Dear Bitter Butch:
I was at a social function this weekend, surrounded by dear friends and their drunk spouses. Toward the end of the evening, I was followed out to the car by a drunk spouse, who wanted to tell me that he wanted to have sex with me (among other things). That’s not going to happen, but I’m not sure whether or not I should mention it to anyone. I shouldn’t tell my friend, right? I should just pretend like this didn’t happen, right? They’ve been having some marital problems, but I don’t think letting anyone know about this would do anyone any good…
Dear Just Checking:
How about you? Would it do you some good?
You’re talking about this like it was this small incident that isn’t even worth mentioning, and everyone else’s feelings matter but your own – just like women have been trained to do since for-fucking-ever. That’s how rape culture has told us that we should feel.
But I’m going to tell you that you do matter, and what happened was not your fault (and I am so so so so SO sorry it did happen).
All married people, even those who are faithfully monogamous, want to have sex with other people. We are human, and ruled by our junk. Most monogamously married people have even said or done slightly inappropriate things when drunk. If that’s what this was, I’d agree — no need to mention it; people are dumb.
But he didn’t flirt with you at the party. He didn’t make sexual innuendo in a crowd of people and make you sort of uncomfortable, or pull you aside for a “quiet moment” in a well-lit hallway (all of which would be bad enough).
He followed you in the DARK, when you were ALONE, to tell you unwelcome things he wanted to do to your body. He thought he had this right, because he was drunk and horny and you are female.
I don’t want to burden you with telling you that you are supposed to do something about this shit sandwich he lobbed into your lap. You were just trying to enjoy a party. He walked up to you and unloaded a bunch of crap and now you feel like you are somehow responsible for dealing with it.
Speaking up is doing something with it. Staying silent is doing something with it. Either way, this dipshit has you over a barrel.
I want SOMEONE to tell him that this drunken bullshit was completely and totally not okay. Either you, or a trusted friend. I want someone to tell him to never ever do anything like that again. Come to think, a friend might be best. Then he knows that other people know, and that his stupid bullshit was not as cloak-and-dagger as he thought.
Sure, you are worried about his wife’s feelings, and that is commendable. But I will say this: if I had a husband who did that creepy, scary, and totally horrible thing to a friend– you can bet your ass I’d want to know about it. You know your friend better than I do. Would she? (It might be the straw that broke the camel’s back and help her do what she needs to. It might be the first in a series of realizations about what a fuckface she married. It might make her hate you as an evil seductress and never want to speak to you again. You know her; I don’t.)
I will say this: I think the idea that we shouldn’t tell women what their horrible husbands have done to us was invented by men who want to treat women like shit, consequence-free.
I hate to tell you that you now have a job to do. He put this burden on you, and if you feel best just not saying anything and avoiding him that is totally your right. But that fucker took advantage of you, and I kind of want him to feel a little scared, and think twice about ever doing it to anyone else ever again.
That said? What I want doesn’t matter. What do you want? How will speaking up make you feel? How will staying silent make you feel? When you’ve figured that out (and your feelings are the feelings that matter here), you have your answer.
BITTER BUTCH aka Haddayr Copley-Woods is a queer, a cripple, a nerd, a mom to two kids with neurological differences, and has a truckload of opinions on everything including sex and relationships, parenting, disability issues, family relationships, work dynamics, gender/sexuality issues, and etiquette. You can reach her with all your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.