If you wouldn’t do it to a man,
don’t do it to a woman.
I go a couple three days without reading even headlines. Then, like tonight, I peek at what is trending.
And now I am despondent.
Just the headlines are enough to make me want to crawl in a hole. Imagining these people in control, making rules and regulations (or undoing regulations as the case may be)… it’s terrifying.
I do not say the word “rape” lightly. I do not use it randomly. I have been raped. I know the seriousness of the word.
So when I say I am horrified seeing who is going into the Cabinet because they are going to rape the United States, I mean it with all the terror that comes with the word.
The people being appointed are going to make the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) “conflict” look like a picnic. They are going to dig deep into the land, tearing up beautiful homes, ruining National Parks… and the repercussions will be felt/known/experienced for hundreds of years after these fucking pigs are out of office and dead.
I felt hopeless for a couple of hours. My chest felt like someone was sitting on it; I struggled to breathe. My blessed cub held me and talked to me as I cried about how horrible this all is.
And it hasn’t even begun yet!
I think that’s the scariest for me is if I am this upset and sad now, what am I going to be like in a year when we are in the middle of the rape, still years ahead to be attacked… every which way we try to get away, to fight our attacker, he strong-arms us and continues the assault.
I saw this photo:
No LGBTQIA+ youth who is outed because of new laws will not be alone. We will do everything in our power to save you from the evils of “conversion therapy”… torture.
No woman who has to have an illegal abortion because abortion has been outlawed will not be alone. Those who can will learn to do abortions safely, despite the laws, risking jail, but finding the risk is far less than a woman attempting self-abortion.
No Muslim who has to “Register” to be in this country will not register alone. Women who have their hijabs mocked or pulled off will be defended so she is able to practice her religion in this country that still allows religious freedom (so far).
No woman who is attacked… grabbed “by the pussy”… will not mourn and heal alone.
No Black man, woman or child will endure the escalating hate and murder alone.
No immigrant, here legally or “illegally,” will fight to live here alone.
No Native American will have to wrest their rightful land back from the lying White people alone.
No disabled person will be left to live or suffer alone. We will find the tools they (WE!) need for anyone who still has needs. We will not let the world become completely able-ist, forgetting/not caring for those who have challenges.
No writer, photographer or artist will be censored. We will find ways to get the words and images out to the world.
No child who is hungry and has lost their free breakfasts, lunches or dinners will starve alone. We will find food for you precious babies of ours.
We will not know the impact slashing Social Security will have on our elder Americans. Will they die alone freezing and starving while those in charge have billions of dollars to spare?
What are we going to do for our mentally ill (myself included)? What if our free care is removed? What if we are not allowed our medications, therapy, our psychiatrists?
We know a only fraction of our brothers, sisters and others who have killed themselves because of their despair of who is coming into the White House. What of all the others who are misgendered, hidden, reported as dying of “natural” or “accidental” causes when they really overdosed on purpose. So many suffering without our knowing they are there.
I might cry again. No, I will cry again.
But I cannot give up. I cannot let someone die reaching out for another hand. I know mine is not the only one searching. Maybe, just maybe, if we all keep holding our arms out, joining hands, we might be able to save more than just one person.
NOTE: I am a retired midwife. That alone makes many, many people nod and say, “I can see what’s coming now,” because care providers are the worst patients ever. I lived up to that expectation. In spades.
I had to have my Pap yesterday morning. It took until this morning for me to be able to relive the experience for a post.
I am ushered behind The Door by the Nurse-Practitioner’s assistant (LPN? I don’t know) and right there is the fucking scale. Knowing my weight, I told the girl and she said I had to get on the scale, she cannot take my word for it. I looked at her and said, “I am not getting on the scale.” She says, pretty snotty-like, “Patient refuses weight” and jots it on my chart.
I rolled my eyes.
She takes me into the exam room and there, laying out is the baby-sized paper top and a teeny sheet to cover yourself with. I wore a shift with no undies, no bra, expecting to just lift everything up. Easy peasy. I also spied the plastic speculum in the wrapping: medium.
The assistant took my blood pressure (incorrectly) on my forearm and I had to show her where to put the bladder tubing over my artery on my lower arm. She wasn’t happy I changed her rhythm. Tough shit.
Went over meds, any current problems, past STDs (HSV & HPV) how many sexual partners this year. I laughed. How many in a lifetime? I said hundreds. She turned and said, “Are you serious?” (which I thought was rude as fuck); I said I was. I imagine she then typed into the computer: DO HIV TEST.
When she was done with the computer question & answer part of the fun, she proceeded to tell me to take off my bra and underwear and put the teeny covering over my top, opening in the front for breast exam and to cover myself with the miniscule paper drape. Even the Chux on the table was infant-sized. Then she left.
The table was lower than the one above, so I sat on it… on the Chux and drape, with zero intention of taking my stretchy dress off.
Then my mind started going:
She (the wonderful Nurse-Practitioner) isn’t going to be able to see your cervix with that medium spec. You need a large at least, if not x-tra large. I already know my walls fall inward ( a common multip and/or fat issue, of which I have both). What if I need the specialized ones where the spec has the blades on the side, too? What if I need to go see a GYN? Are they going to fat-shame me because I need a special speculum? I hate Hate HATE putting my legs in the stirrups. (I can feel the tears welling in my eyes just writing this out.) What if she tries with the medium and cannot see my cervix? Then I will have to see someone else and do this all over again. Maybe I will just skip it altogether and just talk about my Dexa Scan and the Hematologist I need to see for my chronic anemia.
Where did all this anxiety come from?! Fuck, I have had at least 30 or 40 pelvic exams before, including student midwives so they could learn what a fat body feels like. This was so different, though.
Maybe I will just skip it altogether.
In came the NP and the assistant who was already gloved (a no-no). I didn’t say anything because I was too anxious about my body.
I love this NP. We share an obsession with Disney stuff and talk about it all the time when I see her. I told her how good it was to see her and I relaxed a little.
She had the HIV test in her hand (we used to do the oral ones when I was a midwife, too) and I said, “I guess you want to do the HIV test now?” and opened my mouth. She did the swabby thing over my cheeks and gums and then put it in the solution for the 20-min wait.
I shared my latest labs. My HgbA1c was down from 7.7 to 7.2 in 3 months. Yay! She was going to give me a referral to the Hematologist because my anemia had now turned chronic (Hgb of 9.9-10.1 over 9 months) and to the Endo again for the osteoporosis I now have (both the anemia and the osteoporosis from the Gastric Bypass in 2001) to get shots.
I then point to the speculum on the side table and tell her it ain’t gonna fit, do they have a large one? Ayup. They do. The assistant chick got it out from under the cupboard.
I say I do not want a bimanual exam because she won’t feel anything anyway and they always hurt because the provider tries so hard to find my tubes and ovaries and my liver already hurts. She said no problem. Just the Pap. (The fucking Pap.)
She asked if I had had my mammogram this year. Nope. Do you want a breast exam? Nope. Just the mammogram; I examine my own breasts, thanks. She said, “No problem.
Then it was time when I had to lay back and put my feet in the stirrups. I whined about how fucking flimsy they were and she said she thought they were better than the leg supports and I said that, for fat people, the leg supports are far superior because it is difficult to keep our legs under control in the lithotomy position.
She put her gloves on then began touching my labia and I felt the fucking speculum. I know they aren’t supposed to hurt and for fuck’s sake I have done 100s of spec exams on women myself so know how it goes for many… it isn’t comfortable. Or pleasant. For me, they fucking hurt.
Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow until she was in and swerved the spec around upright, then the pain stopped. Opening it was fine. She said, “I see your cervix right there!” I was so happy I could have screamed. When she took the specimen, it didn’t hurt. Coming out was fine. That going in… sheesh. Sex sure doesn’t hurt like that. (Lube, lube and more lube, that is why. No lube is used on the specs lest they contaminate the specimen.)
And she was done. I wanted to cry with relief because she found my cervix so easily, didn’t have to take it out and retry again and again or send me to someone else. Goddess forbid something be wrong and I need to have dozens of them. Ugh.
(And in case you are wondering, yes I am a Survivor of Sexual Abuse & Rape and am sure that has an enormous hand in my discomfort issues.)
And my HIV test was negative. Yay! Good for 6 more months.
Fuck am I glad that fucking thing is over with for a year.
(Note: I am purposefully capitalizing the sexual assault Survivor’s pronouns and any words relating to Her to offer Her some of my respect for Her ordeal and perhaps, give Her a smidge of Power back.)
I’ve been following the story of the Stanford former champion swimmer, Brock Allen Turner, and the Woman he sexually assaulted as his sentence (if you can call it that) was handed down by Judge Aaron Persky. You simply must read the entire story to get the picture of the horrific injustice that was inflicted on an innocent Woman as She was unconscious from drinking too much at a college party.
Much has been said about the Survivor’s drunken state… that She deserved it, that it really is so common as to be irrelevant. She was unconscious when She was assaulted. Even if She was conscious (which she was not) still, She was in no shape to consent.
The incredible Survivor’s letter that was read aloud in court can be seen here: Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker. She recounts how Her life has been ruined by this attack and trial. Yet the judge, in his comment during sentencing said about Brock Allen Turner, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.” Fuck the impact on the Survivor.
As can be imagined, the backlash from women around the United States has been swift and intense. A brilliant piece by Katie J.M. Baker of Buzzfeed, entitled We With Pitchforks, aims to shame Brock Allen Turner, imprisoning him for life, all over the Internet, with shame because he never expressed remorse, apologies or was given an appropriate sentence.
I feel a kinship with this amazing Survivor because I, too, was young (I was 18-years old), very, very drunk and was raped with very little memory of the experience.
The legal drinking age in Florida at the time was 18 and I took advantage of that, spending inordinate amounts of money I made at a fast food restaurant on alcohol. I had loads of cash because I was still living at home. I felt free for the first time in my life.
I went to a local restaurant/bar (a famous chain) almost every night after work, drinking a few drinks, eating appetizers and socializing with the boys and men at the bar. The bartender and servers got to know me well because I was (and am) an awesome tipper. I would get delightfully tipsy, sometimes drunk, but could always get my bicycle-riding ass home at the end of the night.
However, this one evening, I met three men and they asked me to join them at a table. I jumped at the chance… they were adorable! I had just been paid and bought round after round of drinks for all of us. I shot tequila for the first time, several shots on top of the amaretto and creams I regularly drank.
One minute I was at the restaurant and the next memory was being on a bed, a gun to my head and being raped by each of the men, one by one. Then memories disappeared again and the next time I woke up I was at one of the guy’s houses, in his arms and hurting so bad it took me a great deal of energy to unwind myself, get up, call a friend (no cell phones) and get myself home.
Where I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw a face I did not recognize. My lips were bruised and bloodied, cuts exposed the trauma I’d endured on my face. My eyes swollen, not quite black eyes, but I expect I was slapped or punched in the face more than once.
I turned from the mirror and stepped into the scalding shower. And scrubbed my body, including the cuts, scrapes and many, many bruises I had all over my stomach, neck, arms, thighs and, most especially, my breasts. It looked like they had used razor blades? Sharp knives? Definitely fingernails. The bruises looked like they had grabbed my flesh as if it was bread dough, squeezed and twisted it. I could see finger mark bruises in several places. When I washed my bottom, the washcloth turned red; I was bleeding out of my anus.
And then, while showering, the image of the gun flashed into my head. Had I tried to fight and they felt they needed to threaten my life to make me lay still?
I especially scrubbed my vulva and vagina. My sore, swollen and bruised vulva. I used a washcloth and tried to shove it inside myself so I could get their filth out of my body. I soaped my fingers and used them to swipe the semen out of me. I know I was in the shower a very long time.
I didn’t cry at all. Of course I know now I was in shock. It took several days before I could think about it enough to feel.
And then cry. (Which I continued doing for years.)
But that day, I did not cry. I was due to go to work at the fast food restaurant so got myself dressed and had my dad drive me to work. (He kept asking, “Where is your bike?” I didn’t know.)
When I got to work, my manager took me aside and asked where I had been the night before. I was confused. Did he know something happened? My friend who came to get me that morning also worked with me, told our manager I had been raped. As if that part of my privacy being exposed wasn’t enough, the manager of the restaurant I had been at the night before called and told my manager that I stiffed the waitress and bartender over $300. Suddenly I remembered I gave one of the guys cash to pay the server when I went to the bathroom. Apparently, he pocketed it. And the server saw me leave a hefty tip… and one of guys grabbing it as he left the restaurant. I was so embarrassed and promised to pay them back immediately.
Talking to my manager, he asked if I knew anything about the guys. I actually (somehow) remembered they were servers at a local Mexican restaurant. My manager and the manager at the restaurant paid their management a personal visit and got the three of them fired that day.
That was the extent of my vindication.
Nowhere along the way did anyone suggest telling the police. It never even crossed my mind. If it happened today and I saw what happened to this assault Survivor, I would never dream of reporting my rapist. Why? It doesn’t change a thing. And, if anything, it smears, smashes and humiliates the Survivor even more… again and again.
It took years of therapy and rape survivor support groups to forgive myself for being drunk that night, to finally believe it wasn’t my fault, that I had not asked for it. The cuts and bruises healed over the first week or so. The inner torment lasted over a decade.
I no longer cry about the experience, have integrated it into a part of my life story and share it when I see a woman beating herself up for putting herself in that position. I beg her to see the reality that we never ask to be raped or sexually assaulted, even if we were out-of-our-minds drunk or drugged. It might take her years and years to grasp even a seed of what I say, but at least I offered her a counter to the screaming voices in her head… and the fucking crap “friends” and family might be saying.
So I share here for the Woman who was terrorized by Brock Allen Turner and Judge Aaron Perksy so She might know She is not alone. I am another woman who knows and understands the shame and humiliation they try to push into our Souls via our vaginas. I also want Her to know there can be joy in Her life again one day. I want to tell Her how proud of Her I am She faced this animal in court even if the judge buried Her in shit with his sentence.
She is not alone. I will think of Her and send Her healing light every single day.