(Content Warning: sexual assault & rape)
“The profoundest instinct in man is to war against the truth; that is, against the Real. He shuns facts from his infancy. His life is a perpetual evasion. Miracle, chimera and to-morrow keep him alive. He lives on fiction and myth. It is the Lie that makes him free. Animals alone are given the privilege of lifting the veil of Isis; men dare not. The animal, awake, has no fictional escape from the Real because he has no imagination. Man, awake, is compelled to seek a perpetual escape into Hope, Belief, Fable, Art, God, Socialism, Immortality, Alcohol, Love.”
—?Jack London, The Mutiny of the Elsinore
Less ugly (but, not really)
(19 years old)
I woke up naked in a car once, in the parking lot at Oilibya, Westlands (by The Mall). It was 7am-ish, Friday morning, after Thursday night at Psys. Remember shots100?
I was out with classmates from uni; usual crowd. Wearing someone’s LBD because any form of femme chic wasn’t (still isn’t) my aesthetic. The last thing I remember is being at the back of the crowd at the bar trying to get my orders in.
Then I woke up naked in the car.
I was woken up by Friend One and Friend Two. Let’s call them The Good Guy and The Suspect. The Good Guy was a close friend’s boyfriend. He was the most concerned. The Suspect was his ‘homie’.
(The girls were outside the car, looking in through the windows. Hella sus that it’s not them who woke me up, right?)
The Good Guy gave me his shirt to wear as he asked what happened. I don’t remember The Suspect saying anything, but he looked and acted hella sus. I was feeling exposed, naked in the parking lot like that. I couldn’t remember anything, but I did a mental body check.
Someone had been in my vagina. I could feel it. Felt like attempts at fingering. My response to The Good Guy was:
“I think I’m ok. If anyone tried anything, they must have had an eight-year old penis.” I laughed to indicate the end of discussion.
Exuding unbotheredness, I took off The Good Guy’s shirt (fully nude again) and got dressed as they watched. Nudity is not a struggle for me. I began to shed my body consciousness struggles at 19 when I started to have sex and realised that I had no shame around being naked.
I said the penis thing as a direct dig at The Suspect because I just knew in my body & soul that it was him. I wasn’t interested in saying it out loud. We all went on to remember that morning as another funny story from our many “drunkscapades”.
Today, I understand this as the universe bubble-wrapping me from experiencing the actual trauma in the moment and for a long time afterwards.
I’m done telling it as a funny drinking story though
I’m done remembering it as a funny drinking story
I’m not the one who should be ashamed.
Men are whack,
This is the shit you all do
And yes, Sir Good Guy, guilty by association.
It’s impossible to process together when none of us have the words or it
(Still 19, maybe 20 years old)
The Good Guy,
The Suspect &
The Third (new guy).
Sometime between midnight
probably closer to 4am.
This time, I wake up in the back seat
(fully clothed, alone)
In the passenger seat is The Third & my friend, it sounded like they were having sex. She was sitting on him facing forward. My thought is, ‘get it, girl!’ so I pretend to still be sleeping. Either they finished or someone came to find us. We all went back into the club, drank & partied some more.
My friend and I never spoke about that night, until some years later when it came up in the middle of a fight. She blurted it out angrily, saying she felt betrayed by me. That I was in the car with them and I let it happen.
Unsurprising plot twist – they weren’t having sex. He raped her. She was too drunk to physically get away from him. She definitely didn’t want to.
My heart broke. I didn’t know what to say to her. It wasn’t enough just to say that I didn’t know and that I was drunk too.
I didn’t know,
I still lived in a world where I thought men could be counted on as friends.
Yes, I knew about the monsters;
I had my own monsters,
But I didn’t know yet,
that all of them are monsters.
(No, our drinks weren’t spiked. At least, I don’t think so. We definitely drank a lot. A LOT.)
We didn’t speak about it again afterwards.
It’s impossible to process together when none of us have the words.
The seemingly small things
(18 years old)
“Boys will be boys,” is the foundation stone for rape culture.
I’m at a house party. Rich kid. Huge house; looks neglected, like parents are never home. Poor rich kid, probably just as neglected too.
Party’s dying off, everybody’s drunk, finding spots in the house to pass out. I find a spot on a mattress; maybe six other people in the room, spread out on the bed and on this mattress.
I lay down next to a dude who seemed already passed out. Immediately he started getting handsy. Naive me thought he would stop after the first telling off. But no, he persisted.
Eventually, I gave up on sleep, waited up with the last two dudes standing, until it was almost dawn and we could call for cabs. (Sperm donor’s passive provision did come in clutch many times. For that, I am grateful.)
Don’t even get me started.
Special kind of rotten species, these ones.
There’s the one who was fucking determined to get me drunk so he could feel me up at the back of the club. He bought me shots all night, and I took them all, and also drank hella water each time. Then we’d go back to our spot at the back of the club, make out, he’d try to get inside my shirt, I’d refuse, he’d buy more shots. I’d take them down, drink hella water. Rinse and repeat until it was morning & we had to go home.
Boys will be boys, huh?
Then there’s the one who, we’re at a rugby game, our team wins… everyone is jumping, running, screaming in celebration. He picks me up and sits me on his lap. Then does the most ridiculous thing ever. Motions at his mouth and says “kiss me.” I say no, and it seemingly doesn’t register the first time around because he does the hand motion again and says, “kiss me.” I say no, again, and get off his lap.
He couldn’t face me again after that.
Then there’s the one who insisted on coming home with me “to make sure I get home safe.” He invited himself inside. Slept over (I wasn’t into him like that. No, we didn’t fuck.) We woke up the next day and he just wouldn’t leave. Wouldn’t even get out of bed. I had to invent a phone call, at freaking 1pm!!! from my sister saying she was coming over with the family to get him to FINALLY leave.
Easy guess what happened, right? He woke up with a boner and, like he was raised, he assumed that I would first of all, read his mind, and then go forth and willingly service him.
If I had a drink for every guy who said, “but what am I supposed to do with this?” referring to their erection, and in response to my saying no to sex – I’d be black out drunk for the rest of my days.
Still on rugby dudes.
Now about the one who, I woke up in his bed. I could only remember the beginning of the night out, then total blackout. Maybe our drinks were spiked. We’ll never know. Everything’s possible where men (and their capacity to harm us) are concerned.
I woke up disoriented. Taking in the unfamiliar surroundings – the blue wall, the trophies. Passed out again. I woke up again to this dude with his hands inside my pants, fingering me. He had the audacity to get up to kiss me and try to take off my clothes when he noticed I was awake.
That’s when I fully woke up. I chose not to make a fuss about his disregard for my boundaries/autonomy. Kept it light and funny as I asked about the previous night, where everyone was (at home), where my stuff was (purse got stolen, phone was safe) and most importantly, WHY DIDN’T I GO HOME WITH MY ROOMMATE?
Anyway, he dropped me home. Attempted to call and text afterwards like we had something. Ew. Fucking ew.
No, the solution is not to drink less. When I’m out with my girls, everyone gets their turn to party till they drop. Safely, freely & without judgment. We get them home, or we sit with them until they sleep it off, or we pass out protectively around each other.
This is not some divine act of sisterhood, it’s basic humanity. A world like this does exist.
They will always choose each other…
Choose each other = uphold the patriarchy
I thought he was a real one. He was the last dude friend standing for a long time. I mean, there was that one time he pulled a guy off of me that i was actually wanting to have sex with. Drunk, at a house party, me & sex dude went to find a room. Last Friend Standing came around looking for me, found sex dude on top of me, (we weren’t even naked yet), freaked out and threw him out of the room.
You’d think he was a real one,
Fast forward a few years later, he invited me to a party. Clearly a sausage fest where someone probably said, “tell the babes to pull up,” and I was the dumb bitch who picked up my phone because I thought he was a real one. It was awful.
One dude told a horrible story about how he coerced this girl into having sex with him, after she’d asked him over for movie night. He lays out how ‘difficult’ she was about it and dramatically ends the story with, “damn, I practically raped that girl” and he laughed. And they all laughed.
The alpha male of the day was deeply disturbed that I wasn’t paying attention to any of his stories, or interested in him at all. I wasn’t even looking his way. Dude was so fucking bothered by it. Eventually he started to direct verbal attacks at me. Making sick jokes, wanting to provoke a reaction.
At first everyone is quiet, then they’re laughing along, then they’re chiming in. Of course, I knew I had to leave at this point because, “boys will be boys.” We were deep in the suburbs, it was raining hard, almost midnight. I didn’t know where I was well enough to give a cab directions. (It was the stone age y’all, pre-uber and them)
It took ages to get any of the dudes in the room to help me with directions, including this my Last Friend Standing (wasteman). Excruciating agony is the best way to put it. It wasn’t until I resorted to crying & emotionally manipulating the weakest links that they agreed to drive me to a petrol station where the cab could easily find me. I went home sobbing, feeling a murderous rage bubbling within me.
I cut ties with Last Friend Standing after that. Never told anyone about that night, I didn’t even have the words for it myself. I just knew it was demeaning. I felt disrespected and betrayed by my friend. And disgusted by men and their pathetic herd mentality. Their lack of backbone. Their fragile egos. I felt RAGE.
Patriarchy begins at home…
My dad’s stock broker got me my 3rd year internship at the company he worked at. I was excited to have a friendly way in. My then over-achiever self figured I’d use him to learn as much as possible. He had other ideas. (surprise, surprise).
Pretended to take me to a business meeting (where he treated me like his girlfriend/secretary) and then lunch afterwards where he propositioned me. Ati, I can fly you to Mombasa. He tried to touch me at lunch. Tried again in the car on the drive back. Fucking ew!!!
I learned my lesson real quick about toxic corporate culture.
What a lame proposition also! How about you say you want to fly me to Milan? New York? Tokyo? I still wouldn’t go, but at least that would have given me pause. Y’all niggas are SO lame.
Many, many years later, I told my dad about his disgusting lil friend. You know what he did? Laughed awkwardly and changed the subject. No acknowledgment. No horror. No “sorry that happened to you.”
Patriarchy begins at home. The nuclear family is the foundation stone for the patriarchy. It’s way past time to tear it all down.
The shame they condition us into accepting as ours
I loved them like the brothers I never had.
First kissed me when I was 7 years old. Hella confusing.
Kissed me again when I was 12. He was 18 or 19. Kissed me then begged me to have sex with him. Laid it on heavy with the emotional manipulation/guilt trip. He actually had me feeling sorry for him when he feigned resignation and said, “I guess I’ll just become a catholic priest.”
From age 14 onwards, he’d joke (not so jokingly) about us converting to Islam because then we could marry as cousins. WTF? Later on as an adult, I just knew not to ever invite him over to my place. Hella confusing. I loved him like a brother. He was my brother.
I had a crush on him. I thought he was so cool. I was 15 when he kissed me. He was 18 or 19 or 20! Hella confusing. My crush on him had no such end goal. (He ruined my first kiss experience. Instead of an amazingly wild story that I’d tell everyone for the rest of my days, I was left with a shameful secret. Men take everything away from us.)
It was the holidays. We snuck around the house to make out. He went further, constantly asking for more. I’d tell him he could take off my top but not my bottoms. I agreed to dry humping. It was awful & uncomfortable. I didn’t understand it, but went along with him.
It wasn’t until I went back to boarding school that I woke up to how fucked up what we were doing was. I got angry. He was older! He should have known better! I had to be the one who took him aside, on visiting day, and tell him that we couldn’t do that anymore.
This conversation PISSED ME THE FUCK OFF! He took no responsibility, did nothing to make it easier for me to say what I had to say. When I was done talking, he said OK and carried on like all was good. I was 15, not evolved enough to fully grasp the gravity of everything, but intelligent enough to be disgusted and repulsed by his cowardice.
Eventually this shit came up in therapy (in my late twenties). This is also when I actively cut them off. (They were the brothers I never had. We grew up together. I loved them so much.)
I told my parents about it. Dad’s response was underwhelmingly disappointing, of course. I vaguely remember some long-ass text saying a bunch of nothing. Beyond that, nothing. Cousin Two is dad’s IT guy at work. Guess what? His job is still as secure as ever.
Mum listened, held my hand and said, “I’m sorry that happened.” Once again, that was it. No rage, not even momentary. No attempts to protect me after the fact (every effort counts).
My long, drawn-out silence came from a place of shame, especially with Cousin Two. The shame they condition us into accepting as ours.
Patriarchy begins at home. We are just as unprotected at home as we are out in the streets.
Burn it all down.
There, I said it.
Out of my head, onto the page
These are not my demons to carry
Shame does not belong with me
I am not the monster here
(for those who hear me and get it so deeply)
It’s not us
Any feelings of shame, denial
belong with them-
The actual monsters.
We deserve our 5-minutes of rage,
where we kill our monsters,
and kill, and kill,
until we tear down the patriarchy.
I was going to add a section about ‘The Life & Death Stories’ but… not today. I’m exhausted. Enraged.
I need that drink now.
(Read next: My Brand of Feminist Rage Reads, “Kill All Men”)
1 comments On THE UGLY