A survey should not sway any persons right to be respected. Oops, did I get on my soapbox?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I dealt with that struggle in regards to a security guard at Walmart. I knew he was more then just being friendly and he even hit on me right in front of my Husband. I wondered was I just being overly sensitive and then I found out through a friend that it happened to her over and over again too. She had to have a male friend step in and tell him to never come near her again. After that I phoned Walmart. I don’t know that anything was ever done. The company he worked for was supposed to call me and they never did.
    He no longer works at Walmart thankfully, although I doubt it had anything to do with my complaint.
    Every so often I will still see him in shopping or whatever, and he still tries. I’ve made it very obvious to him to stay clear of me. Some people have no boundaries.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. That’s a hard one too deal with. I think the man is short on comman sense and manners, more like a patient with multiple problems, far reaching! Repeated NO in monotone will be the strongest response. He’ll give up and be on to someone else. A survey saver! Hopefully! Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have no idea why some men behave like that, as if they’re gods gift to women and are somehow entitled to say whatever they want. I suspect it’s a lot of hot air, puffing up, and a bit of overcompensating for some kinda deficiency. I hope you guys know we aren’t all like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t think you’re being sensitive at all. As a human being, you have the right not to be made to feel uncomfortable by anybody else, man or woman. And if that costs you a rating, then this is an abhorrent world we live in. I’ve felt like that before and I have ignored it but I don’t think it should be ignored. When I was eleven I was made to feel like a sexual object by a male stranger and I didn’t even know what sexual was, back then. I felt dirty and somehow responsible for how that person treated me. As an adult woman, I can still be made to feel that way. It isn’t your clothes – woman in burqas get raped!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think we as women physicians have thicker skins than the average woman and we can brush off harassment more easily but we also have great power and responsibility to protect other women. I’m not sure what the right answer is but fuck the survey. If he complains about it, he’ll sound like a kook. I would let the MA avoid working with him at future visits for sure. Ugh, he sounds slimy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I ignore the surveys, which drives them all mad. I figure you cannot put a price tag on that sort of thing. I tell staff I am more interested in them taking care of patients respectfully and compassionately than anything else. Sometimes doing the right thing means you take a hit on popularity/satisfaction.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Maybe you both deserve to be treated like human beings. First off by those creating a system that makes you have to decide to make a living or call uncouth behaviorists on their uncouth behavior. They are worse than the “second off’s” who behave like animals and don’t have to deal with consequences of their behaviors.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Wow, what a creep. It’s sad that medical assistants and physicians are at the mercy of patient reviews and can’t call out an idiot when it’s merited. It’s even sadder that women are constantly judged by their appearance and sexual appeal on the job.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Trust your gut instincts…If it feels creepy, he is probably acting creepy. If ever in doubt I always imagine my daughter coming to me in the same situation and asking myself, ‘Would this seem inappropriate if this happened to her? MUCH easier and clearier (for me) to see it from this perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I did not even read everyone else’s comments. TELL HIM in no uncertain terms to stop. Harassment is on the receiver. If they feel uncomfortable, then it is harassment. Jokers like this think they are cute or funny. It is neither. And for someone who may have a history of past sexual abuse, these innocent comments may trigger a much larger response. There really is no need for it, is there? Tell him to stop and why. One ding is not going to put you out of a job. Screw the survey scores.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. People ask why women don’t speak up (even about rape). We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. I really think men will never get it. It looks different, but underneath it’s not. That’s why Trump is President.
    And those “customer satisfaction” surveys are just dumb. Like the teacher evaluations…these jobs are not popularity contests. You should not have to worry about doing the right thing. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Even if you or your medical assistant where wearing a short skirt or a low cut blouse, you still wouldn’t be asking for it. As soon as your clothes are blamed for someone else’s actions, the responsibility shifts to you, when it is not your responsibility.

    I absolutely hate that so many women have to put up with this crap in work or anywhere else, and that we are expected to smile sweetly and say thank you.

    Good on you for talking about it in your profession. This stuff needs to be talked about more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The network does not care. For instance, I fired a patient for being terrible to my staff. Cussing loudly in the waiting room, throwing a pen and a clip board, etc. on more than one occasion. They got a survey and blasted the whole practice. I asked to have that removed since we had documentation. We were refused. Or the case of the schizophrenic patient with a psychotic break who was worked in as an emergency. They wrote a terrible review and later, when they were stabilized, wrote a very nice apology letter and offered to do a new survey. They would not pull the bad review. On the one hand, for the survey results to be “valid”, you can’t remove bad data. In theory, every other practice has the same risk so it is a level playing field, right? Except that it is not. Physicians feel pressure to write more antibiotics, more narcotics, put up with unacceptable behavior. It one of the arguments against patient satisfaction surveys. The suits won’t let it go, though. They want something measurable at all costs.


  18. We threw one out of the office one day. He was what we call a hugger. Wanted to hug everyone, even if they said no. I think there has to be a line, and small things should be laughed off. When that line is crossed it’s time to take action. I also think a collective of medical people should approach the powers about how to address bad reviews. This is an harassment suit waiting to happen. Everyone’s paycheck is dependent upon putting up with a hostile working environment. Lawyers are probably flying lazy circles as I type.

    Liked by 2 people

      • The things you think make you happy are not necessarily the best things for you. Meniscus tears often do just as well with physical therapy as the do with surgery. Stable angina does better with medical treatment (drugs) than with heart catheterization and stents. People want aggressive, more expensive treatments. That makes them happy. It also costs more and is less effective in a lot of cases.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I tell patients to try physical therapy first. I tell them what the data shows. They refuse. It is an investment of time and money with a possibility that it won’t work and an orthopedic surgeon is waiting at the end if they fail PT. They want to see an orthopedic surgeon first. So I send them. They get surgery. They are happy. BUT they spent more money and have surgical complication risks like infection and blood clots that they would not have with PT. I can refuse to send them to surgery first but they will find another doc somewhere that will do the referral instead and in the process, they leave a bad review.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling someone something they’re doing is making you uncomfortable. Some people may not even realize what they’re doing is bothering you. Others need to know you aren’t going to put up with their bullshit. People who don’t know where boundaries lie won’t find them unless someone points them out. Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. You have to be a woman to truly understand this. And even as a woman, you have to stop and look at it, because we are so inured to it. It’s so much a part of our lives that we often don’t even question it. ‘Laugh awkwardly, change subject’ is just part of the norm.

    Humans always make cost-benefit calculations without even considering it. And this one is one that women make constantly. We know instinctively that at MINIMUM we will be labeled a bitch for telling a man his offhand and offensive compliment is unwelcome, while he will be the hurt party because it was a compliment. That’s just the ingrained social interaction knowledge that we all absorb and manage in our daily lives.

    Add in all the factors you just mentioned and it’s hard to call it worth it.

    After all. we are so inured to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I saw my primary physician today and noticed a sign..
    For Security reasons no hoodies, (can’t remember the 2nd no no), or sunglasses are allowed to be worn in the building..
    There should be larger signs posted saying Harrassment is illegal, will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted..

    This survey system you are under is wrong and meaningless without a degree of scrutiny.. It removes the intended purpose as a tool of insight for improvements.. It’s a weapon of punishment only..
    It’s another reason I admire your will to continue in your profession and struggle with the moral conflicts you face.. I hope you never surrender..
    Someone already posted harrassment for what it is, bullying.. I have no tolerance for harrassment anymore.. There’s a huge difference between social awkwardness and harassment..
    I also believe surveys should be under close scrutiny from patients that work in any capacity at the practice before being included as valid.. This post burns me up but I’m glad you posted it..

    Liked by 1 person

    • The sign you saw is interesting to me. Patients with migraines or iritis often wear sunglasses because the light makes pain worse. Hoodies feel good when you are sick and have a fever/chills. I wonder what prompted that? And thank you. I think we need to change the way surveys are administered to make them more meaningful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hats are the other no no, I couldn’t remember.. It’s so people can’t as easily hide their identities from cctv cameras and witnesses, which all 3 items can by themselves or in combination effectively thwart identification.. Many banks have the same policy and it seems at least my medical provider adopted it from the banks.. There’s also an in house pharmacy, so you can imagine the amount of cash on hand at anytime between the med group and pharmacy.. It’s a crazy and unpredictable world and this is just another tool to try to make those with ill intentions go elsewhere to commit crimes..

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Rache and I talked on the phone a couple of days ago. One of the things we talked about was how sexist 70s & 80s action movies were. She’d just watched the original Ghostbusters and was seriously creeped out by Murray’s character, who never heard “no” and kept pushing for his way.

    Having gone through entirely too many maddening I-already-said-no conversations (and similar), I don’t think it’s being overly sensitive. I think it’s fair to request he stop, though it sucks there’s a potential you’ll be dinged for asking someone to stop doing something clearly unwelcome. For me, this comes down to (*cough*) more Gavin de Becker: men prioritize their own possibility of pleasure over a woman’s comfort when they keep not pushing against resistance. That seemingly small thing isn’t really so small, but instead the tip of an iceberg that expresses itself in lots of terrible ways.

    Ugh to domination efforts, overt and subtle. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. No, you are not overly sensitive! We do need to take a stand!
    Now in saying that I will say that I do know of some situations where women did throw themselves at the men and then would go off yelling about harrassment from them when they would get rejected or when the men would flirt back. We need to not tolerate that either! Those women are just as wrong for what they do.

    Tell me what do you think of this situation. Teen-age girl hurt her wrist, had it in a sling. Didn’t want to call off work, so went anyway and worked as cashier with one hand. Took a restroom break. Came out of the restroom and saw her manager staring at her with a smile on his face. He said, ” I was just about to come in and see if you needed help pulling up your pants!”

    Liked by 1 person

  24. When I was younger I’d let things like this pass, nowadays I’d just fix the guy with a stare and tell him to fuck off. Grrr… yes, they need to either show some respect or stop asking.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Overly sensitive? No. I think you are right. And if we extend the perspective to all abuse… (of authority, of power, of status, of Narcissism, etc.) some go too far precisely because nobody stops them on time. Hitler is a good case in point. If Daladier and Chamberlain had stopped him in Munich, maybe we could have been spared 60 million dead? And yes, the guy who keeps “hitting on” and Hitler are in the same category. The arbitrary will lead us to our doom if we don’t stop it. Report that patient. And screw the ratings.

    Liked by 1 person

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