Nocturnal Issue II - Page 30

exposes us to, because I saw the female

body in an environment where it wasn't sexualised at all. It's not a sex object – it's a beautifully functioning complicated bit of machinery. And one that looks pretty hard to live with at that!

Literally one morning was all it took, and it all just clicked, that's why I found those comments so worrying. I guess I just want people to think about what they say before they say it. Perhaps every guy should spend a morning in gynaecology!

1Please respect the authors decision to remain anonymous.

SECRET GARDEN PARTY 2014

PHOTO: EMMA BLAKE MORSI

PEOPLE'S

COMMENTS

SEXUALISING

A

NON-SEXUAL

EXPERIENCE

"

"

Once a month they bleed the lining of an internal organ – and they managed to just go about their normal lives.

ONCE A MONTH THEY BLEED THE LINING OF AN INTERNAL ORGAN - AND JUST GO ABOUT THEIR NORMAL LIVES

When I was anticipating an upcoming week of work experience in Southmead Hospital, I wasn't told which wards I would be visiting. I wasn't even told if I would be going to wardsa t all. For all I knew, as a seventeen year old, I may only have been allowed to file paper and make cups of tea. You can imagine my surprise when I arrived at the hospital and was thrown straight in to gynaecology!

Even whilst walking to the ward I was pretty sure that nobody would give me permission to see anything anyway. It would be fair to say that I saw quite a lot that morning! Without wanting to be too graphic, I saw a number of examinations and spent some time sat in an operating theatre. And whilst it was (medically speaking) very interesting, I also seemed to learn a few other more important lessons that morning.

It's not that I had no respect before, but I feel like I have so much more respect for women now. As I put it to a friend, 'I'm a changed person'! The first thing that I'd like to point out is that I felt so privileged that the women in gynaecology that day gave consent for me to stand by and observe whilst (quite intimate) procedures were carried out. I find it unbelievable that an adult woman could give consent for a seventeen year old boy to stand around and watch – I certainly wouldn't have done so!

Secondly, the biggest learning curve of my morning – periods. As a guy, I had sort of got what periods were all about. But that morning I realised that my preconceptions had been quite an underestimation. Periods look a lot worse than I had imagined. Maybe it was just me; maybe it's a more general guy thing. Whatever it is, I really think that girls deserve a lot more respect. Once a month they bleed the lining of an internal organ – and they managed to just go about their normal lives. How flipping amazing is that??!!

The other thing I observed that really hit me was a sexual health clinic. I had extremely naively (perhaps another 'as a guy' thing) never considered how 'the pill' works. On this particular morning it became apparent that 'the pill' isn't a magical prevention of pregnancy. I guess that as someone interested in studying medicine this should have been rather obvious. I had never considered the fact that the pill works by altering hormonal balances, therefore messing up a woman's natural cycle so that she cannot get pregnant. That was quite a realisation. I also became more familiar with contraceptive coils and implants. It struck me that as a guy, I'll never have to use any of this myself.

So following this week of work experience, I was filled with an overriding feeling of respect towards women. I then had the problem of explaining how I felt about what I'd seen to others. Fortunately I have one very understanding friend with whom I exchanged a lot of texts about this. But others weren't quite so understand:

'Ayy, did you see loads of vaginas?'

'Ohh cheeky'

'Wow, that must have been really sexy'

'You're so lucky, I'd love to spend a morning getting to look at that!'

Some of the comments that people have made to me have taken me aback. Although I concede that this was probably just 'banter' I find it worrying to hear. These are friends, and normal young people, making these comments. Would my reaction to someone visiting gynaecology have been like that? My problem is that these sorts of comments are sexualising a completely non-sexual experience. During that morning, I saw a side to the female body that society rarely exposes us to, because I saw the female body in an environment where it wasn't sexualised at all. It's not a sex object – it's a beautifully functioning complicated bit of machinery. And one that looks pretty hard to live with at that!

Literally one morning was all it took, and it all just clicked, that's why I found those comments so worrying. I guess I just want people to think about what they say before they say it. Perhaps every guy should spend a morning in gynaecology!

DAY IN GYNAECOLOGY — ANONYMOUS1