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Putting An End To Socially Acceptable Medical Rape with A’magine

Did you know that you can go in for any kind of surgery at a teaching hospital, and while under anesthesia receive pelvic exams, from multiple students, (yes this happens to men with anal or prostate exams) without your consent? 

Most people are shocked to discover that they could go in for a knee surgery and be given an anal or pelvic exam they did not consent to. However, let’s call it what it is, medical rape and 85% of medical students currently report having done this. 

On today’s episode I speak with activist, author, educator, speaker and filmmaker A’magine about her award winning documentary film that tackles this topic, At Your Cervix

These pervasive exams are still very much legal in 27 states in the US and continues to occur where it is illegal despite laws meant to prevent this practice. Together A’magine and Charna talk about when pelvic exams happen when you’re unconscious, medical rape, sexual assualt in Western medicine, and unlearning the dehumanization that causes sexual assault in the medical filed and society at large. 

The conversation is capped with an embodied mindfulness practice led by @Amagine.

A'magine Interview Charna: [00:00:00] Welcome back to Late Open Podcast. I'm your host, Charna Cassel. And during my hiatus from recording this podcast, I was building an online course on how to live the passionate, pleasure filled and peaceful life you want reduce self-sabotaging behavior and gain control over your nervous system. Charna: Creating courses for people around the world to understand the impact of trauma on their relationships and their bodies and how they can heal is something I've wanted to do for over a decade. I'm thrilled it's finally happening, and I'll keep you posted as to when it launches. For now, you can also sign up for my newsletter, read my blog, or send any questions you'd like to have answered about healing relationships and living a vibrant life after trauma at Charna. Charna: Charna: Today's guest is Imagine. She's a sexologist, author, activist, and an award-winning documentary filmmaker of the film at your cervix. Charna: Welcome. Imagine.[00:01:00] A'magine: Thank you. Glad to be here. Charna: I'm really, really excited for this conversation cause I feel like what you're up to is, is very important and more people need to know about it. And, A'magine: you. Charna: And so how did you get into this [00:02:00] subject? And you can also explain what your documentary is about. A'magine: Yeah. At your cervix is a film that's one of the only films about medical education and certainly critiquing how students learn to do pelvic exams. Most people never think like, how does someone first learn to do that? And most people probably don't wanna be the Guinea pig. But turns out lots of people are and without their knowledge or consent, without knowing it's very common for medical students to learn how to or to get to practice pelvic exams on anesthetized patients who've come in for surgery. A'magine: Who have pretty typically not consented to the process. So, it's a pretty egregious process. It, you know, to, to feel like, oh, I went in for this surgery and then while I was under, they decided that, you know, two medical students were gonna give me pelvic exams for their own education. Which the truth is, and one of the things we really talk about in at your cervix is that there's really no reason [00:03:00] to not be, you know, properly. A'magine: Having consent processes with patients about this, most patients actually will say yes. They wanna help students learn. They tend to be pretty altruistic. But they wanna be asked. They wanna be asked if you're gonna put something in their vaginas that's like pretty, pretty basic manners. So, Charna: And say, please, please, and thank you. A'magine: yeah. Charna: No, I, I mean it brings up so many issues. So. And you know, I will say that years ago, and I think I may have mentioned this to you in an email but I worked at Good Vibrations and a colleague of mine was what we called Pussy School being a model at Stanford. Charna: And, you know, her body was being used to teach the students and I considered doing it. And and so that was in, I think it was in 2001. And is that something to, is, is it's, what is it? It's called gt [00:04:00] G T A. A'magine: Yeah, that's the other part of the film. It's about the gynecological teaching associate work. And I actually did that work from 2001. Into 2011 for 10 years in New York City. Charna: And is it, is it all in in all states? Does that also occur or only in certain places? Is that an option? A'magine: I think that most of the big medical schools definitely have some kind of G T A program and most of the like major metropolitan areas have G T A groups but not all schools. And so one of the goals of the film is that we do wanna. See the G T A work expand because not only is it ethical and consensual this is students being able to learn by trained teachers and we use our own bodies to teach. A'magine: And so, we become the simultaneous instructor and patient, which also helps students really learn that. They need to be looking to the person on the table, on the examining table for information about this body, that it's not about, I'm gonna turn to my colleague over here and talk about this person who's in the room and try [00:05:00] to get information that that is actually the authority on this body. A'magine: And that's what we wanna be training students to to routinely do, you know, like approach the, we live with our bodies all day long. 24. 24 7. We know more about what's going on with our bodies and too often our own knowledge is dismissed. We're not asked the questions. We're not treated as the expert of our own bodies. A'magine: We're not believed when we say we have pain or we say there's something going on or whatever. So the GTA work is. Pretty radical, amazing feminist work that's been happening inside of these very conservative medical schools since the late seventies. And so we chronicle the history of that work also in the film. A'magine: And I guess back to your original question, that's how I got involved to make this film was through that work. We thought we were making a film about GTAs, and then it turns out. This whole other horrible, unethical thing is happening. Alongside that, oftentimes the same students will get both. They may get a GTA session, but then [00:06:00] when they go on their clinical rotations, they're told, okay, you are gonna practice exams while patients are under anesthesia. A'magine: So a lot of times they'll get both. Charna: it, it's. It's so insane because you, you know, the reality of if you're giving someone a pelvic exam, you wanna be able, they, they, they need to have a voice and to be able to give you feedback about what hurts, what, what, what their experience is. Can you feel that? Well, obviously if somebody is anesthetized and they're not awake, then. Charna: Number one, they can't consent and they also can't tell you if something is pinching or hurting. So what kind of practice are they actually even getting? I mean that there's so many things to respond to. And I mean, the whole conversation and the nuances around consent alone, that's a topic I'd like to talk about, but it's just insane. Charna: Right. A'magine: I think most people are shocked. That is most people's reaction. They just, they can't, you know, and then people go [00:07:00] into this, This place of disbelief. But that's a thing of the past. They wouldn't do that. Now we know better. No, the medicine does not know better. That's the truth. Medicine does not know better. A'magine: You know, there was research 20 years ago that showed that 90% of students had done this to patients, medical students. And then last year, finally a new peer reviewed study just came out newsflash. It hasn't changed. Charna: Same amount. Yeah. A'magine: 84%. So it's a negligible change in 20 years. So, people cannot say, this isn't happening anymore. A'magine: And this, this particular study was done across five different states and six different institutions because they wanted to. Research, is it happening in some particular kind of institution, a particular size, more urban schools, more rural, you know, and so they, they did six very different institutions and they found 84% across the board. Charna: And and there's, [00:08:00] what is it? Is it 29 states where it's still legal? I'm trying to remember. A'magine: We just passed two more states including Colorado, which was the law that I worked on from scratch. We started that process from scratch. Absolutely the strongest bill in the country and got that law passed just a, just a few weeks ago. I got to be at the signing ceremony for it, which was really exciting. A'magine: So, so we're up to 23 states where we have laws now, so we've got to go. There may be another one that may pass. Before the session ends most sessions are getting ready to end if they haven't already, so, so we'll see. But we're working in several, several states on legislative campaigns right now, but I also was just at a medical student conference last weekend screening the film and having lots of conversations with medical students. A'magine: And I talked to many who are in states where there are laws that still have been asked to do it. So, So I think there's a couple things there that, like, one is that we get to go back and look at some of the older laws that aren't as [00:09:00] robust number and, and hopefully update those and improve them. Number two is that I think there's a, there's a stronger campaign needed to actually educate providers and schools and students in states where there are laws. A'magine: Once these laws get passed, because if they don't know that it happened then, and their institution isn't necessarily making dramatic policy changes, it's very possible they may just keep going, really having no idea that anything's changed. Or some may know that it's changed and just. A'magine: Don't do anything, but hopefully with more education, more awareness and, you know, using, using the film to educate that we can, we can make some, some bigger changes. Charna: Well, and the, the other thing I'm remembering, I, I had fibroid surgery and you know, you're getting there, it's like six in the morning, you're signing a bunch of papers. You are not reading the fine print of things. What are you signing and saying yes to? And given how common [00:10:00] sexual abuse is the reality is you don't even have to be awake for your body to remember being invaded. A'magine: Yeah. Charna: Right. You could go in for a foot surgery, you could go in for fibroid surgery, and you could end up getting a pelvic or an anal exam, right? As you pointed out, and in one of the interviews that I listened to that you did, that this happens to both men and women. A'magine: Yeah, that's one of the, that's one of the key things we're advocating for across the board is that these laws should. Should be for people of all genders and for all intimate exams, and then defining what those intimate exams are. But yeah, people also will have rectal or prostate exams while they're under anesthesia and never know about it and never have consented to it. A'magine: So, yeah, it's you know, it, I think it's been, it's been a, it's, it's persisted for so long. A of course, because patients are under anesthesia. They don't know that it's happened. There's no reason for us to, to know that. The, the few [00:11:00] stories we do have in the film the patients found out for various reasons. A'magine: But there's usually some kind of special circumstance under which they found out this had happened. But typically patients wouldn't know. And so I think that's why it has really flown under the radar and truly the only thing that has ever made any real change. Our students who have spoken up and students who have, you know, put themselves on the line to either do the research, talk about this, write about this you know, it's not easy to do. A'magine: It's, it's really not, not easy in medical school to not just do exactly what you're told. So, you know, the, the push to conform and to like really toe the line is, is. I, I feel like it's akin to the military. I, I don't feel like they're much different. Charna: Exactly I've worked with a lot of nurses and doctors and that's exactly how I've described it. And I perceive it that there's a, [00:12:00] even the training and the sleep deprivation and the denial of what your body needs around food and Charna: sleep and the training is to. Really, it really encourages dissociation from the body and from feelings in order to be able to do things like cut people open or tell people their child just died. Charna: I mean, it's a really, it's a hard job and there's a level of narcissism and hierarchy that prevents people from questioning authorities. It's really A'magine: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I've heard many stories of retribution when people spoke up. I mean, that, that's a very, it's a very real risk that, you know, someone who's speaking up about something they see that's unethical. They, they, you know, their, their whole career that they've worked so hard for could be on the line. A'magine: And that's a, that's a pretty big risk to take. And that said, people have taken some risks and, and that's what has created change. And, and that's how we know about this. And we were able to really, Really lay out these histories [00:13:00] and the research in, in, at your cervix so that people can really understand the origins of this. A'magine: You know, I mean, if you look at the origin story of gynecology, this is not a big jump. This is not a big jump at all. I mean, I think more and more people are kind of know this, this story of Marian Sims and you know, and, and he was not the only one, but he's definitely the, the most renowned because he was. A'magine: He was kind of given the title, the Father of Gynecology but he got that because he kept enslaved black women. That plantation owners had provided to him because they had vaginal fistulas or they had had childbirth complications or different things. And and they had these, these conditions that needed to be fixed. A'magine: And so he kept them on his property in a shack in his backyard, and then he would just experiment on them. He was trying to figure out how do we. How do we solve vaginal fistula? He developed the first speculum. You know, he did a lot of things in [00:14:00] terms of that, those nascent. Stages of gynecology, but he did this at, at great pain and expense and violation of enslaved black women. A'magine: And you know, so that history is really important to understand. And I think that when we understand that, then we understand how that apprenticeship model evolved. And really, and the many ways it did not evolve. You know, yes, we, we, people are under anesthesia Now, they may not feel in the same way. A'magine: They, because these women did not get anesthesia. I mean, they were, they were being operated on surgically. He was doing all of these things on their bodies without any anesthesia. I mean, it was horrific what happened. To the three names we know are Lucy Betsy and Anka. But there were probably many more that we don't know about, and we know about those because of his own autobiography. A'magine: I mean, he wrote about it himself. So this isn't even, I, I, it's so bizarre when people wanna defend him. I'm like, this isn't defensible. No, we, we don't get to do that. So. I, you [00:15:00] know, this is the entitlement that is really baked into medicine that we're entitled to These bodies we're entitled to these patients. A'magine: They're coming into a teaching institution, so they know that we have to learn and we're gonna be learning on them. I mean, patients don't know that. Patients do not know that, and patients are following their doctors. They're in network or whatever. I mean, often we don't get a choice what facility we go to, so it's a ludicrous argument. Charna: and testing. I mean, you know, the thing is, is you might be like, oh yeah, for, it's a, it's a teaching hospital. Oh, you're gonna take my blood pressure. Like, you know what I mean? Someone might just think something like that, not like, put, put your finger in my asshole, you know? A'magine: right. Yeah. That's not generally where people go, and especially if you're going in, you know, like we have a, we have a couple stories in the film. One is of an abdominal surgery and one is of a knee surgery. You know, you're not going in for knee surgery thinking I'm probably gonna have three pelvic exams today with some students. A'magine: No. Like, nobody thinks that. Nobody has that in their mind when they're going [00:16:00] in, you know, and they're, and we're all, we're so worried about whatever the procedure is we're doing. So yeah, there, these laws also need to really outline the process of consent and that it needs to be a discrete process of consent because this is specific for, specifically for medical education. A'magine: This has nothing to do with the care of the patient. So it is its own consent. This does not get to get just rolled into some blanket consent form, which is what's been done in the past. It'll say some very vague statement like, you know, Doctors, nurses, PAs, surgical techs, LA Lala, medical students may be involved in your care. A'magine: You know, it usually is very vague. Very vague. Charna: Yeah. A'magine: No one's gonna read that and think, that must mean extra pelvic exams for me today. Charna: Well, and again, so I'm a, I'm a somatic trauma and sex therapist. And, and so I have worked with people where we have you know, there's been some kind of surgical procedure that has happened to them when they were 10 years [00:17:00] old and it lives in the body like sexual trauma, you know? And so, and we also, you know, it's like all the surgeries performed on what used to be called intersex. Charna: People that, that lives in the body, like sexual trauma. There's a level of invasiveness, like just because you can't actually scream cuz you're anesthetized and you're knocked out, doesn't mean that your body isn't having a response and that, that the energy gets stored in the tissue. And, and I would imagine that there are these people who are having these exams. Charna: You know, my friend who I, I mentioned to you who'd had a stroke sh when she came when she became more lucid and she had scratches and things on her thighs, and she was like, she doesn't know what happened during anything. She doesn't know why that's there, you know, and it's scary. It's like, what, what, what happened? Charna: What, you know, and you don't know. And I, I don't even think you have to, because we know enough at this point that. If, if it's not conscious, if it's, if [00:18:00] it's pre, if it's not verbal, like we can't actually put words to our experience, it doesn't mean that there's not, there's something that isn't impacting us on an emotional and physical level. Charna: Right? Like there's some kind of sensation that, you know, so it's, it's super complex. A'magine: Is. And I've definitely heard stories like that from people, you know? Cuz people reach out to us and ask us about things all the time. And we're trying to build up our website with more and more resources for people. And we wanna have a space where people can tell their stories if they want to. But, you know, I'll have patients say things like, I just, I woke up from this surgery, I was sore in my vagina or there was blood, or I just had this weird feeling, you know, like a lot of times it's like I just had this feeling something wasn't right. A'magine: You know? And then the way that patients particularly, Female patients are gaslit in medicine and told that they're not experiencing what they say they're experiencing makes it hard to talk about those kinds of [00:19:00] things. So, you know, for most people, they will never know whether this happened. And of course, people go to that place. A'magine: They're like, well, I've had surgery. Could this have happened to me? Me you know, I, I immediately see people tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ticking back in their, in their minds. You know, and I don't wanna, the last thing we wanna do with this film is scare people away from healthcare. We want people to get the healthcare that they deserve and that they need and that means that, you know, this is a real call to medicine and, and in particular to medical education. A'magine: Around consent and around the way that consent is emphasized or not emphasized the way that it is modeled for students. We have several people in the film talk about how consent was really not, it wasn't, it wasn't made like it was a big deal. It really was not emphasized when they were in medical school. A'magine: So then you get students who then think it's not that important, you know? And that is what the research shows. And you know, medical schools have an [00:20:00] obligation to really learn, learn what informed consent is, and model that with every single patient with their students because, At the end of the day, if the students are never seen and modeled and they cannot even consent within their own education, right? A'magine: They don't really get a say. They don't get to say yes or no. There's one answer A'magine: when they're told to do something. So yeah. If you have all these students that are then not getting to have a real consent process in their own education, how can we expect they're gonna become providers that really respect the consent of their own patients? A'magine: It just perpetuates it, and I think that's what we've seen. Charna: That's. So one of the, the things that I do in my work is I teach embodied boundaries and I use the martial arts space practices, so physical practices to rewire the brain through the body. And, and very typically, if someone doesn't have embodied boundaries, it's hard for them to also respect someone else's or to understand [00:21:00] someone else's. Charna: And that's absolutely what you're pointing to. It's like you, you know, you have these students who, what the culture dictates is. Not asking for consent, not respecting agency, A'magine: Yeah, Charna: you know? A'magine: so. And that's the hardest, that's the harder thing to change, you know? And we are, we're working on that. We've got, you know, this is a social impact film. We've got a huge social impact campaign around the release of the film that includes working with medical students. And we just launched a, a pledge program. A'magine: We're working with them on a, on a pledge that they will be writing and then that we're gonna roll out to medical students across the country where they will say, You know, in whatever words they choose and however they, they choose what, what they are committing to in their own education and the thing the lines, they will not cross and. We hope that by doing something collectively and then by getting behind them, both the, at your cervix team [00:22:00] and the American Medical Student Association, who we're working with, who's, it's a very progressive organization that represents medical students. I think that with these larger entities behind them, that will give them. A'magine: We hope more ability to take a stand in situations that are really, really hard to do that in. And that that will help us work towards that cultural change that is needed in medicine. That's, that's the bigger change Charna: It's monumental. Charna: You know, I mean, that's, that's it. It's, it's part of the bigger, I mean, this is the thing, like you were saying, of course the history, if you look at the history of gynecology and then that sits in the history of white supremacy and police brutality, and you look at the, you know, you look at all those histories, and of course if the, if the foundation is a certain lack of respect, objectification, abuse, et cetera, Then it gave, of course it's gonna conti the lineage is that, and so we have to go all the way back. Charna: Acknowledge. And the part that you said earlier about, you know, [00:23:00] people are in disbelief, it's like, well that's, of course that is what we do. That's what we do in families when there's sexual trauma. It's what we do with police brutality. It's what we do with all these things that we are so, we have so much shame and horror around. Charna: We can't imagine another human would do that you know what I mean? And so this, it's like, oh, but this is for learning, this is for education. And we need to really reexamine every, all of that. Are you looking into showing this film at medical schools, like part of training? A'magine: Yeah, I mean we had a lot of students that are interested in bringing it to their schools. So we'll see. We'll see what rolls out. We are. Currently planning our fall and spring tour for next, the next academic year. And so we are doing a lot of colleges and universities and we really wanna go to medical schools. A'magine: We're finding that nursing schools are bringing us, they get it. They're bringing us. And we hope that the medical schools will as well. But we are asking them to change. And so there's some people in that system that are gonna be down [00:24:00] for that and are gonna really appreciate that and be with us. A'magine: And then there's some people that are not. And so I think it's a matter of, yeah, just getting to, to people that are willing to look at this. This is a hard thing to look at. It's a hard, i, I feel for people. I, I feel for the students so much. Because they're being told to violate other people. And some of them are very aware of that when it happens or before it happens and some are not. A'magine: And then they realize it kind of like post the experience. And that's gotta be a really horrible, horrible feeling Charna: Yeah. A'magine: know that you violated patients for your own education. You were put bef you know, in this position that's super untenable. It's really not fair to anyone. And, and so I think we also need to talk about how like we're, we're traumatizing the students as just as well as we're traumatizing the patients. A'magine: So this does not make for a good future medical system where we can really heal A'magine: trauma. [00:25:00] Charna: right. No, absolutely. It's like at what point does it get interrupted? And, you know, it's, it's hard to not think about cases where people are drugged and raped and, and some people don't. You know, the people, some people who are assaulting them don't think about it. Or if they're, if it's someone who's, it's perhaps their girlfriend and they're passed out drunk and they have sex with them, and, oh, but we've had sex before, so there's a level of entitlement. Charna: And, and you know, so like you said, some people are very uncomfortable cuz you don't know what their history is and they're being forced to do this to somebody. What's their level of comfort doing that? And other people wouldn't think twice about it. And that's really problematic, you know, on both, on both sides. A'magine: Well, and I think we have to be really clear. This is rape culture A'magine: in medicine. This is how rape culture manifests in medicine. And that's not something I say all the time, but I think it is something that needs to be said. This [00:26:00] practice has been called in the literature now. New, new article just came out in a feminist bioethics journal by Stephanie Tillman calling it what it is. A'magine: She calls it medical sexual assault. And she, she writes a beautiful piece very well researched piece, looking at the history of sexual assault. You know, in any other context, it's so obvious that's what this is. In any other context, Charna: Yeah. A'magine: under the influence of something, they're incapable of consenting. A'magine: You put something in their body. It's very clear what that is. So, I think. We need to call it what it is. A'magine: And medicine has to reckon with that, and I think that's, that's a big barrier right now. It's hard. You know, I can imagine there's a lot of psychological protections that go up for people because the. A'magine: The pain of, of knowing that they may have done this to so many people in their own education, or they've gone on to be an educator and they've had student after student, after student, [00:27:00] you know, do this for maybe years. I think that's a very, very hard thing to reckon with, but until we reckon with it, it's not gonna change. Charna: Well, and again, I, you know, I just can't help but see these things in a bigger context cuz you have this teacher or the student and what is their personal history, what's their personal history of trauma of either perpetuating it or being the victim of it and, and what do they have to dissociate from in order to, to, to. Charna: To do it in a work environment. Right. So it's, it's very intense. Again, there's this, it's, it's asking for a level of care, consciousness and feeling inside of a culture that really encourages not feeling in order to get the job done. And that's A'magine: Yep. A'magine: Yep. Charna: You know how to teach embodiment. I mean, that's, cuz that's a lot of these clients who come to me, I'm, I'm working with them towards embodiment. Charna: But how to be able to still [00:28:00] work in an er, A'magine: Right. Charna: you know, A'magine: Yep. Charna: and deal with like, you know, the P T S D that, that can be created from that environment. You know, it's, it's very intense. A'magine: Yeah. Ari Silver Scott, who is one of the main characters in the film. He's the, the doctor that did the research and published it in 2003. It was the research that showed that 90% of students were learning that way. He did that research while he was in med school. He took a year out. A'magine: Because he knew about the practice and he would show up late and avoid that was his way of dealing with it, is he avoided being there, which got him called in front of the deans and they were like, what's going on with you? What you don't wanna learn? Maybe you're not cut out for medicine. You know, he told them what was going on and they're like, well, why do you identify with the patient so much? A'magine: You know? So, Charna: So. A'magine: I mean, this is the attitude that, you know, it's like, oh, you can't, you're different from these patients. You can't identify with them. You can't [00:29:00] be human like them. You can't be human with them. I mean that, that doesn't create a human medical system. Charna: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and yeah. There's so much, there's so much here. When I was in when I was in college, I. I did a video project and and it, what I would wanted to do was to redo the preexisting pelvic exam video that had been around, I don't know if it since the sixties or seventies, but it was like this girl laying back and this is what they have at all the health centers at in colleges. Charna: And I wanted you just laying back, not asking any questions and being pretty dissociated and you know, and the authority of the doctor was. What you're supposed to be focused on, and you're supposed to like, not know about your body and, and not ask questions. And, and I'd had challenging experiences gynecological experiences as a teenager. Charna: And so I really, I wanted to, to create something that was [00:30:00] an alternative. And I had a, you know, a all, all, all made by students, right? Like had a friend of mine who was a, a little tv. So, Actress, you know, be the, be the patient who's really engaging and asking to look at her cervix. And it's like, can you imagine if you, you know, went to the gynecologist now even as a, as a grown woman, and was like can I see a mirror? Charna: Can I look at my cervix? Right? And it's like, what if that was the norm instead of. Like, I'm just going to stare at the tile on the ceiling and try to breathe or not breathe so I don't have to feel what's going on. You know? A'magine: Yeah, and we teach all of that in the GTA work, you know? And I mean there's so many little things that can be done to make a patient more comfortable. And when I'm a patient, I go in there like A'magine: I own the place. I mean, I go in there. So like one of the things is you don't put them. Flat on the back because what does that do? A'magine: That stretches all the abdominal muscles out. [00:31:00] It, it's gonna make you more tense. It's gonna make the, the exam less comfortable. So you wanna put the table at a 45 degree angle. So I go in, I start moving the table. I get it set up the way I want it, I'll bring my own mirror. Because I never trust they're actually gonna give you one. A'magine: Give me one. But yeah, when you're, when you're up, then there's multiple things that can happen. One, you can, you're relaxing the muscles, right? Because you're not stretched out in the same way. So it can be a lot more comfortable in that way. Number two, you can put your, your mirror on your knee and you can watch what's going on and you can see the whole thing. A'magine: So nothing's gonna be a surprise. And if you have a good provider and they educate you about your parts and, and you can have a real conversation and have some education. And number three, you can see your provider's face. They can see if pain registers on your face or if you're having a grimace or a reaction to something and they need to slow down or whatever. A'magine: Lots of reasons why we wanna be able to see our patient's face while we're touching their most sensitive parts. And so, yeah, [00:32:00] even just that little bit of education for people to know, like when you go in, like bring your own little hand mirror ask them to put the, the table at 45 degrees you know, Take more charge of of those exams. A'magine: They don't need to be this disassociated, disempowered experience that so many of us are familiar with. Most people have a story of that who've gone for pelvic exams, and it just does not need to be that way. Charna: . That's so awesome. And I also I think that there are you offering or, or creating a resource on your website for people who want to either participate in, I dunno if it's at their homes or, or trainings elsewhere in terms of getting the opportunity to not only see their cervixes and get to know their bodies, but also potentially train as a G T A. A'magine: Yes, I teach workshops where I help people find their cervixes and learn about their bodies. We detail some of that history of, from the women's [00:33:00] health movement that came out of the self-help groups of the seventies and second wave feminism. And so we, we detail that because that's such an integral history. A'magine: It's a precursor to the GTA work being developed. So we are doing that as part of our tours and trying to do workshops in as many cities as we can. We're happy to come and do that if we're gonna be in someone's city. And yeah, we are actually training setting up a training for a cadre of folks who want to be able to help people learn how to find their cervix and guide people in that, because that really takes some knowledge about how the instruments work and about the body. A'magine: And maybe different for if people haven't really worked with that before. And yeah, one of our other goals is to expand GT A programs. So yeah, if people are interested in that, they can definitely reach out to us. We're, we're gathering names right now as we're rolling these different pieces out. A'magine: So, but yeah, it's a multi-tiered process. We've got the legislative work underway. We've just begun really some, some [00:34:00] deeper work with the medical students and we're, we're looking forward to doing more of that work, advocating for G T A programs. Charna: And then there's also watch parties, right? If the film is now gonna be accessible, if you wanna see it and you don't make it to a festival, A'magine: Yes, we're doing virtual screenings. We are opening up finally. There's so many people I've been waiting to see this film for so long. We've had, you know, when we were making the film for so many years, we had well over a thousand donors. I mean, this was very much a community funded project, and so we're so excited that we're opening it up for a two week screening. A'magine: I don't know what day this this conversation is coming out, but we should be in the midst of our two week screening. But you can, whenever you're listening to this, you can just go Put yourself on our list or send us a message if you're interested in screening it somewhere. A'magine: And we will we will let you know the next opportunities. We're still doing the film festival circuit. We're doing live events. You know, I'm on tour speaking and doing all the things. I actually get to have [00:35:00] gynecological surgery this summer, so really interesting. Right Charna: Oh A'magine: of all of this. A'magine: That's happening for me. So I'm taking a break to do that. But then in the fall we'll be, I'll be on tour. So yeah, we really wanna work with folks. We're finding that community organizations are bringing us. And then yes, we're really encouraging watch parties with. Like our virtual events get people in the room together. A'magine: And also if people like, wanna do a virtual screen for their workplace or their, their school or their temple or whatever it is that is all possible. So, so we're just, we're we're really connecting with, with groups who wanna support this, whether they're. Feminist groups, reproductive justice groups, racial justice groups sexual assault advocates and consent advocates. A'magine: You know, that, like I said, nursing, nurses medical students. I mean, those are a lot of the audiences that have been really behind this film and, and really showing up for this work. Yeah. Charna: And I, I I wanna mention that you [00:36:00] also have these other resources that this is, you know, this is this big project that you're working on. And before this project existed, you've, you're also the author of two books and you have a TED Talk and you've been a sexologist. Is that right? Is that what you. A'magine: Yeah, yeah. I've been teaching sexuality for over 25 years. That's really been my wheelhouse. That's been my main, my main work. And now that this film is finally out, my, my focus and attention has turned to that. But yeah, I have worked with women, especially in non-binary folks for many years on empowered sexuality. A'magine: My last book, women On Fire, nine Elements to Wake Up Your Erotic Energy, personal Power, and Sexual Intelligence really came out of that work. And it, it really is the expression of what I learned in that work. And I still, you know, I still plan to do it in other ways. I've just been, like I said, shifting my focus. A'magine: But yeah, I've got my own website,, and people can learn more about, more about that [00:37:00] work. Sometimes I work with couples and yeah, I think I'm really craving just working more with the body, working more with people, more on that, that personal intimate level. So that's something I've been working on my own like training and my own development around and just shifting and, and deepening some of the work I've been doing for so many years. Charna: And, and, and so what would that look like? What would that, I mean, there's obviously this is gonna consume you and this is a focus for, for right now. But when you say like you're wanting to turn your attention more towards the body in, in an intimate way working with people, how would that be different than what you'd been doing? A'magine: I've been much more focused on group programs I've done, you know, usually people go the other way. They're like, I've been working one-on-one. I've, I've worked with one-on-one folks with folks for many years selectively, but yeah, working more in a body based way. Yeah, I'm excited to just, you know, I think some of that's just covid and just getting so isolated and everything being through Zoom. A'magine: It's like, I [00:38:00] want like the real, like in-person, you know. Charna: Mm-hmm. A'magine: more, more of that. I wanna nurture more of that work. I love group work. I will always, I'm sure, do that on some level, but Yeah. Yeah. Really, really looking at ways to to help people heal and, as you say, become more embodied, get more in their bodies. A'magine: You know, it's whether you go to medical school or just grow up in this culture, there's lots of reasons why why we get so disconnected from our bodies and, and all the ways that gets in the way of us really living our best lives. Because if we're not actually present in the, the vehicle, we're like cruising around Earth on and we're, we're missing a lot of the experience. Charna: Yeah, missing. Missing a lot of the pleasure as well. You know, just the range of emotion and A'magine: exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I'm all about like, I wanna make art, I just wanna work with my hands. Right now I've been more like playing music more. I mean, I've [00:39:00] just, you know, I think that was my, like the covid kind, you know, we all had our lessons and, and this pandemic time. And a lot of mine was like, really like getting back to these things that really feed my soul, you know? A'magine: So, So, yeah, making time for that. Charna: What do you do with your hands? Do you, do you garden? Do you make art? Like what's your medium? Charna: That A'magine: I've always been, I've always been more of a, a sculptor. I use a lot of found objects. I use a lot of nature objects, things like that. But I've been learning to paint. I've actually been learning to paint and I've been learning to play piano. Those, those have been my, my things I've been focused on the last couple years, and that's been really fun. A'magine: I always felt like I'm not a drawer, you know, it's like, well, there's something we can all do. In that way. But yeah, I have more in the past that's been my visual medium, but I was more of a performing artist and did a lot on stage in my New York years and you know, then got behind, behind the camera for this film and, and so that kind of took over.[00:40:00] A'magine: So yeah, there's, there's a lot of good things that get to come. Charna: well, it's, I mean, and you, you framed it in terms of covid and, but it's. When I think of performing on a stage in New York versus painting, there's a, like this very internal quiet impulse. It's like a, a listening and allowing, it's like, what wants to move through you and what's the impulse and following your body's impulse or you're, you know, finding that quiet zone space. Charna: And so that makes a lot of sense. A'magine: yeah. A'magine: Yeah. Yeah, it's been, it's been an interesting time for all of us, you know, and I think it, for me, did coincide with really reevaluating how I'm living, how I'm working, how do I wanna live and work, what's really important to me. You know, I have more ideas and I can ever carry out. So which ones am I gonna like? A'magine: Really follow through with and there's a play I've I put up years ago in New York and then the, my co-writer and I had been kind of reworking it for A'magine: [00:41:00] 20 years later and, and now we're like a little over 20 years. But it's, it'll happen when it happens and I think that's something I wanna move forward. A'magine: So yeah, I think it really is so much about getting back to more creativity for me and more of that like, Yeah. All the yumminess that comes from that. Charna: it's, I mean, it's the same. It's, it's the, you know, if you're, if you're into chakras, right? Like the sexuality and creativity, same. Same. Right. A'magine: Always say, what is more creative than sexuality? You know, what's more creative than like, whether you ever choose to use it that way or not. We all have the energy of like two cells can like come together and make a whole new life like, There's really nothing more creative than that. A'magine: That's pretty damn creative. So, Charna: Mind blowing it is it, it so trips me out. I've have, I have a number of clients that have had babies recently, and I love when they bring their kids in and I'm just like, oh my God, this little guy is gonna be like an a big adult at some point. Trips me out. Charna: Yeah, we A'magine: mean, and I'm watching that happen. [00:42:00] You know, I never wanted kids. I don't have kids, but I have so many kids around me and friends that had them, and it's just like, it's wild. Charna: Yeah. Charna: Yeah. Charna: I'm curious given all the work around sexuality that you've done, and I know that there was another book that you wrote, w I can't remember the exact title, lesbian Sex Tips for Men. Was that what it was? A'magine: Yeah. Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men. Charna: Oh, sex Secrets. But anything e even, you know, like in the, in the span of all the work that you've done or in particular around your film, is there any kind of practice that you would like to offer the listeners? Charna: Any kind of exercise that they can do, whether it's about and you, you provided some great suggestions around how they can have more agency when they're getting a pelvic exam, for A'magine: Hmm. Charna: But if there's anything else that that is coming up that you'd like to share. A'magine: Well, one thing I always do with my, with the folks I work with, whether I work with them [00:43:00] individually or in groups, is, is I really invite them to think about sexuality the way many people think about spirituality. That it's just as important. It's the, it's the physical side of spirit, right? I, I see sexuality and spirituality is so intertwined and, and just different expressions of the same powerful energy that we all come from. A'magine: And so what is a practice for your sexuality that you could do in the same way you might do a spiritual practice? Right? Most people. Maybe not most, but lots of people have spiritual practices. They understand that idea, right? They do their yoga or their prayer, or they're reading the Holy Book, whatever holy book that is, or meditation, et cetera. A'magine: And so, so in thinking about sexuality, I encourage people to consider what are the, what's the part of sexuality that you wanna nurture, you know, that would be good to focus a practice in on. Cause I think a lot of times, It's so easy for [00:44:00] sexuality to fall to like the bottom of the priority list. And, and people are like, oh, my partner and I don't have any sex and neither of us are really bringing it up. A'magine: Cause it's just that we're so busy and we're tired and the kids and blah, whatever. So it's a good way to bring it back to the front burner, you know, to keep bringing it back and saying, no, this is important. You know, whether it's some kind of pleasure practice, which many people will do. I love, you know, one of my favorite pieces and I do it, I do. A'magine: You know, try to do daily meditation. You know, we don't get it every day, but we get it most days. So I, I'll often include just like what one of my clients calls, a two minute tingle where you can start at the crown of your head and just with a lot of intention, like really slow. Feeling every part of your body. A'magine: It's great to do naked. If you feel your skin. You can do it through clothes. It doesn't matter however, you know, but like, really like coming back, like running your hands down the parts of your face, like feeling your [00:45:00] features. The backs of your neck, getting your arms, your hands getting down the front body, you know, and not skipping over parts like rub your breast. A'magine: Or your chest, whatever. Include your genitals. Hold your genitals. Rub your butt. Feels good to rub your butt, rub your butt. But yeah, all the way down and just really like, and going back to places that need more attention and love, but, but really touching with intention. I think that I think many people are very touch starved, even people who sometimes are in relationships or touch starved, there's not. A'magine: There's not like that conscious present touch happening, and we can give that to ourselves and it can feel amazing. Literally, you only have to spend a couple minutes doing this, and you can wake up every cell in your body. You'll feel your circulation shifting. You'll feel your heart rate shifting. You become more conscious of parts of the body, it's, it's amazing what just a little practice like that can do. A'magine: So it doesn't have to be complicated. I mean, that's a very simple one that I just really like. It doesn't have to be complicated. It might be mirror [00:46:00] work. You know, it might be I am gonna try masturbating different ways every single day for a month, you know, to see what are different things that I like. A'magine: You know, it kind of, it's like, am I working on desire? Am I working on experiencing more pleasure? Am I working on getting more in my body or loving my body more Like what part of sexuality do we wanna nourish? And then like building. Building some kind of practice around that, and I guarantee you it will open something up for you if you do that for yourself. Charna: I love it. I love it cuz you, not only are you, you know, you're bringing, as you said, intentionality, so you're bringing your presence to everything you're putting your hands on, but you're also waking up the fascia, right? You're just like, with the, you know, it doesn't have to be like this raking, intense, deep, it's like a, just a gentle finger creates a different kind of waking up of the fascia. Charna: So yeah, that's, you know, it's a lot of mindfulness practices guide you to bring your, so. Attention down through , the insides of your body, right? But to [00:47:00] actually use your hands and engage yourself in a tactile way is a, a lovely practice. A'magine: Yeah, it is. Yeah. One of my clients named it the Two Minute Tingle. I have a friend that calls it like the self-love shower, Charna: Yeah, I love A'magine: um, but yeah, it's like warm up your hands before you do it and, you know, and just, yeah, it's really about intention and presence and the embodiment piece and. Yeah, I think we're all craving more and more of that. And we've gotta do it for ourselves. Cause our phones aren't gonna teach us to do it. You know, our bosses aren't gonna encourage it. It's like we've gotta really set the boundaries ourselves and make sure that we're nurturing ourselves and that we're experiencing pleasure every single day. We did not come to this mad place to not feel good in some way every day. You know, if we're not finding ways to feel good every day. What is the point? What is the point of this? A'magine: we're not put here to suffer. We all will suffer. [00:48:00] But we all need pleasure and joy. And that is not a superficial aim. Charna: No. A'magine: That is, I think, deeply, deeply important for our own humanity and our own wellbeing. Charna: Yeah. And, and the thing is, is like, okay, being a human, the, the suffering is a given. It will happen inevitably. We constantly cycle through loss and we get to each day make the choice to choose pleasure A'magine: Yeah. Charna: we want that, you know, like we get to take responsibility and we get to be empowered to do it. Charna: And so it's a great invitation. So thank you. A'magine: Yeah. Charna: I often ask people, I'm interviewing this question, what sexual freedom to you? A'magine: Sexual freedom is. To truly feel free in our own bodies, to experience our bodies the way we want to experience our bodies with the people we want to experience them with. it is being free of the feelings of shame and taboo about sexuality that can really [00:49:00] hold us back. And knowing that we can talk about sexuality we can celebrate our own bodies and our own pleasure. A'magine: We can be vibrant and loud and big in our orgasms and in the pleasure that we feel that we don't have to tamp that down. We don't have to hold back. We get to really live truly authentically through, through the body and through our own pleasure and desire. You know, not at the expense of someone else. A'magine: But from a place of our own, our own authenticity and, and sovereignty of our own bodies. And I think, I think our world would look really different if everyone experienced that. Charna: It would definitely increase the level of compassion. A'magine: Yeah. Among many things. Yeah. Charna: yeah, yeah. And how can people, you mentioned one of your websites earlier, any other ways that people can get in touch with you? Should they be inspired? A'magine: Yeah, I mean, I'm imagine with an A, [00:50:00] it's like imagine with an A I am imagine on most of the socials I'm easy to find on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I'm sexual empowerment actually on Instagram. And then at your cervix, at your cervix movie on Instagram. At your cervix doc on Twitter, at your cervix movie on uh, Facebook. A'magine: So yeah, you can find us on all the socials. Definitely the best way to, again, keep in touch and find out about the film stuff which again, it is available to. I want your listeners to be able to jump in with this screening. We're doing so, so please. Jump over to, to our website and we will get you information and logins right away for that. A'magine: We really want people to see the film and we want people to be talking about it. And then if, you know, people wanna work on legislation in their states, we've got a team working on that, a very small one, but we're working on it. And, you know, we'd love to collaborate with people. We get to change this and, and medicine has not changed it from the inside. A'magine: It's really gonna change because we push from the outside. They've proven [00:51:00] for decades that they won't. So it's time that they do and, and we're the ones that are gonna make them do it. So, you know, I hope that lots of medical folks will, will join us and many already have. And I hope that we continue to grow that so that we can really make that, that bigger shift in medicine. A'magine: But yeah imagination, if you wanna find, find that website and those are the best places to get me. Charna: Thank you. So good to get to talk to you. I'm, I'm really, really grateful you're doing this work and think it's so important. So A'magine: Thank you so much. It's great to be here. Charna: yeah, I look forward to hosting a watch party. So friends, if you're listening, In touch with me. All A'magine: absolutely. Awesome. Thank you. Charna: Was that as good for you as it was for me? If it was. I'd love if you'd please rate and review it and share it with your friends so others can find us. Charna: If you have additional questions about living a vibrant life after trauma, you [00:52:00] can submit Please follow me at Late Open Podcast on Instagram and Facebook, and read more about my This has been late Open podcast with your host, Charna Cassel. Please join us again next week. Charna: Until then, keep coming.

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