It’s easy to break this down to “fuck him and I hope she’s okay after speaking out” and if you came here to see if that’s my opinion then yes; you can leave now. If you’re like me and have spent every moment of given solitude in a world of emotion, read on:
In my youth, I used music as both an escape and a way to feel connected. I used Brand New as an excuse to be a dick to women. It was a vice made up of idolized words that I used as a band-aid to cover the ugly within me. The lyric “But with nobody in your bed / The night's hard to get through” popped in my head as a young me knowingly called over a girl to spend the night - who wasn’t my girlfriend; I am sorry Jen. I am not saying it is why I’ve done these bad things but knowing a successful idol of mine knew how I felt gave me this sense that it’s okay. I believed how I felt was normal and that I’ll change just like he has. As years past, I had no motivation to change, just left with a sense that my misconduct was okay. “I will lie awake / Lie for fun and fake the way I hold you / Let you fall for every empty word I say” was my mantra every time I spent hours trying to make a girl I didn’t care about fuck me. With song after song obsessing over women and unrequited love, I found myself obsessing over the same. But what was I really obsessed over? After reading his statement, I felt like I wrote it. I was so connected. I’ve been there since day one and I knew the words he wrote before I even read them. I’ve looked inward and I am scared of me. An addiction gathering water from lyrics, overgrowing for years, became an untamed garden of sexual misconduct. And in those years, Jesse made me feel normal.
That’s because I thought this is what it was. Not only did women fall victim to me, I fell victim to women. When I was 15 I, too, was sexually assaulted. I did not understand that until a few months back. A few older girls I went to highschool with fed me so much alcohol I blacked out and fell asleep fully clothed in a house I felt safe in. And when the morning came, everyone was huddled over a digital camera that was filled with pictures of my genitals exposed while I was sleeping. One of the girls took it out and photographed herself performing oral sex on my unconscious body. When I was 16, another older girl who was no longer in highschool forced my hand down her pants to finger her. Even though I told her I did not want to engage in the act, the phrase “be a man” holds high impact on a male teenager. I can almost hear the laughs, as I type this, from the men finding this pathetic - which is why these stories are never shared. When I was 18, I was used for sex and left on the side of the road in the middle of the night to walk home alone. These were stories I used to brag about. All because this is what sex was, so I thought.
This was my sex life. It’s all I knew. It was kill or be killed for sex. It was use or be used. It was “no” could be disregarded. It was “everyone was doing it.” It was “don’t be a pussy.” It was “can’t believe you didn’t fuck her, you fag.” It was “don’t be prude, what are you gay?” It was “just get her drunk.” It was “show me her nudes.” It was “aren’t you a man?” It was fucking endless for years.
The cherry on top was being exposed to the internet source of pornograhpy at the age of 10, creating a dangerous building block for sexual expectation. I was not only addicted to sex - I was disturbingly misinformed. And this is a demon I still fight to this day. Between fits of depression, social anxiety, and unpredicted extreme highs and lows of my libido - it’s hard to keep the bad ideas away.
To be clear, I’ve never raped anyone or had any relationships with underaged girls, but I know I’ve talked girls into doing things they probably didn’t want to, and I know I’ve cheated in the past, and I know I’ve been in craves where all I’ve wanted from someone was sex, regardless of how they felt. All of those things have left me feeling bad, in every sense of the word. So I know they were bad and I think I’ve done a good job in my recent years of avoiding those actions and bad feelings, but even if the things I’ve done were 12 months or 12 years ago, it still feels the same.
And most of us men will never look inside ourselves to admit the things they’ve done. They walk around with this misogyny, this hatred, this addiction to sex and feel that if no one calls you out on your shit then you are fine. They miss the opportunity that forms when someone who they believed could do no wrong, falls from the pedestal. I have the deepest remorse for all of those I have ever affected with my sexual misconduct. And I want to take a moment in this reflection to thank a woman for coming forward about a disturbed man’s misconduct. You are strong and I only hope things get better from here.
Jesse, you were horrible on the inside. And today, I am taught that the only way to overcome this deeply rooted sexual addiction and misogynistic rule book is to look within and expose your own truth.