Fair heads up, this one’s got some major trigger potential for those triggered by consent issues/assaulty themes. If that’s you, this might be the one to skip.
So I’m at a bar with one of my new coworker-turned-friends. She used to work there, so it quickly becomes a group thing of running into people she knows. I like it. People leave as the night winds down until it’s just she and I and one other dude. The bar closes and we’re all talking outside, just smoking and bullshitting. He asks if one of us could drive him home. It’s on my way but not hers, so I say ok. He mentions that he has more beer at his place. I think about it for a second before telling him that I’m just going to drop him off and go home, but he’s welcome to come hang out with Anna and I again the next time we’re out.
I pull up in front of his house and he goes to shake my hand. I start laughing. I’m not going upstairs with you, but a handshake? Really? He asks if I was planning on hugging it out, and I say yes. He smiles, and asks me if he can kiss me goodnight instead.
“Can I kiss you?”
It’s a question that’s always done me in. I love it. I’ve written about it before. I have very strong feelings about it. I find it so charming that I say yes. After all, what harm is a kiss?
That was foreshadowing, by the way.
The second his face is against mine the entire tone shifts in a very uncomfortable way. Before I can register what’s going on he’s got my head pulled back by the hair, he’s telling me what a “dirty little bitch” I am, that he can tell I want him to smack me around, that he wants to take me upstairs and tie me down so I can’t move and fuck me, and his hands are everywhere I don’t want them to be.
Now listen… While that is a dynamic that I can find pretty damn enjoyable in the right context, this guy didn’t know that. We hadn’t discussed anything. There was no talk of boundaries or comfort level or consent for ANY of the rest of that. That’s just how this dude rolls. I realize in that moment that I haven’t been actually afraid in a very long time. I’ve had no reason to be. I went from the safety of my relationship to the safety of my darling sex-pos bubble without ever stopping to think about what life outside that bubble actually looks like.
I gently move his hand (because slapping my tit out of nowhere carries a pretty high chance of me stepping in to intervene), and remind him that this isn’t happening. That not only am I not going upstairs, but I’m going home. His face looks like a lightbulb just went off.
“Ohhh, is it cause you’re a girl? Is it that time for you?”
I try to explain that it isn’t really relevant. But now I’m doing it more carefully, more softly, more apologetically, desperately aware of the fact that this guy still has me by the hair, thinking about how all too easy it would be for him to slam my head against my dashboard, wondering if he has a knife, trying to stay calm. I explain to him that I don’t know him. That yeah, you know people I know, but we’re not close and I don’t trust you and I’m not comfortable doing this.
“So you’re just a fucking tease then?”
Something in me clicks when he says that and suddenly I’m more offended than afraid. I tell him that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. That there are shades of grey in between fucking him or just being a fucking tease. That I can just not want to and that can be ok.
He tells me that he wants me to suck his cock, and I tell him I have to go. He gets out of the car and goes inside and I peel out of there. All at once I’m relieved and thankful that it ended where it did, but the self-shaming begins immediately.
How could you have been so fucking stupid?
What were you thinking?
How did you not see that coming?
Why would you let it go that far in the first place?
That’s what you get for letting yourself get into that situation.
I feel completely responsible, and it takes me a little while to recognize what I’m doing to myself, and even longer to talk myself out of it. To the point where I almost didn’t write about this because I was convinced that everyone would be thinking those things about me anyway and it would just be more embarrassing.
But my point (because there is one) is that it’s really easy to take certain things for granted when you exist in an almost exclusively sex-positive social space. I mean, sure, I have a life outside of it. I have work, whatever, but that’s just something I go do for eight hours a day. I’m talking about the people closest to me, the people I speak to (in some cases daily) about my heart and emotions and experiences. The people I’m candid with.
It’s easy to forget that not everyone has the same mentality that I love so much about the people in my life. That the people out there in the Real World outside of my happy little bubble don’t necessarily operate under the same set of principles or rules. That things like boundaries, consent, respect… they’re not automatic.
And, I’m remembering now, that they can never be assumed.
At the end of the day, it just makes me love all of you that much more.