(Yes, I know it's not Friday... but it's been so long since I had an idea for the series that I don't want to wait...) The Flashback Friday: Feminist Edition will feature a story that has something to do with being or becoming a woman or feminist. This series will continue until I run out of stories. Thanks to Sunshine Scribe for the Flashback Friday idea.
My second last one-night stand felt like a conquest at first. The guy was tall and thin, with long reddish blonde hair, a long, angular nose with a nose ring I think, and a constant, cultivated scruffiness of facial hair. He had been involved for years with an acquaintance of mine, and they still spoke amicably so he couldn't have been all bad. From the moment I first saw him, just returned from the pilgrimage to the pot haven out west that all the cool Ontario kids were doing but which I never quite got around to, I thought he was hot, and way out of my league.
I can picture him pretty clearly, but I can't for the life of me remember his name... it flits away from me like a hummingbird, unwilling to be caught.
I don't know how it came about that we hooked up one warm August night weeks or months later. I remember it was at the Jimmy Jazz, but I don't remember how it came about that we were walking back to his place through the warm night air, our short walk alternately dark and dimly lit by the orange glow of the periodic street lights. I know what my intention was, I knew it then, and I felt pretty pleased with myself for landing such a fine specimen.
His bedroom was big, just inside the front door of one of those grand old Victorian houses with a thousand bedrooms, and he had many roommates who left us alone while they went into the living room. Someone started playing Massive Attack's No Protection, and it played on repeat all night long.
At one point, the guy went to the bathroom or something and when he came back he said there was an orgy going on upstairs. I wasn't sure whether to believe, but he seemed pretty sincere and unruffled about it. That scared me, shocked me. I made sure not to leave the room until morning, afraid of seeing a tangle of naked, writhing bodies, of being unable to identify whose limbs were whose, like so many snakes. Orgies were something that happened in Jilly Cooper novels, not real life. Surely this must be a wicked house.
I don't remember details of my exit in the morning; likely there were the usual “see you around” comments or charades of exchanging phone numbers with no intentions of ever dialing them. I think I felt some haste to get out of there.
Nevertheless, I felt like I had just made a successful conquest. So what if the sex totally sucked, if he was a lousy lay? A total hottie had wanted me. But as I walked the lonely Sunday morning streets home under a moist grey sky, I realized that my memory was darkened like the room it had taken place in, muddied and obscured by way too much drink. Details began to emerge, like approaching cars on a foggy road, becoming clearer by the moment.
He'd used an awful lot of Astroglide instead of like, um, having any interest in me. He'd taken the condom off partway through. And although he'd put one on again at my request, he took it off AGAIN. I'd been really really drunk; so drunk I don't think I could really move after a while. I think I might have even fallen asleep before he was finished. As I walked, I began to feel violated, to feel angry that he'd endangered my life, my health, for his own pleasure; angry that he'd been so indifferent to my experience.
I also felt responsible and stupid. I'd freely chosen to suck back the uncountable number of pints I'd had that night. I'd gone to his place with my eyes wide open. I mostly just chalked it up to a bad experience.
Over the next couple of months, though, that experience started to gross me out. I did have one more one-night stand, which was a much more pleasant, fun experience, but it was really that August incident that eventually pushed me to the realization that these casual encounters were not doing much for me, that I didn't really want to conduct myself that way anymore.
I never thought I would ever blog about that night. It came up in my mind pretty much as soon as I decided to write Flashback Friday: Feminist Editions, but I discarded it. For one thing, it would require sharing more details than I'd like to.
The other night a friend mentioned that every woman he knows has a creepy story about a man, or a bad sexual experience, a date rape. Every woman he knows. And it makes him worry for his 14-year-old daughter.
I thought about the man I saw by the trees late one night when I walked to the all-night convenience store, the man who I thought was just peeing but who was shaking off the last drop a little too enthusiastically. I thought of the man who sort of stalked me for a while and how the police didn't or couldn't really help. I thought of my old employer when I was only a few years older than my friend's daughter. And then I thought of my own sexual assault, the one I've just described.
I don't feel like a rape victim. I consented to the sex; I just didn't consent to the shittiness of it or the removal of the condom. I didn't suffer psychological pain afterwards. I wouldn't want to minimize the wounds of real rape victims by placing myself among them. But I was violated, and I think I consider it a sexual assault.
The other night, I realized that I didn't want to blog about this experience because of a squirmy feeling of shame in my belly. The experience makes me feel dirty. I'd swallowed this shame with my own complicity, and it has just been curled up inside me for all these years, like a sleeping poisonous worm.
Do I want Swee'pea to know about this some day? Do I want my dad to know about this? (And isn't it interesting that I am most concerned about the opinions of the men in my life? And now that I've noticed that bias, I must revise the question. Do I want my child[ren] to know about this someday? My parents? Possible coworkers?) Not really. But do I want to participate in my own silencing? In a global silence of shame?
As I write this, I have been wondering if I really want to hit publish. I've been wondering if perhaps I should make sure it's ok with Sugar Daddy for me to post this. Maybe I could publish it at HBM's basement. Like Sugar Daddy has an interest in letting this story out into the public domain. Like my sexual history has some bearing on his reputation, his honour?
I think he would be ok with this, and I'm not going to ask his permission.
I am going to own this story, this part of my learning, of my becoming. And I will not be ashamed anymore.
Anyone care to join me in the unsilencing?
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