September 8, 2018


At another point he kissed me from forehead to toe and said, “I think that’s everywhere.” And I almost told him that was unfair; he hadn’t asked my consent. Although I would say yes to all manner of sexual touching, that much sweetness had the power to break my heart.

At the end of the night, he said, “See you soon,” and took an Uber back to his apartment through the snow.

Afterward I sat in bed, thinking about the encounter. I knew I had been a little dismissive of all of his asking, but in fact I had liked it as a form of caretaking. I just wasn’t used to being taken care of in that way.

Sex makes me feel unsafe, not because of the act itself but because my partners so often disappear afterward, whether I waited hours or months before the first time. So it’s after sex when I feel truly vulnerable.

Yet something else about his asking also made me uneasy. It seemed legalistic and self-protective, imported more from the courtroom than from a true sense of caretaking. And each time he asked, it was as if he assumed I lacked the agency to say no on my own — as if he expected me to say no, not believing that a woman would have the desire to keep saying yes.

The 21st Century isn’t turning out as I’d hoped. But the roommate seems more sensible.

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