Christians Suck at Consent, Part 2

It gets worse.

Chuck II

The same day all that other stuff happened, another guy messaged me. We’ll call him Chuck II, because, again, I don’t know anyone named Chuck. Unfortunately for Chuck II, I was on an honesty kick, because of a lack of sleep and what had just transpired with Chuck I.

So when Chuck the Second sidled up to me via facebook messenger and said he was also interested in the project I was working on (translation, “Heyyyyyyyy there”), I told him the truth:

That I felt like he was physically pushy when we dated (we went on two dates total) and that it made me feel disrespected.

His response wasn’t great. In fact, it may have filled me with inchoate rage.

Let’s go back in time again to a few years ago.

On our first date, we went to coffee. So far, so normal.

At the end of our second date, Chuck II tried to shove his tongue into my mouth after we hugged goodbye. I was taken aback. Again, it felt like it had very little to do with me or with us having a “moment” (I’ve had moments before. This was not a moment). There were no signals coming from any direction that said, “Now is sexy, sexy make-out time.” Was it the bright sunlight of a Hollywood afternoon? The ambiance of the brick walkway in front of my rent-controlled apartment? Who knows.

I pulled away in surprise and soon texted him that I “just wanted to be friends,” because apparently things were escalating quickly. He apologized and said he wanted to take things at my pace. I think we settled on something like friends with the potential for more.

The next time we hung out, he was all over me. And when I went to hug him goodbye, he didn’t let go of me at first, but instead held me tightly and said, “What if I ask this time?”

And then he pressed me about why I just wanted to be friends as I was about to get into my car to leave.

THIS. This is why.

So when I told Chuck II that I felt like he was physically pushy and he didn’t respond well, I got angry.

His response? He wasn’t physically pushy—not from his perspective. In fact, he is “hyper-aware of [implied: all] the choices and moves” he makes. Respecting me had been really important to him because he liked me. And I had judged him too quickly.

Not only that—he was hurt that I felt disrespected

Come again? He had violated my personal boundaries—violated my body—but it was his feelings that truly mattered. I had misjudged him. I was wrong, and it was all my fault.

When I said that the conversation was upsetting me and I was ending it, he blithely suggested we meet up for coffee so we could “make amends.” And that’s when I really lost it.

Again, I felt like a face and a body that a man had projected his wishes and desires onto, not a real person. Hyperaware though he may have been, Chuck II made no mention of being aware of what I was thinking or feeling. I guess he meant, “I was hyperaware that I wanted to kiss you. And so I did.”

I felt like a non-entity—Chuck II didn’t think he was disrespectful, Chuck II thought he was very respectful. In fact, Chuck II was extraordinarily confident and wildly intentional about all the choices he made during the brief time we dated.

To put it graphically:

Chuck II was more confident about sticking his tongue in my mouth and pressing his boner up against me on a second date than I have ever been about anything in my entire life, ever.

It feels like I’m mocking him (which isn’t nice, I know), but I’m actually dead serious: I wish that I had that much confidence about anything—ANYTHING at all—choosing which mismatched socks to wear in the morning, my career, my decision to live in Los Angeles, anything.

With credit to Sarah Hagi for the original version of this

Lack of dating experience or something else?

It’s not like I met these guys on the internet—we met through mutual friends and still have many, many mutual friends. We met in “Safe,” “Christian” contexts. They are “nice guys.”

It’s easy to look at these incidents and think, “Well, maybe he just doesn’t have a lot of experience.”

I’ve dated Christian guys like this. They’re not always good at dating. They make mistakes. Obviously, not all of them are this bad.

But there’s something deeper going on when a guy corners me in his car and almost demands that I give him a chance and go on a date with him (Chuck III?) or when a guy takes my picture after a couple of dates so that he can show his friends a picture of his “girlfriend.” Or when a male friend tells me I’m too closed off and judgmental because I don’t automatically assume that a stranger who approaches me in parking lot, at night, is safe (because what if he’s just a nice guy, standing in front of a girl in the parking lot of Sprouts, asking her for her number, even though all she wanted was to buy some Brown Cow maple yogurt because that sh** is delicious?).

I feel like something is deeply wrong when I’m expected to educate men in their 20s, 30s or even 40s about the fact that women are people too, or when I’m expected to “give a chance” to someone who doesn’t even respect me as a real person entitled to make her own decisions.

What doesn’t seem to factor into any of these situations is me—my thoughts, my desires, my body, my decisions, my judgment, my intuition.

And I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like I have to scream “NO” at the top of lungs to get someone to leave me alone. I’m tired of feeling like my pain doesn’t have any meaning or significance unless I’m literally bleeding to death or dying of cancer.

I’m tired of being so disconnected from my own body that I only feel the rage of physical violation weeks, months, or years after the fact.

Consent isn’t just about sex

Consent is about treating the other person like a person—not a body, not a good-looking accessory, not a blank canvas on which to project fantasies of marriage and children, not a character from a movie—but an actual person.

And these two stories in particular (though kind of funny) have been painful to write about—I’ve had to sit in it and think about why I felt so violated in the first place.

I’ve thought about how scary it is for a man to physically grab me out-of-nowhere, against my will, and start tipping me backwards. I’ve thought about how f***ing scary it is to have someone you don’t know very well not let go of you (restrain you) and pressure you for something sexual that you don’t want to give. How out-of-control and terrifying it is to feel like in that moment your body is not your own, is out of your control, is in the hands of someone who doesn’t even see you.

I don’t know how to describe it except to say that it cuts you off from your own physical being. That when you do start to tune back in from the numbness, all you can feel is pain.

It feels like sh**. That’s what.

Christians Suck at Consent, Part 1

We’ve all heard (and in my case, written) about how weird Christians can be about dating.

But I believe it goes much deeper than that.

A couple weeks ago, two different guys messaged me on Facebook after I posted about a project I’ve been working on.

One of these guys, we’ll call him Chuck because I don’t know anyone named Chuck, was someone I’ve had on my DO NOT ENGAGE radar for a long time, ever since I moved to LA five years ago.

You see, we kind of had a thing. Except that this thing was exclusively one-sided.

I had just moved to LA and didn’t have very many friends, but somehow Chuck was always available to hang out. I can’t really remember the first time he hit on me. He was the brother of a close friend, so I assumed he was safe.

I explained I just wanted to be friends and left it at that. Except, that wasn’t enough for Chuck. It wasn’t enough the first time. It wasn’t enough the second time. Guess what, it wasn’t enough the third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh time either.

You might wonder why I kept hanging out with this guy. I wonder the same thing. Was I leading him on even though I had explicitly stated that I didn’t want any kind of romantic relationship with him?

One night he grabbed me suddenly and tried to dip me for a kiss (this after I had just given my semi-tri-annual “just friends” speech). I was shocked and taken aback. He explained that he was taking notes from the movie “Hitch” where the titular character explains that you go half way in for the kiss and then wait for the girl to go the rest of the way.

I’m not sure which was more disconcerting—that this guy was taking notes on dating and romance from a Will Smith/Kevin James comedy or that physical contact bordering on sexual assault was now somehow considered a move that you pull on someone who has just turned you down.

I stopped hanging out with him (finally). And yet still, he would call me, wanting to go to an event that I had posted on Facebook. Or he would text me, referencing a show that I liked and suggesting that we watch it together.

I felt threatened and alone—how could I explain to anyone else, especially my friends, that I felt harassed by the sweetest, gentlest guy in the world?

It took me a long time, but I eventually got angry. How dare he disregard my stated wishes and boundaries. How dare he GRAB ME AND TRY TO KISS ME.

Back to the present: he messaged me on Facebook asking about working on the project together—and I said, “No.” He apologized for his immaturity. I said that I didn’t think that not taking “No” for an answer was simply “immature.” He apologized for not respecting my boundaries, and then…


I kid you not—after I referred to his actions as “more scary than anything else”—he told me I was “beautiful,” and wrote, “I never want to take myself out of the running for more.” He ended with:

“I will always think of you as a friend, Mulan.”

It was too perfect. It wrapped a huge, obnoxiously pink bow on everything.

It proved to me that I could say anything to him, ANYTHING: “F*** you. You disgust me. I hate you. I never want to see you again. I will never, ever date you” and it would not matter one bit. Why?

BECAUSE I DON’T MATTER. I don’t even exist to this guy. I am a fantasy, not a real person. I might as well be a two-dimensional drawing from the Disney canon.

So often with Christian men, what I think or feel or desire or say just doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he wants me. I’m less a “person” and more a face and a body that he can project his own needs and desires onto.

In the end, I feel strangely justified—because so often women are faulted for “leading him on” or “Obviously, you didn’t say ‘No’ loudly enough or firmly enough for him to get the message.”

NO. He violated my boundaries. And it was not my fault.

We whittle women down into finer and finer points—Don’t wear that. Smile. But not at the wrong guy—that could get you killed. Don’t walk there at that hour. Don’t drink. If you must, make sure it’s around people that you trust with your life. Don’t encourage him. Stop breathing. Why are you breathing? If you would just stop breathing, then he would leave you alone. If you could just—not exist—for a minute. Thanks.