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I initially picked this book up because it was in the feminist section, it talked about an end to rape, and mentioned “sexual power.” In my head, I was like, “Yeah! I’m a feminist, I’d love to see an end to rape, and I want to see what they have to say about empowering women to make their own sexual choices.” Choices being the operative word here.
However, it’s hard for me to get through even one essay in this book without wanting to throw up or throw the book across the room.
I was raped in high school. I’m going to go through the gory details here because I don’t want anyone to question it. I was dating a boy. I am Catholic, he was not. He abused me physically and verbally and manipulated me until I didn’t believe in anything I had before I met him. Once I got to this point and I was so dependent on him for my identity and worth, we had sex. The next morning I immediately knew I’d made a mistake and spent the entire day alternating between crying and throwing up. I explained that I didn’t want to have sex with him again - at least until I figured out what I believed and what my emotions were doing. He was entirely understanding. Then the next time we saw each other, he pulled the car into a parking lot and asked me to have sex with him. I said no several times. He used lines like, “If you really loved me, you’d do this for me,” and basically begged and pleaded until I couldn’t say no anymore. What could I do? He was in the driver’s seat and made it pretty clear I wasn’t leaving until he got what he wanted. From that day on, every time I saw him, we had sex. I would usually try my luck for the day by starting out with something like, “I’ve been in rehearsal all day… I’m really tired. Is it ok with we don’t do anything today?” And he would also act like it was so silly that I had asked! Of course we didn’t have to have sex that day! But it would inevitably end up with his hand up my shirt and no matter how angrily I told him to stop, he wouldn’t. Sex was something I owed him. No matter how many times I said no, he wasn’t hearing it. If you want to try to tell me that wasn’t rape then you can shove it up your butt because I’d like to hear what you would call rape - other than being held at gunpoint.
Now, this book is sitting on its high horse and lecturing on how the only way to heal from sexual abuse is to have lots and lots of sex. Well, I’ve done that sweetheart, and guess what? It didn’t work! And do you know why I did it? Because I believed those lines that feminist literature had fed to me about sexual freedom and sexual healing…
My second serious boyfriend I met in college. I had just finished reading The Purity Myth. I was convinced virginity is some social construct meant to oppress women and I was one of those angry feminists. I decided I was going to “take back” my sexuality and we ended up having sex very shortly after we met. To put it bluntly it was awful. I was having flashbacks and I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t stand it. When I told HIM I didn’t want to have sex any more, we broke up several months later. A lot of other stuff went into it, but my discomfort with sex was a major factor in our relationship ending.
So here I am. Nearly 20 years old. I’ve slept with two people. Both experiences were terrible.
The ONLY good things I’ve gotten out of this book are words that resonated with me from the foreward by Wendy Cho: “I said yes because I felt it was too much trouble to say no. I said yes because I didn’t want to have to defend my “no,” qualify it, justify it - deserve it.”
My solution to not having to justify my no? I’m not having sex until I am completely and totally joined to another human being - my husband - and he completely and totally understand me, knows where I’m coming from, and respects my “no.”
I’ll say it - I don’t trust men. I don’t trust them to listen to me; I don’t trust them to respect me; and I certainly don’t trust them not to