Six months after I was raped, I was diagnosed with HPV my gynecologist was a man and as he gave me an exam, he talked about his son who was my classmate at school, and his tactics studying for his AP french exam. In the corner, the nurse eyed me with pity.
He talked about his son as he touched my vagina, in a cold and sterile room where my sixteen year old heart beat the words “unlovable” into my body.
And still the nurse looked on with pity.
No, it isn’t that he touched me funny. he did the gloves, the nurse there, etc. but isn’t there something rather heartshaking to have a girl with her legs in stirrups because a man decided to forgo a condom and instead of acknowledging just a bit of her wholeness, choose to talk about your son and his study tactics? as if i, as if my vagina and i, were not even there?
I told him I was also studying for that same test. that his son and I were in that same class. And that his son drank three red-bulls in per day which was always funny to me because I thought that having a doctor for a dad would indicate different life choices. The gynecologist looked at me with wide eyes. His son? Three red-bulls a day?
And now the nurse looked at us both with pity.
Somehow, with my legs in stirrups and a conviction that my vagina was forever tarnished, I had done what I would always be expected to do: save a man from his ignorance.
In college i went to student health to ask for an IUD. the doctor was sweet and smart and a she. I cast my gaze towards the floor so I did not have to see that pity I remembered from the cold and sterile room. I told her about the HPV. she laughed and said "oh, everybody has that." My heart beat “lovable,” for the first time in years.
Do you know HPV is undetectable in men? That’s very important for them, I think. Because they need another escape route, another reason to smile and say “there’s no proof, baby.”
I’m the fucking proof, asshole.
I'm looking at you with pity.