Rebecca Elia's Blog

All about Feminine Health, Healing, and Greece

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Walk Like a Man. Talk Like a Man."

I’m feeling discouraged today, discouraged by the old stuff that women hang onto. My generation has had to try so hard to make it in the male world that we’ve taken on the same imbalances. We’ve learned to value independence to the extreme. We had to, because it was what was respected and expected. It has surprised me, especially when I encountered this in the medical field. One would think that we would naturally ask one another for help, that we would work together. Wasn’t that the advantage of working within a group of physicians? But my residency experience was just the opposite. Although we as residents would help one another, we were expected to do it all on our own, often times juggling several different roles. For example, when we covered labor and delivery at night in our hospital, we were responsible for all of the admitted laboring patients, the evaluation of urgent pregnant patients, and all of the gynecological, prenatal and postpartum in-house patients. This amounted to a lot of patients. There was one other resident in house, covering gynecological emergencies and surgeries, and an attending physician; however, the more we could do without their help, the better.

In retrospect, it was a bit ridiculous. This plan was justified by the fact that it was essential that we learn how to prioritize, that it would prepare us for similar circumstances in the future. Some defended this system by citing the additional experience the sheer volume would provide us over a specified number of years--four, in this case.

I remember, though, what bothered me the most --when women did not help other women. Thankfully, this was rare. I worked with a group of excellent female physicians and ancillary staff, who were very supportive. Occasionally, however, there would be a woman who worked in the hospital that treated the female residents worse than the male residents. Today, I spoke with a Greek friend who is doing his surgical residency in Scotland. He reminded me of this when he said that his fiancée is experiencing the same discriminatory behavior from some of the female nurses at their hospital. This is still happening, twenty years later.

We, as women, have taken the masculine trait of independence to the extreme. We are threatened by and in competition with other women, still. Some part of us continues to believe that it is better if we do it all on our own, without anyone’s help. Then, when we have accomplished an extraordinary amount, we hesitate to extend a hand to another woman, because we are still competing and because we sacrificed so much to achieve our goals. This is such a strange unnatural behavior for women. I understand why it has happened, but it saddens me immensely.

I could not have survived my medical training if it weren’t for my two female friends, who were also residents. They saved my life.

Nothing great has ever been accomplished alone. What will it take before we trust one another again?

I thank all of you, women and men, who have trusted me and supported me. None of my accomplishments in life would have occurred without you. More important, you have kept me sane and made my goals meaningful.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Craving Greece

So for all you Hellenophiles—you must be wondering where the posts are about Greece.

I’ve been caught up in the craziness of everyday American life. Without constant communication with my Greek friends, Greece would seem far, far away. What can I say? I miss Greece. I miss walking down the street and being seen as a woman first and as a doctor…well…never!

I miss the lack of anonymity that wears off after the first twenty-four hours, the Greek interest in all my personal details. The list goes on: the easy acceptance of death and decay, the cacophony (Greek for “bad voice”) of the farmers market, the crazy taxi drivers who are relentless multitaskers—trying, still, to rip me off while asking me out, the constant “good” greetings--“good day,” “good afternoon,” “good evening,” “good night," “good trip," “good appetite,” and the constant blessings—“to your health,” “to our health,” “with health”—for everything from street salutations to the purchase of new shoes to a toast over ouzo. I even miss the unwelcome advances from anyone male, aged eight to eighty. Once in Athens, in just under an hour, I was approached by a ten-year old boy, two police officers, a shop owner and a business man. I quickly glanced down to make sure that I hadn’t left any pieces of clothing at home—but, no, they were all there.

I miss the constant comments about my un-dyed hair, followed rapidly by criticisms of George Bush and our country’s propensity to bomb their neighbors. Some days, when I’m really bad off, I long for a position in the middle of the yelling matches on the buses or in the street, the ones that make you think that someone is going to end up in the ground before the driver gets to your stop. Then you listen carefully and discover that they’re relating something insignificant about their motorbike, or brand of cigarettes, or cell phone. Not anger, just passion.

I miss most the blue, blue sea, the fierce sun, and the white rocky cliffs studded with short stubby pine trees. I yearn to lay on marble stones at Delphi. I ache to see the moonlight. I long for time that slows down…then stops… and an earth into which my feet sink, where I become heavy, grounded. Yes, this is what I desire.

I crave the collapse of linear time, past, present and future converging into my center.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who is Fighting for Her Feminine?

I was disheartened today. I witnessed another pre-teen girl stressing out about her body image. This girl is beautiful, normal height, not overweight. I cried. Has so little changed in our culture?

I relived my distress at the age of eleven. Because I am of Middle-Eastern descent I have more dark body hair than almost every woman I’ve examined. We’re talking thousands of women. I remember, at the age of eleven, asking my mother if I could shave my legs. She, thankfully, not only put the electric razor in my hand but made my father, who is fairly non-communicative, tell me how beautiful my newly shaven legs looked. His positive comment carried so much weight that I remember it still.

Over the years, I grew tired of all of the unwelcome responses. One teenage boy was fascinated by the blonde hair on my arms that didn’t match the dark hair on my head. I was too embarrassed to tell him that I had bleached it. When I became an adult, the reactions from ignorant men were no better. The male family practice resident at my medical school clinic, who fit me for a diaphragm, gave me an unsolicited warning. He thought he was doing me a favor when he told me that I would probably have difficulty conceiving, this because he wasn’t used to seeing women whose hair growth was due to ethnicity. He didn’t bother to ask the other appropriate questions, such as the regularity of my periods, but, instead, assumed that I had an endocrine disorder. I did not escape our cultural ignorance until I landed in Greece. Thank goodness for Greece! There I wasn’t alone, and no one thought me less beautiful or less desirable because I happened to have hairy arms.

I remembered all of this today when I felt this lovely girl’s pre-pubescent pain.

We are still failing miserably if our girls continue to be so hypercritical of their body image. We’ve been aware of this problem for decades. We have even structured groups around this, but we are still failing. What do we need to do to ensure that our daughters know that they are beautiful? What do we, their role models, need to change about our own self-image? How can we guarantee that our message is stronger than the cultural one? Why are we willing to lose our girls to the societal message that they are not good enough just the way they are?

I would love to hear some of the ways that you celebrate your girls, just as they are. How are you honoring their entrance into womanhood? Are there significant women and men in your daughter’s, grand-daughter’s, or niece’s life that you have recruited to reinforce her internal and external beauty?

Who is fighting for her feminine?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grey's Anatomy Goes "Soft"

News Flash: It's finally happened--Grey's Anatomy has joined the ranks of those who promote the Feminine. For those of you who do not follow the show -- yesterday, Miranda, the chief surgical resident, confronted the Chief of the Hospital about his fear of going "soft".

She advised him, "Maybe it's time that you got in touch with your feminine side. Maybe you need a little 'soft'."

Miranda, from your lips to every Doc's ears... You go, girl!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Calling All Fem Gyns!

I’m pleased to announce that the Feminine Gynecologists,
Fem Gyns--for short, are finally coming out!

Back in 1990, when I completed my Obstetrics and Gynecology training, I was all alone. If other Feminine Gynecologists existed, they weren't shouting about it. Ironically, embracing all that is feminine did not get us very far in the world of caring for females. We took birth control pills to stop our periods (Who could leave a ten-hour surgery to change their tampon?) We deprived ourselves of food, sleep, sex, making it to the bathroom. We never let go. Never gave up. Our relationships went into the trash, along with our souls. My fellow female residents who were most likely to succeed—and survive—were those with very caring, nurturing partners. This did not stop three of the nine women from becoming pregnant at the same time and, miraculously, carrying their babies to term. I heard that one resident had to finish rounding on the post-partum patients before the attending physician allowed her to proceed to labor and delivery to deliver her own baby…but that’s another story.

I was terrified to discover that at the end of a four-year program centered on caring for women, I had learned, instead, to hate all in myself and others that is feminine. It took traveling over six thousand miles to Greece to find my Feminine again.

That is why it makes “my heart sing” when I discover women like Dr. Lissa Rankin, an artist, writer, mother, Gynecologist, and “wild thing,” who is embracing her Feminine and helping other women do the same. See: and

I would like to provide a forum for all of us recovering Fem Gyns to share our healing stories. So, I’m putting a call out to my Co-Fem Gyns and Fem Docs. It’s finally safe to come out! Please share your healing stories with us.

I am so glad that you are here. Welcome home!

E-mail your stories to:
Stories can be viewed at:


Hello everyone. Welcome to my Blog.

I am very excited to have this up and running. It's wonderful to combine my love of Greece with the healing power of the feminine. I am taking a break from direct patient care, as a Holistic Gynecologist, to devote my time to writing and speaking.

Check out my website: You will find resources for woman who are interested in obtaining more health and balance in their lives by reclaiming the feminine qualities within themselves.

I am inviting women who have experienced the healing power of the Feminine to share their stories. If you have experienced more health or balance through reclaiming any of your feminine qualities, such as creativity, nurturing, intuition, feeling and interdependence, I invite you to share with us.

If you have gained feminine wisdom through life's transitions, such as pregnancy, birth, menopause or the death of a loved one, then please consider sharing your wisdom with us. If you have healing stories about expressing your feminine creativity and wisdom in the later years of your life, we would love to hear from you. We need and value your wise-woman wisdom!
Please submit stories to: Stories will be posted on my website under the heading of Feminine Revelations.

Because Greece has been my feminine healer I will be devoting part of the site to this Goddess Land. Photography is one of my creative outlets--so I hope that my pictures will help you reconnect with the Feminine, as well.

Thank you!