by Kathleen Murphey
As a woman, you get used to the indignity of the six month or annual pelvic exam.
Naked. Your most private areas spread open, prodded, and examined.
Followed by a breast exam where the breast are touched and examined for lumps.
But at forty, you graduate to yearly pelvic exams and yearly mammograms.
What is it about mammograms that make them so distasteful?
First, there is the whole experience of having each breast smashed
between two plastic plates and x-rayed.
But perhaps more than the discomfort involved is the “man-handling”
of your breasts by a medical technician. Having your breasts grasped,
manipulated, and positioned by a detached stranger—not a lover
or a nursing infant—such is the experience of the mammogram.
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Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia. Recently, she has been writing fiction (both short stories and poetry) on women’s and social justice issues. To learn more about her work, see www.kathleenmurphey.com.