My neighbor’s penis is resting on the patio chair. His soft grey athletic shorts don’t hide what there is no underwear to contain. He has a receding hairline and his eyes ask a question I don’t understand. He is determined to be desired, for someone to look lustily at his limp grown up dick. He doesn’t wear underwear and then lounges, legs spread, outside where we play.
I try not to look. I know he is a pervert. I know that he wants me to look. I know I don’t want to. I can’t help it. I can see his flesh pink penis, the smooth head poking out of his baggy shorts, lazily drooping on the chair. I feel my stomach knot with anxiety as I try to imagine what he intends. Does he see my bewildered ten year old face while he screws his disappointed wife?
Another penis pushes hard and insistent, grinding against my leg. It hurts. It leaves a bruise. Breath pants damp in my ear, then he tongue kisses me and puts his hands under my purple horse iron-on t-shirt, finding my newly budding breasts. Shoves his hand down my pants. Dry humps me until he gets off, wet staining his Levis. I am thirteen and up in a treehouse and I have a crush on this freckle faced older boy, who is crushing his penis against my thigh. What’s happening to me here in this treehouse changes the way I feel about my body.
I am black out drunk and I surrender my virginity at a church lock-in. This guy in my fourth period class, he sends me wide grins and notes folded into interesting shapes. He smokes cigarettes and got kicked out of a fancy private school. I am fifteen and longing to be special to someone. I’ve taken up heavy drinking to numb the fact that I don’t feel loved by anyone at all. He takes my virginity and my dignity on the blue and white reversible comforter I got for Christmas. Because I don’t know what else to do I naively go back to him, we have sex again on the bottom bunk at his brick house in his well-to-do neighborhood. He gets tired of me fast, smirks smugly at me in class, proud of his achievement, my virginity is a prize. I act like it’s funny, ha ha, I was wasted drunk at a church, ha ha, I felt ache and too big pressure inside me and I didn’t know what was happening, right under the altar, ha ha. I feel physically what happened. I don’t know how it happened, I don’t even go to church. Inside I am ashamed, alarmed, distraught, confused. I thought he might love me.
This happens to me over and over again. I drink too much, black out, ask for love the only way I know for sure will make me the most important thing to a person for a little while. I drink so much to tolerate what I think is the truth: I owe them my body. If I let them fuck me I am the only one they want in those moments. I matter. Just me.
Thirty one years later my therapist tells me this is sexual assault. I have always blamed myself. I was drunk. I asked for it. I didn’t say no. I probably said yes. I have tried desperately to remember and can’t. She tells me that predators know prey. That there is a responsibility to recognize that I am young, or drunk, or both. To not take advantage of me. To care for me when I cannot care for myself.
Only two people in my whole life realize that I am drunk and don’t take advantage of me. Two out of the ones who instead had sex with my body. I remember both of the people who said no, we can’t do this. This is not a good idea.
I come up with reasons not to say #metoo. It was me, I pushed myself on them, perhaps I am the person someone says #metoo about. The hardest part are the things I don’t remember, that my body and my mouth and my voice did things that left deep scars but that I can’t recall.
#metoo is for all the times I needed to be cared for and got physically invaded. For all the times I’ve hated my body because it isn’t what it’s supposed to be. All the times I kept my mouth shut or laughed when someone said something to me that made me feel violated and ashamed. For not speaking up. For the way I hold myself so cautiously in the world, afraid to make a stand or catch the wind because I might take up too much space. For the way I have always been afraid to be noticed, pretty, smart, feminine, or strong because someone might hurt by how big I might become. They didn’t want me for my love letters, dates, hand holding, or devotion, they wanted a piece of ass. I have had such a hard time believing in my great beauty. I understand what it’s like to be broken apart, to carry a world of sorrow.
I know now that I have always been on a healing course. Today I can open my mouth and let the words fly out. Words like THESE ARE MY RULES and THIS IS MY BODY. It’s important to know where your boundaries are with people. When you don’t know what the boundaries are ASK. If you can’t tell WAIT until you can. Whenever you don’t know WHERE THE LINE IS you’ve possibly gone too far. When they’ve had too much to drink THAT IS THE BOUNDARY.
If someone says #metoo understand it means #youtoo. It isn’t just about the stories, or anger, or denial, or blame, or freedom. It’s about recognizing where we have to take care of each other. It’s about all of us. We are in this together. Me… and you, too.