Girl Without Consent: Michal’s Story
Photo by Darcy, used with permission.
HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Michal” is a pseudonym.
Content warning: discussion of rape, rape fantasies.
I’d like to write about all the craziness of growing up, but I’m afraid someone will know it’s me.
I want to write about how my mom didn’t tell me what menstruation was until it happened (THAT is terrifying . . . having blood coming out “down there” makes you think you’re dying). Then neither she nor my dad ever explained that or sex to me. They gave me a section of a health book to read. Which I did. And promptly blocked it all from my memory because it was too embarrassing to handle. Growing up in a home where sex can never ever be talked about can mean that even clinical discussions seem evil and dirty and are best forgotten.
That’s how I got to age 16 without knowing words like “vagina” and “vulva.” When inserting a tampon for the first time (my mom always bought pads, but I wanted to go swimming) I thought about inserting it as “sticking it up my butt,” (although I knew it was a different hole, I had no words or understanding of the anatomy involved) and felt ashamed and degraded by the experience. And I associated it with Eve’s sin and felt ashamed to be a woman. I barely knew the word “penis,” and it took me some time to figure out how guys were different physically (testicles I only learned about somewhat later). As a teenager, I didn’t know where babies came from. I didn’t know what an erection was.
I’d like to write about how always being taught that women were inferior, passive participants in sex and that men were ravenously hungry for women’s bodies contributed to my rape fantasies and a hard to shake addiction to degrading, humiliating rape porn (I hate it, but guess what? I’m turned on by thinking about men hurting women. Don’t tell me Christian culture respects and honors women. I know where I first learned to think this way). I never in my life imagined myself enjoying sex; instead, when I thought about it, I thought about being forced into it. (Amazingly my SO and I share a pretty healthy relationship, but it’s a miracle given that I always suppressed and distorted my fantasies in such a hideous way).
I’d like to write about the time I almost talked myself into marrying a guy because I thought having gotten close to him meant that I’d given a part of my heart away and that I’d be defrauding him if I walked out. Oh, and that I would fall in love after marriage. Even though I wasn’t attracted to him. At all.
I’d like to write about crying after kissing my first boyfriend asking if he could still love or respect me even though I was so “cheap.” About how I wondered if we broke up, if anyone else could love me when I’d given my first kiss away to someone else.
I’d like to write about how hard I find it to refuse my SO when it comes to our physical relationship. I was told that men can’t stand it when their advances are rejected, that it damages their egos terribly, that a woman’s job is to make him happy. Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing something, and I know he’d listen if I said “no,” but I can’t say it, because I was told that once you have that man, you must never, ever tell him “no.” I can’t imagine the hell I would be in right now if my SO didn’t respect me and my body.
I want to write about how I feel like my loving parents raised me to be someone’s sex slave. What if I had married that first man? And didn’t feel attracted to him? But could never refuse him? And he was in charge of all our decisions? Including birth control decisions?
I want to scream.