When I was little and I first heard about the concept of rape, I didn’t understand what was so horrible about it. I understood that clearly it was a bad thing to do – no one has the right to take control of someone else’s body like that. But I didn’t get why such horrible anguish and pain and suffering was associated with it. I thought, “It’s someone else making a bad decision, it has nothing to do with you. And after a moment it’s done, they’re gone, you’re fine and free and yourself again.” Deep down, I thought that the massive hurt associated with rape was a product of misogyny – suffering caused by downstream affects of the idea that a woman becomes tainted after being touched sexually, or of the idea that women are so a) weak and b) merely a vessel for sexuality that having their sexuality touched against their will was equivalent to destroying them. That sounded stupid to me, to be frank. And because I grew up with those thoughts, when I was raped, I thought I was stupid and weak and horrible for being hurt by it. So I tried to pretend like I wasn’t hurt.
But truthfully, when this boy I really liked, who really liked me, who I had been hanging out with for a little while… when he didn’t hear me… didn’t listen when I pushed his hand away or when I tried to lift his body off of mine or when I made negative sounds or when I didn’t say yes when he asked (when I realized his question, “Do you want me to do this? Of course you do.” was rhetorical – my opinions, my reactions were his property, not mine), it hurt something deep inside of me that had very little to do with my sexuality.
It had to do with my ability to be heard, my ability to exist in the world. If a woman cries out and no ears can hear it, did she make a sound? Did she make an imprint on the world? If there was a court stenographer taking down minutes for everything that happened on earth, would there be a line stating, “She said, ‘Nuh-uh,’ she pushed his hand away several times, she thought, ‘Please god, don’t let this happen right now, not like this.’ But gave up, lay still, and stopped resisting after the moment in which she lost the belief that she could have any impact over what happened to her.” Or would my story be left out of the minutes, off the page? (Would it be immaterial to the “real” story that was happening? The person having sex with me is the person driving the narrative forward. If I’m ever expected to drive the narrative forward when it comes to sex, then it’ll be revealed that I have no power, no ability to make an im pact, no voice – my illusion will be shattered and I’ll stop existing.)
If someone so close to me can “be in the moment with me” without me being there in that moment with him, then what is it about me exactly that he’s interested in? Does it even matter if I’m here at all? What is the relationship between my soul, my personhood, and any intimate relationship I’ll ever have? I thought to myself, “God, I need to edit this story in my mind – change it so that I wanted it – because if I didn’t want it then I’m one of those stupid girls in an after school special who can’t stop her immature boyfriend from ‘going too far.'” I had that last thought as I was walking down a hallway in my dorm the day after it happened. It was when I had that thought that I subconsciously decided to never think about the pain, to decide that it didn’t exist. I was misogynistic, I was pointing that bitterness and misunderstanding at myself, and I didn’t even know it.