‘You’d better get into the mood’, he said. With those words, my power as a woman to say ‘no’ to unwanted or ill-timed sexual advances was taken away. I was fourteen. My only sex ed, my sole access to any information on human sexuality came through my uncle. With those words, I was simultaneously groomed for his own pleasure and positioned to be a willing victim. #metoo
His words rang in my ears. ‘You’d better get into the mood’ he had said, indicating that a sexual encounter must end in orgasm for the man. No half measures. No interruptions. We women must see it through. Once the act was begun, we were committed to the bitter end. Regardless of anything–mood, emotions, physical pain, even dislike of the specific sexual act. None of it mattered.
So I did. When propositioned, I said ‘yes’. I was too afraid, too confused to do otherwise. How horrible, thought I, to cause any unhappiness to my partner in what should be a joyous experience. I couldn’t bear the thought of ruining a man’s pleasure. So I pretended to get into the mood, relying on personal lubricant to make up what I lacked in desire and libido.
In the heat of the moment when certain positions caused great pain, I turned my face to the wall. No one would see my gritted teeth because ‘you’d better get in the mood’. I was determined to see it through. There was no way I’d be guilty of ruining the moment for my partner, I thought, as I dug my nails into my palms to keep silent, hiding that I can’t tolerate some positions other women enjoy.
Was it rape? Absolutely not. I had consciously and purposely said ‘yes’.
But was it actually consensual? In name only. I lied when I consented, just as the paedophile who groomed me would have wanted.
All that changed when I met a good man. As before, I said ‘yes’ to him. Always ‘yes’ with a big smile. Never ‘no’. Employing my full bag of tricks for ‘getting into the mood’. When the pain was excruciating, I turned my face to the wall, gritted my teeth and dug my fingernails into the bedspread to cope, to not ruin the moment.
But this time, it was different. In the heat of the moment, his own pleasure was not his sole motivation. He sensed something was wrong and instantly stopped.
‘Somethings’ wrong here’, he said. That’s when I started to cry. His sensitivity amazed me.
‘Didn’t you want to have sex?’ he asked. Tears choked me so I just shook my head ‘no’.
‘Don’t ever do that again! Don’t ever lie. Don’t say yes when you’re not in the mood.’
What a lesson I learned that night! Lessons, plural, I should say.
Turns out, I don’t have to choose between saying ‘yes’ and ruining my romantic interest’s day. Even if he’s in the mood, if I’m not, then sex isn’t happening. He’s fine with that. He’ll wait til it’s actually consensual and I want it as much as he did.
No more do I hide my pain. There are plenty of positions. I don’t have to consent to one that causes me physical pain. No more fist clenching, no more gritted teeth. No more agreeing to acts I find repulsive or that trigger bad memories (oral sex.)
Most importantly, I don’t lie. I don’t pretend to consent. He made it safe to be honest.
Grooming made me a willing and weak victim. Thanks to a wonderful man and the #metoo movement, those days are over!