On the eve of my 20th birthday, having eaten cake and downed several bottles of wine between the 4 of us, my friends and I decided to head down to the common room.
There was a group playing spin the bottle. A game that should only be played by 11 year olds.
Already being slightly merry from the wine, we joined in and continued to drink. After a few silly kisses with girls and guys, my head started to spin and I was ready for bed. I stumbled back up stairs and down hallways.
As I opened my bedroom door and stepped in, Pete was suddenly behind me. A guy on another course who I knew in passing.
“What are you doing” I asked, in a tone that was playful and slightly amused. He seemed rather drunk. Perhaps he was lost?
“I want to come in your room.”
“Sorry – you can’t.”
Come on. I don’t live in halls I want to see what the rooms look like.
I had my body in the doorway - I kept my arm on the frame and moved my body to give him a glimpse into my messy room.
“Well, now you’ve seen one. You’re very drunk. You need to go home.”
At no part in this conversation did I feel threatened or alarmed. More just a little pissed off with the fact I was now having to deal with a drunk person, vs taking care of my own drunk person, who’s head was spinning more by the minute.
I’m not a small woman. I’m 5”8 (and 3/4 ) but Pete stood at maybe 5”11. He picked me up. Threw me over his shoulder – and the door slammed shut behind him. (They were those fire-proof doors that shut automatically if you don’t shove something heavy in front of them)
At this point – I’m still not super concerned. (In fact, being lifted up was somewhat of a novelty - and I wont pretend I didn’t enjoy being carried. It does not happen often. )
A guy, who I know (alright, I don’t personally know him very well but my friends know him well, he goes to the same small college as I do, there is a level of security – false or not..it was there) is drunk, and is fooling around. I can handle this.
He throws me on my bed, and proceeds to get on top of me, and starts to kiss me. I push him away. What are you doing, I ask? Come on, he begs. Don’t you have a girlfriend? No. I’m pretty sure I remember someone saying you do. We broke up.
He continues to try and kiss me.
Then the door opens and in stumbles my friend followed by a different drunk guy.
They collapse down on to the bed I had made up for her (an inflatable raft with a sheet, ah college)
You know that feeling when you’re drunk and everything starts to move quickly and slowly all at once. The fuzzy haze sets in, and sometimes it feels like its not really happening. That you’re in a drunk dream.
Things were feeling like that.
And then – something snapped me out of it. It was an almost instant sobering up. I was suddenly really aware of what was going on.
“Get out” I started to say, “Get out, Get out, Get out”
Lucy came to as well. Together we managed to forcefully push the boys out of the room. They were both too drunk to realize what was happening before it had happened.
Together we shoved them – as they stumbled backwards – out of the door, closed and locked it behind us.
They banged on the door a couple of times “Come on, let us in” and then, they left.
Lucy and I exchanged relief that they were out – What had just happened?
Perhaps out of a defiance to let last night fade into the distance, other than a shared exhale of relief, we didn’t really go over the details and examine what had happened, and what could have happened.
It was a could have. Not a did. I had felt fairly in control and I handled the situation. Lucy and I were safe.
I want to make it clear, this is not an essay about rape. Or about being a victim of a sexual attack.
The torment and damage (both physically and mentally) someone who has been victim to rape is unfathomable by me, someone who has never experienced anything remotely close to that.
Debating and being concerned over the ‘what if’s’ seemed inconsequential.
I had dealt with the situation. Yes, something worse could have happened. But it didn’t.
I’d like to think it gave me some confidence to think, well if I have to – I can defend myself. A pat on the back so to speak. (And yes, I know, we shouldn’t have to feel proud that we can defend ourselves from unwanted sexual advances, but I personally don’t believe that will ever change so it helps to feel like you are not helpless.)
I will never know the in’s and out’s of what could have happened. Quite frankly, I had never given it as much thought before I decided to write about it. I guess that is what is so cathartic about writing.
But back to the point…
What I do know is what happened next.
After a debrief of last nights ‘exchange’ with friends, I was informed that indeed Pete was very much in a relationship. Seems in keeping with Pete’s morals and actions that he would be in a relationship.
I felt dreadful and headed straight to her room to inform her of what had occurred last night.
Having only met a few times, we weren’t close. No animosity, just how it was.
I felt bad that this arsehole had a lovely girlfriend and she was unaware that he’d been a dick.
I had played a dumb game and been slightly drunk, sure. But that pretty much sums up college, doesn’t it? Drinking and Games, maybe a bit of learning, and yes, Sex.
But there had been no sex. Thankfully.
I knocked on her door and asked to come in. I was in awe of how pretty her room was. Very serene, creams and whites with lace and twinkling fairy lights. This chick was a grown up! Nice.
I laid out all the details. I was sorry to tell her, but this is what happened.
My part. Pete’s part. The whole “event”
I explained that in no way had I wanted it.
I had gone to bed alone and he had forced himself on me.
Nothing happened other than kissing. But he was insistent on not being in a relationship with her, and I had to forcibly remove him from my room.
I felt that she should know.
She thanked me, maybe she even apologized, and she gave me a hug.
Wow, I thought – this is so great. Girl Power.
Turns out, Hollie wasn’t quite the cool chick I took her for. In fact – and I’m going out on a judgment limb here, so think of me what you will – but she acted like an idiot.
She blamed me. The story that spread by her around the dorms and college was that
I was a ‘slut’. I had gone off with Hollie’s boyfriend behind her back.
Other than my 3 friends, who had heard the story from me, knew the truth. The rest turned on me.
They would ignore me, they’d talk about ‘evil sluts’ outside my room loudly so I could hear and generally just be really mean, in the delightful way that girls can be.
Hollie and Pete didn’t break up. In fact, I didn’t see any repercussion on his part for what had taken place.
So why was I being punished?
I never confronted Hollie and the girls over their behavior. It seemed pointless. She was clearly uninterested in hearing and acknowledging the truth, and rather than dump her cheating boyfriend, she chose to blame me. “The other woman.”
Since they seemed to love hanging outside my door to discuss evil sluts who sleep with other girl’s boyfriends, I gave them some reading material. I put an Eleanor Roosevelt quote on my door.
“Great minds discuss ideas, Average minds discuss events, Small minds discuss people”.
I could have easily never said anything. It ultimately wouldn’t have affected me at all. However, a woman was wronged, and I was involved. Call it cheesy but I believe in the sisterhood. There was a duty to tell her. Growing up in the religion of ‘be nice to people and treat others as you would want to be treated’ dictated this was my next move.
When it’s already hard enough to be a woman, why do we make it harder for each other?
Sadly, I’m not speaking from a pedestal. Nasty words have spilled from my lips about other girls. I’ve judged women before I’ve got to know them. I have even called other women sluts.
I think (with perhaps Mother Theresa being the exception) every woman has bagged on another woman. Cue ‘Mean Girls’ scene where we all raise our hands.
Why is it easier, safer, to side with the man then with the ‘other’ woman? I don’t know the answer to this. I have no smart and clever way to wrap up this piece, but I know that I don’t like it.
It says something that I was more bothered by the woman spreading lies than the man who tried to force himself on me.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!