I haven't been writing much these days. I have a lot of thoughts but nothing that I've felt like putting down on paper... However in light of the recent news coming out of Stanford... It really got my wheels turning. I don't often put much emphasis on how societal norms impact our lives. Typically, we just consider our lives 'normal' because that's what we allow, what everyone else is doing, what's popular etc. Having said that, sexual promiscuity in women has a stigma. Men are applauded for their conquests and women shamed for 'being used up'. For that reason, women tend to not openly discuss their sexual history, it's frowned upon or criticized. Perhaps the only person I was ever transparent with about conversations around sex was my life long best friend. So when she wrote this post about some of her experiences, it really echoed the one experience I have.. and why the letter from the Stanford victim really was hitting home for me.
I don't write this letter for sympathy. In fact, the less you associate it with 'me' and more your start thinking about the number of women who deal with this the happier we'll both be. It's nerve-wracking writing this out for my friends and family to read. My liver gets a big apology from me for my college years. I was a hard worker, but I went to a party school where I met great people and had a great experience. We became regulars at places, and you see the same faces and bar specials. One night in 2009 I attended a local bar where you go for a certain drink special. I had a couple of my closest friends with me and we had a really great time based on the photos I took.... Now you know when you've reached the point where you're going to be hurting the next day, so don't think I expected to not pay in the morning... with a hangover. The progression of photos that night shows my tipsy buzz becoming more of a full on drunk until I eventually am not taking photos anymore.
I don't know how I seemed when I left the bar, with a strange guy who I hadn't ever met before (and to date never saw again). To his 'credit', maybe I seemed put together and less drunk than I was. How would he know my 'normal' right? But then again, why not error on the side of caution. I won't attempt to fill in the blanks of a night that I 'knew better' about (ie don't get that drunk) but college is a time of self discovery, of adventure, of poor choices and risk. While I won't go so far as to say I was raped, I don't recall a lick of what happened from the bar to my terrifying scramble to leave that apartment. It is legitimately the only time I don't remember an evening from drinking.
Why am I sharing, right? Until today I literally never said a word. Ever. I mean after all, I chose to get hammered drunk in a college town out with my friends. One might elude I was 'asking for it' right? Or 'well she got black out drunk, what did she expect' -- I expected a hang over, silly photos I would be 'mortified' about. My point is that the variables for the victim at Stanford aren't much unlike my own and so many women I know. Society has coached us as women into thinking if we dress a certain way, if we even flirt with a man we are "asking for it". 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime We live in a society where the internet is outraged either way about a gorilla, but a man who violates a women is punished with 6 months of jail time. If that statement upsets you, do something about it. If your friend is too drunk to make good choices, say something. And most importantly if you're unsure if someone is too drunk, assume they are.
I'm lucky. This instance has been the only bad experience I've had. The fact that I'm ending a discussion like that with the word lucky almost seems vile. But yes, lucky that I am in a relationship where I am shown respect and admiration. I'm lucky that my body is clean, safe, and assault free. I am lucky enough to be able to use this as a space to advocate for women and encourage speaking up. It's not okay for someone to touch you or talk to you in a way that makes you uncomfortable. Do not go quietly because society might project that experience as shameful. Share and help others. ❤️