The Miseducation of Men

He was mean to you?

It’s just because he likes you.

He cat called you?

It’s just harmless fun.

He pinched your bum?

It’s just boys being boys.

He spiked your drink?

You should watch your drink more carefully.

He harassed you?

You shouldn’t dress like that then.

He hit you?

You shouldn’t have made him angry.

He sexually assaulted you?

You shouldn’t have drank so much.

He murdered you?

Well, you shouldn’t walk home alone.

Why We Need Better Education Surrounding Consent

TW: sexual assault

I’m sure we’ve all seen countless “not all men” posts flying about the internet and while yes, not all men harass women the sad truth is that many do and many don’t even realise they’ve done anything wrong. I’m going to highlight this to you with a personal experience that in all honesty has been really hard to write. It’s hard to write for many reasons, for one I still haven’t fully accepted what happened and two the person who done it is someone I would still regard as a close friend, someone that I still care for.

I was out in town with a friend at a bar called “Please Don’t Tell” very aptly named as it turns out, we were doing what everyone does on nights out, we were drinking and dancing and having a laugh. At some point in the evening, unbeknownst to me, the bar man slipped drugs into my drink. A lot happened after this, my friend left me because I was behaving erratically, a man followed me as I attempted to walk home, a second man approached me and tried to touch me; I reacted violently at which point a third man got involved. This man phoned my then boyfriend to come and get me. I don’t remember any of this happening, I only know what I was told by others and what could be seen on CCTV. I have a vague recollection of driving home with my boyfriend but after that everything is completely blank.

I woke up the next morning with my boyfriend beside me, I felt lower than I had ever felt in my life and had no idea what had happened the night before. I panicked when I realised I didn’t have my jeans or bra on anymore and my boyfriend was completely naked; I was on my period and never have sex on it because it’s painful. But then I realised I still had my period pad attached to my underwear and thought “good we didn’t do anything”. When my boyfriend woke up he was instantly annoyed, he filled me in on the phone call from the stranger and told me about the other two men, he then told me how he thought I was just wasted but quickly realised that something else was wrong. When he suggested I might have been drugged I was horrified. I started panicking when I realised I had no idea what had happened to me, I ran to the mirror to inspect myself, I seemed fine apart from a pain and some bruising on my back. I asked my boyfriend if I had fallen, he said I was all over the place the whole night, stumbling and falling over. He didn’t stay long, he was annoyed and tired from getting up in the middle of the night to come get me. I remember feeling empty, everyone was mad at me for the way I behaved and I couldn’t even remember what I’d done, my friend from the night before eventually spoke to me; when she told me how I was acting I was sure that I had been spiked. I contacted the police and then phoned my boyfriend to see what he knew from that night.

He told me he didn’t know much, the man who phoned him had told him I seemed to be fighting with a man but he wasn’t sure why, my boyfriend said that when he arrived I was agitated but otherwise seemed alright. I told him I was going to the police as I was certain my drink had been spiked and was worried something had happened. He got a bit quiet and then told me that we had had sex when we got home so I should probably tell the police that. I was shocked, I had no memory of it at all. I thought back to the morning when I had felt relief when I thought that I couldn’t possibly have slept with him because I hated doing it on my period. I had been so thankful that we hadn’t had sex. I asked him to tell me what happened because I couldn’t remember. A horrible twisting feeling started in my stomach as he told me some of the things we’d done that night. I felt sick. They were things that normally I would never do, things that made my insides curl to think about doing. My heart sank as he said “I know you don’t normally like that but you didn’t object, if you hadn’t wanted to do it you would’ve told me”. I didn’t know how to feel, he was my boyfriend, I hadn’t said no, so surely what had happened wasn’t wrong. It felt so strange, knowing someone had touched me that way but not being able to remember it happening. I convinced myself that it wasn’t a big deal, he was my boyfriend, I must’ve been ok with it at the time and just not remember now. Everything was fine.

It took me a very long time to realise that what he done wasn’t ok. For months I told myself it was fine, that I must have wanted it to happen, that I consented. But the truth is I couldn’t have consented, I had been drugged and was therefore incapable of consenting, I wasn’t in control of my actions. He had noticed something was wrong, he knew I was acting strangely and suspected I might have been spiked but he decided to have sex with me regardless, decided to do things that he knew I usually didn’t want or enjoy. This man who was meant to have taken me away from danger, this man I trusted more than anyone; he done the exact thing he was meant to be protecting me from. We sat one day and I told him how I felt, I told him the relief I felt when I thought we hadn’t had sex, I told him I couldn’t remember anything, that I felt upset thinking about it. He said he felt confused because I had kissed him, because I never said to stop, because we always had sex when I was drunk. He got upset and told me he would never do anything like that, that he couldn’t believe I would think he was like that. I instantly felt guilty. I apologised, told him I didn’t think badly of him, that he was right, he wasn’t like that. After that, we never spoke about it again.

What shocks me about this is that he genuinely doesn’t believe he done anything wrong and I believed that too for a while. He doesn’t see that I was in no fit state to consent to sex, he thinks what he done was alright because I never said no but then he’ll tell me how out of it I was, how my eyes were rolling around, I didn’t say no because I didn’t have the capacity to do anything. But to him this absence of “no” is consent and I think a lot of men would agree with him. A lot of people don’t genuinely understand consent, don’t understand that if someone is under the influence of drugs that they can’t consent because they don’t have the capacity to. In his eyes, he’s the hero in my story, the one that came and swooped me up and took me away from the bad men. This is why I believe a huge part of the problem is education, or lack thereof. Everyone needs to be taught consent and not just yes and no because it’s more than that, it’s body language, it’s physical and mental state. Consent should never be assumed, if you’re unsure don’t do it, if the consent isn’t enthusiastic, don’t do it, if you have to ask multiple times before they eventually say yes, don’t do it.

I’m not sure how I feel about my situation, angry maybe? Confused and upset. I’ve accepted now that what happened wasn’t ok, that he shouldn’t have done it, that he did things to me that night that I didn’t consent to. I’ll probably never call it what it is but at least I’ve acknowledged that it’s not alright and that I’m not to blame. Sadly though, I don’t think he’ll ever accept that his actions were wrong.

37 thoughts on “The Miseducation of Men

Add yours

  1. I’m so sorry you went through this. But I admire your bravery writing it down and helping to spread the message so as to help educate others around consent. Such an important topic to talk about, well done for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry this happened to you, he was supposed to be your safe space. So proud of you for writing and sharing this, I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was really moving. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’ve experienced my fair share of sexual harassment and abuse too as it seems most women have. You mentioned the ‘not all men’ posts and I know a lot of people get angry about those, but the way I see it, we need to acknowledge the many great men out there who would never take advantage of women and raise our sons to be like them. My kids are little and I talk to both of them about consent all the time starting with simple conversations about how they don’t have to hug relatives if they don’t want to, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s very sad to know just how many women have had these experiences! There are many men who would never do these things and these are the men we need to speak up and call out their peers for their behaviour! But yes I hope the younger generations will grow up with a better understanding of consent!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was moved by your opening lyrical poem. Given the title of this piece, it summed up beautifully and sadly all the areas where consent and respect are lacking. Moving onto your story, I felt as if I was right there with you experiencing the confusion. I know I have not gone through anything akin to this and am sorry you experienced it, but I love that you share your story so powerfully! To all the men reading this, I hope they leave with something new inside them.
    Consent is so, so important. It should start in childhood, but it can be learned with enough dedication to good values later in life too.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for being so honest and talking so openly about your experience. You’re so brave for sharing it. I went through something similar and it made me feel so ashamed and dirty. The education of consent needs to be done better from a younger age xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was assaulted in my sleep by someone I was in a relationship with. And I had the same feelings as you, denial because I didn’t want to believe it could happen in a relationship. Hurt because after years of denial I realized that what happened to me was assault, matched with anger because they also don’t think they did anything wrong. He saw my post about the incident and told me that I had no right to tell people about it because it wasn’t like that, and even went as far as to attempt to invalidate the whole thing but questioning why I stayed in a relationship with him after it happened.

    Your feelings and your experience is valid. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. You are so brave for telling your story 🧡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry that happened to you, what they did was 100% wrong. It’s frustrating and upsetting to realise that they don’t see what they done as wrong which is why I think it’s important that we share our stories with each other! The way he treated you after that was horrible, I think deep down he probably knew what he had done was wrong!

      Like

  7. I’m sorry you experienced something like this. None of this was your fault AT ALL and you did the right thing speaking up about it, but sadly we receive the wrong narrative from the media and society. I think it’s shocking that almost every woman has experienced some sort of sexual assault in her life- whether that’s verbal cat-calling or groping on a night out. Disgusting, thank you for drawing attention to the problem- and helping in the process of re-educating people on this subject x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so, so sorry that this happened to you.

    This was 100% NOT your fault and frankly, I’m feeling angry with your boyfriend’s actions. First, he had no right to be so annoyed with you, when he clearly recognised that you were not yourself and that something was wrong (as in, more than drunk but actually drugged). Second, he needs to realise that while you were moving and seemed to be acting autonomously, you weren’t in a fit state to consent to sex.

    Consent needs so much more attention and education. I hope you’re okay and can move forward from this, but I worry that he will never accept what he’s done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I feel conflicted about the whole thing tbh. We’re still friends but the more I dwell on it the harder it is to see past what happened that night. I hope one day he’ll see what he done was wrong but I’m not sure he ever will! Can only hope education improves over next few years!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We can only hope that he will recognise his wrongdoing, but that’s on him. In the meantime, I’m wishing you the best and hope you never have to experience anything like this ever again

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so sorry for what you had to experience when you thought you were safe. None of this is your fault and you shouldn’t blame yourself! Everyone should be educated and we should speak more about consent, because as you said it’s not just a question of yes or no, but goes deeper. thank you so much for sharing your experience with us x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, it took me a while to acknowledge what had actually happened and I know a lot of other women have been in similar circumstances! Hopefully education surrounding consent improves

      Like

  10. I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I agree, I feel like we are failing in properly educating men in our society. They grow up understanding that you can’t make medical decisions when you’re incapacitated, however, they fail to apply the same way of thinking to sexual consent. I say failing because I believe it’s a society-wide problem. Society as a whole needs to do better about clarifying situations like this, helping them to grow up understanding what does and doesn’t qualify as consent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s 100% a societal problem! Everyone should be educated right from a young age on proper consent, there’s just been so many failings in it so far. But hopefully things will start to change soon!

      Like

  11. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go. I don’t believe I was ever even taught about consent in school, it was just something I found out about through word of mouth and social media. People always push ‘no means no’, which is true but more awareness needs to be made about the different ways can/can’t be given. Thank you for writing such an important post x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. It is hard to talk about and share things like this but it just might help someone else that may be in a similar situation. You are important and you matter.

    Like

  13. So true……most men doesn’t realised that they sexually harassed women. They usually think what they are doing is just harmless fun. That happens a lot in Malaysia as well. And most men always blame women too. They always said that it’s women’s fault for being too pretty and attractive. Duh! It’s like we are not allow to be pretty for ourselves? Seriously, I’m also tired and sick of this! I believe these men need education on this issue. Or else they should not be called men. They should be called baboons!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Babe, thank you so much for sharing this. Such an inspiring post and also relatable to so many of us. I’ve been through similar experiences and I really don’t think men realise the seriousness of their actions. There really needs to be more education in this. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m so sorry that you went through this, I think he really didn’t think he did anything wrong and that’s the problem. If he realized you were out of it, he shouldn’t have done anything. You are brave for sharing your story, it was a bit hard for me to read but this post is really important. I wish you all the best! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you for sharing your story and I’m so sorry this happened to you – all of it. Education around consent is so needed. And the word “no” is only one small part of it. I’m glad you were able to speak to your boyfriend and explain how you felt but an apology definitely doesn’t make up for the fact that he did something very wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I really enjoyed reading your story. I feel like we need to sound the word CONSENT to guys even more. Even if he is your boyfriend, husband or whatever, he doesn’t have no right to touch you without first asking and getting a solid affirmative reply. If anyone, anyone at all (boyfriend or husband) touches you without your consent, it is RAPE and there’s no better term to describe that. I agree that consent goes way beyond yes or no. It has to do with the body language and the genuineness of the response. It’s so annoying that they fail to realize they did something wrong. Consent should never ever be assumed. If the consent isn’t enthusiastic don’t do it. An unenthusiastic yes is as good as a no. I also agree with the fact that you shouldn’t do it if you have to ask multiple times before they eventually say yes. Your boyfriend was so wrong and this whole thing and the fact that he made you do things he knew you don’t normally enjoy/ wouldn’t normally do made me wonder if he really loved you. I feel like CONSENT should be discussed at the beginning of any relationship. If the guy agrees to never have sex without your consent then fine, otherwise, to hell with that relationship. Lovely post xx.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly this reply is spot on! And this is exactly what people need to be taught, there’s just not enough education surrounding consent at all! Yeah tbh I still feel very conflicted about what happened, we stayed friends after breaking up but I’ve been feeling a bit different towards him after reflecting on things! Thank you for taking the time to read the post!

      Like

  18. Thank you for being so honest and sharing this. I think you speak for all women through this post and what you’ve mentioned is so important. People really can take a life lesson with them after reading this. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

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