Maria is a 23-year-old recent college graduate working at a film and TV production. As Maria reflects on her friendship with John, whose name as been changed, she is obviously nervous, fidgeting with her water bottle.
Around a year ago, when the #MeToo movement exploded on social media, John posted a Facebook status in support of survivors. Maria says that as soon as John’s post went up, girls began commenting on his status and publicly accusing him of sexual assault.
She was the first person he called in the aftermath of that post. To her, he seemed remorseful.
Maria: “I have this battle going on in my head where you don’t have any evidence or proof. He’s your friend. These girls aren’t your friends, and in my defense, he didn’t deny having done these sexual assaults. He said that he was, ‘too drunk to remember.’”
Maria met John in high school when she was 15 and John was 17. He was a supportive and important person she looked up to. They grew closer through theatre and academics in addition to their ability to have deep conversations. Being an A+ student in math, he began to tutor Maria as she was struggling.
Soon enough, they began hooking up during their tutoring sessions. Maria felt excited that she was with an older guy, but she still felt pressured and uncomfortable.
Maria observes a connection between the glorified relationships on television programs and the harsher realities of these situations. She explains that in retrospect movies, to her, seem to teach men to keep trying and were part of a failure to teach people what consent is.
John and Maria continued their friendship even after he left for college. However, as Maria worked her way through high school and college, she increasingly realized how wrong her relationship with John was.
She fully realized that her continued support of John was wrong when she got a text from John during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings for his alleged sexual assault of a high school classmate.
At this point, Maria was confused as to how to move forward. Maria had a text conversation with John about consent, but she hasn’t responded to John since; She doesn’t know if she will in the future either. She continues to struggle with reconciling his actions with the societal failures regarding teaching consent.
Maria: “The reason that I was so scared to talk about this today, is not because talking about these events is too triggering for me, but I wish I could come in here with a very clear answer. Like, these things happened and I know what I need to do about it. I know that I can’t be friends with him anymore, or that I can help him become the person he wants to be, but I can’t say either of those things. I have no idea what I should do.”