He grabs her by the arm. He looks her straight in the eye. He moves his lips forward towards hers. He forces a kiss.
She makes it understood that she isn’t interested. He continues anyway. Another very clear refusal. He can’t accept her rejection, no matter how forceful and obvious it is.
A last try, and she lets go a tender sigh.
She has finally been conquered.
That’s a classic scene from a 1950’s Humphrey Bogart film, or maybe a 1960’s James Bond movie. Hollywood taught us that no woman can say no to a man. She has to fake a “no” so that she doesn’t come across as being easy. The man must be perseverant and tenacious.
I grew up with these black-and-white images: images that educated many of the men of my generation.
In 1970 I was the youngest student in my dorm. I was 15, and the students in the neighboring rooms were 20. It’s tough to carve out a place for yourself and be accepted in that sort of environment.
I did it my own way. I loaned my writing gifts to the oldest students in order to help them conquer the hearts of women.
To inspire me, when night fell, I would listen to those men talk about women. What I heard had nothing to do with my poetry.
They traded tricks for conquering a woman’s body; to get them to lose control just for a moment. Such-and-such a wine made Nathalie react. And she knew it. That’s why she avoided that wine at any price. Some would perform some sleight-of-hand to subtly exchange the contents of bottlse in order to get her to drink the love potion.
Or they’d talk about playing alcohol games with Manon, getting her to drink highly alcoholised drinks until she let go. Claire was sensitive to the touch in her neck area. As for Josée, you could tickle her. That’d make her lose her inhibitions in less than five minutes…
Being the youngest, I was neither antagonizing nor dangerous to anyone. That’s why a lot of women came to see me in my room. Not for the reason you might imagine. They were looking for a confidant. A teddy bear they could tell all to.
They described to me their friendly meetings with men. Their highs and lows in that domain. No real physical aggression. No apparent violence. But a loss of control around a man, or a few men. They’d lost count of how many times such things had happened. And they were confused over how these evenings had ended. These women experienced brief flashbacks, playing over and over again in a loop in their heads. The big question that haunted them: did I give consent? Why did I react like that? Why? Why…
They made me promise to stay silent, despite the rage that came over me.
Remembering all those conversations between “men” that happened in that dorm, I can answer a bunch of questions. It was tough to remain impassive listening to all their stories.
That promise to stay silent and do nothing about everything I heard became a lead weight around my neck. How could I dare to have a glass of wine with a woman? How could I remain natural and have some fun banter without provoking a malaise? How? How…