There were many times that I said “yes” when I meant “no”.
I did many stupid, dangerous things when I was younger. I met men online, and if they gave me any sort of attention I would give them all of mine, do anything to get them to really truly want me. I saw being wanted as a measure of worth, and so I aspired to be the woman (or girl in some cases) that they couldn’t get out of their heads.
I would rack up phone bills of hundreds of pounds (this was before unlimited texts/Whatsapp) texting them, send them photos I shouldn’t have, and after a while, agree to meet them.
Sometimes these relationships lasted a long time and sometimes they didn’t. Many of those times though, I would do as they asked, as they expected, because I felt that I owed them something, because it was easier to say “yes” than it was to say “no”.
One particularly terrible time that still haunts me was a meet up in a nearby town. He had had to travel a long way and so booked a hotel room. We planned on going for dinner at some chain restaurant and then maybe hanging out in his room.
When I saw him on the train station platform I knew I didn’t want any of the things I had said I wanted in our online conversations – I felt no attraction to him whatsoever, it was his words that I had liked. I went to lunch with him anyway because you know, he had travelled a long way to see me.
Lunch was okay, a bit awkward but okay. Then we went to his room to hang out and watch a movie. We sat on the bed and I tried to keep my distance. He asked to kiss me and I let him. The kiss was terrible and again, I didn’t feel anything – no spark, nothing.
I told him that I wasn’t really feeling it, that the kiss hadn’t done anything for me, but if he wanted we could just hang out and finish the movie together. After a little while, he asked if he could have another shot at the kiss, maybe a second time round would change things for me.
The second kiss was a lot harder and more forceful. It was then that I gave in. I knew he wanted sex and though I didn’t want it, I gave it to him. It was easier to say yes.
I left that hotel room in a rush afterwards. I deleted his number and when I got home, deleted all online correspondence, blocking him wherever I could.
I hate to think about that evening because I hate myself for giving in, I hate myself for meeting him, I hate myself for needing attention from him.
He popped up again a few months ago, asking how I was (I thought I had blocked his number but clearly not). In a shocked reaction, I told him that any pictures he received from me all those years ago, he better delete, as I had been involved in a Revenge Porn/underage image police investigation and so it was a crime for him to keep them. I then blocked him instantly.
I guess I just wanted him to delete me properly, seeing as he had kept my number for some reason and decided to text me whilst probably bored and looking for some attention. And of course, the Revenge Porn has made me paranoid about all my ex’s, all guys I have previously dated, so I wanted to do what I could to make him delete any pictures he may have kept of me.
I’m telling you this because the recent Aziz Ansari news story triggers me every time I see it mentioned. Though the #MeToo movement is so powerful and so important, it can be very hard to read because it’s so close to home. But I guess that’s what makes the movement so powerful and important in the first place.
There’s so many women who have similar stories, so many instances when “no” either isn’t listened to or feels like it can’t be said. I am desperate for a world where this isn’t the case, if only for my daughter’s sake. She’s only two months old and it pierces my heart to think of her going through what I have, what millions of women have.
Let’s hope for change.