By Paulina Sterpe '15
Trigger warnings: sexual assault
I have recently discovered (that is to say, I’m no longer in denial) that I have very a specific taste in men: I’m attracted to assholes. It’s magnetic, really. I’m drawn toward men who hate women. With my admission of my somewhat perverse preference for not-so-harmless- douchebaggery, I’ve started to question a lot about my choices thus far as a twenty- one-year-old woman.
I consider myself a feminist (I mean, I go to Wellesley), but I like men who consider me to be little more than a conquest: the irony is not lost on me. What does this mean for my love life going forward? I happen to have met a guy who is not my usual type. He’s very nice and acknowledges that I am smart, caring, and lovely, and he appreciates me for more than my body and my blowjobs. I am hugely out of my comfort zone with him simply because he’s nice. Mind you, I almost didn’t give him the time of day at first. So, I asked myself: “Paulina, what is so alluring about an asshole? What are you trying to achieve by pursuing him? Do you hate yourself and prefer a man put you down so you can blame him, instead of being accountable for your own emotions?”
With questions like these, I opened Pandora’s box. What followed was a clusterfuck of emotions and hours and hours of self-reflection, not all of which were in vain. I’ve learned a few things. Actually, I’ve learned a lot. Perspective is a beautiful thing. This awakening has been a long time coming. So, I guess this is my story.
From the get-go, I’ve made questionable choices about the men I’ve decided to sleep with. In high school, I made up my mind that I wanted to lose my virginity to an old childhood friend and propositioned him via AIM (oh, the good ol’ days). He said: “I’d be honored,” and the rest was history. After a two-year dry spell (I was a sophomore, he was a senior, so he went off to college), I had a camp romance with an Englishman. He was a real piece of work: immature, broody, emotionally unavailable, but that accent, man... We had a turbulent summer, which led to a turbulent long- distance relationship—throughout which, I should mention, I had a bit of a sexual awakening and slept my way through Harvard (a German exchange student and a light-weight rower), MIT (my former ballroom partner and a Chi Phi), and Babson (Mistake 1 and Mistake 2)—which led to a turbulent breakup in December 2011.
After periods of cold, radio silence interrupted by bouts of fervent WhatsApping, he bought a plane ticket to visit me during my Wintersession abroad in Rome in 2013. Long story short – like, really short – he lied to me about having chlamydia because he was pissed off about our situation. Flashback to summer and fall 2012, I dated this Babson guy who cheated on me with an old fling then lied to my face about it. I was smart and figured it out, but not smart enough to dump his ass and certainly not smart enough to stop sleeping with him even after he dumped me. I went abroad in fall of 2013 feeling like I had been chewed up and spit out by men (not to mention the one night stands along the way) and came back in the spring thinking it was time to start to put all of that behind me. Instead, what began as a consensual hook up took an unexpected turn for the worse, and I felt the need to reevaluate what I wanted my sex life to look like.
I never expected to become a statistic. And that really sucked. One out of every six women will experience attempted or completed rape at some point in their life. Check. Eighty percent of women are under the age of thirty. Yep. Sixty-eight percent of assaults go unreported. Uh-huh. Seventy-five percent of survivors know their assailants. Cringe. Ninety percent of survivors on college campuses know their assailants. Crying. Thing is, though, this was a huge wake up call for me. Having sex with people you only sort of trust is risky and, while that doesn’t excuse or justify what happened, my choices put me in a situation with someone who didn’t respect my boundaries, and I figured that out the hard way.
I was sick of sleeping around. I wanted the kind of sex you have with your partner after you have the talks about how you don’t want to get pregnant and have no STIs: trusting, respectful, probably a little rough, but you both like that and know you’re both going to cuddle the shit out of each other afterwards so it’s all good. I wanted that kind of sex with fuckboys. Yes, fuckboys. I was just hoping and praying that the next time would be different and the perfect guy would fall (perhaps literally) into my lap. I was having loads of recreational sex for all
the wrong reasons. I would go from one extreme to another beginning with “Yes, I want this and this is fine,” and ending with “Why did I sleep with him? Did I really want to do that?” without being fully aware of why I was having such a huge change of heart. It just didn’t occur to me that casual sex wasn’t getting me what I wanted.
I was approaching college hook up culture all wrong. I would hop into bed with someone and just assume they would realize that I was actually a fucking awesome person that they should keep around for a plethora of reasons completely unrelated to fellatio. I desperately wanted these fuckboys to like me for me and that simply wasn’t going to happen.
So, what did you do about it? Thank you for asking! How kind! Let me tell you: I spent a lot of time in therapy talking about why I felt I needed to sleep with men to
validate myself. I also explored why I went for assholes in the first place. The answer is simple, really: an asshole is a project and I wanted to fix him. It would be such a fucking huge achievement for me personally if were able to sway him out of his douchebaggery. This is clearly my type-A at its extreme: I’m a fixer. I would love to take the credit for stopping this guy from treating women (me) like they were disposable. And he would worship me for helping him see the light.
The thing is, I don’t hate myself at all. I love myself. I think I am a great person and I deserve the respectful, trusting relationship I’ve wanted all this time. My love life was a shit show because all I wanted was some TLC and I didn’t know how to get it in healthy, safe, and satisfying ways. Involving myself with assholes was a brief high in which I’d feel somewhat heroic before admitting defeat: I can’t change anyone that much. In theory it was exciting and risky, but in practice it left me angry, vulnerable, and hurt.
I’m less hurt now. I’ve been working on having mentally safe sex. Every day I give a little hug to that part of me that screamed “Please, pleaaase like me!” Every day I have more patience and forgiveness regarding the choices I made. Every day I am thankful I no longer need men who hate women.
From April 2015 Issue