I relented

by Shannon Nara

 

Because I thought he was cute

And flirted with him

And offered him my couch to sleep on

Some say I consented

 

Because he could have ruined my reputation

Or spewed words of disgust at me

Or physically overpowered me

I relented

 

Because I wasn’t aggressive when I said no

And didn’t throw him out

And eventually said ok

Some say I consented

 

Because he refused to leave my bed

Or talked about his firefighter strength

Or didn’t hear me each time I did say no

I relented

 

Because he didn’t pin me down

And threaten me if I told anyone

And didn’t leave a mark

Some say I consented

 

It wasn’t regret

It wasn’t consent

It wasn’t a yes

If you make it a joke,

It was an eyeroll and begrudging, “M’Okay.”

 

But

 

I relented

I gave up

I stopped saying no

It was the safest way I knew to get to the other side

With a sigh and a sick, “ok.”

 

When I told this story to a close friend

almost two years after it happened

my body reacted with intense adrenaline

fear, anger, sadness, anger, confusion, anger, disgust, anger, shame

fucking anger

 

When I realized I had done this many times before

I tried to recall any other encounters

but my brain shut down in refusal

too ashamed, too exhausted, too powerless

so fucking powerless

 

Because he’s funny and sweet and would never knowingly hurt a woman

Because I’ve slept around and need to get over myself

Because I should “laugh it off” or “take the compliment”

Because I was taught to relent

 

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