Before I go any further, I want to say: I was not raped. And so we begin…
Clarence was about 6 years older than me. He was mature in areas I had yet to step a heel in and he was well versed in travel, music, arts – he was overall DOPE than a mug. I was not romantically interested or invested in Clarence. We didn’t talk all the time or see each other regularly because we lived in different cities but we had a drama-free friendship and I considered him to be a reliable source of general love. There were times I wondered how come we were so cool. I didn’t think that men were able to be ‘friends’ with me without plotting on how they could get me in the bed and although Clarence and I had been sexually active with each other, I didn’t FEEL like I was being used for my body and didn’t think anything was ill within our friendship.
When we were together we’d have the coolest conversations and sometimes we’d sit in silence with our laptops on and music playing. He’d be working on something for his job and I would be writing poetry, blogging or trolling the internet for something I should be doing. He was always a gentleman first: he held doors open, pulled chairs out, let me order first and gave out special compliments, AND he was a fan of my writings, which meant the world to me.
He made no secret of how much he enjoyed my poetry. He would send random texts telling me how phenomenal I was and how if anyone could be a successful, published writer, I could. I would keep these texts and read them in times of personal doubt. They pushed me sometimes. On days when nothing seemed to go right, I would scroll around my cell until I found those messages and use them to push myself back up and get my head back in the game. He spoke to me like I was the shit and he knew it and as if one day the world would know my name. I never doubted him because he had absolutely nothing to win from coloring my ego with foundation. We had already engaged in a friends-with-benefit- type of situationship so it wasn’t as if there would be sexual gain. Neither us were interested in trying to elevate into anything more serious or monogamous. Although I wasn’t sleeping with anyone else at the time, in hindsight I’m sure he was. How would I know? I never asked. Or cared? I convinced myself that this was enough for me and all I wanted. And truthfully speaking, it was. Pretty childish and dangerous but it would all come full circle.
One day I received a message from Clarence telling me that he would be in the city and wanted to know if I could pick him up from the airport. It had been some months since our last communication and even longer since we last slept together. I didn’t mind picking him up and hanging out with him for a bit but I had no desire to sleep with him. I had done some cleansing and growing so now the thought of sleeping with someone who I didn’t know WTF they were doing other times was scary, trifling and many steps behind where I currently was. I made up my mind that there would be no sexual chemistry popping between us and if I needed to say I was on my period in order to keep it from happening, then I would.
***If you ever are in a situation where you have a thought similar to ‘even if I have to say I’m XYZ’ in order to prevent something from happening (in this case, Sex), then you need to refrain from that situation altogether. For the average man, NO and all of its spin-offs suffice as a means to stop pursuing sex. But for some, it’s not enough. For some, NO is often followed by persistence, dick-whining, let-me-justs-, and a cruise ship worth of other excuses they hope will get them to the goal. If this happens to you, do not be persuaded out of your first instinct. Whatever reason you didn’t want to have sexual intercourse from the get go is reason enough to last until YOU change your mind; not until your mind is changed FOR you.
I was headed to pick him up from the airport and I had given myself the pep talk of how to stay in control of the situation. I knew he would want to have sex with me because it had been awhile since we had seen each other but in that absence, I started to become more aligned with things that made sense vs things that didn’t. Who had he been having sex with? Was it protected? Was he in a relationship that I didn’t know about yet? Why would we have sex after having not seen each other in over a year and having no emotional ties that would prevent us from seeking others to cure our loin-longings? The more I thought, the more I became adamant that the most I could offer was somewhere to go and some laughter to accompany it. When he got in the car, he kissed me. I was actually taken aback. It was a passionate kiss that I didn’t recall us ever having before and as his face smashed into mine, I sensed that this was going to be a long night.
He came to the city for reasons that had nothing to do with me and I was essentially a pit stop along the way. I should have recognized this much earlier but it wasn’t until this day that things started to become crystal clear. We met because he was visiting, our circles connected and we hit it off. We exchanged information and spoke from time to time and before long, he was back in the city and we were hanging out at Scotty’s Brewhouse (local eatery). That’s how our friendship, for lack of better term, began. This time was no different….unless you count all these epiphanies I’d had in my growing season that year.
I continued to mentally run the gamut of excuses I could use to keep him from trying to have sex with me. My expectation was that he would let me know what he was on and I would tell him that I was not interested. Then the rebuttals would come through and I would spend the next (x) minutes fending them off. I had been there before with others. Men can be persistent when they want to have sex with you and if you are not adamant in all of your languages (voice, body, etc), then you will spend a bunch of unnecessary time trying to explain away your right to say no. There’s also the risk that you will end up saying yes when you still FEEL like NO.
This was not a two-sided ‘friendship.’ In true friendships, there are two sides with each having the ability to be both right and wrong. The tricks that make a friendship a ship and not a rowboat that could be overturned are compromise, understanding and knowing that the friendship involves more than you and your ego. In other words, when you ask your friend to do something and they don’t want to do it, you don’t try to MAKE them do it. You accept that they don’t want to do it and move on. Depending on what it is, maybe you try again some other time, but for that current moment of NO, you accept it and don’t interrogate them about the decision they made. The fact that I was already prepping for my no to be ignored speaks volumes on how well of friends we were.
It was poetry night in the city and after meeting back up, we went and hung out at the open mic. Once we left we went out to a small bar and had drinks and conversation that last until about 1:30 in the morning. Then it hit me…we never made it to the hotel so he could get a room. This was troublesome. He was going to need a place to sleep and at 1:30 AM would he be game for getting a hotel room or would he try to crash at my place?
This is where our friendship perks kick in right? It would be a waste of money to get a room unless he was staying for more than one night, which he wasn’t. So as we drove away from the bar he asked if it would be ok if he stayed at my house and I obliged.
I got this”, I thought to myself.
Being that it was late and we were both tired, I hoped that sleep would be more important than him trying to have sex. Frankly, I hoped our friendship was more than sex even though it wasn’t until that day that I realized we had fooled around every time we hung out and me not wanting to might be a new twist that he wasn’t ready to shout along with. I still didn’t want a relationship with him or anything like that but I wanted to believe we were cool enough to enjoy each other’s company without sex being a necessity. This was the night I would find out. I showed him to the room and he got right in the bed and crashed. Due to my overactive mind, I was wide awake so I used the opportunity to take a shower for the next half hour or so. I hoped he would still be asleep and that I hadn’t made so much noise that it woke him up. I moved slowly and deliberate as I dried off, got my hair in formation, and got dressed for bed. I wore some night capri pants and a tshirt that came past my waist and fit loosely. My hair was tied up and I didn’t put on any perfume. When I opened the bathroom door, I heard him snoring and something inside of me relaxed. I slid into the bed with as little movement as possible and turned my back to him and got ready to drift off to sleep when –
Just like that, he was wide awake!!! This man went from snoring so loud that you could probably hear him from the porch to being fully alert without pause. I was stunned but I had gone over the what-ifs in my head enough to know exactly how to respond to him and there was but one reason he had woken up. He rolled over to me, placing his body against mine, put his arm around me and began to feel for things that would awaken the rest of his slumber-ridden organs.
“I’m not in the mood.”
It was instant. It wasn’t even part of the mental script I had gone over all day. But it was honest and I was tired and not in the mood for the shenanigans. I’m not in the mood was the wordy equivalent to a NO. At least it was in my mind…
Now, before I go any further, I want to say I was not raped.
This is not a blog about me accusing this man, my former friend, of rape. This is me recounting a moment in my life from my perspective. And so…
His reply, as expected, was a total man-gasp.
“WHAT?!”, he said full of 2 in the morning shock.
I replied again that I didn’t want to have sex, this time saying the actual word SEX so there was no room for misinterpretation. Then the rebuttals began. Honestly, I don’t remember what he said in those next five to ten minutes. There was some derivative of ‘let me help you get in the mood’ and maybe another sentence or two…I can’t remember what they were. What I do recall is how I slid inconspicuously into the bed with hopes of not waking him only for him to sniff out my pheromones in his dream. I was fully dressed from head to toe…more clothes than I ever wore to bed. I hate wearing pants to bed. I don’t like to lay in bed in with them on. I call them leg prisons. On this night, I was behind those prison bars with pride and confidence. I turned my back to him, folded my arms, bent and pressed my legs together and our exchange took place over my shoulder. Nothing about me, in my opinion then and now, spoke of a woman desiring sex or in a horny state of being. Then there’s always the fact that upon touching me I responded without hesitation that I wasn’t in the mood for this nonsense. Yet, this man who I had considered my friend proceeded to try to help get me out of the mood I was in and into the mood he wanted me be.
He rolled me over and acted like he didn’t notice my body’s resistance. Now as awake as a freshly delivered baby, he got in front of me, moved my legs from their tightly closed position to open and proceeded to ‘help me change my mind’. Yeah, I remember him saying that just before giving me some of the grossest cunnilingus I’ve ever received. It felt utterly disgusting. Still, I just laid there.
Now I know what you are thinking as you read this. Why didn’t I stop him? That’s where things get complicated and where we have to assess individuals as just that: individuals, and not replicas of ourselves. I would have never expected myself to just lay there and let someone have their way with me. I had already done that as a kid when I was molested. I had done it in my promiscuous years as a teenager because I was that after school special kid that thought it would make the boys like me. Most of the times I had sex, I didn’t want to; they did. I had been taught to kick boys in the private parts if they touch you but I quickly realized how unrealistic that was. If nothing else, how consequential it would be in the Butler-Tarkington area. I knew all about saying NO if that’s what I meant, but no one ever really sat me down and told me how to make that no stick. Maybe it’s because there shouldn’t be anything after the original NO. When a woman turns a man’s sexual advances down, it is SUPPOSED to end right there. It’s no is not supposed to be debatable. But too often, especially as teenagers, it is. It continues until the [young] man is absolutely sure that he has exhausted all of his possibilities of getting some. He will ask why not, he will say ‘come on now’, he will promise to be quick, promise it’s just the head, promise he won’t get you pregnant, promise to wear a condom or even worse, to pull it out on time…promise to make you cum, promise to be quiet, promise to make it good, promise it won’t hurt…..promise promise promise.
Folks don’t talk about or teach girls and reinforce to women (as necessary) that sometimes after you say no, you are met with persuasion. There is a way to handle it so that you are true to self and not catering to someone else. If a girl/woman doesn’t know how to stand firm on her CHOICE, she runs the risk of having that choice taken from her….or becoming a dick-pleaser. No one wants to be a dick-pleaser. What is it? It’s the woman who says yes when she really means and feels NO. A dick-pleaser is the one who gives in because giving up seems easier. Then it’s less stressful and there is no fight to put up, except the one in her mind. Until she learns how to stand on her true feelings, she will continue to be Little Miss D.P., which has its own set of consequences that range from being called names to not being considered datable.
I’ve lived this lesson when I was a teenager. A lesson that left me full of shame repeatedly. A shame that stuck with me long after my life had changed. Even today despite everything I’ve overcome and everything I’ve done, I still wonder if anyone knows see or smells my mistakes on me. I’ve wondered if it invalidates me. Yet I know that the only way my past can invalidate my present and future is if I don’t know how to use it appropriately (and in some cases not at all). Continuing to allow people to use me, hurt me or mistreat based on my past would be me invalidating myself. This blog is an example of using my past as a way to empower or at least shed light on a subject not spoken of very often. Even though I happen to know different folks who have experienced the same thing. I’ve attempted to share this many times over the years because I thought by doing so I would prevent this from happening to someone else. Each attempt was scraped because I was scared. Once I had the story up for weeks on my old blog. I made it private because I got nervous about what people would think of me. Just like rape victims fear the backlash and accusations that come along with reporting said crime, I feared reactions and people asking questions that I didn’t have answers to…I even feared looking like a victim. I wasn’t claiming that. I was a grown woman who let someone do things to me that I didn’t want to do. But I don’t know which one was worse.
Before I go any further, I just want to remind you, I was not raped.
I asked myself ‘why didn’t I do more to stop him?’.
Why didn’t I stop the man who wanted to have sex with me from trying to make me ‘want’ to have sex with him even after I told him no? Simply put: I don’t know how it happened, which goes back to having in-depth conversations about sex. Like I said before, this was not the first time something similar to this happened. This was just the first time it actually made psychological, conscious contact. This was the time it resonated within my womanly soul. I had been so hardcore in my stance all day only to have my response rejected as if I owed him my body and it immediately exhausted me. I proceeded to lay there, lifeless, with tears rolling down my cheeks, feeling ripped apart like jungle meat. I’m surprised my body wasn’t heaving although he probably would have mistaken it for an orgasm considering he was accessing the situation through semen-covered glasses. He gave me head until he felt like he had made me want him. It was for no other reason. He was asserting his power and I knew it the whole time. As much as I hated him for it, I hated ME.
- Why didn’t I say no louder? Because he could hear me. The room was silent but for us. Why wasn’t my tone enough?
- Why wasn’t I more assertive? Why wasn’t my NO assertive enough to be taken seriously?
- Why did I get in the bed? It’s my damn bed!!!!
- Why didn’t I jump up when he started to touch me? I don’t know.
- Why didn’t I kick him out immediately? I should have.
- Why did I let him come over? I thought we were friends.
- Why did I pick him up? I shouldn’t have.
- Why did I give him my phone number that day years ago?
By the time I finished internally interrogating myself he was on top of me and sex was being had with me. I was not having sex with him. I was somewhere else taking the ‘easy’ way out. The problem with not standing my ground was that my inadvertent condoning told him that not only was this behavior acceptable, but in the future with me or any other woman he deemed goofy enough to be in this position, this was the go-to move. Suddenly I didn’t feel so much like that woman he had spoken so highly of in the past.
It was like a dream. I wished I were drunk and then maybe I could justify how I gave up so easily. I was shitty at myself. He put on a condom but my NO was the thing in need of the most protection. As he pumped and made himself feel good, I laid on my back, in the dark with my eyes open and began writing a poem in my head that started off as a simple thought:
‘I’m so damn tired of being men’s doormat”.
“Tired of letting them mop my back with muddy ass shoes…..
…..the more he stroked, the more I cried in the dark while leaning on poetry as my savior. At one point, I thought maybe he was nearing the end.
“At least it would be quick.”
It wasn’t. In fact, he requested that I get on top.
Problem #3 –
After all of this, here we are at yet another potential StopThisTrain moment for me, but I didn’t stop it. I continued to let things happen to me that I didn’t want to happen…in my own home, by someone I thought was my friend.
But before I go any further, I want to point out again that I was not raped.
As I sat on top of him, I felt dead. This isn’t an over-exaggeration for the sake of this blog. I really felt dead. I felt nasty and like I had hit rock bottom in a life that had been sexually turbulent since I was young girl and now, I had hit a new threshold of self-disappointment and male-entitlement. I started mentally writing again.
“…I rode him like a thousand-year-old corpse/hips dripping with disgust into his palms”
And then, it was over. FINALLY, we had reached the point of his orgasm and my retreat back to my personal space on the left side of my mattress. I bought a new mattress not too long afterward. The next day was just a handful of hours away and I fell asleep so quick that the only thing I remember after getting off of him was his words to me:
“What is it you were saying again?”
He meant when I said I wasn’t interested in having sex. He thought he actually did something…something GOOD! LOL!
He thought he brought out the side of me that wanted to have sex. He thought he cunned me into submission. He thought that, that 20-minute trap-house session was something to be proud of….something that I enjoyed. I silently consented to sexual intercourse after verbally expressing my desire to not participate. He didn’t rape me. And I don’t consider him that. But for a long time after, I felt like I raped myself. His words were condescending and as insulting as his actions. I don’t remember what I said in retort.
I dropped him off the next day. He leaned in before getting out of the car and gave me the same type of kiss he gave me when he arrived. The kiss that spoke of something ‘different’ being in the air. There was definitely something different now. That kiss made me want to vomit in his throat. I cried when I drove away because of self-disappointment and the fact that I knew this friendship was over. We’d never be the friends that we never were and I mistook us for. We’d end right there and I thought I’d never tell him why or how much that hurt me.
At some point, I began writing the poem that I created during the action of the night before. I am not sure if it was right after we were done or when I woke up or when I got back home, but I will never forget those words rushing back to my head as if I had JayZ abilities. Word for word, this poem’s first stanza was created while I was being had. And it came out as one of the most honest, raw poems I had ever written. So much so that even after I performed it a few times, I shelved it because it scared me to think that people could know me in this way. I felt that when I performed that poem, I showed people this night. I showed them my embarrassment growing up. I showed them my foolery. My silence. My non-queen side. So I changed the pronouns at first and when that didn’t make me feel better, I quit performing it. Still, i titled it and then decided to name my entire spoken word album after it: La Douleur eXquise: the exquisite pain.
Over a year would pass before I would see him again and when I did, I had been drinking. We were at a bar and he offered to buy me a drink. I had considered not speaking to him but he walked over to me and the conversation began. I told him in a friendly but deadass serious tone what that night did to me and how it made me feel. Considering how cool we had once been, I thought even in this crowded room, we could have a real moment in our friendship. His response was that I was crazy. His words to me were, “You’re crazy.” He scoffed a bit before telling me how I was tripping and that if I didn’t want to, I could have said that. There was no tension. I smiled at that comment and left the remnants of our friendship right there in that shot glass of Vodka. The chance to stand for myself had past, but at least I made peace with it. The vow I made to myself because of that night has allowed me to elevate to a higher sense of self and truly recognize my worth in this world.
We have only seen each other twice since then. Both times were completely different than they had been in the past. There are no text messages pumping up my ego and I would never be alone with him again. We smile and speak in our rare passings. I’ve forgiven him and myself. I became celibate for some time after him and even though I thought I learned a lot about men from working at the club, he taught me even more.
I don’t want this blog to sound like I am accusing Clarence of raping me when there were many other things I could have done to stop it. My repetition of the fact that I was not raped is to show how close the parallels are. Is it worth it to even tread the line? Mentally, the after effects can be all too similar.
Moral of the story: There needs to be a conversation about standing your sexual grounds. Once the NO has been delivered, there must be a backup plan in order. There should be words that reflect that no. There should be actions that back up those words and no silence. If you do not want to have sex with someone, you don’t have to. BUT SILENCE IS NOT GOING TO MAKE THEM BELIEVE YOU. Some men think that the initial no is just foreplay. They believe she is just in need of a little help. If they give you head and wet you all up, you’ll crave the dick right? Some folks believe that. The head didn’t help me crave anything but my personal space back. But my silence told him nothing that my head was thinking. My reluctant submission did nothing to spare or share the tear streams. My vocal authority after the fact made me look irresponsible to my own needs. That night at my house, I put him first when I spent the whole day planning to put myself first. ***NOTE: You shouldn’t have to PLAN to put yourself first. It should be natural. Geez there were so many lessons learned. There were things I could have done and said that could have prevented it from happening. Hindsight provides a healthy list for me. But for the girls (and women) who are sexually active – this may sound like common sense and because it wasn’t for me, I know it won’t be for everybody –
YOUR NO IS SUFFICIENT FUNDS!!!
You don’t owe an explanation. You don’t have to spend a day plotting and coming up with lies and excuses for why you don’t want to have sex. But once you say no, act on it. Stay the course and wake up with your peace of mind. You don’t have to give in to shut him up or get it over with. You don’t have to drown in the tears of your own consent and disappointment. Allow your mind and your actions to be hand in hand and your flight to be glorious.
Before I end this blog, let me reiterate….I was not raped.
He had sex with me. I didn’t have it with him. I do not know what they call this. But I woke up feeling violated, mistreated and disrespected. I woke up feeling like I allowed myself to be taken advantage of sexually. I felt things rape victims feel.
May my unnamed experience be the sacrifial lamb to protect those whose eyes this blog reaches.
My apologies for such a lengthy blog. The details were too inclusive not to include. I end with a poem, written by me, for the Indianapolis Demarco Productions rendition of “For Colored Girls.”
“A Non-Stranger with a Familiar Name.”
I believe that bruises/that are gifted by hands that once held the expectation of protection/hurt a little more than those that come from strangers./At least they never promised you with seranading eyes./Strangers never gave birth to levees, now broken, no longer holding back the water that falls from lips busted during violent thrusting in and out, this space..that once held fairytale like possibilities, now eclipsed into permanent midnight hour/Strangers don’t hold hand with honor, only to squander away it’s possibilities because the ego has it’s need to be fulfilled by fear/strangers don’t earn your confidence and boogie men don’t step out looking like boogie men in the light/It would have cut less into the heat of my life if the thief that stole my right to be woman were unknown to me like an unopened bill/Instead, he wore a sophisticated coat and an expensive smell/And a smile that I invited into the center of my comfort zone/An exquisite face and a familiar name/
A name I saved and called and contacted using MY voice/A name that leapt from my lips like unicorns, dashing through valleys of musical pearl roses/I sang his name in four part harmonies, I let him know me!/ Did he see inside of my head whispers and decide to punish me for daring to be Jezebel with the way I held his hand/It’s like my chromosome was his public enemy/He approached me seductively with no knives to my back and no guns to my side/This non-stranger with a familiar name bore arm fulls of my trust and reassurance/And used it as duct tape across my lips./I blessed him with my time/Gifted him my benefit of the doubt/I gave him the right to see me dance with high twirls of lifted cheekbones smiling all up his beautiful/
Sacrificial dear diary entries falling in his lap/My gospel truth stolen/The youth taken from my step/My dreams now sloppy, sleeping with fingers on switchblade handles and gripping the panic button when I sleep/This is a nightmare on for colored girl sheets, devoured, manipulated and treated to slave regiman by a man who was an encouraged visitor-
-but not a proposed alien-like transiet who hopped out of the alley while I was carrying my groceries/He was his own intentional intruder/And the only mask he wore was the one that never showed across his face/His hands were not beastly/Eyes were not red/There were no horns coming out of his head/Only inner demons fighting away my power/ He wore a grey suit/And gave me flowers/And his coat when I got cold/And he walked me home in the rain.
He gave me reason to believe in a nonstranger,
with a familiar name.