I remember shaking my body and enjoying the music. I remember the rough, savory flavor of bourbon followed by the salty brine of pickle juice. I remember telling you I was heading home, as I pulled out my phone to call a Lyft. I remember you talking me into sharing a ride with you to save money, then not much more.
I remember frantically calling a Lyft from your front porch before my phone died and I was trapped with you all night. I remember taking your phone number so I would know who did this to me the next day. But I don’t ever remember saying “yes;” because I didn’t.
The absence of ‘No’ is not consent. I couldn’t even remember your name.
I don’t fear you individually. Maybe I should, but I don’t.
Rape culture has permeated our modern day society. I see the potential for you in every man I pass on the street, every guy that offers to buy me a drink, every suited gentleman in the Capitol that smiles and holds a door open.
If I fear you, then I fear every man—equally.
It’s easy to think that rape culture is a problem somewhere else in the world—over there, where women are forced to cover themselves or not allowed to drive; where their oppression seems obvious in comparison to our “progressive” Western ways. When I was assaulted in Brazil, it made sense to simply blame it on Latin American machismo; but it’s a problem worldwide, and I’m no safer at Bourbon House in downtown Salt Lake than I am on the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
Here in Utah, the issue is pervasive. In trying to build a culture of abstinence, we have built a culture of non-consent.
We live in a society where you truly don’t think you did anything wrong. But let me repeat to you, and all of society, my truth and the truth of all women (and men) in this modern day and age: the absence of “No” is not consent. It was not consensual just because I did not fight you off. Just because I flirted with you does not mean I wanted anything else to happen. Just because I was drunk does not make it my fault. My crop top and mini skirt had nothing to do with what happened to me.
I made my plan to take a Lyft home by myself crystal clear, and you chose to manipulate my future. This is on you, and I won’t hold the pain any longer.
I want all of you reading this to know that “unwanted sexual experiences” do not exist. Giving rape a euphemism empowers the perpetrators, and allows the status quo to perpetuate un-checked in our society.
Standing proud at 6’2” and an outspoken, outgoing, tenacious feminist who isn’t afraid to share her opinion, I’m not your usual image of a victim; but I was sexually assaulted this summer, and I will not be silent any longer.