A thought has been buzzing around in my head for some time now – you’ll just have to bear with me. Nothing else will get written until I rid my brain of it.
No, this isn’t a post about ‘cancer’ – though that is where the brain weevil stems from. It was during the process of working out what I really, really, hated about getting cancer. It wasn’t the fear of dying that everyone assumes must be so. Nor was it the various treatments I have ‘enjoyed’. I’m being sarcastic.
It was something much deeper, that was really digging into my psyche. Finally I got there.
There are some parts of our bodies, and some bodily functions, that from childhood are intensely private. As women, we get used to the ‘stirrups’ the charming contraption we must climb into and bare our genitals towards whoever happens to be interested. We spend a lifetime being ‘groomed’ by society, and ourselves, to be reasonably choosy about who we expose our genitals to – and suddenly we are supposed to abandon such reticence and be blasé about the presence, in my case, of three young Frenchmen standing between our legs having an earnest conversation in French whilst gesticulating towards our labia. It takes some getting used to, but I did, after a while.
Where my psychological strength disintegrated was when the cancer spread to my bowel and my life was ‘saved’ by being presented with a colostomy for Christmas. In itself, it was no problem. Not even when the nurse insisted on changing the equipment in front of Mr G so that he would know how to do it in an emergency. We have a close relationship and he is a good egg – but even so, I had never considered defecating in front of him.
It is the last taboo. A period of life we all observe in total privacy. Mostly, with the exception of those incontinent, we select the time, take ourselves off to some privacy, and never talk about it. We make embarrassed jokes about Bronco toilet paper. We titter nervously at the suggestion that someone might have opened their bowels involuntarily in a period of extreme stress. Workmen in stained and paint covered outer-clothes would pale at the thought of exposing a hint of a ‘skid mark’ on their underpants. Controlling your bowels, and disposing of their output in private is the mark of adulthood.
Believe me, having a colostomy hurls you into the outer reaches of lack of privacy. The world and its Aunt turn up to view the process – a Doctor, nurse, and “you don’t mind our students do you”? Day after day, they inspect the contents of the bag, discuss changes to your diet to produce something more to their liking – and every time they remove the bag – you defecate. Whether you want to or not. It is the ultimate loss of control (for this control freak!), the ultimate humiliation, the ultimate lack of privacy.
Fortunately, it is a horror memory from the past now, Ms Raccoon has been rebuilt with inner plumbing, but I have never forgotten how utterly vulnerable I felt at the time. Reduced to an infantile state – albeit surrounded by people who only wanted to help me.
It all came screaming back to me yesterday – nowt to do with my health, nowt whatsoever; it was this picture that did it, and I was totally outraged.
It is a picture of a girl, barely dressed, moments after she had had sex. That is also a time when we expect to have privacy. A time that we normally only share with those whom we have had sex with – be they however many. A time when we enjoy a quiet cigarette, or words of intimacy.
However, for this girl, it is not. The police have ‘reason to believe’ that money may have changed hands. Not money as in housekeeping twixt man and wife; nor even twixt lover and mistress; but money between man and woman outside of marriage or other forms of cohabiting.
Thus they believe that society wants them to burst into that bedroom, armed, helmeted, stab-proof vest coated, dressed like extras from a sci-fi movie, and haul all parties off to a cell in the police station.
Apparently the logic behind this is that they believe that deep in Romania, there might be one girl daft enough to think that a total stranger really will pay her fare to London in order to earn thousands of pounds a week clearing tables – and might then find herself ‘trafficked’ into a brothel.
In order to protect daft bint from her foolishness, perfectly capable girls, who have just had sex, of their own free will – and accepted money from the man outside of marriage of cohabiting – have to have every last shred of dignity stripped from them.
It is utterly outrageous. That picture went right through me and I thought, ‘I know just how you feel’. Vulnerable; humiliated; stripped of the privacy the rest of us enjoy – and you don’t even have the ‘It’s saving my life’ mantra to console yourself with. You’re just trying to pay the rent.
Sorry to treat you to that – sometimes I just have something burning the tips of my typing fingers, and nothing else will emerge until it’s had its outing.
The first person who comments anything even vaguely resembling ‘Ms Raccoon writes crap’ will be tarred, feathered, and kept for my sadistic amusement for life. You won’t enjoy it. You have been warned.