more articlesFrom Slug and Lettuce
You can't break my spirit
I didn't want to fuck him. He was moving in and out of my body, his weight pressing me against the bed, his breath ragged and wet against my neck and all I could think was that I didn't want to fuck him. I had never seen him in a sexual context throughout our entire friendship. I'd never even had a moment of being mildly curious about what it might be like to be physically intimate with him. In fact, I had never really found him attractive at all. He wan't even a close frined, more of a casual acquatence I would run in to whenever Spitboy was on tour and playing a show in his town or whenver his band was on tour playing in the Bay Area. Which is exactly how I ended up in this situation in the first place. His band was playing Gilman Street and I'd run down to the show to see them play and to hand out. I ended up socializing during the show and didn't even watch them play. He even dedicated a song to me and I didn't know it until someone told me about it later in the nite. He and I talked a little bit at the show and after everyone had finished playing, a group of people headed over to a local punk house for an after show party. When it started getting late and people were still partying, I offered him a place to stay at my house. Since he didn't drink, I figured that it would suck for him to have to spend the nite at a house where people were getting increasingly more drunk and wasted. I hadn't been drinking that nite, so I offered him a quiet space to crash. We got back to my aprtment and made tea, not really talking about anything vital or important, just general chit chat. I explained to him that he could sleep on the floor, but that I trusted him and would be comfortable with him sleeping in my bed. We got into bed, I turned my back to him and he cruled up against me, his arm around my waist. I was fine with cuddling, so I didn't protest or ask him to let me go. His hand started rubbin gmy stomach and then moving toward my breasts. I stopped him and explained that I wasn't into having sex. That cuddling was fine, but nothing sexual. We laied back down again and he was quiet for a moment, and then his hand started rubbing my stomach again, moving toward my chest once more. This time, he also started verbally persisting. I stopped him again, but after a moment he started again. I'd stop, he'd start. Back and forth. Finally, I gave in. I succumbed to his pressure. I agreed to do something I did not want to do. It lasted for a couple of minutes, and then he rolled off me and I put my pajamas back on, curled up far away from him, and never spoke of it again until now.
Part of this column was inspired by Arwen Curry's column in Maximum Rock and Roll #247 where she addresses the issue of confronting rape and sexaul assault in the punk scene. If you haven't read her article, please do so. Reading her article brought up a lot of questions for me regarding what women consider sexual assault and what they consider the life long burden of being a woman. The unwanted comments, the occasional anonymous grab at a crowded show, the drunken fumblings at a party.... are these aspects of being a woman that we have all simply come to expect? If someone grabs a woman's ass at a show, is the band going to stop playing and is everyone going to stop the show and grab the offender and kick him out and tell him to never come back? Label him as someone who sexually assaults women and make it very clear that he is unwanted in the punk scene? Or does the show just go on. Unfortunately, I've been at many shows where a woman has received unwanted sexual contact and thw show has always just rolled right along.
Reading Arwen's article also brought up issues that I've agonized about for a very long time. There are men in the punk scene who I know have sexually assaulted women. There's the guy in the band that tearfully told me about how he had drunken sex with a girl in a front yard and she was crying and obviously not into it and he did it anyway. There's the guy who's all over MTV who told me about how he used to get girls wasted drunk and then fuck them. Or the guy who runs the record label who took my friend home when she was drunk and even when she said no to him over and over again, still forced her. She graphically described to me how she was saying to while he was forcing his way inside her body. These are men in bands that you would recognize in a heartbeat. Men that are high profile and respected in the punk secene. Men that write for the fanzines you read. All of these events that were shared with me happened many, many years ago and a couple of the men expressed deep remorse, regret, and guilt over what happened. So is that a reason to keep silent? Will these men be banned from the punk scene and made to suffer as the women they assaulted suffered? As far as I can tell from all the times that this issue has come up within the punk scene, no. No, they will not suffere. No, they will not pay a price. No, they will not lose any of their esteem and worth within the punk scene. No, they will not be ostracized and punished.
In my situation that I described to you earlier, all I had wanted was to cuddle. To have a friend sleep over and to get a chance to talk and offer him a safe place to crash and for both of us to comfortable fall asleep. Instead, I was manipulated and coerced into having sex with someone that I have never wanted to have sex with. I could have punched him, slapped him, screamed for help, shoved him out the door, asked him to sleep on the floor...I had options. But I was weak and he pushed his way into that weakness until he got what he wanted. I think about all the women out there who have struggle to find their voice to say no. The women who have said no and had it disregarded. The women who have passed out drunk at parties and woken up in the middle of being raped. The moments when we are vulnerable, and that vulnerability is explioted. The times when we are weak, and that weakness is used against us. I get so discouraged and upset, wondering how this can be brought to an end. But I also think about the times when the women I know have been stronger than I have ever imagined a human being could be. When the word NO has been screamed out into this world for everyone to listen to and respect. When women have refused to be victimized, refused to be manipulated. I embrace the times when we as women move through this world with a powerful strength and grace that radiated from us like shock waves. Living through my experience taught me that I never, ever want to feel that way again. It taught me the power of saying no and gave me the strength to find a way to say no and make it stick. Since that experience, I have never allowed anyone else to manipulate me into having sex. That when I say yes, it's because I want to say yes. I wish I had never lived through that sexual experience, but I have taken that pain and turned it into anger. I have taken that weakness and molded it in to strength.