Yes, Me Too

By Cyberquill 11/17/2017Leave a Comment

It happened when I was thirteen years old, not on the way to the forum but in the foyer of a small theater in Austria.

I was bidding good-night to a group of people after a show, and when my turn came for what I expected to go down in history as no more than a pedestrian handshake with a rather toothsome 19-year-old acquaintance, she suddenly, without warning or having ascertained my consent—which, even had it been sought and obtained, would have been irrelevant on account of my having been underage even by Austrian standards—pushed her lips against mine for a second or two.

Needless to say, given my budding puberty and the pulchritude of the predator, following the incident I sojourned on cloud nine for weeks.

For decades thereafter, I would remember and cherish the experience as my first kiss of sorts.

Of late, however, in light of escalating public awareness regarding objectionable transgressions of a prurient nature, I’ve come to realize that not only does the incident described fail to fit the bill of a memory worth cherishing, but that it has the markings of sexual assault, and sexual assault of a minor (!) no less.

I am currently struggling to adjust to my yet unaccustomed role as a survivor of such.

Traumatic as it now is upon its reframing, this assault would not remain the only one to find myself at the receiving end of.

Fast-forward a number of years. I had matured into legal adulthood and then some, and I had rented out the bedroom of my small one-bedroom NYC apartment to a co-worker in temporary need of accommodation.

Not only because providing shelter to the needy invariably accrues toward the positive side of one’s karma ledger, but I could also use the extra cash.

And yes, the co-worker in question was young and gorgeous, and I had a major crush on her; factors that likely facilitated my decision to share my humble abode and dispense with my treasured solitude for a while.

Riddled with personal flaws and shortcomings as I may be, pushing myself upon women, no matter how attractive and no matter the circumstances, isn’t among them. If anything, I incline toward the other extreme, namely exhibiting what some members of the opposite sex may regard as an offensive indifference to their lures, or as my denying them the opportunity to exert their powers of rejection.

Whatever my underlying insecurity, in order for me to have a satisfying romantic or sexual experience, it is imperative that I feel genuinely desired, a prospect instantly doomed were I to impose myself in such a way as to arouse discomfort in my prey—for how can I feel genuinely desired if the target feels coerced, cornered, intimidated, or revulsed (or is drunk, drugged, asleep, or charging money for that matter)?

Anyhow, so I had this adorable sylph lodging at my place, and I treated her with my habitual air of courteous disinterest.

One evening, about a week into her stay, we were casually chatting at my desk in the living room—the topic of conversation, as I recall, was towels, specifically where she could hang hers to dry after showering—when she abruptly and utterly out of left field, sort of in the middle of a sentence, grabbed me by the back of my head, pulled it toward her, and mashed her mouth into mine.

Since I offered the polar opposite of resistance, we passionately tongue-wrestled for a lengthy spell, and when we finally came up for air, she hit me with the following—and, in hindsight, quite disturbing—revelation:

“I thought you didn’t like me!”

Think about that statement.

Assuming I had indeed so successfully dissembled my infatuation with her that she had sincerely believed or suspected I didn’t care for her in a romantic sense—even if she was merely uncertain as to whether I would appreciate her tongue thrusting into my mouth with zero heads-up—her aggression provides a textbook example of sexual assault from the aggressor’s perspective.

That I just so happened to more than welcome her assault (and to this day count it among my life’s favorite moments, if not the favorite one) doesn’t change the fact that that’s precisely what it was.

Criminal behavior is a function of the offender’s mindset at the time an act is committed, not of how the victim feels about it afterwards.

Nor does a victim have to deem him- or herself a victim in order to be a victim.

Unlike civil law, it is a core feature of criminal justice, as I understand it, that the state (i.e., society), not the victim, gets to decide whether a crime was committed and hence whether a victim exists.

Just because I may have enjoyed what you did to me doesn’t necessarily mean that what you did to me was not a crime. If you take it upon yourself to incinerate my barn, you’re guilty of arson, even if I was going to tear it down myself anyway and am grateful to you for having saved me the work.

Oh, and then this other female co-worker of mine once squeezed my behind in the workplace and followed up with a flattering yet lewd and objectifying comment regarding its shape.

I didn’t mind it at the time. In fact, I liked it. She was the type that could have palpated me up and down my entire anatomy to her heart’s content without asking permission. But that’s beside the point. In keeping with ever-evolving standards of decency in our maturing society, I have re-ass-essed her grope.

Far be it from me to make light of a serious issue, but yes, technically, I am a three-time sexual assault survivor.

Now that I have at long last come to recognize this, how will I cope?

Should I take to social media and publicly out my assailants?

Or should I simply let go and move on?

I am weighing my options.

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