Sunday, September 9, 2007

No More Hiding Behind Euphemisms

One of the harshest lessons to be learned from the AIDS epidemic is that Americans -- particularly those who are healthcare providers and editors -- can no longer afford to hide behind their fears of sexuality, sexual orientation, or explicit sexual language.

Knee-jerk reactions to such old-line societal taboos as homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgenderism are now looked upon as expressions of sexphobia that are irrational, discriminatory, and dysfunctional. Doctors and other medical personnel are hardly immune to this particular form of denial.

Sexphobia is a very serious problem in American culture. It is a bias which afflicts millions of otherwise highly intelligent, sophisticated people whose upbringing caused them to fear a loss of popularity, approval, or revenue as a result of being sexually honest.

  • Some people become easily intimidated, paralyzed, and speechless when confronted by sexphobic forces in the marketplace.

  • Some inflict their fears on others who do not mind the use of bluntly sexual

The English language is a remarkably powerful tool of communication. Although Americans may thrive on gossip and scandal, people really do not like to hear bad news. They like their news sugar-coated, harmless, and delivered to them in a nonthreatening manner.

This is not always possible.

As a doctor, you must be able to use the English language carefully, with the full power it commands. You will quickly learn that there is no way of making statements like "Your son is dead," or "You have terminal cancer," sound more "upbeat."

[Consciousness Raising Exercise #22]

Next: Liability Issues

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