I am supposed to be writing an essay, but I just went to a really interesting workshop about consent by Edinburgh Sexpression. It brought up a few emotions for myself as I have had an experience regarding consent which still to this day can make me angry, and I can’t seem to let it go. I thought maybe writing it down and getting it out my system would help me a bit. Also, although it’s horrible to say, I imagine a lot of people can relate to stories and experiences around consent and it’s an important topic that needs to be talked about.
So here goes.
This summer 4 years ago, I was single and enjoying myself – to a certain extent. I had come out of a pretty horrific, emotionally draining, relationship that left me feeling like shit and so I made the most of being single and was sleeping with a couple of guys. One of whom was fine (that sounds bad cos it was more than ‘fine’, it was what I needed at the time, but we had nothing in common. ‘Drunken fun’ maybe better describes it), the other guy happened over a much shorter period of time and is whom I had the consent issues with.
At first it was also drunken fun, I think I slept with him once or twice and he was very tall but pretty small (ahem) and it wasn’t anything special but he was charming and I was single so fuck it eh. Then one time we were at the same pub and we were drunk and so I went back with him and realised as we were walking to his that actually, I didn’t want to. But how should I say this to him? He was expecting me to have sex with him, I mean that was all our relationship was, and I was already nearly at his. I decided as we got into his room that I would lie and say my friend had just text me saying she had an argument with her bf and needed me to go see her (in reality the text was from the other guy I was shagging and I’d rather be at his). I remember rolling a cigarette to stall time, he was getting into bed and I was sitting on the edge just saying I should leave. He kept telling me to stay, and I felt guilty cos I had gone to his. I just kept saying “no, it’s my friend, I need to leave” I felt like I needed an excuse, that “actually, I don’t want to have sex with you anymore” was not enough. He just kept pushing it, kept pushing it. He then sat next to me until I just stopped saying no, and I let him. It was easier that way.
I was disgusted at myself. Why couldn’t I stand up for myself? I left almost straight after. I did in fact go to the other guy’s house. And my god I felt like a slag.
You know, after that I never responded to his texts (he text a lot which I found weird). I dunno if he got it or not. He probably kept texting me cos he thought I was easy, or because I wasn’t responding he saw it as a challenge. I have no idea. He was a massive shagger so I assume he didn’t go without.
It took me a long time before I stopped blaming myself and realised he was to blame. It was around the time when my former friend and flatmate started dating him, about 8 months later. And he was round at our flat almost every weekend. It was pretty fucking horrible to be honest. When they first starting seeing each other she did check it was alright but I was still at a point where I couldn’t admit that I felt so shit about it, she just thought he was the guy I had slept with a couple of times then ignored for ages. I was trying to be strong and throw it off as a single fling. I myself had also just started seeing a guy, who I am now in a serious and loving relationship with, and I wanted to seem cool and chill. I wish I had been more honest about how I felt and what happened. I tried to say and explain to her that in a round about way she couldn’t have him round the flat but she ignored my pleas. We tried to explain to her that he was a massive misogynist (as a lot of people thought – and I assume still think – this about him) but she didn’t listen. So I realised she has no fucking respect and I cut that friendship. I think they’re still together. They’re each other’s problem now.
I am still angry because he got away with it. Because he probably did this to countless girls. Because I didn’t have the nerve to say to my ‘friend’ what really happened. I am angry because I still get angry about it. Why does this still bother me? I am in a much better position in life, with my relationships, with what the future (possibly) holds. And here I am getting wound up about something that happened almost 4 years ago. The whole situation makes me feel sick.
Rape doesn’t just happen in back alleys with strangers, more often than not it happens between 2 people that know each other. I don’t really get why someone would want to have sex with someone that doesn’t want to have sex with them, but then I’m not a rapist so I don’t know what goes through their minds. Consent is so important, we teach people (women usually) not to get too drunk or wear revealing clothing, or walk home certain ways. When in fact we should teach people not to rape. There should be more awareness on how to speak up if there’s feeling of discomfort (I definitely would have benefited from that). But more so, that it is not the victim (or as someone pointed out today – can we stop calling them victims and start calling them survivors?) to blame.
Consent by all parties involved makes play fun.
Sexpression are a society across the UK that have discussions and workshops about sex and all that comes with it. They have a fb page and Tumblr so check them out because the work they do is important, interesting and also good fun.
– anonymous, 25