Sarah Boston, DVM, DVSc, Dipl ACVS

This week, while over a bandage change or an extruded dog penis or placing a purse string in a dog’s rectum (hard to remember exactly what I was doing, but some veterinarian-related group activity), a few technicians were trying to describe one of the surgeons I work with. The description was not particularly flattering. I asked them how they describe me when I am not around (Why????!!!!!????) and my technician (who I love) looked at me plainly and bluntly said, “Well, some people say that you are a bit of a Diva, but I just figure that you just know what you like and how you like it.”

For some reason, I was instantly offended.

Let’s unpack that a bit.

di·va ˈdēvə/
[C19: via Italian from Latin: a goddess, from dīvus divine]
1. a famous female opera singer or a famous female singer of popular music.

I don’t think that this is the definition that was intended for me, although I still have not given up on my dreams of a folk singing career. I just need to learn to sing and play the guitar.

diva2. a woman regarded as temperamental or haughty who demands that attention be paid to her needs, especially without regard to anyone else’s needs or feelings.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that calling a female surgeon a Diva is not a compliment and it is laced with sexism. I think that is what hurt me. There is no male equivalent to the word Diva. A male surgeon who wants things the way he wants it and who wants his needs attended to is also called a surgeon. However, most surgeons, male or female, want things a certain way because ultimately, they are responsible for the patient and everything that happens to them in the OR. Yes, I am particular about my patients and I am not going to apologize for that.

3. a famous and successful woman who is very attractive and fashionable; especially : an attractive and successful female performer or celebrity

Now here is a definition that I can get behind! Maybe that is what they (whoever they are) meant when they called me a Diva. I’m sure it is. If you are not sure if someone is trying to insult you or complement you, turn it into a complement. There is nothing sweeter than being too obtuse to have an insult stick. So, I have decided to celebrate my Diva-ness. In fact, I am going to turn up the volume on being a Diva.

The term Diva has been appropriated and women need to take it back and redefine it in a positive way. But this time, instead of Diva referring to an opera star, it can just refer to any woman who rocks in her workplace, her aria is her success is her aria.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial team.

140828_Boston_014BABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Boston is a veterinary surgical oncologist and public speaker. Sarah is also a cancer survivor and author of the best-selling, hilarious memoir, Lucky Dog: How Being a Veterinarian Saved my Life. Follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.