I never said no.
Vicky and I have pretty awesome Girl’s Nights. We go big on wine/bubbly, and we usually plan food we don’t need to spend much time cooking (think local oysters, fresh salads, tapas…). This past Friday was pretty much typical. There was wine, ah-mazing food, good company – including B. who was visiting from out of town.
And then there was this…
B. was a friend-of-a-friend who recently became a friend. Halfway through Girl’s Night, she announces she had sex the night before. We give her some shit because she’s obviously been dying to make this announcement for hours, so what took her so damn long?? She laughs, we laugh.
Seems to be pretty typical Girl’s Night fare, yes? I thought so too. Until…
B.: “And it was nice to have sex again! I’ve been kind of avoiding it for awhile… I had kind of a bad experience the last time so…”
Naturally, we inquired. I expected what we all expect: some dude who stopped calling after the sex. Maybe it went further than that. Maybe there’s a slightly dented heart.
Basically, boy meets girl. Boy is charming can be. Girl leaves in a few days, so Girl thinks what the hey and goes home with Boy. And…
“Well, he kept wanting me to do anal. Like, he kept trying to put it in my butt!”
Ha ha ha. Isn’t that funny! Haven’t we all been there? Oh, boys! Hee hee, isn’t girl’s night fun!
“I kept telling him no, and then… well, things got weird.”
… things got weird?
“He stopped asking, I mean, he stopped trying to shove it up there… but… he started hitting me. Across my ass. Like, really hard. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t say anything. He was so much stronger than me… you know what I mean? I couldn’t do anything about it. He could just toss me around.”
“So… yeah. He finished and…well, so, I just snuck out after he fell asleep.”
“He was hitting me so hard. I just wanted to leave, but I couldn’t even speak. It was really scary, guys. I’ve never been in a situation like that where I really thought something bad was going to happen, where I didn’t know if I was going to get out of there.”
Like something bad was going to happen? What?
“Well… yeah. He didn’t make me have anal sex or anything, just sex. He listened to me when I said no.”
He didn’t make you have anal sex? But… B? What happened isn’t ok. That’s… Oh my god.
“No, no… it’s ok.” [wipes tears, take a deep breath. Smiles] “I mean… He was drunk.”
“And he was being so sweet before that, he kept calling me Princess and being so adorable… So sweet! It was only when we got to his house. As soon as he got me inside, he totally changed. His face went, like, completely blank. He was just really drunk… it was like he wasn’t there, you know? ”
“Plus, it was my fault. I should never have done that. I mean, I didn’t even know this guy. I should be more careful.”
No. No no no. But, seeing as how I am one of those crazy liberal feminist peeps, don’t take my word for it.
Ask a Good Man.
A Good Man will tell you it doesn’t matter what you wear. A Good Man will tell you it doesn’t matter who is drunk. A Good Man will tell you it doesn’t matter how late it gets and it doesn’t matter when we met.
A Good Man will tell you what happened there is un.fucking.acceptable.
Rape is not just about statistics. It is not just about what you read in the paper, the sensationalist headlines. It is not about the dolled-up sorority girl staying too long at the frat house, the subordinate woman staying too late at the office. And it is somefuckinghow more than the thousands upon thousands of women in this country who know exactly what happened to them – who can never stop experiencing it, and are still too afraid to report it.
It’s also about… No, no. That didn’t happen to me. That only happens to someone else.
It is the tears we choke back, the walls we put up, the excuses and lies we tell ourselves so we can take a deep breath and say “no… it’s ok. Really.”
It is the excuses and lies we tell ourselves to not only explain away the inexcusable, but to also blame ourselves for it instead.
Like it or not, admit it or not, this is the Society in which we live. The one that tells us Rape is Our Fault. The one where we learn to Excuse Your Violence For You. We watch television, we know what the media tells us. We know women Use Rape to Make Money or Hurt Men. We also know – Rape Only Happens To This Kind of Woman. And it is Her Fault when it does because she was cah-learly asking for it.
One thing we don’t often talk about is the fact that, even as these excuses and lies blame Women for their Rape and tell us Women Can’t Dress Like This, or Go Home With Him, or Drink Too Much… these excuses and lies also whisper:
…because Men, inclusive, Are Always Capable Of Rape. Men Will Always, Can’t Help Themselves, Just Want Sex At Any Cost. That if you dress like this, and behave like that, he will think he gets to fuck you – and, regardless of your desire at that point, HE WILL.
Do we ever stop to think about this, not in terms of how a woman behaves (to get herself raped) but in terms of how men behave? Instead of talking about what women should do differently, have we ever just allowed the Good Men in our lives, and all around us, to tell us:
“It does not matter what you wear.
How you act.
How much you had to drink.
How much I had to drink.
If you flirted.
If you go home with me.
If you went to bed with me.
How far it went.
NONE OF THAT MATTERS.
There is a line here that a Good Man WOULD NEVER cross.”
And, sometimes I wonder if that, actually hearing that from men, would make the difference. Hearing these answers, and not a joke or an excuse. Lawd knows, I’ve done enough talking to women about their Rape, and Attempted Rape, and Assault… They don’t listen to me.
More than that: what about Women asking these things of Men? That is women asking, personally and from experience, the Good Men in their lives if this really is their fault, if maybe he was just drunk, if maybe she should have worn something else – are these the things that matter? Is this really why…? Is this really how men behave?
What would happen if Good Men had to answer these questions from their daughters and sisters and mothers and friends?
What if it wasn’t just headlines and statistics and that happens to someone else. Because it doesn’t. Would we understand this then? Would we understand how we view each other and what we actually deep-down expect from one another? Would we comprehend the excuses we all use and lies we all tell?
Keep in mind: I fully realize men can be raped, and trans people can be raped – by both men and women. I realize it’s more than along hetero-normative gender lines. Right now, I’m trying to make this as simple as possible.
My dear reader: THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.