Dear Stranger in the ER, The Struggle is Real. Signed, My Vagina.

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By Metalhead64 – Own work, Public Domain

My sister works in an Emergency Room at a hospital. The other morning she sent a group text to me, my brother in law (her husband), and my mom.

I present to you the conversation that took place:

My sister: ER diagnosis of the day…”battery in vagina”
My mom: Wtf is that?
My brother in law: It’s where babies come from.

My sister: Ok mom, let me explain. She was probably using a toy and the battery fell out into her vagina and she actually came to the ER to have it removed instead of asking her boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/mother/ANYONE to remove it to save the embarrassment of coming to ER.

My brother in law: Maybe she wasn’t a real person and that’s just where the battery goes. Did she power down after they removed it?
Me: I cannot even handle any part of this.
My brother in law: Were they D batteries?
Me: Coming from someone who’s lost an object in her vagina, let me testify to the frustration that can arise from losing something in there. Even after you’ve gone spelunking for it.
My sister: You realize mom has dropped out of this conversation.
Me: I affectionately refer to that time in my life as The Great Cock Ring Incident of 1999.
My sister: HOW COULD ANYONE FORGET THAT?
My brother in law: The Great Cock Ring Incident is permanently burned into my mind … As much as I try to forget it I can’t … I’ve been scarred for life … Lol
Me: HOW DO YOU THINK MY VAGINA AND I FELT?
My sister: I HOPE HAPPY GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH IT WAS LOST!!
My mom: OMG this is my life. Where did I go wrong? I thought I did a good job raising my kids.
My sister: What??? I’m just telling you about a patient with a serious issue!!
My brother in law: At least you don’t have to take responsibility for my upbringing.

***

The thing is, the struggle is real. I can tell you, from first hand experience, that it is horrifying to lose something in a vagina.
My husband’s penis is pierced. One of the holes through which the piercing went became a bit stretched and the ring slid out.
At a most inopportune time.
You don’t want to hear your partner utter the words, “Uh, honey. Don’t freak out,” right after sex.
We ripped that bed apart.
In the end, we had to accept there was only one place left for it to be. Flat on my back, naked and sticky, trying not to panic-breathe through my nose while he poked and slid his fingers into the far reaches of my lady cavern is when I knew I had to marry him.
I couldn’t fathom living through that with anyone else.
PS, we didn’t find it that night. Two days later, still nothing. After a week, I broke down and told my mom and sister.
Yes, that was an awkward conversation. My sister thoroughly enjoyed it. My mom, not as much.
My mom urged me to go to the doctor. I felt I’d rather eat the ass out of a dead horse than explain the situation to a medical professional. Probably because some part of me sensed I’d most likely end up the subject of an uproarious conversation between said doctor and her wise-ass brother in law.
Two weeks after it went missing, after we’d had some rough sex, my husband shouted, “Guess what I just found?!”
Turns out those are some words you want to hear your partner utter after sex. Especially when the ring from his piercing has been vacationing somewhere along your scenic vaginal canal.
There it was, stuck to my inner thigh. Saving me from the horror of watching my gyno strap on a miner’s helmet and pull out a metal detector. For years after, we joked that the ring was truly our firstborn.
So, to the lady in my sister’s ER with the battery lost in her unmentionables, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I laughed. I hope you are well. If it’s any consolation, I know your particular brand of mortification.
I honor your bravery in seeking out medical help. All laughs aside, I’m lucky my lady bits didn’t end up injured.
My vagina salutes your vagina in solidarity and in good health.
As does my husband’s ring. From it’s permanent home in our jewelry box. (Not my box. An actual wooden jewelry box. Where it has resided since its eviction from my box.)
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He Looks For Me in the Sails

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By Alexander Baxevanis (Flickr: Sailboat & Sunset) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I want to be the sails.

I want to unfurl myself into the wind and be caught up and set free. I want to see all the things, travel to all the places, meet all the people.

I want the only sound to be the rushing, whipping force of moving forward. The only thought through my mind that of where I land. What’s ahead. I want to be focused only on me, the sails, and getting better at steering myself into the storm. I want to feel lightness against brutality and the freedom that comes from holding up against the wind.

But really, I’m the anchor.

I’m heavy with doubt and every chain is built from leaden thoughts of why I shouldn’t and how I can’t.

I sink.

I’m holding myself down, and anyone who might be on the journey with me at any given time. I’m the anchor that keeps us still, stagnant. While there may be rocking now and then when the sea kicks up, the wind can’t take me anywhere but in circles.

He’s the steady crewman.

Hands on his hips. Shaking his head now and then, but generally with a cocked eyebrow and lips always on the verge of smiling. He’s the one who claps his hands together and rubs them for a bit as he eyes the situation and springs into action.

He pulls me up, hand over hand, out of the muck I’ve sunk myself into at the bottom of the sea. Makes sure I’m back on board, even if I’m just curled up at his feet coughing up water.

Then he raises the mast, unleashes the mainstay, and steers into the wind.

Even if he’s warily eyeing the storm.

Even when he’s worried he’ll be tossed overboard.

He holds on, steady and true. Because no matter how low that anchor sinks, and how much I think I’m wrapped up in its chains . . . somehow he still believes I’m the sails.

When he looks for me, he looks up. Eyes squinting against the sun, sure that he’ll see me there in the wind.

I love that he looks for me in the sails, even when I’ve slid off to sink into the sea.

What Does Your Hollywood Version of Rape Look Like?

She treads water. Much like a drowning victim.

Photo credit Aimanness Photography, (Creative Commons)

At the start of every summer I see videos like this one start making the rounds through my friends via social media. Videos and articles that detail for people the dangers of drowning. They remind everyone that drowning, in real life, doesn’t look the way Hollywood depicts.

In the movies, or on television, when someone starts to drown there tends to be a lot of thrashing, waving arms, and garbled screams for help. After all, how else would the lifeguard or hero know to dive in for the dramatic rescue?

In real life though, drowning tends to be silent. Very little splashing and rarely any screaming, because the victim’s focus and energy is on surviving.

People pass around the video to remind others, especially parents, to be watchful and vigilant around water. Because if you’re thinking you can keep an ear out for screams, you may be too late.

Despite this, people tragically drown every year. What’s odd is that when it happens, you never hear or see people asking any of the following questions of near-drowning victims, families of drowning victims, witnesses of drownings, or anyone else involved:

  • Did the victim want to be swimming?
  • Didn’t the victim choose to be in the water?
  • Was the victim having fun, splashing around in the water, just prior to drowning?
  • Did the victim scream?
  • How loud?
  • Did the victim make it clear to all nearby witnesses that he/she was drowning?
  • If the victim was rescued, did he/she immediately sue the party responsible for the body of water in which he/she almost drowned?
  • If not, why?
  • If time passed prior to suing, how much?
  • Why did the victim wait to sue?

Sounds ridiculous, no? Who would ask such questions of a person who’d been struggling just to stay alive? Fighting to get to safety.

We don’t ridicule drowning victims, or near-drowning victims, for not making it clear that they’re in danger.

So why do people do it to victims of rape, assault, battery, forcible touching, etc?

Is society operating under a similar Hollywood-induced delusion that those types of attacks look and sound a certain way?

Not every rape looks like the one from the movie The Accused, violent and brutal, with screaming and fighting, scratching and gnashing. There often aren’t witnesses. There aren’t always bruises.

Sometimes, the victim was enjoying herself prior to her attack. Chatting with the very man who later attacked her. Maybe even flirting. She may wake up with only a specific soreness letting her know something happened she wasn’t fully conscious for.

Or maybe she walks away without a bruise. The only sign that she’s been forcibly groped is the invisible, internal shaking that won’t relent. No matter how much she silently repeats to herself that it will be okay.

Maybe she keeps her mouth shut because she needs her job. So she pretends for as long as she can that his dick against her leg is always accidental.

She treads water. Much like a drowning victim.

One whose method of survival others wouldn’t think to question.

We need to keep in mind that word, victim. A victim is a person harmed, whether by the twisting tide of the sea or the twisting fingers of an attacker.

In either instance, the victim deserves more from us than a cynical interview that calls their every move into question just because what they survived doesn’t match our Hollywood version of the event

Yes, You Are a Part of the Problem. And You Sound Like a Creep.

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Anti-Rape Protest Sign, Google Commons, Creative Commons License

I wrote a piece a few days ago about the problem, as I see it, with Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” comment. In it, I shared a personal incident from my past where I was grabbed by the pussy, without my consent. I find the incident shameful. Not because it happened. That wasn’t my fault. But I feel ashamed that I didn’t say anything. I feel disappointed in myself.

That’s my problem. I don’t blame that on anyone else. Those are my own feelings and I can work through them.

I’m lucky that way. A lot of women can’t. A lot of women had far worse things happen to them and it’s incredibly difficult to work through all of the really tough emotions that emerge because of that.

But really, that’s what my piece was about. It was about a specific phrase, used by a specific person, that I felt connected well with something from my own past. I shared it in the hopes of raising awareness about how that particular phrase, and others like it, are harmful. They’re dangerous. And they perpetuate rape culture.

If your response to that is any of the following* . . .

* “How many millions of women bought 50 Shades of Gray? And now they’re upset about some dirty talk?”

* “But Bill Clinton! And Hillary is a rape apologist! And he’s a rapist! And Bill! Bill!! BILL!!”

* “Trump was obviously speaking in hyperbole.”

* “No one has accused Trump of rape or sexual assault. His only crime is that he offends the senses and he is not a nice guy.”

* “Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Rhianna, Kim Kardashian, they can trash Trump for what he said 11 years ago but their vulgar stage behavior in front of children is ok?”

* “Tell me again how supporting a rape apologist makes you think you can be an advocate for women.”

. . . then you are a glaring part of the problem. And you sound like a creep.

So if I write about one instance, a glaring example of how people perpetuate rape culture and the fallout it can produce, I have to write about every. single. one?

If I write about something Trump says, then it means I want you to vote for Hillary?

If I write that I think Trump is a sick piece of shit, that means I am voting for Hillary?

If I write about anything to do with Trump, you can assume you know everything about me including who I am voting for and what I feel about all of the other candidates? (You do know there are four in total, right?)

Let’s forget politics. Please.

If I write about one rape apologist, I have to write about all of them?

If I write about one piece of shit accused rapist, I have to write about all of them?

Got it.

Thanks for reminding me. I’ve been so busy writing ever since because of all the people like you taking the time out to remind me that I am now tasked with writing about EVERY instance of rape, assault, battery, harassment, abuse, rape apologist, etc. So busy, in fact, that there is literally no hope of my ever accomplishing anything else in my lifetime.

And I’ll still never finish.

Or, I don’t know, here’s a thought.

Maybe just read my piece and accept it for what it is. Me, sharing a very scary, intimate, shameful incident from my life in an effort to illustrate to those who don’t get it (I’m looking right at *you* now) how his language, and what he said, is dangerous. It was an attempt to explain to those who wondered “what’s the big deal” about what he said, *exactly what the very big fucking deal is.*

If you don’t understand why what he said is NOT what men typically talk about behind closed doors, that piece was for you.

If you think that bragging about sexual assault and battery is the same thing as *dirty talk*, that piece was for you.

If you’ve turned a blind eye to all the times Trump has been accused of harassment, assault, and rape because you don’t want to admit you don’t really give a shit and support him anyway, that piece was for you.

If you seriously think that a woman performing for an audience that paid for the right to see her perform, of her own free will, in skimpy clothes, is the same thing as a man saying that he has the right to grab a woman by her pussy without her consent, that piece was for you.

If you think that by pointing out what he said as wrong and drawing a correlation between what he said and how women often find themselves victims of the very type of battery he described, that I somehow have turned a blind eye to all the other rapists and abusers in the world, that piece was for you.

Nowhere in that piece did I tell anyone who to vote for instead of him. Nowhere did I mention who I’m voting for. Nowhere did I defend Hillary or Bill Clinton.

But hey, thanks for reminding me why I wrote it and for whom.

Just so there’s no further misunderstanding . . .

It was for you. Because you are a big part of the problem.

___

*A small sampling of actual responses I received here and elsewhere to my writing.

This Is What It Feels Like To Be “Grabbed By the Pussy” By Someone You Know

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Photo by Gage Skidmore

It doesn’t feel like sexual assault. Not right away. Because I knew those two guys.

I’d seen them almost every single day of my life since we started in Kindergarten together. Here we were in high school. So yeah, I knew them. I called them friends.

At first it feels like flirting. You find yourself in a room alone with them and they’re chatting, just the two of them. You take a seat and sit quietly until they start talking to you. You look up and find their eyes on you and their smirks so familiar.

They tell you how cute you look today and you blush a little and feel embarrassed because neither one of them has ever said something like that to you before.

It starts to feel like teasing when they zero in on the leggings you wore that day. When they start asking what the leggings look like against your ass if they were to lift your shirt and have a look. They wonder aloud to each other if they could see the outline of your pussy if you just lifted your shirt for them.

You think they’re just being jerks now and roll your eyes. They keep engaging you in conversation and you still think it’s all jokes and teasing, even as they start moving. Even as they get closer.

You even giggle when their fingers start pulling at your shirt. Tickling under the hem. The giggle sounds ridiculous to your own ears, that high nervous one you hate, and you hop up to move away. Still thinking they’re being ridiculous and playful.

It still doesn’t feel like sexual assault when you turn and realize you’re in a corner and they’re walking toward you, one on each side. You don’t have the sense yet to feel nervous, because you know these two guys. Have known them since Kindergarten.

You think this is still a game and that the fluttering in your stomach is from having so much attention on you. You’re young and naive and brainwashed enough to think this is just how guys are around girls. They get loud, and show-off, and grab.

A lot.

But the fluttering starts to feel like dread when the two guys don’t stop coming at you. When they walk all the way up to you, one on each side, so you feel sandwiched. When they pull at your shirt and one grabs your wrist and your shirt is up high enough now that your skin feels the breeze coming from the air conditioning vent above your head.

You still don’t think it’s assault, though. That isn’t the word that comes to mind in that moment. No, in that moment, when their hands seem to be everywhere . . . on your side, and brushing the underside of your bra, and on your ass, and then . . . yup . . . grabbing your pussy . . . the word assault doesn’t come to mind.

You wonder if you’d get in trouble for screaming. You wonder where your voice went because the general physical area from which your voice emits feels very dry and all you can manage to get out is an occasional breathy no or stop.

You wonder if you really know these guys at all and if they’ve changed over the years or were always like this and you were never unfortunate enough to be alone with them before now.

Even when you manage to push one away, and they’re laughing at you as you pull your shirt down and the teacher who was stuck on the phone in the office next door walks in, you don’t think assault.

You just quietly take a seat and smooth down your hair. You pick up your viola and start your lesson next to your teacher, all the while your heart hammering because when you glance up at them . . . they’re still smirking.

No, you don’t think assault. But those smirks no longer look friendly. Or even recognizable.

You don’t think assault, but you make sure, for the remainder of your time in high school, that you’re never again alone with either one of them. Especially if they are together.

You must not really believe it assault because you never tell on them. Never admit what happened. You convince yourself it was just flirting. Just boys being boys. They didn’t do any lasting damage, right?

I mean, the worst thing they did was just grab your pussy through your clothes.

So here’s the deal . . .

If you’re still defending that sick piece of shit, and still voting for him, and still thinking that his words have no bearing on how he’ll be in office, look around you.

Look at every woman or young girl you know and love.

Go ahead.

Look your mother in the eye. Your daughters. Your best friend. Your wife or girlfriend. Your sister. Your play partner. Your business partner. Your co-worker that you joke is your spouse because she’s the shoulder you lean on at work. Look at your grandmother if you’re lucky enough to still have her around. Your niece. Your cousin. The woman who rings up your groceries.

Even if you yourself are a woman and still defending that douchebag, take a good long look at the women around you.

They’ve been grabbed by the pussy.

It’s happened to at least one of them, if not most. They’ve been touched in a non-consensual way and talked themselves out of the word assault.

Because the guy who did it was a friend, was a co-worker, was kidding, was flirting, etc.

Now tell her why you think this fucking waste of space assbag of a human being should lead our country. Tell her his words don’t matter and won’t affect how he’ll lead or the person he’ll be in office. Tell her it won’t matter that girls and boys around the world will hear the disgusting things he says.

Go ahead. Tell her.

You’ve said it to Muslims, Mexicans, Latinos, African-Americans, immigrants, veterans, the mentally ill, women in general, but you never had to look them in the eye. Those are abstract concepts to you, I’m sure.

Tell HER. Then let me know how you still sleep at night.