Last October, 2016, I wrote a post after reading about how women are frequently sexually abused. It was real and true, but I hid it after a day or two because I was embarrassed. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing the events because I rarely share anything about me with really anyone at all. Private? Well yes. Strange for a blogger, right? 😉
I know it’s odd for me, but this is a true story.
The fact is that as women we have let things happen to us because we’ve been taught not to make a scene, not to trouble. Yesterday I read a social media post about how often women have been sexually abused and I thought, well, that’s never happened to me. Then I read one account: “a man touched me inappropriately when I was …in a public place.” Another: “A man propositioned me.”
And I thought: crap, as a teenager both of those things happened to me. I was raised extremely conservatively from age 11 on after my Dad died. In my teenage years, I never dressed provocatively or got drunk or high. I barely wore makeup.
The first incident happened when I was in high school. I was on the volleyball team and practicing my wicked serve in my front yard, dressed in shorts, not sexy shorts, sports shorts, when a teenager probably my age selling candybars so he could go on some funded trip asked me if I would change my clothes in front of him for money. Say, what? I said no, I had to leave for a volleyball game. Even now I think, girl, you should have jumped up and down and screamed bloody murder at some boy even suggesting you should strip for money.
The second incident happened when I was on the metro to school in DC. I was wearing my favorite pair of brown cords, nothing spectacular, nothing sexy. They obviously weren’t short and showing anything. They weren’t tight. They were comfortable because I liked to dress comfortably. But I was slim with curves and probably had a butt and I felt a hand on said butt as I was traveling up the metro escalator. I ignored it because what could/should I do? Today I would have yelled bloody murder and knocked the man with an unholy sized messenger bag stuffed with heavy crap. Then, I just hurried up the steps to sit on the train where the man actually had the gall to sit near me and ask me about myself. I was so timid, but even then I knew stories and made one up. I pulled out my Spanish newspaper, held it in front of me until I got off at the next extremely busy stop hoping that would stifle his unhealthy libido.
The third incident happened when I was twenty-one and out jogging. I was on my route back home when a man in a sedan asked me if I knew how he could get to downtown DC. I started to tell him and then I realized that he was stroking his penis as I told him. I just shook my head, stopped talking and jogged home, thinking: effing, disgusting men.
Until the article yesterday, I hadn’t given much thought to these situations, but now, I think what a repulsive combination of events for a young woman to go through and I doubt that mine are the worst. I have never been raped and therefore I thought, well, the other things aren’t so bad. But, really, they aren’t great, are they? If you are a man, what would you think about your daughter experiencing these situations? I think that unfortunately every woman has such a story, but it would be excellent if that were not true.
While I never thought myself to blame for any of these situations, because really I was a tomboy and dressed like a tomboy but even if I weren’t, how could I be to blame for a man who was so obviously taking advantage of a situation? The thing that I realize now is that I was also brought up to be passive and many other women are brought up this way. We try not to make scenes. We try not to be drama queens. But sometimes a situation necessitates it and we don’t allow ourselves to act out. We were raised with: what would the neighbors think? But this moved beyond to: what would the woman in the third row who I’ve never seen before and will never see again think? These days I would say: who cares? Not then.
Why did a boy think it was fine to ask me to strip for money or another man to touch my butt or another to masturbate in front of me? That’s not even to mention the man who commented on my wearing a Las Vegas t-shirt while jogging and said that Las Vegas was putting on a pretty good show. wink wink. Forget construction workers, in retrospect those dudes don’t even rank in the hall of whatever.
I know that my situations are by no means the worst out there. I’ve mostly lived a quiet life and that’s why I figured that nothing untoward had happened to me until I really started to think and consider. And, hell, I swept these things under a mental rug in order not to think about them. But did that happen because a society also thought those things weren’t so bad?
I’ve no answers. Just a lot more questions.
Color me: aware.
end 10/9/2016 (5)
Publication Date: Currently Available
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Blurb from Penguin Random House:
Meet Lily Wilder: New Yorker, lawyer extraordinaire, blushing bride. And totally incapable of being faithful to one man.
Lily’s fiancé, Will, is a brilliant, handsome archaeologist. Lily is sassy, impulsive, fond of a good drink (or five) and has no business getting married. Lily likes Will, but does she love him? Will loves Lily, but does he know her? As the wedding approaches, Lily’s nights—and mornings, and afternoons—of booze, laughter and questionable decisions become a growing reminder that the happiest day of her life might turn out to be her worst mistake yet.
To be honest (I think you may know that about me by now–honesty first), this book almost took a brisk fly through the air twice into the land of who cares and did not finish. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, it didn’t. And I’m glad.
This very book is the reason why I don’t believe in DNFs. Ms. Eliza Kennedy with her brilliantly provocative Lily Wilder tested me. She essentially asked me via Lily’s outrageous behavior: are you tolerant enough? Can you look at the universally accepted truths differently? Can you toss aside all of the myths regarding female behavior that have been ingrained in you for, well, for forever? I almost couldn’t and that was the test–but then as I was reading, I thought: if this book were about a man would I feel the same way? Well, yes. Ha.
You see, Lily Wilder is a trainwreck. She drinks too much. She does drugs. She parties, parties, parties. And, despite the fact that she is engaged to Will, she is unfaithful. While the drinking, drugs and partying has been done before, I’m not quite used to female protagonists being so unfaithful and promiscuous. Lily and her best friend, Freddy, even have a conversation regarding the fact that sexually active women are given all types of derogatory names: slut, whore, etc., while men are called Lotharios or Romeos, all very charming and neat.
It was Lily’s characterization that I had difficulty with, but eventually came to terms with because I realized that I was a product of gender-gap-related thinking. Actually, I think I belong to a really big club in that because it doesn’t seem to matter the generation, if a woman/girl is sexually active, she’s given a label.
So, what about the rest of the book? It’s a very fun ride.
Lily has multiple step-mothers (as well as her own mother) because her father is, of course, of the Lothario persuasion. He’s never met a pretty woman he hasn’t wanted to marry and/or sleep with and he has a British accent and we know how American women are with that. The step-mothers are all different and funny. And, there’s the brilliant and sarcastically truthful Gram, who was a lawyer, but is now retired. Add in Freddy who is sarcastically funny and does the double duty of spouting common sense and joining in on the fun. Will, Lily’s fiance, seems to be the only normal one with his nerdy ways, but is he really all that he seems?
Besides the relationship issue, Lily is also called upon to work on a deposition in the days before her wedding. What seems like it could be a simple event turns into a disaster when she discovers the witness is not the brightest tool in the shed and that his knowledge could be damaging and then there’s the fact that a blizzard is closing down the mid-Atlantic.
There is a lot going on in I Take You and a lot of laughs. But it’s also provocative and thought-provoking. I am definitely glad that I read it because it’s forced me to think outside the lines.
So, who should read this? Again, I’m going to be frank. If you don’t even want to broach the subject of women having the same sexual freedom as men, give this a pass. It will raise your ire and your moral objections. If you are tolerant or willing to be tolerant, give it a go. You might find that you learn something about yourself and your way of thinking.
This almost earned four butterflies from me, but while the ending was probably true to the book and true to Lily, I wasn’t convinced. If you happen to give it a read, I’d love for you to get back to me with your thoughts.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
From Amazon: I Take You
rating: (3 out of 5 butterflies, oh and a lady bug; you know, moral objection to halving butterflies)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ELIZA KENNEDY attended the University of Iowa and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation she served as a law clerk for a federal judge, then practiced litigation for several years at a prestigious Manhattan law firm. She lives in New York with her husband and son. This is her first novel.