Sometimes, I think—
even if it only applies to me, personally—
that the pelvic exam is rape.

Until there can be a more scientific way 
of checking women—
which is to say, with no other people involved—
I will have to run the risk of cancer.

I won’t be one of seven 
women Dr. Sylvester allegedly 
assaulted, and I won’t be raped 
with my legs in the stirrups. 

I told him this—
the doctor, that is—
though, and he 
had a good point: 
he’s competing against women 
in the same field, one 
in which men are often accused 
of being cold or distant. 

He sees female colleagues hug and kiss 
people, and it’s considered expressions 
of emotional concern. 

But somehow, when his pregnant 
patient hears the sound of him ripping 
open a condom wrapper, when she feels him 
place both arms around her legs 
and penetrate her, she doesn’t give him the same 
benefit of the doubt. 

But then there are the other times, 
when fear leads me down a dark 
hole of the internet to one damning
sentence: “Smith allegedly ripped 
a sheet off the girl’s half-naked body, 
hugged her, tried to kiss her, 
sent her a text message and 
proclaimed that he loved her, 
according to state documents.”

I picture Dr. Sylvester standing
between my raised legs, 
telling me to relax, and I get 
the inexplicable urge to masturbate. 

I picture him performing 
unnecessary surgery on me
in order to justify prescribing painkillers, 
waiting for me to develop an addiction 
to the oxy, and raping me. 

As he prepares himself 
with the weirdly-cold lubricant, 
he tells me that no one will believe 
an addict’s accusation. 

And when I think of him calling me 
a slut while he fingerfucks me, 
I also picture myself 
among the 44 women 
who will eventually sue him. 

When I come, 
thinking about this, 
making unenthusiastic love 
to my husband, I hate myself 
for it.

I don’t know 
whether I’m turned on 
more by the thought 
of his drawing a picture 
of a vibrator on the paper
covering my lap while
he asks me to have an affair, 
or by the thought of overtaking him, 
there in the exam room, 
and strangling him. 

I know that many of you will bristle at
the comparison of a routine exam to rape, 
but trust me when I write 
that I know what it’s like to be molested. 

Without telling my mother 
until I was 18 years, I was molested
from the ages of 5 to 13, or I was raped 
multiple times between the ages of 15 and 22, 
or both—whichever, 
I never trusted men again 
until my first daughter was born. 

I was scared of the doctor’s 
exams throughout the pregnancy. 

While I was giving birth 
to her I almost broke 
her nose and was slowly strangling 
her with the umbilical cord. 

If it wasn’t for the doctor 
she could have died, and so 
my trust started with the fact 
that it was a man that saved my baby; 
with my second born 
her heart rate was way too high 
while I was in labor and again
a male doctor helped me 
bring her heart rate down to normal; 
with my third born daughter her heart rate 
dropped so much they feared 
I would give birth to her as a dead child, 
so he helped me give birth to her 
fast and had a team waiting 
just in case she died, but
we got her out and her heart rate 
went to back to normal; 
with my fourth there was nothing 
wrong with her labor and delivery. 

So I started to trust men 
more because of these male doctors 
saving my children, and 
I realized with my first daughter 
that not all men are like the men 
that raped and molested me 
as I was growing up, and 
I know the difference 
between a regular physical exam 
for a female and rape.
But at the same time, although 
physically, rape is just filling a hole, 
it also isn’t, it’s something else too. 

Or it is, I can’t remember, 
it might be about how you are convinced
to submit to it yourself, 
and then fooled that it is normal, 
and how this is even worse, in my opinion,
or it’s incomparable. 

I’m having a hard time 
keeping this straight. 

I’ll try again: what a gynecologist basically says is, 
“If you don’t let me put my fingers inside you, 
you’re going to get sick and die.” 

Notice the similarity. 

Gynecologists are basically criminals
that the system hasn’t caught up with yet. 

So I share my anxieties 
on websites for other women 
who refuse to submit to their annuals, 
to cheat on their husbands 
by allowing a doctor to touch their cervixes, 
to have their consent procured. 

And when I’m done, I write
lit erotica in which a flirty doctor insists 
on a “complete, thorough” exam, one that ends
with one hand’s fingers in my ass, 
the other on my clit, 
as he examines the strength
of my orgasm.

I just, ugh.