Thursday, May 21, 2015
Stop Thinking Of Rape As A Stranger With A Knife
Rape is a horrible thing. Almost no one disagrees with this statement, and if you do, go get some help immediately. Rape is not “unconsensual sex.” Sex is consensual. Rape is rape, and it is not ok. But there is something a lot of people don’t think about that is what rape exactly is. Now I know, you’re thinking “Well it’s forcing sex upon someone that is unwilling.” And you’re not wrong per se, but I think the way we word it gives us a wrong impression of how rape works.
When most people picture rape, they picture a seen in which a guy sneaks into a house or jumps out of the bushes and holding a knife or a gun to the girl while sexually assaulting her. And this is obviously rape and horrible! But the reality is that most commonly, that’s not how rape happens. And to discuss why, I would like to set forth a different definition of what rape even is. So for the duration of this post, consider this definition of rape. Rape is committing any sexual action without the consent of all parties involved.
Now there is something key about consent that most people don’t think of. Consent is not just something that can be given, consent is something that can be revoked. When you consent to something, you have the absolute right to withdraw that consent at any time. And I would like to illustrate this with a personal and very emotional story.
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, Rape Apologia, Sexually explicit content
My story does not involve a person jumping out of the bushes or sneaking into my house. In fact, I had known the guy for several months already. We had talked online extensively and even met in person to hang out. And as one night got particularly heated when we were together, we had ended up in the bedroom. He wanted to do anal, which I had never done before (I was still entirely a virgin at this point at my freshman year of college.) And so I agreed, and I “topped” him first, and then we switched and it was my turn to be the “bottom.”
I was very hesitant at first. Verrrrry verrrrrrrrry hesitant. But I had thought in my head that I came, so therefor I essentially owed it to him to have him cum. And I had, afterall, consented to the activity so far. As soon as he began I immediately felt uncomfortable and stated so. He said simply to relax and so I did. As he continued, it only got more uncomfortable and eventually painful. I stated this and that I wanted to stop. I had revoked my consent, I no longer consented to what was happening. However, he continued to insist that I just need to relax and let it happen. In addition to him being taller and stronger than me, I still felt that sexual “debt.” And so he continued despite my pain and discomfort. I continued to be in pain well into the next day.
“Well it’s your fault for consenting in the first place.” “Why didn’t you try harder to fight back?” “Maybe you should’ve been more insistent.” These weren’t things that people told me afterwards. These were things I told myself afterwards. And because of my very religious upbringing, admitting to having sex with a man was a social death sentence. I couldn’t tell anyone. And so I hid and hid in my shame, continuing to blame myself.
And my story is obviously not the only such story. Consent can be revoked at any time. And not obeying this concept can be very damaging to people as it was to me. But consent still has more factors. Consent should also be enthusiastic. And what do I mean by this?
I once read a story of a guy that brought a girl home and pressured her to have sex. She would often pretend to look at her phone and be distracted but he continued to push her despite her seeming uncomfortable. He even joked about taking her phone away. Eventually, he pressured her enough for her to have sex with him. But was it consensual? At first it seems like yes to some people. From the guys perspective, at some point she agreed, and so it wasn’t rape… but what about her perspective?
She was obviously uncomfortable and trying to look for a way out. When he joked about taking away her phone, could she be sure he was entirely joking? If she was uncomfortable, this obviously pushed her over the edge into being scared. So while she may have said some sort of words that gave the appearance of consent, it is obvious she was coerced into the actions, which is not consent.
Another condition of consent is being of sound mind. Someone who is not in their right mind cannot reasonably consent, as their inhibitions are gone. This is why roofies are rape, because the inhibitions are gone and they remember nothing. Being drunk is a similar situation. A person that is drunk is not of sound mind and has left behind their inhibitions. And so some men may try to take advantage of a woman being drunk. So let me be clear here. If a woman would not consent to having sex with you while sober, being drunk and doing it does not count as consent. It’s really that simple. If she wouldn’t have sex with you before, why would her being drunk and out of her mind make it ok?
I can’t believe I need to say this one, but sadly it needs to be said. In caps of course. HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE THAT IS UNCONSCIOUS IN ANY WAY IS NOT OK, YOU DO NOT HAVE CONSENT, THAT IS RAPE, DON’T DO THAT. Also, as a side note, I know I say “she” a lot in this post, but remember that men CAN be raped as well. Sexual stimulation can cause sexual response without the persons consent or interest. Women can rape men. Stop shaming them. They need help too.
And finally, as my final point, children and animals cannot consent to sex. They can’t really consent to much of anything. They do not have the capacities to consent. There is a reason you must be human or a certain age to sign documents, you need to be able to think through and process what you are doing in order to consent to it. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SEX WITH CHILDREN, ONLY RAPING CHILDREN.
So stop thinking of rape as this thing that happens between strangers with a knife. People are often raped by people they know and trust. Rape is complicated, and if someone comes to you saying that they’ve been raped or thinking they’ve been raped, remember that consent can be a complicated thing. Do not blame them, do not say what they should have done differently. It is not their fault. It is always always ALWAYS the fault of the person who performed the actions without their enthusiastic consent. If you do not have that, don’t do the action. Simple as that.