Trigger Warning: sexual assault/harassment
I’ve been meaning to share but waiting around for the right mood, the nerve, the right time, whatever. There will never be a right time; this happens every day to me and everyone I know and love. It goes unreported and accepted as the price of living in society as a girl or woman. I can’t accept it anymore as a normal experience and hope others won’t either.
I’m one of the lucky women who’s never been technically raped. If I ever tell someone about a sexual or verbal assault, the default response is, “Well, at least he didn’t rape you.” I feel I ought to disregard the severity of the issue, to minimize and normalize it in my own head, to discount my feelings about it as being an overreaction, especially when I know real-rape survivors. So I’ve never identified as a victim, spoken about these things, confided in anyone. Never dealt with them or processed. Most days I never even think about it; it’s just a distant past. But some days it rises to the surface and overwhelms me.
- In the sixth grade, a boy in gym class yelled at me on the track, “How much for a blowjob?” Appalled, I remained silent.
- In the seventh grade, my name became a daily jeer and taunt because it matched Monica Lewinsky’s during the White House scandals, and kids would bring in magazines and news articles with her picture to compare our appearances, somehow linking me to her promiscuity.
- In the ninth grade, I was on a date with a boy and kissing him. He groped my breasts without asking me. I had never wanted to do that, didn’t know what he was doing, why he was doing that, or what I should do, and I froze. And he continued. I threw that shirt in the garbage because the violation seemed to cling to it.
- An acquaintance, a “friend,” sent me a message detailing where he would take me and how he would touch me and take my virginity. Without my permission he constructed this scene and raped my persona, verbally me. I was 15.
- In the eleventh grade, a random boy at school told me I was too fat to be dressed like a hooker. Because I wore shorts that day.
- A boy I didn’t know got my screen name and messaged me to tell me he heard I liked oral sex and proceeded to offer his services to me. I spent the whole night in tears.
- When I told my boyfriend I had a migraine and wanted to go home, he insisted I let him try to make me feel better by giving me an orgasm, though I protested that I had a MIGRAINE and wanted to go home. So he needled me for another half hour and then took me home, pouting the whole way and complaining how I wouldn’t even *give him a chance.* (Arguing with someone when you’re in throbbing, blinding pain isn’t all that bad as long as he doesn’t rape you and only resents you instead for ruining his date.)
- Walking to my college apartment, in broad daylight, in a fairly safe neighborhood, a young teenage boy across the street called out, “Hey, how much do you cost?” Because I wore a skirt. Shocked and at a loss, I remained silent and kept walking.
- I cannot count the number of times I’ve been whistled, hollered, and honked at when I am just minding my own fucking business because apparently I need to be reminded that I have no control whatsoever over my own presence and personal safety.
- Strange men only grab me and rub their hard cocks against my covered ass and cooch if I want to go somewhere to dance. That’s not really rape-rape.
- A few of my dates have forced their tongues into my mouth and wrapped their arms around me to keep me from moving as I struggled against them.
- Kissing a guy and he whipped out his erect penis and said to me, “Look what you did,” and expected me to take care of it. The friend I told was horrified and angry at me because I’d put myself in such a dangerous situation.
- My first college boyfriend liked to get me drunk and try to take my virginity and genuinely believed “No means yes,” shoving his cock in my face to suck it until I broke down crying.
- And tears only mean no, by the way, if a man feels like acknowledging them.
- He accused me of cheating on him because I hadn’t ever done anything to prove I wouldn’t.
- How many times have I told a guy I was tired and wanted to sleep, and he would only roll over and huff and pout and steam and keep me awake all night anyway? That’s my own damn fault, right? I’d get to sleep faster if I just gave it up.
- A grown-ass man cussed me out, berated me, and threw a temper tantrum when I told him I didn’t want to have sex. And then he tried to pull me into bed with him again in the morning, having been too drunk to remember the ordeal. At least he didn’t rape me, right?
- An acquaintance only groped my breasts and stuck his tongue down my throat after I accepted his offer of a shoulder rub.
- One guy didn’t feel like putting on a condom and didn’t tell me. At least I didn’t catch anything. Or conceive. Probably.
- Friends and acquaintances smack my ass whenever, wherever, and as hard as they please. They’re just being friendly, right? And I should stop asking them to please stop doing that because I wouldn’t want to ruin their good times.
- It’s no big deal that men consistently cuss at me and call me fat and ugly after I decline their advances. This happens far more often than not.
- It’s not so bad that a guy who helped me to my tent lingered to invite himself in because I was drunk and he had plans. That’s not something to worry about because even though I’d blacked out, I told him flatly “No thanks,” and he left.
When I tell these stories, too many will assume it’s my fault for choosing, dating, and associating with losers and creeps because they’ve never experienced this and cannot wrap their heads around the possibility that these are just average guys and this is just normal rape culture.
Perhaps they have the privilege of believing that with a clear conscience.
There are more, I know, that I’ve conveniently or deliberately forgotten: some temporarily and some not. This world isn’t safe, and I’m told I should be very grateful that nothing bad has ever happened to me. I should just forget the assaults and harassment and thank my lucky stars, because it’s not like anyone ever actually raped me, harmed me, took anything from me. Except my autonomy and humanity. And this is why I’m a furious feminist who refuses to be nice and silent anymore.