If a word were to summarize this post it would be “no”. The right to say “no” should never be forgotten in all contexts related to the body.
It’s not a pure and hard story of feminism, even though I speak like a girl/woman. I write this post because I want everyone to realize that the right to say no is everywhere and for everyone.
Last Thursday I went for an ultrasound, for suspicion of endometriosis. The appointment was made, with the word of the doctor to do me a simple ultrasound and not to go through “the low way”.
Everything is going well, nothing crazy. A normal ultrasound, questions about what I do in life, my studies, what I plan to do next, if I play sports if I have reports.
Then the fatal sentence. “We will do a vaginal ultrasound now”. Red alert in my head. This was not planned. I do not want to pass this exam. I have 0.00001 seconds to think … but in fact, it was not a question.
It was an affirmation.
No open door that would interrogate my consent on this exam.
It’s like that, and that’s all.
I get up to go change.
I know it’s not an assault, it’s just a medical examination. But it was my integrity that was still affected. I did not want to pass this exam, I did not agree. But I did not say it clearly, because he did not ask me the question.
The power of the white blouse overcame what I really wanted.
I cried a lot in the afternoon and evening. Sleep did not come, and I still felt the pain of the exam, like an echo that my body could not get rid of.
I planned to keep everything for myself, to mourn in my corner.
And finally, I sent a message to my boyfriend to explain to him, then to my friends. No one around me minimized the act. Nobody told me “take a step back”, “it does not matter” or “relativize”. There were silences, words are sometimes lacking in these situations, but also general indignation, disgust, hatred. But there was especially a lot of support. The reaction of my brother affected me. And gave me strength, a lot of strength. He saw me crying, and showed me he was ready to protect me no matter what. So my dear friends, if you ever read this little article, know that I thank you. You all felt helpless, but you did so much.
I try not to replay the scene permanently in my head. Do not do it again with “and if I said/did that …” because it will not change anything. I have some flash that I cut as fast as possible.
I cried a lot, a lot.
Then I decided not to summarize my body only to that. I decided that the most important thing for me was to turn the page quickly and not make me sick. I show to my body that it is I who decides and that such a situation will never happen again.
So I’m talking to you with my eyes as a 22-year-old student, who wanted answers to her pains. I speak to you with perhaps a certain naivety. I once experienced gynecological violence, which made me change gynecologists, because no, it’s not normal to suffer during an examination. I had at least understood that.
But I realized on Thursday that even white coats have no rights to my body.
I understood that I had the right to say no.
I understood that my consent was paramount.
No doctor can force me to take an exam. I understood that if an examination was necessary, that I was not dying at the moment T, I had the right to make another appointment, to better prepare myself there. And especially, to know if I agree to pass this exam.
You have a choice. Just knowing that you can say no can be reassuring and comforting in saying “yes, I agree to take this exam”.
And if unfortunately, it has happened to you before, do not keep it for yourself. It’s important to talk about it, putting words on events can appease.
And that makes it possible to advance.
The pen that wrote this post is not mine but that of a friend dear to my heart who agreed to share his story with us. I will not dwell here for fear of spoiling his words, but I hope from the bottom of my heart that his strength, courage, and resilience will help you say no and talk about it.