Maybe about a week before the #MeToo movement started in earnest, I had just been assaulted at a Halloween attraction. I was doing the haunted trail, and a man in makeup and a hood who’d been hired to scare people separated me from the group I was walking with. He got in my face and asked me, “Are you at the end of the line because you’re scared?” I said “No” and tried to move past him. This was the last leg of the trail, and I had already been stopped by several employees trying to haunt me, which is why I was at the end of the group. I was exhausted with the whole thing, and not having a great time. I wasn’t interested in this latest demon.
But after I said “No,” he said “Yes.” He blocked me from going past him, pinned me from behind, and rubbed his erection on me while moaning in my ear, “Yes, yes, yesssss.” As I felt the erection, I remember hearing a ringing sound in my ears. I couldn’t get past him, and I was trapped with some freak’s erection all over me. All told, it probably lasted 10 seconds. Maybe less. It felt like it lasted forever. When I broke free of him and ran to my friend, I immediately said, “Oh my god, that guy put his erection on me!” She said “Ew!” and we finished the trail.
But I felt sick instantly. In the grand scheme of sexual assaults, I told myself an erection rubbed on my pants was pretty tame. I had suffered much worse, including a very serious assault my sophomore year of college. So why was I so bothered? I remember thinking other people would brush it aside because, uh, yeah, who hasn’t had an erection rubbed on them? It’s so commonplace that it’s almost normal. In a club, there are more erections being rubbed on women than there are choices of alcohol.
But I kept feeling sick. And angry. And violated. So much so that I called the people who ran the event and told them I’d been assaulted. They did an internal investigation and told me they were confident it was taken care of. I don’t know if it was, but I do believe they probably did all they could.
But I felt better. Then #MeToo took off. And I began to think not just of the very serious assault that happened to me in college, but of all the little injustices as well. The other incidents that I and others didn’t treat as a big deal—suddenly being grabbed and gyrated on from behind, an unwanted hand running up my thigh in history class, being groped on the street outside a bar—these moments came back to me little by little over time. And the more I remembered, the angrier I got. But telling an event organizer about one of their employees who’d just assaulted me is one thing. Do I tell the world the names of people who did inappropriate things to me 10 years ago?
Because I remember their names. They were friends, acquaintances, classmates. They are men who have gone on to live lives that are normal, lives that would never suggest they did something weird and creepy in college or high school. Men whose deeds of a decade ago I could never prove. And so I grapple with whether I publicly say these names, by posting about it on Facebook, by sharing a picture of the man. Do I expose these men to everyone I know, to everyone we have in common? Every time I think about it, I feel sick again—sick like I felt on the haunted trail.
Because, sure, as a teenager I thought these things were weird and I moved on. But as an adult, I think, “How dare they? Who did they think they were?”
My sophomore year of college, I was at a party filled with mutual friends. There was probably no one there that I didn’t know. I had been drinking, and was nearing the point of passing out—I hadn’t gone crazy, but I’d had enough that I was about to fall into a drunken sleep. Next to me on the couch was a guy I knew; we’d hung out maybe twice at parties like this one. My eyes were closed, and my head had fallen to my shoulder. And this guy, he put his fingers in my mouth. Put them in my mouth and moved them around a little bit, while I made grunting protest sounds that could translate into, “WTF, why are you doing this, you freak?” He took his fingers out of my mouth and left me there on the couch.
It was strange. And for a long time, I thought nothing of it—just that it was really strange. But now? Now I’m angry. Because, truly, what in God’s name was that? What was to be gained by putting his fingers in a drunk girl’s mouth? What did that do for him? Why did he do it?
And while I felt that no harm was done, he still technically penetrated a part of my body without my consent. And if you are the kind of person who can do some kind of creepy penetration to another person while they are unconscious, where does that end? That’s predatory behavior. It’s indicative of that person’s character. That night it was his fingers in my mouth, but who's to say another night it wasn’t something more and something worse to another girl?
Every year, the picture of he and I at this party comes up on my Facebook memories: the two of us, smiling, our cheeks pressed together, our faces right in the camera. My eyes are glassy, my hair is tousled, and my mouth is bright pink from spiked punch. And every year I see that picture and think, “That asshole put his fingers in my mouth.” And every year I wonder, “Should I post this and finally say it publicly?”
I know this guy’s name, and I could attach it to this story. I could call him out for being a complete creep. No matter what, the consequences for him would be minimal to nonexistent. And I only hesitate because once you open your mouth, you lose control of the narrative. You open the accusation to be challenged, or belittled, or ridiculed. I can’t prove it, and there is little I can accomplish by saying it. Perhaps there is nothing to be gained.
But if someone can stick their fingers in an unconscious girl’s mouth, then surely that girl can grow up and see how sick that is and call it out. He had no right, and so haven’t I earned this right?
So, yeah, I’ll say his name. It’s been 10 years, but I haven’t forgotten. I’ll say his name. I’ll say all their names. The names of every creep who did weird things like this to me in my life. I’ll tell everyone. I’ll tell the world.