February 4, 2012
Writer at The Current Conscience
Earlier this year, I was watching a repeat episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The guest on this particular episode was Dr. Oz, who was tasked with answering a series of health questions, many of which were related to women’s reproductive health.
After Dr. Oz answered a question about douching, Oprah turned to a gentleman who was sitting in the audience and (with some humor) apologized to him for being stuck listening to all the conversation about “women” stuff and being seen on TV for participating in an episode that dealt with, among other topics, menstruation and menopause.
The gentleman turned out to be Major League Baseball player Jim Thome, who plays for the Chicago White Sox. He had brought his wife to the Oprah show as a gift, as Oprah Show tickets were nearly impossible to come by.
Oprah’s interaction with Jim Thome left me fuming. Why should we feel bad for him? Why would Oprah feel bad for him? I am an Oprah fan, but her apology was uncharacteristic for someone who spends her life advocating for and helping women.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t feel sorry for Jim Thome because he’s a wealthy, famous baseball player.
What I am saying is that we shouldn’t feel sorry for him because he’s a man and he doesn’t have to deal with the reality of any of the problems addressed on the Oprah show he sat in on. And instead of Oprah offering that Dr. Oz episode to Jim as an opportunity to learn more about a woman’s body — perhaps allowing him to be more supportive of his wife and female family members — he was offered an apology for having to sit in on a conversation about issues that are so central to a woman’s life.
Why is our culture so intent on protecting men from hearing about or discussing a woman’s reproductive health?
I’ve written about this phenomena in some of my previous posts. When some of the women in my life start talking about their menstrual cycles or anything else reproductive related, they stop themselves and warn me to stop listening, “But you don’t want to hear about this …”