(Wish life came with trigger warnings lol)
For the first time, I understand truly and agree with the term "rape culture." I never believed it before, because I always thought, "What kind of atrocious monster or ignorant bigot would ever honestly say, "She deserved it, look how she was dressed"?" ... until I tried talking to the kind people I'm staying with about how much I'm struggling to get over someone I'd considered a friend for so long despite all the abundant red flags... flirting with me while he had a girlfriend (that's fine, so far... except he never mentioned he had a girlfriend), then when I came onto him he said he wanted to take things slow "because a candle that burns too brightly goes out too soon," very deliberately giving me the impression that he was a wholesome guy, so different from the others I'd been with, making me think, "This one values me," encouraging me to move out of my family's home (I cried myself to sleep the first night because it hurt so much not to live with my baby sister whom I used to tuck into bed every night... and he knew I had a baby sister, he'd met her), and then when I had him over to watch a movie we'd both talked about wanting to watch (I had absolutely no expectations of anything sexual happening that night since I now knew via one of our other friends casually mentioning it that he had a girlfriend), he told me they'd broken up, and he knew I was attracted to him, and we slept together, and so shortly after he said, "This wasn't just to get back at my ex. I did want to do stuff with you." I cried so hard at what I'd given up for that creep... And then they broke up again, and he slept with me again, and I was so relieved... and then they got back together again... and honestly I don't even know at this point if that was even happening or if he was deliberately addicting me to him... I know I should have called him out on it after the second time, but I let it go on for a whole year because I was afraid I'd never get to have actual intercourse with him... that was a privilege reserved for his girlfriend. And honestly, if I had called him out on it, he might have stopped... and I was so happy to finally get what I thought I never would, and I thought it meant the beginning of a relationship... it didn't. slutty wedding dresses
I told my friends here that it now disturbs me so much to recall the things he'd call me, the things I'd *asked* him to call me... because he believed them. I was a worthless whore to him, a toy... he'd once said, "Finish your job" to encourage me to finish getting him off and at the time I found it hot, the whole time I thought it was just a kinky game... but now I think there was character bleed. I was always so scared to ask him to hang out or to touch him for fear of random rejection. After a fairly lengthy period of no contact, we became friends again. Eventually, we started sleeping together again, but he tried to be responsible this time by clarifying that he didn't want a relationship. So, I sought out others, expecting he had a bunch of older women he'd known longer just lined up and ready to date, like last time... but he's never what I expect. Our sexual relationship ended up lasting a year, and when he'd come over to my house where I was living with my friends, he'd let me sit on his lap, he even kissed me in front of them... I finally wasn't his secret! I finally felt safe with him emotionally, and when I asked if I could be his girlfriend, his response was so harsh: "I don't feel and have never felt for you what you feel for me," followed ridiculously by, "Obviously if I meet someone, having sex would change, but I'll still always be your friend." Like, choose - what am I, friend or fucktoy? I didn't consent to being lied to, manipulated, used, being branded a perpetual backup, and I DEFINITELY didn't consent to being a goddamn mistress.
And I told my friends here how he'd comment on how I dressed in a way that sometimes sounded nice: "You look really good," and then he'd say of the same outfit, "Ugh, there's barely any fabric here. What do your parents think of how you dress?"
And my one friend here said, "It's true, unfortunately. I have a nice figure like you, and when I was younger one of my favourite outfits was a leather skirt and a tank top with a bustier with knee-high boots."
I said, "Ooh! I'd love that!"
And she said, "Yeah, I did. So did all the men. Eventually I started wearing clothes that were tight but that covered more skin."
And I asked, "What was wrong with men liking that outfit?"
And she responded, "Nothing. But it was just too suggestive and I decided I needed to respect myself more."
And I cast my eyes down and thought, "Being proud of my body, enjoying others' appreciation of it... means I don't respect myself?" And I *have* been struggling, thinking maybe I should hide my body... because I am ashamed, I am so ashamed of what he did to my mind and my life via my body.
But when my other friend said, "I've never seen you dress slutty, Bridget," I burst into tears and hugged him and said, "Thank you. That means so much to me."
I have been afraid to shower, ashamed to put on makeup, for fear that if I begin to regain any semblance of confidence, enough to dress the way I want, I'll be deserving of disrespect.
It doesn't matter how you dress, it doesn't matter if you're polyamorous, it doesn't matter if you DO work in the sex industry - no one, and I mean NO ONE deserves to be deceived and not only emotionally manipulated, but emotionally abused because they're "just a slut." I would do things for him like bring him food he'd told me he liked, I'd invite him out... I realize now that as soon as we started sleeping together he stopped doing things like inviting me to his improv shows... he never invited me to hang out with his friends... And out of all the time I spent with him that first term of him showing an interest in me is what I miss most
And honestly, I don't think it would have mattered if I'd worn a habit or burqa... I would have still been a trusting, shy, lonely teenager who never wanted to be at university in the first place and who to this day regrets ever going. Nothing was worth missing my sister's infant years. The greatest insult to this injury is to be told by society and by him and by my parents that I had it coming, looking and acting like such a slut and all. Because I was a "slut," I deserve to live in an endless cycle of crying and sleeping, only refraining from finally doing something for myself and ending the pain because the couple I'm staying with lost their son to suicide. I am so depressed and detached and in such agony that I am deliberately choosing to guilt myself into staying alive in the hope that eventually the pain will end and I might find someone like the person my "friend" had pretended to be. And I worry if I'm actually causing this couple more harm because the husband works from home and he cries when I cry and he comes into my room, his son's childhood bedroom, and he comforts me and it helps me so much and I don't want to hurt these people, but I know what I would do as soon as I left, and I know from how many times they've said it that they just wish they knew their son was suffering. I know that it will take a very, very long time for me to recover since even with my family reaching out to me, there's too much pain there for me to accept their love... I'm just as wary of them at this point as I am of the "friend" who had told me how nice my body was, who'd made me feel so valuable at one time, and whose indifference to me hurts more than if he cared enough to hate me.
I was forced to miss so much of my sister's early childhood as a punishment for pain I was already in, and it was hurting her, too, she'd cry too all the time when I first moved out, and for the longest time she insisted my parents not sell my bed, because I'd come back. I did. And then I met another nice guy... who ended up being even worse than the first, but at least he was obvious about it, destroying my things, yelling at me, insulting me, stealing from me, and worst of all confessing that if it weren't illegal, he'd "date" children... I was so shocked and scared because my sister was 3 at the time that I panicked and told my parents, but instead of taking me back, they treated me like I was the goddamn pedophile and dropped me off at the homeless shelter. I had my one bag of clothes and textbooks stolen there. My life was just getting worse and worse... and then I saw a message from the "friend" who'd broken my heart: "Hey you, how's it going?" I was so happy, I'd been crying about how much I missed him when I discovered how much worse the new one was... How serendipitous, my knight-wolf in shining sheep's clothing come to restore my will to live.
And hey, slut-shamers, guess what: When I met the one after the first, it had nothing to do with how I dressed - he said he liked me because I was only nineteen and looked fifteen... the other one liked to focus on how young I was, too, and on how I could pass for even younger... Hmm, seems like being young and/ or female also stands in opposition to being respected. It's almost like that's as arbitrary and bigoted as someone's choice in clothing determining whether they deserve respect.
For a long, LONG time - ever since I was a young child, I'd cry about wishing I was a boy, because boys get to do more, they're treated better. As soon as my sister was born, the difficult choice to remain female was made in my mind. Because it's not me that has to change. It's society. I never want my sister to hate being a girl because of the disgusting society we live in.
Women, children, survivors of abuse regardless of gender: Not all abusers know they are abusive; in fact, many like the two I had the misfortune of getting deceived by cried or sulked and accused me of abusing them for making them feel like horrible people, and in fact many abusers were abused. The one who was more obvious knew where his pain came from - he told me all about his father and stepmother. But the other one loves his parents and I don't think he knew where his pain was coming from. But during our first year of involvement, he talked about his girlfriend to me sometimes, about how she'd cheated on him, how she was accepting gifts from and going out to dinner with another man who was older and more financially stable, how she would just break up with him instead of talking anything out... for eight years off and on he was in love with a narcissist, and she probably didn't consider what she was doing to him abusive. He hated her and loved her and at one point told me they'd do their back and forth forever. If there is anything good at all to have perhaps come from my involvement with him, it could be when I scoffed like it was the most ridiculous thing in the world when he told me a few months ago that she was trying to get back together with him, and when he described her behaviour to me and I asked him as if he was an idiot, "How could you have tolerated that?" ... Just like the friends I complained to about him would say things like, "I don't get it, Bridget, you're hot, smart, nice... why does some asshole who never loved you matter so much to you?"
Nobody means to be a bad person. I've hurt people, too. I had a loving, devoted boyfriend whom I once dumped for my "friend," and he took me back when my "friend" turned me down. He shouldn't have; I didn't deserve it. But with no family, no friends or ability to make friends due to my social anxiety, and my clinging to my boyfriend and our "friend," my boyfriend knew that I needed him. I will always love James for his kindness.
Hurt people hurt people. And it's often not their intention to do that; it's callousness, not cruelty; selfishness, not spite. But rape culture is when we ask, "What could the victim have done to avoid it? Dress differently? Act differently?"
The answer is, "No. The only possible way the victim could have prevented the pain would have been to predict the future." Ladies, gents, and everyone and anyone who reads this massive fucking essay: Wear what you want, sleep with whomever KNOWINGLY consents to it (informed consent! As someone who was literally raped when I was much younger, I can say that I had a MUCH easier time recovering from that one isolated incident of physical violation than I've had and am still having recovering from the prolonged emotional abuse and the pain and confusion and self-hatred and self-doubt it both brought and exacerbated and am therefore of the unpopular opinion that cheating or pretending to love someone is worse than raping or beating them, although I acknowledge that I might just have a much easier time dealing with physical trauma than a lot of people do), and if you get hurt, leave the person who hurt you. Even if you love them. If they love you, they will come back. If they really love you, they will be open to healing together. It is never what you wear, how young or old you are, whether you're female or male or another gender... you couldn't have foreseen it, you couldn't have avoided it, and it was not because of anything you did. Respect everybody - even "sluts." Because of what he did, I hate even the thought of sex, of any man finding me attractive. That isn't healthy. End rape culture. Let's replace it with respect culture. Unconditional respect.