Gender-Based Abuse has no Place in Professional Discourse.

Physicians Can and Must Do Better

The Medical Post recently reported on a #MeTooMedicine moment that happened over Twitter involving a male physician and two women physicians that highlights in stark relief the challenges that women face in asserting their politics in public, especially on social media.

You can check out the details of the issue here, what was said and to whom. We refuse to repeat it and perpetuate its harm. The impact of such language influences far beyond the intended listener, but affects all within the range of reception: bystanders, friends, families, colleagues and patients, especially on social media, where one tweet can be shared and reshared ad infinitum. The offense is endless.

It was almost a week after the offending tweet was made, deleted and apologized for when @FMWCanada was tagged in the exchange for comment. As FMWC was not a party to the original thread, we chose to support the President of the OMA, in her comments, which echoed our sentiments. Those words are not acceptable. We called for a change in the culture of medicine. Without a more complete understanding of the incident, no further comment can be made. However.

What we understand is that it is far too easy for gender-based abuse to creep into daily encounters that would, at some point in the past, or in other scenarios, seem perfectly acceptable. Those days are gone.

We understand that when online, women experience gender-based abuse perpetrated under the mask of anonymity and empowered by communities of support. This is unacceptable.

We understand that women who experience gender-based abuse are re-victimized when they call out or report bad behaviour. This has to stop.

We understand that there must be a mechanism to move on from transgressions, to offer perpetrators a chance for reflection, remorse, remediation and redemption. How that happens remains to be seen. Recognizing the transgression and reaching out in true remorse is a good first step.

We also understand that the authority to effect change lies within the codes of conduct that rule medical organizations such as the OMA, CMA, and CMPA and urge these organizations to attend to gender-based abuse within their membership.

We reiterate our assertion: gender-based abuse has no place in our professional discourse.

Physicians can and must do better.

Federation of Medical Women of Canada