It’s not rape. What is it?
I have wrestled with the idea of rape, sexual assault, and boundary violation ever since the incidence freshman year winter, the week before finals week.
A freshman, coming from an all-girls boarding school, I was not exposed to the hookup culture till then. Confused and drunk, I had my first sexual encounter at a party, with a “friend”. Then, I spent the next couple of weeks going back and forth trying to figure where my boundary lies in the grand scheme of hookups. At the time, I did not have that many guy friends, except one. He is an Asian boy from California. His parents speak Cantonese as I do. Our shared ethnic background bonded us. Quickly, I told him about my torn feelings about hook up culture, the tricky line between whether or not you get attached to a person who supposedly “does not matter”.
It was night when a lot of parties were happening at the same time. Somehow, we ended up in the same place. It was the first time we really hung out at the same party. His roommate was joyously drunk, and we danced. In the mist of people grinding aggressively on one and other, I kissed both him and his roommate on their lips. It was a jokingly touch on their lips, and we all laughed.
Then we walked his roommate home. I asked him to walk me home, because it was 2am, and becasue I wanted to talk to him more.
He never left after we got back to my apartmnet.
Firt it was a friendly hanging out by the door, watching the ambulance pulling away, as I talked about how I never understood the idea of one-night-stands, how people can have sex without emotions. Then, we sat down on the couch, and things got weird.
His kissed me, then climbed on top of me. “You’re cute,” he said. “Wait a moment,” I said, “I can’t do this, you have a girlfriend.” I thought that would be the ultimate no, the mentioning of his girlfriend. “My girlfriend and I agree that I have biological needs,” he said.
I sweat to god I would never forget that line. Even though I was intoxicated and tired, I still remembered the bewildered feelings that I was not even a person to him.
“But I don’t want to do this,” I said. Then it was the awkward silence. In the moment of vulnerablilty, I asked him to cuddle with me.
Climbed into my bed, I instantly regretted asking him to be in my bed. Just sleep, I thought, and he would be gone in the morning.
Couple hours later, between conscious and unconscious, I felt his hand in my shorts, then in my underwear. I did not know how to respond. It was going to happen. I felt like there was no choice for me, no room to escape. It was bound to happened. I got up, grabbed a condom. We had sex. I lied there, feeling numb, and indifferent. It did not feel like the reality. I felt like I had left my own body, and it was happening to an entitiy that was not me.
“Maybe it’s time to do your walk of shame,” I said after he was done. He did not respond. Instead, he lied down and feel asleep.
My mind started racing. He needed to go, I thought. I woke him up and said that he should leave.
He finally did after I repeated the sentence approximately more than three times.
I talked to my friend about this, and she said, “you were sexually assaulted.”
Finals, then winter break, I had no time to process what happened. However, all I knew was that I was angry, so angry that he took my trust and stepped on it, burn it down to ashes and degraded me to nothing.
I wrote him an email saying that we could not be friends anymore because he violated my boundaries.
“I hope that you are not awkward when you see me when we are back to school. Remember the good times that we had,” he said.
“I am not ready to talk to you again,” I said.
I did’t know what defines a friendship between a girl and a guy, but I was sure that what happened was not part of the deal.
Maybe I was never clear. I never said no. I was confused. Still, 3 years later, it was still one of the defining moments of my life. Back then I thought it was my fault to go out and grab the condom. It was my fault to ask him to walk me home. It was my fualt to ask him to cuddle.
I know it was not my fault.
Everyone should be asking if the other person is comfortable with whatever is happening. No one should be pressuring anyone into doing anything they don’t want to. No one should treat other people with any less respect than they would like to be treated with.
It was not a rape. Maybe.
He’s not a bad person, just foolish. Maybe.
The entitlement he had, however, that he could just put his hand, his penis into my body without asking me if it was ok, had buried our friendship alive.
We never spoke since.