When I was 20 I made one of my first big ticket purchases-all alone. I went to the Nissan Dealer and began looking around the lot for a car I could afford. I had never been car shopping before, and didn’t know how the process worked. I was excited and felt empowered to be there on my own, making a big decision.
I was approached by a blond guy, mid 20’s perhaps, friendly and smiling. We talked about budget, and what I could afford. I wasn’t the type of girl to hold things back, and was pretty outspoken for my 20 years. I had a steady job, and didn’t pay any rent so I could afford a few hundred a month for a car.
Not knowing any better, I settled on a test drive in a stripped down white 2 door Sentra. The exact order of events are not crystal clear to me, however what occurred and how I felt is clear.
The salesman flirted with me all the while we were on our test drive. He made suggestive comments. I felt somewhat flattered that a guy who was so cute was attracted to me. I also felt somewhat powerless to refute his advances. I was torn between being wanted and accepted, which I longed for desperately and standing my ground and risk pushing him away and feeling rejected.
I gave in. At some point in the test drive he asked me to pull over and we started to make out, kiss, then things progressed to him pushing me to go down on him, and then to sleeping together. It was dirty and totally unwanted.
We drive back to the car dealer, and I ended up leasing the car. I wanted to drive the car home (of course!) so the salesman had his girlfriend (!!!!) meet him at the dealer and we all drove back to my house and then they drove my traded in truck back to the dealer.
Out of curiosity, I called the dealer a few months later to see if the sales guy still worked there and I was informed that he didn’t. I asked why and he alluded to some sort of inappropriate interaction with a customer. I was glad that someone stood up for themselves. I don’t know what prompted my to call the dealer-perhaps if he still worked there-I would have told my story to someone. Perhaps not…
I am not sure why I decided to share this story first. Perhaps because I haven’t shared this experience with many people, or any that I can recollect. Perhaps the loss of power, the shame, or the embarrassment of being taken advantage was too raw and real for me to share. Perhaps sharing it would allow people to think of me as weak (the horror). Perhaps I just wanted to put it behind me. Whatever the reason-I feel good having put it out there.
I know that when I was in the situation-that it was wrong, it felt wrong and nothing about it felt right. Given my upbringing-I had a pretty liberal view of what was right and wrong-but I always stood by the saying that if it feels wrong-then it probably is. And this felt wrong. I wouldn’t call it rape or date rape since there was no physical force. It wasn’t assault-again no physical force. But for a young woman moved by acceptance and the desire to be wanted there was a strong emotional force to give this guy what he wanted. I thought that by giving in–I would gain acceptance and love (something that was clearly missing from my upbringing).
How do I –a woman carrying her first child –ensure that my offspring feel the love necessary to allow them to stand up for themselves. How do I ensure that they can say no when they clearly know that what they are doing is wrong. How do we instill the confidence in our children so they can say no without the fear of rejection. How do we teach them not to use sex to get love… or as power over other people.