Institutionalized Minimization

“We’re sorry, but your request for financial aid in regards to your sexual abuse case has been rejected. Unfortunately, you do not meet the parameters of this program, as while what you endured may have been traumatic, it does not qualify as sexual abuse..”

Upon reading this letter, my insides froze, just Iike they used to when my ex would touch me. There were no words to describe how much the world stood still in that moment.

(more…)

Ad Hymen-im

CW: This one’s a bit gross and a very vaginal-oriented one, so if you’re not into it, probably would be best if you toddled off to something else less…harrowing.

Many folks with vaginas often have hymens. For some reason, this little membrane of skin is held in freakishly high regard, usually by people without them. They apparently indicate chastity or some bullshit. Imagine if we had a flap of skin on our thumbs and index finger that indicate that we’d never taken a selfie, or texted someone? Yeah, basically that important.

Anyways, here’s the story of how I got my hypothetical dowry reduced from a cow to probably a very ill-tempered, barren chicken at age 5-6.

As a teenager, I read about this hymen-thingy in books. It was supposed to be there in many vagina-havers, but I could never find mine, and I looked around. Not having an intact hymen didn’t really bother me, but like a trinket you misplaced, you end up absent-mindedly wondering where you put it, you know? It took me years and years until I linked a number of fuzzy memories together and then I had a lightbulb moment.

Followed by a facepalm.

So the tale isn’t that exciting – I wasn’t saving a kitten from a tree, or other typical ways people lose their hymens. It really stems from me being a giant klutz as a kid, and being obsessed with these weird side-by-side uneven bars at the school playground.

Yeah, you’re seeing where this story is going.

I guess I fancied myself an aspiring gymnast; I’d spend all day clambering up them, and trying to teach myself tricks, unsupervised. One day, I fucked up; like out of a cartoon, one ill-executed move meant I hit the bar, right up my alley.

CLANGGGGG!

White hot pain shot between my legs, and my brain was convinced some thing was terribly wrong. I burst out crying, and ran into the school bathroom. Sobbing, I looked down and there was blood.

Blood isn’t supposed to come out of there! (OH GOD, I wish that were the case, baby.)

Through snot, tears and blubbering, I managed to convey to the teachers that Something Was Wrong Down There, and they sent me home with my mother. Being only told to that “Tanya fell off some playground equipment,” she was terrified that I broke an arm or something. I imagine she must have been confused when she was handed a very shaken daughter, with tear-stained cheeks but no visible signs of injury. I imagine the teacher told her that Baby!Tanya hurt her Private Parts, and there was blood.

Oh. Ohhh, boy, she probably thought while trying to frantically trying to figure out a way to fix up her daughter’s chastity with Scotch tape and bubble gum. Sex education in 1970s Communist China was pretty terrible, and girls thought you could get pregnant if you sat in a spot previously occupied by a boy. (If we keep defunding sex ed and Planned Parenthood, we’re probably going back to that level of understanding of the human body)

Seems like Momma didn’t attempt a DIY vagina rejuvenation (Frankly, I was pretty juven, no need for a /re/juvenation) and she took me to the doctor – I have vague memories of an exceptionally bright light shining down on my prone body on a cold medical table.

I recall the Doctor’s big face hovering above, murmuring to my mother in a Charlie Brown-style Womp whomp womp Grownup Person Voice. I can’t remember what was exchanged in the conversation, but I distinctly remember my mom’s harried and hurried explanation of what happened to me, as she led me out of the doctor’s office by my hand.

My Chinese was pretty basic, I could figure out things like “I want juice” or “I have to pee.”

I missed that day of learning “Well Tanya, you ruptured your damn membrane in your vaginal opening, the one that culturally signifies your purity. Now you’ve been compromised and the social implications are far-reaching, when you become of marriageable age.”

Which is pretty close to “I want juice,” I guess.

So I never understood what had happened to me that day for many years after.

Except, I guess I didn’t lose it entirely.

Flash forward to like, 18 years– I’m a 23 year old person having first-time sex with someone who was, ahem, girthy. We were getting busy, and suddenly, Holy shit, ow.

A distinct tearing pain ripped through me, and I yelped. We stopped and tried for months to figure it out; was it position? Lubrication? The alignment of the different planetary houses? I had sex for the first time at 16, and while I’m not exactly the Red Baron, my body count was decent– respectable, even.

Months and months, no dice. I even tried to explain it to my doctor, who sent me to a urologist. Cue Tanya in stirrups, having a camera snaked up her urethra and four resident student doctors staring at my bladder doing its thing, on the high-def screen above me.

Absolutely not mortifying at all.

I’m someone who hates having photos taken of her, so this was next-level.

Also, turns out my bladder has plaque on it. Guess I should floss more.

Eventually my doctor has his brain reinstalled and sends me to a gynaecologist. She looks at it for half a second and goes “Oh! That’s just your hymen, there’s still some that remains.”

My brain screeched to a halt.

Is my hymen coming back from the dead?

And that’s the story of how I lost and found my hymen.

A Snake in the Bush is Worth Two Shorts in the Hand?

For those who are uninitiated, bush parties are the epitome of redneck partying. Basically a get together for teenagers in the woods, they’re a haven for under-aged drinking and terrible life choices. Naturally, I was considered too much of a loser to ever be invited, so I lack many stories about what it’s like to get blackout drunk with my lead-laden teenage peers.

However, I do have one story.

Somehow, someone was foolish enough to let me know that there was a bush party, happening in Rossland, the town adjacent to mine. It was 15 minutes away, so I hopped on the bus and showed up in Rossland, hoping to finally experience these legendary outdoor parties.

Thing is, the police were also part of the MSN messenger group chat I was on, and put the kibosh on that pretty quickly.

So what were nearly a hundred bored, wayward, and definitely intoxicated teenagers to do?

Apparently, the solution to having the party cancelled, was to create one… in the town square.

By the time I arrived, the Rossland town center was awash in alcohol and surging hormones. The whole place was rife with belligerent teenagers, and they were getting rowdier by the second. Somewhere in there, I lost sight of my friends and saw some somewhat familiar faces. Upon saying hello, I was greeted by a very drunken boy who handed me what was probably a very harassed garter snake.

Okay, so half an hour into the party, I was handed a reptile. Cool, fine. I guess this is what the popular kids do.

So while wandering and witnessing the cops haul away one vomiting teenager after another, I link up with some random dudes who were purported to be the rough kids. We wandered off to one unsuccessful bush party, after another, to no avail; the cops were really on their A-game that night.

Bored and stranded with nowhere to go, I ended up crashing at their place. By ‘their place’, I mean someone’s porn-filled shed. With five snoring teenage boys.

I didn’t sleep a damn wink that night.

Around five AM, I decided that I had to get some shut-eye somewhere more familiar; so at dawn, there was a very disheveled, probably still-drunk 15 year old girl groggily weaving her way to her best friend’s H’s house in a town known for its healthy population of brown bears and feral dog packs.

Oh, did I mention I was also not wearing my own pants?

Somewhere around the night, I slipped and fell into mud. A kid, probably the owner of the porn shed, was kind enough to lend me his way-too-large board shorts.

What a sight I must have been.

Anyways, this muddy, drunk girl dodging curious bears did safely make her way across town and arrived at the door of her best friend’s house. However, I realised it was quite early in the morning, and it would be rather rude to ring the doorbell. So what did I do?

I proceeded to break into her basement, where she lived.

My childhood friends are saints. Not many would be able to tolerate their smelly and inebriated best friend sneaking into their room, crawling into bed with them without warning, muttering something about a shed and garter snakes. H simply muttered some noise of assent, and we snoozed until later afternoon.

What are best friends for, right?

Sometime upon waking up, I managed to backtrack my way to this stranger’s house. I didn’t know his name, but I somehow was able to recover my pants.

The rest of this tale was pretty normal., I watched these boys do an inordinate amount of drugs – I didn’t partake, for the record, and I realised I had no cash to get home. Instead of calling my mother like a normal person, I decided to hitch a ride home, competing with this very frustrated homeless man who also was trying to find a lift, beside me.

I managed to find a nice fella on a motorcycle who gave me my first bike ride, down the mountain highway. It was absolutely terrifying, although the man was an extremely safe rider.

By the time I got home, I figured bush parties were a little overrated.

How I Met Your Mother’s Left Hook

Image credit:The Crimson Shoe at Deviantart

Small, unsuspecting and quaintly beautiful, it sits on the vanity dresser of my parent’s bedroom. While only the size of a mandarin orange and filled with colourful swirls within, what’s most noteworthy is its weight – I am forever surprised by its heft, every time I pick it up. Made of solid glass, it has endured for three decades now, with nothing more than a few surface scratches and a chip missing (made by yours truly)– it is an apt representation of the love of my parents. Created in the white hot heat of youth, it began as any love, passionate, fragile and mutable. As the decades passed, it began to solidify and become this dense, and fortified structure that could withstand all the bumps and falls of life. It would take something catastrophic for that apple to be broken apart.

My parents worked in a communal factory as teenagers, courtesy of Chairman Mao. Apparently my grandparents knew of each other, which may have resulted in their working in the same sector. It appears that my father noticed my mother and she piqued his interest. Unfortunately, his interest was not reciprocated.

Every day while my mother worked, this irritating 18 year old boy would harass her.

Vegetables thrown at her, verbal taunts, what the fuck was his deal?

I guess my dad took lessons of romance from a five year old; this was his unorthodox way of showing interest in this skinny girl who worked down the assembly line from him. This subtle courtship went on for some time, and her patience grew more and more thin with each passing bok choy thrown at her head.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when my dad was doing his daily harassment of my mother, and twisted her arm behind her back. Brimming with pain and anger, she managed to wriggle free enough to turn around and enact her revenge.

CRACK!

My 74-pound, 5-foot-2 mother swung around and cracked my father right in the face.

All of the rest is conjecture, but I imagine he stumbled back with shock.

And then, there was blood.

Turns out my dad’s a bleeder, even when he takes a haymaker from a woman who barely weighs more than a nine year old. So, blood gushing out of his face, my mom realized what a terrible mistake she’s made.

I’d imagine she ran off and cried. She tends to be a bit of a crybaby, and that’s kind of her thing. After she cooled down, she told me that she went to the market and came across a glass apple.

In fact, she came across two.

Turns out my mom is where I get my raging asshole tendencies, and bought two glass apples, one for her crush, and a smaller one for my father. Her apology to him was meant to be an afterthought, a metaphorical shrug, as it were.

It seems that this second-place gift ended up smoothing things over, and then some.

Every time I look at that apple, I’m reminded of how my parents met, as this little glass toy is the lynchpin to that story. Resemblance to my parents is one thing, but nothing else represents the core facets of my personality better than this glass gift; what a beautiful symbol of my father’s childlishness and my mother’s killer left hook.