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It’s only in the past five years that I’ve really committed myself to writing fiction. "Please don't assume we're going to the nicest restaurant in the city because I won't take you there.
Do you think of this encounter, which is, at times, cringe-inducing for the reader, as a consensual one? Well, he buys her alcohol, even though he knows she’s underage, and he tells her that he thinks she’s drunk right before he takes her home. But I’m more interested in the way that Margot herself weighs the costs of her own decision to consent.
Margot, choosing between having sex she doesn’t want and “seeming spoiled and capricious,” decides to have unwanted sex.
She thinks (or tells herself) that she isn’t afraid that Robert will “force” her, and I think, on one level, that’s true: she has no evidence that he’d be violent toward her.
That option, of blunt refusal, doesn’t even consciously occur to her—she assumes that if she wants to say no she has to do so in a conciliatory, gentle, tactful way, in a way that would take “an amount of effort that was impossible to summon.” And I think that assumption is bigger than Margot and Robert’s specific interaction; it speaks to the way that many women, especially young women, move through the world: not making people angry, taking responsibility for other people’s emotions, working extremely hard to keep everyone around them happy.
It’s reflexive and self-protective, and it’s also exhausting, and if you do it long enough you stop consciously noticing all the individual moments when you’re making that choice.
The moment when I feel the most sympathy for Margot is when, after she spends the entire story wondering about Robert—what he’s thinking, feeling, doing—she is left marvelling the most at herself, and at her own decision to have sex with him, “at this person who’d just done this bizarre, inexplicable thing.”I always wanted to be a writer, but I spent most of my twenties doing anything and everything else. at the University of Michigan, and I’m putting the finishing touches on a short-story collection.