Thanks to a Tinder date gone horribly wrong, I was awakened to my doing obligatory sex things for far too long, and I was done doing that. It is not my responsibility to babysit a man’s hard on.
I fell head over heels for a Romanian Orthodox virgin at a theme park which was great because I got the entire summer to reorient my confidence and self-worth, unattached from what I could provide sexually to a man. Zorro’s love taught me lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn in order to be living a more abundant life (I totally love when that happens. Especially in the form of a boyfriend who will cuddle with me every night).
And I came back to NYC a veritable new woman, ready to take on the life of a person who knows her value/standards, what she wants, and how to donate to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Now that’s a real baptism! #bornagain
But lemme just warn you -- you’re used to me writing about these Kind of Bad Things that happen, and then me learning some great lesson from the Kind of Bad Thing. This is not that story. At least, not yet. So strap in, y’all. This gonna be somber as hell!
After Zorro, I must have been absolutely beaming that beautiful self-assuredness because the first night I went out in the City, this guy just came right up to me at the bar to strike up conversation. I was catching up with my friend Olivia, and we were clearly having a girls night, but I appreciate any guy who will nut up and talk to a girl IRL (in proper context) so I gave him some attention.
He was wearing a super nice suit (#murrayhill), but looked older so I took him a little more seriously than the glorified frat boys of my early Tinder days. I learned he was a Saudi diplomat for the UN, had been educated in Sweden, and came to the States for work a few years ago. He asked for my number and we set up dinner plans. He seemed really interesting but really I just wanted to hear about how the UN was exploding over the imminent election of Donald Trump.
I wore my business casual slacks and a button up polo because I knew he was going to take me somewhere fancy and be in a suit. So I dressed like I had a real job (and spent my afternoon watching a 2 year old) before I met him for dinner at a crazy nice Mexican place in Midtown #prepared. When the server asked if I wanted a cocktail, I didn’t know what to say. I mean yes of course I want a cocktail! But these suckers are $17! And I don’t know if he’s paying (I never assume in New York. NEVER).
“Are you getting one?” I asked him. “Of course! This place has incredible cocktails. Try the dragonfruit Margarita.” So I tried the dragonfruit margarita. He was right. That shit was dope.
Conversation flowed fine. He seemed very interested in my life, which is always shocking. You are literally a DIPLOMAT, BRO. You know what I did this summer? Sang for 3 year olds at a theme park -- very prestigious work. But regardless of vocation, I could keep up in terms of policy and understanding of UN procedure (thanks Hollister High Gifted class! The only thing I learned in high school other than how to spell “crispito”). I enjoyed hearing his stories of being educated all over the world.
The date ended (He paid! Phew). I wasn’t in love or anything, but another date seemed like a good idea because he was interesting, good-looking, funny, and we both despised Donald Trump. I know. My second date qualifier checklist is so thorough. We agreed to meet the next week.
It’s only our second date, and I’m like finding myself a little nervous. Was I even ready to date this soon after Zorro? Just have fun, MJ! No pressure! So I put on high-waisted denim pants like my true self, and waltzed into yet another Midtown restaurant. This time the election was over and Donald Trump was officially president, so we had A LOT to discuss. I devoured some french fries and we both wallowed in being victims of the Middle American conservative sucker punch that was the 2016 election. He asked if I wanted to go for some champagne across the street.
Champagne? I’m eating french fries. Also, It’s Sunday night and Donny T is officially our president! What are we celebrating? How awesome I am at dating now? Okay okay, I’ll have some champagne.
I was feeling oh so fancy over champagne, political banter, and some laughs when Diplomat asked if I’d like to go back to his place for a night cap.
Inner Monologue: Okay. This is going well. I’m having fun! But I know what this suggests and MJ YOU ARE DONE WITH OBLIGATORY SEX STUFF. So I am going to make it VERY clear what my boundaries and intentions are. Now is your chance to practice this whole “owning your shit” thing. Speak up, Mattie Jo!
Outer Reality: “I would like to continue hanging out with you tonight. But I understand the implications made when agreeing to go back to someone’s apartment and I just want to be very clear — I do not have sex with people I’m not in a committed relationship with (pause). So, yes to a drink. But that’s it.”
I WAS SO PROUD OF ME!!! I said it! I confidently stated my boundaries in an adult dating situation!
He said something along the lines of “Oh of course, I would never assume or expect anything from you blah blah blah IM LYING!” And then we were on our way to his place.
His apartment was a massive one bedroom in Murray Hill (again with these Murray Hill fuckers) with an absolutely stunning view of the City. He poured me a glass of Bourbon. Who was this guy? The Saudi Christian Grey? I barely took a drink and then set it down. I wanted to see the view, and I was feeling that champagne a little too much for a glass of bourbon. He walked up behind me and began kissing my neck.
This doesn’t suck. He’s a great kisser! Am I about to have a rich Diplomat boyfriend? I guess I have a thing for foreign guys…
Then he took off my shirt.
Wait. No no. We were just kissing. I don’t want my shirt off.
“Ummm, Diplomat, remember I said I just wanted a drink. I don’t want to…”
“Oh yeah yeah of course. I’m sorry. That’s fine. Here.”
He handed me the bourbon.
I put my shirt back on, and we sat on the couch talking a little more before he started kissing me again. He asked if I wanted to go into the bedroom. I told him no, that I’d stay on the couch. By this time it was late. I needed to get a cab. But I knew it was going to be like $75 and I was kind of drunk. Couldn’t I just sleep on the couch and go in the morning? Then I could take the train and save $75. No, MJ. Go home. I started to leave.
“No, it’s okay. You can stay here. It’s late. Really. It’s so late and the trains will be shit.”
Ugh yes and that cab is going to cost a fortune! Wait, why don’t you pay for my cab Mr. Stellar-View-from-a-One-Bedroom-in-Midtown?
“Okay, but I’m going to sleep on the couch. And I’m really tired. I’d like to go to sleep now.”
“Yes, that’s fine. I’ll sleep out here with you.”
UGH NO DUDE, YOU ARE NOT GETTING IT I’M TRYING TO NOT DEAL WITH YOUR “BUT SHE’S IN MY BED” BONER
We kissed a little more. My shirt came off again. I said no going further and sex again, then passed out quickly because #champagne. And then I woke up to him touching me. And then to him inside of me. With no condom. I passed out again.
In the morning he greeted me like nothing had happened. Walked me to the door and kissed me, said he’d text me later and he’d see me again soon.
As I left that luxury building on 38th Street, I knew something very terrible had happened. A man had sex with me, despite my saying no multiple times. But it had happened in his apartment, after more than 3 drinks, and it’s not like he beat the shit out of me. I knew what this meant. Someone had sex with me when I’d made it very clear I did not want to, and it was all my fault.
I called my friend Lydia. I told her everything that happened.
“Lydia, I said it. I said no so many times, I really did. I did NOT want to have sex with him. After Zorro? Are you kidding me? It was really important to me to not sleep with someone until I trusted them. I told him I..”
“Mattie Jo, he raped you.”
“No. I mean. I…”
“You said no, and he still had sex with you. That’s rape, MJ.”
That's rape, MJ.
But...he didn’t beat me. He didn’t kidnap me and tie me up, or hold me down. Or any of the other terrible details I'd learn define "rape." So how could I call it rape? Calling him a...rapist? That’s a little extreme, isn’t it? He wasn’t violent or mean. He just...had intercourse with me when I was passed out drunk after I said multiple times I didn’t want to. Is that rape?
Rape (as defined by Webster): unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.
So. I was raped. Diplomat raped me.
I know it’s hard to remember a time without #MeToo, #TimesUp, or a new major sexual harassment case everyday, but a little over a year ago in my view of America, getting date raped basically felt like a death sentence. Date rape isn’t like… actually rape. Rape is severe. It’s a physically abusive psychopath man hurting a defenseless woman or child. Or maybe someone getting drugged and then taken advantage of. Not simply guys having sex with women after they’ve said no. I mean, if all of us women went around reporting or talking about the time a guy had sex with us when we said we didn’t want to, we’d be walking amongst A LOT of rapist dudes. And that can’t be true! Those men are good people!
Right. Good rapist people.
Okay, so. Now what?
I couldn’t report it. I would just be interrogated by a bunch of men accusing me of trying to get money out of this super rich guy. My case wasn’t strong. I had been drinking. I said yes to going home with him and didn’t I like him? Did he have reason to think I wasn’t interested in sex (YEAH IDK THE PART WHERE I SAID I WASN’T)? Also he is a very successful, political, rich man. Whatever lawyer I can’t afford was never going to beat his. Not to mention, do I really want to relive those moments for the next few years for the sake of...justice?
I didn’t think I could tell my family (except my liberal brother)*. They wouldn’t mean to, but they would probably make it my fault. In my upbringing, the lessons on boundaries with guys usually centered around “just never putting yourself in the situation.” I’d gone to enough religious youth retreats to learn guys can’t be trusted when left to their own devices. If they aren’t lusting after us in our “shorty shorts” or pants with words on the butt we decided to wear, they’re probs looking at porn behind their wives’/girlfriends’ backs because their wives/girlfriends don’t have enough/any sex with them. I’d failed at my duty to keep men from doing awful things.
I was so broken. One minute I was super proud of myself for speaking my truth and setting verbal boundaries. The next I was reminded why saying “no” is far too often not enough.
*I do not mean to vilify my family. I just mean that these are typical responses from most individuals, even well intentioned. And I didn't need/want to hear that from those closest to me.
So I swore to never explain myself or verbally set boundaries. I simply wouldn’t ever be in a dude’s apartment unless my intent was to sleep with him. I would never have more than 3 drinks in an evening unless I was with my girlfriends. I would never go out with a stranger. I would ALWAYS take the uber home regardless of price. I would never let a guy pay for dates because I don’t want him to think I owe him anything… I would never this, I would only do that…
I made up countless rules to prevent something like this from happening to me ever again (I felt like I was back at middle school church camp making up rules to ensure I didn’t lose my V-card before marriage. A game plan is important, you know). And as long as society was still chill with dudes getting away with this kind of behavior, my only option was to change mine.
But that didn’t shake the question eating away at my insides: Why? WHY when a man puts their penis inside of me against my will do I have to think about all the reasons I should have made sure he didn’t do that?
I wouldn’t find answers to that question until later. Regardless of the question, I knew I had been raped and I needed help. So I called Planned Parenthood and I asked if I could set up getting tested right away because I had been raped and he didn’t use a condom. They said they’d have a counselor call me immediately. The counselor said an STI/HIV screening this quickly after the incident wouldn’t be useful because nothing is likely to show up. However, she could set me up with a doctor and social worker at Mt. Sinai Hospital immediately if I wanted.
Yes, I wanted that very badly.