Like you, I’ve had many dating missteps. From the guy who laughed at me because I’d never played "Grand Theft Auto," to the guy who pinched my cheeks and kept calling me Babyface, to the guy who knocked over a bottle of red wine on the white sundress that I’d bought specifically for the date (RIP white sundress).
I thought that I’d experienced the full gauntlet until I found myself on a date with a Men’s Rights Activist. MRAs, as they’re known throughout the blogosphere, have one unifying thread: a deeply ingrained disdain for women. Some want to punish women, others want women to solely pursue domestic interests like cooking -- sewing and the like -- while others just want to bang and discard as many women as possible.
I met him while I was at work, a customer at the clothing store I worked at. He was forward and just charming enough for his approach not to register as negative on my radar. After ringing him up, he exited the store only to return a few minutes later stating that he’d forgotten to pick something up…my number.
It was brazen, and typically that makes me recoil, but I’d been single for a while and was flattered by the attention. We scheduled a date for the following week and texted frequently in the interim.
(I know that you’ll be tempted to but please don’t keep a red flag count as you read on. This is also an appropriate time for a trigger warning so please read on with that in mind.)
Many of the texts focused on how excited he was for our date, as well as comments about my body. He would punctuate mildly explicit comments by stating how honest he was. Honesty, he would tell me, was his favorite quality.
The date went well. Some smiles, some flirty touches –- your standard, mildly nervous, I-think-I-might-be-attracted-to-you kind of first date. He repeatedly made mention of his dislike of "females who played games." To which I repeatedly, albeit naively, responded that it was a real date and not a game. At one point, he described himself as a "red pill."
At the time, I was unfamiliar with the vernacular. After he said it, I went to the bathroom and Googled it. I came up with hits for The Red Pill sub Reddit and read a few posts. I found out that "red pill" is MRA-speak for men who have seen the truth of devious female ways. The phrase is taken from "The Matrix" films. You know, take the blue pill or take the red pill. Stay in happy oblivion or see "the truth."
I realize this isn't ironclad evidence of his MRA status, but I have never heard that "red pill" terminology used elsewhere. You can read a summary of the woman-hating movement here.
I chose to end the date there. He sulked when I tried to say good night. Stay, he repeated over and over and over again like someone trying to train a dog. He pawed at my waist and my hips. "Give me a chance." I gave him his chance, the date was his chance. I gave him a polite kiss on the cheek as a token of appeasement and left.
Nearing my car, I heard him call out, "That’s it?" I felt a forceful grab on my arm as my body jerked backward. I tried to free myself from his grasp to no avail. "I drove two hours for you. My. Cock. Is. Hard. What are you going to do about it?" Heart race. Vision blur. Head pound. Run. As I again tried to pull away, he gripped tighter, leaving nail marks in my arm.
He tried repeatedly to get me into his car. With his free hand he tried to lift my shirt, to fondle something. He said that I was untrained. He said that I owed him for the drive. A drive, mind you, that he suggested and made willingly. He kept pleading that I wasn’t giving him a chance to prove himself. Really, he was misunderstood, he only thought I was hot and wanted to live in the moment. Why did I have to be so cold? Why couldn’t I live in the moment too? He begged to "experience me."
As his grip continued to tighten, I couldn’t yell anymore. I couldn’t think, but my body knew what to do. With the closeness of our bodies, I threw the only punch that I’ve thrown on something other than a punching bag -– a tight body shot to the rib cage. The punch landed with a small sound, sending a shock through my knuckles. I don’t normally advocate violence but when your bodily autonomy is in jeopardy, you're entitled to fight to preserve it.
His grip loosened just enough for me to wrestle away. I darted toward my car without turning back.
Shaking to the point where I could barely turn the key and crying in gasping sobs, I sped off nearly bottoming out on the nearest speed bump. My phone beeped as I sped home –- it was him, asking why I was playing hard to get. I ignored it as I did the following texts where he called me a bitch, a slut and a tease. I ignored the text after that in which he begged for forgiveness and a chance. I turned off my phone until the next morning. I’d received several texts from him overnight, ranging from the benign hello to the wildly inappropriate penis photo with the caption, "This is what you missed out on." I received a text later that day asking me to meet him for a drink and maybe more. All this, because he drove two hours. All this, because he complimented me all night.
I received another text after a few days of silence. He asked me to meet him because he wanted me. He was after all, in his words, an honest, nice guy who just needed a chance.