The Closest I Ever Came to Being Sexually Assaulted

It was the summer of 1992. I was nineteen years old, and had finished my first year of college. I was living near Ann Arbor, Michigan, staying with a friend and his family for the summer between school years.

Ann Arbor is a college town, so even in summer there was stuff to do. But we were under twenty-one, and broke (I had the worst job I ever had, that summer, or close to it, working for a moving company that required I wake up and call in at 7am to see if they had work for me that day; most days, they didn’t). But my friend was really into dancing — I liked it, too — so we would, once every week or two, splurge and pay the cover at a dance club in town. I want to say it was called Tangerine, or something like that.

The place was alright, as small-town dance clubs go. Not that I was particularly an aficionado. But I liked dancing, and I liked the at least notional chance of meeting women, so I was happy enough to go those nights we could scrape together the five bucks each the place cost.

Then, one night, I had to take a shit.

I didn’t want to do it there. The bathrooms were not the most sanitary and, worse, the stall doors had no locks. But as time passed and the pressure mounted, what I did and didn’t want mattered less and less. I couldn’t even leave the club to go find a more suitable spot, because I’d have had to pay cover again, and I had no money for that.

So I did what I had to do. What was the worst thing that could happen? Continue reading “The Closest I Ever Came to Being Sexually Assaulted”

An Open Letter to Don’t-Be-That-Guy Guy

The other day a woman I know posted about narrowly escaping being snatched off the street by a man who intended her harm. The vast majority of comments were what a decent person would expect, things along the line of “OMG I hope you are okay” and “Did you report it?” and “WTF?!?” You know, the kinds of things you say when someone you know tells you they were almost kidnapped and raped and who the fuck knows what else.

Your contribution?

“Would it have been a hot rape at least? Was the guy good looking, or short, fat, and ugly?”

You excused it as gallows humor. You were “trying to make light of [her] horrible situation.” You “meant absolutely no harm.” You told the original poster — the woman, I’ll remind you, writing about almost being kidnapped, raped, and who knows what else — “You obviously don’t like my crude gallows humor. And for that I apologize” which is about the weaselly-est non-apology I’ve ever read.

Then you blocked her, because despite making a show of how little the dogpile of her actual friends calling your sorry ass out affected you, it was clear that it did. So you took the coward’s way out. Because in addition to being a shit-heel of the lowest order, you aren’t man enough to face the consequences of your shitty action, just like you weren’t man enough to make a real apology.

Just like you weren’t man enough to take what happened to my friend seriously in the first place. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Don’t-Be-That-Guy Guy”

Why I Quit Watching Porn

It started off innocently enough. At least as innocently as any guilty pleasure does. And it wasn’t something I did everyday. Like I said, it was a guilty pleasure, and one that seemed relatively harmless at first. I mean, everybody watches porn, right?

It wasn’t like that when I was growing up. Back in the pre-internet dark ages, porn was one of those things which are not spoken of, the purview of shady businesses with painted windows and sweaty, unsavory men in trenchcoats. Sure, lots of people watched it — and read Playboy and Penthouse and Hustler and Juggs and the million other mags behind paper covers at your local newsstand. But it wasn’t til the internet exploded all over the world that porn really came into the mainstream. And hey, for what it’s worth, I’m not here to judge people who do watch it. I know lots of healthy, well-adjusted people who like, on occasion, to watch people they don’t know have sex while someone films it. If that’s you, awesome. Go on with your bad self.

But, it turns out, it’s not for me. Continue reading “Why I Quit Watching Porn”

A Year Ago, I Confessed Some of the Worst Things I’ve Ever Done to Women: Here’s What Happened

On October 8th of last year, in the wake of the Pussy Tape, and, more importantly, this twitter thread, I decided in a fit of conscience and madness to write and publish this.

[Serious trigger warning for survivors of sexual assault. You don’t need to read it. The important bits will be requoted in what follows.]

I didn’t want people to know. More than that, I didn’t want those things to have happened.

But they did happen. I did those things. And if it’s taken this long for me to human up and acknowledge them, well, that’s on me, too.

I could make excuses. I was young, dumb, and full of cum. I didn’t know any better. I came of age in the ’80s, when rape culture was just culture. Men were supposed to want sex, and anything shy of actual or threatened violence was on the table for getting it, be it deception, cajoling, or just getting her drunk enough to let you take her panties off and do what you wanted. I was a product of my environment.

Those excuses are bullshit. Basic human decency isn’t hard to grasp once you admit to yourself that other people are people.

[For the record, I still don’t want people to know, I still don’t want those things to have happened, those things did still happen, and I’m still sorry. Like then, I am still terrified of hitting ‘publish’ when I get to the end of this, because even though I don’t think of myself as a good person, I still prefer that other people do.]

Sadly, and sadly unsurprisingly, not all men took that watershed moment to reflect on rape culture and their place and participation in it, either personally or politically. Sadly, and sadly unsurprisingly, not all men are taking the opportunity now. But some are. Continue reading “A Year Ago, I Confessed Some of the Worst Things I’ve Ever Done to Women: Here’s What Happened”

Confession

[Trigger Warning for Survivors of Sexual Assault]

 

I am twelve or thirteen. There are five of us and one of her. She hasn’t lived in the neighborhood long. The others hold her down, laughing. One pries her legs open. I know what’s happening is wrong, but I don’t say anything. I grope her breast, the first one I have ever touched. I stand up and back away. Thankfully, it’s enough, and we let her up. I never tell anyone.

I am eighteen. I’ve gone out on a couple of dates with a girl whose friend just broke up with me. We’ve made out once or twice. One night in the middle of the night I go over to her house. The door is unlocked, and I sneak into her room. We have sex. After, I ask if we can do it again, and she says no. I leave. It’s not until a few years later I realize I probably raped her. I don’t tell anyone til I’m in my forties.

I am twenty-one. I’m having consensual sex. She freezes up, asks me to stop. I finish. I never tell anyone.

This list of my transgressions is hardly exhaustive. I can only hope it’s the worst I have done. In two of three cases, I’ve never told anyone until now. I didn’t want people to know. More than that, I didn’t want those things to have happened.

But they did happen. I did those things. And if it’s taken this long for me to human up and acknowledge them, well, that’s on me, too.

I could make excuses. I was young, dumb, and full of cum. I didn’t know any better. I came of age in the ’80s, when rape culture was just culture. Men were supposed to want sex, and anything shy of actual or threatened violence was on the table for getting it, be it deception, cajoling, or just getting her drunk enough to let you take her panties off and do what you wanted. I was a product of my environment.

Those excuses are bullshit. Basic human decency isn’t hard to grasp once you admit to yourself that other people are people.

I am sorry for the things I did. I apologize to the people I did them to. But I don’t presume to ask forgiveness. Some stains can’t be washed out. Just like some wounds never heal.

The idea of hitting publish scares the absolute shit out of me. People I don’t know are going to judge me. Worse, people I do know will, too.

But after reading as much of this as I could stomach, my conscience compels me to come clean and own up to the things I have done. Somebody has to go first.

I may not be a good person. But I can at least try and do the right thing. If we, as men, are going to do something about rape culture, we’ve got to look inside as well as out. You can’t fight something you’re not willing to face.