Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sex, Canada Customs and home care support workers

We have a household crisis: Vibrators, or rather the lack of enough vibrators. My disability has altered the delicate balance of horny, sex and satisfaction. For instance, I have the most energy in the morning but Linda is at work (and since she works for the government, phone sex is frowned on). By the time she gets home I am flagging. And we still haven’t worked out the “am I moaning in pleasure or having heart palpitations?” issues. We thought of semaphore (signaling my pain/pleasure with flags) but it seemed a bit cumbersome. Also, giving oral sex while using an oxygen feed is.....challenging. But we’ll figure it out. Until then, well, we still have sexual needs. But that’s why God made the Garden of Eden (yes, the internet shoppe, what did you think I was talking about?).

But now, with the Canadian dollar almost at par, it seems a crime to buy vibrators in Canada when we can get the same or better for half the price in the US; especially when I have a US Post Office Box. While I am very “pro-sexual” for women, I have noticed that many, many customs officers are not. Did you know that Canada Customs officers are STILL the enforcers of what sexual is allowed into Canada? And this is entirely up to the mind of the individual officer. Did you know they have even seized cookbooks going to lesbian stores? The important question was: how exactly do we smuggle in these vibrators when we pick them up on a day trip? No, I know what you’re thinking but that only works in the fantasy land of erotic film. And as cool as I am about saying “Hi, I’m Beth, and I masturbate” (and have to several priests and church pastors), the thought of having four customs officers debate the duty while arguing if vibrators are “home electronics”, “medical supplies” or “home entertainment” (or “industrial tools”?) isn’t really a happy thought.

Plus I keep getting this vision of a stern faced officer, “Have you anything to declare?”

I pull out my vibrator.

“That’s obscene!” they say.

I say, “I know it looks big but actually once you relax...”

They cut me off saying, “No, I mean this falls under obscenity and pornography and am confiscating this....this....”

“Waterproof Dolphin” I finish.

At this point the nightmare sort of gets muddy as the thought of losing my vibrator so close to home traumatizes me. I am not sure if listing how this is a SPECIAL one that has to be bought from New York because it is not only waterproof, vibrates, rotates and undulates but also comes in nifty purple would actually help my cause. That’s the nice nightmare; the bad one is where all the customs officers are my Victorian Values matron aunts.

However, the amount of time I spend eyeing vegetables indicates this is urgent business. Also back to practical function, masturbation is the best way to greet the day because a) it is when I have my greatest motor control and b) This isn’t something I am comfortable asking the home care workers to ‘give me a hand’ (they come in afternoon and night to assist me to “do things I am having trouble with”). That being said, I am still unsure exactly what home care support is supposed to do. I used to think it was to help me eat, prepare food, help me get dressed, stuff like that. Yet on Monday, the home care worker spent most of her time going through my Victoria Secret catalogues and talking about bras. It is not that I don’t mind a little fantasy shopping bonding, but is the government subsidizing my care to find out that my care worker likes the maroon support and push up bras and doesn’t like low cut panties while I like the t-shirt and Pink line bras and multi-colour leopard skin panties?

This is not all we did, we also compared our breast sizes and I tried to explain to the worker (I’ll call her Ivy) who came from Vietnam that Linda wasn’t just a nice person who dropped by. Ivy, who slept in the same room with her mother until 29 and is used to females sleeping in the same room was confused. She also has a minimal grasp of English.

Ivy: "You are so lucky to have a friend who comes over and make a sandwich for you."

I tried to tell her, Linda doesn't come over, Linda lives with me.

"You sisters?" Ivy asked. No.

"So you are like sisters?" No.

"So you are friends, that nice." No, more than friends.

"You special friends?" Ivy asked. Yes.

She said, "I know, I know, this man I know he like living with another man, I ask him all the time, "why you not move out and get married" and he say he like living with man."

I am still wondering if she really "gets" it or just thinks that some people just really like being with their friend more than getting married. But I can't bring myself to tell her, "We have sex" (making strange hand gestures) - so I think, oh close enough!

Okay, one government audit of Elizabeth’s use of home care coming up.

P.S. – if you want to mule vibrators across the Canadian border, please let me know.


Girl Anachronism said...

The thought of losing my precious buzzy that close to getting it home would traumatize me.

And it sounds like your worker needs more education and sensitivity training about what life is like in 21st century Canada. Having been a home care worker in a previous life (actually about 3 years ago), I was responsible for assisting my client (with severe spastic CP) to the toilet, cooking her dinner, assisting her with eating (depending on the day, severity of muscle spasms etc), bathing her (she had a bath seat that lowered her into the water and up again), massage and doing anything else she needed. I was not responsible for housework beyond washing dishes and putting them away.

tornwordo said...

I have a friend who always stocks up on vibrators when she visits. Apparently she's too worried about getting "found out" in her small town by either shopping for one there, or receiving one in her mailbox.

Artistic Soul said...

Hmmm...will they confiscate it if it comes from a personal address, or just if it comes from a store? When I send personal packages overseas, I "declare" what's in them but sometimes I'm not entirely truthful... so if they just go by what the package says without opening it then it wouldn't be an issue, right? Do they make a habit of opening everything?

The Goldfish said...

Can't they count as a disability aid? Massage devices to help relieve your pain and all that? I mean, quite seriously, that's how I would argue it. Not that you should have to present such an argument, but still.

I suspect Ivy may have my Catholic Granny's attitude towards homosexuality. Despite her religion, she refuses to speak disapprovingly of anybody who lives with and shares a bed with someone of the same sex, since there might not be anything 'inappropriate' about it. She has been known to defend a famous lesbian comic who has children with another woman, since they might just be very good friends.

This is kind of sweet - as sweet as you can be if you assume any consensual sexual behaviour to be wrong; simply give everyone the benefit of the doubt!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Girl anachronism: Well, I just want a home care worker who will a) make sure I can move, b) make sure I am breathing okay, c) help me with food/drink and d) help me get changed - that's pretty much it, dishes are cool, I haven't asked for help showering becuase I don't think we have a trust relationship and I don't think they are up to it so I wait for linda.

Tornwordo: Yeah, I just hate going in those shops, I love looking online where vibrators look "cool" while most of the shops are not wheelchair accessable and kinda sad (and I refuse to pay GST on a vibrator)

Artistic Soul - I have tried the mailing stuff across the border but have had them open a few packages. Would they confiscate it? Around here, who knows?

Goldfish: Yes, I'll get a doctors presciption for it! That's a good idea (since he was the one who instructed me to masturbate when I insomnia). For the home care worker, I think she comes from a country where lesbians really don't exist. When we travelled to other countries in Asia we had some similar explaination problems. Your granny sounds cool, too bad her views and the pope's aren't the same.

Ms. Pet said...

This is a great post. I'd love to add you to my Sexability blog as a contributor. I'm going to add your username. then you should be automatically able to post to it. I'm really trying to get other voices and perspectives regarding Sex and Disability for this blog then simply just mine.

I'm looking for all disabilities and all orientations. Folks don't need to worry about being offensive. As long as there is no "hate language," I'm pretty cool with criticism and different perspectives. So pass it around.

If you don't want to post to the blog let me know and I'll take your name off. But it really is a GREAT post on the subject.

Cooper said...

Last time I crossed the border, all i got was a "business or pleasure" question and I was attending the Windsor Ballet before you could say "Two D batteries please". Find some company that will mail you vibrators in a special package marked "Warning: Bio-Hazard. Do Not Spill...Highly Infectous."

shiva said...

I'm sure that lesbians (or perhaps more accurately, women who are sexually attracted to women) exist in Vietnam, just that perhaps the concept isn't culturally recognised there...

Also, i think she might well have known what she meant by "special friends". Might just be a) the lsnguage barrier meaning that she doesn't know many English words for sexual relationships ("girlfriend" and "boyfriend" are ambiguous terms in German, and that's one of the most closely related languages to English...) and b) if her culture tends to be one that doesn't talk openly about sex much, it might just be a euphemism...

That is absolutely ridiculous about the customs people, though. I thought Canada was more liberal than that. Are there any sex-positive groups there campaigning for the abolition of that legislation?

Sara said...

So, I'm having a wicked thought.

Perhaps someone could start (or pretend to start) a charity organization which combines two concepts, an underground railroad-type thing and a toys-for-tots type thing, you know, to benefit the "poor cripples of Canada who cannot obtain their own sex toys." There could be a sensationalistic documentary detailing the life of a "mule"; exploitatively weepy scenes with the poor, underbuzzed Canadian disabled, oppressed by their own government; scenes of the sort of product available in Canada vs. the U. S.; scenes of Canadian travelers being separated from their toys at the airport, complete with wrenching screams and sobs; grim interviews with customs officials showing piles of confiscated materiel; etc.

Oh, for a digicam and a hundred thousand dollars...or a job at The Daily Show...

Probably just as well I don't have either.

Zephyr said...

I'm so damned tired of my vibrators breaking, usually right before I want to have sex with a girl. Thankfully, I have a Hitachi Magic Wand now. Hurrah!

My gf's mom has upgraded me from 'that woman' to 'your friend.' It's progress.