Irrelevant sex/gender information

So… took the cat to the vet for the first-time last week.  Happened to see a female vet.  I needed to make a follow-up appointment for Friday, and couldn’t do the time that she was on duty.  So I asked if we could see a different vet.  The receptionist said that there was another female vet available Friday evening, which we also couldn’t do.  She said there was yet another female vet available on Thursday, at another inconvenient time.  I was puzzled that she kept mentioning the femaleness of the vets, but then thought maybe some people prefer female vets (as I prefer female gynecologists, although the reasoning is a bit harder to discern).  So I explained that I didn’t mind a male vet.  She said “Oh, but all our vets are female. The male vet’s on holiday.”  Marilyn Frye, in “Sexism”, discusses the tendency to act as though sex/gender is relevant when it really isn’t.  This seems like a really striking example of that.

3 thoughts on “Irrelevant sex/gender information

  1. I can’t resist telling another vet story which, while not so much about the irrelevance of sex/gender in humans, is about the interpretation of sex in non-human animals.

    This story came from a student of mine who was very comfortable with gender-bending. The student had a dog who happened to be male. The student named the dog “Cindy”. Apparently when Cindy was taken the vet, the vet went to great lengths to emphasize that the dog was male–thinking that my student had gotten the sex wrong. The assumption was that “Cindy” could not be an appropriate name for a male dog. Not surprisingly, my student found this experience hilarious.

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