When I first started dating men openly, my mother warned me to be careful.
It was good advice, which is such a sad thing. At the time I had just come out as bisexual, though I hadn’t started living as a woman yet. I had come out to my friends and family because I had also started dating men, openly.
I remember assuring my mom, that I had grown up around men and knew to exercise caution around them when it came to sex and I did. I was cautious meeting people, arranged to call friends or roommates. In conversations with potential partners, I made my feelings on safer sex very clear.
We’d met online through a dating app and chatted for a few weeks before agreeing to meet. He was really interesting, really attractive, things seemed to be going great. The first date was great too, we met for coffee (this is my standard) talked for a long while then agreed to meet up again later that week.
This time we met up for a walk, at the time I lived in Belleville Ontario, the lakefront was a beautiful place for a date. We did all the things you do, we laughed, chatted, held hands and eventually kissed. After a while, he asked if I would come back to his place.
I agreed, knowing full well what he meant.
As soon as we got in the door he launched himself on me and we started making out. As things started to get heavier he stopped and asked If I wanted to go to the bedroom.
“Sure,” I said. “But before this goes any further, you should know I don’t do unprotected sex with people I’m not monogamously dating.”
“That’s totally fine,” he told me. “That’s a good policy.”
So we continued where we left off. It wasn’t long before both of us were naked. He started trying to push himself inside me. So I moved out of the way a teeny bit and he tried again
“Just let me stick it in,” he said.
“Not without a condom,” I replied, growing increasingly impatient. We had discussed this already, I had told him I wouldn’t have sex unless he used a condom.
“Okay, well I don’t have any so maybe next time?” He continued. “Right now let’s just do this, it’ll be ok.”
“NO. I have one in my pants pocket over there, use it or this isn’t happening,” I replied.
“Fine, fine, fine,” he muttered as he grabbed my pants from three feet away. I could hear the rustling sound of him looking through my pant’s pocket. The crinkling sound as he opened the condom. From my angle on my back, I couldn’t see anything he was doing, everything sounded ok.
Then he pushed inside me and it was almost immediately obvious he’d lied.
“You put the condom on right?” I asked.
“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry about it,” he grunted. I reached down and started feeling around, I couldn’t feel the base of the condom anywhere.
“WHAT THE FUCK,” I yelled as I pushed myself back and him out. “You fucking lied.” I was now able to visually confirm, no condom on, though on the bed beside him was an opened, unused condom. I jumped off the bed and started pulling my clothes back on.
“Ok, ok, ok, I’ll use a condom just come back here,” he said.
“No. I’m going home,” I replied. As I got dressed and headed for the door he continued to follow me protesting, promising better. He even put on a sweet voice. But by the time I had my jacket and boots on his tone was changing and descending quickly.
“Well fuck you, you stupid slut,” was what I heard moments before slamming the door as I fled.
It’s only been recently that I have been able to come to terms with the fact that this was sexual assault. I survived a sexual assault. At the time I knew that what had happened was not right, was not okay, and was not my fault but I also felt like I couldn’t tell anyone. I was so deeply ashamed.
Besides who would care? Or even see this as assault? This was just a bad date.
It was assault and I have to keep reminding myself of that. He had consent for sex, we had been clear about that, as long as there was a condom. The moment he pushed inside me without a condom he assaulted me. But so what? What was I going to do about it?
In the short term, I cried in a park and chain-smoked cigarettes for an hour.
When I got home my roommate asked how everything went.
“Fine,” I lied to him. He was one of my best friends and I couldn’t bring myself to explain what had happened.
Instead, I pushed it deep down and moved on with my life.
Over the last week, I have been deeply troubled by the responses to the Babe.com story about Aziz Ansari. Maybe it was a bad date but it was also sexual misconduct. Consent is not a blank slate, any time you decide to change what the two of you are doing, consent must be reaffirmed. In my situation that didn’t happen, it spiralled to the point where a guy lied to me to be able to do what he wanted to do, to my body.
Nothing in my life has felt as invasive as that.
Given the range of apologists for Ansari, the anger I felt that night has come boiling out of me. At the very least I thought I would share my story and add to the voices screaming that consent requires constant enthusiastic reaffirmation. That sometimes one person’s ‘bad date,’ is another’s nightmare or trauma.
There were other bad dates, bad sex, or bad nights but they didn’t end in an assault or ignoring consent. Here’s the thing though, it only takes being assaulted, or having your boundaries crossed by one man, to put you on guard for life.