You know, I have to be honest here, because I am reaching the end of my rope when it comes to some of these accounts that I am seeing. Many of them continue to be infantalizing to the point of absurdity. Have you read what she wrote?
“I felt an odd sense of foreboding before I saw him again. I could tell already he felt a natural authority over me. I nearly cancelled, but felt obscene wasting theatre tickets.”
Felt obscene wasting theatre tickets. Felt obscene wasting theatre tickets. Much of her account is a rhetorical masterpiece of self-absolution. I don’t say that to “smear” her or in any way imply that she’s a bad person, or responsible for his behavior. But I am saying that the theme of her account, at least the way she recounts the night, is a false lack of agency. She made a choice to go on the date and she made a choice to stay with him.
What he did was inexcusable. His behavior was terrible, and he’s quite clearly a piece of shit.
But she is not entirely absolved of responsibility for 1.) putting herself in that position despite the “warning signs,” so that she didn’t waste theatre tickets and 2.) not leaving sooner.
She claims it was because his family has money and he was thus more “powerful.” Ah, well, there might be professional consequences to insisting on one’s personal dignity and bodily integrity. There shouldn’t be, but there are sometimes. She made a choice to stay to avoid professional consequences that may or may not have happened.
I am not saying he had license to do what he did. I am not justifying or excusing his behavior. But I am saying that she owns the choices she makes too. She chose to go and she chose to stay, despite his terrible behavior. She was also not completely forthright about the nature of their relationship prior, which is a shame. It only emphasizes this false notion that if a woman has had a sexual relationship with a man before, she’s setting herself up to be groped like this. She is quite obviously not (and that could have been a powerful story and lesson.) It is a very telling omission.
We are not helpless victims. I am not and she is not. But many of these stories have an undercurrent of victimhood. It is not “brave” to tell the story now; what would have been brave would have been to end the date immediately (or not go at all) and tell the world what a prick he was/is at that time. It takes balls to do that, if I might put it so indelicately, but we need to stop giving girls and women the message that they are helpless, that they have no agency in such situations, or that they won’t be believed unless they’re “pure” and “innocent.”