Masculinity should not be demonized and femininity should not be victimized.

I am pretty sure I could write a whole post on just that sentence. It is fucking amazing!
There is so much to unpack in this conversation that there is no way that I will ever do it justice…. so just a few of my thoughts.

Throughout this whole podcast the focus on language is fascinating.
Helpless versus Vulnerable
Gentle versus Passive
Justice versus Retribution
I often get accused of being just a little bit pedantic – words mean words – so of course I find this interesting. Subtle differences in meaning or interpretation that can drastically change a persons perception. The idiom “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness” comes to mind here. It can be particularly relatable in terms of femininity – femininity is kindness, but it is not weak.

I had a bit of a personal epiphany at one point when the conversation is about having conversations about sex with friends, specifically in high school, in that it was easier to talk to their male friends about sex; because there was not the same judgement or competitiveness that was present when having the same conversations with female friends.
This made me think about my own life… I have always been more comfortable around men. I am still more comfortable around men than I am around women. It is true, I don’t feel as judged by men as I do by women. Sometimes it is weird passive-aggressive comments when a women learns that I am in an open/poly relationship, things like, “Oh, I better not let you be alone with my husband.” Seriously? I am (probably) not going to try and fuck your husband. And I am definitely not going to try and steal him from you.
Whereas, with men, this doesn’t happen. Men don’t immediately assume that I want to fuck them when they learn about my open relationship.

And, while we are on the topic of men wanting to fuck women.
It’s true, men are often afraid to compliment, or even speak to, a woman for fear of the reaction. I see it in online forums all the time where a woman is complaining that a man spoke to her and complimented her on [whatever], and she tried to shut the conversation down by saying that she had a boyfriend/husband.
Maybe the guy was just bored and making conversation. Maybe he did find you attractive, but had no intention of pursing it because he is in a relationship. Maybe lots of different things…. but the level of narcissism that some women display is astounding! Just because a guy talks to you doesn’t mean that he wants to fuck you.

On to dick size…
Are there actually women who care about penis size? It seems so fucking weird to me. To be fair, most of the men I have been with have been average sized, although my ex was quite well-endowed. In fact mutual friends of ours still (ten years later) ask me if it is true.
Sex has been enjoyable with any size penis. Depending on the exact structure certain positions were better with certain people… For example, with my husband I enjoy being on top or missionary (and variations thereof) but if he fucks me from behind it is not at all enjoyable for me, in fact it is quite painful. On the other hand, with my lover his penis curves up a bit and it is fantastic when he fucks me from behind. The downside to that is, is that it makes is a thousand times more difficult for me to deepthroat him during oral sex, whereas, I have no problem with my husband.

First thing, I want to say… I got my husband to start listening to Whore Rapport! Win!

I found this episode fascinating, but I am having a hard time articulating my thoughts. So I apologize in advance if this post ends up a bit scattered. So here we go…

Taboo versus shame versus confusion.
Since I was young, I have fantasized about anal sex, at the time, I felt that it was super taboo and as a result felt a lot of shame around that aspect of my sexuality. I remember being at work one day, talking with a good friend who was only a year older than I was (we were probably 17/18 at the time) and she was like, “yeah, I’ve given up my Brown Belt. So what?”
I was absolutely shocked that she was so open about it and didn’t care what other people thought. Of course, this only increased my shame about my own thoughts…. why couldn’t I be as confident as her.

The conversation surrounding confusion versus shame was interesting. I could relate.
In high school I felt a lot of confusion around my sexuality, I was very sexual and enjoyed sex, but I was also a “good girl” – good grades, honours classes, extra credit, math geek. It is like the high school version of the Madonna-Whore complex. Good girls don’t have sex in high school. Good girls don’t enjoy giving blow jobs. But I did.

Shame in attraction
While I am talking about high school…. I started dating my ex-husband when we were 15. At that age, I didn’t realize that ethical non-monogamy was a thing, I believed that monogamy was the only acceptable relationship style. But I was always attracted to other people and I felt a lot of shame around that, why wasn’t my boyfriend good enough?
I ended up deciding that I was attracted to other people because my boyfriend was the only person I had ever been with, while he had dated other people. But there was still so much shame around even that.

Now, is there ever any shame about the people I am attracted to now?
Yes… and no.
I am often attracted to younger men, specifically because I find the idea of being dominated by someone younger than me hot as fuck. I love the humiliation aspect of it.
Is that shameful? I don’t know… I don’t feel shame about it. I know who I am and I am okay with it.

My last thoughts….
Love when Anya talks about having similar experiences to her father about subversively pushing societal norms. I feel the same way.
I am very open about being in an open relationship, and I do love the little moment of panic I see in people as they try to process.
I was at the doctor one day and asked for a full STI screening. My doctor is a lovely older gentleman and when I asked he said, “But you are married, right?” I confirmed that I was. He continued, “…in a monogamous relationship?” And I said no. He was speechless after that, but did do the STI screening. Sometimes I wonder if he thought I was cheating on my husband, or if he even considered the idea of ethical non-monogamy.

My relationship with my ex-boyfriend was passionate and tumultuous. We fought often, and sometimes those arguments would get physical. Without hesitation I will say that this relationship was borderline abusive. He was definitely manipulative and emotionally abusive towards me, but I can’t say that I was a victim of abuse. I wasn’t innocent, my own behaviour was toxic and borderline abusive.

When it came to physical violence, yes, he would hit me. But that usually happened after I hit him, I was often the one provoking the violence. Even in the rare instances that he initiated the violence, I wasn’t an innocent victim, I would provoke him – sometimes subconsciously, sometimes on purpose.
Our relationship was toxic, we both acted like terrible people and there is no excuse for the way we treated each other.

It seems to me that almost all cases of domestic violence are placed into a neat little box – there is a victim and an abuser. However, I don’t think real life is that simple… I honestly believe that most cases of domestic violence involve abusive behaviour from both parties. Now, this doesn’t excuse abusive behaviour, especially not physical abuse, but I just hate how simply it is always put.
Like everything else in life, violence and abuse in a relationship works in shades of gray.

Let’s look at some examples from my relationship with my ex.
I was invited out to a friends house for a get together, I told him I would be home around midnight. This friend lived about an hour away from my house, I was having a good time and people stayed out later than I had anticipated, at 11:45 I started saying my goodbyes as I figured I should start heading home, I had a long drive ahead of me and I expect people to be true to their word. If I was home by 1am I figured that was close enough to around midnight.
I was in my car ready to start going home at two minutes past midnight, I pulled out my phone to text my boyfriend that I was on my way home. Just as I did so I received a passive-aggressive text from him saying, “I guess you aren’t going to be home by midnight.”
His message was shitty, and it’s aim was to make me feel bad for being out with friends while he was home alone. However, I should have messaged him earlier stating that I was going to stay a bit longer than I anticipated. In my relationship with my husband, we would be able to talk about this and move on relatively quickly, because we would both understand the others perspective.

A second example of my ex-boyfriends emotionally manipulative behaviour.
I woke up in a great mood, on a beautiful day, we decided to go up to the mountains and go on a popular hike. On the drive up, he got cut off on a narrow road – frustrating? Yes, definitely. However, he proceeded to be in a bad mood for the rest of the day and I had to walk on eggshells for fear of upsetting him further.
(This was actually the straw that broke the camels back and made me break up with him a few days later.)

Now, for an example that isn’t quite as clear.
We were having a disagreement (over what is irrelevant). Things escalated, he expressed his opinion and I disagreed. He asked to be left alone so he could process the information we were talking about and see if he could reconcile my thoughts with his feelings. I disregarded his request and continued to talk at him and tell him why he was wrong.
He tried to walk away. I followed him. He asked for space. I said no.
This went on for some time…. until he eventually broke and pushed me away from him. I took exception to him pushing me and I slapped him. From there, the fight was on… It was ugly.
Who is being abusive here? The answer… both of us!

It was shitty of me not to respect his request for time and space. At the time, I was too emotionally immature to give it to him, because time and space is the last thing I want when I am upset. My husband also often needs time and space to process things. I give it to him when he needs it, but it feels like it is killing me! I still struggle with it, but I understand and accept that his needs are valid even though they are different than mine.
He shouldn’t have pushed me, but honestly, I think that is a pretty normal reaction given the situation. He tried to get space… he tried to remove himself from the situation. He tried.

I wonder how often something similar to the above scenario plays out and the woman is simply labelled the victim, and the man the abuser. Especially in situations where there is a size/skill differential. I can hold my own in a fight, so when things got physical, I wasn’t overpowered and beaten easily.
Sometimes, I get accused of victim blaming. I’m not, no one should be subject to abuse…. but “victims” need to look at their own actions and see if they influenced the behaviour. Abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum…

Let me start by saying that I am fairly racially ambiguous, but I am clearly “not white.”
I also grew up, and live in, a very liberal, progressive part of the world so my experiences will be vastly different from what a person would experience in other parts of the world.

Racism exists. There is no denying that. However, I feel that too many people jump to racism as a conclusion with no evidence. Just because a person is an asshole/rude/mean to a person of colour or ethnic minority does not mean they are racist, maybe they are just an asshole.
I struggle to empathize with people who insist that racism is the cause of negative interactions without any other information to go on. Is there a pattern of shitty behaviour towards minorities? Maybe, but often in isolated incidents past behaviour is unknown…. so we cant just assume racism.
Is it overt? Does the person say something that is explicitly racist? No….? Then we can’t jump straight to racism.

Personally, I have never felt that I have been treated differently because of my race (and I look most like a very marginalized type of people – although, I am actually something different). I have had negative interactions with people, and later, while recounting these interactions to others, some people have suggested that they were racially motivated. I have never assumed that, if anything I just assume the other person is an asshole. I mean, it’s possible they are a racist asshole, but I can’t confirm that and it isn’t safe to just assume that.

I have had this conversation with a lot of people. Most people seem to agree with my perspective, yet, there continues to be a persistence in jumping to racial motivation. Emotionally, it is easier, it makes sense, racism allows people to blame others rather than look at their own behaviour.
I believe that if we look at each of these interaction critically, and determine which ones are actually racially motivated, it will be easier to stop or minimize racism. We would be able to deal with individuals, organizations, or policies that are racist rather than dealing with things that might be racist.

I am sure there have been times that I have been treated differently because of my ethnicity…. But that is not the reason I jump to. And I am glad that it’s not, if it was, it would be so easy to be angry at the world. To have little faith in humanity…

Unexpected and accidental pregnancies happen. It is no secret that my kiddo was an accident. It wasn’t an unwanted pregnancy, just unwanted at the time. I love her and I wouldn’t trade her for the world, but her conception caused a lot of stress. Here is my story…

My now-husband and I were never supposed to be a serious thing. I had just gotten out of long-term, borderline abusive, relationship and he was not my type; he was someone who was fun and the sex was great, someone to have casual fun with for a few months and then move on. We were both on the same page here, he wasn’t looking for anything serious either.
Turns out we had more in common than loving sex, we had a lot of common interests, and worldviews. So we fell into a relationship.
Four months after we started fucking, he got a contract to work out of town for three to six months, the money was good and he didn’t have a steady job so there was no way he was going to decline this offer. We decided that we enjoyed each others company enough that we would try long-distance while he was away. He would get a week of vacation time and I could go visit him.

It ended up working out well, two of his friends had vacation at the same time so myself and the other girlfriends went up to meet the boys. We spent three days together and had sex nine times. I remember saying to him just before I left that “we won,” because I was sure that we had the most sex.
A few weeks later, I was so goddamn tired! I thought I had mono… it was the only reasonable explanation, all I wanted to do was sleep. Then, my period was late. Not a huge deal, I have always been irregular, but I was on the pill so irregularity shouldn’t have been an issue.
I bought a pregnancy test, just to put my mind at ease because there was no way that I was pregnant. Oh, I was wrong…. Fuck.

As soon as I got the positive test I texted him (well, after a small anxiety attack and a lot of tears).
I prepared for his call, I knew he wouldn’t be expecting this news and I wasn’t sure how he was going to react. I did know that we had an open/non-monogamous relationship from the beginning and he had been out of town for the last two months, so I was prepared for him to ask me if the baby was his. I felt that this was a reasonable question given the circumstances. Given that I hadn’t had sex with anyone else, I was certain, but he wouldn’t know that, yet.
He called, I was right, he was not excited about the news. But to his credit, he did not ask if the baby was his, instead he asked if I did it on purpose!

What. The. Actual. Fuck!
Now, I think it is hilarious. At the time, I couldn’t believe that he thought I was crazy enough to try and baby-trap him.

He pushed for me to get an abortion.
I couldn’t do it. I was 25, well established in my career, owned my own home; I could support a child on my own if I had to, and I was prepared to do that if it was necessary.
Prior to this, we had the conversation of what would happen if I ended up pregnant. We remember the conversation very differently. He believed that I said I would get an abortion, I remember saying that while I support abortion rights, personally, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

He was scheduled to return home about three weeks after this. It was a tense three weeks, we mostly just avoided the whole topic. Once he was back home discussion resumed. He continued to push for an abortion, hard. At one point, I even agreed but said that I would completely blame him and that if I did go through with terminating the pregnancy then I never wanted to see him again.
Secretly, I hoped for a miscarriage so that I wouldn’t have to make this decision and it wouldn’t be my fault.

I ended up reaching out to a mutual friend of ours. I explained my reasons for being unable to get an abortion and said that I contemplated telling my husband that I got it done and never wanted to see him again, but then just raising the child on my own (yes, totally unethical, but I wasn’t thinking straight at the time). My friend told me that my husband deserved to know the truth. He was right.
I said that I was keeping the baby, but that I respected his decision to opt out of parenthood. I said that he had until I was twelve weeks to make a final decision and that if he decided to walk away, then I wouldn’t ask him for any support – financial or otherwise.

He came to the conclusion that he couldn’t know he had a child in the world and not be in that child’s life. We both understood that our relationship may or may not last, but that we would have to be in each other’s lives in some fashion. At this point, we decided that we still loved each other and we would continue our relationship.
Ten years later, we are still going strong. Of course, we have had our ups and downs. We can both admit that there have been certain events that would have been considered deal breakers to a relationship if we didn’t have a tiny human binding us together. So we have worked through some hard things. But we are happy.

I have committed to writing about each episode because I believe that the things Anya and Erin talk about are so important and that we all need to be having these conversations much more openly. And the selfish part… most times when I am listening to an episode, my own story comes to mind and I want to share.

This episode was different. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, I found it fascinating, it just didn’t resonate with me in the same way. I am not entirely sure why.

It did make me think… back to my childhood, what kind of unrequited love or crush did I have on a celebrity or authority figure, and nothing striking comes to mind. But that got me thinking, do we use these childhood fantasies to “practice” for real relationships when we get older? I mean, I think that is a good thing. For the most part, unless the fantasy becomes too all encompassing and creates an unrealistic expectation in future relationships.

I did resonate with the whole Romeo and Juliet thing and reasons why people can’t be together. Yes, it all comes down to timing. There is nothing physically keeping my lover and I apart (actually that isn’t true, Covid is definitely keeping us apart at this exact second), but family life and kids mean that we can’t be together the way we want to be right now. Not without ruining other lives. That being said, neither of us are unhappy in our current situations.

The only real thing I have to say about this episode is that it comes down to the fact that there are many different types of love, and many different ways to love someone. Romantic love is not unique.

Recently, a good friend of mind told me that she is thinking about getting an IUD. She knew that I had one previously, and didn’t have a great experience with it. This got me thinking about birth control and contraception and how little we are taught about it, especially any negative side effects.
Here is my experience with birth control, from when I was first sexually active until recently.

I lost my virginity at 15, my boyfriend at the time was also a virgin. I wasn’t comfortable going to the doctor to discuss the birth control pill because, well, I still don’t like going to the doctor, but also because I was too shy/embarrassed. So, we used condoms.
The first few times went fine, if not a little awkwardly. We then started experimenting with different types of condoms – ribbed and studded. Those were awful! I spoke with one specific friend about it because I knew that she was also sexually active. She agreed and said, “ribbed condoms are like getting fucked with a cheese grater.” This is an analogy I still use today.
Out of genuine curiosity…. are there any women out there who actually enjoy these textured condoms?

After about three months, a condom broke. I panicked, we were 16, I couldn’t be pregnant. My periods were super irregular due to my very low body fat percentage so the chance was small, but it will still terrifying. So off to the youth clinic to get Plan B.
At the clinic, the doctor talked to me about the birth control pill and said that I could get it for free through the youth clinic. Fantastic! Condoms are gross and the pill would help regulate my period, win-win. So I started on the pill for the first time.
First couple of months were fine, but then my period started getting longer, and longer, and longer. Soon, I was bleeding for three weeks, with only a week between cycles. I was young and didn’t even think about discussing it with a doctor and getting a different pill; I didn’t know there were different pills. So I stopped taking my pill and we went back to condoms.

About six months later, another condom broke. Back to the youth clinic, while I was there the pills was brought up again. I discussed my past experience and the doctor said that I could try a pill with a lower dose of hormones. I was super excited by this news.
Repeat my last experience with the pill. A few good months, followed by a lengthening period. I felt like it was a lost cause, so it was back to condoms.
I remained in that relationship for many more years. Hormonal birth control free. Due to his fear of me getting pregnant, and our history with broken condoms, sex was rather infrequent.

That relationship ended when I was 22 and I jumped into another relationship almost immediately. The first two times I had sex with this man, the condoms broke. By this time I was a bit older and recognized that as much as I didn’t want to have to go see a doctor, my vagina eats condoms so I should probably go on some type of birth control.
I discussed my past experiences being on the pill with the doctor, and we decided on a brand to try. At this point, I am not sure if an IUD was brought up as a viable alternative, but I wouldn’t have been interested in it at the time. It took almost a year and three different brands of the pill (in addition to the two from when I was younger) before we found something that seemingly worked.

On this pill, my period got shorter and lighter. It didn’t appear to have any significant negative side effects – although, in hindsight this is so far from true! I did gain a few pounds, but that was to be expected and didn’t bother me.
Over the next year my libido dropped to almost non-existent; I wanted to want to have sex, but I just didn’t. The relationship I was in turned toxic, for both of us. In our youthful wisdom, we decided that not stopping a pregnancy if it were to happen would be good for us (I am so happy I didn’t end up pregnant with this man!). The toxicity of the relationship permeated my whole life, and I eventually ended up leaving him (best decision ever!).

Shortly after that relationship ended, I began to date my now-husband. One of the first times we had sex, the condom broke (because my vagina eats them!). At this point, I still didn’t realize how awful the side effects to hormonal birth control were for me, so I thought the responsible thing to do would be to go back on the pill. I asked the doctor for the same brand I had been on previously, as I knew that it wouldn’t make me bleed constantly.
I was only on the pill for about four months as I ended up getting pregnant and my husband and I decided to keep the baby, despite the fact we had only been together a few months.

After I gave birth, I went on a different type of pill so as not to affect breastfeeding. When my daughter was about a year old my husband and I discussed having another child, neither of us really wanted one, but we were ready to make an permanent decisions. So I opted to get an IUD, as that would provide us five years to decide, and I could get it removed at any time.
After a bit of research I decided on the Mirena (at the time, the only options available to me were the Mirena and the copper IUD). I choose the hormonal option over the copper one for a singular reason. A side effect of the copper IUD was heavier periods and, as I have written about before, my period is already abnormally heavy and I couldn’t even imagine it being worse (this was pre-DivaCup). On top of that, I had not yet recognized the detrimental effects that hormonal birth control had on my mental and physical health).

Initially, I loved my IUD. My period stopped entirely and we didn’t even have to think about birth control. But slowly, things started to change…
Like everyone, I occasionally had periods were I was depressed or sad for seemingly no reason, but they were short-lived (like less than a day) and never caused me any problems. But now, there were periods where I was just exhausted, my whole body felt heavy and even having a shower seemed like too much work. I didn’t want to get out of bed, and some days I didn’t. I was doing the bare minimum to be a functioning adult and mother.
My sex drive was pretty non-existent but I chalked that up to the depression and having a small child.
Then the migraines started. Oh my, they were the most awful thing I have ever experienced! They didn’t happen often, maybe once every two or three months, but that was more than enough.

I am not sure how I recognized it, but I realized that the depression and the migraines never happened before I had an IUD and that they were getting worse as time went on. Maybe I was just looking for a cause…. but I started doing some research into negative side effects of Mirena specifically, and hormonal birth control generally. Migraines, depression, loss of libido, mood swings…. all potential side effects of hormonal birth control. I had never been told about this! Or, if I was, it was glossed over. But I read dozens of first hand accounts of women who experienced horrific side effects to being on hormonal birth control.

I had had my IUD for about 2 years at this point. I discussed my theory with my husband that the IUD was causing the migraines, depression, and mood swings I was experiencing. He was supportive in me having it removed, but this brought back the issue of birth control. By this time, we were certain that we were done having children, so he booked a consultation for a vasectomy.
Problem solved… for now.

Fast forward a number of years and I have finally recognized all of the negative effects that hormonal birth control had on me, but I am planning on meeting my long-distance lover in real life for the first time. Wile condoms are most definitely going to be used, I know my history with them so I am not comfortable using condoms as our only form of contraception. Despite knowing that hormonal birth control fucks with me hard, I decide that it will be short term and it is for the best. I believed that I could mitigate the negative effects on my mental health by being hyper-aware of them.
I started back on the pill about three months before our meeting, as I wanted to ensure that my body had time to adjust and that the pill would be effective. I thought it would take several months before I would notice the negative side effects, but they started almost immediately.
My libido was gone. The depression returned. I experienced wild mood swings. My husband and I were arguing almost daily, and not small disagreements, like crazy house shaking arguments. I felt like a crazy person.
This was my wake up call, I stopped taking the pill three weeks before meeting my lover. I couldn’t do it anymore, it was tearing my relationship with my husband apart.

I will never again use any type of hormonal birth control.

I realize that there are women out there who do not experience these types of side effects. In fact, I know some women that use birth control as a way to regulate mood swings and other issues. I am not in any way trying to say that hormonal birth control doesn’t have positive effects on people, but I do believe that there has to be more discussion about the negative effects.
I believe that women should be encouraged to self-monitor their mental and physical well being before starting hormonal birth control and continuing after, to see if there are any changes.

We are all judgmental, well, maybe not all of us, but I certainly am. Then I realized my own hypocrisy and felt the need to analyze the shit out of it, and here we are….

How I Recognized My Own Double Standard
I’ll admit, I cringe when hear of relationships where one party (usually the man) is significantly older than the other party. Hell, I remember teasing the shit out of a friend when we learned his new girlfriend (now wife) had just turned 22 – he was almost 30. Although most of it was in jest, there was some seriousness too it, he was pretty flakey on plans and habitually late, I am not entirely sure he would have found a woman the same age who would put up with his shit. So yeah, I was judgy….
This, despite the fact that when I look for FWB/NSA relationships outside of my marriage, I am generally attracted to men ten years my junior. I rationalized that it was different because I was just looking for casual (sexual) relationships, not long-term romantic partners; I believed that I would only be interested in a long-term partnership with someone of similar age.
Well, I have never been interested in older men, even when I was a teenager, I dated someone the same age as me. But somehow, I have ended up in a very serious, long-distance, D/s relationship with a man twelve years older than me.
Fuck, it is definitely time to re-evaluate my views on age-gap relationships.

Why We Judge
So many of us judge these types of relationships, but why? Well, first, there is only really harsh judgement when the younger party is quite young, teenager or young adult. While some people may make some initial judgement about my lover being twelve years older, no one assumes he is manipulating or abusing me because I am well into adulthood myself; and at this point, what is a decade?
To be fair, manipulation and abuse in age-gap are much more likely to happen while someone is young, but the media doesn’t help. The media sensationalizes cases where there was been clear abuse – think trafficking and prostitution. We, as viewers, then start to believe this is the norm, therefore, all relationships involving a large age-gap have some level of coercion and abuse. This clearly isn’t true, think about your own life. I would wager that everyone knows someone who has been in a healthy, functional relationship with a large age-gap.

I also believe that when people hear of a large age-gap in a relationship they time travel to make judgement. People sometimes comment that my lover was 28 when I was 16 and that’s weird. IS it though? I didn’t know him when I was 16, and I sure wasn’t fucking him then! But even if we were together then, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he would have been manipulating me.
Or, he was 20 when you were 8! Yup, 12 years… but he isn’t interested in fucking pre-pubescent children! How the fuck is that relevant???

Lastly, our culture has a victim complex. We label people victims after the fact.
A perfectly happy 35 year old woman can recount a neutral experience of dating an older man (for simplicity, let’s say she was 16 and he was 25). She can believe that the relationship was a positive one and that he empowered her in numerous ways, and that the split was amicable simply because they grew apart as she transitioned into adulthood.
She will be told over and over again that this man was manipulative and abuse towards her, that no 25 year old man would want to date a child. He was grooming her. Eventually, she will start to second guess herself; maybe he was manipulative. Why would a 25 year old date a 16 year old? Maybe she was taken advantage of…?
By the time she is 40, the narrative has changed and when she recalls this relationship she talks about how her ex-boyfriend was a predator and manipulated her into a sexual relationship against her will, and that she hopes that he didn’t traumatize other young girls.
What the fuck happened here? A story of empowerment gets turned into a story of victimization. As a society we need to stop labelling people as victims, if they don’t see themselves that way, it just causes trauma after the fact.

So, can age-gap relationships be manipulative and exploitive. Yes, absolutely! But so can any relationship.
Are these types of relationships higher risk for manipulation and abuse. Maybe, it is definitely something to be aware of.
My lover and I have spoken in depth about the age-gap, largely in the sense that we like to imagine what life would have looked like if we met years ago and had become each others primary partner. Thirteen years ago, we were both at crossroads in our lives. I had just gotten divorced from my ex-husband and he had moved back to his home country to start a new career. Theoretically, if we had met at this point the stars would have aligned and we could have started a relationship.
However, it never would have worked. At 23 I was already established in my career and owned my own home, I would not have had any interest in a 35 year old man who didn’t have his shit together. And he, would not have been interested in a near child with no life experience, I would have been too young for him to consider a serious relationship with.
But now? None of that matters.

Apart from the fact that my mom is just super awesome, I have her to thank for so much. The older I get, the more I appreciate how she raised me. She didn’t only empower me, she did so many little things that didn’t disempower me.
As a kid, I was never told that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. I would hear other girls say that and I would just be confused, I didn’t understand how being a girl was relevant. Now, however, I see how that shaped the personality of a lot of women – being afraid to walk alone at night because they are female; not believing that they can use power tools well because they are female.

I was a tomboy (hell, I still am). I liked to play in dirt, I ate worms, I climbed trees, I played with cars and firecrackers. I was never told that I wasn’t allowed to do those things, I was just told to be careful. When I got hurt, I was treated just like the boys and told to “walk it off”, unless it was a serious injury. I never got in trouble for getting hurt, in less I was actually being careless or negligent. I was never discouraged from going back to marginally dangerous activities (think: climbing and jumping out of trees).
I can’t even imagine how differently my life would have been if my mom had brought stupid gender stereotypes into it.

I was never taught that I would be victimized because I was a girl. Yes, there are certain precautions to take to avoid being victimized, but men have to take precautions too, maybe different ones, but still. Just because I am a girl didn’t mean that I couldn’t stand up for myself, or protect myself. Nor did it mean that I had to limit my opportunities in order to stay safe.
When I was 19 there was a man sexually assaulting women in my neighbourhood, he would hide in the bushes and accost women walking alone at night, he would then grope and molest them. He had been doing this for about 3 weeks. I went out one night with my then boyfriend and got super drunk(!), and walked home from the bus stop around 2am.
My mother knew that I was going out to the bar and would likely be intoxicated when I came home. She didn’t tell me not to drink because of this guy. She didn’t tell me not to go. She told me to be careful and to call her if I needed anything.
I was careful. While walking on the quiet side streets, I walked up the middle of the road. That way, if this guy tried to come out of the bushes, I would have some reaction time to run away or prepare to fight him.

I love that example because I continue to live my life, I will walk along at night in seedy areas. I am always careful, I am always alert, but I am not afraid. Sure, I could still get victimized in some way, but that is a risk I am willing to take, I don’t want to miss out on life.
It would have been so easy for my mom to instill fear in me. She could have repeatedly brought up the cases of sexual assault. She could have told me over and over that she was worried about me being out alone at night. She could have asked if going out was really worth it. But she didn’t she empowered me to make my own choices, and let me trust my judgement.

How many of you clicked on this prepared to be angry? Yeah, it’s a shitty clickbait title, but hear me out…. There is a weird, pervasive belief in our culture that this is true. Despite claims to the contrary, current social climate suggests that women are incapable of making their own decisions.

I’ll admit, I don’t have the time or energy to research many of the topics that I write about, I like to write anecdotally. It is a bit of a weakness, especially since I am often trying to convince people to see my side of things… I accept that. One thing I am always telling people is that just because something is being portrayed a certain way, doesn’t mean it is that way – the vocal minority is often the loudest, but it doesn’t always represent what most people think.
So, on that note, I will admit that this may be me getting irrationally angry at the vocal minority and maybe most cases don’t go this way – God, I hope that is the case.

Back to why men are cognitively superior to women…..
Consent. Why can men consent when they are drunk, but women can’t? I don’t mean if a person had been drugged, or given alcohol without their consent, I am referring to times when a woman chooses to consume alcohol to the point of intoxication. While intoxicated, this woman decides to have sex with a man she just met. Consensual sex.
The next morning, she thinks she made a mistake… she isn’t the type to have one-night stands, or maybe she just doesn’t find the guy physically attractive. As far as I am concerned, she had regrettable sex; she made a stupid decision while drunk.

However, it seems that in today’s social climate it is A-okay for this woman to claim that she was raped. That she was drunk, and therefore could not consent.
Maybe there are situations where this is true.
Was she passed out?
Was she so drunk that she was incoherent and about to pass out?
Was she very drunk while he was completely sober?
If the answer to all of those questions is “no”, then she is capable of consenting. This seems especially true if the guy was also drunk – did they rape each other? If he regrets his decision in the morning, no one suggests that she took advantage of him! So what makes men cognitively superior that they are capable of not only consenting to sex while drunk, but being responsible for ensuring that the woman is sober enough to consent herself.

This whole belief that women can’t consent when they are drunk infantilizes and disempowers women. It makes the assumption that women don’t have agency over their own behaviour.
We have all made stupid choices when we are drunk, but that doesn’t mean we are incapable of making good ones.

I have had regrettable drunk sex. It was a learning experience.
I have had people tell me that I was raped because of this…. First off, don’t victimize me. I am not a victim, I don’t feel like a victim, I am not traumatized. Let me experience things the way that I want to experience them. Secondly, people equating my shitty decision making to rape invalidates the true victims of a horrific crime.