FINDING THE LINE IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT
Okay, I’ll admit it. One morning in my 20s, I woke up, after drinking too much, to a desperate gut-punch of a question: “Did we use protection?”
We had. Of course we had, I tell myself even now. I’m not a monster, I’m a good person.
I had woken up that morning really happy, thinking our date had gone incredibly well. She’d woken up terrified.
She didn’t want to get pregnant, and between us we pieced together a better understanding of the night before, and it wasn’t as great as I’d thought. But it also could have easily been worse. I was forced to face with a very different morning-after talk than I’d been expecting and deal with my actions, which had led to this.
The shitty part of this story didn’t just happen to me, I had caused it to happen to her. I’d been persistent when I knew she hadn’t wanted to. When things had started to get more intimate, she’d been very clear that she didn’t want to have sex.
At first, I’d respected that.
We’d both brought a bottle of wine, and drinking all of it may have been problematic. At some point, I’d asked again, and sometime late that night, we did have sex.
I think a lot of people, particularly men, might be surprised to learn that their view of what had happened regarding sex wasn’t shared. If we hadn’t still been together for the morning-after confusion, I might not have realized anything was even wrong. Hell, she was right next to me and I had no idea.
She’d given me a ride home the night before. In the car, I’d asked if she wanted to make out. I was thrilled to be so forward, and got right to it.
Then I asked if she wanted to come in, and if she wanted to come to my room. But I didn’t ask consent when it was most important. Consent is great, but one yes isn’t a blank check.
I would have been perfectly happy to have had a makeout session, fool around and end up not having sex.
People have gotten drunk and have made poor decisions, but what had happened when I was drunk, makes me nervous to even mention it. That helps me understand why many don’t come forward with their stories of being the victim.
This piece is anonymous because I’m afraid of what people will think and about what could happen. I can only imagine how some of the victims of rape and abuse feel as they go public or receive unwanted exposure, having to relive that trauma again and again.
Would that even happen to me, though? As a man, I’ve seen that I could certainly still be widely supported and hold public office, even after much worse.
That event served as a wake up call for me, and I’ve thought about it in regards to how I approach consent. In my case, I decided how I would change and made the choice to never do that again. I hated that I’d made her feel this way.
I never want anyone that I care for to feel that way, least of all because of my actions. It shouldn’t take date rape to convince someone that ignoring boundaries is wrong. And that’s what I realized I’d done.
It didn’t matter that I hadn’t meant to. It didn’t matter that I’d thought she was consenting.
Men who’ve caused pain need to take responsibility. We need to teach future generations to learn from our mistakes, and to learn from their own as well. We need to keep talking, and find ways to learn to respect others as well as ourselves.