The #yesallwomen twitter string opened up even deeper wounds, as I read the brave flood of ugly truths that poured out. Women everywhere revealed tales of abuse and shame at the hands of misogynistic society. As I read, my own bitter stories began to bubble to the surface, but I could not find the words or strength to add my voice to the call for change. As I speculated on these thoughts, I became aware that the longer I hid them, the greater my shame became and that by hiding behind other brave voices, I was in my own way contributing to the problem. So here I am now, trying to get naked in words.
I started bartering my sexuality early. I knew there was power in it, knew I housed some wanted commodity and that attention and "affection" could be bought with a well-timed glance and seductive smile. And hey, I like sex, so I figured it was a win-win situation to use what I had to get a moment's good feeling. However, I made poor choices often and frequently the interactions left me not feeling loved, but used, empty and ashamed. As a wounded soul, I attracted abusers and addicts like moths to a flame and I put out many times to avoid physical threat or angry confrontation. Not exactly consent, but not what I would call "rape", for I did have some choice in the matter, even if my choices were sometimes made under duress. I blamed myself when I got hurt, for I knew that I was playing a dangerous and stupid game. Then came THAT night.
I was at a weekend event, in my college town, with a group of role playing/re-creationists. In that environment, if you are female, you can have all the attention and alcohol you desire, and I was at home being the belle of the ball and having my pick of flirtations. This was only a small gathering, around Winter Solstice, and the holiday energy was high and playful. A male friend of mine kept my cup full of one intoxicant after the next and before I realized, I was beyond drunk. It is one of the few times I can say that I drank to black out and beyond. My unconscious form was taken to my cabin, on the outskirts of the campground, where I was staying alone, and my friends took shifts watching over me, as my body heaved out the poisons. There was a man, never before seen at one of our local events. No one knew him prior to the weekend, but he seemed a convivial fellow, harmless even. So when he offered to take a shift watching the unconscious girl, my friends (who were also intoxicated, sleepy and no doubt tired of babysitting a drunk) let him.
When I came to at some dark silent moment of night, this man was on top and inside me. Bile rose in my throat, not just because of the alcohol. "I'm going to be sick," I managed to croak out, and he took one hand off my hips and turned my head to the side so I could vomit off the edge of the bed, all while he continued his thrusting. He told me that I was beautiful, that he'd watched me all night, and that I needed to let him finish. I "owed" him that after being "such a tease" all night, when he was "kind enough" to take a shift watching over me. Weakened, incapacitated, ill, I had no choice but to comply.
When he'd had his orgasm, he pulled out, redressed, was "kind enough" to make sure I wasn't going to fall asleep again (and I wasn't...at that point, I wasn't sure I would ever be able to sleep again) then he took his leave. I crumpled to the floor in a puddle of my own filth and shame, and cried.
I told only a few of my closest friends what happened, and even then, a close female friend, while angry for me, commented that hopefully, I'd learned my lesson about drinking too much.
No one urged me to take legal action.
No one, not even me, called it rape (at that time.) It was just what happened to pretty and promiscuous girls who did dumb things.
Did I make bad choices that night? Hell yes, I did. Did I "deserve" to be raped while unconscious? No, I did not... but I didn't come to that truth for many years.
I take responsibility for my actions that night. I understand that I contributed to the events that occurred, BUT being pretty and flirtatious is not consent. Being unable to say "no" is not consent. Having a vagina IS NOT CONSENT.
No... #notallmen would have made this choice. But the fact that one did, and NO ONE around me (including myself) fathomed the whole disgusting injustice and impropriety of those actions speaks of a sickness in our culture. #Yesallwomen have the right to decide what happens to their own bodies. #Yesallwomen deserve to live a life free of constant fear. #Yesallwomen should proudly call for change. The dark time of living in shame for being female needs to stop.
#Yesallwomen have some similar sad story. This is just one of mine. But if we are to cure this illness, then the stories must be told. The dark must be brought to healing light.
I will not live in shame anymore.