Me, too

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My mom. She was 15 when she was raped – by her mom’s boyfriend, as is often the case. This single act destroyed the rest of her life. She was so naive and beautiful at that age, though I know that looks and age have nothing to do with why women are raped. Rape is a matter of power, of strength.

Sometimes it’s a matter of persuasion, of insidious guilt. That’s what happened with Weinstein, according to the tape the New Yorker made public. That’s what happened to me when I was 16, with an ex-boyfriend. He was my first sexual partner and though our first time was consensual, our last time certainly was not. We had broken up during the summer and then saw each other again at school. He was older than me and had his own apartment. We met in the street, chatted, and we went to his place, as friends. After a while he wanted sex. I said no and he said “why did you come here then? You knew what you were getting into.” I didn’t know what to say. He started kissing me and lowering me on the bed. I think I said no one more time. He was 5 years older. I didn’t know to forcefully say no and leave. After all, I had come to his apartment, so maybe this was what I wanted. He made me doubt myself. And to him, sex was consensual. For so many years I thought so, too. I knew I didn’t want it, but I didn’t fight it either. To this day, I don’t consider what happened rape, but that last time with him was not the definition of consensual. I felt used and that’s not a good feeling.

I am guessing this is what a lot of women felt with Weinstein. They felt guilty because they didn’t say no enough times, because they didn’t run out of the room or that sweet talking and veiled threats made them “acquiesce” or at least remain silent. And then there is the added pressure of who Weinstein is, or what people would say if they went public or made him an enemy. People would say “you went to his hotel room. What did you expect?”

Is it too much to expect respect? Should women expect to be talked into sex, like it’s ok and understood that men can’t help themselves, and even actually expect sex if they’re alone with a woman? We need to change this culture of rape, of thinking that girls should always be on the lookout, that it’s on us to protect ourselves and prevent rape.

Rape is about power, about gender norms. Until we change this, sexual assaults against women will happen.

(In this post I chose to focus on women here as it relates to my mom's and my own experience, as women. Boys and men are also victims of sexual abuse, as recent allegations against Kevin Spacey show. And in this case, let's be clear that sexual abuse was again borne of power and predatory intents, not sexual orientation.)

PS: the origin of #metoo

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