Here’s what I remember, out of a time often blurred by alcohol and lived in the aftermath of trauma:
I remember feeling like I didn’t have a choice, that I had to do what he wanted me to do.
I remember enduring it when my boyfriends–one when I was in high school, the other when I was in college, both of whom were five+ years older then me–decided it was time to have anal sex without consultation or discussion. I endured the searing pain and the humiliation because that was what I, as a woman, did.
I remember the college athlete fucking me in a professor’s basement as I lay still as a corpse, George Michael’s Faith playing on the radio.
I remember the stories about that girl at the first college I attended, the one who was so drunk that the Sigs tied her up and had sex with her, one by one. I was embarrassed for her, ashamed for her, without thinking too deeply about what it said about those “boys” and the twisted privilege of being young white men.
In the instances above, all of which took place before I turned 21, I was (to the best of my recollection) sober. But there were times when I wasn’t, times when I was sloppy, sometimes blackout drunk. Times when my behavior might have been considered promiscuous (let us consider childhood trauma, dear reader, and what it told me about my value). In general, however, I was a passive vessel. I believe I learned early in life that I had no right to control what happened to my body, that what I was worth was dependent on the attention I got, that a man’s desire could trump my own. These were lessons that took a long time to unlearn.
There have always been consequences for women in these cases. We hold the physical memory. We hold the shame. We get attacked for telling the truth. It’s about time the men involved experienced consequences. A little truth telling is balm for the soul. Face the past, make amends, and take responsibility. This is the path to changing yourselves and our culture.
If not, it’s going to get ugly for you.