Boys Will Be Boys

Twenty-two years ago I was a freshman in college at the University of Idaho and came down to Boise one weekend to meet up with old friends. We were new to drinking alcohol, and it didn't take much to make us loopy and wild. A whole slew of us from high school reunited and partied and ended up back at a dorm at Boise State University, those round ones called Barnes Towers, where we all decided to (safely) crash for the night. I ended up in bed with a male high school friend and making out when it went a little too far and I said no more and no again and pushed him off me and he pushed himself right on top of me, harder, until he called me a fucking bitch and shoved me out of the tiny twin-sized bed we were sharing. I was shaking and relieved that other friends were also nearby and I woke them, scared, to call a taxi and get out of there. He never spoke to me again, but proceeded to tell our entire graduating class that he had laid the captain of the cheerleading squad. I felt so angry, but so lucky.

You shouldn't have been in his bed in the first place.

Well, you were kissing him.

Why were you drinking?

Today Brock Turner white male swimmer, student, and rapist from Stanford University, will be released from prison after serving only three months for assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Unlike this guy, a disabled U.S. veteran who got a life sentence for growing marijuana in his backyard. I'm joining a few of my favorite female Boise bloggers, women whose voices are loud and strong and brave, to add to the conversation about male sexual aggression and consent. To help change the narrative that boys will be boys. Elaine Ambrose is a hilarious local writer who has written award-winning stuff about farting during her MRI, menopause, mid-life and more, including a heartfelt piece today about her own sexual assault. Another radical activist, my friend Liza Long, is also an extraordinary mother, feminist, advocate for mental health care, TED talker, and poignant voice in my world. She, like me, joined Elaine's call out today in a national "You Can Rape Me Because I'm Drunk" challenge to share our stories and be the change and say NO MORE, and to give voice to the often silenced and traumatized victims of rape. You can read Elaine's beautiful piece here about how we never forget sexual trauma, about how it goes on to inform our lives, about how prevalent it is, and about how Brock is now free, unlike his victim. You can read Liza's amazing story about her own experiences with men during college at BYU and what she's telling her own sons and how important it is to teach that YES MEANS YES as much as NO MEANS NO when it comes to sex, and more.

But he's a good boy.

It was just a twenty-minute mistake.

This will ruin his life.

For the past year I've been assaulted by words and images of penises and sexual acts in my inbox, waiting for me in my Instagram folder. Hard ones, flaccid ones, erections in underwear, close-ups hanging out of jeans. Telling me about my soft tits in their mouth and sniffing my ass. I didn't ask for them, I get no warning. It makes me sick to my stomach and pisses me off and I feel dirty sometimes, like I've done something wrong. I feel violated in many ways by this sociopathic behavior. One day I see a mugshot of one of the men whose dick I've seen repeatedly pop up on the news media all over the country for being part of a ring to murder police officers in Louisiana and it shakes me. You want this cock? You make me cum so hard. I jack off to your photos. I take screenshots and keep a file and check their Facebook profiles and note their hometowns, just in case. 

That's what you get for being a famous activist.

Maybe you shouldn't post photos online.

It's your own fault.

Courtesy of Melanie Folwell

Courtesy of Melanie Folwell

In college my girlfriends and I knew to stick together after dark, walk in pairs home from the bar, check in or leave a note if we weren't coming home for the night. We knew when someone had drank too much and asked repeatedly if she was certain she wanted to go home with him. My purse contained pepper spray and I knew to yell I DON'T KNOW HIM instead of HELP. I spent hours and long nights listening to my friends having sex in the other room/down the hall/at the fraternity to make sure it sounded safe and fun, not scared and pleading. I don't want to teach these kind of survival tactics to my own daughters, but I will if I have to. My son, too. I'll also teach them something different - about consent and feminism, misogyny and love, kindness and care, sexuality and respect.