Author’s note: This post is not a typical Frog Gravy, because it includes observations gathered over the span of my whole incarceration experience.
Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.
Inmate names are changed.
Frog Gravy contains graphic language.
What happens to sexuality in prison?
The first time I was approached for sex during incarceration was in Ricky’s World, Fulton County Detention Center.
I got up from the steel table to stretch, after an hour or so of drawing and writing. An inmate approached me and said, “Wanna pet my bald cat?”
I politely declined.
“Sure you don’t want to touch it?”
“Oh! Um, no, I mean, you know, I’m sure it’s nice and all, it’s just that I…You know, I’m married…”
“You like dick, then. Yeah, me too. I’m bisexual. I love a big, thick dick buried deep in my guts.”
What happens to sexuality in women’s prison?
Lots of things happen, and many factors are involved: the growth and development of the incarcerated individual, the length of sentence, the inmate’s background, and the inmate’s natural tendencies.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the medical specialty of sexuality. This article only contains some of the things that I observed.
Sexual contact is strictly forbidden in any jail or prison setting that I have observed. I believe that conjugal visits are a thing of the past. In both jails and in the prison I was in, sexual contact was punishable by time in the hole. KCIW PeWee Valley was the most strict about this policy. Activities such as sitting on another inmate’s bunk or entering another inmate’s room are not tolerated in prison, whereas the jails were a little more lax, possibly due to the constant sardine-like overcrowding the the jails, where physical contact was often difficult to avoid.
That said, sex acts still occur, usually between women, although there was the one strange incident in McCracken where a female inmate got pregnant in the shower stall of her own cell. This happened when staff remotely opened the door to the cell, probably so that an inmate could get a blood sugar check, and while the door was open, and a Class D male working in the hallway entered the cell.
I witnessed a sex act through two senses in Fulton, and a friend of mine in PeWee confided in me that she had been having sex in her room on a fairly consistent basis.
When a female is locked up during the peak of her sex drive, her human physiological need is not locked up; many women who do not identify themselves as lesbians prior to incarceration become what we call gay for the stay.
Gay for the stay inmates often seek an intimate, but not necessarily a sexual, partner. Such couples are common in the prison setting, where women are generally serving lengthy sentences. Members of the couple are together as much as possible, and although they may speak about sex, they maintain a relationship that is intimate, but without the sex.
There are a great number of married women in prison, who, depending on what sort of antidepressant medication they may be on, stay to themselves and occasionally engage in masturbation. Sexual reunification in a marriage following a prison term can be problematic, particularly if the inmate is incarcerated during a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ developmental stage of her life.
There are many self-described gay inmates who remain gay in prison and who seek a partner, although not necessarily a sexual partner.
There is another category of women, the ones who maintain relationships with male pen pals, or who ‘trick write (ie. They receive money in the mail),’ who develop intimate relationships with men, although from a distance. Some of these relationships become long-term, with marriages occurring either during incarceration or after release. Many of the letters contain more fantasy than reality, and the men who enjoy prison pen pal relationships are ordinary men representing a cross-section of society at large. The local grocery store manager in your community, for example, could very well be one of these men. I have never heard a horror story about a trick-writing relationship gone awry, once the inmate has left. (This information came to me while I was still incarcerated through returning inmates, relating past experiences.)
I never witnessed, nor did I ever hear about, a female inmate raping another female inmate while I was incarcerated.
While I was incarcerated there was one inappropriate nonsexual guard-inmate relationship that resulted in the guard being fired and the inmate going to the hole, and, at the private prison Otter Creek in eastern Kentucky, guard-inmate sexual abuse resulted in the closure of the prison to women, and its subsequent conversion to a men’s facility.
As you can probably already see from Frog Gravy, sex is talked about almost endlessly among inmates, probably because physical sexual satisfaction is denied. Sex talk is common, just as talk about delicious food is common. Sex in the world of women’s incarceration involves a good deal of fantasy.
The incarceration experience is brutal and lonely, and I believe that it is only natural for women to seek to alleviate feelings of loneliness through nonsexual or sexual intimacy during the stay.