Friday, March 22, 2013

Something Happened To Me In A Hotel Room

When I was in college, I hung out with a fairly large co-ed group in a hotel room one night.  No alcohol was involved.  We talked and joked late into the night and eventually I fell asleep on one of the beds.

As morning approached, I had a sensual dream about somebody caressing my abdomen in slow circles, widening with each pass, getting closer to more private areas each time.

As the fog of sleep cleared, I realized with a shock that it wasn't entirely a dream--or a dream at all.  One of the males I had joked around with the night before was spooning me and running his hands under my clothing, fondling the edge of my bra and tugging on top of my underwear.

I felt frozen in place.  My mind raced.  Was he awake or asleep?  Had I done something in my sleep to invite this?  How could I get out of the situation without making a scene?

I eventually decided to pretend to still be asleep and just roll away from his embrace, which thankfully worked.

I couldn't get back to sleep though.  The more I thought about it, the more violated and angry I felt.  I wanted to confront this guy and tell him what he had done to me wasn't OK.

After everyone awoke and we headed toward the door of the room, I looked this person in the eye and said, "I know what you were trying to do to me."

"I don't know what you are talking about," he said.

"When I woke up this morning, you were trying to put your hands under my clothes."

"You're crazy.  I wasn't even touching you."

I felt crazy.  Did I just dream everything?  My eyes burned with tears and I ran to my hotel room to take the longest hottest shower I could stand.  I felt dirty, used and violated.  My initial anger had turned to shame and fear and insecurity.  Who would believe me?  And hadn't I "asked for it" by putting myself in that situation and taking so long to move away once I realized what was going on?

Even today, I'm not sure how to label the experience.

Whatever you call it, it pales in comparison to the horrific things the victim in Steubenville endured.  But I'm glad the media's victim-blaming response has prompted so much thoughtful discussion around the blogosphere.  I wanted to draw attention to some of the most thought-provoking posts I've come across this week:

NO TOUCHING: CONSENT AS THE FIRST STEP by Dianne E. Anderson at Faith and Feminism

Consent is asking permission every, single time because consent given once is not consent given for all of time. 
It needs to be assumed that people’s bodies are in a state of “don’t touch” until they give you the green light to do so. This is the first step toward a healthy view of sexuality.

The Day I Taught How Not To Rape from Abby at Accidental Devotional

“Ms. Norman, you mean a woman walking down the street naked is not her inviting sex? How will I know she wants to have sex?”  A surprisingly bold voice came out of a girl in the back “You’ll know when she says, you want to have sex?!” 
If you want to keep teens from being rapists, you can no longer assume that they know how. You HAVE to talk about it. There is no longer a choice. It is no longer enough to talk to our kids about the mechanics of sex, it probably never was. We have to talk about consent, what it means, and how you are sure you have it. 

After Steubenville by Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience

Real Manhood means you take responsibility for your body. 
A woman’s immodesty is never an excuse for a man’s irresponsibility. Responsible men — are response-able. This is your job. A woman has her’s. Focus on yours. Real Men don’t focus responsibility on women staying “pure” but on men not pressuring. 

Teaching Kids About Consent by ___ of Anktangle
In my opinion, the first step in teaching our kids about consent is teaching them about their own bodily autonomy. And the best way I know to teach about bodily autonomy (and therefore consent) is through lots and lots of modeling. This means practice! Repetition. It means showing your kid that even when you disagree with her, you'll let her make that choice about her body because it's her body.

I am now a mother to a daughter and a son.  I am committed to teach both of them everything they need to know about bodily autonomy and consent.

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