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I read an article and was replying to a comment underneath that asked “Why are so many of you having humiliating, painful sex? We didn’t do it like that in my day,” (rough paraphrase) and I wrote too much. Here is my reply:

For me, it was because when I was a (fat, shy, Star Trek book-reading, nervous) teenager, with bad skin and a flat chest who never wore make-up, NO ONE at my school wanted to date me. One of my male friends ditched me (we’d been really good friends since we were 13 or so) because he just kept being so embarrassed by people linking our names together (years later, he apologised for that and other things, and he’s a great guy now, and he was pretty good then, but… no one wanted their name linked with mine). I asked out more than one guy, never got asked out myself, and until my senior year of high school, never got a yes.

When someone finally noticed me, I was so pathetically grateful that I didn’t even care whether I was in the mood or not. I had genuinely expected to die a virgin, untouched and unloved and unwanted, for about 5 years by this point… Obviously, I then married the first guy who had sex with me (and moved 4,000 miles away from home, age 19) and the first year of my first marriage, I actually wound up cheating on my husband with a guy I didn’t even like in that way (who left bruises on me and told me I liked it, and I just let him) because he was the only one who would talk to me every day, and who seemed to want to have sex with me.

I did not like him sticking 4 fingers in my rectum and telling me that he could just tell that I was the kind of girl who was up for that. I did not like him jerking off on me and telling me I was a dirty little whore. I did not like him giving me a backrub for 10 minutes and then demanding a blow job because “fair is fair”. I didn’t like him not taking no for an answer multiple times a week, and coercing me into blowjobs, because “well why did you come over then/I gave you a lift to work/I bought your dinner didn’t I” etc.

However, I was still overweight, still had acne, my husband had all but stopped having sex with me 6 months into our relationship and the thing I had KNOWN would happen had (the idea that any man would want me had been proved to be a mirage, no one would ever really love me and want me) so I’d take what I could get. Even if that was continual humiliation while being told I liked it (that’s the bit that really gets me–it’s less what he did, it’s the fact that he kept insisting that I’d done it all before, was “that kind of girl” and knew the score, when actually, I’d been raised in Bible Belt USA, had suffered the loneliest of adolescences, and had married my first sexual partner).

I’m 34 now. The last time I let someone do things to me because I didn’t say no was last year: my stepdad had died the month before, we were friends of friends at a wedding, I was hanging around after everyone else had gone to bed because I was trying to get alone with another guy, and when guy-I-wanted-to-talk-to went to the bathroom AFTER walking me up to my room (because I’d lain down drunk in the middle of the floor downstairs–it took both guys to get me up said stairs and to my door) friend-of-friends helped me back downstairs and we had sex.

At one point I had my eyes closed and was counting to ten because he was hurting me, and he didn’t think to stop… still not rape. I was falling down drunk, but he was pretty drunk as well. I’m more upset that he won’t add me as a friend on Facebook, so I can talk to him about what went wrong, and ask him whether he *really* couldn’t tell that I was trying to hang out with the other guy. As to why all that happened… he and I were both former fat kids, drunk at a wedding (and in my case, I’d just had a relationship come apart at the seams, like, literally the week after my stepdad’s death) and we just wanted to feel like someone liked us. It was the first time I’d done that in about 5-6 years, in my own defence, but… the ability to feel so shitty about yourself that you’ll do anything to alleviate it is still obviously a part of me.

Since I’ve unburdened my entire soul here, I have to end on the happy note; that guy I was actually trying to get close to, I sent him a message after he walked in on me and other guy, and asked him to come to my room. I told him what happened, and he got it, that it wasn’t a thing I’d wanted, but rather, a thing I didn’t know how to avoid–he slept (fully clothed) in my bed that night, we became proper friends after that weekend (having known each other 2.5 years, but superficially) and I kid you not, we got married 7 months later after a whirlwind courtship.

A couple of nights ago, we were doing some kinky stuff and afterwards it occurred to me–I hadn’t even bothered to shave my legs or armpits, or put on mascara, before doing all manner of things to him (handcuffs and insertables were in play). I felt sexy, I felt powerful, he felt desired, he felt loved, we both had a crackin’ time, and I’d not even bothered to “prep” for sex. The next day, we were talking about it, and it occurred to me that he’s maybe the first person I’ve ever had sex with, just because I wanted to, and AS MYSELF, not some version of me that I’m desperately hoping will be sexy and intriguing and skilful enough to hold a man’s attention.

And THAT is why we have sex that’s humiliating and painful and all manner of shameful–because deep down, we believe that we’re supposed to, and if we don’t do it like this, maybe no one will ever want us again. Loneliness. Fear. Wanting to look like a party girl. Insecurities about how we look/feel. Being so shy that we regularly get too drunk at parties, and forget how to say no. Realising we have actually become “that girl” in our circle of friends, and (this is so fucked-up) wanting to live up to our wild reputation.

What was different about it, when you were young? I really want to know.