I dare you.

I dare you.

This week I’ve been thinking about the concept of regret, and how different that is for women, especially women in their thirties, forties and beyond.
When people talk about the shadowy regrets that surface just under the dark water of age, it’s usually about the predictable things; the “I wish I’d gone to Paris for a year after college,” or “I should have just gone for that dream job” or the ever-popular, “Why the hell didn’t I sleep with that smokin’ hot Italian dyke when she hit the brakes on the elevator and ripped the buttons off my denim shirt in Prague?” (Or whatever wouldn’t be oddly specific and whiny.)

But for women, more often than not, sliding sideways into our thirties and forties brings a swirling, inescapable dust cloud of regret. We’re not pining away at lost opportunities—I can still hear the metallic ping of my buttons hitting the mirrored walls of that dimly lit elevator, but, whatever, I’m not bitter—we’re regretting the things that did happen. Specifically, the things that happened that we tried to just get through. The things that we never should have allowed.

You know what I’m talking about…the supervisor at work who came on to you repeatedly because they knew you wouldn’t report it, and no one would care if you did. The friend or toxic ex that repeatedly took advantage of your generosity, all the while flinging hollow compliments and insincere declarations of gratitude because she “…knew you wouldn’t mind.”
Or even worse, the shadowy memories of inappropriate advances and unwelcome sexual overtures, the feeling of your teenaged spine scraping against the wood-panelled wall in someone’s dad’s dank basement, his soured breath scorching the taut slope of your neck because you’re too scared to tell him to fuck off. You’re not scared for your life, at that point it seemed ruined anyway. You’re scared to tell the person who’s sexually assaulting you to stop because you’re scared it will…hurt his feelings.
And why? Because they fucking hard-wired that shit into us.

If you’re a younger woman reading this, that may seem hard to believe. The present generation grew up in the era of sexual violence education and the Me Too movement. Slowly, between their young adulthood and ours, it became ok to say no and fucking mean it. To channel all the force of our ancestors into those two words and watch them transform into the hot lead bullet that would cut through that person’s chest and push them back into their place.
But for some of us who grew up in the pre-digital age, or maybe most of us, it wasn’t like that. A lot of us were isolated, without community, and that safe space had yet to be created. We felt ashamed of our bodies for forcing the men around us to assault us, to push us into situations we didn’t want to be in. If we dared speak up to anyone in authority, the first question was usually “Well, what were you wearing?” Or, my personal favorite, “Were you drinking?”
Blame was a boomerang in the 80’s and 90’s. No matter what happened, even if you said no, it cut back in a boomerang toward the woman in question, slicing through the air with a knife’s edge and threatening to land between her shoulder blades the next time if she didn’t remember to cover up her body and not go out after dark.
And it’s not just men. At one time in my life I was almost crushed under the weight of being sexually assaulted by a woman after she put something in my drink. Did I confront her later, like a wrecking ball of truth, making her answer for what she did? No. I was afraid to hear her say it didn’t happen at all, or that I wanted it (I didn’t, and I said no repeatedly,) but something inside me was hardwired to feel deeply ashamed and afraid of hurting her feelings.

Here’s my point. If you have that cloud of regret lurking in the dark corners of your mind, whether it’s about something you allowed at the time because you thought you had to, or something you had no choice in, I invite you to go find a fucking pen. Or fire up your email. Or knock on that front door and open your mouth.
Take your power back.

We didn’t know we had power back then. We didn’t know we could choose to use it. But I’m telling you now…It’s yours.
Take it the fuck back and watch it crystallize into the lead that blows them back into their place. It doesn’t matter if they believe you, or what they say back or even whether you ever speak to them again.
It matters that you say it. That you refuse to carry the regret that you never deserved in the first place.

Pour a scotch, find a pen, and take your fucking power back. I dare you.



4 Replies to “I dare you.”

  1. I do wish all women could do this. To get through life sometimes you really have to pickup with alot of shit. Mine wasn’t sexual harassment or assault, it was harassment over my sexual orientation. I wasn’t able to hide who I was and actually I didn’t want to. Oh I wore my hair longer then, but that didn’t make any difference. I couldn’t blend in with the heterosexual, I stood out like a sore thumb. Anyway I eventually did confront them and with a lawyer, and took back my power in a big way. I wish everyone that’s had to eat shot could do this in their life. Or at least confront the person that wronged them. I can’t imagine forcing myself on someone, I’m so sorry that happened to you Evans. People, what the hell is wrong with them. Anyway, yeah today’s young women have it somewhat better, but unfortunately they’re still being groomed to yeah not hurt anyone’s feelings and no yiu can’t be who you are you must get married (to a man) and have children. That’s all you can do as a woman. Find a wealthy man and marry him. To this day still this goes on. Hell if I’d ever had a daughter I would’ve raised her to be self efficient, you never want to have to rely on someone to support you, that gives them all the power. Horrible way to live I say. Women are still struggling it’s gotten better, but it’s still a battle for the fairer sex that’s for sure. Still financially yep the whole darn enchilada. That’s why we keep our voices up and don’t go silent, never. Thanks for this, another good post Evans.