I don’t owe you Sex- Part. 1

When sex is seen as a favor for good behavior what do you do?

I have often been placed in this predicament (as many women have) when either men I’ve gone on a date with or have been with for a certain amount of time, feel it’s their god given right to get sex just because they did something “nice” for me, or they felt I owed them. In their mind sex is some sort of reward. And by nice I am not talking about saving my life, or buying me a very expensive car, which in this case heck why not right? (just kidding!) But to those who do, more power to you.

I’ve wondered how this expectation came about. Is it their upbringing? Is it society in general? Is the prevalence of transactional and power play sexual encounters just a male mentality? In all the instances of “expected sex”, I wondered (as many women do), If I owed these men something, because that was the approach or the explanation given to me. This implied, or expected reward for good behavior sent me into a moment of self reflection. Did I invite this? Do I owe them some sort of explanation as to why I don’t want to have sex with them? Is this really being asked of me? And what allows for such an expectation?

Looking back at the events that lead to these still unanswered questions, I have yet to understand how the dynamics between men and women are formed, in allowing such expectations to exist, and why we accept living in a society that still creates them.

Case №1 — New York fall 2013

New York fall 2013. Having freshly arrived a few months earlier, I was still bouncing around from home to home and job to job. I was still insecure about my decision to drop my life in Athens, and live in a new city with absolutely zero job prospects. My surviving skills needed sharpening while sustaining myself on the very little money I had saved up. After feeling somewhat settled in and with the help of friends, I found a part time job as a dog walker for a company in Manhattan, but this was hardly enough to keep me afloat. Unlike many Greeks emigrating to the U.S I wanted no part in asking for handouts or favors; I knew full well what working with, and alongside Greek business owners could entail. Just because I was Greek, didn’t mean I cared to or wanted to immediately work in the Greek community, and despite my general rule to stay away from the insulated world of the Greek-American diaspora; I had a need to connect with “my people” and maybe find a better job suited to my education and skills.

After many inquiries and searches, I was introduced to an up and coming Greek American social coordinator, banker, and well known fixture in the Greek American community. Having spoken several times about potential job opportunities, we agreed to meet up in person, after maintaining email communication for several months.

After a pleasant dinner at a Greek restaurant in Astoria, and a somewhat general but also flirtatious conversation, he paid the bill and hailed me a cab to where I was staying. As we continued our conversation and fun banter in the backseat of a cab, he proceeded to corner me and get as close to me as possible. After trying quite a few times to kiss me, and repeating several times that we could end up at his place to fuck. I pleasantly thwarted his advances, and in the end pretty much had to push him off me with a smile. Beyond the dinner I had zero intention of sleeping with this man, and made zero allusions as such.

I got out of the cab, sent him on his merry way and pretty much knew I would never see him again. Upon arriving at my home I got a text message. “Why did you have dinner with me and let me kiss you, if you didn’t intend of having sex with me? You mislead me and that was a waste of my time.” It got me seriously thinking what exactly in my demeanor, our conversation or agreeing to go to dinner with this man gave him the idea that I was open to any kind of further contact? Did he think he was paying for sex with dinner? Or that a dinner was enough to warrant some sort of sexual favor?

This is not the first time or the last time this has occurred, and to be clear not all situations end up like this. Not all men or women for that matter are that manipulative, yet the idea of sex as a commodity never really appealed to me and certainly not as a reward for “good behavior”. I have experienced instances where, seemingly powerful people, and men in particular; like to wield their power in a sexual way and for the most part do so without repercussions. Those same people feel that sexual reward is par for the course, while blatantly stating that: “if I buy you dinner, take you out, get you a cab ride home; or do you a favor, I’m getting what I paid for, and If you don’t comply, I’m wasting precious time If you don’t deliver.” In all these instances, of sexual powerplay, I was never in a position of power. I was either broke, in some need, or seemed lesser or weaker than I actually was. This clarified in my mind what all sex, and power play games have in common.

Blatant insecurity.

Despite any unpleasant interactions I’ve experienced over the years with situations like this; I never felt I had to repay any dept or favors. My experiences did however make me think twice before accepting any further dinner invitations.

Share your story or stories of predicaments like this – I’d love to hear from men and women who might have been placed in similar (unwanted) reward sex situations. 

Random Thoughts- On failure and redemption.

What makes us brave is not avoiding failure, but the ability to get back on track after falling.

Lack of success

We all fuck up. We all take a wrong turn. We all make wrong decisions; often more than once. In recent months I’ve had some very profound discussions with self pronounced failures, who despite their own perceptions; have shown far more determination in continuing on their path to success rather than avoiding or languishing on the presence of failure.

In my mind what clearly separates the brave ones from the cowards are the ones who fail; big, and then get up. Pick up the pieces and keep going.

I always have been very bad at admitting failure. As a youngster I wanted to adopt the role of little miss perfect, I could do no wrong, therefore everyone was happy. Yet understanding the value of failure and its necessity; is understanding the basis of future success. Over the years, and after many failures (small and big); I have found that only through those have I grown, learned and was driven to keep going in my pursuits.

the omission of expected or required action

Those who never falter, who don’t risk, or admit failure; are clearly not going to create much success either. We all know at least one such person. The ones who preach perfection, the ones who have it all figured out, the ones who never, bend, take a leap of faith, or follow their dreams into the unknown. The ones who haven’t publicly or privately eaten shit and admitted it.

One person’s failure is another person’s success.

Those who fail big and keep going in most cases are the same ones who are harshly critical of their own accomplishments. I was speaking to a friend recently about a very accomplished explorer and world cartographer, who by his own admission was an utter failure. Any bystander (including myself) who knew nothing of this man’s idea of himself would probably thing he was stark raving mad, and yet; failure is a very personal matter.

Unwilling to Fail/Not recognizing success

After all is said and done, one of the strongest examples of failure is having not tried at all. Being stringent and strict with those who fail, is often shown by those who have failed and won’t admit it, but far more often by those who fear failure and risk more than anything else. Failure requires vulnerability, courage, stupidity, callousness and imperfection. Those same elements are some of the same ingredients of success.

Life is short- Fail

Inasmuch as I have failed or succeeded in my recent endeavors; (and only time will tell) I’ve let go of a lot of what both of those mean. And after seeing how short and precious life is, failure is far more adventurous than sitting at home, living a life half lived, full of comfort and predictability. Having the chance to try, fail and then try again is really what life is all about.


The face of violence and how to change it.

                    Silent…. no more

On the weekend of thanksgiving in Rhodes, Greece; a 21 year old woman  was raped, brutally beaten with an iron, and while still alive; thrown over a cliff to her death. This is not some medieval murder story, this is the reality of 2018. The gruesome events have been spread through every news cycle, and reported often and loudly enough to finally start raising alarm bells, but what transpired is a story repeated all too often, and only recently is it gaining an audience inside and outside the country.

How can social media guide and help change the narrative and prevent sexual violence against women?

This could have taken place in any part of the world: Two young men (ages 19 & 21) and a young woman get together on what would have been like any other Saturday night. Text messages are exchanged, flirtation occurs, and a typical fun Saturday night; turns gruesome, violent and deadly, in a matter of hours. This could have been anywhere in the world, only this happened on a very touristy and popular island in southern Greece. 

Social media has been over saturated with these stories, public outcry is at an all time high,  yet it quickly morphs into, judge, jury and executioner of both the culprits and the victim. What is truly troubling is that social media have increasingly and far more often been the bullhorn of victim blaming and shaming. No matter how gruesome the crime, against the victim, “she should have known better” seems to be the main line of defense. Violence towards women in Greece is not new. Assault of young women and harassment of women in public is something that happens every day. The only thing that is slowly changing and ironically with the help of social media, is the a glaring and raw spotlight on Greek society’s disregard of young women, and their absolute and unequivocal right to refuse unwanted sexual advances. Yet there is still a pervasive view that women owe sex to men who hit on them.  

Newspapers and investigative reporters are increasingly revealing news about the assault, rape and murder of young women (as young as 13 or 14 years old) from rich powerful men in the United States; to working class students in Greece, and this trend isn’t showing any signs of stopping. We are hearing more stories coming out, far more investigations are actually occurring rather than being swept under the rug, but to what end?

The changing face of gender norms in society

What Is Happening to our moral, societal, gender norms? Why are women still being attacked? Why are gay and transgender men still being attacked?  The structure of society is being questioned. How gender norms are set are finally being questioned, especially in a very patriarchal, machismo society like the one expressed in Greek households. Are parents called upon to show up? Are they taking some responsibility for the actions of their children? Now more than ever, it has become a never ending earthquake with aftershocks in the collective consciousness.

We are called upon to ask the difficult questions and especially through social media, online forums and through the voices of other victims. Now more then ever, we question how men and women are treated by society; but much more importantly how they treat each other.What  seems to be the rotting root in an already unstable tree, is the silence of bystanders, the indifference and cruel criticism in social and traditional media, and above all, the indifference of society as a whole in making fundamental changes to reporting, protecting and preventing these crimes from happening. 

And after all the chaos, the reports, the damning statistics, what remains? Is this just another of the multitude of stories just like this one coming out of post crisis Greece? The increase of violence against anyone who is vulnerable, this separation of the “good families” from the bad? And after all the shock, the outrage, and the trials, how can social media be a source of change and building awareness ?

Taking information into our own hands seems to be the only way to educate young men and women, and more importantly protect them. Websites are being created to help young men and women who may be dealing with subjects; ironically too embarrassing to discuss openly with their parents or even their friends. Forums run by, written by and published by women have become much more popular, but what unfortunately is much harder to change and will take far longer to calibrate; is the mindset of society as a whole. 

For the future I hope more young women and men, find the strength and support they need to be more vocal about the discrimination and harassment they might be receiving on a daily basis; but to come forward and talk about their experiences in a much more public way, resisting the shaming and silence they may have received from their families in the past.