“Morality isn’t an absolute, you see. For me, having premarital sex at any age is immoral, but I realize not everyone sees it that way…”
Jenna watches the rotund attorney pacing before the jury while his hands gesture wildly in the air. She knows without a doubt that she is watching a performance piece. This man with his baritone voice drilling into the minds of the mostly white, mostly male jury was an actor delivering his final monologue in an incredibly dark play about what happens when women say no.
She has yet to figure out if she, the victim, is the hero in this for having the bravery to prosecute this thing, to take it all the way, or if the man sitting at the defendant’s table, a friend of a friend she met at a frat party, would come out the lovable antihero. It seems that if the bigmouthed dick of an attorney has his way, it will be the latter.
“Was it moral for Ms. Banks to flirt like a dog in heat with my client the night the two of them met as witnesses here today have testified to?”
Did he really just fucking say that? Surely she is in some nightmare universe? Did she time travel back to the 50s unawares?
“Was it moral for her to send him gratuitous pictures of her person via Facebook which we have in evidence if you recall?”
She feels a confusing mix of rage and hate rising up in her chest like black, tarry poison. The adrenaline rushes her system like a sumo wrestler threatening to bounce her out of her seat screaming unintelligible obscenities that juxtapose her smart gray pinstriped suit and sleek, conservative blonde bun.
“Did Ms. Banks show any shred of morality when my client took her out to dinner, and she, as she testified here today herself, had sex with him in the restaurant bathroom?!”
Rage gives way to absolute disbelief. The last few days have been stressful, anxious but still so busy she hadn’t had time to listen to everyone and everthing. It had been like a pin pong match with so many back and forths and this and that and arguing, but now this man, this wretched, portly demon with fangs dripping acid, was all she could hear. This. She hangs her head at the realization that this is what she has fought so hard for—to be on trial herself for her own assault.
“Was it morality that drove Ms. Banks to meet up with my client in his room, HIS ROOM, to Neflix and chill as the kids say? Or was it her insatiable sex drive, that unrepentant lack of morality, that same void that led her into that grimy restaurant bathroom to commit an act that should only happen between husband and wife?”
Tears roll down her cheeks, a product of anger and shame, but the verbal onslaught continues even as her ears darken to a deeper shade of red. Several members of the jury look her way, women shaking their heads and men with a smugness that makes her skin crawl.
“I think we can all agree that it wasn’t morality that drove my client to have sexual intercourse with Ms. Banks in that restaurant bathroom. Morality wasn’t what drove my client to invite her back to his residence even after that bathroom incident. In fact, I think you’ll agree that Ms. Banks’ lack of morality spoke to that lascivious part of my client forcing him to abandon any morality he might have had himself.”
Numb. That’s how she feels. Numb, void, nothing. Everyone told her to just forget it. That it wasn’t worth this. 2 of her friends had been assaulted themselves and never did anything about it, and she had thought they were just too weak, too soft to handle it, but now she knows… Now she knows they were just avoiding the obliteration of any faith in humanity they had left.
“But does abandoning morality to be with an equally moral person make my client a rapist? It seems to me, and I hope you will agree, that at no time did Ms. Banks every refuse any of his advances and, in fact, as testimony has shown, she was quite forward from the start. What I need you all to ask yourselves today is why on Earth would my client have to take anything from Ms. Banks when she had so readily and eagerly offered it to him previously?”
With that, he closed and marched his considerable girth back to his corner of the metaphorical ring. With that, the weight of his words hammered down on her heart one more final time, and she weeped unable to even face the jury again knowing justice would very likely never be hers, not this way.
Jenna tucks her dirty blonde hair behind her ears as the judge explains to the jury what their next steps are. The sounds buzz incomprehensibly in her ears as she fights to get her tears under control. Once the courtroom is dismissed, she steps out the old brick courthouse downtown into a vibrant afternoon. She stares into the sky above her watching clouds change shapes and letting the heat warm her face. Part of her wants to run as fast as she can and never look back. She could move. She could hide from this torment and never have to face the resolution or lack thereof in this case.
But she won’t.
Because fuck running and fuck giving up.
This was hard to write as a victim myself. I never took my case to court for reasons out of my control, but so many women never prosecute. 68% of assault victims never report their attacks. This might be fictional, but it certainly explains a lot of things...
Sunday confessions. The topic is Morality. Thanks for reading.