WARNING: this is not light reading; if you do not wish to read about sexual assault, please click away. This is personal and in places graphic, but it is important; I need to add my voice.
Before going further, I recommend reading this post by Allison writes in which she challenges us to
… take a good long look at the women around you.
They’ve been grabbed by the pussy.
It’s happened to at least one of them, if not most. They’ve been touched in a non-consensual way and talked themselves out of the word assault.
Because the guy who did it was a friend, was a co-worker, was kidding, was flirting, etc.
It’s true. We have. I have.
This has to stop.
I’ve been at parties where people have squeezed my boobs. I’ve had my ass grabbed. I’ve been drunkenly kissed against my will. But those were small potatoes.
There is one person from my past, someone I once considered my best friend, who assaulted me in this insidious way that made me believe it was my fault. Not that I’d asked for it but that I’d suggested I wanted it or be down for it in some way.
He was driving me home after a night out with others but it was just him and me in his car, when he pulled over on a quiet street and before I could ask what was up, I looked over and saw that his dick was out, erect and not entirely welcome — an in-person dick pic before the era of smartphones.
I looked from his dick to his face, not sure whether to be frightened or to laugh. Then I saw his expression. He was dead serious.
“Come on. Suck me. Suck it,” he demanded.
We’d never, ever had any sexual interaction before and I was confused by his commands and his exposure. Add to this that I had been drinking a lot and so I wasn’t completely sure if I was just imagining it. In fact that’s what I told myself later.
Except I didn’t imagine it. I didn’t imagine him yelling, calling me a tease and a bitch, insisting that I suck him, and eventually grabbing my hair and pulling me into his crotch. I didn’t imagine the noises he made as he basically used me to jerk off. I didn’t imagine the bitter taste he left in my mouth.
We were nineteen or twenty years old. I felt that the friendship was valuable enough to salvage (it wasn’t — because clearly he did not respect me) and so I did what I could to hold it together. I still went to parties at his house and with our mutual friends, I celebrated birthdays and new jobs, we broke bread and shared meals often. Gradually I just somehow put that event, that night behind me. I convinced myself I had imagined it, or that somehow in my drunken state I had consented to this act (I didn’t). After I got married, and he moved away, we talked less often and eventually I found other reasons to just not talk to him at all. But among the handful of memories of him that still exist, that night is among the clearest. I still see that look in his eyes and hear the echoes of his demands.
I have only ever told a handful of people before and even though this is clearly sexual assault, I still excused his behavior because I was drunk, or maybe I had been teasing him, or maybe I really did want this (I mean, I didn’t try to open the car door. I didn’t just laugh in his face and say “put that away,” and I sure didn’t tell him afterward that I didn’t enjoy being used that way).
The thing is, this is what rape culture does: it normalizes sexual assault. It makes it seem like there is a grey area where none exists legally or morally. And now it has gotten so bad that one of the people with the best chance at landing the job of President of the United States of America is on record saying he can get away with stuff like this because he is famous and people are laughing it off as locker room talk.
No more. This is not OK. This is not acceptable behavior, not for anyone, celebrity, politician, or average Joe. We have to stop acting like it is.