I started it. I left my phone number for him at the front desk of the gym where I taught and where he worked out. The past year with the #metoo movement has been interesting. I have found myself feeling conflicted. I have never considered myself the victim of anything, let alone sexual assault. But the Me Too movement has more people sharing their stories in the media, books like John Krakauer’s “Missoula”, and in my friend groups privately than ever before. It’s clear that I am not unique in having an experience that has never sat right. That experience for me was with a man I met when I lived in Virginia.
My time in Virginia marks a real low point in my life. I was a hot mess. That was aptly reflected in my dating habits. I was dating a lot, dating people who weren’t good for me, being extremely needy. Truly, I feel a lot of shame about who and what I was during that time period. My self esteem was at an all time low. I was not good at identifying what I wanted or how to communicate that to others. I felt like the universe was taking a big dump on me, just not giving me one single break, when now I know that I was putting myself in situations that perpetuated the negative things happening in my life. This was the back drop for meeting Kevin.
I taught fitness classes at a number of gyms in the Hampton Roads area. The one I most looked forward to was an evening class at a gym frequented by a very handsome man. After we’d made eye contact a number of times, I left a note at the front desk with his keys with my name and phone number. He called. We decided to go on a date. He took me to Bonefish Grill. Conversation was fine but not great. He was sort of boring, definitely not very bright. None of this mattered. I was wearing a new top from Forever 21 and just so excited to be on a date with the most attractive man who ever asked me out.
We hung out on and off the next couple weeks. Being newly divorced and after getting burned by some previous dating situations, I remember being pretty clear (and, yes, pretty crazy) in an email about our relationship status. I told him I did not want to have sex unless or until we were in a relationship. Within a week or so, we went out again. We went someplace I can’t remember and hung out with his friends. We both drank a lot. I don’t remember leaving the bar. I hardly remember the 20+ minute drive home except being aware that he was driving and probably shouldn’t be. And then I remember being in my bed and realizing that he was having sex with me without a condom. I don’t remember the next day or how we left it. I’m sure pretty normal.
At the time, and for many years after, I excused the weird feeling I had that night for all sorts of reasons. I was drunk. He was drunk. I was really into him. It’s not like I wasn’t up for doing some stuff. I hooked up with him again after this. If it were really ok how come it always felt so NOT ok? Why did this always feel like something that was in a different category? The answer I now know is because it really was not ok.
The Baby Buddhist blog is not a political platform. While I am fascinated by all the facets of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing I’m not going to make it one today. I also don’t believe the accusations made by Christine Blasey Ford are a political issue. Now don’t get me wrong, there are tons of purely political questions surrounding the accusations made by Christine Blasey Ford. Despite any of my personal beliefs, I actually have not formed an opinion about whether these accusations, if true, should disqualify Judge Kavanaugh from a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. My job, personal experiences, and general cynicism of putting people with high profile jobs on a moral pedestal keep me questioning how to appropriately hold people accountable people for past sins. This isn’t about whether he gets the job. In modern times, a vote for a Supreme Court justice on either side of the aisle comes down almost entirely to some assurance that this nominee is on board with your political ideology. That’s just a fact. What’s not a fact is the messaging surrounding this accusation of sexual assault that occurred completely outside a professional context.
Call me crazy but there is something utterly offensive about saying that a woman isn’t lying about being sexually assaulted, she’s just mistaken about who raped her. The absurdity of this public position by many Republican politicians, and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh himself, has me cringing every time I hear it. Deny the allegations, fine. Call her a liar, fine. But don’t say you’re praying for her poor soul because she must be so confused. Don’t patronize her with an apology from your hired-help prosecutor with a vagina. And certainly, do not pretend that her credibility is just about her tone of voice or the details of what she says when even her goddamn suit already has articles dedicated to why she should or shouldn’t be believed.
I wrote Kevin an email this week. At the same email address I had for him over 10 years ago. I don’t know if it will ever find him. I don’t really care. I don’t want or need anything from him. I am not angry. I haven’t needed years of therapy to work through this incident. This hasn’t affected my relationships with other men. I am lucky that this was not not the trauma that it is for so many women. What inspired me to write that email and write this blog is that there’s a pretty good chance Kevin literally never thought about this again. It wasn’t even on the radar as something that was not acceptable. That he, as a man, screwed up his obligation to communicate, get consent, and generally just be respectful of another human being. I don’t know if that makes me a “victim” or just a reminder that perhaps the one thing we can all do in this lifetime to make the world just a little bit better is to do as little harm as possible. That “code” among us should extend to every single aspect of our lives, but especially those that leave others the most vulnerable.
“Me too” is about drawing attention to the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment in this country. The fact that almost every woman I know has a #metoo story, even though many don’t ever want to share that story, be labeled a victim, or have any repercussions come to the perpetrator, cannot be ignored. It is not acceptable. And it is not acceptable that society is telling us that because we were drunk, or promiscuous, or dressed provocatively, or just quiet instead of screaming NO that what happened to us means nothing. We are not “confused.” We know exactly what happened to us. And we will tell those stories and keep telling those stories until they mean something.
(Katie Bricco circa 2007)