I got rape cultured on Tuesday
I’ve been absent from blogging for a while. It wasn’t for lack of things to say, but rather lack of Internet on which to say them. Over the last two weeks, I experienced sunshine, bought new clothes, drunkenly made an OKCupid profile, went to Denver for the National Conference for Media Reform, was reinvigorated in my love for Seattle, won free drinks at trivia for the simplest of questions, made homemade pizza, and got laid.
Let’s talk about that last thing first. Family members… now is the time to stop reading.
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I went dancing on Tuesday night at Havana in Capitol Hill. It was ’90s night presented by Hoot N Howl — they of the late, great Black Snake Moan at Unicorn — and I wanted to get out and move my body for a while. Standing at the bar waiting for my one and only whiskey ginger, a short Asian guy with a faux-hawk and his tall, dark, handsome friend start talking to me. I oblige for a few minutes, waiting on the over-extended bartender, then walk away to dance.
Talk, dark and handsome follows. (That description is cliché, I know, but it’s also true and more polite and meaningful than using his real name would be.) I like the attention and am impressed by his fat lips and fancy footwork. We move closer and closer. Then we’re kissing. Then I’m whispering in his ear, “Do you live nearby?” I knew what I was after.
Fast forward to us in his Jeep en route to Bellevue. Bellevue! A testament to how much I wanted to get laid, how much I needed after ending a year-and-a-half long relationship to get someone other than Ben up in there.
Is that fucked up? It’s honest. Of course I have no idea who Ben has or has not been sleeping with since we broke up, but as long as he was my last sex partner I felt some sort of physical connection with him that I had to sever.
The whole car ride I keep thinking, “Holy shit, I’m about to sleep with someone other than Ben. Holy shit. Holy shit.”
We arrive at this guy’s house, in Bellevue; I walk into his bedroom and see his a twin sized bed piled with dirty clothes alongside a naked futon, and then…??? We are both brutally sober and thus unable to slip into that beautiful drunken detachment that bypasses the awkward and mundane and makes memory into a best-of montage. Picture him aggressive and hungry. Picture me awkward and inexperienced, smiling that wide-eyed smile that shows the fear in my eyes and my willingness to go along with whatever is happening because I just don’t understand.
He asks what I like. I reply with a girlish giggle because how the hell could I even begin to think about providing that answer to a strange man about to fuck me? So we do what he wants. Neither of us are fully aroused. It hurts, terribly. I’m eventually able to end it by saying it hurts because I haven’t had sex in so long. He probably thinks his dick is big.
So we stop and I’m decidedly done but he keeps on trying to start things up again and I excuse myself into the bathroom where I cry that I’m with this strange man and not Ben, but I only cry a little bit. I come out talking about how tired I am and eventually convince him to let us go to sleep, though he keeps on trying to start things up again and I keep on pushing him away, but always with a smile because he is bigger than me and stronger than me and I know how easily he could get whatever he wants if he made up his mind in that direction. And he’s promised me a ride from Bellevue to the ferry terminal in the morning and I want to keep that ride.
All night I feign innocence and happiness and kindness. All night I lay naked in his strange man’s bed trying to sleep, letting him cuddle with me for a little while until he tries to start things up again and I push him away. And that’s where the “rape culture” of this post comes in. I could have yelled “no.” I could have screamed “no” and fought and bared my teeth, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to turn a night of casual sex and flirtation into me making this man feel like a rapist. He didn’t rape me. He probably thought he was nice. I was DTF and we did and its badness was only surprising because I hadn’t had casual sex in so long.
But just because I “asked for it” — literally — doesn’t mean I asked for everything forever. That’s rape culture. Once I gave into sex, I effectively lost my voice. I had to say “no” and “I don’t want to” and “I’m tired” — I had to push him away and express my disinterest physically, vocally and emotionally — over and over and over. Rape culture teaches that saying “no” one time, in a nice voice, isn’t enough. You need to scream and you need to fight or else it’s your fault, and it’s probably your fault anyway.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I really don’t think fighting with and yelling at a strong horny man is the most effective way to get what you want.
What’s a casual-sex-haver to do? Although I’m now put off from sex at least in the short term (and I actually got my period a week early for the first time ever; I think my body was like “hell no is anyone else coming up in here”), I’m sure I’ll want to do it again at some point. For me it’s more sexually satisfying to “be in love” and “make love,” but I’m clinging to my independence with terror in the whites of my eyes and I don’t anticipate giving anyone a chance beyond one night anytime in the near future. Should I discuss rape culture over drinks? Give in to getting mean?
My desire, my feminist utopia, would be a world where a person could go to another person’s house with the intention of doing it (like I did), without using drugs or intimidation or threats of violence (yep), where the involved parties could communicate their sexual desires (my fault), and where signals would be read and communication acknowledged so things could stop when people wanted them to (his fault).
And really, I’m not talking “no means no.” Don’t just keep your ears perked for that all-important word and proceed as planned without it. I’m talking “yes means yes!” I’m talking enthusiastic consent. Because if I had “given in” to the relentless sexual overtures of tall/dark/handsome on Tuesday night, debate could ensue about whether it was rape, but it would be a lonely debater arguing that my “no”s and “I’m tired”s and “That hurts”s — followed by maybe, sadly, a “fine just get it over with” — could constitute enthusiastic consent.
Why would you, how could you want to have sex with a person who didn’t enthusiastically want to have sex with you? Maybe this is a function of me being a fully socialized woman, but if a man ever expresses any kind of lack of attention or interest in me, my insecurity goes up and sex drive goes down. I’m not gonna jump on there unless I’m wanted, clearly, loudly, enthusiastically.
Who’s with me? Yes means yes!
Tags: alcohol, Bellevue, Black Snake Moan, break-up, Capitol Hill, casual sex, Denver, drunk, enthusiastic consent, feminism, Free Press, Havana, hook up, Hoot N Howl, National Conference for Media Reform, no means no, OKCupid, rape culture, rebound, relationships, sober, Unicorn, yes means yes