The Violation Of The Right To Choose
The Right to Choose: I wrote this piece a few years ago and did not publish it. I have decided to honor the content as it was because, unfortunately, this case is as relevant today as it was on the day that I first wrote about it.
I recently found myself grappling with uncertainty regarding my health, which means that I have spent a great deal of my time in doctors’ offices hearing people complain about theirs. I have made it clear in other articles that hearing people complain about their health is not how I choose to spend my time. But this article is not about that kind of choice.
Yesterday I had yet another appointment and, upon entering the waiting room at the doctor’s office, I heard something on the TV. The screen showed an episode of “Caso Cerrado,” a “Judge Judy”-type-of-show that seems to take place in Miami, Florida. I believe this is mediation, and I need to state my utter ignorance on this type of show before I continue with my tale.
The only person whose respect you need is your own.
~ Alan Cohen
Upon checking my facts with the expert on this show, my mom, I understand that the show’s premise is that people will get some verdict by this mediator, and they must abide by it – or so I think that thing goes.
A seemingly middle-aged woman, who identified herself as Cuban, came in to present her case against her husband of twenty-five years. She was asking for a divorce. Per the plaintiff’s accounts, the husband spent countless hours in front of the computer watching porn. She mentioned being conservative and not wanting to partake in his sexual explorations. She also noted, to the amusement of everyone in both rooms (the TV show and the doctor’s office), that she works all day and needs her sleep – her husband would now want to spend hours exploring sexual gratification with her. A dream come true for many of us, I know. But not for her.
The so-called porn her husband was watching: The Kama Sutra. Again, a dream come true for many of us.
The female mediator listened to both sides in what seemed like a respectful way. They paused for commercials, and upon returning, she introduced a couple who had been together for twenty-two years and who practice and teach Kama Sutra. They talked about the physical and spiritual benefits of this ancient practice.
Then she brought a pastor, apparently from the same religious affiliation as the wife, who also spoke positively about the virtues of sexual exploration and mutual gratification. The camera would move between the happy-looking face of the husband and the horrified-looking face of the wife. It was hilarious to watch. I admit.
Well, I am not sure because, by the time the mediator reached a verdict, people in the room had erupted into laughter and chatter about how ridiculous that conservative woman was. Some even told stories of how they have educated themselves in the arts of love, how the clitoris – they learned – is not as small as it seems, and how important it is to let go and enjoy—all good stuff. I did get to hear the mediator say in her closing remarks that she planned on trying all positions in the Kama Sutra, even if that meant that she would end up unable to walk for a while. Duly noted and added to my bucket list. I will drop, oh, I do not know, donating a kidney to someone in need. One must have priorities.
My Biases, Impressions, and Conclusions
First and foremost, I believe that a part of this woman wanted to be wrong, and another part of her sought to find strength in numbers by trying to convince her husband to renounce his newly expressed desires. Otherwise, she would have filed for divorce quietly, had cited irreconcilable differences like most of us do, and would have taken the path of continuing with her life in the way that she stated suits her spiritual and personal ideals.
Even in marriage, sex must be consensual. As much as I admire the husband’s desire to explore his sexuality with her, he admitted that he did not ask for her consent to engage in it. He reportedly imposed his needs onto her.
Now, while I loved the display of educational material and the discourse of those who presented in favor of a more balanced and enjoyable sexual experience for the couple, one thing remained true: not one person listened to this woman’s stated needs. Everyone set their course in the direction of shutting her up and proving her wrong. The decision to dismiss her case predated her attendance on the show.
The Right to Choose
The collective decided to violate this woman’s right to choose. They set out to prove her wrong and make her feel like shit simply because her worldview differs from theirs.
This woman’s case and the collective reaction to it represent a society that still in the 21st century tells women that they do not have the right to speak and establish the boundaries that will ensure that they/we will have a say. Instead, we use labels such as frigid, rigid, sick, and bitch, among many others, to refer to women who do not want to conform.
What the collective seems to overlook is that the only expert in a woman’s experience is her. In the case noted above, not one person recognized that married or not, the body they talked about was hers and no one else’s.