TW: rape, sexual assault
Over this past weekend, a guy that I had been dating for the past couple of months ghosted me. Things had been going well. We were exclusive and had even discussed the possibility of becoming more serious. He was responsive, reliable, and kind. He was always eager to spend time with me and would fit me into his schedule however he could. There had been some conflicts, but we always found a way to talk about them, empathize with one another, and move forward.
We were listening to Devo Pandora Radio. “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash came on and I mentioned how the song always reminded me of Will Smith. The guy had never heard “Will2K,” so I made him listen to it. He complained about how cheesy it was and complained that Will Smith did not love his children equally. A bold claim from someone who has never met Will Smith or his children.
“Trey never gets mentioned. Meanwhile, Will’s trying to force Jaden and Willow down our throats,’ he said.
“That’s not true,” I said.
I mentioned Trey in the “Just the Two of Us” video. By pure coincidence, I had just watched the Red Table Talk where Will Smith had called an emergency family meeting to discuss their eating habits and their ignorance of how the foods they eat make them feel. Trey sat at the table and took an active role. There was another video where Jada Pinkett Smith talked about how she, Will, and Will’s ex-wife Sheree all co-parented Trey together and what a good relationship they all have. I never got the sense that Trey was excluded.
What frustrated me about this guy is that he would state his opinions with complete confidence no matter how misinformed he was. He spoke with complete authority even when he was tragically incorrect. Once I got over my initial annoyance, I would tell him how I felt. Then, he was usually able to understand where I was coming from and revise his opinion based on new information. That was what made it work: his willingness to adapt and take my perspective seriously.
He then said that Willow Smith had no talent. The only song he had heard by her is “Whip My Hair.” A song which, believe it or not, is nearly a decade old. Exasperated, I playfully lunged at him and we started to wrestle. We were both laughing and smiling. Suddenly, he pulled away and said, “Alright, now this is getting too rapey.”
Believe it or not, this is the second time that I guy I was dating used the word “rapey” in an unsettling way. The first happened after I asked the guy I was seeing at the time to be less apprehensive and more dominant in the bedroom. He obliged and I told him that I liked the change. Then he said, while still inside of me, “I didn’t want to be too rapey.”
I understand that he didn’t want to cross any boundaries or harm me in any way. However, there are other ways to say it. He didn’t want to be too dominant. Too aggressive. Too commandeering. If it had been too much, I would have said so. I had asked him to take charge, so it was consensual. If he had done something I didn’t like, I would have let him know, perhaps, added to my list of hard limits, and been more specific in describing what I wanted. As hard as we may try not to cross lines (or have our lines crossed), it can happen despite the best intentions. We cannot always anticipate our triggers. Something that was okay one time may not feel okay the next time. We have to do our best to communicate and trust that if new hard limits do arise, that it is not because our partners are deliberately trying to trick us. Communication is key.
When the guy said that our play wrestling was getting “rapey,” it came from a place of anxiety. He thought my roommates would overhear the struggle and think that he was trying to force himself on me. He claims that I had yelled, “No!” I do not remember that ever happening. When he thought I had said no, he was worried about whether HE looked bad, not whether I was upset. This is a huge red flag.
He then told me about a past incident that had scared him. He was alone in the men’s bathroom when two women walked in. They said the line was too long in the women’s bathroom and they couldn’t wait any longer. The man felt afraid that these women would accuse him of sexual assault. He also feared that, because there were no other men in the bathroom, that he would have no witnesses to speak up against the allegations.
“I was in danger,” he said.
I am having difficulty understanding his anxiety and paranoia. The two women needed a bathroom ASAP. I have absolutely used the men’s room before when the women’s room was too crowded. I highly doubt that the thought of falsely accusing the man in the bathroom of rape had ever crossed their minds. He explained to me that since the #MeToo movement, he had become afraid of accidentally crossing a boundary with a sex partner, the woman not informing him, and then that woman falsely accusing him of rape and being believed.
This man is a straight white cisgender man who is well over 6′ tall. He is obsessed with the idea of being falsely accused. I asked if he had ever been accused of rape. He said no. Meanwhile, I am a queer black cisgender woman and survivor who has been raped multiple times. The thought of this man hurting me had never even crossed my mind. I do not think it is possible for our viewpoints to be any more opposed to one another.
I question a man whose response to the #MeToo movement is to fear being falsely accused of rape rather than feel for the survivors that came forward. To think, “This awful thing COULD happen to me,” rather than, “This awful thing HAS happened to these survivors.” False accusations are rare. His fear of being falsely accused makes it seem like women are schemers waiting in the bushes to trap men and make them look bad. He even accused the woman that spoke out against Aziz Ansari of making false accusations.
Sensing that I was upset, he left. He texted me an apology. He said he should not have made light of rape and that his paranoia made him sabotage things. He said he had permanently damaged things and that we should stop seeing each other indefinitely.
I wanted to give us both a chance to cool off so we could talk. It felt important to me to understand where his fear came from. My first reaction was to dismiss it, but then I became curious about it. Maybe he HAD been accused of sexual assault but did not want to tell me. I feel like something must have happened for the paranoia and anxiety to be that extreme. I was hoping for some insight.
When I reached out to him that I want to talk, I got no response after a couple of days. It was unusual. This was the guy who usually responded to my texts within minutes. I realized that he had blocked my number. He unmatched with me on OKCupid. We weren’t even Facebook friends, but he blocked me on there too.
I hadn’t definitively decided to end things. I was waiting to see what came of the conversation before making any final decisions. Him blocking me has robbed me of the opportunity to have that conversation and has ended our relationship without my input.
I don’t understand what happened. Maybe I never will.