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YOU GUYS YOU GUYS OH MY GOD YOU GUYS!!!!
You know, Peeta’s unconventional masculinity is as relevant for traditional gender subversion in The Hunger Games as Katniss’s unconventional femininity.
It’s a bit annoying to see everyone and their mother praising Katniss for being such a unique action female hero, and then hearing those same people making fun of Peeta for being a weakling and a ‘sissy’.
Yes, Peeta paints sunsets and bakes cookies and frosts cakes. He is sometimes/usually unarmed and needs Katniss’s protection. He needs saving at several points across the story, and eventually he is captured and needs rescuing.
So what? Just as Katniss can be dextrous at archery, an assassin and a leader in combat, while retaining her kindness, humanity and selflessness, Peeta can paint, bake, and not be a traditional male action hero and still be the male lead and romantic hero of the story. He can still be sexually alluring for Katniss and capable of extremely heroic actions, while needing rescue and baking cakes.
And if you can’t see how relevant it is for this story and for a younger generation to understand that traditional and media-approved masculinity is also a social construct/imposition, as restrictive and reactionary as enforced traditional femininity can be, then the joke’s on you.
In A Scandal in Belgravia Molly Hooper doesn’t actually say what her job position is instead she says:
“I’ve seen much worse but then I do post-mortems”
The most likely explanation is that Molly is a histopathologist. They are the doctors who normally do all the port-mortems and positively make a career out of cutting up dead bodies for the hospital and sometimes the police.
However Mycroft says again in ASIB:
“Thank you Miss Hooper.”
If Molly was a histopathologist she would be correctly know as Dr Molly Hooper, a fact that would be stated clearly on her ID badge which all hospital workers must carry. Even if Mycroft hasn’t already analysed all the facts about Molly worth knowing, one look at her badge would tell him exactly who she was and how to address her. I doubt Mycroft would be so uncouth as to deliberately refer to Molly by the wrong title for any reason, nor do I believe he would be so distracted he couldn’t even remember what her title was.
This brings us to the natural conclusion that Molly isn’t a histopathologist but a surgeon and should rightfully be referred to as Miss. In the UK all surgical trainees who have passed their surgical “entrance exam” the MRCS, shed the title of Doctor and instead become Mr/Miss (though never Mrs even if they are married). This is a centuries old tradition which had its origins in the 18th century when surgery was conducted by people unskilled in conventional medicine and the Physicians who were rightly called doctors refused to share their title with them.
So why does Molly spend her time in the morgue wearing a lab coat? I have discussed in Meet Miss Molly Hooper that the most likely explanation is that Molly is taking time out from surgery to do a PhD or an MD (which is different from the MBBS, which all UK doctors get upon graduating from med school). Generally if one wants a consultant position at a large teaching hospital, having a higher degree helps.
But what exactly does a surgeon want with dead bodies and post-mortems?
Post-mortems are a great way of gathering data from the elderly population (and even the younger population if you get access to the sudden and unexpected deaths). You can find out all sorts of things that would simply be unethical to do so in life.
Molly gives us a possible clue to what surgical speciality she is training in. In the previous quote from ASIB was actually in reference to Mrs Hudson’s hip.
Molly: “how’s the hip?”
Mrs Hudson: “oh it’s atrocious, but thanks for asking,”
Molly: “I’ve seen much worse but then I do post-mortems”
Now during a routine autopsy, the major joints are not always examined unless there is good reason. So why would Molly be opening up cadavers’ hips? Perhaps because all her cadavers had something very wrong with their hips, like osteoarthritis or a fractured neck of femur?
The speciality that deals with hip problems is Orthopaedics. I find it rather interesting that Molly could be training to be an Orthopaedic surgeon. Orthopaedics is a very male dominated area of medicine and notorious for its macho image. Given how loudly many people have been protesting about Molly’s portrayal as a weak woman, I wonder what the same people would say if it was established that Molly is actually an orthopaedic surgeon in training? Would they still howl about her being too damned emotional, if they knew that when she wasn’t with Sherlock she was actually amputating people’s limbs with what is basically a chainsaw and hammering nails through their ankles with a sledgehammer?
Yes, Molly would still be working as an orthopaedic surgeon whilst doing her Phd or MD. The pay for being a Phd is positively miserly and Molly wouldn’t pass up a rate of £40/hour in return for a few night shifts a month. Generally the operations out of hours are emergency cases: the serious road traffic accidents, explosions and other major incidents. Just doing a six week attachment in orthopaedics has left me with some horrible images of mangled limbs that I can never forget. It takes a great deal of emotional strength and courage to face those horrific injuries on a regular basis and do something about it.
As the night registrar (trainee surgeon) on call, Molly Hooper would be the most senior doctor present. She makes all decisions and these are really life or death decisions. Sometimes you need to respond correctly in a matter of seconds or the patient will die. That is a lot of pressure to deal with.
There are many possibilities as to what Molly is researching: she could be looking into the extent and pattern of osteoarthritis in elderly population and correlating clinical findings with function to devise better managed for patients with osteoarthritis. She could be investigating the bone density in patients with fractured neck of femur to see if here is a critical bone density after which NOFs are more prevalent. Surprising hip fractures in elderly patients have a mortality rate of over 30%, not to mention the long term morbidity rate. This is a serious public health problem given our growing elderly population.
PhDs typically take fours years and MD take two years. After her project is complete, Molly would go back to full time training, or if she’s actually finished her training already she would apply for a consultants post and return to being a full time senior orthopaedic surgeon.
Even if the writers had no intentions of making Molly a surgeon, I still like this scenario.