That Time I Chose to Have Sex Because Of Rape Culture

I was 22-years-old. Like most young people, I was having fun, going out with my friends and looking for love.
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I was 22-years-old. Like most young people, I was having fun, going out with my friends and looking for love.
no-means-no-rape

by Kimberley A. Johnson

In 1990 I was 22-years-old. Like most young people, I was having fun, going out with my friends and looking for love.

One evening I wound up at a party where I met a man a few years my senior. He was Italian and very good looking. We started a conversation almost as soon as I’d arrived. After a few hours of flirting, his friend, who was his designated driver, wanted to leave. Neither of us wanted the evening to end, so I agreed to drive him home.

By the time we arrived at his apartment it was past 2am. He invited me in. I remember thinking I shouldn’t go. It was late and we’d just met. But he was so handsome and nice and we were having such a great time. I chose to go in, even though that little voice in my head told me I should just give him my number and leave.

Once inside, he offered me a drink, which I declined. It should be noted that neither one of us was intoxicated, though we’d both had a little wine earlier at the party. We sat on his couch and talked some more. He started looking at me the way some men do when they’re interested in taking things to the next level. I tried to keep talking as a way to stall, but his eyes and his slow move toward me told me he was on a mission.

As I mentioned, this was 1990. I’d never heard the term “rape culture.” I wasn’t interested in or following politics at the time. I was a young woman on a quest for fun and love. I wasn’t naïve but I was certainly not 100 percent confident in myself – especially around men I liked. Admitting this isn’t easy, but because I wanted the men I liked to like me back, sometimes I was too eager to please them and went against my natural instincts.

As I sat in his living room, I started thinking about how I would handle his advances. The first and only scenario that played out in my head went as follows: Italian man moves in for a kiss. We kiss, his hands start to wander and I push them away. I’m very attracted to him, but I am not emotionally ready to have sex with him. He ignores my gesture and forces his hands on me. I start to move away and he pulls me closer. I tell him “no” and he laughs as I protest. He presses his lips hard against mine. I try to get up to leave but he throws me down. Maybe he has a weapon. Maybe he becomes violent. And then, he rapes me.

If I report this to the police, those awful questions would begin.“Why did you go into his apartment at such a late hour?” I was wearing baggy jeans and a tank top. “You were provocatively dressed, what did you expect?” I’d had a glass of wine a few hours prior to driving him home. “You’d been drinking and you went into a strange man’s apartment late at night and kissed him? You led him on. You were asking for trouble.” The defense lawyers would paint the picture of a slutty young harlot who led this poor, innocent man on — a man who was at the mercy of his erect dick. A jury would find him innocent and my life would be ruined.

I was afraid. I didn’t want to face the horrid scenario my imagination had conjured up – but I knew it was a legitimate possibility. I’d seen the Jodie Foster movie, The Accused. I was aware of how women who’d been assaulted were treated. The Italian man did nothing to make me fear him, but we were basically strangers. I asked myself if trying to get out of the situation and risking sexual assault was worth it. If that happened, I’d be scarred for life. But if I gave in and consented, I could walk away afterward and just deal with the fact I was stupid to go to his apartment. I’d never make that choice again.

I went with reluctant consent.

It was okay. I wasn’t emotionally ready to be with him. It’s not that I have a moral problem about sleeping with someone I just met, it’s simply not something I feel comfortable doing – everyone is different and should do what makes them comfortable.

The Italian man called me and asked me out after that first evening and I later realized he wasn’t the kind of man who would have forced himself on me. But I didn’t know this at the time. That’s on me. Yes, I should have listened to my gut and driven home. But I didn’t. I liked him and we were having fun. I only went out with him two more times. The fact that I was intimate with him too quickly (for me) soured my attraction. He was a nice enough man, but it ended there.

My decision was the result of a culture that told me it would be easier to offer consent because if he were to force himself on me against my will and I reported him, I’d risk being the one who’d be punished. It would be my fault – not his. I could have worn a nun’s outfit and screamed “NOOOOOOOO!!!” from the rooftop, but it would still be my fault if he raped me. Because I’m a woman. And men get away with rape.

It’s fucking bullshit. And it needs to change.

Like Kimberley A. Johnson on Facebook HERE or follow her HERE. Books: Peyton’s Choice (teen abortion), American Woman The Poll Dance, The Virgin Diaries. Twitter: @AuthorKimberley

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