Peer Review by Suri Purefoy (United States)

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"Are You Okay?"

By: Sophia DuBose


I don't what I expected when I kissed him. I don't what on earth was thinking when he came in for a hug and I impulsively pressed my lips against his. All I knew is that my biology class had become irrevocably hard to concentrate on because my thoughts were drifting in his direction, instead of focusing on the process of global warming. All I knew is that I liked spending time with him. All I knew is that I wanted to kiss him. And as it turns out, he wanted to kiss me too. 
    As the weeks on we began to kiss more often. And then it graduated to more than kissing. While this was all happening he kept doing something that I had never, ever expected. Every time we did something new and even when we were retracing our steps over old ground, he'd pull back look at me in the eyes and ask "Are you okay?" Never in a million years had I thought that someone asking me that question would be romantic. But when he said it, it was. You see, I had somehow come to assume that high school boys didn't particularly care about the comfort of their partners. Maybe it was all the articles I'd read about men's selfishness when it came to sex, or maybe it was because of the questions posed by my male peers during sex seminars. Ones like: "Why should I slow down if she feels uncomfortable with the speed we're going at?" Whatever the reason, I had never expected him to stop and make sure that was comfortable. I don't know if I can convey the way that has effected me. Not only did it validate my enjoyment of what we were doing, but it gave me power over what was happening. It gave me a sense that this was about my experience too. And that's important. That is how it should be. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply disturbing it is that his asking me this question surprised me. The fact that I had to have someone else validate something that is supposed to be about the pleasure of tea people together is disgusting. Why did it take a guy to make me realize that I got a say? As a feminist this is really hard for me to swallow. And I know I'm not the only girl out there who viewed physical relationships more about the other person than myself. I know there are girls out there who are pushed into situations they are not ready for because they don't think its their place to stop it. Girls, having a relationship with someone, especially a physical one, is every bit as much about you as it is about him. Most of us already believe that, but when we start a relationship we don't stop him from going places we're uncomfortable with because we're afraid he'll be mad if we do. That's BS, and it needs to stop now. Because it should be about that question: 'Are you okay?' It should be about both of us. To all the boys out there, asking isn't weird. It doesn't ruin the moment. In fact, it's romantic. By asking a girl if she's okay when your kissing her, when your hands are exploring places she's never had touched in that way before; you're showing her the ultimate form of love. You're showing her respect. So, go ahead: ask. 

Thank you to the boy who asked me in the first place. 

Message to Readers

This piece has been bothering me for a long time. At first, I thought it was because of the personal nature of it but than I realized: I hadn't properly emphasized some of the disturbing cultural norms this piece touches on. I needed to revise and say what really needed to be said.

Peer Review

"Girls, having a relationship with someone, especially a physical one, is every bit as much about you as it is about him." It's so true!

Confidence, comfort, independence.

Where did you find this amazing guy? ;) so many guys just never ask, like you said. And see that there is this sweet, amazing guy in your life is so amazing— you go girl!

Reviewer Comments

I absolutely loved this— your air of confidence and surety, knowing that having a physical relationship with a guy really is about BOTH of you. Not just him, not just you. And that we all need to have that compassion towards each other, especially when in relationships, and just stop and ASK. It's empowering! Thank you for sharing this!
Keep up the great writing! and I hope everything goes well with you and your man. :)