Sometimes I Want to Be Held By A Man, Naked, Without Having Sex – Is That Okay?

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Sometimes I Want to Be Held By A Man, Naked, Without Having Sex – Is That Okay?

Noviembre Anita Vela / Getty

Apparently not.

If you are a human, then you’ve heard about the Aziz Ansari debacle. You know, the incident in which “woke bae” Ansari pushed and pushed and pushed his date to have sex even though she was clearly not into it.

Many women are uniting in solidarity over their own similar experiences. However, just as many are condemning “Grace,” Ansari’s date. She went to his apartment, she got undressed, what did she expect? Why didn’t she just leave??

Even the New York Times published an opinion piece by Bari Weiss in which she says, “I am a proud feminist, and this is what I thought while reading the article: If you are hanging out naked with a man, it’s safe to assume he is going to try to have sex with you.”

For most of my life, I bought into that same line of reasoning. If I get naked with a man, then of course he’s going to try to have sex with me. Furthermore, I’m obligated, or else things can get ugly.

I believed this so resolutely that for 20 years, I didn’t recognize that I had been raped in college. I remembered it as “the night this guy had sex with me when I didn’t want him to.”

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For the record, I said no. I was at a party at his fraternity, and I went upstairs to his room with him to get high. I liked him; I wanted to kiss him. But that was all. I said “no.” I tried to fight him off; I did everything but scream “HELP! RAPE!” because  I was 18 and afraid and embarrassed. I didn’t want to create a scene with hundreds of people downstairs to overhear it.

Later, I shared the experience with only one person, who responded with, “Well, what did you expect?” and then I buried it.

Only in the last decade have I been able to understand that I was raped.

I’m extremely single. By that I mean, I’m a self-sustaining ecosystem. I’m fiercely independent. I’ve created a life the way I want it, and I dread the idea of having to make constant compromises. Relationships are hard, and if introducing a partner into my life is going to create drama and pain, I’d rather be alone.

The upside to marriage and relationships is the intimacy.

I miss intimacy.

I miss being held when things are not going right in my life. I like a man to wrap his arms around me and hold me, and stroke my back. I like the feeling of skin on skin.

I’m a highly sexual person, and I like kinky sex as much as the next wanton woman. Sometimes, though, I just want to lie next to someone who will hold me.

This never happens.

You see, if I lie next to a man, naked, he will (most likely) become aroused. And he will assume we’re having sex, because what did I expect?

This is the clarion call reverberating all over the Internet regarding Grace. She got naked so, of course, he tried to have sex with her. Over and over, even though she asked him to chill out, even though she was not responding physically to him, even though she was visibly uncomfortable and said many things to indicate she wasn’t into it. She didn’t scream “NO” and storm out of there, so she deserved what she got, right?

Wrong.

Maybe she wanted to connect with him on an intimate level; kiss, hold him, touch – but not be treated like a blow-up sex doll. Maybe she found him funny and adorable, and was hoping to have some intimate contact that didn’t involve him sticking his claw fingers down her throat like they were reenacting some seedy Pornhub video.

I know that sex is a biological need, and that men are programmed to be hunters and conquerors. I wrote that story.

Eating is also a biological need. Does that mean I get to act like a savage, and grab food off of your plate when you are clearly not into sharing?

Women are socialized from an early age that we are responsible for men’s sexual excitement, and if they get aroused, we’d better do something about it. Men are culturally programmed to believe that the end game is sex – even if a woman seems lukewarm about it. To keep pushing until she gives in.

When my mother died/kid was in the hospital/furnace blew up/I wanted to be held. In each of those instances, I knew men I could have visited. But there is no way they would have been open to just holding me without sex.

And until I have a boyfriend or a husband, I will not be entitled to lay next to a man, skin on skin, and simply be held. If we should kiss, or stroke one another’s bodies, he is going to expect sex. And if he’s an inept lover who watches a lot of porn, he’s going to do crude things that women don’t really enjoy. Picture this scenario:

Me: *lies in his bed, wanting comfort because my mother just died*

Him: *fishhooks my mouth*

There are so many social situations that require careful monitoring of the other person’s reaction. We teach our kids to follow social cues, so they know if they’ve crossed a line or invaded someone’s personal space.

Why is this not the case in sex? Of all personal interactions, this is one in which careful monitoring of the other person’s reaction should be imperative.

The Ansari incident is unfortunate, because he was simply doing what he thinks is normal dating behavior. But it started a necessary conversation, and hopefully we can eventually dismantle this ridiculous cultural programming of expected sex.

By the way, I work two jobs to support my family. If you take me out for a nice dinner and pay, you’d better be prepared to pay my mortgage and utility bill. I’m a struggling single mom. Don’t be a tease.

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