Lowdown on Sex in a Womens Prison Part Two

The Low Down on Prison Sex Part Two

The Low Down on Prison Sex

Part Two

Day 91

(Please read Part One)

Sitting with the group of women at the dayroom table I now understood where women inmates had sex, but I still wondered about logistics: how were more of them not caught in the act?

“The only way to have a decent booty call is for someone to count jigs,”  said Twin Two.

“Counting jigs?” I asked.

“It’s kinda a three-way,” Lala said. “Someone stands watch outside the shower, or the broom closet while we knock it out. The girl might be pretending to wash the outside of the shower or load supplies on the janitor cart outside the broom closet.” Lala turned to the girls, “You know they’re gonna watch.” The Twins smirked. Maybe that was a part of the play.

Gay for the Stay, Straight at the Gate

“It’s obvious to anyone in the room what’s goin’ on behind that door. Sometimes I think the cops know but they just don’t want to hassle with the paperwork,” said Leaning Girl. “Sex in prison is just sex,” she shrugged. “The varieties are all over the map.” Lala nodded to The Twins, “You got your lipstick lesbians to full-blown dykes. Gay for the stay, straight at the gate, queer for a year, playin’ house in the Big House, you never know who’s jumpin’ in.”

“Everybody I know from the outside wants the scoop,” said Lala. “They ask if there is a lot of girl-girl action with the wiggly eyebrows. They want the raunchy facts, but mostly, they want to know if I have started playing for the other team.”

Line movement occurred, and just as abruptly as the conversation began, it ended, our “free” time linked to the opening and closing of doors. We quickly gathered ourselves up, meeting adjourned. I went to the cell and wrote down our conversation. Later, I told them I was writing, that I was trying to make sense of our prison lifestyle and all the layers of punishment.

“Fine with me,” said Lala. Someone’s got to make sense of this.”

That Night in My Cell

That night in my cell, I thought about the first days and weeks of my fall. Human frailty is dire in such circumstances. Life occurs hour by hour, day to day. For me, it felt as though I was strictly surviving. Somehow my body breathed, I ate. My daily walk became obedient numbness. I no longer felt the stronger aspects of my personality, I shuffled around the cops, overly apologetic. I feared making a connection with the other women inmates; I missed my family.

I woke up, went to work, called my family. It took such an effort to do so little. My mojo was most definitely not working. Sex was the last thing on my mind.

But Underneath the Bravado

But the Twins, Lala and Leaning Girl were in their late teens and twenties. The nasally, bored DOC instruction for “delayed gratification, girls” is a tough sell for the young and hormonal. They want to feel desirable and act on the cravings of a young body in it’s prime. They shared their stories and bantered back and forth lightheartedly. But underneath the bravado, I knew they were lonely and craved touch and comfort. I admired them. In whatever form, it took courage to hold onto the joys of the human experience and the willingness to love in return.

Lowdown on Sex in a Womens Prison Part Two

Lowdown on Sex in a Womens Prison Part Two

The Low Down on Prison Sex

Looking all the way down into my blackness Karen Campbell Writes

Looking all the way down into my blackness

Looking All the Way Down into My Blackness

Day 21

The word on the Intake unit was, “if you want to get out of your cell, sign up for church.” My parents weren’t church folks; the last time I went to church I was wearing red tights and patent leather shoes. I couldn’t be farther than the innocent girl I had been then. So, what do I have to lose?

That night, I sent a kyte message and two days later was given permission to attend a church service in the prison chapel. But I was doubtful. That night at dinner I asked the women at my meal table what the allure was, besides the chance to get out of their cells?” They all agreed it was also a social activity, a chance for gossip and a chance to check out the women who lived on other units.

I go to cry

“I go to cry,” said Hippie Chick a co-worker from the kitchen. “I check in at the door of the chapel and go straight for the hankies before choosing a seat. I’ve tried to plan a good cry in the shower and end up standing under the trickle, nothing comes out. I turn off the water and keep going.”

“Church is not for me,” Rainy said. Her crime was similar to mine, we were both mothers. “It brings up all my crap. I about lost it the last time I went to church. Then what? Mental Health can’t help me. I don’t want their drugs. I tried taking them and I gained 45 pounds.”

Birdie, with her sharp nose and small mouth said,  “I was brought up in the Catholic Church. I went to parochial school and sang in the choir. It’s good for my mom to know I am going to services, it’s like we are together, going to mass.”

Creator of the universe

“I’m still not sure about the whole church thing,” said LaLa, a bawdy blonde. “But I’m pretty sure the Creator of the universe can handle a little doubt and a few questions.” She brightened, “They play music. It’s loud and they let you stand and dance.”

She was right. That first night, I could hear the music from the corridor. I stepped into the chapel, where the women were standing and singing, the lyrics projected on the wall. The pews were filled with prison blues and Intake scrubs. The women had their heads down or hands in the air, many of them in tears. I had been afraid to cry in prison, afraid I would be seen as prey.

A shipwrecked group of human beings

I walked toward the pews near the front, joining the Intake women. We were a shipwrecked group of human beings; we were at our worst and we knew it. I stood next to Hippie Chick. She was bawling. Through her tears she looked at me and laughed, then sobbed, then laughed again. She cried waves of tears and used her hands as a squeegee. As we sang and listened to the service, she just kept on crying and laughing. I felt safe with her. Maybe church was a safe place to cry.

But I didn’t think I could do it. I distracted myself with the words of the Pastor who spoke in complete sentences of proper English instead of prison slang. I distracted myself with the pews, which were padded and the soft carpet under my feet.

The Pain I Caused

Suppressing emotions for so long,  I didn’t know what would happen if I gave them free reign. The days after the accident were for survival, first to heal the wounds and twenty broken bones, then mentally prepare for a prison sentence. I couldn’t think of everything I’d lost; all the pain I’d caused. Instead, I gave away possessions both Tom’s and mine, I said goodbye to elders I wasn’t sure I would see again, and I said goodbye to my children. And I suppressed the guilt, grief, fear and self-loathing.

Looking all the way down into my blackness Karen Campbell Writes

But sitting in the collective misery of the chapel service, I saw something else besides devastation on the Intake women’s faces. Hippie Chick had her face lifted, her eyes closed. The tears ran down her cheeks but she wasn’t wiping them away anymore. He face was soft, as though she surrendered, no longer imprisoned by her emotions.

I wanted what she had. Do I dare open the door, just a slit? I took a ragged breath and closed my eyes; I felt a stream of emotions: grief, despair, guilt, and revulsion. I saw the faces of my family and Tom. I saw the family members of the woman I killed in the accident. My body collapsed inward as though I might melt where I stood. Deep within, there was warmth in my chest, expanding and growing brighter. The light was like a passageway to something greater. Karen. It was an invitation. Let it go.


Then I panicked. My eyes snapped open. I did not deserve grace and love. No, I didn’t deserve forgiveness. If I let go and let God in, I would have to be truthful. I would have to look all the way down into my blackness. What if I could not crawl out of that pit?

I was not ready.

Looking all the way down into my blackness

Looking all the way down into my blackness