Victim-blaming is still alive and well in this country. Despite all the recent conversations about misconduct, far too many people still ask why the person who was sexually assaulted put herself in a dangerous situation in the first place. Shouldn't she have known better than to get that drunk? Or wear a skirt? Or be alone with a man? "Boys will be boys," after all.
This idea doesn't just spread toxic misconceptions about rape that further harm survivors: It also demeans the very gender it tries to defend. It implies that all men are too stupid, too driven by their dicks, too inebriated, or too selfish to understand what basic consent is.
To combat that belief, especially after the Kavanaugh hearings last week, writer Maura Quint tweeted all the times she wasn't sexually assaulted. Each instance almost feels remarkable, because although she remained unharmed, so many of these same setups are prevalent in women's #MeToo accounts.
These experiences shouldn't be extraordinary. These men are not heroes; they simply aren't rapists. Here, four women share the times they thought they could be assaulted or coerced into sex, but were not:
"I got really drunk on a date that went awesome. We went back to his place because the new Girls premiered so I was like 'Fuck yes, let's watch it.' I legit at that moment thought that was the plan. The show was put on, we sat down and I started talking about the episode, but I really quickly realized we were not there to watch anything. I was making out with him and was happy to do that, but definitely didn't want to do more.
I got really scared, honestly. I didn't know him at all. I became so acutely aware of the optics of the situation, of how much bigger he was than me, of how drunk I had gotten. I felt my heart racing and hair standing on end while we kissed. I stood up really abruptly and said, 'I want to go and I don't want to do anything else.' And he said, 'Are you okay? What's wrong?' And I just said, 'I shouldn't have come here, I'm sorry,' and kind of rushed out. He got up and walked to the door but literally didn’t say or do anything to try to get me to stay. In retrospect, it was really refreshing to have a non-Azizian situation that wasn't like, 'Oh, oh, I'm sorry, let's just chill!' and then two seconds later, do the same shit.
I think about that a lot and how if it had been another guy that might have gone differently. And how it has gone differently with other guys. I don't need you to be a mind-reader or a model gentleman. Just know when I'm not enjoying myself anymore, that has to mean you aren't either." –Monica, 27
"I'm a domestic violence survivor. My ex used to hit me for just about any reason, including saying 'no' to sex. The men I dated afterward were also emotionally abusive or manipulative when being turned down for sex. I had given up on love, dating, and marriage.
Then I randomly met my husband. We met at a bar six years ago this month and really hit it off. Being an abuse survivor, I was cautious around him at first. I didn't even give him my phone number that night. The night we met, I hung out with my brother after and said, 'What if he's just another creeper and I can't tell?' The next day I asked one of my employees who used to work for him what she thought of him, and she said he’s a really good guy, so then I felt more comfortable.
We had our first date a week later. We both got a little tipsy, and things started to heat up at the end of the night. I said 'no,' that I didn't want our first time to be like that, and he didn't push it. He backed off completely–he said he understood and didn’t want me to feel obligated. It was such a huge difference. He is proof that a man can be respectful and honorable.
We ended up moving in together a couple weeks later. Then he proposed, and we got married less than three months after we met. I'm happy to say it wasn't just an act. He wasn't just being respectful until he had me right where he wanted me. My husband goes out of his way to make sure I’m an equal and I’m respected, even six years later." –Ysmay, 32
"I had just gotten out of a very toxic relationship, and kind of doing the whole forcing-myself-to-date-to-feel-normal-again thing, even though I didn't really feel like I could trust a lot of men at the moment. I started seeing this guy, and after our third or fourth date, I finally went back to his place.
We started making out, and while I did like him, I felt like we were also moving too quickly into sex, with him taking off my shirt and bra. But I didn’t verbally say no–I just kind of quietly went with it and honestly, felt like I was disassociating a bit. I did like him and find him hot, and wanted to emotionally push myself to enjoy sex, but I couldn’t. I just didn't know him well enough to feel safe or feel like I wasn’t making a mistake sleeping with another emotionally abusive man. It was all I could think about.
My face probably looked very blank and slightly worried–definitely not turned on or in the moment. He quickly caught on and asked if I actually wanted to have sex. I told him it was hard for me to right now, he got off of me, we got dressed, we switched the subject and talked about other things for a bit, and he walked me to the bus." –Kelly, 25
"When I was 18, I partied and found myself going to a hotel with two strangers in their car. I was with a friend so I wasn’t completely alone, but when we got to the hotel, the two guys we arrived with happened to have about four more friends–all male, all twentysomethings–staying at the hotel with them.
Everyone was in party mode and I was pretty inexperienced and uncomfortable, but also curious and not really sure what I wanted to do. I ended up giving my first blow job to someone I’d just met and didn't know what the hell I was doing. He was kissing me, my shirt was off, he was undressed, we were in bed and it felt pretty amazing, but I was still uncertain.
He wanted to reciprocate. When his lips were on my stomach making their way down, I asked him to stop. And he did. No questions asked, no trying to persuade or continue. He just did what I asked, and he held me and said the whole experience was great for him. I got a ride back to where I was staying and I was not assaulted. You might say I was lucky, but it shouldn’t be about luck. It should be how it should just be for everyone, every time." –Teri, 40
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.