Today I went on a date with a man. And, to be honest, it was a terrible date. He stayed on his phone the entire time and wouldn’t stop talking about his ex girlfriend. By most people’s standards, not worth a second date, despite him being pretty cute.
But I’m not most people. I’m a victim. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I can meet a man. Alone. Even in public. Constantly trying to judge his movements and how turned on he is, if I could take him down in the case of a physical confrontation. And all that on top of being a little too afraid to meet his gaze or do anything that migt set him off into a mental space where he was so turned on that it would render me helpless.
Getting ready for any outting of this sort is a nightmare. I spend hours picking out clothing that will make me look attractive, but not overly sensual. Today: a long-sleeved shirt that makes my boobs look nice, and a pair of jeans that doesn’t make my ass look terrible. And, of course, sneakers to make it seem like I wasn’t trying too hard. My makeup today was a minimal, because I want to look drop-dead gorgeous, but ugly enough that he doesn’t actually want to sleep with me.
This picture of me getting ready to meet a guy in a park is so wrong. First of all: no matter how I look or act or what I say, nothing I can do can prevent me from getting raped. Or maybe it just shouldn’t have to. No woman makes the decision to be sexually assaulted, attackers make the decision to bring pain to their victims. This is a really difficult concept for me to wrap my brain around, so I’ll have to return to it on a later date. Second of all: the poor guy who I was seeing has no idea about what happened to me. And for God’s sake, it was a first date. I’m not going to tell this random guy my entire life story. But I’m judging him and holding him to the standard of awful that I know men can be. Not every man is a rapist or sexual attacker. But, because of my past, I treated him as if he could be. I was afraid to even make eye contact with him. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if that’s a way to say “that’s unfair to him,” or “it’s so much better to be safe than sorry, good for you.” But I do know that I’d rather not have to live in a workd where I have to be overly cautious.
Here’s the punchline: I feel like I’m not supposed to go on dates with men anymore. And the few times that I work up enough courage to actually go on a date, there is always that wall between the two of us (often that he is unaware of): I AM A VICTIM. I don’t feel like I’m supposed to enjoy dates with men; I should hate all of them all the time because one hurt me, right? Or maybe if I never went on dates, I wouldn’t have gotten raped. So maybe it’s my fault?
No, no. It’s not. It’s not my fault I was raped. It’s not wrong if I have fun with a man. It’s also not necessarily my date’s fault that I was raped, either. If it feels fun, good, plesant, safe: then I should be happy. My happiness is allowed.
But I still won’t be asking Mr. Basketball-shorts-and-flip-flops for any more of his time. Because I’m worth it.