Is There Something Wrong With Me?

I had become an object, one that men could manipulate and use for their own sexual desires.


It was a warm and clear summer night. I was wearing my favorite short skirt painted in red roses along with my jean jacket that covered up my chest. I hadn’t seen him since my junior year of high school, let alone talked to him in months, but there we were, sitting in his Porsche-looking car listening to music of my choice. He kept rambling on and on about how he had been “thinking about me” and “wanting to settle down with me.” His words jumped off the page of a romance novel and I knew exactly what he was doing. He was trying to be sweet; trying to feed me with his charm, good looks, and words which were all lies. But I knew what he really wanted, and being the fool that I was, I gave in.

And just like that, he kissed me. Kissing led to touching, and touching led to us moving to the back seat. I wasn’t in the mood to do anything, nor did I even think of him in that way, but I was naive about sex. He told me that it would be “fun” and I believed him. He made me think that he needed to please me and I needed to please him. I gave in to his requests and within minutes he was begging for more. I couldn’t give in any longer. I was disgusted with myself and mostly with him. It might have been fun at first, but after a while I couldn’t bear the thought of what was really happening.

I was giving my body to someone who thought they had total control over it. That’s when I knew it was time to stop. I told him “no” and he told me “goodbye.” He drove off unhappy and unsatisfied. I just felt used.

That random summer night wasn’t the only time I felt sexually used. The idea that boys only wanted me for sex started in high school, but it worsened when I entered college. And the funny thing is, all the guys who have used me are drastically different from one another, yet they all have a common denominator: sex. There was the older guy from astronomy class, the old high school friend, the adorable nerd from music class, and the charming boy(s) who promised me a future together. They all made me believe they liked me for me; that there could be something more between us, until sex entered the picture. I was an innocent college freshman who had never been exposed to the world of intimacy. But looking back, I let myself become a victim of sexual manipulation.

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I was not raped, or sexually assaulted. I was manipulated. For some reason, I felt like I had to please these men. They made me think it was okay to have power and control over me; that it was normal to be taken advantage of. They disregarded my feelings and used me for their own satisfaction.

I was coerced into believing that having sex with these men would somehow benefit me. In my mind, if I had sex with these men, they would like me and only me and I would get the attention I had always longed for. But this kind of attention made me feel trapped. I knew subconsciously that guys were using me for sex, but I was in denial.

“It’s a psychological effect,” said Chara Powell, professor of psychology at Mt. SAC. “A lot of it is sociological and a lot of it is psychological, but it’s really the power of the situation, the power of our gender roles, and the power of all these things we’ve been taught in our feminization to please, serve, and avoid conflict.

Powell said there are things that happen in our minds at that exact moment when you agree to sex.

“Even if you say yes, it doesn’t mean that you’re okay with it. For somebody to force you to do something you’re not okay with is a form of sexual manipulation,” she said.

I can now effortlessly say that all the guys who I’ve liked — and who have liked me back — only wanted sex.

Being sexually manipulated has fucked with my mentality more than I can explain, so much so that I’ve come to ask myself : ‘Is there something wrong with me?’ When every guy who comes into your life ends up using you for sex, you feel completely worthless. You feel stripped of your dignity, like a piece of trash that belongs with the rest of the pile. You feel guilty for your actions, and that guilt eats you up until you’re used again. You feel ashamed, but there’s nothing you can do to fix the past. It’s a vicious cycle that never seems to end.

Powell explained what is known in the psychology world as rape trauma syndrome. “If a woman has been violated, or if a man has taken something from her, she can develop this mentality that she doesn’t own her body anymore. When someone violates your most natural right, you feel low self-worth, shame, and guilt. There’s a correlation between how comfortable we are with someone and the amount of guilt we feel: the less amount of time we’ve known a person, the more guilty we feel for having sex with them.”

I can’t blame a guy for wanting sex and only sex, especially when society has fueled the idea of sex as being less valuable than the intimate act it once was. As a woman, society makes you feel like it’s okay to be treated like a sex object. Also, men dominating women has become a sort of normalcy. “There’s actually a lot of research on this,” Powell said. “Society is cheapening the sexual experience, so we don’t treat our partner as tenderly anymore. There’s a lot less caring in sex.”

Serena Garcia, a 19-year-old early education major, has been through many difficult and heartbreaking situations where she too was sexually manipulated.

“In one instance, I was continuing to have sex with my ex and I thought everything was perfect until these words came out of his mouth: ‘Did you actually think we had a future together, like a serious future? Because I thought we were just trying to stay together for the sex.’ That was the first time I knew I was being used by someone who I thought loved me,” said Garcia.

Garcia said she felt like she had been tricked. “I felt like everything he had ever told me was a lie. I fell in love with someone older and more experienced than me and he had taken advantage of me because he knew that. He knew I wouldn’t leave him.”

Stella Monroe, a 19-year-old environmental science major, has also dealt with the sickening pain and discomfort of being used for sex.

“They don’t care about the girl’s feelings. They tell you what you want to hear and make you feel special, but when it comes down to it, they only care about their dicks,” said Monroe.

I’m now approaching my junior year of college and I’m done with being someone’s toy. Men wanting me for their own pleasures hasn’t stopped, but I’m finally able to resist the temptation. Where are the men who want romance? Does romance even exist anymore? In the 21st century, it seems that every guy that comes into my life is just looking to hook up.

And to answer my own question, there is nothing wrong with me. There is something wrong with a society that gives men the idea that it’s okay to control women sexually. Women need to stand up for themselves and say “fuck you” to the guys who think it’s okay to use them. Only we should be in control of our bodies.

Photo by Alex Herrera / Names have been changed for confidential reasons