So I've had some mixed feelings about working on the campus of a Catholic University. I was brought up a heathen United Methodist and strayed from that flock long ago. Plus, there is the whole lesbian feminist thing that doesn't quite jive with the Pope. But I needed a job and I was qualified for this position. Luckily, it turns out my coworkers are pretty progressive and I enjoy academia over corporate America, even at a school where theology is a core requirement. Yet my guard has remained slightly up given my surroundings. This is the only job I've ever had where I regularly received emails asking me to keep people in my prayers.
But then I went into the doctor today for a physical, complete with the dreaded OB-GYN exam. Hey, I've worked in two "women's clinics" (If you know what I mean... and I ended up working for a Catholic school, how, you ask?). I am all for women being diligent and proactive when it comes to their health, but then there's the reality of a metal speculum up your cooch and my take on the pap smear is like most women: necessary, but not fun.
With such an exam brings the usual pre-exam questions and the always awkward dyke responses:
Nurse: Are you sexually active?
Me: (Hell) Yes!
Nurse: Are you on the pill?
Nurse: Well then, any chance you're pregnant?
Me: (Yes, I did say this) I'm a lesbian so that would be a miracle. *
Which got me thinking about Mary and the whole Immaculate Conception thing. I felt a certain kinship with her, our foremother in having to answer awkward questions regarding the status of her uterus. Poor Mary, did Joseph ever really believe her? So that was my first religious experience today.
That nurse had it easy by the way. When it came to the birth control issue, she'd asked a yes or no question. Usually they ask what form of birth control you're on:
"Well, you see, when women like me have sex, there isn't any penis involved. Well, sometimes a synthetic penis is used, if you are into that kind of thing. But either way, there's no sperm."
Luckily, my doctor came in shortly there after, a woman who knows me well enough to know my sexual preferences and practices. I suggested to her that she stamp my medical files with LESBIAN in big red block letters. The last time I was there a different nurse asked me about stress and when I mentioned a recent break-up and she proceeded to pat me on the shoulder and patronizingly tell me that I'd find a new, better boyfriend. Yes, I did correct her.
I put up with the nurses at this clinic because of my awesome lady doctor that I can joke about these things with when my feet are in the stirrups. And because she told me I only need to get a pap smear every three years because I don't have sex with men and I'm young and healthy and the risks are so low. Bless this woman (see, here I go getting all religious again) for not making her lesbian patients adhere to the same regimen as her straight female patients. Why have I never been told this before? Well, I know why. The short answer being "patriarchy" and the long one involving the history of medicine and medical schools coming from the male perspective, women only being viewed as vessels for carrying children, our tender bits only having to do with reproduction and not pleasure, any women who has sex with no possibility of pregnancy are not worth research dollars, etc. etc. etc.
So what was my 2nd religious experience you ask? When it came time to draw blood, I warned the lab technician that historically, my veins don't like to show themselves. Sure enough, she tried both arms before she surrendered to another nurse who also tried both arms before giving up and moving on to the back of my hands. She tried both hands before she finally found a gusher.
So as I was driving home, my hands at 10 and 2, looking at the bandages dead center on the backs of my hands, I just started laughing out loud by myself in the car. What if I walked on to the campus and held my arms up, yelling, "Behold! I have the Wounds of Christ! Bow down before me and worship the Virgin (yeah right) Lesbian of Uptown Minneapolis and her Stigmata."
The only difference between me and Jesus being the Bugs Bunny band-aids on my wounds. Well, not the only difference.
*I just want to acknowledge that while this conversation truly did take place, there is a lesbian comedian (her name is escaping me at the moment) who has a whole bit about this very thing. My diatribe might sound similar and I wanted to acknowledge any pseudo-plagiarism up front.