Because She’s “Up For It.”
When I was twenty-one years old I spent the night at the apartment of the boy I was madly in love with. He wasn’t my boyfriend and we weren’t dating, but I was certainly plotting—I wanted desperately to be in his bed and a night of drunken debauchery seemed like the best way to get myself there. I admit that I had it for him bad, afflicted with the kind of first love that makes you think of song lyrics and feel sick to your stomach, and just sitting across from him at a table at a dirty dive bar made my heart explode. That particular Saturday night we drank about a thousand tequila shots between us, clumsily and hilariously held each other up while we stumbled back to his apartment, and in realizing that sex was out of the question (neither of us could see straight, let alone fuck straight) I borrowed a pair of pyjamas and went to bed. About an hour later I woke up with him on top of me.
I relay this story not so we can have a debate about whether or not this is rape, because, despite all of my love and desire for this boy at the time, it clearly is, no shades of grey about it. I relay it instead because of the conversation I had with him the following day, fully clothed and reasonably rational, over breakfast. When I asked him why in his mind he felt it was okay to pull off my pyjama bottoms, put a condom on, and fuck me while I was sound asleep, his response was one that has stuck with me for years.
“Because you always seemed like the kind of girl who was up for it.”
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of a girl being “up for it.” I am certainly out as “pro-sex” (whatever that means,) and occasionally out as a sub (depending on the circle), and yes, I write and speak a lot about sexuality in general. The result of all this sex talk is that when I’m having a pint at the bar acquaintances seem to think I always want to have sex. Not only that, they assume that I want to have sex with anyone and everyone at any time, that I have no criteria for who I would want to bed, and when I would want to bed them.
In Jenny Block‘s brilliant and courageous book on her personal experiences with sexual openess, Open, she writes a lot about how people make these same misguided assumptions about her because of her particular situation—that because she is open to sex with someone other than her husband, then she must be bedding everyone. I think the same assumptions are made of a woman who has the audacity to even mention she enjoys sex.
For me personally, when you couple these assumptions with the fact that I write a lot about submissive sexuality, a lot of people get more than a little bossy about bedding me. You know, cause I’m “up for it.” I’ve had people give my email address out to other people with the intent of coordinating a hook-up, I’ve had people try to kiss and grope me because they “just assumed,” I’ve had people slip their phone numbers into my pockets, I’ve had people invite me back to their places without a single sentence exchanged between us, I’ve had people graphically talk to me about the things they’d like “to do” to me without even a thought that I might not want to be “done to.” I don’t think that this experience is unique to the fact that I am open about my sexuality, but it’s certainly the excuse that’s used when I call people on it.
Recently a friend of mine was talking to me about a new girl he was interested in. When I made an admittedly lewd comment about him fucking her, he responded, horrified, “No, she’s not like that. She’s totally sweet.” This notion that there are girls that you fuck and girls that are sweet and nothing inbetween is, of course, ridiculous. Not only does it mean that the sweet girls never get fucked and the fuckable girls never get sweetness, it means that there’s no way for a woman to talk about sexuality in a healthy, honest, and real way.
At least not without assuming she’s “up for it.”