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Whore Next Door: Ask First and Shoot Later - By - October 21, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Whore Next Door: Ask First and Shoot Later

In high school, I ran with an older crowd. As a 15-year-old sophomore, I mostly hung out with a group of upperclassmen with a predilection for binge-drinking and promiscuous sex.

I drank my first hard liquor, kissed a girl for the first time, and experienced my first sexual assault at parties that ended in unsupervised, co-ed sleepovers inside million-dollar homes left unattended for the weekend. I remember that I had gone to bed wearing a Star Wars T-shirt and pajama pants, but when I woke up, the pajama pants were gone and C-3P0 was pulled up over my breasts.

I'd been drinking, so my body felt as heavy as if it were filled with sand as I realized that Mike, my best friend's boyfriend, was the one responsible for undressing me.

It was confusing, but it would be untrue to say that I wasn't excited that this older boy, who had already captured the heart of my blonde, blue-eyed best friend, was now turning his drunken attention to me, her chubby, freckle-faced sidekick.

But as I regained consciousness, the reality of the situation sank in. I didn't want to hook up with my best friend's boyfriend — not at all. He was cute, and a part of my drunk insecure teenage brain was flattered, but it's not something I would have initiated or desired. I closed my legs, but he pushed them back open and began to pull down my underwear, breathing on my neck and pressing his body against mine. I started to panic, but I was still only half-awake.

Finally, I was able to find my voice: “Mike! Stop!”

And thankfully, he did.

We paused, panting, and looked at each other in the dim morning light. Ice poured into my stomach, and I quickly left the room. Later, as the sun rose and the house began to stir, Mike came and found the couch I had escaped to, gingerly putting his hands on my frozen body.

“I'm sorry,” he said. But I couldn't really hear him.

Several of my peers experienced something similar with Mike, but since he was cute, talented, and charming, no one confronted him. Besides, I thought, I had been drinking and crawled into bed with him — I should have known better. And once I said no, he stopped, right? Right. Case closed.

Until recently, the mainstream cultural understanding of what consent is has relied on the concept of “no means no,” implying that people (i.e., women) are assumed to be DTF unless they specifically say otherwise.

But as of last year, that definition began to shift, after California adopted new laws requiring state universities to taking meaningful steps to prevent sexual assault on campus by establishing a policy of “affirmative consent” before students engage in sex acts.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown also signed two new consent bills into law, mandating that sex education courses in secondary schools now include instruction on “affirmative consent,” replacing “no means no” with “yes means yes.”

“It is important to educate and inform our youth about healthy relationships and address the underlying problems that lead to sexual assault and violence,” the Association of California School Administrators said in a statement of support.

Of course, there are naysayers who worry that this cultural shift towards explicit consent will ruin sex lives and implicate the innocent. (Even left-wing cultural critics like Slavoj Zizek seem more concerned with the death of seduction than with preventing sexual assault.) But the fact is, when the Centers for Disease Control surveyed high school students in 2013, it found that more than 7 percent were forced to have sex against their will. And that's simply not okay.

Shifting our cultural understanding away from victim defense and toward a culture of clear communication and negotiation is a step in the right direction, addressing rape culture and making meaningful policy changes to address it.

And while these new policies represent a meaningful shift, in practice, California is simply requesting that we all remember to ask first.

Initiating sexual contact when someone is asleep does not allow consent to be obtained. What happened to me as drunk chubby sophomore wasn't criminal, but it certainly wasn't okay — it wasn't then and it isn't now.

I hope that future generations of chubby, freckle-faced sidekicks know that.