Fair warning to (what I’m guessing is the majority of my readers) my family. This post contains references to me having sex. If you would prefer not to have that visual in your head, I suggest you stop reading now. But, the sex is not gratuitous or discussed for scandalous reasons, rather to give voice to an issue that is important to me, and should, in my opinion, be important to everyone.
Recently there is a woman making some headlines. ‘Princeton mom’ has become a figure of contention for many feminist minded women, like myself. I wanted to ignore her and not add fuel to her already controversial fire, but it comes to a point where I can no longer ignore her stupidity and ignorance because I fear for any young women out there reading what she has to say and letting it become a form of truth. I fear for any person who experiences what I experienced 13 years ago and letting her idiotic thoughts make them feel that what they are going through is not valid.
Princeton mom does not believe in date rape. Rather, she believes women use this term to refer to sex they “mistakenly have” and that only she is to blame in that situation.
Princeton mom is an uniformed, archaic sack of shit.
Date rape does exist.
I am a victim of date rape.
I am 17. I’m watching a movie with a guy I’ve hung out with in a group a couple of times. He is much older than me and instead of obeying my mom’s ‘I need to meet him first’ rules, I tell her I’m hanging out with a friend and head to his house instead. I was excited to hang out with him, but when he suggests we watch a movie in his room instead of the living room, I begin to feel slightly uneasy. He puts in Three To Tango, a romantic comedy with Neve Campbell. She has always reminded me of my older sister, so this movie choice calms my nerves some, like she is there keeping an eye out for me. It’s about an hour into the movie that I realize there is no one there keeping an eye out for me. I am completely on my own.
It starts out nice enough. We are sitting on his bed, legs next to each other just barely touching, and actually enjoying the movie. But then we are kissing. And then he pulls me down so we are lying together while kissing. And then his hand is up my shirt. And then taking my shirt off. And then unbuttoning my pants. I pull his hands away before he can finish unbuttoning them, hoping he will understand this is as far as I want to go for now. Gradually his hands go back to my pants, and again I pull them away. Instead of understanding what I’m not wanting, he begins to take off his own pants. In my mind I know I want to leave. I know I need to leave. I try scooting away from him, hoping some distance will slow things down, but now he has his pants off and is pulling me back to him. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asks in a way that is meant to be cute and flirtatious, but is not. Now I don’t know what to do, but I know I need to leave. I know I want to leave. I try to say it’s late and I have curfew, I say I need to go to the bathroom, I say I have to call my mom and check in, but he thinks I’m just playing hard to get and tells me how cute I am. I know I need to leave. But, I can’t.
He does not physically hurt me. He doesn’t hit me or threaten me. He just keeps me pinned underneath him with his arms and his body weight so I can’t stop what is happening. He kisses me tenderly, like we are lovers and this means something. A few times I even catch myself thinking this isn’t wrong as he strokes my cheek, but then I remember, this is wrong because this is not what I want. He can make it as romantic as he wants, but I tried to leave and he would not let me.
When it’s over I hurry into my clothes at a speed usually only reserved for when I am running late to school. I need to leave. But, as I grab for the doorknob that leads to my escape, he grabs for my wrist roughly. “This was fun, wasn’t it?” he asks. I don’t know what he wants me to say. Is he testing me? Or does he actually think this was fun for me? He hadn’t physically hurt me before, but what if I said ‘fuck you, no this wasn’t fun’ would he hurt me now? I decide silence is the best route and smile and nod until finally he lets me walk through the door and through the rest of the house until I can breathe again in the damp, cold night air.
This is my story. Sadly, I know many who have stories like mine. Stories where the lines of what is right and what is wrong can feel blurred. Where you’re scared people will think you’re overreacting to a hook up that goes just a little to far.
Princeton mom goes on to stick her foot further down her throat by saying we shouldn’t be wasting time educating men (and women) on what does and does not consist of consensual sex, instead we should be teaching women not to go out and get drunk and put themselves in questionable situations. This? This is victim blaming at it’s worst and IT MUST STOP.
I was not drunk. I did not have one sip of alcohol. Was I putting myself in a questionable situation by going to the home of a guy I didn’t know very well? Maybe. Does that excuse the fact that he ignored I clearly was not engaging in consensual sex with him? NO. Because I did go over there did I deserve to have my right to make a choice about what I did of did not want to have happen that night taken away? NO. Because I did kiss him was I asking for it? NO. I’ve posted this before, but I’ll link to it again because I think it sums up what I’m getting at here in a way I cannot. No one is ever asking for it.
At the time, I found it hard to even think about talking about this because I imagined any number of victim blaming responses. For days, months, ever years I didn’t know what to make of what happened that night. I thought that what happened couldn’t have been rape because I was willingly spending time with him, I even willingly kissed him. It couldn’t have been rape because it’s not like some stranger attacked me in the middle of the night and I screamed no. I knew that what happened, what he did to me that night was not right. I just didn’t know why. I never once said no. I pushed him away and I tried leaving, but I never said no.
But, I never said yes.
At the time “date rape” wasn’t a familiar term to me, but when I finally learned about it I understood that my attempts to leave, my attempts to push him off of me, the way he held me down- it was rape. Non-consensual sex will ALWAYS be rape. Even if you are with someone you know and you’ve gone on dates with, even if you fool around with someone, even if you begin to have sex with someone but are made to feel uncomfortable or do something you don’t want to do- once your consent is taken away it. is. rape. I’m not sure what it is about date rape that Princeton mom cannot wrap her (what I’m guessing is a rather small) brain around, but it does exist. It is happening. It needs to not be happening and one of the ways to accomplish this is to give victims a voice. One sure fire way to ensure victims will not want their stories heard through is to belittle the experience by claiming it does not exist.
I hope for any person who finds themselves in a sexual assault situation that the words of this ill-informed woman, or the mass of people out there who agree with her thinking, never make you question your feelings of whether you really are a victim or not. If it was not consensual, no matter how you got into the situation, you are a victim and all your feelings of hurt and betrayal and fear and anger are valid. Never, NEVER let anyone make you feel otherwise.