Sexism is still clearly present in our society. In Myanmar, a 28-year-old doctor, Nang Mwe San, claimed that a premiere medical council in their country revoked her license on the mere grounds of her posting her “sexy” photos on social media.
According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, “Mwe San has been a general physician for four years, but stopped practicing two years ago to pursue a modeling career.” On Facebook, she would often post pictures of herself in “tight clothes, lingerie, and swimwear.” Apparently, the council thinks these photos “did not fit with Burmese tradition,” and thus enough to take away her medical license and ban her from practicing her profession. This reportedly comes after the warning they gave her in January.
Speaking with TRF, Nang said, “I was shocked and very sad. To be a doctor, it was a long struggle.” She moreover noted, “Did I dress in sexy outfits when I was meeting my patients? Never.” The move to revoke her license bans her from medical practice.
If you look at the comments, it’s even worse as citizens seem to agree with the council’s decision and are visibly slut-shaming her. “Sexism is rooted in the mindset of the Burmese. The problem is our patriarchal society equates a woman’s role with protecting Burmese traditions and culture,” Shunn Lei, the founder of a feminist magazine, told TRF. “Whenever a model poses for sexy photos, it’s always against Burmese culture. But what is Burmese culture? I don’t really get it.”
Mwe San said she plans on appeal the council’s decision. “There are many important ethical issues in Myanmar’s medical sector. I don’t want them wasting time taking care of minor issues like my modeling,” she said. “But whatever I’m facing, I won’t give up my modelling profession.”
And she shouldn’t have to.
This whole debacle reminds me of math professor Pietro Boselli who was also a runway model. Once discovered in 2016, he was quickly dubbed by the media as the “World’s Hottest Math Teacher” and heavily featured for his accomplishments like his PhD in engineering. Mostly in these articles, photos of him topless were used. No, he did not have his license revoked.
Meanwhile, in 2017, Tiffani Webb, a “highly regarded” guidance counselor from New York, got fired when her “racy” photos, taken almost two decades ago during her modeling career, resurfaced on the internet. According to Huffpost, the 37-year-old counselor was fired after 12 years on the job, just before earning tenure, even though “she disclosed her former job when first hired by the city as an educator.”
According to the school committee, “The inappropriate photos were accessible to impressionable adolescents,” and “That behavior has a potentially adverse influence on her ability to counsel students and be regarded as a role model.” Tiffani, however, asserts her positive track record and respect from parents and students. Oh, and she also carries a doctorate in clinical psychology, and wrote for The Black Urban Times in 2008.
Bottomline, I think it’s crazy our society thinks a female professional’s competence is hindered or somehow nulled by their sensuality, when men are allowed to get away with it. Here we have a perfectly capable doctor who can no longer save lives just because she posted “sexy” photos. Meanwhile, it took the death of more than 100 children in Uganda for authorities to find out that a US missionary, Renee Bach, was lying about being a medical professional. “Ms Bach was often seen around the facility wearing a white coat and stethoscope and often administered medication to children,” News.com.au reported. “However, when their children died, the women were informed Ms Bach had no medical training and the District Health Officer had closed Ms Bach’s facility in 2015 and ordered her to not offer anymore treatment to children.”
Safe to say, appearances should not be used as a measure to anyone’s professional ability. That society attaches too much unnecessary weight on women’s appearances is moreover frustrating. There’s too much pressure to look a certain way, lest they be labeled either a slut, prude, too old, too young, or whatever insult people come up with. I long for the day we as a society can finally move past this backwards way of thinking.
We are behind Nang Mwe San in protesting the council’s decision. Hopefully, they will hear her.