Your Boner, Your Responsibility

Note for misogyny, body policing, sexual assault.

Miniskirt3

I’m sixteen, wearing a skirt at school for the first time since my freshman year.

I’m sitting in the principal’s office. One of the guidance counselors, the only female faculty member in this office, is preparing to measure my skirt.

My male physics teacher has sent me down on account of he thinks I’m showing too much thigh.

I stand; she measures. The skirt easily extends past the bottoms of my fingertips. According to the binding legality that is a high school dress code, my skirt is safe.

My guidance counselor asks me to change into a pair of gym shorts — an extra pair of gym shorts, since I don’t even have P.E. this year — anyway.

“I know it’s technically within the letter of the rules,” she explains, almost apologetically, “but it was making him uncomfortable. We have to consider that too.”


I’m twenty-one, at a party with my then-boyfriend. It’s his friends, not mine. I know two or three people in the room in passing, and the others not at all. He mingles; I wallflower.

After a few minutes, some guy I don’t know, about my age, sits down next to me. It’s a small space, and there aren’t a lot of seats, so this doesn’t strike me as weird.

“What are you doing all alone in this corner?”

I shrug. “I’m not really a party person.” At least not where most of the people are strangers and none are friends.

“I don’t believe it.”

I raise an eyebrow.

“I mean, just look at you–“

I look at me, unsure what he’s getting at.

“Wearing that tight sweater, trying to get attention.”

I look down at my sweater. I chose it because a light knit, with sleeves that easily push up, so that regardless of the temperature in this strange place, I’m unlikely to be too cold or too hot. I chose it because it is My Color — a vibrant teal — and if I’m going to be stuck in an uncomfortable, wearing, boring evening, I should at least get to do so while wearing something that makes me happy.

I look down at my sweater. It’s fitted, but I’d never considered it tight before. But is it?

Instead of telling this dude to fuck off like he deserves, I look down at my sweater.


My ex has a “no fat chicks” rule, something he never verbalizes until he moves in with me.

He uses it to make fun of our roommate, who happens to be smaller than me.


I’m clubbing with friends. It’s summer and hot. The club is crowded.

At one point, it’s so hot and so crowded that I take off my shirt.

Before your sensibilities become too shocked, I take off my top shirt, the one that’s cute and conservative, for bar wear, and stylish. Underneath is a plain spaghetti strap cami, whose job it is to be long enough to cover my midriff. Like most camis, it shows a lot in the shoulder, some in the collarbone, and some in the cleavage. Not what I’d wear for teaching, but in a bar it should be unremarkable.

“Hey!” some dude bumps my ass with his own. “No one wants to see that!”

I look around. At least four or five people in easy view are wearing the same style shirt, though quite probably not in the same size.

I choose to pretend ass dude is speaking to someone else.


It’s the last night my then-boyfriend will ever spend in my apartment. He doesn’t know it yet; I don’t want to say it out loud.

Rather, it’s the morning after the last night. I know because I wake up to his erect dick probing the back of me. I can’t tell if he’s aiming for my vagina or my anus because what he’s actually doing, whether he knows it or not, is squirming it against my perineum — which definitely is not going to get it wherever he wants it to go.

I know he’s awake; he’s always awake when he does this.

I don’t even feel pressured or scared anymore. Just disgusted and disgusting.


A note to Nice Guys and dudebros:

It is not my purpose in life to be either your eye candy or your fuck hole, to titillate and induce your erections or to carefully safeguard my appearance to prevent your arousal from dissipating.

Simply put, your boners are your responsibility.

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15 comments on “Your Boner, Your Responsibility
  1. Support, kudos, general positivity at this post. Excellently written, hit the nail on the head and all that jazz. (Sorry, today my words are failing but I really enjoyed reading this).

  2. Celine says:

    I am male presenting, female identified. And I think this is awesome. I am sorry about the jerks.

  3. thetis says:

    “It is not my purpose in life to be either your eye candy or your fuck hole”

    This. I often find my (mental, angry) response to cow-calling is “I’m not here to be fucking decorative.” Thank you for this post.

  4. JoniB says:

    This is the best piece I’ve read on this topic. So well said! I shared, of course, so thanks for the Facebook widget!

  5. Excellent read, excellent points, and great karma for sharing this with other women. This world can be a cesspool of assholes and one-way prejudices. I applaud you keeping your cool and rising above the idiocy. We need more women like you spreading advice!

  6. JD Hobbes says:

    I agree with everything you’ve said. I constantly wonder where these neanderthals (who give the rest of us a bad name) get their information. I suspect it’s from those websites that promise easy sex if you just follow these three simple secrets that all pick-up artists know and you can too if you sit through my 60 minute sob-to-heart throb story and then buy my book for 3 easy installments of $40. Gods help us.

    • Tori says:

      I constantly wonder where these neanderthals (who give the rest of us a bad name) get their information.

      I can’t speak for the ones I’d met only once, but for the ones I knew well — from their families and friends; from their schoolmates and coworkers; from religious and community leaders; from various messages in film, television, and print advertising. Not that there aren’t countering ideas, but messages that women exist for men’s convenient gratification are widespread.

  7. Excellent post that gets across such a powerful message in such a simple way. How many women have snapshots of memories exactly like these? And we ask where men get the idea that women’s bodies are designed for their pleasure? Hell, they got it from the same place we got it: everywhere around us.

  8. Nicole N. Bower says:

    Loved your post, I’m sort of surprised you didn’t kill your ex. One point that that gets lost in the sexual violence/ gender war debate is when men start blaming the victim for their actions, they’re admitting to having an inability to control, and hence a lack of responsibility for their actions. By their (an general society’s thinking) women should take sexual responsibility for both themselves and the men in their lives.

    • Tori says:

      … I’m sort of surprised you didn’t kill your ex.

      Interestingly, I do not find it oppressively difficult to refrain from behavior that violates the bodily autonomy of others. ;)

  9. sebastina says:

    [Just for the record, this is how long this post was able to go without an inappropriate comment.]

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