It was a beautiful day to study. I had just settled in on one of my favourite benches near the lost lagoon in Stanely Park, when I had the strange sensation that someone was watching me. I looked up from my books and turned around. There behind me perhaps 15 meters away in the bushes was a well muscled young man standing beside his bicycle, he was looking at me. No worries, I went back to studying. Still my unease remained, so I looked over my shoulder again, he was still there, but this time it appeared as though he was studying me. As I tried to return to my work I realized that I couldn’t. Why was this man watching me with such intensity? I decided I would make direct eye contact and find out. So for a third time I turned around. At that moment the man grinned in a sinister way, lowered his pants, exposed himself to me and began to massage his manhood in plain view. With his other hand, he pointed directly at me, and then commanded me to “Come here!” I was shocked, disgusted, traumatized, violated, angered, and afraid all at once. I grabbed my books and backpack, yelled at him “No!” and ran off.
I kept running until I found another bench far away and in a very public place. I called my wife and as we talked she suggested I call the police. They came immediately, and together we searched in vain to find the perpetrator. As we drove around in the squad car, I asked the officer what the primary crime in our neighbourhood was. Without hesitation he said sexual abuse. People, he told me, are always trying to take advantage of each other sexually and as a result many people feel violated. Since we were only three days away from the Pride parade, (a parade in our neighbourhood which celebrates, among other things, sexual freedom) I asked the officer if during this time of year there was a spike in sexual abuse complaints. He said yes.
That got me thinking. Are we as a society helping to increase sexual abuse or decrease sexual abuse? I think it’s the former. The cry for freedom is a noble one, but maybe not so much when it comes to sex. If we as a society tell ourselves that we are free to experience whatever sexual pleasure we happen to desire then we shouldn’t be surprised when people regularly break through the rather loose constraints of “responsible” and “consensual” to maximize whatever they think will give them the most pleasure. This is exactly what’s happening in my neighbourhood and it’s exactly what happened to me. This man who attempted to violate me, acted upon a freedom principle he has learned from our society. Granted he was willing to break through more fences then most to get what he wanted, but still, if we continue to promote sexual freedom as one of the highest ideals in our society, then we will have to continue to accept sexual abuse as one of it’s unintended consequences.
Perhaps there is a better ideal to strive for when it comes to our sexuality than freedom. As one who has been violated, I am certainly willing to explore other options. What if, for example, freedom was supplanted by faithfulness as our society’s highest ideal when it comes to sexuality? What if faithfulness was the message we taught our children in schools and at home. What if our popular culture began to frame it’s art, movies, and music around this ideal? Would sexual abuse increase or decrease? My suspicion is that it would decrease and humans would flourish.
You’re right. It should not have happened to you, or to anyone. But I think you made many leaps, used language that may not fit and came to a lot of conclusions that don’t necessarily follow, some of which are seen as offensive to many.
Sexual assault and rape of all forms has been around since almost forever, even in the Old Testament. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. I don’t think it’s on the rise at all. I do think it’s being reported more in cases where the victim knows the creep but I don’t think it’s happening more than it has in the past.
If believing in God, being raised to follow God’s ways was enough then so many churches and clergymen would not be in the spotlight for committing RAPE. The branches of religion that preach the most about the ‘sins’ of sexual freedom are the ones where assault seems to be most prevalent. Yes, I know, if they truly believed, then would not do it etc, etc, but they were raised where “faithfulness was the message [we] taught” in their families and it was not enough for them. Sexual repression is likely what drove these men to commit these offensives, not sexual freedom.
Sexual freedom is something that is fine among consenting adults. You were not a consenting adult in this case. So what this man was not expressing sexual freedom, he was expressing sexual violence. They are not the same thing and should not be confused. You were not violated because of sexual freedom.
That there might be a rise in reported cases of people feeling violated during the August long weekend is quite likely. But to assume it is directly related to the Gay Pride Parade is too much of a leap. During that weekend our neighborhood is invaded for both the parade and the fireworks. The fireworks brings in a whole group of people who show no respect for anyone or anything. Police have to check bags and backpacks at the skytrain stations for weapons on fireworks nights, they don’t have to do that for the parade. That says a lot to me about the nature of the people coming down here for these events.
Sexual assault unfortunately happens everywhere. It is committed mostly by men, but also by women. Women are normally the victims but men and children are also victims. It is committed in cities and in the country. It happens in homes behind closed doors by so called loving spouses. It happens in cars when men are watching kids walk to school. It happens in bathrooms at malls. It happens in vestibules in churches. It happens to young and to old. It has happened to me, more than once and in more than one way.
But again, do not mix up sexual assault with sexual freedom. They are not the same thing and one does not beget the other. I will fight whole hardily against sexual assault but I will fight equally hard FOR sexual freedom between consenting adults.
Just read your story!! I have loved walking around LOST LAGOON until recently. I. too, have felt like I am being watched and started to feel uncomfortable walking alone-even in the daytime!! No one has ever approached me, but I have stopped walking there- a bit angry at myself for “giving up”.