I am departing from my usual posting style to dive into the fray of all women.
I will give three examples from my own life to demonstrate what girls and women deal with.
1. I spend most of my 8th grade English class being harassed by a boy who, thanks to the luck of the alphabet, sat next to me in the back of the room. Pretty much every day, he would show me his penis, try to get me to touch it, rub his foot on my butt, tell me the state of his erection, and tell me he was going to follow me and rape me. All year.
Why didn’t I speak up? Because I was an 8th grader, going through a lot of bodily changes, and was extremely awkward at this point in my life. Plus, my teacher was a man. I could not bring this up. I was brought up with the belief that the body is shameful, and that girls are worse than boys. I never really had sex education that taught me to respect my body. I don’t remember any sex ed at all, beyond a biology class and a primer on feminine hygiene project. My social desirability was in high gear, and my level of embarrassment about the situation was HUGE. I don’t know if I told anyone at all ever.
In 9th grade, I had the same guy alphabetically near me. The classroom was set up differently so he couldn’t harass me without being seen. He started up with me one movie day, but my absolute heroine of a teacher caught on quickly and told us to knock it off. She assumed consent, but still, just calling out the behavior made it stop. He never bothered anyplace other than the classroom.
2. I was out cruising (yes, it was a thing in the 80s still) with my sister. She needed to talk to this guy, and he was a passenger in this other guy’s car. I swapped passenger seats, so now I was in the car with some guy I didn’t know, and the other guy was in my sister’s car. I was 16.
The guy took me for a drive, and we “ended up” behind the football stadium. We started making out, and we moved to the back seat. I didn’t want to have sex with him, and I told him no. He tried to explain why we should, I tried to talk my way out of it. He was quite a bit larger than me, and we were in a really dark and desolate area of the world. I told him I didn’t want to do this, and he ignored me. I tried scratching his back, and he just said, “Hey now” I quickly realized that he had me outweighed and outmaneuvered, and that if I didn’t fight him, he wouldn’t hurt me anymore than taking my virginity, my pride, and my sense of safety. I let him do what he was going to do.
He took me back to meet my sister and it was all pretty civilized. I had talked myself down from it, explained to myself that it wasn’t really rape.
I called my best friend the next day and she assured me that it was indeed rape. I told my parents, and they were awesome. I was given a rape kit and it was determined that I wouldn’t have enough evidence to prove anything but consensual sex.
In the following weeks, I found out that two people I knew had been raped by this same guy. 1 of them had been gang raped by him. But this was after the fact and the police told me I couldn’t bring it into evidence, since it might have just been me getting friends to make up stories. The case was dead in the water.
I got revenge in the only way I knew how-I threw a Coke on his car. When he accused me of it later, I told him he couldn’t prove it was me, he had no evidence.
3. I was 18. My roommate had a boyfriend, the boy from back home. He seemed like a nice guy. My roommate invited me to a party at the boyfriend’s apartment. I think there were 5 guys living there. I had hung out with them a bit. They were boisterous, but nice.
I had no concerns going to to this party. We were drinking rum drinks. People were lighting them and sucking them through straws, or drinking them mixed with fruit. Only later did I discover this was 151 proof rum.
One of the roommates was super hot. I started talking to him. I was really really drunk. He took me to his room. This was 25 years ago and I was really drunk, so I don’t remember now if I wanted to have sex with him or not. But I think I might have tried to turn him down, and he was persistent. I had learned from the last time that guys that are bigger than me don’t always take no for an answer. So, we did the deed.
And then things got weird. I rolled over to get out of the bed, and one of the roommates was lying there on the floor, listening and who knows what else. His bedroom had a bit of a hallway. I walked through that hallway to to leave his bedroom, and there were two more roommates, standing in the doorway making out. Just to be clear, they were in the bedroom. So there were 3 other people in this bedroom in addition to me and the d’bag.
I left the room and went to wake up my roommate’s boyfriend to ask for a ride home. He reached out and started kissing me. This was like a grotesque house of mirrors, with no clean break to freedom and safety! I reminded him that he was my roommate’s boyfriend, and that I just wanted a ride home. He took me home.
Oddly enough, I chose to go back into that den of iniquity one more time. I was so foggy headed about everything that happened, and whether I had said no or not, that I needed to know for sure. I got in touch with the guy and went over to his apartment. This time it was just me and him. We played chess.
It was nice, and he was being decent. We were sober. Then I suggested we wrestle. He pinned me down on the bed. I told him strongly, loudly and clearly no. He continued. I said NO again. He was quite a few inches taller than me, and obviously worked out. He had me pinned. It was terrifying. He took my wrists, held them above my hand, restraining both wrists just one of his hands. He was still on top of me. He held me like that for a few seconds, applied a little extra pressure on my wrists, said, “Its not worth it” climbed off of me, got up and went to the bathroom. He didn’t not engage me again.
So, just to clarify the timeline and events for you: I went to his house, and spent about an hour playing a couple of games of chess and having a really nice time with him. I then spent about 5-15 minutes engaging in some fully clothed wrestling with him. I know that might sound weird, but it was the late 80s, pro-wrestling was big. And as soon as I said No to him (again, at this point, we were clothed, and I said No at the first sign of escalation towards sex) he immediately turned on me, displayed his power over me and then refused to talk to me ever again. I told my roommate about it the next day, and she would not talk to me about it. At all. It was very important that her narrative remain intact, I suppose.
There you have it. A peek into my young adult years. There are many more horrible, and some wonderful stories. But this is all I want to share. I was watching the wonderful documentary about Kathleen Hanna that is currently available on Netflix. She and I are about the same age, and she and her band and her friends were trying to do something in the late 80s and early 90s, to change things. To make the world safer and more accessible for girls and women. But it seems like we are still right where we were. The sense of entitlement that some men have, their right to have sex, is still alive and well.
I was very very very lucky. I had a lot of twists and turns between the ages of 16 and 20. However, when I was 20 I found a man who has always treated me with respect and as a partner. Luckily I was smart enough to see what a gem I had.
This was a very hard post to write and a very hard post to share. I am sad that I went through it, and I am sad that I don’t always feel like I can freely share the traumas I have experienced. And I am heartbroken that so many girls and women are still experiencing shit like this.
I will end it in the only way I can think of. One of the bad little dogs wearing a paper cup hat.