He had written a guest post for us over the summer, and I knew when I conceived of the interview series idea, I was going to want to delve more deeply into how he had come to marry a woman who refused sex and subjected him to terrible emotional blackmail. From what I understood, she had used threats of self-harm, all the way up to suicide to control the relationship and his response to her from the beginning. How does a relationship even get out of the starting gate with that kind of dysfunction present from day one? How does it become a marriage? So what, they had gone right from sexual activity in his truck after a dance one night in high school, to her making threats to injure herself, right into a relationship? Continue reading
The “Sex Ed Fail” series Candid Uprising featured in December and January (a progression of posts about my experience of working at Planned Parenthood) were the most-read content on the site yet, peaking with “Sex Ed Fail: The Interview“. I found myself wanting to trace sexual attitudes through the generations, to talk to a parent about their perception of responsibility for educating their child about sex, and how that may have been shaped by their parent. Out of the woodwork came a woman in her mid-forties, a mother of two, open to filling in the picture for me.
As a kid she moved a lot, never settling in one place long enough to make a close group of girlfriends. Later, she would point out that a lack of girlfriends made her vulnerable, often times sexually. She grew up in a family that was comfortable with nudity around the house, parents who were honest and forthcoming with her about sex and sexuality. Her earliest memories of learning about sex involve a conversation between her and her mom when she was eight. “I asked my mom about kissing, and she told me it was something that people did with each other when they loved each other.” Any question she had, her mom answered with medically accurate information. What seems to have made the strongest impression was her mom’s ability to talk to her on her level, in a developmentally appropriate way. It increased her comfort level so that asking her mom questions about sex felt natural as she grew up. In lieu of girlfriends (or “the playground” where so many of us learn backwards mis-information, legends, really about sex), she had her welcoming mom. Continue reading
I went hiking for the first time since I was twelve years old with two friends a couple weekends ago. My dad, the avid outdoorsman used to coerce me into hiking and camping (by offering carefully meted out sweets, which were usually forbidden in our house) from the time I was a young child, which I resented as I transitioned into a makeup loving, phone-glued-to-my-ear preteen. I’m an indoor girl, and that’s just how it is. My dad eventually let it go, and I promised myself I’d never hike again as an adult.
And there I was, humping it up Camelback because a dear friend had asked me to for her birthday–ten months earlier. With each heave and grab and stretch forward up the mountain, I thought about how worth it the strain would be–a 360 view of the Valley. Yet when I reached the top, something even better was presented in the form of three twenty-something women having a conversation about creepers. Continue reading
(Continued from Tuesday)
When our teen patient showed up for her counseling appointment the day after we cancelled her abortion procedure (after a battle of wills between her mother and I over her attempt to force her daughter into the appointment to terminate her pregnancy), I wondered why she had returned. I had left our previous session feeling like a total amateur (which I was) and bully. Nevertheless, she was coming back in, and I resolved to listen and respond to her needs, rather than my own this time.
“I don’t know what to do next,” she told me upon her arrival. “I mean, I know I’m going to have a baby, but, like, what do I do?” We both knew she meant that she hadn’t secured the support of her mother around her decision to become a teen parent, and that she needed resources. Naturally, the first resource that came to mind was having a medically accurate, clinical discussion of sex and birth control methods. Unlike some of our teen patients, she had a correct understanding of sex–the definition and mechanics. Like most of our patients, regardless of age, she didn’t understand how she became pregnant using the withdrawal method, after receiving basic sex education at school, but never discussing the subject in detail with her parents. I began my explanation of pre-ejaculate, survey of available birth control methods and assessment of which would work best for her in the future, given her lifestyle and needs (as she described them). She had been having sex with her boyfriend, another young teen, for a period of several months and this was her first time being pregnant. She needed adult support and guidance desperately, and I racked my brain to figure out how to help her on that front, given her mother’s disregard and stubbornness. “Do you have a relationship with your father?” I asked, clutching at straws. Continue reading
When I got to the final question of the medical history portion of the appointment, our patient reluctantly replied, “well…my mom told me I have to.” I had just asked her if she was comfortable with her decision to have an abortion, and whether she was being threatened, forced or coerced. If the answer was anything other than “yes, I’m comfortable” and “no, I am not being threatened, forced or coerced”, or if a strong emotional response was provoked by the question, we hit the brakes on the appointment. Often my colleagues would pull me into the room when patient broke into sobs at the question, or mentioned someone in the waiting room insisting on the appointment. We did not perform abortion procedures on women who weren’t at our clinic of their own volition. We did not perform abortion procedures on women who weren’t in an emotionally safe place the day of their appointment. In this case the patient was a young teenager, and when I pressed for more information she told me that while she wanted to keep her pregnancy, her mom was forcing her to have an abortion. I immediately notified my colleagues to remove the patient’s name from our treatment roster, and stepped out into the lobby to bring the patient’s mother into our counseling office. Continue reading
“I was one of those kids you wrote about,” she commented, after reading about the pregnant virgin I counseled at Planned Parenthood, “and you probably want to interview me for your blog.” I leapt at the opportunity she was offering to capture a first-person narrative about the experience of being opted out of school sex ed and how it affects adult sexuality. Continue reading
I was sitting on a bench over in the weights area doing biceps curls when I heard a man say, “so this guy proposed on camera at a game and his girlfriend said no. Later, she explained to him it was because his dick was too small!” I sensed my next voyeuristic “Overheard” post was taking shape at the squats rack adjacent to me, and subtly moved closer, to hear better. “It’s this documentary called Unhung Hero and it’s about this guy’s search to find out if size really does matter,” he continued, his buddies (and I) hanging on his every word. I studied them in the mirror that covers the entire back wall of the building, three men in their late twenties, all white, all of average height, barrel chested, pecs and biceps defined. “So, like, what did he do?” one of them asked. “She dumped him and he went around the world to check out the myths, to find out if the stereotypes are true, and what men do to get bigger.” Earlier that morning, I had been lamenting to myself that it had been ages since I’d overheard anything worth blogging about, and realizing I was going to have to try harder (read: be creepier) if I wanted to keep the “Overheard” series alive on Candid Uprising. Jackpot. Three jocks talking dick size at the gym. I couldn’t have asked for a more compelling conversation, and in such timely fashion! Continue reading