I remember being accosted by two security guards in an open parking lot on Burnaby Mountain. My girlfriend and I were young, and, like many young couples in parking lots, we were doing what was only natural for young lovers to express. Deep into the night, the winter air kept at bay while our body heat steamed up the car windows. Then, without warning, flashlights shone into our car, turning our intimacy into a nightmare we wish to forget.
We immediately panic and pull our clothes together, frozen in fear, shame, and terror.
One man says, “we get couples up here all the time, but we’ve never seen lesbians before.”
He wants us to continue. He wants to watch. He made sure we knew that what we were doing is illegal. He will give us a ticket if we don’t let him watch.
It became a standstill. We were trapped, trapped on top of this secluded mountain, trapped inside this car, trapped inside the fucked up imagination of this man. We were fully clothed and still, we had no choice but feel naked.
For the next 20 minutes I did most of the talking. I made sure to smile and fake my comfort. I made conversation with him while he towered over us, leaning on the car door, using his body to keep it open. I talk about how my girlfriend and I met. I tell stories to entertain him, to stall time. I have to keep stalling. I have to humanize the situation. I have to humanize our bodies. Our bodies have to be humanized. I have to protect my girlfriend. I have to protect myself. No one was going to protect us in that secluded empty parking lot, dead in the soulless night.
He asks fucked up questions about lesbians. He says we just need a man. He asks fucked up questions about how lesbians have sex. He says we just need a man. He asks fucked up questions about how my girlfriend and I have sex. He says we just need a man.
I continue to smile and fake my comfort. I continue to make conversation with him. I continue to stall. I have to keep stalling. I have to humanize our bodies.
He finally grew tired and let us go.
This whole time, the other man never talked, never intervened, just stood by while his partner accosted us in our car. reinforcing, complicit, and just as guilty. His inaction brought power to another. His silence is loud in authority. In my head, I wonder if he felt powerless to do anything, against the presence of a more powerful man. But he could have prevented it. One word, just one word from him, could have influenced another fellow man. Instead he let it happen. Rape culture and toxic masculinity hurt men too, but silence and inaction is inexcusable. The harm is done.
We never reported them.
I remember this memory only in the form of a nightmare that I wish to forget, when it should be a sweet memory of young love. Instead, rape culture implants this tape, playing and rewinding deep inside my body. The algorithm of that tape changes over time but it still plays, over and over again, and men let it happen every single day.