Sunday 24 May 2009

The R-Word

In a blandly pretentious Murukami nod, I thought about titling this post 'what I talk about when I talk about date rape'.

So an unspecified time ago, there was this guy, right, quite a bit older than me, and we went back to his room during a party to share a bottle of really quite nice rum. There was some snogging, and some toplessness, all of which had been anticipated pre-booze. Then, next thing I know, I'm coming to from an unspecified period of blackout, and penetrative sex was...happening, to me. And, and it really does make me cringe to write this, I felt sick and I didn't want to be rude, so I just lay there until it was over.

I actually can't give any more details than that, because I am still friends with this person, and we share mutual friends. Maybe I could have said more a year ago, but at the moment, for better or worse, I've got quite a large (and largely lovely) following of readers, and if I were to elaborate much more I could seriously inconvenience this man, who is on the whole a good guy.

Found out afterwards that he didn't use any protection. Had a serious STD scare, which entailed a fortnight of shaking in my bedroom at night feeling dirty, and ashamed, and scared, waiting for the results to arrive. Test negative, still felt cheap and used. Got into a bit of a downward spiral of drinking, anxiety attacks and one-night stands. Then, after a few months, I was alright again.

I'm finding this harder to write than I had anticipated. I don't think that I was criminally raped. Nor do I think I had consensual sex. What's in place here is a sliding scale of consent and domination, penned in by silence.

Penned in by silence. I still am, on this one. In the past few months, I've deliberately skipped out on a few big social events because of a worry that, now I've been thinking things over a bit, I'll lose my rag and start accusing this man in front of his friends.

Which is why it makes me so fucking angry, so very fucking angry that when a political party promises to lift court anonymity for victims of sexual assault, when a political party says 'innocent men who are falsely accused of rape have their lives ruined while their lying accusers cannot even be named', when a political party says those things *and is the BNP*, even then generally reasonable commenters let their paranoia overpower their common sense and start saying things like well some people do make it all up you know (for the record, 3% of reported rapes are false, same as for any other crime) and you're just trying to attack men, and what about the poor men who get accused of rape, have you thought about them for one single second you crazy feminazi bitch. That’s deeply upsetting. I've got an experience here which if you notice I haven't even categorised yet and I'm keeping my mouth shut. Partly out of personal shame; partly out of fear of social reprisals; mostly out of sheer consideration.

It may surprise you to know that I do not believe all men who have sex without another person’s permission to be irredeemably evil, violent abusers. I don't believe that all men who rape even know that that's what it is that they're doing. I think that sexual consent is a deeply fraught piece of semiotic territory in a real and ongoing ideological battle between the sexes, and – crucially – that sexual consent and non-consent takes place on a scale of abuse and trust that we currently just do not have the scale of legislation in place to deal with. Given that it’s only eighteen years since a man in this country could not be charged with raping his wife, our legal strategy for prosecuting rape – entirely separate from an acknowledged police and social bias against bringing cases to court at all – is manifestly not fit for purpose in today’s society. But that’s not the whole picture either.

Some political lobbies want to paint false rape accusation as a real, and widespread, social problem. It isn’t (I repeat, 3%). But it IS a real, and widespread, fear – and one that deserves to be acknowledged and understood, rather than simply dismissed. As a male friend of mine explained to me recently, ‘from the age of thirteen one of my biggest fears was that I would make a fool of myself in bed – that I’d in some way underperform, or disappoint her – and she would claim I’d raped her, and I’d go to jail, where I might be targeted and even killed. It’s still a fear that preoccupies me. I know there isn’t some clichéd conspiracy of women out to falsely accuse men of rape – that just isn’t happening. But it was, and is, a fear – I think it’s a natural, normal thing to worry about that.’

Men’s sexual vulnerability is not widely discussed – not in public, and not between men. A lot of the anxiety that’s expressed by right-wing lobbies over ‘lying women crying rape’ can be traced back not just to a creeping paranoia about female power, in the bedroom and out of it, but to genuine male sexual vulnerability as men find themselves without models of behaviour to draw upon in this new age of equality, where the old rulebooks for how to prove yourself a man have been roundly tossed away.

‘I believe that what most men and boys want, really want, is consensual sex,’ my friend tells me. ‘Yes, at my school like at any other, there were a number of boys who everyone knew would deliberately get girls drunk and rape them, and boast about it afterwards. Everyone hated them, and avoided them – because they were normally the same people who were vicious and inhuman in every social context. Some of these guys beat a friend of mine almost to death with iron bars,’ he said, non-committally.

Indisputably, a minority of men and boys are damaged enough by their culture and their upbringing that they are incapable of non-violent relations with any human being at all. I believe that there are men who hate women and hate their own lack of power enough to rape deliberately, premeditatedly, as punishment or revenge. And I believe that this happens hundreds of times every day in England alone. Violent rape, whether by strangers, friends or a partner, cannot and should not be excused, and nor should less violent rapes and assaults, whether or not the perpetrator was aware of his transgression. However, I believe that it is appropriate for the feminist movement to step away from absolute, categorical condemnation and try to understand why men rape. In a world where almost all sexual offences are committed by men, if we don’t try to understand the modern male sexual psyche, we cannot hope to legislate properly when its owners go feral.

I’m not trying to do a backdoor John Redwood here and suggest that we should prosecute on a ‘sliding scale’ of rape. I’m not suggesting that date rape is somehow not as bad as stranger rape, or that ANY rape is less damaging, less painful, less fucking insulting than any other. What I’m saying is that there are many, many instances of sexual assault, of non-consensual sex, which whilst damaging to their victims are simply unproveable in a court of law. What I’m saying is that we need, as a society, not only a more effective system for rape prosecution but a language for sexual consent that extends beyond the parameters of a courtroom. What I’m saying is that this is far more complicated than rape-or-not-rape; if it weren’t, men wouldn’t have to get so damn paranoid. As it is, with our limited grasp on the legal-rhetorical overlap, too many men , and women too, see rape purely in terms of whether or not something can be proved in a court of law.

What today’s young men need, and what we desperately need them to have, is some form of guidance on how not to become a rapist. Because this is something men and boys just do not have – and now, in a culture where non-consent can come in many forms and the rape epidemic is acknowledged as a problem, they need that knowledge, and we need them to have it. It doesn’t come from nowhere. On one side of these boys is an increasingly widespread expectation that they should instinctively know how a decent person behaves. On all other sides, young men are bombarded by a culture that glamorises sexual violence and objectifies women, a culture that makes it cool to treat sex as a competitive sport with women as the dumb racing animals, with lads’ mags, rapstars and rape played for laughs in Hollywood blockbusters, with rape-role-play video games and commercial fantasies of male sexual dominance leering at them from every billboard.

And I think it’s stunning that, even hemmed in by captain commercial’s xtended rape-o-rama culture jam, even with boys as young as 14 committing brutal gang-rapes in this very city, no teacher is obliged to sit down with a class of young boys and go through with them just how to tell if a girl (or boy) is too drunk to consent, or for that matter if they themselves are too drunk to consent; I think it’s stunning that noone thinks to ask young boys what they feel is appropriate force to use in persuading a girl to have sex with them. How in hell are they supposed to know, when the question is never raised?

We have allowed generations of men to grow up without giving them the tools to learn how a decent person behaves in the bedroom, in a culture that tells them that non-consensual sex is acceptable, even cool. This doesn't excuse rape, but it might occasionally, partially, sometimes explain it. And explanations deserve attention when there are problems to be solved and heads to bang together.

The language of consent and abuse is complex, and it is painful. I, for one, no longer want to live in a world in which men are encouraged to see sex with women as something they either do or do not ‘get away with’. More than anything, I want there to be real discussion of what rape is and why it happens. Only when girls and boys and men and women can have full and frank discussions about this, between themselves and with each other, will we come close to achieving real sexual and social maturity in this culture.


  1. I admit, I was shocked by this post. I know I shouldn't be, but I was shocked that a forthright feminist like you seem to be wouldn't out this person. I can completely understand worry about losing friendship groups, being accused of lying or "making a big deal of it" after all, but I was still shocked.

    This is going to sound harsh, but as you've put this out there to be commented on, I'm going to say it. Your sentence including the words "some form of guidance on how not to inadvertently become a rapist" makes it sound like you are trying to excuse this guy's behaviour (or guys like him). I agree with everything you're saying about men being under pressure to treat women like conquests, and the need for education and all that, but no-one "inadvertently" becomes a rapist.

    Well done for writing this post though.

  2. I can't remember what it's called but I read about a consent strategy thing, possibly American, where you asked about every single thing you were about to do. "Can I kiss you? Is it ok if I? etc etc. And the enthusiastic consent thing, I'm not very articulate tonight.

    Education in schools should cover abuse, rape and violence, in the same way they should cover the good things, and I think that no matter his intentions (as if that excuses it) that man was a dickhead.

  3. When I used 'inadvertently', I think it would have been more accurate to say 'unthinkingly'. I don't think all men and boys who rape understand that that's what they're doing. That doesn't mean it's any less wrong, any less a violation, of course.

    I think we need to be saying something more in-depth to men than 'do not fucking rape people'(although if you've only got one slogan, that's not a bad place to start). It's not necessarily the job of feminists to do the explaining, but at some point in this culture there needs to be an honest discussion of what the parameters of consent can be, and that discussion needs to include notions such as *just because there's no evidence, doesn't mean you didn't do anything wrong*.

    If we don't have those sorts of discussions, then how can we expect ever to have a legal system that really dispenses justice - practically speaking, I mean, how are juries and arresting officers ever going to have the right language to describe what violation really means?

  4. I'm confused... are you are saying that the 'blackout' you suffered was not a period of unconsciousness but just a period of memory loss?

    If the former, then you are describing a situation where somebody initiated sexual intercourse with you while you were unconscious from drink. That the person may have had an STD and did it without a condom is even worse, but even without that aspect, I can't really see how you could describe this as anything other than rape. Even if you didn't tell him to stop once you regained consciousness, he had already acted without your consent (implicit or explicit).

    Sorry if this sounds paternalistic... but as a man who is very much not a rapist, I want to assert that there is a very clear line between my behaviour and the behaviour of this individual. The borderline is really not grey in this case at all - if somebody passes out then you just don't do that to them.

    I have some more general remarks about the issues raised, but I can't bring myself to make them from such a traumatic starting point.

  5. Thanks. I think I'm going to find it really interesting seeing how people react to this post. So what do you think about implicit and explicit consent? What are the boundaries of morality if a guy goes ahead with only implicit consent?

    I have not ever, to my knowledge, suffered memory loss after or during drinking -it used to be one of my characteristics as a drunk, when I used to drink. So it really could have been either - that's one of the reasons I've used the term 'blackout'.

    I'm not going to go into any more details of what happened (and for those reading this, please don't try to draw me). But I think that it's not beyond the pale of reason that I might have a less than objective viewpoint, here.

  6. Penny -

    there is a simple test, you know, to see whether he unthinkingly had sex with you, inadvertently had sex with you, or just plain raped you.

    Ask him, or get someone else to ask him, or hey, just use your common sense and work out the answer for yourself -

    If he was to go round to a mates and have a drink, get drunk, and have some sort of friendly wrestle (lets face it, not uncommon among drunk men, gay, het or bi). If later after a period of unconsciousness he was to come to, and find his mate fucking his up to that point unconscious body - would he consider that rape?

    If he wouldnt, if he would consider it 'unthinking' or 'inadvertent', then maybe you have a point and men like him dont rape on purpose and just accidentaly fall inside unconscious women.

    But it doesnt ring true to me.

    FWIW - its really hard getting your head round having been raped, especially by someone you think is your friend. Youve been through blaming yourself and youre going through making excuses for his behaviour. There are none.

    I think part of the struggle youre having is because when this stuff happens to us (because Penny, ive been *exactly* where you are wrt this), we think that calling it rape is like admitting we are stupid or weak or vulnerable or all of the above and then some. We dont want to see ourselves as victims because we see victims as in some way having deserved it or as being weak. And we dont want to be weak and we dont want to be one of *them*.

    I dont know what else to say to make this better or easier. Its way harsh. I hope you have your proper friends around you as you try to make sense of it.

  7. latest anon - I'm not sure your analogy rings entirely true, but yes. I take your point, and am considering it. Whatever happened, I was seriously inconvenienced and fucked up by this man's lack of sexual consideration.

    I really really don't want to make this post about whether or not I was raped, though. I think it detracts from my point, which is that men and women, feminists or not, need to have conversations about rape that go beyond automatic condemnation on one side and terror of implication on the other. We need to be seriously talking about what consent actually means.

    But you're right, I haven't finished working this all through in my head, and maybe never will.

  8. I think this is a really brilliant piece overall. This is an extraordinarily complex issue which, as you say, cannot be reduced to rape/not rape. But all this is illustrative of the way in which by definition laws must deal in yes/no binaries, even though something like determining consent (or levels of consent) is specific to individual contexts and therefore very difficult to discern from abstract criteria alone. We have a tendency to think that just coming up with more and more laws, getting more and more granular in our formal schemas, will somehow solve the difficulties inherent in ascertaining consent. If men are getting away with rape on account of a victim’s intoxication (which they surely are), well let’s just change the law and say that if a man has sex with a drunk woman, he’s guilty of rape. But it never quite works because we can all think of countless situations where there are ‘maximum levels’ of consent despite the intoxication of one of the participants. This is clearly not something which can be ‘solved’ by legislation alone, you’re absolutely right that it’s about mindsets.

    Where I disagree with you however, is where you suggest that non-consensual sex can (however partially) be blamed on the media’s objectification of women. It quite a leap from objectifying someone sexually, which we all do, and which is inextricably entangled with ‘healthy’ sexual behaviour (e.g. ‘he’s hot!’), and which to be honest I don’t think there is anything wrong with, to behaving like an abusive asshole and forcing someone into non-consensual sex. There was rape long before Japanese Hentai games and Nuts and Zoo and all the other usual suspects, and I think it unreasonable to assume that there wouldn’t be without them. Has it been proven that the incidence of rape has gone up since our culture became ‘pornified’? I doubt it has to be honest. Assuming that people who play ‘rape’ video games are going to go out and rape is just as silly as saying that people who play shoot-‘em-ups are going to go on real-life killing sprees. This is not that I think that bombardment with violent, sexual and sexually violent representations is unproblematic or a ‘good’ thing. I think it does mess with us, but in much more subtle and complex ways than is often assumed.

  9. Re: explicit v implicit consent -

    There is potential for ambiguity if people don't verbalise what they want to do, or what they are willing to do, and I don't think one can really lay down a general principle in such cases.

    But for the record, when I mentioned 'implicit consent', I was thinking of active participation by all parties involved, without them necessarily putting that into spoken words.

    I think it would be necessary to discuss such situations case by case, and I am more immediately concerned about the specific personal example you gave, which doesn't seem at all ambiguous, at least given the level of detail you have supplied - sorry.

  10. Once I was with a woman who was asking me for sex, and I chose not to have sex with her because I thought she might pass out. I thought she was too drunk to be making the choice to have sex with me. I was not so drunk and able to make that decision. I chose not to have sex. If I was drunker, I may not have made the same decision. What then? and even my own memory would have been clouded if I were to have allowed that to happen.

  11. To add - I do think it is bizarre that you would call a man who screws unconscious women, on top of which he does it without using contraception even though he knows he is an std (and pregancy!) risk, as 'on the whole a good guy'.

    It says so much that a man can treat a woman with such massive disrespect, but that that woman - a feminist woman no less - could describe him as 'on the whole a good guy'.

    Your average common garden rapist IS 'on the whole a good guy'. He always has friends and relatives, even a wife maybe, who thinks he would never ever do such a thing.

  12. Also, and I might as well come out and say it, I wanted to put it out there that I'm considering that there might be many reasons to rape. Some of those reasons are solely and directly about control and dominance - but some of those reasons can also also about sheer goddamn stupidity. I think some men who rape are stupid, and brainwashed, rather than evil.

    That doesn't excuse their actions, and it doesn't change the terms for punishment. Doesn't matter if you killed someone whilst you were drunk, it's still murder - but not all murderers are incomprehensively evil serial killers, either.

    I think possibly I've read too much Thomas De Quincey, because here I've had to delete a massive rant about how we've got a buggerload of different concepts and dialectics for murder and why it's wrong, but only one real definition of rape: the stranger in the alley with the knife.

  13. Anon...:'where you suggest that non-consensual sex can (however partially) be blamed on the media’s objectification of women'

    Oh nonono, I'm not saying that non-consensual sex can be BLAMED on a culture that objectifies women sexually. I'm saying it's an explanation - not, and I repeat NOT, an excuse. It's a potential reason for male confusion and male ignorance, which, again, are not excuses - but they are reasons, and reasons need attention if we're to actually solve problems.

  14. 1. Anons, please do differentiate yourselves if you can - thanks!

    2. I am going to bed, and will not be up and responding until later in the morning :)

  15. Rapists dont rape out of stupidity. Arrogance, maybe. Lack of giving a shit, definitely. I dont think they are brainwashed - rapists (when its not obviously about dominance) just dont care, thats all. Or they care less about the person they are raping than they care about their access to sex that particular day.

    Theres something sort of patronising in the idea that a man would rape by accident, or out of stupidity. Men arent that pathetic, are they?

  16. Differentiating - I wrote the posts that began

    'I'm confused'

    and then

    'Re: explicit vs implicit'

  17. 'Theres something sort of patronising in the idea that a man would rape by accident, or out of stupidity. Men arent that pathetic, are they?'

    Not all men. I think that some men are that pathetic. I'm continually stunned by how much stupider a lot of guys are than I've been giving them credit for.

    So yep, some rapists are pathetic, rather than evil. I don't think failing to react with appropriate awe at men's wrongdoing is patronising!

    Right, definitely going to bed now!

  18. Can I ask where you got your 3% statistic for false rape claims? Because every credible study I've ever looked at has ranged from 9-40% (their was one study that said 90% and another that said they don't happen, but hey, we're talking credible ;)

    I'm reminded of the one time I drank myself to unconsciousness, I was up and moving around (generally making an arse of myself) for hours afterwards.
    THis makes me think; if I had sex in that time with a woman in a similar case would it have been rape? For no other crime does the law excuse you based on intoxication, so then yes (assuming we are saying that even if upright and conscious you can be too drunk to consent, which many people here do seem to believe).
    But what about her? Sex being something people do together rather than something that a man does to a woman, has she raped me? Remember we're not talking about an unconscious woman here, rather one who is simply to drunk to remember.
    Yes? No?
    Did we both rape each other?
    If you come down on the side of it's still just me raping her then what if I happen to have had sex with another woman? Again have we both raped each other? Or if she had sex with another woman, again, are they both rapists, or neither?

    Are me and the man rapists and neither of the women?

    These are the complicating factors that rape a crime of many shades of grey. You cannot impose a black and white judgement on any situation involving those complicatig factors commonly known as humans.

    Excellent post Penny Red


  19. We live in a world of sexual prejudice. Prejudice against men AND women. Women are cast as the victims, men as the aggressors. Not always true. The divorce laws are complex and biased against males, as is the interpretation of domestic violence. I know I'm merging a lot of issues here but it's part of one cultural malaise. A friend of mine lost their home after a failed prosecution when they were falsely accused by their then partner of domestic violence : she wanted him out by any means necessary, reported an assualt, he was arrested on her word alone, and was homeless for 18 months. An ex-partner of mine thought that being female gave them free reign to assualt me whenever they felt like it.

  20. Interesting Penny -- once again.

    The only thing I would say about victim anonymity is that it should be extended to the accused until a guilty verdict is reached. I would say that were fair.

    In relation to love, sex, rape etc. It is obviously one of the most complicated subjects known to humankind. I don't think there is a quick fix solution. And whether you should or can change the legal process is difficult to see.

    However I thorougly agree with you educational ideas. We are prudish about sex in this country in a rather peverse way and I think it does have some terrible consequences.

    But I imagine we'd disagree on how it were to be imposed/encouraged.

  21. whilst I remember I could've, by one definition raped someone once : I was living with my partner of several years a decade or so ago, and she initiated sex whilst I was asleep. In the morning she couldn't remember it at all : if she had woken during the act, and not remembered or realised she had consented, she could've said I raped her. Again, these at the edges of possible events, but it is possible. And when we rule out what is impossible, whatever is left, however unlikely, is possible.

  22. Good post; a few thoughts.

    Perhaps one good conceptual 'test' for a rape is to consider whether the descriptions "X fucked Y" and "Y fucked X" are equally applicable (I use 'fuck' because it has such a one-person-doing-it-to-the-other connotation,unlike 'have sex with'). So in the situation you describe, if you'll forgive the crudity, he fucked you but you, by no stretch of the imagination, fucked him.

    That would also flag up the issue of 'soft-coercion' 'rape', where one person doesn't want sex but is badgered and persuaded into it through emotional blackmail. Though again, the single monolithic term may not be ideal for cases.

    On your particular case, my main feeling is - does he know? Does he know how much damage he did, or that you think about it this way? Or is he swanning around, fondly remembering 'having sex with' you and possibly acting the same way with others? Obviously it's not your responsibility to confront him, and it may be emotionally difficult, but I guess I feel like the relatively forgiving attitude you take would make most sense if there was some serious remorse on his part.

    I think you have a point about male fear around false rape accusations, but I think it's not just about their vulnerability but about their anxiety and guilt over the aggressive character of the sexuality they're given. Masculinity as an identity is deeply shot-through with sexual aggression: as MacKinnon says, "man fucks woman; subject verb object" is the grammar of gender sexuality. So a whole lot of reality has to be suppressed, including the crucial bit where female sexual agency is the only thing that really assures men of the difference between sexual-conquest-as-rape (bad) and sexual-conquest-as-ravishment (hot).

    That repressed reality then expresses itself in various neurotic fantasies and anxieties, such as that of the lying woman, a motif that appears in a lot of mythology (e.g. Potiphar's wife in the Old Testament with Joseph).

  23. from the age of thirteen one of my biggest fears was that I would make a fool of myself in bed – that I’d in some way underperform, or disappoint her – and she would claim I’d raped her, and I’d go to jail, where I might be targeted and even killed. It’s still a fear that preoccupies me. I know there isn’t some clichéd conspiracy of women out to falsely accuse men of rape – that just isn’t happening. But it was, and is, a fear – I think it’s a natural, normal thing to worry about that.’

    Fucking hell...

    Well, I think that`s the craziest thing I`ve heard this week.
    Guess it takes all sorts, eh.

    "‘Yes, at my school like at any other, there were a number of boys who everyone knew would deliberately get girls drunk and rape them, and boast about it afterwards. Everyone hated them, and avoided them – because they were normally the same people who were vicious and inhuman in every social context. Some of these guys beat a friend of mine almost to death with iron bars,’ he said, non-committally."

    Phhhhh.... come on... you`re either making this friend up or he`s Irish and you bought him a drink.

    Anyway... I really have no idea about this, but that`s never stopped me before.
    I think the reason why people rape is that they feel like animals - unfortunately the feeling isn`t delusionary. For that reason, I don`t think that teaching children in school that rape is wrong or arguing rationally against it is going to be any more effective than the current (strong) public taboo against sexual assault/rape. The unfortunate fact is that social permissiveness has opened a gap somewhere between the gentlemen and hippies in which animals live.
    What we need to do is give these boys a social environment in which men have a role to play as part of the family - either as protectors or carers - but there is no way that this can be achieved in school.

  24. Actually - thinking about it, it`s got nothing to do with social permissiveness.

    It`s got to do with cuntishness.

  25. 'The divorce laws are complex and biased against males, as is the interpretation of domestic violence. I know I'm merging a lot of issues here but it's part of one cultural malaise.'

    Most of your point is sound, but cmon...this is only one step off arguing that rape laws are biased in favour of women.

    Divorce law, domestic violence law, is not prejudiced against men - it's just not prejudiced in favour of men, either, and that lack of prejudice has been achieved after generations' worth of legal battles. That's an extremely common mistake to make.

  26. directionlessbones: thanks, great comment.

    This guy does know, we've had the talk fairly recently. Whether or not he chooses to accept what happened is difficult to tell.

  27. "I think the reason why people rape is that they feel like animals - unfortunately the feeling isn't delusionary."

    I'm not sure what you mean, but I'd point out the animal-which-rapes is not any real thing but a human fantasy figure, which humans use for talking about humans. Actual animals have an enormous range of ways of having sex. Some resemble what we might call rape; others involve careful courtship; others rely on specific forms of female receptivty; others don't involve penetration at all.

    Upshot is, statements like 'it's because they feel like animals' have no meaning except a general ideological gesture of contempt at the non-human. I'm sure you had a point worth making, but it's confused rather than illuminated by this kind of ideological language.

  28. My point was that everyone is capable of great violence and that we all have urges which are at odds with our view of civilised living - that if we don`t feel sufficiently *part* of a society we are more likely to revert to these primative instincts and view social rules with bemusement or contempt.
    Further, that giving in to those primative urges isn`t actually *wrong* as such - it`s only counterproductive to give into them if you view yourself as a member of society and something other than an animal.
    If we`re all destined to oblivion, why not give into your urges?

    The only good reason, is because we don`t want to.

  29. I suppose my point was that there does not appear to be any equality, men and women are both discriminated against in terms of the construction and application of the law. Domestic violence is repugnant. Rape is repugnant. Financial and physical violence is repugnant. It seems that rape tends to be a crime that is, in the eyes of the law, perpetrated against females. Violence a crime committed by males. (How many shelters are there for abused men in this country? How many adverts showing bruised men with broken noses aimed at curbing domestic violence?).

    Rapists are scum. Now, in certain circumstances the line between rape and consent is thin and grey, and in some cases, it is clear as night and day. I would never advocate violence against any man or woman (apart from, possibly, Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay for being Fucktards), but it is difficult to construct a workable law that takes into account every element of the kaliedoscope of human sexuality. I seem to remember a case of a bunch of people who enjoyed nailing each others genitals to tables consensually - strange, but they enjoyed it - and who were prosecuted / convicted for it. It's all about consent. If its in any way unclear, don't bloody do it!

  30. Mark: you're still deploying a concept of 'animal' that has no factual basis.

    "everyone is capable of great violence"
    This has nothing to do with us being (like) animals though. In fact, the human capacity for violence is really an aberration, one of our most distinctive features. By and large, other animals are either lacking in the weapons and instincts for violence, since their lifestyle doesn't involve any, or they are capable of violence but have evolved strong behavioural codes and inhibitions to avoid seriously harming each other.

    You equate "a member of society" with "something other than an animal". But many animals are very social: compared to them humans are disinctive in our capacity for independence and existence outside of or without emotional connection with society.

    This is all somewhat beside the point, so I'll drop it now, the point is simply that 'anomie' is a human phenomenon, not a failure to be human. We have to own it.

  31. Haven't posted before. I have a simple rule of thumb.

    If a woman wants to have sex with me, she can ask nicely.

    If she's going to be coy, or play hard to get, or make me play guessing games about when and whether no might really mean "make me", then I'm off. She can go without.

    It's the only way to be sure.

  32. This has zero to do with feminism and everything to do with a common sense personal responsibility towards yourself and others.

    Whatever happened to you, it sounds as if it really wasn't consensual, so you owed it - and still do! - to other women who might be raped by this 'good guy'.

    *Good* guy?

    How do you know he hasn't just got someone else feeling as confused as you still sound and worrying about STDs or pregnancy?

    I don't give a fuck whether you're a feminist, a fascist or a fetishist, when shit like this happens you need to out it. This is how all sorts of abuse gets ignored - including sexual assault, rape and paedophilia - because the abuser relies on his victim feeling ashamed and isolated. That's their power over you, and that power needs stopping ASAP before they go on to use it on someone else.

    Amazing - you might be able to talk the hind legs off a donkey when it comes to anachy and feminism, but there's a distinct lack of common sense going on at times.

  33. I appologise to any animals I may have offended in the making of my previous comment.

  34. SteveShark - "Whatever happened to you, it sounds as if it really wasn't consensual, so you owed it - and still do! - to other women who might be raped by this 'good guy'."

    No she doesn't. The only person Laurie owes anything to in this instance is herself: she owes it to herself to take care of herself, and to deal with this in whatever way suits her best.

    Laurie is not responsible for this man's behaviour, either in the past or in the future. The rapist is responsible for his own behaviour: to suggest otherwise is just victim blaming.

  35. In response to Cath and tothers: I know that my reaction and response to this incident cannot be wholly objective. In fact, throughout the process of writing this post I've had to delete lots of passages explaining why it was partly my fault (because I'd been drinking, because I agreed to go upstairs in the expectation of some fooling around, etc). It's shocking to realise even as a feminist, how hardwired those instincts are.

    That this man was deeply inconsiderate is sbeyond doubt, and I have let mutual friends who might get involved know that this is the case. What I wanted to get across in this post, partly, is how easy it is for people to commit rape - you don't have to have evil intent in your heart. All it takes is for someone to be deeply sexually inconsiderate and selfish, and the damage is done.

    How much do you guys think that matters?

  36. @Cath Elliott

    So, if someone's been raped by another, then there shouldn't be some thought there that if they don't expose the rapist as best they are able then he may do it to someone else?
    Oh, that's really caring and responsible.
    Yes, the rapist alone is responsible for his behaviour and no-one else, but that doesn't mean that his victims should be quiet about it.
    How would *you* feel if you were this guy's next victim? Wouldn't you wish that his last victim had said something?
    These fuckers rely on their victims being silent and being silent is doing exactly what the rapist wants. He's now in control and that control will ensure that he has another victim and another and another.
    Break that control by exposing him and you break the cycle.
    And, incidentally - to Penny - it wasn't your fault at all, intentions of fooling around and alcohol not withstanding. You didn't ask for non consensual intercourse.

  37. "The only thing I would say about victim anonymity is that it should be extended to the accused until a guilty verdict is reached."

    When John Worboys was named many more victims of his came forwards and people who don't know their rapist but see him on tv are undoubtedly helped. I'd say justice is better served.

  38. Also steveshark -

    I reported being raped the first time and I was called a whore and raped AGAIN by the policeman I told. I was 14. I am never doing that again.

    And "it wasn't your fault at all - intentions of fooling around and alcohol notwithstanding" makes you sound like a dick. "It wasn't your fault - (but really it was)"

  39. b - whoever you are - you misread what I said and ascribed words to me that I never wrote or intended.
    If Penny was my daughter - she's young enough and I have a daughter of 32 myself - I wouldn't see it as her fault *in any way whatsoever* if she got pissed, then started fooling around but then someone raped her. Yes, she could even be wearing a miniskirt (she was askin' for it, yer 'onour').
    There is no excuse for rape.
    Now, apologise or fuck all the way off, you moron, and, in future, engage your brain before you presume to tell me what I'm really saying.

  40. Thank you for this post. I can imagine the bravery that it took for you to write it as I know I'm not brave enough to write the reply that I want to.
    Maybe when it's been mulling around in my head for a while.
    I'm male and considered by most people to be "on the whole a good guy". I also consider myself an "equalitarian" - I get outraged equally by a lack of opportunity for women in the workplace as I do by the ridiculously sexist custody laws.
    Your argument for education for boys on how "not to be a rapist" *must* be taken seriously. It is an absolute requirement.

    A while ago, I bumped into a woman I'd not seen since university. We were occasional sexual partners at the time. My world absolutely caved in when she told me that on one of these occasions she believed that sex had been non-consentual. I couldn't possibly believe that *I* could have done such a thing. Was I a rapist? Without her generous assurances that she didn't believe that that word applied, I don't know what I would have done.
    We're not in touch any more, but it's never far from my mind and I will never get over the guilt and shame - nor will I ever forget the debt of grovelling gratitude I owe her.

    Of course, I can't know what effect education would have had on my never putting myself in that situation, but you would hope that it would help.

    A related thought ...
    Many years later, I woke up to a text saying "Sorry I raped you last night, but you are so delicious".
    Her use of the R-Word, not mine, but I had definitely been involved in non-consentual sex. This story has not been told widely, but it has been greeted with derision and ridicule on the very few occasions I have mentioned it.

  41. and I'm amazed that steveshark and others think they can tell a woman what to do and what her responsibilities are. In post about male abuse of power?

  42. G - gender doesn't come into it, but regard for other people does.
    Say you'd been mugged just around the corner from where you lived, wouldn't you tell friends, family and neighbours to be careful?
    What about if you knew where the mugger lived, wouldn't you tell the police?
    OK, by its very nature rape is far, far more of a personal issue, but if you don't report it, you're letting the rapist control you and becoming part of his control system enabling him to do it again.
    I appreciate that the way in which rape has been dealt with and still is being dealt with today leaves much to be desired, but exposing the rapist will still prevent more victims being created in some cases.
    Yes, we need drastic reform, etc, etc but allowing rapists to get away with it simply because they operate a power of silence over the victim is exactly how paedophiles operate. Should we stop trying to get to the bottom of those kinds of cases, even though children can handle their abuse even less well than women?
    We have nothing approaching reasonable handling of rape cases yet, but it doesn't mean that we should allow rapists to stay in control any more than is absolutely unavoidable.

  43. He can tell anyone he likes what to do, because in this context he has no power beyond that of persuasion.

    Steves right - Gender doesn`t come into it.

  44. Steve - Penny's arguing for "sexual and social maturity". I don't think we're going to get there is you can't stop braying "peadophillia" all over the place.

  45. If you think gender doesn't come in to it, ask around. See what people think of the thought of a straight bloke being raped by a straight woman.

  46. I have a feeling that classroom lessons about rape aren`t going to have any power to overcome the students real life experiences.
    If a childs experience is bad enough, lessons in empathy will not ring true.

    You might, however, make more neurotic children. If we are teaching the children that they might rape, rather than simply instilling in them the taboo that people like us *do not* do that, i`m not sure that the effect will be altogether positive.

    -- I think that sociological sex education lessons are equally counter productive - the impression I recieved from them was that the school was telling me to have sex.
    Teacher; "60% of students under the age of 16 have sex. This is bad."
    Student; "Oh my god... why am I not having sex?"

  47. Rape, paedophilia, domestic violence, bullying...most forms of covert abuse of one person by another all rely on the same tactic used by the perpetrator - the fact that the victim would rather remain silent about the abuse than acknowledge their perceived level of shame attached to what has been done to them and risk the abuse becoming known to anyone outside the 'relationship'.
    I mention paedophilia - I don't bray about it G - to try and emphasise that the consequences of this control by silence can have deeply traumatic consequences and that rather than make things better, shielding or not exposing the perpetrator actually makes things worse and gives the abuser *exactly* what they want.
    I'm not telling anyone what to do and ultimately the victim has the right to silence.
    What I am 100% sure of is that ultimately exposure of abusers will stop abuse to some degree, whilst victim silence will not. That advice can be taken or left.

  48. G-
    I suppose it depends on how big the woman was and whether she was carrying weaponary, but the general impression is that if a man really doesn`t want to have sex with a woman he doesn`t have to (can`t?)

    I`d also say (just my feeling) I don`t find uninvited touching to be a particularly terrible invasion *when it happens to me*. I simply don`t care all that much.

    So maybe your experience is rather unique and therefore a little difficult for most people to empathise with?

  49. Sorry, what i`m saying there is that most men percieve sexual advances from women as relatively non- invasive and threatening - so I guess you`re right.
    Gender does come into this.
    (but not into whether a man can comment upon a womans behaviour)

  50. @G
    If you think gender doesn't come in to it, ask around. See what people think of the thought of a straight bloke being raped by a straight woman.

    What's so different about straight male on female rape?
    Gay rape exists...
    Isn't that jsut as bad as straight rape?
    Ask around a few gays and ask them if it's any better than straight rape.
    I dare you...
    It's all extreme sexual abuse and it all operates in the same way.
    To regard straight rape as being somehow different is disingenuous to say the least, some might say sexist.

  51. Steve - you might want to write it more articulately then. I apologise if I misunderstood but half of what you wrote DID piss me off, moron.

    You completely ignored the rest of my post in which I was talking about why people don't report being raped and jumped on the end. If you want to keep making the same point at least address the issues.

    I'm not enabling anyone or becoming part of anyone's control system.

    Mark - I think classroom lessons could make a difference. If the teacher's good and actually teaching instead of the 'tick box we talked about rape' lesson.

  52. You're a disarmingly honest writer. As you know, it wasn't your fault, but feelings of guilt or blaming yourself are very common. Emotional turmoil, confusion, shame, and a lack of faith in the police and judicial system are understandable reasons not to report a sexual assault or rape, however much we might wish that all victims would report the crime.

    Some rules I think we should all follow:
    # Without a clear signal of consent, whether verbal or non-verbal, you don't try to have sex with someone. Assume that they don't want to have sex with you until they tell you or clearly indicate otherwise.
    # When either person appears to be incapable or incoherent due to alcohol, drugs, or illness, you don't try to have sex with them.
    # Don't pressure someone to drink or take drugs.
    # When someone passes out, don't try to have sex with them, and stop if you were already having sex.
    # If find that you're trying to coerce someone into having sex with you, stop. Never badger someone into sex. Never use force, restraint, or threats of force in coercing or making someone have sex with you (unless they ask you to when not under coercion).
    # If your partner appears to be upset or asks you to stop, you stop.

    I think the change to the law to allow multiple accusations of sexual assault or rape to be used in court is a positive step, as rape is often one person's word against anothers.

  53. @b
    As far as I can see, the only post you wrote before I wrote what you objected to was the second one in this thread - if 'B' was you.
    I wasn't actually addressing you anyway, I was addressing Cath Elliott, so ignoring your post doesn't enter into the equation. I then went on to address something Penny wrote.
    Why do you have to have your points answered anyway?
    As for enabling rapists, rape victims do not do that, but their silence passively perpetuates rape and, like it or not, the victim is an unwilling part of the control system.
    It's how it works - if you don't believe me, go and look it up.

  54. @Matt
    it wasn't your fault

    Careful, b might add (but really it was) after that if she quotes you...

  55. mmm ... i know you don't wanna discuss whether its a "rape" case, or "not rape" case, but I can't help thinking that it's niether. I would just call it irresponsible sex, in which both parites are to blame. Someone is to be blamed more for sure, but more I won't expand.
    ... but what troubles me here is the language of some of the posts. I am a feminist, but quite fresh and unexperienced; that is to say, I am pro ultimate equality, but just recently been active about it. What I see in some posts is some kind of a new gender being created; besides men and women, there are feminists; and real feminists are anti-men, in the sense that ...

    i'm not doing it right explain ..

    I'll try again.
    I have observed in some posts here that the story when discussed tends to alienate the guy. At times I felt that he is almost not there except as an ignorant dickhead (that is not a person). I am sure he is not, as penny describes him as "good guy". He is a person, and he might have been unconveinced by what happened (i would say if he had anysense of respect)...

    I'm going on digressions again ...

    What I want to say; what good does it do for feminists to enforce and enhance the sense of separation and alienation that is already there between men and women?? ..

  56. @MindUnpacker
    what good does it do for feminists to enforce and enhance the sense of separation and alienation that is already there between men and women?? ..

    None, as far as I can see.

  57. The bloke in this case is clearly at fault to some degree - for being shockingly thoughtless and careless, at very least.

    Your point about the gulf between non-consensual sex and rape is, however, very valid. I remember reading a post someone wrote before about "women having consensual sex and crying rape afterwards" - and I think that the law badly calls for some sort of middle ground, to address that sort of thing, as well as the kind of thing involved in the experience you had.

    As it stands, either something is rape or it is consensual sex - one sends the man involved (and it is a man involved, seeing as no court will ever believe a woman could rape, not that that happens often) to prison for twenty years and to a likely murder by other inmates, and the other gets the man off scot-free.

    While I hate to sound anti-feminist in some way, I don't think that the issue that the (occasional) false accusation of 'rape' through a desire to cause harm and trouble can cause problems is reasonably deniable.

    While I expect to be leapt upon and savaged by some of the more extreme feminists here for this, I have some personal experience of false accusations made by a female out of spite or a desire to protect her own reputation (I'm not sure which it was, probably both) - though on a far lesser degree, replacing accusations of rape with accusations of stalking, and without any law involved, just good, old-fashioned social groups and what would generically be fashioned as 'community leaders'. I'll not go into details at the moment, though I can provide a summary on request.

    This post, despite being short, is rambling too much for my liking. Suffice to say that it seems that there should be something between rape and consensual sex, in legal terms (possibly a misdemeanour rather than a crime outright) to avoid any point with obviously blurred or fuzzied lines of consent being either 'rape' or 'not wrong'. Since in many cases, it seems neither definition fits.

  58. Serinissima - what is so confusing? If a man sticks his penis into a woman's vagina when she is unconscious/ passed out with drink/ on sleeping tablets/ whatever. This is RAPE and no you are not being "anti-feminist" but "anti-woman" because he wasn't being "careless" he RAPED.

    Stop minimizing how men choose (with total autonomy) where they stick their dick and for f's sake stop infantizing us.


  59. I think you misunderstood my point there, Anon/PaulG. The 'careless' part was regarding the lack of protection (and consequent STD/pregnancy risk). The rest of it, as is made clear even in Laurie's original post, is not as black and white as some paint it.

  60. Yes well, neither is Laurie The Leading Authority on what consitutes rape and the post makes this more than apparant. But yes, point taken about the 'careless' now, US men need to start taking some responsibility about rape - which is historically sorely lacking. Wake-up guys is's 2009.


  61. Anonymous/PaulG

    I think your missing the point - but it *is* a subtle and important one which Penny R very deftly makes.

  62. There isn't a thin line between being a feminist and a misandrist/misogynist. I'm not going to ramble about about that, but it just pisses me off when some self-claimed "hardcore" feminists get angry and try to attack or silence anyone who tries to present an alternative point of view.

  63. Coth of the Rocks26 May 2009 at 08:36

    This sounds made up to me. Even if the story is true don't you think it was kind of stupid to go home with a man, engage in foreplay with him, get partially undressed in front of him while drunk enough to actually pass out while fooling around with him?! That's crazy lady! Jesus! I'm a strong athletic man but wouldn't risk get falling down drunk on a Friday night on the off-chance that I might end up somewhere, comatose, with a rigid cock stuck up my arsehole! Your alleged behaviour was, Penny Red, incautious in the extreme.

  64. Coth - I call troll!

    Penny - This is profound.
    "And I think it’s stunning that, even hemmed in by captain commercial’s xtended rape-o-rama culture jam, even with boys as young as 14 committing brutal gang-rapes in this very city, no teacher is obliged to sit down with a class of young boys and go through with them just how to tell if a girl (or boy) is too drunk to consent, or for that matter if they themselves are too drunk to consent; I think it’s stunning that noone thinks to ask young boys what they feel is appropriate force to use in persuading a girl to have sex with them. How in hell are they supposed to know, when the question is never raised?"

    Also - I know who you mean and I think you'd both benefit if you talked about it with him. But the decision is absolutely yours and yours alone.

  65. I've been thinking about this a bit more and I have a further opinion to offer.

    It seems to me that the ambiguity in your post revolves around this sentence:

    'I don't think that I was criminally raped. Nor do I think I had consensual sex'.

    My inference here is that the ambivalence you might be feeling is not so much between 'rape' and 'consensual sex', but between 'criminal rape' and 'rape'.

    By which I mean that there is a certain feminist discourse around rape conviction rates, and how they ought to be higher. Therefore, to say that an act was rape, is to say, by implication, that the perpetrator deserves prison - apparently the average sentence is around 4 years. Now whereas that is straightforward enough to say in the abstract, basic human sympathy makes it very difficult when it's someone you know and like, or liked. ..This is a different question to the other very real problem of the harsh way that the legal system treats rape victims, which is also a barrier to calling someone a rapist, but I think a distinct one.

    I suppose what I'm arguing is that I think the line between rape and sex is actually clear cut. When people say that they find this ambiguous, what is really at stake, I believe, is an ambivalence about what should be done with the perpetrator.

    Personally, I'm anti-prisons as a general matter of principle, I think they usually do more harm than good. Asking what are the alternatives might be a way of moving the debate on from trying to (re)define what rape is.

    There is a good pamphlet online called 'the queer, feminist and trans politics of prison abolition'. Unfortunately I can't paste the link into this window for some reason.

  66. Ninzian of Yair26 May 2009 at 17:55

    @ Under the Goggles

    If you'd read James Branch Cabell you wouldn't have called Coth a Troll! You naughty Goggler you!

  67. Goggles,

    Don't listen to the bloody trolls, I never do.
    I know you know; and yeah, we've talked about it, and are going to do so properly after the event in question that I'm not attending...

  68. You may or may not have intended to have penetrative sex with him before the flirting and toplessness. Clearly, he assumed you intended to.

    I don't know you and I don't know if you intended to or not. But it does not sound as if you had any intention of having unprotected sex.

    Yes, the concept of safe sex is made murky by the fact condoms break, but it sounds like you would have chosen to minimise the risk by insisting on a condom even if you completely intended to consent to sex.

    So the man did something you did not consent to.

    I could be wrong, but I suspect that you will feel angry with him for a very long time unless you tell him you're angry. And then, maybe you will still feel angry.

    I'm not a counsellor.

    You can probably guess that.

  69. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  70. explain what you mean, without hatespeech, or be deleted.

  71. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  72. Good lord, you are a good writer. You've hit the problems directly on the head. Us men didn't think women had it in them to discuss this sort of thing.

    You are so right though. I'm paranoid about "he's a rapist" finger pointing. I've never felt confident in telling the difference between rape and non-rape (as you eloquently describe) and yes, society doesn't want to discuss this subject, ever, meaning information has to be gleaned from experience (not useful if you can't tell the difference)

    Now, can you get the hardcore feminists to read this?


  73. In your blog (and I hope you will excuse me for saying so), there seems to be a very blurred line with how far consent was given before your memory failed. It is obvious some form of consent was given to the fooling around stage and one therefore assumes, whether affected by the rum or not, consent had been given to continue.

    There is a very grey area between fully consensual acts and rape, and working out where one ends and the other begins is a little difficult.

    The other thing that strikes me from the story is that some sort of "green light" was given to start, and there appears to be a lack of withdrawal of consent i.e some sort of red light or "no means No" statement. Many people agree safe words in advance so that someone can indicate when things are going too far. Both men and women have some duty to protect themselves in such encounters.

    I apologise if I've misread the recall of events incorrectly.

  74. you haven't misread the recall hugely, but you've misread the point of the post entirely.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. Your post seemed to cover a number of points.

    I'm not entirely sure that victims of sexual abuse should be anonymous, any more than victims of any other assault should be. Court proceedings are a place where everything should be public. I'm aware there are the psychological issues to the victim you have mentioned, but I would think the remedy is for support for the victim to resolve those issues, not to have a special category of court cases.

    Whilst accepting your "What today’s young men need" paragraph, I think there should also be a "What today’s young women need" paragraph in order to ensure that they recognise situations where they may be vulnerable. Sexual education for both sexes should cover the social aspects as well as the mechanics.

    I hope I got closer to the point this time.

    The article you cited mentioned that people have been intimidated into not intervening. I should mention that I was very surprised and discomforted to find that I was the only one who intervened when a man was assaulting his (ex?)girlfriend in a busy shopping centre a few years ago, and recently a close friend has been attacked in apparently clear cut circumstances. I may change my mind depending on how the judicial process goes in that case.

  77. Penny: learn by now that you simply can't trust men, and that you shouldn't also put yourself at risk of situations - don't be so naive.

  78. Too close to home on this one. I've decided to remain undecided, and chalk my similar evening down to experience. I like the sliding scale of carelessness to callousness, that works for me. Sometimes there just isn't an answer, and looking for it causes more fucked-up-ness. Glad you seem to have moved on though.

    Lola x

  79. To junglevip: I think the 6% success rate in rape prosecutions is one reason why anonymity for victims should stay. Imagine going through all that and then having people wonder if you made it up just because the police officers or CPS were biased. Or even because the jury believed you were probably telling the truth but weren't sure Beyond Reasonable Doubt.

  80. Actually, I'm starting to understand the 6% figure. I just hope I'm never raped. If even the feminists on the jury are going to think, "But she was topless, this was not 'criminal rape'!", I don't stand much chance.

  81. This has proved an interesting read. The debate is that fundamentally, it comes down to one voice against another, while our legal system holds that one must be proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Many of the issues raised here touch upon my life, but the fundamental question here strikes me is can we regulate everything by law?

    I'm not sure we can, at least without total survelliance of the population, which is a solution even more unpalatable than the problem.

    It is at this point I recall watching one of those tacky CCTV shows. In the clip that comes to mind, a woman was captured on film giving herself a beating (through the kitchen window), apparently to accuse her partner of domestic violence.

    Those who beat their partners are monsters. I make no apologies for them, I remember, at two years old, trying to divide my parents when they were using their voices and bodies in anger. Sadly, though, there are always those who seek to manipulate the law to their own ends, regardless of which sex they are.

    "Divorce law, domestic violence law, is not prejudiced against men - it's just not prejudiced in favour of men, either, and that lack of prejudice has been achieved after generations' worth of legal battles. That's an extremely common mistake to make."

    You see, Penny, your privilege is showing in this area. There are a good number of humans willing to harm themselves in pursuit of a given goal ( in my case it was trying to live up to a judeo-christian belief system my family did their best to force upon me ). I'm sure you understand. To prove DV, all a woman need show is injury. Hence the case above, plus why I accuse you of privilege over this matter.

    I agree, we need a more egalitarian society, with more respect for the rights for the individual and less sexual objectification. I suspect, given the circumstances you describe, I would have reacted similarly. I just can't agree that bringing in the heavy hand of the law is the solution.

  82. Fascinating piece, and a discussion that is beyond overdue. The discussion is both complicated by and necessitated by the fact that most modern mating rituals currently take place facilitated by copious amounts of alcohol and other substances known for their ability to impinge on reason, rendering the question of ‘what is consent’ a very murky mire. That this is the case is also worthy of consideration, but probably a question for another day.

    Over the last few years I have watched so many confident young women behave like twats, like leering, groping, vile idiots, and I have watched their behaviour be excused as amusing, because it’s not threatening when a woman doesn’t get ‘no’. I have seen male friends of mine come home, still very much the worse for wear after excessive partying and finally come out with useful comments along the lines of ‘I kind of think I sort of had sex with X last night.’

    There is no discourse around this, and the confusion is so deep that these people – all bright, engaged, intellectually curious and benefiting (!) from the best of British education have no words to wrap around these events. They have, at best, some sort of social contract that ‘it doesn’t really count when you were really drunk.’

    It terrifies me.

    Moving this, somehow, into the realm of language is going to be a battle, but it has to be done.

  83. I went back and found this post after you mentioned it in your recent post on the law.

    What happened to you is very similar to what happened to me. I was raped by a man I'd been dating for around 12 weeks, while I was asleep. I woke up in the middle of it.

    It's taken me about two and a half years to feel like the word applies to me, and I still feel like a fraud for using it, but at the end of the day I did not consent, and there is no way I would ever have consented, and I now panic inwardly if I see anyone in the street who remotely resembles this man, and keep having nightmares about it.

    Thank you for making this and the more recent post.

    Your points about stupidity and a culture in which so many men seem to fall into situations where they think that this sort of thing is okay, are very very strong. And I think these points need to be made, loudly and often.


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