Intended for healthcare professionals


Improperly dressed

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 30 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2943

Symbols of Authority

Professionals have symbols of authority. Doctors have the stethoscope; clergy have the scepter; judges have the gavel; police have the gun; and businessmen have the tie. The ostentatious display of the stethoscope, scepter, gavel, gun, and tie suggests that each one is a phallic symbol that reinforces the patriarchal nature of society. In order to have a more balanced and fair society, we must understand the subliminal messages of our symbols of authority.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

09 November 2009
Hugh Mann
Eagle Rock, MO 65641 USA