Sex and the Ivy

A Letter To My Assailant

Filed under: Feminism, Life, Men, Women — Elle August 31, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

Dear Fellow Passenger on the Metro Rapid 720,

Today was supposed to be remembered as my last day of work at my summer internship. But after our encounter this morning, I’ll fondly look back on this Thursday as the day I got my ass grabbed on the bus down Wilshire.

At first, I wasn’t certain that anything inappropriate was going on. It was a crowded bus, I had a headache and a cough, and I was thirty minutes late on my last day. Being assaulted was the last thing I worried about. But after you brushed up against my hip one too many times, I began to take notice. I realized that despite close quarters, you were much closer than you needed to be. You positioned yourself so that my back was flat against your chest. I didn’t intend to vertically spoon with anyone on public transportation this morning. I looked down and you were wearing running shorts, which led me to deduce that it was your erection causing the uncomfortable sensation.

You don’t fit the typical profile of a pervert. You’re not middle aged, balding, wearing a trench coat. You’re an attractive black male about 6 feet tall with an athletic build. And most surprising of all, you’re young, no older than 25. If you had asked for my number, I would’ve probably given it to you.
I was willing to ignore the constant brush-ups that occurred every time the bus jolted. I was willing to walk away irritated, but optimistic about human nature. Besides, I could just scoot forward a little bit. If I wasn’t positive that you had inappropriate intentions, why cause a fuss? But then I felt your fingers graze my rear and you confirmed every suspicion, so I whipped my head around and asked loudly, “What are you doing?” Immediately, you apologized and looked sheepish more than anything. You didn’t even try to play it off like you were innocent. I have to give you credit for that.

Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with a slightly instable, fed-up-with-men feminista who was having a bad day as it was, “I’m sorry” just didn’t cut it. Because this is the first time I’ve spoken up against behavior I’ve been subjected to countless times before, your apology just wasn’t enough. So forgive me for not letting you slide with your “I’m sorry.” Forgive me for insisting on making a scene in front of the 30 other people on that bus. When you tried to leave at the next stop - coincidentally, my stop - I had every intention of leaving this incident behind. But forgive me for turning back around, grabbing you by the collar, demanding, “Why are you touching me on the bus?” in front of all those onlookers. Forgive me for screaming repeatedly, “What makes you think it’s okay to touch women like that?” while pedestrians stopped and looked on. Forgive me for refusing to let you go, for kneeing you in the crotch repeatedly - I was trying to go for where it hurt the most. Forgive me, because you have to understand - you got me where I hurt most.

Do I feel empowered? Hardly. I’ve been recounting this tale to friends and coworkers (”I kicked the pervert’s ass!”) But the truth is, I don’t feel any more empowered for fighting back. My reaction today was the exception not the rule. This once, I didn’t stand for it. This once, I spoke up. But for this single instance, for every time I yell “fuck off” at an unwanted come-on, there are countless other occasions when I remain silent. For every woman willing to fight back, there are many others too scared to say anything. If it was just the two of us on the bus, would I have summoned up the same courage? If this happened at night, would I have dared to grab you by the shirt on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire? I don’t fool myself into thinking that I’m any safer because I fought back this one time.

So no, I don’t feel empowered, and no, calling you out on your behavior doesn’t make me feel like I’ve reclaimed the dignity I lost when you invaded my space. You walked away embarassed, but I walked away a little less whole than I was when I left my house this morning. I hope you realize that every time you and other men touch me, honk at me, leer at me, call to me, or otherwise mistreat me, you add ever so slightly to the collective fear of women in the world.

I am just a young woman trying to get to work in time. I am 5′ 2″, small-framed, and not very intimidating outside the boardroom. Everyday, I have to brace myself when I pass a man on the street because invariably, two or three will make a comment or give me a lookover that leaves me feeling victimized. So I’ve taken to mentally preparing for these instances. No one should have to look away hoping to escape notice on the street. No one should have to prefer invisibility to acknowledgement. You are just another concern on my already long list of worries. Last week, I had to laugh off a honk when walking my little sister to school. Last month, I had to maneuver away from a man who cornered me for my number on the Metro Rail. And because of you, tomorrow, I will have to worry about being groped on the bus.

How I’m Having Sex with The Transporter

Filed under: Berklee, Men, Sex — Elle August 28, 2006 @ 1:26 am

I spent Sunday at Lora’s with the DD Squad (my friends from home), gorging myself on her homemade pho and The Transporter 2. The movie turned out to be surprisingly good, and I’m not a fan of action flicks at all.

Okay, so maybe I was less enamored with the actual film than I was with the male lead. The girls were all in agreement on this one: Jason Statham is hot shit. I’m not one to entertain celebrity crushes either; my last infatuation was with a Backstreet Boy at age 12, after which I grew out of teenybopper-esque infatuations altogether. But this was before the Transporter. Statham is another breed of man completely. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact qualities he exudes but his very presence is turn-on – from the accent to the attitude to the stoicism. Mostly though, I think it’s the stoicism. Bullets, bombs, boobs – he’s not fazed by anything.

Basically, I want to have sweaty, stoic sex with Mr. Statham.

That might actually be easier than it sounds. Last spring, I dated a musician who’s a deadringer for the actor. Not merely a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Berklee happens to be a fairly passable Statham lookalike, give or take an inch of height and some muscle mass.

Berklee also holds a place on the very short list of guys I’ve slept with who continue to acknowledge my existence (as someone other than “the self-obsessed Asian feminazi from Harvard” that is). Because he was hands-down the coolest non-Harvardian I’ve met in Boston, I acted decidedly un-bitchy to him post-involvement. How uncharacteristic of me! Our friendly rapport since then means exchanging the occasional friendly (re: flirtatious) text message. Tonight, friendly (re: suggestive) texting led to a friendly (re: loaded with sexual innuendo) conversation, during which I remembered the first movie I saw Jason Statham in.

A shared memory, it turns out. Sometime last March-ish, Berklee and I rented Snatch. Since I recall the opening sequence but not much else, I can only assume that fantastic sex with the Statham doppelganger prevented me from fully appreciating the screen presence of Statham himself. Kind of a shame. Had I discovered his sexual appeal then, I could’ve used Berklee for fantasy fulfillment purposes months ago. Now I have to wait until September.

Speaking of which, we’ve been in negotiations for an early September booty call. I’m hesitant to engage in “ex sex” since I’ve only hooked up with an ex once, and that terrible decision caused a decent amount of heartbreak, drama, and estrangement. Then again, that was in high school three years ago and involved a good four or five other parties (it was an incestuous group, okay?) As far as I can tell, there’s no possibility of an equally disastrous result this time around. He can pretend to be the bulletproof, emotionally unavailable badass and I can be that Asian girl thrown over his shoulders. What could possibly go wrong?

For Berklee’s sake at least, any doubts I’ve had are now more or less eliminated by my reckless hormones. I’m fairly sure that tonight’s movie selection has sealed the deal for our fall term romp, though what the precise deal encompasses I’ve yet to decide …

The Truth About Mr. Perfect

Filed under: Love, Men — Elle August 26, 2006 @ 10:53 pm

So you’ve courted her with long conversations, expensive dinners, and just-because gifts. So you’ve stood outside her door brandishing “To me, you are perfect” signs à la Love Actually. So you’ve gone out of your way and made constant sacrifices just to get more face time with her. So despite all of the above, years of patient waiting, and your best intentions, she still won’t wake up and realize that you’re not just the perfect guy – you’re the perfect guy for her.

Could it be that the object of your obsession – ahem, affection – is just too blind to see the light? Or do you need to hit up Barnes & Noble for the male version of “He’s Just Not That Into You”?

The subject of the above narrative shouldn’t be an object of sympathy. Far from a victim, he’s packaged his unfortunate plight into a delectably pathetic story. Boy meets girl. Boy loves girl. Girl turns her back on the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Except in his skewed account of a fairy tale romance gone wrong, the male protagonist leaves out one crucial fact: he’s a fucking psycho.

He has more self-pity than a terminally ill puppy, but none of its innocent charm. Worst than an asshole, sketchier than a MySpace holler, it’s the often dreaded, ever omnipresent Mr. Perfect. For the lucky gals who have yet to encounter their very own Mr. Perfect, let me clarify: this isn’t some foolish sap who has been unlucky in love. We’re talking about the self-proclaimed perfect guys who are anything but, opening their wallets in hopes that you’ll spread open your legs. We’re talking the stalkerish admirers who give persistence a bad name, taking “no’s” as “maybe’s” and silence as “okay’s.” We’re talking the wannabe sugar daddies whose unsolicited gifts come with strings, rings, and everything but your consent attached. Scores of girls reading this are sitting up with shocks of recognition. We’re talking about every gal’s worst nightmare.

Harsh, I know, but more than one of my friends has fallen victim to Mr. Perfects who just won’t take a hint. In their pursuit, these guys claim selflessness in delivering just what the woman wants. But last I checked, inappropriately extravagant presents and forced one-on-one time are hardly any girl’s dream of true love. It’s purposeful meddling, however, that distinguishes between the misguided ones and the sociopaths. Unwilling to admit that there might be equally qualified suitors out there, Mr. Perfect stubbornly clings onto his misnomer of a title, not letting his girl settle for anything less than him. Even if it takes outright interference in her life, he’ll make sure the path to her heart is cleared only for him.

Sad? Yes. Scary? Definitely. Melodramatic? Not in the least bit when considering that all of the above is standard fare for at least one guy I know.

Mr. Perfect, I know how tough you have it. So here’s a list just for you, the ten signs it’s time to give up:

    1. Despite your best attempts to track her every movement, she’s getting more elusive each day.
    2. She’s moved on. To another state.
    3. You have to digitally reproduce the one photo you have of the two of you (taken long before this obsession developed), because it’s getting frayed at the edges from years of “use.”
    4. You’ve abandoned your friends and all contact with the outside world in order to better focus on your singular mission. No one’s noticed the difference.
    5. It’s been over a year … since the restraining order.
    6. You’re torn between her being the perfect woman and her being “the bitch who doesn’t know what’s good for her.”
    7. You’re beginning to wonder about the timeframe for playing hard to get.
    8. You tried to drown your sorrows once but you swear you saw her face at the bottom of the bottle.
    9. You worry she’s no longer the sweet 14-year-old you fell in love with.
    10. She’s involved with someone else. Her husband.

Inspired by Minishorts’ Terrifying Mr. Nice Guys

The intro to your new addiction

Filed under: All About Elle, Writing — Elle August 25, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

Okay, that’s it.

I think I have thoroughly amused, bemused, and confused readers with the first blog series of Sex and Ivy. A completely serious four-parter? About love? For a woman? Uncharacteristic of me, I admit, but I wanted to open up with a bang (not literal) and dead-on honesty without a hint of self-deprecation tends to have that effect when everyone expects a risque, tongue-in-cheek moi.

But while my fellow Harvardians and Angelenos continue to whisper the L-word behind my back, I’ve moved on to thinking about the S-words — those being sushi, shopping, and sex. Keep yourselves busy debating “Is she or isn’t she?” because I’m ready to unveil what my private blog readers have come to expect — works more in the vein of my oft-compared-to fictional counterpart, Carrie. You know, if she had gone to an Ivy League.

For now at least, we’re done with commentaries that betray my radically liberal leanings and revealing pieces on unrequited sapphic love. With a name like Sex and the Ivy, I’ve got to deliver on the goods. That being, of course, sex. Lest readers cease living vicariously through me, and that would be a shame because my life contains enough scandal for everyone. Sharing is daring.

This is me in thirty seconds:

• Precocious, in a slutty way.
• Addicted to online shopping and swiping V-cards (that is, virginity and Visas alike)
• Born in San Francisco, raised in Los Angeles, living in Boston. A city girl at heart.
• I have daddy issues. As in, he wasn’t there.
• I also have mommy issues. As in, she’s always there.
• Sushi aficionado. I like my fish the way I like my sex: raw.
• On my way to becoming an alcoholic like all the cool kids.
• Incapable of taking care of myself, preferring instead to rely on tall, broad-shouldered men to face life’s demands.
• Former wannabe journalist, current aspiring trophy wife, constant failure of a writer.

    Ten pounds from perfect, ten words from published, this is the diary of the often reckless, always shameless Elle C.

The Thoughts I’ve Left Behind

Filed under: CK, Friendship, Love, Queer — Elle August 24, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

I have learned CK’s curves from consecutive nights of side-by-side embraces, from furtive caresses over shoulders and under chins and down happy trails. I like to think that she has a body only I know how to hold and handle, that there are words and gestures belonging to us alone.

CK has a boyfriend now, but I don’t know if he picks at her hair like I do or if she drawls “baby” to him while teasing his cheek with her fingertips. I am certain that her paramour suspects me of being bitter. He would not be incorrect. As much as I adore him, I can’t help but think that he has somehow ruined our relationship.

My animosity toward her relationship is hypocritical. I date far more men than she ever has or will. But in my defense, none of them have ever presented an actual threat. I have been more fully exposed before CK than I have ever been before a boyfriend. And there is no man I have ever loved as deeply as I have loved her. There is a part of her not mine now but I do not begrudge her her contentment. In the same breath that I admit my jealousy, I confess I share in her happiness.

We were supposed to backpack through Europe this summer, just the two of us. We didn’t go, to our mutual disappointment. Now I don’t know if we missed the only opportunity we’ll ever get to take a trip like that together. Sometimes I wonder if a prolonged journey to another continent would have changed things. Away from boys and friends and boyfriends, I wonder if our thoughts would’ve turned more willingly toward each other; if during one warm, heavy night, we would’ve curled up on the floor of a hostel like we have countless times on her bed; if this time, we would have dared to press our noses together closer than we ever have before.

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