At first I thought, I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. I do that in life… sometimes I jump, other times I silently roll my eyes while reading what’s “trending”. But then I read THIS piece. And I read all of the Tweets.
And as I scrolled I found myself with a soaked face, and heaving chest. Addie was asleep. Dave was working. I was relinquishing all self-control.
So why do we need more awareness? Why does this bullshit need to end? Why is it not funny to disrespect a woman’s body (or anyones!) and think that what I wear means more than what I say? Why is the phrase yes means no neither OK nor tolerable?
Because we have all been there. Even when we haven’t been “to blame”.
I’ve walked with my keys tucked tightly between my fingers. In college, I carried a hunting knife. My first sexual experience in middle schoolwasn’t one I’d invited, and in college I’d said no. The loophole to no meaning nothing, I learned, was alcohol. Just for a second, meant that my no would be met with resistance, and I would have no choice of what would happen.
I’ve thought long and hard. What are the repercussions of sharing. What will my children think. Will they fear alcohol, men, college?
I hope this is empowering. For me. For my girls. For my husband. I hope this is liberating to all the women who forgot about that night because it was my fault.
When I was carried to a friend’s car and put to bed, he simply said it’s not your fault, and left me to sleep…
We were all playing beer pong and laughing about hockey (it’s not easy to be a Flyer’s fan in Beantown). At some point, I knew I needed to lay down and the host graciously offered his room. I went in, shut the door and fell asleep.
Should I have locked the door? Or just asked someone to drive me home? Or. Or. Or…
Should I have trusted that men have self control, even when there is a girl passed out in their bed?
I will spare the details, because I said no. I said no. But it doesn’t matter, because it was just for a second and I look so pretty tonight, and didn’t I just want to get back to sleep. No. No. No, I didn’t. I wanted to go.
Can I just leave?
Yeah, in a minute.
And it was. It was a few minutes. And a mutual friend was banging on the door. Open it, (name)! Open the fucking door! He shouted. I was scared. I was drunk. I’d vomited on the bed.
Bitch! He snarled in my ear.
My friend got in. He carried me to the shower. People watched. He shut the door. The party, I could hear, went on. He finished undressing me, cleaned the sick off, took off his own shirt and redressed me. Carrying me down the steep steps of the old Providence Victorian and out into the warm night. We went back to the dorms, where he laid me in my bed. It’s not your fault.
I woke up and it was over. I had a headache, I had to wear a panty-liner for a week, I got tested every month for a year (and yearly after), and then the bruises made from the pressure of fingers in my biceps and inner thigh just faded away. It was just a minute I told myself.
We saw each other at class the next week.I never looked at him, but he still said hi. How about those Flyers, he’d jest. Yeah, I’d reply. He’d done no wrong. I was drunk. So what I said meant nothing to him. I briefly spoke to a school advisor who was both uncomfortable with the topic and offered no further help. I kept my head down in shame for weeks. I was afraid of commitment for years. I learned that if I exerted my physical strength early on in a relationship, men would never question me. They would also never really love me.
And then one day. One. Lonely. Day. That part of me had to change.
I’m not afraid to be intimate with my partner. I do not fear his touch. When I do not want to get undressed, he does not ask me why. He does not force me to relent. I am not broken because one man chose to ignore my NO. I will not say I pleaded. I knew I had no chance. When someone is stronger than you, physically pressing you down, sometimes going away from your own mind is all you can do. Like when we experience a death, and we just remove our minds from the pain. Sometimes when we are ignored, a piece of us dies, too. That night, a piece of me died. The part of me that thought men protected women. That men were raised to respect women. That it couldn’t happen to me.
In it’s place is a stronger, more resilient woman. A woman who teaches girls that no means no from day 1. If you don’t want to kiss your mother or father, or hug your grandparents, or physically touch or be touched- then the answer is no. And the answer remains no. If your friend doesn’t want an embrace- the answer is no. Whether you’re 2 or 20, the meaning remains the same for no. No.
So why #YesAllWomen? Because. Because I still walk with my keys between my fingers, because I have nightmares about my girls going to college, because innocence is lost everyday, because I can say yes when I mean it, because what I wear means far less than what I say, because it’s not ok to yell at me from your car window, because slut-shaming is bullying, because no one asks for it, because no one asks for it, because no one asks for it.
Because no means no.