A group of boys, who look no older than fourteen, talk on a crowded New York City subway car—loud—about bitches, and fucking, and fucking bitches. They carry tennis racquets in zipped cases. I assume they’re teammates. The loudest and youngest looking one says, “I could’ve fucked two bitches the same night. I had them both at my place. But I didn’t, because one of the bitches was on her period.”
I look around, wanting to see if anyone else’s ears have unwittingly become victim to this conversation. Some people have headphones on. Some people might not know English. I make eye contact with one woman, but her neutral expression doesn’t change. If anything, she seems to communicate, “Are you really upset? Are you really surprised or offended?” Yes. I am! I’m upset that these boys boast and talk about female peers that way as if it’s okay. Or, knowing it’s not okay, making it more appealing. I don’t care if they’re insecure pubescent boys just making things up or repeating overheard things. I’m upset that I sit with my book open on my lap, not reading it, listening to them instead, saying nothing. If girls they have sexual feelings for (if not romantic) are called bitches, what would they call me—some 24-year-old girl scolding them? Surely they wouldn’t politely apologize. How would that boost their apparent status as big, sex-havin’ men?
Yesterday was one of distasteful sex-related happenings that made me question the world and the people in it. Everyone’s entitled to say what they want, do and think what they want. But that freedom can seriously hurt others. It can make you think, Man. This is how so many people approach sex, this is how the media makes sex out to be? I don’t want any part of that. It’s scary. Who really wants to be the subject of a nonchalant recap between buddies—“Yeah, I fucked her. It was all right.”
When I woke up late yesterday morning I had a notification that I’d received a Facebook message just after 8 a.m. It started, “Hi, how’ve u been?” But the sender’s name was one I didn’t recognize, so I assumed it was a spam message. Someone trying to get me to attend an event, or buy a product, or support some cause. Turned out to be something very different. The message was from someone I did vaguely know—a security guard of all things. You know. Someone whose job is to make you feel more secure. I’d forgotten that this man and I were connected on Facebook at all. He guards a building I used to regularly enter and was someone I would say hello to and small talk with occasionally. I stopped the small talk, though, after we bonded about our mutual interest in making music and he invited me to see the recording studio he uses—inside of his apartment.
I hadn’t thought about this person or heard from this person, and then, all of a sudden, a message. It’s pretty crude stuff and the only reason I’m sharing it is to make a point. Skip it if you don’t want some graphic imagery in your head.
Hi, how’ve u been? I don’t mean to be forward, but seriously I’ll like you to know that it’ll be a pleasure to munch on your shaven apple pie haven. If you give me a chance I promise I’ll lick and suck every drop of crease all around and inside of it like no one has ever done b4.
Now am guessing u might have a boyfriend and since I wouldn’t want to be that guy that comes between you two, for the fact that I wouldn’t want the same to happen between me and my girl, that is why I have requested for this alone and nothing else.
However if ever you turn the opposite cheek to this once in a lifetime opportunity, I’ll also like you to know that I will hold no grudge against you and I will still cherish the moments of friendship we shared at [omitted]. Take care and bye for now.
P.S.. Let me be that very private guy in your life that turns u into that glowing mature woman every girl wants to be like…
How kind of him to not hold a grudge against me if I turn down his “once in a lifetime” proposal. How unselfish, too, to consider my boyfriend (and his girlfriend) in this arrangement! And how opposite of presumptuous of him to suppose how I groom my “apple pie haven” or that I need to be transformed from a girl into a “glowing mature woman.”
Granted I probably shouldn’t have even allowed myself to be connected online to this semi-stranger. My mistake. I can be naive. It just wouldn’t occur to me that people might take the time to craft such a message. I would never think of this as everyday, normal fare for a man to send a woman at 8 a.m. on a Monday.
I’ve watched a lot of romantic comedies in my day, which, admittedly, have probably given me some skewed ideas about heterosexual sex and relationships. But after watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ride off into the sunset, or Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, I’ve never approached a male love interest and said, “Hey, how’ve you been? Will you meet me on top of the Empire State Building and kiss me long and passionately and marry me and raise my babies?” Maybe some people do hold those expectations. And maybe some people develop their own expectations after regularly watching certain porn, listening to certain music, or talking to certain people. Just like kids playing violent video games makes them more likely to shoot people, right…? It’s more than possible that a person would predominantly see inappropriate or unhealthy social and sexual behaviors and use those cues in their own life. Because inappropriate and unhealthy can be relative concepts.
I told a male friend of mine about the Facebook message. He advised me to use the block function, but to first send the guy a picture of STD-ridden female genitalia. “Speaking of which,” he said, “there’s a guy I know who’s HIV positive.” He went on to say that the person, before settling down with a partner, claimed to regularly have unprotected sex without broaching the subject of any risk. And apparently, if questioned, would outright lie.
There’s a scene in When Harry Met Sally after Harry and Sally have sex with each other for the first time. Neither are satisfied with how it went. They individually call their best friends, Jess and Marie, who pick up their individual phones from the nightstands of the bed they share as a couple. Jess listens to Harry. Marie listens to Sally. When they hang up, after hearing their friends’ most recent dating disappointments, Marie turns to Jess and says, exhaustedly, “Tell me I never have to be out there again.” Jess looks her in the eye and firmly responds, “You never have to be out there again.”
Yesterday, after the things I was told and the things I overheard and the things proposed to me, I felt similarly exhausted. Out there felt like a scary place. A place that will compromise physical and emotional health. A place where women are just vaginas and men are cads. A place where very few ride off into the sunset.