The missionary position

تدور القصة حول سيدة متزوجة والطبيب النسائي الذي تزوره منذ أن وضعت طفلتها على يد القابلة إذ حصل تمزقاً خطيراً إثر الولادة. لم يندمل الجرح وأثرَّ على السيدة وعلى حياتها الزوجية. يتحدث إليها الطبيب كمن يتحدث إلى طفلة فيوّبخها ويستخدم مصطلحات طبية بسيطة جداً حين يصف حالتها حتى أنه قال لها: “كنتِ طفلة طائشة حين كنت تُولدين وكان يجب عليك أن تستمتعي لنصائح القابلة حين منعتك من محاولة الدفع فدفعتي وأنتِ من تسبب في التمزق.” والطبيب في نهجه هذا لا يهبها الفرصة بأن تشتكي من آلامها إنَّما يصرّ على أنّه يعرف جسد الأنثى معرفة تامة وأنّ شكواها ليست ذات أهمية. هي، توّد معرفة ما يحدث بدلاً من العقاب، والدعم بدلاً من الإدانة. تواجه الطبيب تدينه باستخدام لغة الإكراه. في النهاية، تدرك أنّ كسر هذه الحالة لابد وأن يكون بمواجهته.

Isabel del Rio

I can only do it in the missionary position, I stated, and he said fine.  Am I correctly placed for you to check my episiotomy? I asked, and he said yes.  So I did what I normally do when having sex, except that there was no sentiment or desire, at least not on my part:  I opened my legs, folded them sideways, pushed up and thrust my vulva into his face.  From down below he gave me his personal viewpoint, but it was hushed.  This is a scar resulting from a naturally inflicted wound and not a professional episiotomy, and therefore it would seriously require restorative surgery, he whispered as if talking to himself.   And then, changing course, he went on to describe in altogether different terms the very long tube inside me, the flapping entrance, the doors to my innards and the complicated female body.  I was about to ask him to discuss my anatomy in solely medical terms when he burst out from down below saying that I had been a bad girl when giving birth.  A bad girl, I asked. And he also said that it was obvious that I had caused the tear myself, since what I had was not a proper surgical incision but torn tissue that hadn’t healed properly.  Was that not the case, he asked, that you tore yourself?  And I reminisced: I remember the mid-wife telling me not to push, in fact she told me several times, even shouted.  Don’t push now, don’t push!  When should I push then, I asked.  And she repeated that I should not to push.  Don’t push!  But perhaps I didn’t fully understand what she meant, or I didn’t hear what she said, or I wanted to do it my own way.  It was all happening so very fast.  And so I thought the best thing to do was to push when I felt like it.  And yes, I pushed when I shouldn’t have done so, and push hard I did.  With the force of the incoming contraction my pushing tore open my flesh as a thunderstorm breaking the skies:  the vagina, the perineum, probably the labia minora and majora as well.  Not that I noticed a thing at the time, mind you, because what is the pain of tearing your own flesh compared to the pain of a contraction that hits you like twenty-five ton lorry.  Because that’s what a contraction feels like, nothing less than that.  And contractions do not come in single units but one after another, endless and increasingly agonizing, saturating you with the most abominable pain, and…  He interrupted my flow of words (and I had been keeping all those words for a very long time) by saying that he knew everything about episiotomies and contractions, and that there was no need for me to be specific.  He was so commanding in his manner that he didn’t appear as if he was speaking to me, his patient, but to the whole world at large, his audience.  You know everything about contractions except how they impact on your body, I said.  I can feel them through empathy, he replied without taking his eyes off my vulva.  And, he added as a throw-away remark, you were definitely a bad girl because you disobeyed the midwife.  Was he confusing blame and cause, was he saying that I was solely responsible for my particular problem, that all my woes were the result of my own defiance or even stupidity?  I repeated the headline as the conclusion: I can only have sex in the missionary position.  You said that before, he replied.  And I added: That’s why I’m here to see you, but I’m not here to be told that I was a bad girl, as you put it.  He got up and opened and shut his eyes a few times.  He was now addressing me, his patient, unlike before when he was addressing the whole world.  He produced a furtive grin as he uttered his brief and to the point words:  You say that you can only do it in the missionary position and I say:  Is that so important?  He said exactly those words: is that so important?  I looked at my hands, at the window from where one could get a glimpse of the vast expanse of Hampstead Heath, at the table with the cold steel surgical instruments that looked positively torture-inflicting.  And I was going to respond to him non-confrontationally in order to get it all out of the way and so that the status quo would remain as it has always been: that it isn’t really that important, because who cares about how to do it or not do it, about what happened when you were giving birth, about how we feel or not feel, about how people try best to live life to the full whether it is via sex or bird-watching or flower-arranging or reading the papers.  But instead of a predictable little speech, all sorts of other words sprouted from me.  It was an altogether different speech that was abruptly born, that very minute, I barely had time to think about it or control it.  It seemed as if I was making it up there and then, but as I spoke I realized that it was long-held view from way back, perhaps from even before my time:  No, nothing is all that important in your view.  It isn’t important because it’s happening to me and not to you, the problem is my problem and not yours, my plight is only mine. You, the famed gynaecologist!  Don’t you tell me in what position I must have sex or move or shake.   Yours is but the language of coercion, you assume what I like and dislike, you have made the world to your own image and forced me to fit in against my will.   You’re safe in the knowledge that you know all things about women’s bodies, occupying as you do the vast revolving armchair of the specialist, looking not at me but at the world beyond me, dictating what others feel or should feel, trying to refrain from using too many medical or scientific terms because you’re convinced that your patients know so very much less than you about what goes on inside them.  And this is the corollary:  Yes, something is important if I consider it important!  Very well, he said moving away and putting an end to the consultation by closing his eyes briefly as if to avoid seeing me.  And then I dressed as quickly as I could and opened the door to leave.  I will obviously require a second opinion as is customary, I said to him out in the corridor while shaking his flabby hand.  And as he was closing the door of his consulting room, I smiled.  Contempt? he suggested.  Compassion, I replied.

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s