I met Greg early in the summer of 2011, on Craigslist’s Women Seeking Men section, which was my preferred dating site in those days. It had been a few years since I’d had a long term relationship, and I wasn’t really looking for a boyfriend; I was looking to get laid, early and often. Craigslist proved to be a fertile playground for me – I put the call out for a strong, older than me, mountain man-type of guy, and they answered. I’d never been poly before and when I was younger I didn’t think I could or wanted to or knew how to. At 40, I was interested in finding out if the poly/non monogamous/multiple partner/no strings attached sex lifestyle was for me. And so, I had many dates, all with nice men, some who I ended up liking a lot and seeing more than once, some whose names and faces I don’t remember. The first meeting was (almost) always platonic, an easy hi-how-ya-doin opportunity for me to give these guys the once over in a public place, usually Cesar Chavez Park, with my dog Buck at my side so he could give them the once over, too. After email and text introductions, Greg and I had our first meeting at the park, and he appeared to have all the traits I was looking for – taller than me, nice, witty, with a confidence that made him seem like he could fuck. We agreed to a second date.
In my experience, there are two types of dating – looking for a long term, exclusive relationship, and looking to hook up. When both parties are looking for something long term, a second date means dinner, conversation, maybe a hug or a kiss on the cheek when you say goodbye. When folks are looking for a hookup, the second date means fucking. And so, when Greg and I finished our dinner at a tapas restaurant in Temescal, it was clear that we were both ready to get down.
We got back to my apartment, and began to make out, get comfortable, get naked. Because I was used to hookups, I kept an easily accessible stash of a variety of condoms and lubes by my bedside, knowing that I couldn’t rely on men to bring their own protection, and also because it seemed like something a good hookup hostess would do. Although Greg was easily 20 years older than me, he was in great shape – a strong, muscular build, with not too much body hair, but what hair he had was gray and trimmed. I was super turned on, so when he took my panties off, and then his underwear, and we grinded together, it did not occur to me for one second that when it came time for fucking, one or the other of us would not pause, grab a condom, and proceed accordingly. We hadn’t had an explicit conversation about protection – I just assumed that because we were basically strangers, and because of polite society rules, condoms would be used. And yet, we were there grinding, making out, getting hot, and all of a sudden Greg is inside me.
Wait, wait! We need to use a condom.
No – I already started…
and a second later he was done.
Soon after finishing, he said he ought to get going because he had a yoga class in the morning and I was relieved. I knew something…wrong had happened, but what? What was the name for the feelings I was having? I didn’t physically push him off me, but he also didn’t stop when I asked him to. I couldn’t (and still can’t) put my finger on what I was feeling, but I knew something wasn’t right. I was reluctant at the time to talk about it with any of my friends, and wrote it off in my mind as a sort of non issue…because it wasn’t what I consider rape (what Whoopi Goldberg famously called “rape-rape”), but it wasn’t 100% consensual, either. For a long time I took responsibility for it (whatever it was) happening because I should have explicitly had the safe sex conversation with him before I brought him home. But…don’t most people practice safe sex, especially when they’re not in an exclusive, long term relationship? Especially when they’re just hooking up? Until that point, I don’t think I’d ever had that conversation – I talked about STIs, sexual boundaries, and sexual preferences with other partners, but it never occurred to me that anyone would ever fuck a stranger without a condom.
I understand the #metoo movement – I have experienced various forms of sexual harassment since entering puberty, starting with the boys in my 5th and 6th grade classes grabbing my developing boobs and ass every chance they got when the adults weren’t looking. Up until this incident, I felt very confident that I knew exactly what sexual harassment and sexual assault looked like, felt like. If a friend had come to me with this same story, I would have assured her that it wasn’t her fault, that Greg was a complete dick and that what she experienced was, in fact, a kind of sexual assault. I would probably encourage her to seek out some kind of help to process what she was feeling about it, either through therapy or guided meditations, or to keep talking about it with close girlfriends. When it comes to me, though, with this particular incident, even after receiving support and validation from everyone I’ve told, I still feel like #metoo?