Some thoughts on Bisexual Visibility Day

I talk about sex, consensual and not. it’s not graphic, and it’s not the point of the post, but it’s referenced. 

Bi-erasure is a thing. Don’t even pretend it’s not. Which is why I’m coming out as one of those confused cheating, polyamorous, greedy bitches who can’t pick a side, who is waiting for someone to turn them, who doesn’t exist…. Not really coming out, just popping in to raise my eyebrow and say “What… You didn’t know? Oh honey, bless.” But don’t worry too much about me, I hear it’s just a phase.

Although a label that I could wear, I choose not to. “bisexual” to me signifies the belief of only two sexes or genders. I do not believe this to be true. Or the idea that a bisexual identifying person is only down with two of the many flavors of sex and gender out there. It’s the root of the prefix that irks me. I don’t believe all bisexual identifying people to think there are only two genders. Just personally, I prefer the term ‘Pansexual’. Plus, it lets others make jokes about me “being attracted to pans”. Though it doesn’t get funnier the more I hear it, it makes my friends smile to themselves, and who am I to stop that. I like men, women, that beautiful space in between, masculine, feminine, androgyny, and many other things. I’m attracted to people; everything else is just details.

Looking back on my history, it seems I verymuch favor male/masculine. In sexual partners, emotional partners, romantic partners etc. I have a lot of self doubts because of this. That because I’m historically mostly on one side of the spectrum, because I present so cisgender & heterosexual, that I’m “not bi enough” or “not queer enough” to identify as someone living under the LGBTQIA rainbow umbrella. I’ve heard snickers from people in my queer-family spaces about people like me. Sometimes from the lips of people I love.

Because of this self doubt, I hyper-analyze myself. There are a few factors in my life that I feel have shaped me into leaning more ‘straight’ in my actions. I was raised in a time and culture where all I saw was straight representation; My environment raised me to be “straight”. I was conditioned by what I saw around me how to interact with male types. There was no guideline for how girls can flirt with girls. Just lots of examples of how boys and girls flirt, and how they are supposed to react. I remember as a child feeling the same way towards boys as I did girls. I never thought it was wrong. I always assumed everyone did, but just didn’t talk about it. I was 10 the first time I was called a lesbian. I had no clue what it meant but by the tone the kids used I knew it wasn’t good. When I came home and asked my mom what it meant, she was surprised I had heard that word, and explained it so simply and without judgement that I didn’t understand why the kids used it as a slur. This was the moment I learned that there was “gay” and “straight”. Although neither simplified definition fit me, I assumed I was straight because I liked boys, and gay girls don’t like boys. I didn’t hear the term “bisexual” until well after I had been intimate with a woman. When I heard it, it knocked the wind out of me. It felt so right; a term means that there are others like me and enough that they have a name.

I didn’t have a healthy relationship with the idea of being a women, of having women around me. I felt more comfortable with the boys in my classes than I did the girls. The words the girls had were far meaner than the things the boys ever did or said. But there was one moment that I will never forget. I’ve healed, as much as I can, but I will never forget how I felt. I was at a friends house, playing video games with my boyfriend, when he started to initiate sexytimes and I wanted nothing to do with it. He had other ideas. He raped me on the couch. My ladyfriend, whom I had been romantically involved with, was upstairs. I know she heard me scream. I know she knows what happened. And she never did or said a damn fucking thing. It took me years to forgive myself for not ‘fighting back hard enough” or whatever the fuck illogical brain tries to tell me. And it took me just as long to forgive her. We were 14, and that moment shaped my mistrust of women for far too long. How could someone who claimed to love you not do anything, right? I understand why she hid upstairs so much more now that I am an adult looking back at the memory with adult awareness. We.Were.14. How the fuck am I to expect a 14 year old girl to understand the complexities of what was going on and to involve herself in what can be perceived as a potentially lethal situation for her? She used the tools she had to do what she needed to survive that moment. And I did the same. We never spoke again, but I hope if she ever stumbles across this post that she is well and has forgiven herself, just as I have forgiven her. I don’t blame her for my fear of being romantically involved with women anymore. I blame the situation, and I am moving through it as gracefully as I can.
I think the hardest part of this all is that I will never know the answer. I can’t go back in time and change these things. I don’t know if I would want to anyway; they shaped me into who I am and I kinda dig who that is. My “I dig people, but I tend to get involved with the masculine more” tendencies may be nature, or they may be nurture. Who knows. This entire post was intended to be a little facebook status, talking about my experiences as one who is ‘Other than straight & other than gay” and it turned into so much more. Maybe you’ll take something away from this, maybe you won’t. But I know I feel a little lighter for sharing, and that in itself is enough for me.


Seeking Advice

Regardless of my slacking on posting a detailed description of the many jobs I do, the one in question now is my work as a GTA. I have decided this is far too long to tweet about, so if you followed me from twitter, fan-tastic.

Lets Brief You on Exactly What This Means I Do:
I am a stunt cunt. A professional vagina. On a more professional sounding note, I am a Gynecological Teaching Associate. I teach med students, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, and friends how to perform breast and pelvic exams using my body as the model. In turn we educate them on proper verbiage, technique, and ways to empower and educate their patients. This means that I am constantly allowing myself to be attacked by shaky inexperienced hands for the sake of medicine and safety of future patients.

These baby health care providers stare intently, touch, poke, prod, and penetrate all of my female bodied bits. And I show them patience as they learn, telling the how much pressure is appropriate, why using your patient as a leaning post is a less than stellar idea, and why I want them to change their gloves between scratching their eye and putting it inside me.
I love my job. With a large part of my heart.

What I do pays well. It does because this is a very invasive exam, that we as GTA’s need to stay in control of. The rates vary on which group I teach with, and probably what part of the country you’re in, but in my experience to teach breast and pelvic to a group of 3-4 students is $125-$175 for about 2 hours. I have done these sessions for less before, but on *my own terms*.  Which is what I need your advice on today.

Lemme Show You Part Of The Dark Side:

At one of the universities I teach at, there is a terribly named week called “sex week”. This is when all of the 2nd year students get submersed in STI’s, male pelvic exams, and female pelvic exams. My first year working sex week the breast and pelvic exams were taught separately. I was in the breast room. At the beginning of the sessions I was told I’d have (not enough) time to teach how to do the exam, 4 students per session, and 3 sessions to be taught for an established price. What I got was a rotating door of students, no breaks, and no session starting on time or with the same number of students in the room as when it ended. By the end of the “sessions” I had taught 34 med students how to do a breast exam. Not the agreed upon 12, thirty-fucking-four students. For the same price as before. It was non negotiable. Strangely enough I didn’t know I should be upset about this more than I was at the time.

As I sat at home in a terrible head space holding my aching snack trays I wondered why I felt so used, filthy, disgusted, and powerless. I questioned if this was a job I was cut out to do, and seriously debated quitting. I took a shower and sat under the water until it dawned on me; I was taken advantage of. In every sense. Not only did I not get the surroundings I agreed to, I got almost 3 times the amount of students I was prepared for, and paid less than I felt my body and knowledge was worth for 12, let alone 34, inexperience hands on my business.

Something About It Gets Better & Things Never Really Change:

It has been almost 3 years since that day of shittery. Things have changed at that university, however I am still always wary about any work I pick up there. I have become more knowledgeable, experienced, comfortable and confident in myself, my work, my education, and my body. Sex week 2011 is coming up in a couple of weeks. I know this because I signed up for it in September. I received an email from the boss-monster that I was working all 7 session, as I was one of the first to sign up for it. About 4 days later I received an email, same boss-monster (BM), asking all of the GTA’s working sex week for their opinion on a dilemma. BM wants us to all get as much work as possible but does not have the budget to put us all on at our normal price. So would we rather ALL work every session for 50 bucks less a session, or keep our already assigned schedules in place. I thought this was a no-brainer (At this point I hadn’t even read the email telling me i was working all of the dates.I assumed I was just on a bunch) and that all the folks would work the shifts they were told from the get-go.

I and 3 others have responded. I was the first, saying I am not in favor of the change. the other three voted in favor. Under the belief that there will be 6 students a session, and the GTA’s would switch after three. What this means is that we would get to see our co-workers ways of teaching (which is awesome because you get to learn new tools for teaching, and help them in their problem areas) and all get the same amount of work.

These sex week sessions are taught a little different. Instead of 2 hours to teach a pelvic exam to 3-4 students, we now have 90 minutes to teach 3-5 students how to do breast and pelvic exams. To save on time and not terrify the students (they do this again 3rd year) we teach a very watered down exam focusing on how to communicate, palpate, and insert stuff. So the GTA’s are still getting the same amount of touch, just spending less time on the explaining the why’s behind stuff.

The dilemma:

I’m in a really shitty financial place. I cannot afford to turn down work. Working sex week at either rate means my 2.5 bills are paid in full, or 5 bills can get paid something. This is a lot in my world. At the same time, that whole victim-powerless-used head space is not something I ever want to put myself in, especially for money. How can I teach empowerment if I myself am feeling disempowered by being forced to let you touch my body for less than what I am worth at any other day in this venue. Should I feel this is OK because I am teaching the students in less time, and in less detail? Or should I feel enraged that my BM with my best interest at heart thinks I’m OK with letting her save a couple bucks while the same number of hands touch me, the same number of specula get put in me, and the same number of students leave the room stunned and impressed?
I need the money, but do I need it at the risk of feeling cheapened and disgusted with my physical and mental self?

I understand that ultimately the decision is mine to make. But I have thrown this back and forth in my brain for at least 4 days now with no conclusion. Give on the fiscal front, be at peace in my survivors skin. Or allow myself to be discount goods so I can pay my phone bill.
I welcome your sage-like wisdom.

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 2:53 am  Comments (5)  
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