For many women, the fictional story of Margot, a 20-year-old university student and Robbie, a 30-something-graduate, spoke a truth they had not quite ever been able to articulate themselves.
Titled ‘Cat Person‘ and published in the December issue of The New Yorker, the story by Kristen Roupenian explores the uniquely female experience of having sex with someone out of obligation, or perhaps politeness, and being haunted by that decision later.
In a world where men are socialised to be the aggressors, and women are socialised to be nice, sexual encounters are among the most complex of all social experiences.
Every woman who is either single, or vividly remembers being single, can relate with the story of Margot and Robbie.
We spoke to three women who could easily recall a sexual experience that, in hindsight, they wish they’d never had.
I’d been close to David all through high school. He’d been my rock, my best friend, and the one person I could always rely on. Looking back now, I imagine he just saw himself as friend-zoned.
On the afternoon of our high school graduation party, he’d dropped a bombshell – he liked me, and as more than a friend.
We’d gone back to his parent’s house together, as he had his own man cave set up in the garage. He was leaving to go back to live in his home state, and he didn’t want to go home a virgin. He begged me to sleep with him. He was 19 then, as he’d been held back a year, and he burst into tears making this plea to me.
I remember feeling hurt, betrayed and appalled – he’d assumed that because I was sexually active I was therefore also available to him to do this ‘favour’. But another part of me just felt horribly sorry for him. More to the point, I felt trapped.
I didn’t have the language to turn him down. It’s hard to explain, but ‘no’ wasn’t an option. There was no way I could leave that room without leaving immense hurt in my wake. I was almost too embarrassed to say no. And I told myself maybe it wasn’t a big deal, maybe because I’d slept with other people, he was right and it would just be a mindless favour.
I told him if he grabbed some alcohol from his parent’s kitchen, I would do it. And I did. The whole thing was awful. I was completely repulsed by his naked body, and my own felt odd to me, like I’d lost possession of it.
He was very… small down there, and because of that, as well as struggling to maintain an erection due to his nervousness, the condom wouldn’t stay on. I gave in and let him go ahead without it, which made me feel doubly gross.
Despite all his nerves, once we got started he was demanding, asking to arrange me in a position he’d seen in a porn film. I couldn’t wait for it to end, making every possible effort to get him to climax while he continued to try and drag it out. I’ve never been so relieved when someone came.