By Casey Young
“You know,” I started, “I expect men at bars to make comments about my breasts, I expect to be groped in a nightclub, and I expect to be cat-called on the street, but I don’t expect it from my friends.”
“I know. I’m the sh***iest human ever.”
“At some point or another, most of my guy friends have made advancements. It’s fine. At least they’ve said it to my face. I don’t really respect you, nor do I trust you anymore.”
“I’m sure Bob didn’t mean ‘sleep with’ you as in sex, I think he meant just sleeping next to you. I know him and he’s not like that.”
“Okay, then tell me this, if he didn’t mean it in a sexual manner, how come your response was ‘I don’t f**k girls with flat a**es?’”
“I really don’t know.”
I thought back to two nights prior, frozen in my bed in a small hotel room as two of my guy “friends” talked about sleeping with me while they thought I was asleep. I knew them well enough to know they never would have touched me, but still I couldn’t say anything. I was frozen beneath the sheets knowing full well they had each had at least nine beers and I was alone with them. In fact, both had drank so much that neither of them knew why I was upset the next morning or what they had said until I filled them in after being next to silent for almost two days. I sat puddled in my thoughts for the next few hours after finally telling Nick what they had said. Blaming myself for being trusting, for not drinking with them so it wouldn’t have come up, and for not saying anything when I was awake. Contemplating what I could do to make myself feel comfortable enough to stay friends with someone I cared about. Realizing slowly that I did nothing to deserve that, nor did I have to be okay with it this time.
It wasn’t just that situation in which I have felt completely uncomfortable around guys I was friends with. In fact, I rarely drink with guys anymore unless there are women around.
Alcohol does strange things to the mind. It makes guys unafraid to make comments, advances, and even become touchy. The first time I had an uncomfortable run-in with a guy friend was the first semester I transferred into Paul Smiths. I was having a couple of drinks with some friends when George pulled me to the side.
“Don’t tell me you’ve never thought about it.”
“Thought about what?” I answered confused. George raised his eyebrows and, immediately, my stomach sank.
“Actually, I haven’t. You’re a good friend, but I’m not interested in anything else.”
“Come on, you can stay the night.”
I thought that would be the end of it. I had said “no.” Surely, he understood.
I was wrong.
The rest of the night George stood in my personal space and kept asking me if I was “sure.” I nervously laughed it off. At least there are others around. At least he’s not touching me, I kept telling myself.
That’s when I felt a stinging on my butt and heard a crack through the air.
I didn’t know what to do, George had just crossed a line and smacked my butt. I trusted him. I thought I knew him well enough to never do something like that.
A sense of betrayal flushed through my body as I waited for him to use the restroom so I could leave and not be followed.
That’s right. I was worried that my good friend would follow me outside and do something to me.
The next morning I got an apology text and I moved on, trying my best to forget it happened.
I didn’t drink again with George until he started dating his girlfriend because it gave me a sense of security that it wouldn’t happen again.
This is what it’s like to have guy “friends.”
Just because my guy friends have girlfriends does not necessarily mean that they won’t cross lines, either. Actually, it’s much worse when that happens. Asking for me to send pictures or think about a “once in a friendship favor” is not only upsetting to me, but it shows there is no respect in the relationship. It’s not easy to say a plain “no” to a friend. It’s easy to tell them that I respect relationships and have no interest in getting involved. That line doesn’t always work, though.
It’s not just two incidents. It’s not just friends that are drinking. It’s the shameless, countless, advances. It’s the “come on it will be so much fun, you won’t regret it.” The “I last an hour.” It’s the “have you changed your mind?” It’s guys that I consider to be friends turning me and my body into something that means nothing more than sex to them. It’s about guys objectifying their female friends. It’s degrading and it’s not okay. It will never be okay. Just because you are friends with someone does not mean you are entitled to their body. There is nothing wrong with explaining your feelings to a friend and possibly trying once, but it’s relentless. It never stops, it’s uncomfortable, and I will never “change my mind.” Just because we are friends does not mean you get to sleep with me. Just because you’re nice to me does not mean you can touch me or make sexual comments. That is not how it works, nor will it ever be how it works.
Understand that it is not every guy friend that I have had that has made me feel this way. I have some amazing friends in which I give my trust to. I’ve met some stand-up men who I have gotten on with well and respected.
Talking with my friends about writing this had made me aware that there are so many women out there who have had this experience. It’s a shame that it’s a conversation that we even should have. It’s happened countless times and it continues to happen. This “entitled” mentality needs to stop. A few bad apples may not spoil the whole bunch, but it does make me weary of eating apples from the same barrel.