I figured adulthood would be filled with freedom. As an adult I would have my own space, money, and the ability to chart my own life’s course. I mean obviously there would be responsibilities and those pesky bills, but they were mine and I could finally handle them the way that I wanted. I realized shortly before age 30 that there was a whole assortment of spontaneously swirling bull poop that one has to avoid as an adult as well.  
  
In the male dominated profession of dentistry female providers are often thought to be delicate and docile “helpers”. Yet we complete truly labor intensive tasks in all climates while simultaneously caring for others. At my clinic sometimes I feel like a soldier. I am a soldier dragging out a fellow wounded soldier through the swamp while being told to softly sing lullabies and not smudge my eyeliner. 

  
I know that everyone would not consider our work as labor intensive but I assure you as a public health hygienist I am nearly prepared to lead a chain gang. 

  
In the event that a female provider shows passion or compassion about something such as a scheduling error they can be described as “emotional”. 

  
If there was a top ten list of words that a male supervisor should never use to describe his female employees , I believe “emotional” would be right under “hormonal”.

  
  Of course women have emotions and hormones but men do as well. Ours just have to be wrapped up tight and end with a submissive smile. I have temped with dentists that threw toddler style tantrums when a patient cancelled. On one occasion, I could hear the dentist in his office banging his head on the desk and saying curse words in a couple different languages. Yes, this really happened. His head was red in the center when he returned to the clinical area.

  
On a temporary assignment, I broke up a fight between the maintenance man and the dentist because the air conditioning was not working. The dentist literally did a jeté and warned the maintenance man that he gets “cranky” when it’s hot. Never mind that this was an extremely feminine and hearing impaired dentist, he was a man nonetheless and he can say things like that. He can share his emotional state and threaten someone at the same time without persecution.  

  
In our office, we have a more military style environment. We focus on the infinite patient and production goal. There are bad teeth out there and we have to find them and fix them. It seems as though we have a simple, selfless pursuit to treat every person in the world, in one day. The providers remind themselves that everything is “fine” as they lay on the ground clutching the scaler at the end of the day.  

  
Female providers work through very challenging physical conditions in a sometimes oppressive environment. Once a month we suffer from internal bleeding and the days before and after we swell, bloat, binge and cry. However when we walk into work we look like we are a few pennies short of a million bucks and complete all 15 of those patients in 8.5 clinical hours. Well I do. Kudos to us! Our amazing, powerful minds and bodies provide care that is unparalleled in compassion and I believe we have our “emotions” to thank. 

  

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