Sunday, November 19, 2006

When the rules don't apply

When I perform a pelvic or breast exam on a woman, I am required to have a third person present to “protect” everyone. This is wise, I’m sure, and based on unfortunate past experience. On the other hand, I can do hernia exams, prostate exams, testicular exams, etc. with nobody there to verify that my maneuvering is purely clinical. I once asked my Attending if someone should come in while I performed a male exam and he laughed it off saying, “Only if the patient winks at you.” I volunteered no correction that the doctor could just as well be the one doing the winking.

I bring this up because being gay leads to odd scenarios that seem to break the rules at other times as well. Take, for example, showering with other guys. It’s not really a choice in high school, despite folks like my poor friend in middle school who got an erection and whose middle school life was never the same. Fob's quip in a comment that showering with other guys was not the time anyone needed to worry about him doing something inappropriate! Funny, and certainly true. But, just because they aren't likely to have public sex together, we still frown on high school guys and girls showering together... for some reason. I think extrapolating that traditional guidance to gay guys is probably a good idea.

We're careful about men going to girls' camp in the LDS church. And men and women living together in BYU housing, for example. A huge amount of care and effort go into trying to keep the situation itself, no matter how benign, free from temptation and even what my mother would call, "the appearance of evil."

So, I read with interest this post and the comments that followed. It reminded me of a discussion on D2 regarding SSA roommates. It doesn't seem like a great idea to me, to be honest, although I have mixed feelings.

In another example, I was jealous but also a little bit relieved that I couldn't hang out with the crowd of fun bloggers who met at the Evergreen conference and who had a big sleep over party.

I guess the point is that when the normal rules don't apply... you have to try to find wisdom in dealing with the situation for yourself. And although there are plenty who find tradition to be restrictive and absurd, I find it comforting as a default. Where it doesn't apply, as a gay man, I try to use an analogy to a straight situation when possible. When that’s not possible, I think it's important to use vigilant care in recognizing red flags. And maybe err on the side of caution.

Now, if I can just think of how to get a nurse in the room when I’m doing male exams without outing myself…


Master Fob said...

This is something I've thought about quite a bit (beyond my offhand quip). So much so, in fact, that I'll save those thoughts for a blog post someday, rather than clutter your comments section.

-L- said...

Clutter my comments? Have you seen my comments section?!? The census has dropped off like there's a communicable disease involved. ;-)

Here I am on call grinding away the night waiting for someone to comment something interesting and you save it for later. Sheesh.

Kengo Biddles said...

One thing that comes to mind is that it's not meet for us to be commanded in all things, -L-, and that I think you're right in saying that we should look for the best way to handle things when we're outside the "known."

I think it's interesting that your mother and my mother both hounded the "appearance of evil" thing.

I think that's part of why I generally only hang out with SSA friends with Miki. There've been a couple that I haven't, but they were those that there was _no_ way anything would come from my side of the equation, and even then, those have been rare.

Beck said...

Though my heart doesn't always agree that it's the best policy, my mind knows that being alone in SSA situations isn't good (man, the emotions certainly want to do it though). With SSA "hanging out" situations, the best factor-of-safety is your wife!

John Galt said...

I've thought a lot about this as well. For me, the "considered normalcy" of two men being naked around each other opens the door to rationalization. For example, after working out I go have a shower in the locker room. Before I go in I think... It's probably not a good thing for me to go in there... seeing all those naked guys around... but hey, I'm a guy and that is the normal thing to do, so it's OK. I then take a shower, looking around as long as I can. I then think, I want to go into the sauna. Hey, that's normal, nothing wierd, I'm not doing anything wrong. And then once I'm in there another guy comes in. He's cute. He takes his towel off. It's hot. That's OK. Normal. Two guys. Nothing inapporpriate. If it was a woman in there the silence and awkwardness in that steamy room would be screaming. But hey, it's just two guys. I can see his manhood, if i look close enough. But I'm not doing anything wrong. He opens up his legs a little more when he sees me peeking. And then he scratches himself. No big deal. Guys do that right? And one thing leads to another and pretty soon you find yourself in a position that you should never be in... easily led by the cover of heterosexual "normalcy". It's a trap... one that we lay for ourselves. But somehow it's easier to rationize the path to get there in many instances. A naked Mormon guy would almost NEVER go into a room with a naked woman... that would be almost adultery right there. And yet we're allowed to get naked with other men with complete social and cultural neutrality. If they only knew what we were really thinking.