As I’m counting down the hours to the Mad Men series finale tonight, I’ve been thinking about some of the most memorable moments from the show. There’s a scene in the first episode that still resonates with me a lot: Peggy’s first trip to the gyno.
Peggy goes to a gynecologist to get birth control pills. He lights up a cigarette, and tells her not to be a slut several times. She puts her feet in the stirrups, slides down the table. He again tells her not to sleep around as he picks up the speculum. He gives her the exam and she lays rigid and stares, wide-eyed at the autumn scene calendar on the wall, and he warns her against abusing the birth control.
This scene fascinates me because so much is different now than when the show takes place, but so much in this scene is exactly the same today. No matter how many pap smears you get, you still make that same face, and look for something else on the wall or ceiling to stare at, just wishing it would be over. The worst part is, pap smears screen for HPV and cervical cancer, which has absolutely nothing to do with prescribing birth control. What doctor’s should really do is screen for blood clots when women are on birth control. Not to discount the importance of pap smears. But why hasn’t this procedure been replaced with another screening, one that’s less invasive? With all the other medical advancements: hip replacements with a 5″ incision, laparoscopic gall bladder surgery, etc., why do women still have to have their cervix spread apart by metal to be scraped with a cotton swab? An alternative may come soon. There is a DNA test that could allegedly replace the need for a pap smear. Hopefully this will happen. I’m sure Peggy would agree with me that it should have happened a lot sooner.