I was at a party years ago at which a friend’s boyfriend was eavesdropping on the conversation of a group of women that included me. We were grousing about the much-abhorred annual gynecological exam.
The guy couldn’t understand why women shared such dread about pap smears.
“Doesn’t the doctor say something to put you at ease,” he asked, as if receiving a pelvic exam was as personally invasive as, say, an oil change.
“At ease?” I replied. “What the heck can someone say to make you feel ‘at ease’ when you’re naked from the waist down, lying on a table spread eagle with your feet in stirrups?”
He blushed and moved along to another conversation as the women laughed heartily.
“Wait until it’s time for him to get a prostate exam,” one woman said. “He’ll understand then.”
I found myself recalling that conversation as I watched my beloved fantasy crush, Stephen Colbert, taking on two guys who should know better — a senator and a news personality — about their comments concerning Planned Parenthood funding.
The first is Sen. John Kyl. The Republican from Arizona wildly inflated the percentage of Planned Parenthood’s services that is abortion. When his error was pointed out (he said 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood provides are abortions when he should have said it’s 3 percent), his office issued a statement saying that what Kyl said wasn’t meant to be a “factual statement.”
Now, if the conversation is meant to be about abortion, let it be about abortion. I well understand both sides of the issue and the deep divide between. But it’s hard to understand how misrepresenting the services of the controversial Planned Parenthood, square in the sights of so many, makes sense, political or otherwise. If you’re against funding Planned Parenthood, oppose it based on accurate information. To fling about information you know is wrong — on the floor of the Senate, in your role as a U.S. senator, no less — and then, when called out on it, to say your official words were never meant to be “factual,” well, to me that’s just wrong. Really wrong.
Thank goodness for my man, Stephen Colbert, who points out wrong like nobody else.
Colbert then moved onto Brian Kilmeade, co-host of “Fox & Friends,” who seems to think that women can get breast exams and pap smears at Walgreens.
If you’ve not seen the bit, give it a watch. No matter how you feel about Planned Parenthood, Colbert’s cracking up when he talks about getting a colonoscopy in a pharmacy is well worth your time.
After laughing heartily at the suggestion of pap smears at Walgreens, as well as at the wondrous wit of Colbert, that party conversation from so long ago popped into my head.
Most men simply don’t understand what it’s like to receive gynecological services. They get a hint of what it’s like much later in their lives, and even then, it’s still apples and oranges.
The truth of the matter is, the gynecological exam is dreaded by women everywhere. It’s invasive; it requires women to put themselves in a vulnerable position. Under ordinary circumstances, a pelvic exam performed by a good doctor as part of a health routine is difficult. Imagine how difficult these exams are for women who’ve been sexually assaulted. Should we consider sending rape victims to Walgreens pharmacy for a forensic exam?
For the record, Walgreens issued a statement that it does not offer breast exams or pap smears.
If there ever was an argument to be made that decisions about women’s gynecological health exams and services should be made only by women, Kilmeade made it.
I’m waiting for someone — anyone — to lead the charge for men to get their prostate exams at the corner drug store.
And, as always, I give thanks for Stephen Colbert.