First published on Medium on Jan 17, 2018
A look at coercive sex through a young woman’s eyes.
The #MeToo movement is inspiring a lot of conversations about consent. And that is good. But I wanted to show, show men in particular, what it’s like to be confronted with coercive sex — the emotions it generates. I wanted you to see it through our eyes.
I like you.
I liked you when I saw your smile, I liked you more when you told a joke.
I liked you enough to bring you home with me. And I’m flattered and happy you like me.
Like you, I am hoping for sex. I’m hoping for intimacy, I crave companionship and touch. I am hoping it will feel good, that it will make my body dance, make my heart beat faster, make me feel alive, young, daring, and bold. I’m hoping it might be the beginning of romance, or maybe just a magical night, a memory that, conjured up years later, brings a smile to my face.
I can’t know what my body will do. Not yet. I can’t know and I can’t promise you. I am finding out, I am discovering. The words you say, the way you move your body, what you do with your hands — all of it is feeding me information, filling me with intel about how you and I might interact in bed.
I am fact-finding. I am researching.
Are you actively listening? Do you react as I hope when I voice a need, a concern, a desire? Are you just enjoying the sound of your own voice? Are you attentive? Are you able to read the cues of my body language? Are we dancing together, or are you dancing alone?
I am skeptical.
You seem too self-absorbed, too absent, too goal-driven. You seem too be treating me like a goalie you need to get through, to score a point. I see you triangulating, recalibrating, looking for the opening. I am an obstacle, a barrier in your pussy-mining video game. You need me docile, you need me compliant. Your words seem calculating.
I am disappointed.
Are you really here? Do you really like me, me specifically? Or am I just a body that you deemed attractive enough to fulfill a basic physical need? Because I liked you — you specifically. I thought you were charming, and funny. I thought I could be vulnerable and silly with you. But my defenses are going up, and my libido is going down.
I know you expect sex. What’s especially sad is that I wanted sex too; I would’ve liked to. I really am disappointed.
I am retreating.
I don’t want to have sex with you. Not right now. Not tonight. I’m sorry, I really am. There was a good chance I’d be into it — but I’m not. Not anymore. And it saddens me that you don’t seem to see how your lack of empathy, your lack of grace, your almost mechanical sexual maneuvers are killing any trace of sexual energy in me. And it worries me that you’re not seeing the change in me. It’s alarming me.
I am defending.
I don’t want to cause a scene. I don’t want to hurt your pride. I am trying to bring down the pressure. OMG the pressure. Can you please stop groping me. I don’t feel cherished, I don’t feel cared for. I have something you want, and you are trying to find ways to get me to give it to you. Like you feel entitled to it. Like I owe you.
I am uncomfortable.
You’re being “nice,” but you’re not relenting. I’ve told you I don’t want to, I’ve told you it’s too much too fast. You seemed to listen — you stopped for a while and I almost felt like we could get past it, almost thought we could salvage the evening and our dignity. And now you’re maneuvering again.
Why aren’t you getting this? Obviously the moment is over. We’re staring at “could’ve happened,” we’re standing in front of a big sign that reads “not this time.” I feel it so clearly — why can’t you? And how do I convey this to you without hurting your feelings, without crushing your ego?
The moment is over. We’re staring at “could’ve happened,”we’re standing in front of a big sign that reads “not this time.” I feel it so clearly — why can’t you? And how do I convey this to you without hurting your feelings, without crushing your ego?
I can’t have sex with you. Not tonight, not like this. I’m out of sex zone and into defense zone. Sex now would be icky, would be a violation of my dignity. Not because you’re not attractive enough, not because you’re not man enough — you just didn’t make me feel special, didn’t allow me to ease into my sensuality, didn’t facilitate my sexual self to manifest. Maybe we’re just not a match, sexually. Maybe we could be, under different circumstances. All I know is that tonight I can’t. I cannot. And you’re. Just. Not. Stopping.
All I can think of now is how do I get you to leave. I need to regain my space — you keep invading my space. It’s not sexy. It’s intrusive and obnoxious. I really need you to stop.
I know I’m still smiling. I know I’m still laughing at your jokes. But my whole body is tense, and my ‘fight or flight’ instincts are fully engaged. I’m trying to remember where I left my cell phone. I’m thinking you’re so much bigger than me. I’m wondering if anyone would hear me scream.
I got through, I think. You’re actually backing off. Hopefully for real, this time.
But I’m not going to chance it this time. We need to say good night, and you need to leave. Even if this gets you angry, even if you never talk to me again. I need you out of my apartment.
We say good night. You ask when will we see each other again. You’re still thinking of your finish line, still looking for your touchdown. I owe you sex, and you intend to collect. I mumble something about “soon.” I feel like an idiot — but I don’t have the vocabulary to make “never” sound socially acceptable. And my back is tensed up, and my neck is made of needles, and I can’t stop pressing my nails into my palm.
I smile, as I walk you out. You step out. You’re that charming guy again, the sexy laugh, the twinkly eye. But I don’t believe you anymore. I don’t believe any of it. Because just ten minutes ago you were pressing me against the kitchen counter, grinding your cock against me, saying things I’m sure you thought were sexy. Not hearing my No. Not listening. Scaring the crap out of me.
You’re that charming guy again, the sexy laugh, the twinkly eye. But I don’t believe you anymore.
I close the door.
I sit on the bed, slowly regaining my composure. I breathe. I drink the wine — the glass you had poured me. I gulp it down.
“It wasn’t that bad,” I think. “He was nice at the restaurant. Things just got awkward. Just a misunderstanding. Just a bad date. I’m being silly. It wasn’t that bad.”
I’m alone. I’m safe.
I lie in bed, clothes still on, makeup still on. Long breaths. My heartbeat is returning to normal. Long day. I better get some sleep.
I feel like crying — and I don’t know why.