This is a story about the last date I went on.
This is a story about dating and drinking and butterflies.
This is a story about #NotAllMen.
This, dear friends, is a triggering story.
Once upon a time
I met J…let’s call him Alpheus. I met Alpheus online. When I say INSTANT CONNECTION!!! We spoke endlessly for hours, on nothing and everything. He was attentive, smart, hilarious, and he texted back in GIFS (I mean, marry me already, right?!?!?) I was intrigued. I was interested. I was attracted.
On dating – the date
We met up two days following the encounter. It was a dinner date (insert all the green flags here – a gentleman, a listener, a wonderful conversationalist), followed by a night cab at his place (friends, clothes were kept on the entire evening. This is NOT a story about sex on the first date).
There was music (while we’re on the topic of music: mans had asked me on the drive down to his place what music I listen to. I said music by female artists, to which he responded with “isn’t that sexist?”
Fast forward to his place, he played music by ONLY male artists! I never called him out on it because, I get it – men relate more to male artists, and women to female artists [gross generalization]. He, however, neither understood that nor recognized his hypocrisy. I thought that was interesting. Anyway, I digress), there were humungous wine glasses and they were filled with tons of red poison. Now look, I am a wine lover, but also a conscious person. I recognize the spaces I occupy and the people with whom I share said spaces. So, while Alpheus gulped down his drink, I savoured mine with guarded enthusiasm.
*Trigger warning : rape
Dear friends, THIS is what the story is about. This is why I felt my date was worth writing about. The conversation that transpired – THAT is the story. In South Africa – where sexual assault and rape is rife – is it justifiable as a woman to be fearful of all men in intimate encounters? Is it justifiable as a man to be defensive of your good nature? I leave it to you to decide.
We need less wine
Alpheus pours himself a second glass of wine and the conversation begins:
Alpheus: Want more?
Me: Not now. I still have a bit left. Plus chuckles I have to be careful with my wine intake. It’s not safe for girls you know.
A: Hold on, wait a minute now. So, what you’re saying is I’m a potential enemy? A potential rapist?
Me: I mean, no. Not exactly what I’m saying. But you know that women aren’t safe.
A: But if you don’t feel safe then why are you here with me, alone, at night? You know I’ve noticed that women aren’t really…you probably haven’t had that (rape, sexual assault) happen to you. You probably don’t know anyone it has happened to. It has never happened to your friends. You only know it happened to some girl in the media. All these women who protest about these things [I assume he meant #MenAreTrash but cannot be sure – he was not explicit about said ‘protests’], it never happened to them. They are just doing it for clout.
Me: I don’t think the women you hang around would tell you if anything like this ever happened to them, because they wouldn’t trust you to be compassionate, if this is how you speak. I have in fact been assaulted; I know women who have been assaulted. Are we thus weary of men? Yes. Does it mean we won’t look for intimacy ever again? No. We want love, but it’s disingenuous to expect us not to be afraid.
A: Afraid of us because some Tom in Johannesburg took advantage of a situation? Look, Tupac said I can’t and shouldn’t be held responsible for another black man’s violence. I am not going to sit and listen to you bash me, and take it without defense just because I am a man. We have feelings too. I will defend myself and all black men because it is unfair that you all paint us with the same dirty brush.
Me: Okay getting up it is quite evident that we’re on two opposite sides of this and cannot find a middle ground so, this is my cue.
I took a cab back to my place, blood boiling and cheeks aching, trying not to trigger myself with memories of my assault, and holding back tears because I had just been #NotAllMen’d and gaslit out of an otherwise incredibly beautiful evening.
Then I got home to this text:
Friends, how do we reach a middle ground in situations such as this? Is there a middle ground? Do we want a middle ground? Do men think that women cry wolf when they talk about rape? Let me know below.