Trying to be Safe

No one in my house is awake. I get myself up because;

  1. I want to work on a story for the blog
  2. I have a bunch of stuff I need to work through before I go back to school next week after summer holidays. (Yes I am still on holidays and that means I shouldn’t work but … it is too hard to explain)

So what do I do, I scroll through Twitter of course because procrastination is my middle name. BUT then I came across this article describing a woman’s experience of explaining a non-linear monogamous sex life to her gynecologist. In short, for all of her sex life she has tried to do the right thing to ensure that she doesn’t get infected with an STI. It is not a black and white process, nothing to do with biology ever is. (Something I can never seem to get my students to understand but I digress). She finds herself pigeonholed and belittled by many medical practitioners who don’t always ask the right questions or even prescribe the right tests.

Of course everyone’s experiences are different. But what happened to her, how she felt about what she was doing and how medical professionals interacted with her is similar to my own experience.

For many years I would land in a doctor’s surgery and ask for an STI screen, not entirely regularly but when I remembered. I didn’t always have a regular GP but I tried. The conversation would go a little like this;

“So what can I do for you today?”

“I need an STI screen,”

“OK. Has something happened that you are concerned about?”


At this point a puzzled look crosses the doctor’s face. I can see them thinking “WTF???” I hurry to explain,

“My husband and I are swingers, we have multiple partners,”

“Right…” This revelation always made doctors uncomfortable. Strangely they can look at people’s lumps and bumps, examine all parts of their anatomy with that doctor face that hides emotion. But when they are faced with something that challenges a fundamental cornerstone of our culture, their professional facade falls apart. It took me many years before I found a GP who didn’t fall apart at this revelation. Not surprisingly this man had a history of working with women in prison and also in a clinic that had many sex workers as clients. His feelings about my lifestyle choice were for the most part positive. He did of course give me the obligatory safe sex rant that made me feel like all my sexual encounters should look like this

Errrm I’ll pass. As much as I hate condoms I do use them in the standard accepted manner, ie on a penis to contain bodily fluid. I use them during all of my sexual encounters with people who are not my husband.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself in a consultation with a doctor who specializes in hypertension. I was, and still am, suffering from this inherited condition, thanks Mother. This doctor was trying to eliminate known triggers and potentially remove the need for me to take medication. The topic of me taking the contraceptive pill came up. She questioned the need for a long term, married, 40+ woman to be on a medication that clearly had links to the condition that I was trying to eliminate.

She was much more professional about my reasons for insisting on this medication than many of her colleagues had been. Yes, a baby fathered by a man other than my husband is a much less desirable outcome than a possible slight reduction in my blood pressure. Interestingly since menopause has come into my life I have not taken the pill for almost a year and my blood pressure? Still high, I am still taking medication.

The general tone of the article I read was frustration that medical practitioners and educators lack empathy and probably knowledge about sexual and relationship choices that vary from the standard, boy – girl one partner only type. Our culture is so strongly rooted in the heterosexual marriage with a view to producing children that most people can’s see past it. Even when this model clearly fails the majority of people.

The world is overpopulated, no-one is really arguing against that idea. But still we expect that every human of child bearing age will want to produce offspring. So many children are scarred by being the product of toxic, malfunctioning marriages but still we push the fantasy of monogamous, happily ever after. The definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome. If this is so then the world has clearly gone insane.


1 thought on “Trying to be Safe

  1. Pingback: The Barbarian Book Club’s Book of the Month (January): Watchmen – Alan Moore – A Barbarian in Gentlemen's Clothing

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