TW : sexual assault, slut shaming

Classic story. Girl meets guy on Tinder. A few dates later, with the question of love dismissed and off the table, I tell myself that we at least have sexual chemistry and that we might as well enjoy ourselves.

Boy, was I wrong. We saw each other a few times but then lost touch because I had been away on a trip for a while. Back in Montreal, I ran into him out of the blue on a hot summer night. We start flirting again and, by the end of the evening, we find ourselves at his place.

I felt good and wanted the carefree, yet passionate encounter that can occur between two people whose bodies have already acquainted. Being casual partners, we always used condoms for all the right reasons.

But I realized that something was off when he pulled out before coming.

As soon as he did that, I asked him why he did it. As candidly and nonchalantly as can be, he answered: “Oh, I took the condom off.”

My whole body stiffened. I was in shock.

It was then that he too seemed to suddenly understand the magnitude of what he had done.

He began coming up with excuses, justifying his action: “But it’s okay, I pulled out, there’s no possibility of getting pregnant.”

That sentence was like a second bomb shaking me out of my stupor. I gathered his things, threw them in his face, and said, “It’s not up to you to make that decision. You talk about pregnancy, but have you thought about STIs? Have you thought about precum? Do you even know what it is? Anyway, it’s not up to you to make this decision, you had no right to do that.”

I left, seething with rage.

My first instinct was to take a shower, to try to wash away the anger and disgust that overwhelmed me. He kept texting me, apologizing profusely. Apologies are weak and insignificant next to an act that undermines another person’s respect, dignity, and consent.

I don’t understand how a grown man – we’re talking about an educated 30-year-old man – can just ignore the principles of consent and condom use! To end the conversation, because the damage was already done, I told him that he had completely ruined what could have been a beautiful moment.

I felt as though I was denied my sexual freedom.

Because hey, if I’m going to be single, I might as well own my sexuality and enjoy it, right? But no. Apparently, even when I wanted to do just that, I was violently put back in my place by having my right to consensual pleasure stolen from me.

I felt betrayed and dirty.

The next day, I had a knot in my stomach and as soon as I thought about what happened, I tensed up. I had no more sexual desire. It took me a while to get tested and receive the results (negative, thank goodness) before getting back even a hint of desire.

I cut off all contact with this man, but I still resent him.

I am not ashamed to tell this story. On the contrary, people must be aware of the existence of this breach of trust, of consent being taken away, of this blatant lack of sex education in a society that claims to be evolved and developed.

A friend to whom I spoke about it – devoid of bad intentions, I’m sure – responded with something very hurtful: “You should perhaps only give your love to the men who deserve it.”

This reaction demonstrates just how misunderstood the issue is. First off, by having what I believed was protected sex, I didn’t intend to “give my love”. I only wanted to experience a sexual encounter with another consenting person. I couldn’t predict what was going to happen. It was imposed on me.

Also, my friend’s reaction was yet another instance of blaming the person who was assaulted, telling them that they should have seen it coming and made a different, better choice.

Except that he’s the one who made a choice on my behalf.

In some countries, stealthing is considered sexual assault. In Canada, however, stealthing is not explicitly stated in any laws. Instead, the laws more broadly focus on consent – agreeing, for example, to have sex only with protection, such as with a condom – which then allows for an event to be interpreted as a crime.

But, beyond the legal aspect, men have to understand that it is not their right to make this decision on behalf of their partners. I don’t want to know their reasons or excuses – nothing justifies this act.