This is now...

I, like a lot of the country, have been avidly following the  Brett Kavanaugh/ Christine Blakey Ford case. ( you know, the Supreme court nominee who as been accused of sexually assaulting a girl at a party 30 years ago).  There have been lots of questions about facts, memories, credibility and timing of the allegation. What I worry is being lost, is the recognition that this is now....all of the behaviours that are being alleged by Ms Ford are happening now. All of the victim blaming and fear of reprisals for coming forward are happening now...

Story a: 

She liked him. There was flirting for weeks before the party. Who knows, in today’s world of teenage flirting, there may have even been nudes sent back and forth.   The day of the party was full of anticipation. Probably even suggestion that tonight would be the night that they’d “hook up”.  He beckons her to come and find him. She goes to him. They start to make out. She rethinks things. “No, tonight isn’t the night, this doesn’t feel right”. He throws her down and forces himself inside of her. She cries and begs him to stop. He laughs and continues. Finally, she gets away. He leaves. She tries to run to her friends, to safety. His friend blocks the way. “I’ll set you free if you give me a blow job first”. She is ashamed. No one believes her. They blame her. “Technically, you did ask for it...you did flirt...you were a little drunk....you’re always flirting with guys, what did you think would happen”.  School becomes a nightmare. Friendships are lost. Confidence is lost. Self worth is lost.

Story b) 

The vibe at the club was awesome. The music was pumping, the drinks were flowing. She felt sexy, powerful, strong. So many guys asking to dance. Offering to buy drinks. Spending time with her group. The night was spectacular. And then, a blank. It’s 1 am. The scene is so much fun. Suddenly, it’s 3:30. She’s  in a cab. With who? My friend, but who are these guys? 5:30 am...blurry snippets fade in and out. A house, a couch, a bedroom. She comes home. Crying, raw, broken. “ I was raped....I don’t know what happened...I don’t remember...”. The next days, weeks, months, a blur of rape kits, invasive internal exams, medications to ward of STI’s. “ Your bloodwork shows drugs in your system”.  “What? I was drugged and raped?” .  And now....a re-finding of self. A grappling with making a police report. “ will I be believed? They’ll just assume that I took the drugs myself. They’ll just assume that I was too drunk and put myself at risk. They’ll believe him”

Story c)

The house party was in full swing. It was small, maybe 10 kids. Teens having fun. Beer pong, Kings cup. Loud music, maybe some dancing. For sure some drinking. She gets really drunk. She’s clearly not feeling well. She should go and lie down. He offers to help her. Her friend. One of the guys. One of “our group”.  He takes her to the bedroom. Nobody thinks anything of it. He’s just helping. In that room, away from others eyes, his ‘nice friend’ facade drops. He is on her. His hands are roaming over her. He tries to lift her clothing. She pushes away. She says “No”. Finally, she is able to get him off. He leaves the room. The next day. She tells her story to girlfriends. Some are appalled. Some just shrug and say “yeah, that happens all of the time, so what.”.

None of these girls have officially come forward with their stories.  The fear of reprisals is too high. The fear of opening wounds, and sharing their raw, painful truth to only be disbelieved or blamed is too scary. All of these boys are “ good boys”. They play sports, they excel in school. They come from nice families who teach them well. Nice families who believe in kindness and compassion and respect. But, these boys also grew up in a world where “ boys will be boys” and where sexual conquests are worn like a badge.  These boys grew up in a world where girls may act like”they want it”. But desire isn’t consent.  It’s time to change the language. It’s time to change these stories. It’s time to teach our boys that sex isn’t about conquest and that anything short of an emphatic and enthusiastic “yes”, mean NO.

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Karen Patterson

Muskoka Family Works, 55 Main Street West, Huntsville, ON, P1H 1W9