Yes, All Women

The thing that gets me is that we women tend to carry these emotional burdens as our own secret parcels until someone else recognizes them. This young woman experiences the rarer form of bodily violation: the stranger rape. Through her letter to her attacker and thanks to the outrage that most of us feel over the stupidly light sentence he received, we have all been made aware of what happened to her that night and at the trial. It was especially difficult for me to read that one of the Swedish men who came upon the attack was so upset that he broke down in tears while giving his statement to the police. It gives me hope that not every man is being raised to be an asshole like the rapist obviously is.

In the bigger picture, nearly every single woman I know has experienced sexual violence. In my late teens, one young woman was raped by my friend; I cut off all communication with him despite his pleas. She chose not to press charges (because who would believe her?). My own first sexual encounter was violent – the guy didn’t believe that I was a virgin because “virgins don’t move like that” and he left me cut and bruised everywhere including my mouth. Over the years, various men have told me what I liked rather than listened to me if I told them they were being too rough or actually scraping or cutting my lady bits, and they would actually press or bite harder. I found out an ex-friend tried to force himself on one of my best friends within the last year and was outright pissed because she threw him out of her house. After all, he has a penis and therefore a right to her body is his line of thinking. How dare she tell him no?

That’s the stuff that’s even more difficult to prove. If that young woman can’t even make a convincing case for why it’s not okay for this asshole to drag her behind a dumpster and violate and mutilate her while she’s unconscious, what can the rest of us do with the men that are in our social circles who violate us?

https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra?utm_term=.eaY45kj6yz#.qrwMXWGNbn

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It’s That Time Again

I’m not talking about Daylight Savings Time (I really think that should be done away with). I’m not talking about burning a yule log and sipping a hot toddy. I’m talking about putting on the most ridiculous paper “gown” and having my girl parts checked.

Five years ago this month I made the best decision I ever could have made and that was to push for a hysterectomy. I had had many, many problems since the age of 19, including some fast-growing fibroids that had taken over my uterus and prompted a quickie biopsy (without any anesthesia or numbing). I remember the doctor coaching me through the pain of that biopsy and at one point saying, “You’re doing good, we’re halfway done.” And like Satan’s wife, a deep, hideous voice came out of my mouth that said, “Only HALFWAY??” By the end of 2010, if I was lucky I had a whole week off every month from bleeding, rather than the reverse being true. So at age 36, I kissed my uterus goodbye – or rather, I gave it a good shove and told it to kiss my ass.

Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about birth control or how to control a flow. But I still worry about diseases, so I requested a full workup from my doctor – peeing in a cup, scraping the “pouch” that was left behind where the cervix used to be, and a couple of vials of blood took care of all of the testing. The person I saw today was new to me, so it was kind of odd that I had to convince her to check me for everything, as if she was thinking I was too old, too disabled or too nice to have had multiple partners – or all of the above. What I didn’t say was, “Yes, I’m still sexually active even though I look like Quasimodo right now. You’d be surprised what guys will overlook with the promise of getting a piece of ass.” A couple of times she paused as if she was waiting for a number. I finally said, “Look, I’ve never been married, and I’ve been single a lot, so yeah, test for everything.” I don’t like to leave anything to chance.

Then we had a conversation about the hair “down there.” She wants all ladies to go back to the ’80’s, when porn didn’t dictate the majority of women under a certain age shaving. She was singing the praises of how the hair kept pollutants out when women weren’t punishing themselves for being adults rather than little girls. I reminded her that I really didn’t grow hair ANYWHERE, and she said that she didn’t want me to get rid of anything – that I should try to keep whatever I could get. I snicker now because the next logical progression if I made that choice would be explaining crop circles in my kitty hair when I’m naked with my next partner. Alopecia makes hair fall out in perfectly round circles; when you have universalis, most or all of the circles have melded into one universal loss of hair everywhere, but I sometimes have some patches. If you have ever thought to yourself, “That dude should just give up trying to grow a beard because it ain’t happening,” that would apply to my situation too.

Today I remembered a doctor’s visit a few months ago when I was waiting in line to check out. There was a kid in his early 20’s who didn’t have much experience with going to the doctor or the intricacies of dealing with insurance. He was bounced back and forth between the front desk and the back one because he really just wanted an appointment for STD testing, but it wasn’t included in his “free” yearly exam as he had hoped; he finally left the office without getting anything done. I could tell he was worried about paying his co-pay and co-insurance. I wanted to step up and offer to pay for it, but I would have violated what little privacy he tried to keep – I didn’t want him to know I heard everything, but I also didn’t want him to walk away without getting tested. In the end I had to let him go. I sure hope he was able to take care of it sooner rather than later.

Today is World AIDS Day. The prognosis has changed greatly since the early ’80s thanks to advancements in medicine, but I’m more than happy to get tested regularly so I don’t end up being part of that demographic. I’ve got enough going on as is.