Make love, not porn.
There is a common conception amongst the more judgmental of us; It is generally assumed that non-decent abusive humans, the love-rats, the lust-rats, the emotionally unavailable life forms, the creeps you see in clubs clutching at female genitalia, go after overtly vulnerable, provocatively dressed and drama loving targets.
And while it may be true that this may be the stereotypical victim, any of us can be targets, any of us can be groomed, any of us can fall into an abusive relationship, no matter how intelligent we are or how much we guard against it.
I recently had a conversation with a rather beautiful and intelligent woman, assertive in her opinions and a casual confidence in her convictions. And yet as she tells me her story, her confidence so clear at my kitchen table, was undermined by her troubling tale.
She met her creep in person at a ‘work do’ and kept up a long distance friendship that slowly turned romantic. He seemed an ‘absolute gentleman’, offering to pay for her plane ticket for her to visit him and finally deciding to come to London to sweep her off her feet. Ten years older with a face that reminds you of Mad Men’s Don Draper, it is hard not to see the initial attraction. And yet once the physical distance was gone, a much more sinister distance appeared between them.
Her face has still traces of the recent trauma of encounter, as she sits with a cup of tea and some dried mango at my kitchen table, she divulges exactly what happened. Yet it is hard for both of us to accept this has actually happened to her, her tale feels unreal.
It started off with something so small, yet what would become a significant trend. She met him as soon as he arrived, after months of intimate cyber and skype contact; she was filled with excited anticipation. They were finally both in London and promptly went for lunch. At this point, this rather wealthy man very assertively told her he wasn't going to pay for anything. Which is fine, in one feminist sense, but on this occasion was an early example of his total lack of regard for any human other than himself. Unresponsive to any attempts at conversation, there would be only one way he would communicate with her throughout this ‘romantic’ trip.
Soon after their first ever lunch together, he compelled her into sexual acts, as if his urges were the most imperative thing in the room. In fact, every sexual encounter seemed to be his disastrous attempt to act out a scene from a hard-core porn film. While this is acceptable in a consensual relationship, for a first time intimate encounter with a less than happy partner – it feels like an affront. Perhaps he was attempting to ‘over-compensate’ to satisfy his ego. A suggestion of post-coital hug was shuddered at and a touch of the shoulders was treated with disgust. Anything that wasn’t interaction with another male or pornographic performance with her, he met with a cold disdain. Indeed, what motivated him to treat her and all her female friends in contemptuous silence; apart from when acting out his porn star fantasy, while any male friend or passing dog was reverenced with respect and love, we can only speculate.
Meanwhile the main question in our conversation – is why did she, after this first awful encounter, see him again? When you’re immersed in a relationship, it can be hard to see it objectively, because it has been so built up – how can we easily let go and accept that we were abused by someone we trusted? How can we accept that our knights in shining armor have deceived us?
I’d like to point out the perils of cyber relationships built up on MSN, email and Facebook. Certain people come across much more gregarious and emotionally available when there is no face-to-face contact. We can end up building an idea of someone in our head – which is rather hard to accept as false.
Besides which the perils of men who base their sexual prowess on porn is particularly worrying too. Check out ‘make love not porn’ for more information.