A few words about sexual coercion, in the wake of the Aziz Ansari accusations
TW: Sexual assault, sexual coercion, oral sex, penetration
A guy I knew very well once spent the better part of several days begging me for sex. I was visiting from out of town, and staying in a house where he lived with several other friends of mine. Every night that I was there, he begged, bothered, asked, cajoled, coerced me for sex. He whined and touched me and followed me from room to room. He talked about how much he missed me and how much he wanted me. My discomfort was palpable. I said no many times. My body said no in dozens of ways — when I pushed him off, when I cried, when I left the room, when I grimaced and winced at his touch. No one — no one would struggle to interpret how I felt. My signals were not subtle. The very difficulty he was having was sign enough.
He didn’t stop. He didn’t care. He wheedled and begged and tried to convince me to give him something, maybe not penetration, but oral at least, or a hand job. My disinterest was something for him to negotiate down from. He flirted and complained. He moped and stewed. He kept me up at night. He even used the fact that it was his birthday to try and guilt me into doing what he wanted.
I never feared for my safety. I’d known him for years and didn’t see any signs of violence in him. I could have walked out…and then what? Gone out into the freezing night and hailed a cab and paid for a hotel? I was 22 or 23. I’d never done anything like that. But I could have done it. I could have woken up everyone in the house and made a big stink. I could have screamed my “NO”, made throat raw, made it more obvious, but it already was obvious. I could have just continued saying no and leaving the room endlessly until it was time to leave town. In theory I could have done a lot of things.
And yet. I still gave in. I gave him what he wanted. Well, I gave him something, anyway — after lots of begging and changing what he was asking for and trying to negotiate my “no” down to a passive “okay”, he managed to wheedle a miserable, unenthusiastic, brief encounter out of me. It was obvious I didn’t want to engage in it, didn’t enjoy it, and couldn’t wait for it to be over. But still. I guess he would say I consented.