The experience of being sexually abused as a child, for me, was not the sick, twisted scenario that we imagine it to be, as adults. When we hear child sexual abuse we immediately conjure up pictures of some perverted old man fucking a little girl and it makes us want to vomit.
I was abused by an older cousin. He was someone that I loved. I didn’t know that what we were doing was wrong. I was about 7. I grew up in a household where I wasn’t even allowed to watch people kissing on TV. There was no conversation about physical touch. We were all expected to hug and kiss old ladies that we didn’t know at weddings and funerals. There was no understanding of how to refuse to allow somebody I knew and loved to touch me. I simply didn’t know that it was an option. I had no concept of personal boundaries.
Thankfully all the boys through my adolescence and early teens didn’t really know what they were doing either and didn’t push too far. By the time I got to my late teens and was going out alone with boys things changed. Eventually one night I was date raped. That time I did try to refuse. We were both drunk. He was being very rough and it felt wrong. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had enough practice with being able to fight off boys in that situation and I gave up. In hindsight, that was probably a good thing. Who knows what would have happened if I had fought harder.
For a while I dated somebody “safe”. Then I decided to go spend a few months in Israel, on a kibbutz. At first I agreed to pretend I was with a gay guy. It protected him from homophobic soldiers and allowed me to be viewed as the property of another man and therefore off limits. There was an incident on a boat on our volunteer trip. I went down below looking for the bathroom. As I came out, one of the crew pushed me into a cabin and had his way with me. It all happened so quickly I didn’t quite process it at all. It was overshadowed by meeting the man with whom I had my first sexual experience with informed, enthusiastic consent.
The first time we kissed was on my 21st birthday. I was very drunk. We went back to his room. By the time he realized how drunk I was I already had my shirt off. When he understood that I wasn’t fully conscious he helped me get dressed and took me back to my friends. (So much for the ridiculous notion that men are incapable of self-control). He was the kind of guy who could not be turned on by a semi-conscious, person in his bed who was not able to share the experience. He is not the only man of that ilk that I have met. He visited me a few days later. We went out to the local mall. We got to know each other a little bit better. One night he took me to a room where he had arranged mattresses on the floor. There were candles all around them. He had really made a huge effort to make our first time special. It was incredible. Suddenly sex wasn’t about enduring something that a man did to me. It could be fun. It could be about him pleasing me. I could have multiple orgasms. I spent the next two months experimenting; discovering what I liked and what I liked doing to him. We explored each other’s bodies for hours at a time, finding new ways to please each other. After all that, I had to come back home to Durban.
I called the next year and a half of my life, “my slut phase” long before I got involved with Slutwalk Johannesburg. During that time I went out with the specific intention of getting laid. I would walk into a club, find the hottest guy in the place, and say to my friends, “That’s who I’m fucking tonight.” Nine times out of ten, I would get my first choice. Sometimes I didn’t. He wasn’t into me. He was waiting for someone… whatever. When that happened I would choose someone else and move on. That is the important bit. If you take nothing else away from reading this, please understand these three simple words. I.WOULD. CHOOSE.
Yes, I was going out to get laid. Yes, I was drinking a lot. Yes, I was getting stoned. Yes, I was dressing provocatively. No, that did not take away my right to choose. When I got dressed I was dressing for me. I was dressing to boost my confidence. I was drinking because I liked the feeling of not being afraid. I was doing the things I was doing for me. I wanted to be sure that I could fuck the guy that I chose to fuck. I wasn’t dressing to get the attention of the five hundred other men in the club. I didn’t even notice that they were there. The fact that I was drunk and looking incredibly hot had nothing to do with them. How much I drank and what I was wearing did not entitle any one of them to access to my body.
This is what people seem to miss. Saying that I’m going out to get laid doesn’t mean that I will fuck anyone who makes me an offer. It means I will choose who I want to fuck. Some nights, there wasn’t anyone around that I wanted, so I’d go home alone. Some nights I wasn’t going out to get laid. Some nights I just wanted to get drunk and dance with my friends. Some nights I stayed at home and read a book.
The point is that being a slut does take away a woman’s right to her own choices about her own body. We live in a world where slut is a derogatory word because people cannot accept the reality of women who enjoy sex and are confident in their own sexuality. Society seeks to punish us for not buying into the patriarchal stereotypes. The punishment is the myth that some women deserve to be raped.
The next time you see a woman who is dressed like a slut, you may still believe that she is asking for it. It might even be true. She may be out to get laid. What I hope you have got out of this article is that she still gets to choose who, when and, most importantly, IF she wants to fuck.