One of the things that some swingers pride themselves on is being conscious about obtaining consent. The phrase “No means No” is a mantra often repeated. I have observed this more frequently in the club that Mr Jones and I visit than in more private settings such as house parties or interactions between groups of acquaintances at say a camping weekend. For reasons that I am still formulating Mr Jones and I have not attended the private gathering type of swinger event for several years but recently we became acquainted with a couple who are a prominent feature of this kind of socialising and we have found ourselves flung back into the mix.
It is an interesting time as we are experienced but at the same time, we find ourselves acting a little bit like newbies. Sometimes we are unsure of how to act, what to expect when we turn up at someone’s house and what is expected of us. Some of the people we are encountering are people we have known for a long time and others are people who have been ‘in the scene’ but we have somehow not met. Whatever the case we found ourselves at an end of Summer Toga party recently. The hosts had gone to great effort to make their house look the theme and it was amazing. Much alcohol was consumed and there was a lot of flirting.
Flirting is often accompanied by what many people would consider foreplay. Extended kissing, stroking of body parts like breasts and perhaps a little fondling of genitals. I had interactions like this with several of the people present and most of them were pleasant as they were with men I would have taken things further with. However there was one man present who I didn’t want to go there with. I am certain the feeling was reciprocated. I won’t go into the history but there is a bit.
On this particular evening Mr Obnoxious was quite drunk. Other people who knew him better than me said they had never seen him that drunk. Quite early in the evening he had occasion to brush against me because I was sitting where he had left his phone. He said, “I am sorry,” to which I replied, “Are you?”
This is a response which I sometimes use with students who are annoying me with bad behaviour. It is a challenge to them to consider their behaviour for more than a millisecond and not just excuse themselves with a false politeness. The awkwardness I felt around him made me defensive. He clearly didn’t feel the same way because he took my comment in a flirty way and proceeded to grope my boobs. I didn’t quite know how to deal with that and so in the way of too many women everywhere I said nothing. During the rest of the evening there were another couple of times that he took the opportunity to put his hands on my boobs. Clearly he liked them. He never considered asking if this was OK with me or even really spoke to me. In such an alcohol and sex charged environment it was hard to formulate a response that wouldn’t cause a scene and result in me looking like the one with a problem. The other women seemed to treat his behaviour as cute if they weren’t interested or go with it if they were.
The next day as Mr Jones and I discussed the events of the evening his behaviour was a prominent topic. We agreed that his touching of me was not appropriate. Up to that point I wasn’t completely convinced. I still held on to that old chestnut that perhaps I had invited his touching by simply being a woman at a sex event and dressing provocatively. Mr Jones told me that at one point he had tried to tell him to stop but he had been ignored.
I tried to explain to Mr Jones about the conditioning of women to not say outright no. I tried to make him understand that often I don’t feel that I CAN say no. There is always that little seed of doubt in my mind that says “What if I am wrong? What if I did something to tell him he could even inadvertently? What if I make a fuss and look like an idiot?” Sometimes I am strong and confident and I do tell men like that to fuck off. Right then, at that party, I was not. I felt awkward and unsure of myself. I was not confident of anything about me. I didn’t feel sexy or particularly desirable.
That is not a reflection on anyone there including Mr Jones. That is all on me. Once I would have walked into a situation like that and flirted with and fucked whoever I wanted. I would have thought to hell with the mutterings of others behind my back. 2021 me is not that woman. I have taken pause and listened to some of the mutterings. I have lost that confidence. Sometimes I yearn for the old me. Sometimes I think she was way too arrogant.
In my working life, my principal requires that we set goals every year in a formal review system. We are required to have two professional goals and one “Spiritual Formation”goal I shat out the professional goals without too much difficulty. That kind of “management speak” comes out easily for me. The spiritual goal gave me pause. I don’t want to write “Go to church more” or “seek out opportunities for prayer and reflection”. They sound stupid. Maybe I should write “take steps to improve my confidence in my own worth and abilities.”