I knew him, a bright and cheerful bashful fellow; slender limbed, yet short, deep eyes a beautiful chocolate-brown fringed with lashes any girl would envy, and unruly hair seemingly trying to escape gravity – he was possibly the first man I ever loved.
We talked for hours. We hung out. We were free the first time in our lives – college, oh boy! Watch out! Perfectly like siblings, even though we had opposing views and often argued our points passionately over a beer. We loved revolving sushi bars and loud punk rock.
After a good while of juggling books, classes, schedules and music I introduced him to a lovely girl I had known not as long surely, but someone I thought he could appreciate.
I was of course right, after all I loved him best and I just knew (in that stupid prideful youthful way). They dated a long time. Differences and passions broke them apart, and she became a confidant of mine and I hers, and he moved towards other people.
We eventually were thrown together again and again they dated. Again things soured.
Then one morning, she told me about it. Almost as an afterthought and yet… I knew it bothered her, twinges on the edge of her reasoning.
One night she didn’t want to, she said no, and he decided yes.
He raped you.
I told her.
Shock. Did I say this? About him? Yes! I was angry. How could he be anything than I thought him to be?
No he couldn’t have, I love him.
She said, staring out the window of our dorm.
“He raped you. He did. I cannot…”
Only she didn’t want to hear what he could not do. I was asked to go so I did.
Later that week she came to see me. “I told him what you said. He said he’s not a monster how could you say that about him!”
It hurt to think of him that way. Almost a brother, so liberal so much an advocate of female rights.
My friend is a rapist. Or was. We are no longer friends. This man, the rapist who not only broke my heart, broke a vow of respect to his girlfriend.
An unspoken vow of decency. A vow that respect in the bedroom is not earned it’s expected, and if it’s not upheld you don’t just get to change your mind about the situation. You don’t just get to judge yourself and decide you are clean. Above the others.
He raped her. Even if he doesn’t think so. Even if she doesn’t agree. Even if there wasn’t any charges pressed or if they ever married. Even if he never rapes someone again, he still raped her.
It doesn’t matter what she wore, how they spoke, if they were sober or if she had dated him decades or not at all. She said no and he decided yes.
It makes me feel shocked to know that there are people trying to define, no create, degrees of what being raped means.
Did she dress slutty?
Could you see her knees?
Had she had sex before?
Had they had sex before?
Was it violent?
Were there any bruises or scars? (Never mind bruising in other places, they want to know if he struck her)
Did she try to keep her legs closed?
How about, did he respect her right to choose? His theft, is still a crime. We can pretend that the variables of why and when create gray areas. They don’t. If I steal a car I’m allowed to borrow often, it’s still theft.
But it’s worse than a car or a purse or sleeping over and absconding with some cuff links.
Nothing can equate. Nothing. The fact people have to try, for understanding, is disturbing.
She said no and he decided yes. That’s it.
When we decide we cannot control ourselves to the point of violating the rights of others, then who are we exactly? Who are we? What do we represent?
Who do we answer to?
It makes me sad to remember him. It makes me sad to remember her. It makes me sad to know 10 years later this is still happening.