Rapist or Survivor?

One of the true blessings of my life has always been that I remember almost everything. One of the true curses of my life is also that I remember almost everything. 

Approaching the six-decade mark, I have been mostly single and dating for 45 years.  Following are instances from my life that would be considered sexual assault today.

While walking to a high school dance in the early seventies, I passed an attractive girl going the other way.  She had long curly black hair and was wearing very tight blue jeans and a white, frilled, long-sleeve shirt.  Our eyes met as we passed each other.  I turned to look at her and saw she had done the same.   

Again, our eyes locked.  Then she took off running towards me and jumped into my arms.  Her obvious extreme drunkenness didn't stop me from saying "yes" when she asked me to come to her apartment.  At 16, I was still living with my mother.  

On the walk to her place, she told me she had taken a seconal.

She didn't have her key but lived in a first-floor apartment next to the entrance of the building.  After boosting her up and through a window, I followed her in.  Once inside, she took my hand and led me into her bedroom.  This was my big moment, the realization of every teenager's priapic hopes and dreams.

And then it happened... 

She fell back and passed out.  There I was with a beautiful girl, fast asleep on the bed in front of me – there for the taking.  I tried waking her up to no avail.  I rationalized that she had wanted me and that this was all her idea anyway.  Should it matter that she was unconscious?  

I decided that it would be wrong and pulled her jeans up as best as I could.  I covered her with a blanket and left the way I came in – she had one of those door locks that could be opened only with the key, even from the inside.  As I was climbing out the window, her friends were coming in.  Asking me where their friend was, I told them she was asleep inside. 

As she was passed out with her clothing in some disarray, it wouldn't have been crazy for her friends to assume I had had sex with Sleeping Beauty.  The next morning, she herself might have thought the same. 

Here's something to think about.  The age of consent in New York State is 17.  I was 16.  Had I gone through with it, who would be the rapist?  Back then, she would be the rapist – today, I would be.

Three times I leaned in to kiss girls only to have them turn away.  Humiliated, I stopped trying to kiss girls – at most, leaning in a little to make my intentions known.  If the girl didn't come up to meet me, I retreated. 

Despite not forcing those kisses, and backtracking when they turned away, today, would the mere attempt be considered sexual assault?

Three times in my life, I have been in the middle of things with girls when they changed their minds.  Without complaint, when asked to stop, I stopped – there was never any acrimony.  I never sought an explanation or tried to convince them otherwise.  It was their right to stop or go and my duty to follow their instructions.

Still, today, would this be considered rape even though I stopped when asked?

Once in the late seventies and once in the middle eighties, I had girls force sex on me when I explicitly told them I wasn't interested.  One coerced and manipulated me until I relented, and the other physically forced herself on me.

Was I raped?  I never thought so.  Were it to happen today (fat chance, old man), I still wouldn't consider it rape.  Had the sexes been reversed, I would say it was rape both then and now. 

Around 1985, I was in the deli business and one of my customers who lived across the street was an older man.  He was semi-frail, sometimes coming in with an oxygen tank and tubes up his nose.  I didn't realize he was gay until he started propositioning me.  I was around 25 and dating heavily and told him I wasn't interested.  He continued doing so, however, until one day he groped me.  I didn't hit him; I told him to stop, and he stopped.  I could say my first instinct was to punch him in the face, and I didn't only because of his health.  Truthfully, however, I didn't consider a grope serious enough to throw punches.  I won't punch anyone unless left no other option.  He never crossed the line again, and we remained casual friends until his death about 20 years ago.

Was I sexually assaulted?  Is a grope sexual assault?  I didn't think so then, although today, it would certainly be considered so.

In 2001 or 2002, I was running a couple of departments for a telecommunications company in Manhattan.  I was between girlfriends, and there was an operations manager who flirted with me a lot.  I was considered her superior, although she didn't report to me.  She groped me a few times as well and constantly asked for a date.  I always told her I wasn't interested.  She wasn't my type, and, unhappy with my last breakup, I was lying low.  Eventually, I reconsidered.  Why not?

We made a dinner date.  When I went to her house to pick her up, she didn't answer the door.  I knocked a few times and called a few times, but after waiting about 30 minutes, I left.  I was pissed, but not too much, figuring I had dodged a bullet, and at least she would leave me alone.

The following Monday, the head of H.R. knocked on my office door.  Nervously, he told me she had lodged a complaint against me.  I was livid and almost lost it right there in my office.  I explained to him how she had been sexually explicit and handsy with me for the better part of a year, and when I finally relented, she stood me up.

He was relieved, explaining that she had done similar things to others (and I thought I was special) and that he would tear up her complaint.  I never heard or saw her again and never asked after her, either.  She may have been fired.

Back then, there was a presumption of innocence, and she had history.  Today (did I mention she was a black girl?), her complaint would automatically be accepted regardless of her history, and I would be fired.

You tell me, dear reader.  Am I a rapist or a survivor?

One of the true blessings of my life has always been that I remember almost everything. One of the true curses of my life is also that I remember almost everything. 

Approaching the six-decade mark, I have been mostly single and dating for 45 years.  Following are instances from my life that would be considered sexual assault today.

While walking to a high school dance in the early seventies, I passed an attractive girl going the other way.  She had long curly black hair and was wearing very tight blue jeans and a white, frilled, long-sleeve shirt.  Our eyes met as we passed each other.  I turned to look at her and saw she had done the same.   

Again, our eyes locked.  Then she took off running towards me and jumped into my arms.  Her obvious extreme drunkenness didn't stop me from saying "yes" when she asked me to come to her apartment.  At 16, I was still living with my mother.  

On the walk to her place, she told me she had taken a seconal.

She didn't have her key but lived in a first-floor apartment next to the entrance of the building.  After boosting her up and through a window, I followed her in.  Once inside, she took my hand and led me into her bedroom.  This was my big moment, the realization of every teenager's priapic hopes and dreams.

And then it happened... 

She fell back and passed out.  There I was with a beautiful girl, fast asleep on the bed in front of me – there for the taking.  I tried waking her up to no avail.  I rationalized that she had wanted me and that this was all her idea anyway.  Should it matter that she was unconscious?  

I decided that it would be wrong and pulled her jeans up as best as I could.  I covered her with a blanket and left the way I came in – she had one of those door locks that could be opened only with the key, even from the inside.  As I was climbing out the window, her friends were coming in.  Asking me where their friend was, I told them she was asleep inside. 

As she was passed out with her clothing in some disarray, it wouldn't have been crazy for her friends to assume I had had sex with Sleeping Beauty.  The next morning, she herself might have thought the same. 

Here's something to think about.  The age of consent in New York State is 17.  I was 16.  Had I gone through with it, who would be the rapist?  Back then, she would be the rapist – today, I would be.

Three times I leaned in to kiss girls only to have them turn away.  Humiliated, I stopped trying to kiss girls – at most, leaning in a little to make my intentions known.  If the girl didn't come up to meet me, I retreated. 

Despite not forcing those kisses, and backtracking when they turned away, today, would the mere attempt be considered sexual assault?

Three times in my life, I have been in the middle of things with girls when they changed their minds.  Without complaint, when asked to stop, I stopped – there was never any acrimony.  I never sought an explanation or tried to convince them otherwise.  It was their right to stop or go and my duty to follow their instructions.

Still, today, would this be considered rape even though I stopped when asked?

Once in the late seventies and once in the middle eighties, I had girls force sex on me when I explicitly told them I wasn't interested.  One coerced and manipulated me until I relented, and the other physically forced herself on me.

Was I raped?  I never thought so.  Were it to happen today (fat chance, old man), I still wouldn't consider it rape.  Had the sexes been reversed, I would say it was rape both then and now. 

Around 1985, I was in the deli business and one of my customers who lived across the street was an older man.  He was semi-frail, sometimes coming in with an oxygen tank and tubes up his nose.  I didn't realize he was gay until he started propositioning me.  I was around 25 and dating heavily and told him I wasn't interested.  He continued doing so, however, until one day he groped me.  I didn't hit him; I told him to stop, and he stopped.  I could say my first instinct was to punch him in the face, and I didn't only because of his health.  Truthfully, however, I didn't consider a grope serious enough to throw punches.  I won't punch anyone unless left no other option.  He never crossed the line again, and we remained casual friends until his death about 20 years ago.

Was I sexually assaulted?  Is a grope sexual assault?  I didn't think so then, although today, it would certainly be considered so.

In 2001 or 2002, I was running a couple of departments for a telecommunications company in Manhattan.  I was between girlfriends, and there was an operations manager who flirted with me a lot.  I was considered her superior, although she didn't report to me.  She groped me a few times as well and constantly asked for a date.  I always told her I wasn't interested.  She wasn't my type, and, unhappy with my last breakup, I was lying low.  Eventually, I reconsidered.  Why not?

We made a dinner date.  When I went to her house to pick her up, she didn't answer the door.  I knocked a few times and called a few times, but after waiting about 30 minutes, I left.  I was pissed, but not too much, figuring I had dodged a bullet, and at least she would leave me alone.

The following Monday, the head of H.R. knocked on my office door.  Nervously, he told me she had lodged a complaint against me.  I was livid and almost lost it right there in my office.  I explained to him how she had been sexually explicit and handsy with me for the better part of a year, and when I finally relented, she stood me up.

He was relieved, explaining that she had done similar things to others (and I thought I was special) and that he would tear up her complaint.  I never heard or saw her again and never asked after her, either.  She may have been fired.

Back then, there was a presumption of innocence, and she had history.  Today (did I mention she was a black girl?), her complaint would automatically be accepted regardless of her history, and I would be fired.

You tell me, dear reader.  Am I a rapist or a survivor?