There is a phrase “life in leggings” / a hashtag being used in my country right now which relates to women speaking about unwanted sexual abuse/ encounters… of all kinds.
Rape/unwanted sexual advances and anything of the sort is something that is so common in our culture that.. most of the time it is not seen as anything “wrong”. Girls are not taught that their bodies are their own, it isn’t something that we impress upon them. Yes you may tell them don’t let a stranger touch you when they are little children or of overt instances of rape itself (the strange man who attacks you at night) but past that, the expectation of sexual behavior greatly changes once a girl becomes a teenager and beyond and we don’t teach them about rape from people that they know.
I had many scenarios in my life that now in my thirties as I look back on them I suppose could be seen as inappropriate or “date rape”. At the time however it just… was what it was… As a young teen I invited a boy over to my house. We were home alone. He was very popular / good looking. I was Star struck that he even wanted to hang out. I was always the girl that boys wanted to talk to so they could ask about my friends – never the one that boys were immediately interested in.
We started fooling around but the act of sex itself wasn’t even on my mind. I thought it was just going to be a makeout session at best. It didn’t turn out that way. His comment after it all happened was I should have expected that because why else did I ask him over. I never told anyone until years later when I had my first “real” boyfriend and his response was pretty much the same – it isn’t a big deal that’s not “rape” it was just a misunderstanding and I probably wanted it. So I never spoke of it again. I had a occurrence happen that was also similar later on with someone else where I did say no (I remember it clearly) but I wasn’t in a position to “say no” at that time apparently.
As time went on my relationship with men was never really different. Whether I wanted to or not you just knew you had to/ it was expected of you even in cases where the person was your boyfriend and you said no. So sex became something that wasn’t really a big deal to me. It’s like eating food or breathing – just something you do. I didn’t see it as something “special” to share with anyone and I’m sure people who know me would agree and say that I speak of sex as if I were “a man”.
Often times to us, Boys/Men are seen as being disconnected from having emotions during sex. Girls/women are often pressured 1) if he’s taken you out on a date/ spent money/ treated you nicely then you can’t make it seem like he wasted his time 2) if you’re not the popular / pretty/ rich girl then you can’t be so out of place to think you could hold out because you aren’t really of that caliber or standard – only the really “nice” girls can make them wait 3) it’s just something that happens.
But moreso than those experiences, a while back something happened that bothered me more than even the instances of unwanted sexual experiences. I went to the movies and a relative was there so I sat next to him when midway through the movie he wanted to hold my hand. Even when I pulled away and tried to just keep my hand in the popcorn bag he kept reaching over for it. It made me feel very uncomfortable so I lied and said I had to leave early and he replied he wanted a “real” kiss before I left. I got up and fled. We never spoke of it and I never told anyone in my family.
That situation bothered me because we are related yet I know he would never have done that to my other cousins who are white (while I am not) and also because he is very wealthy and well liked by others he probably assumed if I did tell no one would believe the depressed, pining for her deceased boyfriend for years, known for being different niece. Boys in my teen years / early 20’s didn’t “know” me but he did and I felt like he used that to try to get away with something which luckily I was able to escape because I had been around that block so many times I could now get up and leave yet…. I did still feel like I was the one doing something wrong or disappointing someone/ feeling a bit guilty.
Now I’m in my early 30s. I’m not… bothered by my past in the way that other things in life have come along and traumatized me… but I can’t say that it hasn’t affected my relationships with men either. I wasn’t turned off of sex, if anything I became far more hyper sexualized because of at that point people I DIDNT want to have sex with, had had sex with me regardless of my feelings. So when I became older and more aware I CHOSE who I wanted and hunted them before anyone could hunt me… as strange as it sounds… I tried to get control. I didn’t want to feel like the trapped little girl anymore.
I know I will always find it hard to believe that someone would like me for “me” / that they are just interested in my personality. I find the thought of one day having children and having them be girls a frightening thought because I fear for them and what’s out there and whether I will be strong enough to really teach them that they are worthy and should feel special despite what their social status is/ their colour/ their looks… so too if I have sons.. how do you begin to have that conversation with them about what NOT to do to girls?
Lately many women have gone missing in this country and those that they find (dead or alive) after are in most cases sexual assaulted. There is also a general societal behavior among men that is predatory in nature, so much so that women do not feel safe walking in public places in midday. I read a friend’s post the other day that said – to her a man is a potential rapist until he proves that he is not. And I didn’t even agree with that, to me a man is a potential rapist full stop. And I am sad that I feel that way because I am sure that is not the case – I mean I know men who obviously have not raped or behaved inappropriately with women! But the underlying feeling is still there.
It’s only now that I’m older and hearing / seeing testimonials from many other women that I am now starting to really think about how I relate to sex and that I do have the right to say no and I shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed for feeling like I’m just not feeling to do it at that time or even if I do say no and the person insists regardless that it’s not ok – I should be in control to say if and when I’m ready at any time.
P.s: I thought for a VERY long time before writing this post… though it had been on my mind for a while so for anyone who knows me and reads it don’t feel like you have to talk to me about it if you’re uncomfortable that’s fine I’m ok it’s just thoughts about my past I’m now trying to deal with.