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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 103-104

Doctor G: Trying to break medical gender stereotypes in India – Well, almost

1 Department of Anaesthesiology (Neuro-Division), Amrita School of Medicine, Faridabad, Haryana, India
2 Department of Anaesthesiology, Amrita School of Medicine, Faridabad, Haryana, India

Date of Submission15-Mar-2023
Date of Decision20-Mar-2023
Date of Acceptance25-Mar-2023
Date of Web Publication26-Apr-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. J S Rahul
Department of Anaesthesiology (Neuro-Division), Amrita School of Medicine, Faridabad, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JME.JME_37_23

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How to cite this article:
Rahul J S, Adhikari SD. Doctor G: Trying to break medical gender stereotypes in India – Well, almost. J Med Evid 2023;4:103-4

How to cite this URL:
Rahul J S, Adhikari SD. Doctor G: Trying to break medical gender stereotypes in India – Well, almost. J Med Evid [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 7];4:103-4. Available from: http://www.journaljme.org/text.asp?2023/4/1/103/374722

Like charity, gender parity and gender stereotyping begin at home in our country. The deep-rooted notion of gender-based responsibilities has been time and again spelt out at various stages in our lives. It creeps in as early as not picking pink clothes for baby boys or teaching the girls their roles at home as opposed to their male siblings.

This is not an alien concept in medical sciences as well where gender-based fraternities have been pre-defined. To make things worse, the skewed opinions laid down by peers, parents and sometimes patients add to the existing woes. We have all seen, heard or encountered instances where our colleagues or someone we knew, or worst of all selves, picked or dissed a subject based on pre-conceived notions.

Doctor G, co-written and directed by Anubhuti Kashyap, is about a young unlikeable, confused and ego-shrouded medical graduate, Uday. He blames his girlfriend for his inability to get a good rank with little to no remorse and casually utters regressive statements with sheer normalcy. He adorns the kind of behaviour which was and perhaps is widely considered 'normal' and 'acceptable'. He loves being the confused (read 'living in his tiny world') and oppressed man (read 'doing the bare minimum as per women's standards'). He believes he is a victim while continuously keeping imaginary scores with the purported 'Stree Rog Vibhag' (Department of Gynaecology).

The writers make it clear from the outset the kind of non-gentleman Uday is. He is at a crucial juncture with big desires but lacks a decent rank for the much coveted 'Ortho'. He is shown to coerce a female colleague who chose orthopaedics by talking down to her with statements like 'How can I treat body parts which I don't have'? casually in a matter-of-fact tone. At some point in our lives, we have all seen this person who loves playing the victim yet has a sense of entitlement and borderline chauvinism.

Uday idolises his toxic cousin – Ashok, a successful orthopaedic who is pretty casual about his extramarital affair with an under-aged girl aspiring to be a doctor. We know why Uday is the way he is and where his incessant love for orthopaedics stems from. This Ashok guy did our orthopaedic colleagues badly. They deserve better.

Uday is constantly at loggerheads with his co-residents (surprisingly all females-so much for trying to break stereotypes!) in the department who, for some reason, are projected as extremely hostile and one-dimensional. The head of the department, played by an excellent Shefali Shah, advocates the need to lose his 'male touch' and calls him the 'last man standing' – more like 'last man waiting to jump out of line'. He leaves no stone unturned in proving time and again why she was right about him.

Things start changing for him as the plot proceeds – a barrage of much-needed eye-openers and perspectives start to unfold around him, changing his approach towards his work and the people around him. Better writing prevails as the movie proceeds, where how with the right kind of heroes, even the toughest misled nuts start sensing things as they should be. Like his name, how Uday 'rises' above his insensitivities, insecurities and prejudices, form the rest of the story.

His lovely, love-less tinder savvy single mother looking for companionship plays a pivotal role in Uday's character arc. From someone who is embarrassed by his mother in the beginning to someone who starts understanding her need for love towards the end, Uday comes full circle. The line of the movie comes from his mother when she explains to her confused son, in the simplistic way she understands life 'Doctor is like a “Ghee ka laddoo” beta whether you fix bones or examine stools a doctor is a doctor' hence summarising the writer's point of view.

It is an important subject matter this movie deals with, which is far more a reality in our fraternity than we acknowledge. The ortho obsession amongst men and the unwarranted belittlement when one chooses Gynaecology has been rightly dealt with with a reasonable amount of accuracy. The need for approval and validity for professional choices has been portrayed well.

However, like most pop culture vessels, Doctor G also falls victim to occasionally being confused between addressing issues versus misrepresenting or reinforcing stereotypes. On the one hand, it is trying to debunk gender differences and, at the same time, ends up stereotyping troupes. For how all women in the department for no rhyme or reason are shown to be universally toxic at least in the earlier part of the movie. At one point, it seemed to be a ballad between a chauvinistic man and a group of needlessly aggressive women. It was quite jarring to see such vilified representations in a movie trying to break those prejudices. But that quickly changes when the movie starts getting real and some extremely important issues are dealt with like gender parity, sensitivity towards parents and their desires and most of all, an open-mindedness towards areas/subjects/fields we don't always understand.

One of the jarring instances of a reality check comes when Uday's senior apathetically shouts at a patient for being scared of needles during episiotomy repair. This lack of empathy, however shocking, is known to be rampant in public sector hospitals.[1],[2] This behaviour and main streams' point-of-view, in this regard, should serve as an essential eye-opener across fraternities. The quintessential no-nonsense ideal-to-the-tee obs and gynae HOD is also shown to be needlessly rude to patients and subordinates (especially Uday) on more than one occasion. As our medical board aims to maintain high medical education and research standards, perhaps another misrepresented vital cog in this wheel would be training students/residents (perhaps faculties!) on patient etiquette and soft skill.[3] If this important problem gets overlooked, very soon, this kind of unacceptable behaviour gets masqueraded as acceptable if the wide majority are seen shouting/yelling and being rude to their patients. (Or is it already deemed acceptable?)

It may not be incorrect that there are some areas of our Indian society which still won't accept a male gynaecologist or an obstetrician. But change has to begin at home – male gynaecologists have to be taught to make an effort to make the female patients comfortable; just as female surgeons have to be taught to deal with male urogenital problems. We think a lot of this will depend on effective mentoring and non-proclamation of problematic programmed behaviour. It is not enough ONLY to teach how to do a C-section, perhaps to teach about various non-clinical soft skills that are needed to make the patient trust their doctors despite the doctor's sex.

We need to convince ourselves and address the elephant in the room without brushing it off as expected behaviour. Let us stop making unnecessary remarks if a guy chooses gynaecology, to begin with, and also let us be proud to see more and more female orthopaedics. Both should not have to struggle to prove their mettle in otherwise predominately female or male-dominated fields, respectively. Let's laud them for their choices and perhaps normalise them. We hope and pray there won't be a need for a Doctor-O to address her struggles in male-dominated orthopaedics.

Is it a great film? Not. But it has its heart in the right place for most of what it is trying to say. Despite reasonable amounts of cringeworthiness in the first 40 min or so and the occasional medical inaccuracies and misrepresentations, it is an important film to reinforce and call out the deep-seated prejudices that prevail within our fraternities. We need movies like this to regularise the notion of a male gynaecologist to the masses at large and perhaps an important vessel to introspect ourselves.

How in French the masculine and feminine words get represented by 'le' and 'la', let us strive to address this important concern of gender differentiation and keep us away from this unwanted 'Le-La' land.

You can watch Doctor G on Netflix.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Mannava P, Durrant K, Fisher J, Chersich M, Luchters S. Attitudes and behaviours of maternal health care providers in interactions with clients: A systematic review. Global Health 2015;11:36.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mapumulo S, Haskins L, Luthuli S, Horwood C. Health workers' disrespectful and abusive behaviour towards women during labour and delivery: A qualitative study in Durban, South Africa. PLoS One 2021;16:e0261204.  Back to cited text no. 2
Dhar P, Nundy S. The NExT challenge – The national exit test. J Med Evid 2021;2:201-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
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