I was — somethinged the other day. I don’t know if I will understand it as rape — though I could. It was not physically violent, it was not excessively painful, and it didn’t last long. He was penetrating me, I liked it, and then I did not like it. I said, “That hurts.” I said, “Stop.” He did not stop. I did not ask again.
It’s funny how consent is so often a trick of language. The phone lines blocked; the dial tone quiet. You think: Maybe I didn’t speak loud enough. Maybe he thought I didn’t mean it. Maybe he assumed that if I did mean it, I would ask louder, or again...
Afterwards, you can feel crazy doing the math. Memory becomes sparse, smoky and dry. Did I really say no? Did I say it loud enough? Did I say anything at all? Perhaps I didn’t say anything. Perhaps I wasn’t even there.
Philosophical dilemma: If you say no during a sex act and your partner doesn’t acknowledge it, have you said anything at all?
Afterward, naively, I prepare to forgive him. It was just an oversight, I thought; he will come ask me out again. I will take him back.
I recall the advice a trusted adult offered a friend of mine at sixteen after the friend was raped: “It’s the kind of thing where maybe you wouldn’t have minded so much if only he had called you back.”
Ever since that moment a couple weeks ago, I have been waiting for him to call.
Then he's an insecure little baby, and I'm not interested in pampering his little feelings and propping up his fragile little ego for the rest of my life. I'm not interested in starting something with someone who's more worried about how he's perceived than communicating his sincere feelings.
Because Fuck yes or fuck no, right? (Seriously, if you haven't read that piece by Mark Manson, go bookmark it -- it's great.)
And also because... I've got better things to do than wait by the phone. You can call me if you want -- but you'll have to leave a message, because I'll probably be at the rock wall.
But. This is not why I've decided to take the time to highlight Gattuso's article.
I want to highlight it... because it got to me.
It made me feel really bad and uncomfortable. It offered a raw glimpse into the mind of a woman something horrible had recently happened to.
I hope it helps clarify to people who are dubious about rape culture and positive/affirmative/enthusiastic consent why positive/affirmative/enthusiastic consent matters.
Because if everyone played by those rules, there would have been no room for ambiguity in this situation. Gattuso wouldn't have been somethinged, because her consent was no longer enthusiastic -- that asshole was hurting her!
What should have happened is that both parties entered this encounter with the understanding that affirmative consent was necessary -- and that no means no. Even if the no was meek or only said once.
Or... sadly... maybe she would still have been somethinged -- but hopefully it would be more clear to her what exactly that something was.
But affirmative consent doesn't just protect women -- it also protects men. Chances are, the dude who somethinged Gattuso doesn't quite realize he (let's call it what it is) raped her. He thinks, because she didn't scratch at his face and scream bloody murder, that what he did is acceptable.
Legally, though, it probably isn't. She told him to stop, and he didn't.That is rape.
Nevertheless, imagine the surprise he might feel if Gattuso decides she does come to "understand" this encounter as rape, and goes to the police. Imagine his surprise as he's hauled off for questioning, and possibly jail.
If that happens, I'm sure the fact that Gattuso posted an article about wanting him to call her back won't help her case.
But, honestly... should it hurt her case?
I don't think so. I think it does a good job of showing the complex emotions people experience after a trauma. In particular, the desire to be treated like a real human, after being the victim of something so dehumanizing.
I've heard similar stories to this one. One friend told me that a guy literally yelled at her once for coming back to his room with him and then not having sex with him.
"What did you come here for, then? Get the fuck out of my room!"
I'm glad he didn't assault her... but as it is, the way he treated her was pretty fucking gross and dehumanizing.
And I'm sure it stung. Being flattered by his attention. Watching him laugh at your jokes and give you that look...
Only to have him do or say something that horrible to you.
Of course you want him to call you. To undo it. To make you feel like a human again.
Not to mention the power of denial. What a relief it would be to hear him say, "I'm sorry, I don't know why I acted that way," or, "I totally bombed a midterm that day -- and I took it out on you," or, "Wow -- that was a total misunderstanding. I actually really like and respect you."
Or any other version of, "The bad thing you think happened didn't really happen! And you ARE a human!"
But, sadly, a warm resolution is not always the reality.
This article made me sad. And it made me mad. I hope it has a positive effect on everyone who reads it.
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