Sitting down to write this has been really difficult. And I don’t say that because what happened was terribly traumatic or changed any integral part of me. Today I decided to write in pencil rather than pen, something I rarely do. This entire event just felt very undefined, vague — it was neither black nor white but lay in an ambiguous grey area leaving me feeling unsure and uneasy. He was someone I’d hooked up with before; a friend. But it was nothing serious. As we entered the cramped bathroom, already lined with beer and sweat from its previous prey, he says “nothing real is going to happen here,” insinuating that we weren’t going to have sex. But he proceeded to finger me aggressively despite my clear discomfort and hesitation, putting one finger after another inside me as if it were a challenge. “Let’s see how many we can get up there” he comments excitedly. “No, let’s not” I respond, already dismayed by the immediacy our clothes were off. I start to dress again, moving away from the toilet where he is sitting below me. “What about me?” He inquires. “What about you?” I wish I had responded. Instead I kind of sigh, move my head aside and oblige to giving him a half ass hand job. We leave the crawl space of a bathroom and go our seperate ways. I never hooked up with him again, in part because in reflection I realized how gross and not-okay that hookup was but also because he went back to his previous girl friend. What I can’t stop thinking about are those opening remarks: “we’re not doing anything real”. By deeming sex as the only “real” sexual exchange between people we only associate sexual assault with sex itself despite their being countless other forms assault can take. Leaving all this ambiguous space dissuades people from knowing how they should act in sexual situations. I was angry and upset for a variety of reasons — him assuming my not being a virgin would mean I would automatically want to do whatever, him treating sexually as if it were an exchange, that I owed him something, and that I’ve heard countless other girls experience the same imbalances over and over again.
My dad and I were discussing frat culture the other day. As I voiced my concerns about how women are treated in that environment he rebuts my concerns by saying he is sure frat guys treat the women they love with respect. But that is not what concerns me. What is worrying and disheartening is not how certain men in our society treat the women they love, it’s the women they don’t love–the random hookups and meaningless affairs; the girl I was that night. Assault does not just pertain to sex and blatant forcefulness — imbalances and subtle oppression lurk in the crawl spaces of so many interactions. Shine light on them with actions and words. If I don’t say anything, he will never know he did something wrong and the vicious cycle of oppression will just continue, so let’s speak up.