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My Rapist Friended Me On Facebook [And All I Got Was This Lousy Article]
May 16, 2011 2:14 PM   Subscribe

"I felt comforted by the fact that like everyone I've reconnected with on Facebook, he'd gotten fat, and by the banality of his listed interests like "Bob Marley" and "Scrubs." He was a monster in my memory, but on Facebook, he was just a man. I called him."
posted by black rainbows (141 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know what bothers me the most? He apologizes a few times but I am not sure that he admitted to the rape -- it reads to me like, "Yeah, you were fucked up, and because you were so fucked up I didn't know it was non-consensual"

Even though he recalls her saying "No" multiple times.

Fucking awful.
posted by angrycat at 2:25 PM on May 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Just take care of your daughters. Just love them so they value themselves. And teach your son, too. That no means no."

Probably ike most people, I'm used to thinking of rape as an irreconcilable act, for which only retribution is possible. There's something immensely powerful about McCombs treating this conversation as a teaching moment. Wow.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:27 PM on May 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


God, this is so fucked up. But not because of the story (although that's fucked up too)--but because the guy manages to fucking convince her that yes, it was partly her fault because she was such a slut or something, and you know, we both did something wrong so no harm done, call me if you wanna talk or whatever. Jesus Christ.
posted by nasreddin at 2:27 PM on May 16, 2011 [22 favorites]


That makes me really sad for a lot of reasons.
posted by muddgirl at 2:28 PM on May 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Holy shit.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:28 PM on May 16, 2011


Wow, that was impressive and brave of her.

Protip: the flow is better if you read D***, C***, and M*** as Douche, Cockbag, and Massive Asshole.
posted by phunniemee at 2:29 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


What muddgirl said. That was not an easy read.
posted by Zozo at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2011


Emily McCombs is really cool (I love A Woman's Perspective). This is fascinating and difficult to read after knowing her through those funny, lighthearted videos.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2011


@nasreddin: Does he convince her? I don't take that reading at all:

D: So, there’s something else.

Me: Uh-huh.

D: That you…after you left I heard some rumors.

Me: OK.

D: You remember that we had sex, right?

Me: Yes, I do, D*****. It was my first time. And to tell you the truth, I don’t remember that being entirely consensual either.

D: Ok. Cause after you left, I heard from some people that you were going around telling people that I raped you.

Me: [deep breath] Well, first of all, I didn’t “go around and tell anybody anything.” I maybe told C******.

D: Who probably told everybody.

Me: Yeah.

D: I actually tried to get in touch with you a couple years ago about that. Because when I heard you were saying that, I kind of beat myself up wondering if I actually raped you. But the idea that it was non-consensual never crossed my mind.

Me: I remember saying no, D****.

D: At least at one point, you said, ‘No, let’s stop.’ Maybe a couple of times. But then everything would be OK. I remember afterward you were really emotionally unresponsive, not talking. You left in a hurry. When I heard that you were in a bad place, that’s the first thing I kind of thought of.

Me: Well, yeah.

D: I do want you to know that I am so fucking sorry for any pain I caused you. I did like you. There was no disrespect or … I never saw you as a piece of meat or some bitch. You were a fucked up little girl and I can see that more clearly now.

Me: Well, I was…and my background contributed….I craved that sexual attention and put myself in bad situations. And I didn’t know how to … I said no, but I didn’t scream or bite or kick because that’s not what I knew how to do. I just asked you nicely to stop.

D: Yeah, if you had done any of that stuff, I would have stopped right away. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do it.

posted by magstheaxe at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. She was 14 when this happened? And has been beating herself up ever since, and wondering what "actually happened" that night? I should have stopped reading at the dog collar and leash bit. Jesus.
posted by polly_dactyl at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2011


D: Yeah, if you had done any of that stuff, I would have stopped right away. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do it.

Jesus, you asshole.

That's when you apologize and ask forgiveness and re-examine your whole fucking life.

Jesus. I have to go hit something.
posted by verb at 2:37 PM on May 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Does he convince her? I don't take that reading at all:

Yeah, he says "Oh, you know, if you'd really resisted like you didn't secretly want it, I'd totally have stopped, trust me." And then she's all "OK, thanks for the convo, let's end on a nice note, bye!" and doesn't confront him or call him out on his self-vindicating bullshit at all. She's clearly, on some level, been convinced.
posted by nasreddin at 2:39 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It sounded to me (assuming he's being honest) like he didn't, at the time of the incident, think that it counted as rape-- that no didn't mean no, just reluctance or whatever, but that 'then everything would be OK.' Then later he worried that it had been rape, and he remembered that fear when he heard that she was going through some bad shit. So I think (again, assuming he's being honest) that this conversation was an earnest attempt to deal with the fact that he did something awful that he didn't believe, at the time, that he did, which is I think why he comes across as not-especially-admitting it but not really denying it, either.

I cannot imagine what it took for her to make that phone call.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:41 PM on May 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Wow.

Amazing.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:43 PM on May 16, 2011


Yeah, he says "Oh, you know, if you'd really resisted like you didn't secretly want it, I'd totally have stopped, trust me." And then she's all "OK, thanks for the convo, let's end on a nice note, bye!" and doesn't confront him or call him out on his self-vindicating bullshit at all. She's clearly, on some level, been convinced.

@nasreddin I think you're reading a different transcript than I am, 'cause I don't see those words at all.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:44 PM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


It sounded to me (assuming he's being honest) like he didn't, at the time of the incident, think that it counted as rape-- that no didn't mean no, just reluctance or whatever, but that 'then everything would be OK.'

Um, what kind of thought process do you think rapists usually have? I think you're underestimating people's ability to create selective and self-justifying interpretations of their own actions.
posted by nasreddin at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


She's clearly, on some level, been convinced.

I read it more as accommodating him to get out of a horrible conversation, but yeah, it lets the rapist maintain his fantasy of what happened.
posted by bonehead at 2:46 PM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm glad I read that but it was a hard read. I don't know what to make of it other than I hope it brings her some peace and closure, and I hope he does teach his sons not to do what he did.
posted by immlass at 2:47 PM on May 16, 2011


magxthease, that is a paraphrase, which you know.

I am going to leave this thread now before I start telling people to fuck off.
posted by angrycat at 2:47 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Then later he worried that it had been rape
D: Ok. Cause after you left, I heard from some people that you were going around telling people that I raped you.
And Emily?
Me: [deep breath] Well, first of all, I didn’t “go around and tell anybody anything.” I maybe told C******.
She doesn't owe him shit. And yet here she is, explaining her actions. And he knew, all those years ago, that she thought he had raped her. He knew, all those years, that she said no several times.

Um, what kind of thought process do you think rapists usually have? I think you're underestimating people's ability to create selective and self-justifying interpretations of their own actions.

Quoted for truth.
posted by muddgirl at 2:48 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I hurry to add, not that I blame her for "letting him off easy" at all. I would not have been as brave as she was to make that phone call.)
posted by bonehead at 2:48 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Um, what kind of thought process do you think rapists usually have? I think you're underestimating people's ability to create selective and self-justifying interpretations of their own actions.

I'm not attempting to apologize for the actions of a shitty scumbag rapist. I'm just trying to explain why it seems to me that he didn't outright admit that he's a shitty scumbag rapist, while at the same time I don't think he's being evasive.

She doesn't owe him shit.

I agree with this. I'm sorry if my earlier comment sounded like I was defending this guy. I was not.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


it looks like they were all around the same age and drunk/high. At 14 and on intoxicants is not a good way to be. especially in the presence of predatory types, this guy sounded like he was "just along for the ride" and didn't know what was actually happening. That or he spent years convincing himself that. I think the latter, personally.

I was at a party where a drunk girl was taking all comers ( no pun intended) until confronted by another girl at the party ( she called her a slut). The earlier party girl suddenly began saying she was raped and suddenly a party of 20 people ( all legal adults) were like what just happened?

She had taken 3 men into a back bedroom, one at a time, coming out after each one to "choose" another. She asked me and I said "I'm here for the beer lady" Then she was called a slut, then everything broke loose.

Was she raped? I have no question the author of the article was, and only a drunken blur of memory prevented her from reporting it. Is there a statute of limitations for rape? She clearly knows the names of the instigators.
posted by Max Power at 2:57 PM on May 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


@shakespearian There's an interesting quote in the comments:

When I was sexually assaulted at a party in college, my guy friends asked me a ton of questions about it. They wanted to know what I said, did I try to get away, and did my attacker slap me or threaten me. It occurred to me that they were considering if they had ever gone too far with someone.

I can't help but wonder, based on the transcript, if that's where this guy's headspace was.
posted by magstheaxe at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know what bothers me the most? He apologizes a few times but I am not sure that he admitted to the rape -- it reads to me like, "Yeah, you were fucked up, and because you were so fucked up I didn't know it was non-consensual"

Even though he recalls her saying "No" multiple times.

Fucking awful.


Yeah, I've had a few friends deal with rape experiences that involved people they knew personally and it's pretty impossible to get anyone to admit he raped you. That's one of the hardest part about the "date rape" scenario. You may have to see the asshole who raped you and never admitted it walking around.

He will admit some wrongoing (like this guy), but no one will ever admit to raping anyone. Never. (IME.)

I read it more as accommodating him to get out of a horrible conversation

Yeah, I thought a lot of her conversation was disguised. I doubt that she has any trouble remembering what happened that night.

Was she raped?

If she was drunk and could not give consent, even if she was dragging men to bed, then yes, I think that is rape. It likely depends on the state or country?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:07 PM on May 16, 2011


Jesus. I have to go hit something.

Perhaps D*****?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kind of beat myself up wondering if I actually raped you.

If you've ever had wonder if you raped a girl, guess what?
posted by nathancaswell at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2011 [37 favorites]


It seems like most of her catharsis was having somebody validate her memories of the incident and not wonder how much of was her imagination.

Great post.
posted by benzenedream at 3:14 PM on May 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I didn't see her objective as getting him to admit it -- I saw her objective as "processing" her own experience, in place of the therapy that hadn't helped. In that sense, maybe, it's not important whether he actually gets to the point of saying, "Gosh, I guess I did rape you." But she isn't clear about her reaction to the conversation in any detail.

I was also unclear about what put her focus on this one guy, rather than the others, unless he was the only one who had actual penis-vagina sex with her.
posted by dhartung at 3:15 PM on May 16, 2011


Its interesting to compare this story with this one, in which a woman receives an apology letter from her rapist.

The two stories have some similar beats, but very different outcomes.

Am I the only one perturbed by xojane.com's decision to categorise this story under Sex/Love?
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 3:16 PM on May 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Given the fact that the author didn't write much about the conversation except that it was "more helpful than therapy" or something along those lines, I think it might be safe to not criticize her too much for how she composed herself in what was likely a very difficult conversation.

It's weird to see people writing comments on the internet blaming her for maybe internalizing some stuff, or reacting a certain way or saying something in the difficult moments of this phone call. Cause, you know, she doesn't deserve any blame.
posted by entropone at 3:22 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure where you're seeing blame.
posted by nasreddin at 3:31 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember another article on Metafilter where an author pointed out we should be teaching our sons to not wait until the woman says no, but to only go ahead unless she is giving an enthusiastic "yes" and is clearly an excited participant. Women won't necessarily fight and bite and kick and scream, and only people trying to justify their actions will argue that women just need "convincing" in order to have sex.
posted by schroedinger at 3:34 PM on May 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


Maybe not blame, but implied criticism in some observations made on here.
posted by entropone at 3:34 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe not blame, but implied criticism in some observations made on here.

If you're talking about my comment where I called the situation fucked up, I'm not criticizing her. I really do think it's fucked up that his quasi-denial seems to be reinforcing her own inclinations to internalize blame (which she mentions herself). I'm not seeing any reason to kum-ba-ya over the resolution, at least as it's presented in the link--it seems to be a shitty thing all around.
posted by nasreddin at 3:40 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure where you're seeing blame.

God, this is so fucked up. But not because of the story (although that's fucked up too)--but because the guy manages to fucking convince her that yes, it was partly her fault because she was such a slut or something, and you know, we both did something wrong so no harm done, call me if you wanna talk or whatever. Jesus Christ.

That comes off as a little blamey to me. The fact that she is "fucking convinced" (as if she were some sort of idiot) seems like pretty harsh criticism to me.

I remember another article on Metafilter where an author pointed out we should be teaching our sons to not wait until the woman says no, but to only go ahead unless she is giving an enthusiastic "yes" and is clearly an excited participant.

Amen. Practice and teach sex positivity.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:43 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


That comes off as a little blamey to me. The fact that she is "fucking convinced" (as if she were some sort of idiot) seems like pretty harsh criticism to me.

Yep, that's me, I'm the dude who wanders into the rape thread to call the victim an idiot! Or, you know, you could maybe pick the more obvious charitable reading and not start a ridiculous fight.
posted by nasreddin at 3:47 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's how I read it too, Nasreddin. Sometimes we don't communicate as clearly as we intend. If that's not what you intended, it's now what you intended, but it's not somebody else's fault for reading it that way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:58 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


We can all agree that this was a horrible incident, and that Emily is really brave for making the phone call.

So my question is, what would you do if you were in that situation? (What would you do if the guy who raped you when you were fourteen friended you on Facebook?) And let's go one step further -- what do you think Emily should do next, after that phone call? (And the web article?)

I'm curious to hear what people think.
posted by hypotheticole at 3:58 PM on May 16, 2011


It sounds like he participated in a sexual assault orchestrated by another asshole in the group, and has very mixed feelings about it. This is one of the awkward things about consent- it's even theoretically possible to rape someone without knowing it if say, they are coerced behind the scenes by a third party.

The tricky thing about rape is that it very seldom involves a dark alley and a stranger, and usually involves a fucked up situation of entitlement. Often the person committing the act thinks that consent has been given or waived, albeit often on faulty and self serving logic. When they say "rape is a crime of power, not lust" the effort is to decouple the idea that you just couldn't help yourself, but the problem is in the fact that the individual thinks some sort of social transaction has taken place that often boils down to "I want him/her, therefore they are making me want them, therefore it is okay."

What is impressive are the rapists capable of going through ownership of their misdeeds, and it makes me worry- even as a woman, have I ever sexually assaulted anyone? How would I know?
posted by Phalene at 4:00 PM on May 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't understand. Why does it end before the part where she, having extracted a full confession, presses charges?
posted by darksasami at 4:01 PM on May 16, 2011


That was so powerful. I understand why it took her farther than therapy (although I endorse therapy and am in therapy now). Those thoughts of "am I crazy? did I imagine it? was I just bad myself and am I trying to blame others? I'm bad, I know it, I'm messed up/I can't trust anyone/I really can't trust myself". Just knowing fact from fiction and having that confirmation can go a long way.

It's one reason I am so committed to restorative/reconciliative justice and victim-offender mediation. It's not for everyone and does not cure all ills, but sometimes just laying it out as "this is what happened, and these are the consequences" can go beyond jail, beyond therapy, beyond medications, particularly self-medication through drugs and alcohol.
posted by Danila at 4:01 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or, you know, you could maybe pick the more obvious charitable reading and not start a ridiculous fight.

The idea that she has to "call him on his bullshit" in order to demonstrate to you that she's not been convinced that she's not at least partly to blame doesn't follow. It's like him saying she didn't bite or kick or scream or fight back, so you know, she must be okay with what he's doing, at least on some level. That's what seems uncharitable- that if she doesn't conform to your idea of how she should behave, it's because this guy has manipulated her in some way, and not because she might have a million other reasons for responding/ not responding/ not writing about how she really responded the way she did.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:02 PM on May 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


If she was drunk and could not give consent, even if she was dragging men to bed, then yes, I think that is rape.

This is something I will never understand. Why does being drunk suddenly mean that you can't consent? It's one thing if people are almost falling asleep and doesn't notice what happens around or with them, but when someone, in your own words, is literally dragging men to bed? Why is that not consent?
posted by ymgve at 4:04 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


So my question is, what would you do if you were in that situation? (What would you do if the guy who raped you when you were fourteen friended you on Facebook?) And let's go one step further -- what do you think Emily should do next, after that phone call? (And the web article?)

She should do what's best for her, hopefully knowing that she is not crazy and didn't imagine things.

I probably would have shut down and gone into a spiral of self-blame and isolation, which is what tempted her but she was strong enough not to do it. Just the act of him behaving friendly towards me could serve to reinforce the narrative that nothing bad really happened or whatever happened was my fault, because why isn't he tentative or guilty? Who tries to friend their victim? I am amazed that she was able to push past any of that, but she does mention a decade of therapy helping with the self-doubt and blame. None of the rape victims that I know have had the benefit of that and I certainly haven't.

Also, I should say that lots of people are Facebook friends with their rapists. Fathers, husbands, brothers, etc. If I asked my mom about being Facebook friends with her rapist and her reaction, I'm not sure she'd even acknowledge an issue. This is terrible but for many people rape is a part of life, a devastating but normal thing.
posted by Danila at 4:08 PM on May 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, I should say that lots of people are Facebook friends with their rapists. Fathers, husbands, brothers, etc. If I asked my mom about being Facebook friends with her rapist and her reaction, I'm not sure she'd even acknowledge an issue. This is terrible but for many people rape is a part of life, a devastating but normal thing.

Agreed, 100%.

It astounds me, how many people stay Facebook friends with rapists. I think it's curiosity; you can't help but want to know what happened to your rapist afterward. You wonder where he's at. Is he living in the same place? What kind of people is he friends with? Is he holding down a job? Is he in a relationship? Most importantly, is he as fucked up as he left you? You want to know that he hasn't forgotten. You search for some sign that he hasn't forgotten, because you want him to remember -- after all, you will never forget. (From what I've observed, that seems to be the primary reason that rape victims don't sever ties with their rapists.)

Emily has some serious guts to call that guy. I have a lot of respect for what she did.
posted by hypotheticole at 4:19 PM on May 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


The guy sounds like he's sorry in hindsight, but it's a muted kind of sorry, as if he doesn't quite get just what he did wrong. He thinks he caused a fender bender but actually caused a head on car crash (lame analogy, I know).

The girl said no "a few times". Shit, man, ONE TIME is all she needs. He didn't understand no means no then, and it sounds like he doesn't really understand it now. He probably blames any real abuse on the other guys that were there, and absolves himself (in his head) because he didn't feel quite right about it.

D sounds like a real moron. This woman is strong for having confronted him, but she'd do herself a service by unfriending him and never thinking about him again. I've had ex-friends who don't deserve my friendship try and friend me on FB. Get the fuck outta here, says I, denying that shit poste haste.

You don't need to befriend everyone.
posted by zardoz at 4:25 PM on May 16, 2011


I have a lot of very complicated feelings about this but basically, I'm awed that she had the guts to call him. I don't know if I could do it like that. As to his reaction, I don't want to speak for anyone else, but for me it would be almost irrelevent. To be able to confront, to have some power, to have my memories validated... that would be hugely cathartic, that would be about me.

Him? Fuck him.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:28 PM on May 16, 2011


I'm wondering how old he was at the time, if she was only 14.
posted by dabitch at 4:34 PM on May 16, 2011


i have a very short block list on facebook - my brother/molester, his boyfriend, and the guy i think drugged my drink who had been one of my very best friends up until that exact point. i think he'd be surprised to learn that i consider him one of the guys in my life who violated me. once upon a time i was going to confront him about it over AIM, to get my feelings validated, to get some clarity on that evening because there are huge parts i'm just never going to remember - but i realized that either he was going to admit it or deny it - that if i really feel like he drugged me and then crossed a number of lines, then what does it matter what he has to say about it? clearly that friendship is over and there's nothing more to say about it. it's difficult for me to know he's involved in a conversation with mutual friends that i can't see. there is a pervasive sort of curiosity about his life. sometimes i even miss him.

not that i have anything but respect for this gal. everyone deals with their shit in different ways.
posted by nadawi at 4:36 PM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yikes. Good luck to everyone.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:37 PM on May 16, 2011


she'd do herself a service by unfriending him and never thinking about him again

She said she didn't accept the friend request.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:48 PM on May 16, 2011


That was a pretty fucking awful story. I can see why people are frustrated that there wasn't any apparent consequences for the 3 guys. Some sort of resolution in that regard would make for a more satisfying end to the story perhaps, but the important thing is that Emily got some small amount of resolution herself.
posted by Hoopo at 4:49 PM on May 16, 2011


I really hate the word "rape".
posted by msali at 4:55 PM on May 16, 2011


[your copypasta rape jokes not appreciated - go to metatalk if you need to do that sort of thing here.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:57 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't understand. Why does it end before the part where she, having extracted a full confession, presses charges?

Statute of limitations. I don't know where the rape occurred, but 12 or 13 years is well past the limit for most jurisdictions.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:09 PM on May 16, 2011


I don't understand. Why does it end before the part where she, having extracted a full confession, presses charges?

Statute of limitations.


Or any number of other reasons, possibly including "she didn't want to".
posted by small_ruminant at 5:13 PM on May 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Folks were cracking rape jokes up in here? Shit, I guess I'll go take another walk.
posted by likeso at 5:15 PM on May 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was at a party where a drunk girl was taking all comers ( no pun intended) until confronted by another girl at the party ( she called her a slut). The earlier party girl suddenly began saying she was raped


Comments like this (and I'm taking it at of context, but I'll explain) is why I had to step out of the thread..

Shortly after reading this article, I almost got into a fight with a big guy with a pit bull that was frothing and straining at its leash. I'm a skinny chick in a wheelchair. No joke.

In the above comment, I get that she propositioned the writer of the comment. I also get the writer is not making a blanket statement regarding the truth or falsity of the allegations. But I can't help but read an intimation, both within and without context, that there is a murky area of consent. It fits too neatly into the narrative of the Woman who Cries Rape.

My ultimate point is: Unless the writer of the comment was with her each and every act of intercourse, the writer doesn't know whether or not she was raped. As he said. Yet the intimation is something like, yeah, this is some confusing shit here. As in, maybe the guy got confused as to whether or not he'd got consent. Maybe the girl made all this shit up because she' was ashamed of what she'd done.

Now: back to the article -- I don't understand any ambiguity. I don't understand why people hate the word rape. Rape = lack of consent. The story here is that here (i.e., in the FPP) a fourteen year-old fucked-up girl repeatedly withdrew consent. What more is there to be said? The dude shoulda served some serious jail time. I guess that probably won't happen. I hope the subject of the FPP doesn't get pressured to press charges, because that shit is nobody's business but hers.

NB: I was raped. We'll call it date rape, The grand jury failed to arraign him, whatever it was called. The ADA got mad at me because I hadn't disclosed a detail that they hadn't asked about and I didn't think was important. A former coworker and friend (who had good reason to be angry with me) spread rumors about me and falsified allegations of rape. The rapist called me to tell me how he'd described our admittedly rough sex life prior to our breaking up. It was humiliation, upon humiliation, upon humiliation. My then-boyfriend, who had pressured me to bring charges after I was reluctant, told me that if he'd known what it would be like he'd never would have done so.

On preview: People making rape jokes? Yo, dudes, look me up in Philly. I wanna have a little chat with ya. Ya ain't scared, are ya?
posted by angrycat at 5:33 PM on May 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


NB: I saw some ill-advised memes that were meant to be supportive but fell very wide of the mark that got yanked. I didn't see what I would characterise as jokes but I'm sure a MeTa could clear that up.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:42 PM on May 16, 2011


FWIW the only thing I saw that got yanked was that old 'How to prevent rape' checklist that consists of things like 'don't put drugs in a woman's drink!' and 'When you are lurking in the shadows, be sure not to rape someone!' which, I mean, I really do appreciate the sentiment-- that preventing rape should follow the form of 'don't be a rapist' rather than putting the responsibility on women, as though it's their fault, or men can't or shouldn't do anything to prevent rape, but it always came across as too rib-nudgy to me and inevitably doesn't get its point across as well as assertive frankness, IMO.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:51 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can only imagine the catharsis that must have come from this guy confirming parts of her rape that felt like they were something she made up. About two weeks after I was raped, my rapist pulled me aside in the dining hall at our research station and asked why I was avoiding him.

"I'm angry. I didn't want that to happen."

"What? You didn't say or do anything. I didn't know."

This didn't make sense. I had these sharp, clear memories of him on top of me, me trying to push his hips up so I could get out from under him. I had these sharp, clear memories of trying to remember how the hell to say "Stop" in Portuguese and, failing that saying "no more, no more" but quiet because I didn't want to wake someone else up where they might come and tell me that I asked for it because I let him walk me to my cabin and once while he was drunk he kissed me. I remembered the way he pulled my shorts off without unbuttoning them or untying my belt, popping the button off. That was hard physical evidence, right? I couldn't wear those shorts anymore! And how scared I was when I realized what was happening.

But he didn't remember that. Did that mean that nothing happened? That I really had wanted it and then, ashamed of having sex with him on my porch in the middle of a forest, I convinced myself that this had happened because I was one of those slutty girls? And so now - the fucked up thing is that I remember the way I remember. I remember being certain of things. But the minute he questioned my memories, they all get fuzzy. And now I can't remember if what I've told myself I remember remembering is real or if it's something I made up to explain the sick feeling in my stomach every time I think about him.

I know that my rapist is on facebook. He's my rapist. I've claimed ownership of him and because I didn't tell anyone what happened until I got home (and I didn't tell anyone who could get him in trouble), I look through his pictures to make sure there are no innocent looking girls in them, and when there are I claim their potential rapes and absolve them of whatever guilt they might have over the situation.

So yeah, I can understand why that's exactly what she needed to hear.
posted by SockMarionette at 6:22 PM on May 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Angrycat yes the murky area of consent was where she asked me, with a come hither finger, to join her in back, I said "no." Both sexes are responsible for the murky areas.

My ultimate point is: Unless the writer of the comment was with her each and every act of intercourse, the writer doesn't know whether or not she was raped. As he said. Yet the intimation is something like, yeah, this is some confusing shit here. As in, maybe the guy got confused as to whether or not he'd got consent. Maybe the girl made all this shit up because she' was ashamed of what she'd done.

That is what I was trying to point out. D*** in the conversation is looking for forgiveness from a party gone horribly wrong, Author is just trying to figure out if her memories are correct.

My GF read the article and said, rather bluntly, this has happened to everyone. The D's and M's and C's were probably 16 -17 years old and intimidated the author, she gives no sympathy for D***.

I have to side with her.
posted by Max Power at 6:41 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't really hit me until the end and now I'm fighting back tears:

Me: Thank you. Just take care of your daughters. Just love them so they value themselves. And teach your son, too. That no means no.

D: I will.


I really hope he does...
posted by d1rge at 6:42 PM on May 16, 2011


anotherpanacea beat me to it...
posted by d1rge at 6:43 PM on May 16, 2011


Max Power, I guarantee you that this hasn't happened to everyone. I'm not trying to claim special status for myself as a victim, I swear to fucking god, but everyone??? Everyone has had sex at age fourteen after repeatedly revoking consent?

And Max Power, I still don't get what the point of your 'beckoning' anecdote is? What is the point?
posted by angrycat at 6:52 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"So my question is, what would you do if you were in that situation?"

I was just writing about this actually.

I got lot's of apologese immediately after the incident coupled with claims of wanting to die and buy a gun to shoot himself. Those conversations were excruciating and confusing particularly since they often came with a lot of suicidal ideation which left me continually in a position of wanting to fix the existential anguish of his actions toward me which I would then think: OK I can fix it! If I just... decide everything is ok, then it can be ok, right? Then everything can be ok and everyone can be ok!!

Two years more of that and nobody was ok.

Sucky situation.

It's unspeakably difficult to simultaneously want mercy for someone sobbing in pain for their actions but somehow want how horrible everything was to be acknowledged. It's confusing. I imagine that a lot of girls first experiences especially if they were in highschool or younger and were feeling scared and didn't speak up--- I would imagine that's very common. And that older guys know that's common. And can use it to their advantage.

Grrr. Ack human beings can really f-ing suck.
posted by xarnop at 6:59 PM on May 16, 2011


angrycat: "Max Power, I guarantee you that this hasn't happened to everyone. I'm not trying to claim special status for myself as a victim, I swear to fucking god, but everyone???"

It's conversational hyperbole but it's, you know, pretty common. The stories, each one is horrible, but none are surprising. Rape is commonplace and that's just a fact.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:01 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


but it's, you know, pretty common.

These elements are common?
1. Age 14
2. Impaired to the point of X (We don't know, do we, beyond that she was Fucked Up)
3. Verbally, repeatedly withdraws consent
and just for fun, let's throw in
4. Multiple perps

This is common? I may be sheltered, I admit, but I have lived a little, and my experience says, amongst the middle class in the U.S., the answer is no.
posted by angrycat at 7:14 PM on May 16, 2011


This is something I will never understand. Why does being drunk suddenly mean that you can't consent? It's one thing if people are almost falling asleep and doesn't notice what happens around or with them, but when someone, in your own words, is literally dragging men to bed? Why is that not consent?

Good question. I'm not a lawyer, so I won't try to cite legalese at you; all I can tell you is an anecdote about the last time I ever went out drinking with coworkers. I was just freshly 21 and did not have enough experience with alcohol yet to know some crucial things about how it affects me, i.e. that it makes me excessively friendly and demonstrative. I also did not know that sweet mixers and flavored spirits can totally hide the taste of alcohol. In short, I was pretty drunk pretty quickly, and because I was being so flirty and handsy with my friends from work (almost all of whom were men, as I worked in ISP tech support at the time), they were more than happy to ply me with drinks and keep the fun times going.

I ended up doing things that night that I never, ever would have done sober. Things that could have legitimately gotten me arrested had I been caught. Things that I deeply, deeply regret. When one of my current coworkers friended me on Facebook, she noticed that we had a mutual friend. Unfortunately for me, it's one of the guys from that drunken night so long ago. He's got a long memory, and a big mouth, so now my current coworker knows exactly what I did that night and with whom, and she likes to tease me about it.

I don't know that I would feel comfortable saying that anything that happened to me that night was rape. Unfortunately I blacked out at a couple of crucial points, and I can't recall giving consent. I know that things were done to my body that I would not have consented to if I had been in an unaltered mental state, but who knows, maybe I said yes. Maybe I just giggled, or howled, or sang show tunes. Maybe I didn't say anything at all. I'll never know.

Alcohol and consent is a sensitive issue. The problem is that there's a huge difference between having a few glasses of wine with dinner and having a perfectly lovely, romantic evening with someone, and being one of a handful of dudes who bangs a drunk stranger at a party because she was "taking on all comers".
posted by palomar at 7:15 PM on May 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is something I will never understand. Why does being drunk suddenly mean that you can't consent?

It doesn't; at least not in my jurisdiction (yours may vary).

NSW Crimes Act s.61HA Consent in relation to sexual assault offences (emphasis mine):

(6) The grounds on which it may be established that a person does not consent to sexual intercourse include:

(a) if the person has sexual intercourse while substantially intoxicated by alcohol or any drug


Which basically means that "substantial" intoxication (note the greyness there) can potentially be used as a ground for arguing & establishing that consent was not given. It isn't an absolute ruling out of any possiblity of consent (eg as happens in statutory rape situations, ie when the victim is beneath the age of consent).
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:40 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


angrycat: "This is common? I may be sheltered, I admit, but I have lived a little, and my experience says, amongst the middle class in the U.S., the answer is no."

What is it you want me to say and what is the value of this debate? It is common in the sense of being frequent, familiar; perhaps not in the sense of widespread or ordinary. Examples are indeed common - an unfiltered Google search fetches 14 million results. Anecdotally, I believe that with that age group, gang assaults are probably more common because of the pressure to conform and the fact that individual identity is still forming. I am not, however, a statistician or epidemoligist and I really don't want to die on this hill.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:00 PM on May 16, 2011


The reason is this: If X person reads a story and says "this happens to everyone" it changes the nature we view a given experience. We lightly talk about how dying sucks but we all die so, while it is a topic with a lot of taboos, we don't see death as a horror per se. We see bad death as a horror, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

I am saying that, while I've never been the most sociable of people, most of the people I know, from work or from school, would view the incident that is the subject of the FPP with horror. Whether that is class or me being sheltered or what, I don't know.

And I am just inherently skeptical of statements of something like this "happens to everyone." Of course I know it's hyperbole, please don't patronize me by hand waving away the significance of the statement w/ the idea that it's only hyperbole. I'm responding to the idea behind the hyperbole. I think that's pretty freakin' obvious, but what is also obvious is that I'm invested in a particular experience, here.
posted by angrycat at 8:23 PM on May 16, 2011


I think the fear is that when people say, "it happens to everyone" it definately sounds like, "hey why make a deal of it." and I think it reduces peoples willingness to report.

After all, it happens to everyone and then there's that you were drinking and you should have known that's what happens to people who let their gaurd down, have too many drinks, walk into a guys house etc etc.

I certainly didn't report being assaulted after drinking because I thought it was a duh, that is what happens if you drink and let your co-worker give you a ride home.

I finally told some friends and they apparently had never been violently assaulted in such a way and were horrified--- and they get shit-faced drunk all the time!

So no it doesn't happen to EVERYONE and it doesn't even happen to everyone who gets drunk regularly, or wears skimpy clothes regularly, etc etc. Which I was happy to discover.

And now there's the fact that that incedent was in fact indicative of planned repeat behavior more than as I originally saw it, an accidental thing that was caused by me having drank. Which really sucks because five years ago I would have had bruises all over and all sorts of evidence of terrible things happening and even if he hadn't been convicted he could have for sure been convicted if he did it again.

It DOES NOT happen to everyone. But it sure as hell happens to way too many people and substantial portion of the population. Which sucks. A lot. Maybe it could be better some day? Maybe? I dunno?

"It happens to everyone" sounds so, throw your hands up in the air and just... accept it. What else could you do if it happens to everyone? If it's "just the way it is?"
posted by xarnop at 8:23 PM on May 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I meant particular perspective, natch.
posted by angrycat at 8:25 PM on May 16, 2011


"This is common?"

Age 14 is a little too specific but other than that I would have to say yes, this is a relatively common experience for teenage girls.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:37 PM on May 16, 2011


(That, or I'm just a magnet for rape victims. The "1 in 6" statistic has always seemed way too low to me, based on my and my female friends' experiences.)
posted by Jacqueline at 8:40 PM on May 16, 2011


I once read the yahoo answers "was it rape if" tons of teenage girls asking if it was rape if they said no but they just let it happen.

The answers consisted of things like "no" and "next time lay back and enjoy it."

I'm pretty sure there's a huge portion of men that pressume that so long as they can achieve terrified quiet girl whatever they do to her doesn't matter.
posted by xarnop at 8:55 PM on May 16, 2011


This makes me feel really mixed up and terrible.
posted by nile_red at 11:48 PM on May 16, 2011


No one really can give an accurate account of what happened since every single person was intoxicated. The perpetrator may just be showing compassion because he felt the experience, what ever it was, had an ill effect upon her. Add in the years between and the possibility of imagined scenarios, suggested memories (from friends relating rumors or even their own reconstructions of the event), and the effects of poor therapy (a great example of this would be the hoax of hypnosis) prevent me from clearly believing either party.

Hypothetically, if two people wake up in bed with one another and don't remember what happened, but one 'thinks' it might have been rape it's not a particularly solid case. Regret over putting oneself in a compromising position can result in excuses to ease the pain of the event. For example, one might engage in sex to avenge a boyfrend's infidelity, regret it, but then morally justify it by claiming the third party took advantage of her emotions. Now the blame, even if it is somewhat mutual, has been shifted solely to the third party -- at least as far as she is concerned. If her boyfriend agrees it just validates her belief.
posted by haroon at 12:10 AM on May 17, 2011


Or, alternatively, maybe folks could RTFA at least up to the point where she mentions - and he acknowledges - that she repeatedly said no. Between this thread and this bit of current-events-related asshattery, I intend to go spend the next few hours banging my head against a wall.
posted by naoko at 12:33 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I did, but I am saying that even his own recollection may be skewed and that he may be agreeing to ease her stress about the event; he may even believe that a more romantic relationship could follow. At this point, considering intoxication and the amount of time that has passed neither of their accounts are reliable. The fact that he wondered if it was rape two years after it happened, after friends had suggested that it may have occurred is problematic. Have you ever apologized just for closure, even if you know the other party was at fault? She was struggling for years to confirm major details like where it took place; if that much was unclear then many other things are/were as well.
posted by haroon at 1:03 AM on May 17, 2011


That could upset the "get him drunk and jump him to overcome resistance" advice some MeFites love so much when they've got their Ask hats on.
posted by rodgerd at 3:34 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay. Here's the deal. There seems to be a grey area in some people's minds about personal responsibility.

By according rape victims full responsiblity, you can blame the victims for any actual or perceived incautious behavior, i.e. "what did she expect, dressed like that/getting wasted/associating with guys like that/going there at that time of night/inviting him in". At the same time, you are then absolving the perpetrators of any responsibility for taking advantage of rape victims' situations - physical/emotional/cultural weakness, incapacity due to drink/drugs, isolation. But you are then also accepting a version of "all men are rapists". Is this the subtext? Should it be? More importantly, do you want it to be?

Women are still culturally trained to be polite/nonviolent/not forceful. For many, just saying "no" is the full extent of resistance. Factor in weaker physical strength, (often) lower age, peer pressure, drink/drugs, multiple males...

Men are still culturally trained to be forceful, determined, not to take no for an answer. Unless met with equally determined (physical, violent) opposition, some will be inclined to believe that "it seemed to be ok with you". Factor in greater physical strength, (often) higher age, peer pressure, drink/drugs, multiple males...

The fact that some vile act may or may not be common does not mean that it is therefore less vile. And I certainly don't agree with anyone who claims rape is some kind of biological imperative and the poor men just can't help themselves. When it comes to stranger rape, there are precautions women can take at home or out and about. And then hope for the best. But most rapes are not committed by strangers.

We need more intolerance of the act and more education for both genders. My favorite pony is that our culture will learn to stop objectifying women. I also want world peace. But in the meantime, simple message: men need to learn that a weakly spoken no is an absolute no, and women need to learn to say/scream no clearly. I really think one of the only ways to get this across is by sex education classes punching no means no and the only yes is an enthusiastic yes.

Sure, there are instances of females having a form of "buyer's remorse" and refusing to take responsibility for their own consent. It happens. Women can be shamed into denying their own sexuality. Our culture still likes calling "slut!" as a perjorative. I think this is the grey area most of the blamers are referring to, but I would argue that more often, instead of crying rape, women say "one thing led to another" or "things started happening" or "I had a bit to drink and said yes and I wish I hadn't". This, in my experience, is more common.

I'm going to use (admittedly poor) analogies to try and reach the "blamers". You're out with some friends and you have one too many. Do you expect 1) one or more of your friends to beat you up and then blame you for it or 2) one or more of your friends to see that you make it safely home.

Or say you're out with a bunch of friends and you brought your laptop with you. You have one too many. Do you expect: 1) one or more of your friends to steal your laptop and then tell you it's your own fault for getting drunk or 2) one or more of your friends to make sure you and your laptop get safely home.

What I'm saying is that it is a question of trust, and what you wish our culture to be. Do the blamers honestly wish all females to always have to be on their guard, never wear anything that could possibly be considered risqué (lordy! watch those ankles!), never drink, take drugs, be alone with males, go out at night, invite men into their homes, in short ever fully trust males? Yeah, there are places where this is the norm...
posted by likeso at 5:14 AM on May 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


The fact that he wondered if it was rape two years after it happened, after friends had suggested that it may have occurred is problematic.

He specifically remembers that she said 'No, let's stop,' but that he continued. If he was wondering, two years later, whether he'd raped someone, it wasn't because he couldn't remember what happened, but because he had a piss-poor understanding of what rape is.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:26 AM on May 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think guys don't understand that for some women/girls sex is really scary, and it can really hurt and feel terrible! I have been trained that if you go near a guy you will be having sex with him, but when I was 16, I thought maybe...

gasp

that you could be friends with guys! I know, I know, I was asking to be raped.

I certainly will never hang out with guys again. But we should be teaching young girls this important lesson from the beginning.

1. Don't go near guys.
2. Don't be friends with guys.
3. Don't ever hang out in a house/room alone with a guy. EVER. For any reason.
4. Don't believe that he is platonically interested in you/that you can trust him.
5. Don't EVER assume that you could "just kiss" and not have to have sex. You walk in the room, it's sex.
6. Don't EVER assume that you could "just cuddle", you will be having sex.
7. Don't have a long conversation with a guy about how you are not ready to have sex and sex scares you. This will make him excited about violating you.
8. Don't ever tell a guy that you feel small and scared and like you can't move when guys make a move on you. Then they do that to you.
9. Don't beg him to stop this increases the fun of having overpowered you.
10. If you want to date a guy so you hang out with him and go to his house, you will be having sex. In fact, it would be jerky of you not put out. Anything you do other than put out will be wrong. But putting out is slutty any way, so pretty much you suck. No matter what.
11. Most important, don't ever, ever, ever believe that because you have known a guy for months or years and built trust that these rules don't apply. Guys just can't stop themselves sticking their penises in people. You can't "date" and "work up to sex". You don't negotiate what happens once you go in a guys house. You start with sex.

Have I covered everything? Is this how we want relationships between men and women to be?

Should ALL men be treated as potential rapists no matter how much trust has been built? I mean that's how I treat men, but somehow I wish there were a different way. But if we are going to blame women for having hung out with and trusted guys then we need to be firmer to young girls that ALL guys can't stop themselves from raping and to never under any circumstance trust any guy. Ever.
posted by xarnop at 5:58 AM on May 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


Regret over putting oneself in a compromising position can result in excuses to ease the pain of the event. For example, one might engage in sex to avenge a boyfrend's infidelity, regret it, but then morally justify it by claiming the third party took advantage of her emotions. Now the blame, even if it is somewhat mutual, has been shifted solely to the third party.

Sure, but that applies even moreso to the legion of actual rapists who go blithely about their lives thinking, "Well, that sexual encounter that was weird and awkward!" or "Look, she was hot to trot, she just gets off on that!" after having sex with someone who repeatedly said "No." The destination point of that trajectory is the conservative push to redefine rape-as-sex-with-violent-coercion, rather than sex-without-consent.


Should ALL men be treated as potential rapists no matter how much trust has been built? I mean that's how I treat men, but somehow I wish there were a different way.

Growing up in the evangelical cesspool, where any and all excuses to convince teens to avoid sexuality were fair game, I was taught to treat all women as potential rape accusers. Being in a room alone with a woman for more than a few minutes? Dangerous. Allowing my visiting girlfriend to stay in the same house (not room, house) as me? Dangerous. Stopping by a hotel to visit a female friend who was passing through the area? Dangerous.

I understand that this is not the primary problem our culture faces, but I can definitely identify with the sad wish that we could all come up with a better solution than the assumption of Mutual Assured Destruction.
posted by verb at 6:47 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Xarnop, I'm just a random internet stranger, but I really want to give you a hug right now, if that's alright. You so very eloquently expressed your justified anger, betrayal and frustration. I share it.

I'm going to go off and think about what you just posted. You are absolutely spot on in your take-it-to-the-logical-extreme example of the consequences of the blamer subtext. This can help to really clarify things - and I applaud your honesty. I don't think you have to backpedal at all, it is your own bitter experience, I just wonder if some folks might view it as aggressive, and then respond to that emotion rather than to the argument. So we'll have to expect some of that - it sucks, but sometimes we can't cut to the chase, we have to persuade step by step. But these are just my first reactions to your hefty post. Please, give me time, I need to think about this. And wow, you can write. It was a gutpunch. Brava.

I see you. I SEE YOU.
posted by likeso at 6:51 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Recently in the Lara Logan thread, someone posited that the logical conclusion of "men can't help themselves" would be to lock THE MEN in their houses and let women run free. But there is some reason we don't do that...
posted by desjardins at 7:06 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hypothetically, if two people wake up in bed with one another and don't remember what happened, but one 'thinks' it might have been rape it's not a particularly solid case. Regret over putting oneself in a compromising position can result in excuses to ease the pain of the event.

I just want to point out how ridiculously offensive this is, especially coming right after

The perpetrator may just be showing compassion because he felt the experience, what ever it was, had an ill effect upon her. Add in the years between and the possibility of imagined scenarios, suggested memories (from friends relating rumors or even their own reconstructions of the event), and the effects of poor therapy (a great example of this would be the hoax of hypnosis) prevent me from clearly believing either party.

This woman was raped. Her rapist REMEMBERS HER SAYING NO! Men don't agree that maybe yes, they raped someone because the other party is sad about a sexual experience. Men agree that maybe yes, they raped someone because they did, in fact, rape someone!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:19 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems like most of her catharsis was having somebody validate her memories of the incident and not wonder how much of was her imagination.

Yes. People process trauma differently; some don't need to get Vengeance For What Happened or anything. All they need is for the person who committed the wrong to at least acknowledge that "I did something fucked-up and I get that now", and that's it.

So my question is, what would you do if you were in that situation? (What would you do if the guy who raped you when you were fourteen friended you on Facebook?)

While I acknowledge that it's not in the same ballpark, I've had three people who bullied me try to friend me on Facebook -- and I have taken an almost obscene delight in pressing the "ignore" button on their invitations each time. If I needed closure from them, perhaps that'd be different -- but for me, the only closure I need is to not have to look at those assholes ever again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 AM on May 17, 2011


... and having sex with a 14-year-old girl in a leash and collar, perhaps with handcuffs, who is hyped up on drugs and alcohol and still says "No, let's not," is a far cry from mutual waking up and being confused and being that hypothetical woman who regrets her sexual behavior and then decides she was raped.

But I am hugely skeptical of the existence of that hypothetical woman. She gets brought up an awful lot and in my 23 years of being a woman I have yet to meet her.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:21 AM on May 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


But I am hugely skeptical of the existence of that hypothetical woman. She gets brought up an awful lot and in my 23 years of being a woman I have yet to meet her.

Indeed. I mentioned earlier that I was raised in an environment that treated the immanent threat of rape accusations as a reason to avoid non-church-approved interaction. Strange thing is, in thirty plus years I've never known a male friend who was accused of rape, while I've lost count of the number of female friends who've been sexually assaulted, raped, abused, and so on by men, often men they trusted.

At least as far as I can tell, the "regretful woman who cries rape" is the Gold-Cadillac-driving-welfare-queen of consent discussions.
posted by verb at 7:37 AM on May 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


xarnop, as a father of two young girls and a friend of too many women who were raped by their "friends," your rant hit me too, because, well, I'm afraid your assessment of hetero relationships (maybe homo too, ianae), albeit awfully cynical, is the truth for a lot of high school and college-age kids.

i.e. there's a practical (rather than theological) reason why bible schools don't let boys and girls alone in rooms together. a few (or more than a few) assholes ruin it for the rest of us.

is that how we want relationships between men and women to be? of course not. is that how they are? at their worst, yes.

the main things I would add to your list (for boys or girls) are: develop strong social skills, establish trustworthy relationships (with boys or girls), and learn as much self-defense as you can. also, it's OK to want to have sex with men or women or not want to have sex with men or women. there are "bad guys" (and an almost trivially few "bad women") out there, and they do want to get you drunk or high and force you to have sex whether you want to or not. that is the situation. we can work to correct the social problem(s), but we also have to work to protect ourselves while the problem exists.

your rules are depressing and essentially functional, but they only tackle the very tip of the problem (honestly, whatever works for you works for you ... I'm just working on my speech for my daughters when the situation arises far more quickly than I expect) ... how do you integrate those rules into a fulfilling life, more specifically, a fulfilling sexual life? those steps are much harder than identifying the problem.

like most of us, I've known too many women who have been sexually assaulted. probably less than many of you, but still way too many for me not to consider it one of our society's major ills. however, I've also know many women and men of whatever orientation walk very different and fulfilling sex-positive lives.

I mean, you say "If you want to date a guy so you hang out with him and go to his house, you will be having sex." - but certainly this is not true of "high school me" or many of my friends (boys), nor (most of) the girls I hung out with. some of them wanted to have sex with me very much when I didn't want to.

I guess the tl;dr of my response is: yes, it sucks the way it is, but you can't let a horrible culture that's not your fault ruin your life, and LOTS of men and women of all ages have positive, respectful sexual relationships. Not "it gets better" but "there is a better way."
posted by mrgrimm at 8:30 AM on May 17, 2011


But I am hugely skeptical of the existence of that hypothetical woman. She gets brought up an awful lot and in my 23 years of being a woman I have yet to meet her.

and

Strange thing is, in thirty plus years I've never known a male friend who was accused of rape, while I've lost count of the number of female friends who've been sexually assaulted, raped, abused, and so on by men, often men they trusted.

Quoted for truth. And I really hesitated about posting this, but I really think the goal should be total honesty, or any discussion won't lead to insight and to change. I have met one.

She didn't cry rape, but did regret the encounter and wanted to apportion more than his fair share of blame to her sexual partner. She didn't officially accuse anyone of anything, she told a friend. Me. I was shocked and sympathetic and gave her a safe place to tell me everything she wanted to tell me. Gradually, she and I calmed down and explored exactly what had happened. And then, knowing her well, I gently asked her if she had actually fully consented, but didn't want that to be so. Knowing me well, she admitted that she would rather it not be her fault or responsibility. We were both very young at the time, and I also had my share of stupid inclinations and willful blindness. We helped each other gradually figure out the quagmire and lovingly give each other reality and honesty checks. She's still my very close friend.

This was, however, at a time when feminist thought was very much more to the fore and the culture definitely wasn't regressing to what verb so accurately described as the conservative push to redefine rape-as-sex-with-violent-coercion, rather than sex-without-consent.

Far from absolving males from blame, I do feel that they can genuinely be ignorant about boundaries and what sex is or should be and how taking advantage of situations is simply gross betrayal. Both genders need more clarity. You aren't born knowing ANYTHING, you have to be taught. The decline in quality of sex education and actual complete lack of sexual education in some school systems is part of why this shit happens and is almost accepted or tolerated in certain circles.
posted by likeso at 8:35 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do feel that they can genuinely be ignorant about boundaries and what sex is or should be and how taking advantage of situations is simply gross betrayal

Some people are truly ignorant about boundaries (thanks, shitty social conservatives!) and some people know exactly what they're doing, but take advantage of the fact that they can believably claim ignorance. How can I take anyone at face value when they claim to be unaware of common social mores (like "when someone says stop, stop what you are doing"), considering predators will also claim innocent ignorance?

It's a hard situation, and I feel like my comment comes down to, "Gosh, I really hate rape culture," but that's what it is.
posted by muddgirl at 8:58 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well here's my point. Yes you can get to know someone and build trust and work up to having sex. And if you're very careful, your chances of not being injured for doing that certainly go up.

But the point is that going out in the world, interacting with men, and opening yourself to trusting people, falling in love, and wanting to work up to having sex slowly---

These things can leave you vulnerable. And many girls/women will be raped, just doing what really we all SHOULD do if we want healthy relationships and to enjoy life. So no, I don't think all the women should build fireproof, bomb proof rape proof shelters under ground and hide out for eternity.

But being willing to go out in the world and trust means that yes, bad things can happen. And no we shouldn't blame the people that they happen to, just because the person was interacting with men/wanting to have fun/considering having sex but then didn't want to.

But really, I think it IS confusing for some men, and that is horrifying. You mean men can rape people on accident? That's kind of big deal and we difinately need to make sure that men who would NOT rape if they understood clearly how women experience their actions--- we need at least THEM to get it. Yes, there are a lot of guys who know exactly what they are doing--- and in a culture where exploiting women who don't want to be having sex but need to be pushed through resistance (and this is called sex if she submits without verbally saying no or fighting)--- it's kind of a given this practice will result in men completely disconnecting from what women experience. OR enjoying a womans suffering or feeling violated by their actions.

And that is how rape happens.

"I do feel that they can genuinely be ignorant about boundaries and what sex is or should be and how taking advantage of situations is simply gross betrayal. Both genders need more clarity. You aren't born knowing ANYTHING, you have to be taught."

Agree.
posted by xarnop at 9:11 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I had a conversation with somebody last night that was along the lines of:

"Yeah, but no doesn't always mean no, does it."

What does one say. All that I can hope is that the legal system steps up and is like "NO MEANS NO YOU POOR DELUDED MOTHERFUCKER" and then throws their confused ass in jail.

Unfortunately the legal system fails, often, when it comes to date rape or whatever the fuck you want to call it. The ADA in my case told me this after the grand jury failed to indict in my case. Why didn't the ADA tell me this before? Because the ADA wanted me to prosecute. Thanks!
posted by angrycat at 10:58 AM on May 17, 2011


Also, it's worth noting that there are a relatively small number of people (I've known one or two) who do get off on the danger/frission of saying no but meaning yes. This is dangerous and fucked up, and it needs to be treated that way.

If we're serious about consent-based messaging, men need to learn and understand that "says no but means yes" is not in fact "sexy dangerous" but "wtf I'm leaving" dangerous.
posted by verb at 11:24 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


who do get off on the danger/frission of saying no but meaning yes. This is dangerous and fucked up, and it needs to be treated that way.

It's not "dangerous and fucked up", it's kinky, and therefore needs to be negotiated before-hand. Absolutely consistent with consent-based messaging - if I'm into something kinky, I have a responsibilty to make sure my partner consents to it as well.
posted by muddgirl at 11:41 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I'm leaving the thread again because damn. I can't really talk about this calmly.

But Mudgirl: Yeah, kinky fine. THAT'S WHY YOU USE A SAFETY WORD IF YOU ARE PLAYING THAT WAY

I mean, Christ on a sidecar. I have no problem with S/M because there is a safety word. There is safety.

Mudgirl, thanks you just promoted the "sometimes no doesn't mean no" narrative. Good job. Women around the world thank you.
posted by angrycat at 11:44 AM on May 17, 2011


What does one say. All that I can hope is that the legal system steps up and is like "NO MEANS NO YOU POOR DELUDED MOTHERFUCKER" and then throws their confused ass in jail.

I would argue that, in a conversation where someone does say "yeah, but no doesn't always mean no", that what one says is indeed 'NO MEANS NO YOU POOR DELUDED MOTHERFUCKER." In fact, I hope that that is in fact what you did say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:48 AM on May 17, 2011


If I am a judge the questions are very simple:

1) Were both of you intoxicated at the time?

In this case yes, so neither first hand account is valid.

2) Were there sober witnesses?

Again, no. I have no trustworthy account.

3) Perhaps there is physical evidence? Torn clothes, scratches, or even a video recording from a security camera?

Again no.

4) How long ago did this occur?

A decade later, long enough for memory loss and reconstructed or suggested scenarios to be mistaken for truth.

5) Did the accused admit to the act? If so under what conditions? How is it documented?

The accuser wrote a summary of the conversation on the Internet, but has no physical evidence that an admission occurred. No documentation of the accused admission exists. Even if an admission did occur we must understand the context of it. "I feel bad about what I did" does not necessarily mean rape.

Verdict:

There is reasonable doubt. No tangible evidence exists that the accuser was forced to do anything against their own will. While a traumatic event may have occurred, there is nothing present to substantiate what exactly happened.
posted by haroon at 11:50 AM on May 17, 2011


angrycat - There's no need to shout at me, especially since we are essentially in agreement. You did not make it clear in your comment that you are differentiating between consensual kinky sex and... whatever unusual behavior you are describing.
posted by muddgirl at 11:51 AM on May 17, 2011


Sorry, "whatever unusual behavior verb was describing". I honestly don't know WTF your problem is with my comment.
posted by muddgirl at 11:52 AM on May 17, 2011


I mean, if you want to yell at someone, yell at verb.
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on May 17, 2011


I can see trying to turn, "You're afraid to give a firm confirmation either because you are afraid of your own sexuality, or numerous other reasons" into, "So can I override that and we'll call it roleplay?"

going badly.

If a woman wants to roleplay non-consent, she should figure that out outside the context of a guy being on top of her saying, "Hey hey so I want to do some ish to you can I keep pushing you even though you're freaking out?"

It's definately more ethical than no communication-- but ideally a woman who wants non-consent roleplay should discuss that BEFORE getting in the bedroom, not with guy on top.

And guys should keep that in mind. If she's hesitant and you think she wants you to push her into something--- it might be time to step back and have a heat to heart about what she wants and how to negotiate that appropriately.

The BDSM community is really big on enthusiastic consent and communication. So converting and immediate situation of wanting to put the penis in to a BDSM over-ride consent would probably not be a very healthy way to go about that. I think that may be what angrycat is worried about. If it's non-consent roleplay that's desired then step back, take a deep breath and have a nice long conversation about boundaries and desires and safewords and what is or isn't ok.
posted by xarnop at 11:57 AM on May 17, 2011


I guess I apologize for not writing a whole treatise about kink and consent? I was more responding to the idea that playing around with nonconsensual fantasies is always dangerous or confusing for the other person involved. I will quote myself
needs to be negotiated before-hand
Next time I'll bold the important words so that it's easier to read, if that's helpful for anyone.
posted by muddgirl at 12:03 PM on May 17, 2011


"I feel bad about what I did" does not necessarily mean rape.

Again, the dude said 'I remember you saying NO and I ignored it.' That is rape. That is an admission of rape.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:06 PM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sorry, I'm happy to be yelled at for the comments I made earlier. (Well, not happy. But I can take it.) Mudgirl's point is an important one, and I absolutely glossed over it in my truncated description of the problem.

At least in my experience, people who negotiate the complexities of consent-based S&M, safewords, and boundariesvery tiny handful of people -- I have known who saw that kind of process as a buzzkill.

For better or worse, when that kind of kink isn't done safely and carefully, it's dangerous. Not in the 'You could hurt yourself' way but in the 'You could hurt yourself and teach someone else that the hurting is okay' sort of way. It's absolutely an edge case, but it's worth at least discussing because it's literally the only edge case where the 'Said no, meant yes' trope even scrapes up against observable reality.
posted by verb at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you are having sex with someone, and they say No, you need to stop right away even if they "secretly mean Yes". There's nothing confusing about it.
posted by muddgirl at 12:17 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you are having sex with someone, and they say No, you need to stop right away even if they "secretly mean Yes". There's nothing confusing about it.

Yeah, that's what I was trying to get it. If they do in fact secretly mean 'yes', that is a huge red blinking danger sign. Either you need to sit down with them and have a serious heart to heart about their kinks and figure out some boundaries and ssafewords, or they are engaging in the consent equivalent of barebacking.
posted by verb at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


@shakespeherian

This entire conversation is an allegation since it was essentially written from memory and, perhaps inadvertently skewed in the accuser's favor. Context is everything, and without word for word accuracy we can be missing many subtleties. Nothing here has gone beyond accusations.
posted by haroon at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2011


Sigh. Jesus, the markup on that earlier comment of mine got shredded. What I meant to say was:

"At least in my experience, people who negotiate the complexities of consent-based S&M, safewords, and boundaries are not the ones who are getting confused about consent. The danger lies in the people -- and I mean a relatively tiny handful of people -- I have known who saw that kind of process as a buzzkill."

xarnop's earlier comment -- "You're afraid to give a firm confirmation either because you are afraid of your own sexuality, or numerous other reasons" -- are actually what I have known a lot of, both personally and in talking to other people who grew up in the bizarro world of evangelical youth. That's one of the reasons I feel it's so important to iron out the complexities of how people can desire something but not be willing to voice consent, and how dangerous that is when it becomes normed in a subculture. If i don't do a good job of communicating that, I apologize.
posted by verb at 12:30 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Verb-- I see it often brought up that women love men to be initiators and to instigate sexual activity while the women behave submissively and let it happen. There is nothing wrong with women or men wanting to play this scenario out. BUT.

There's a world of dom/sub people out there who would be delighted to consenually play that out. We can't allow rape/abusive sexual behavior to be ok because "some women out there might like it and think of how they will be deprived!!"

They very much can get what they want within the requirments of negotiated consent. Enforcing no means no; in no way means that sub women can't find some domination out there.

Haroon--- Since the woman is not seeking legal action, I'm not exactly sure why you have your panties in a bunch. She didn't even release the guys name. Of course we don't know what actually happened, but if we are going to scrutinize every story someone writes about their life to this degree we won't believe anyone about anything. If she had written, "Once my dog got hit my a truck and made sad sounds and I cried and I dealt with it by having a conversation with the person who ran over my dog"

Would you be ranting and railing like this? would you need photographs of the dead dog and video evidence of the truck hitting the dog and an audio recording of the conversation with the truck driver before discussing the implications, and topics for thought, of the story?
posted by xarnop at 12:31 PM on May 17, 2011


Haroon, I honestly am having a hard time understanding why you think this woman made up a pretty horrific rape and years and years of trauma because when she was a 14-year-old while she was high and drunk she consented to sex with multiple men while she was wearing a collar and a leash. When one of her rapists agrees that she told him to stop. She's not trying to get this guy in jail or incur any punishment on him - she's trying to make sense of her memories so she can understand what is true in her own mind.

Context stops being everything when somebody says stop and their partner continues. Clearly this isn't a negotiated event in a kinky situation. This is a pretty clear cut example of rape. The fact that it was a long time ago, that they were both impaired, that there's no longer any physical evidence - that doesn't really matter because she's not on trial here.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This entire conversation is an allegation since it was essentially written from memory and, perhaps inadvertently skewed in the accuser's favor. Context is everything, and without word for word accuracy we can be missing many subtleties. Nothing here has gone beyond accusations.

Well for that matter this isn't in a fucking court, and you are not a fucking judge. The fact that you want to be OH SO SKEPTICAL of this woman's account of her rape and sexual assault and think that it's VERY IMPORTANT that everyone be aware that NOT EVERYTHING ON THE INTERNET IS 100% TRUE, BUT ESPECIALLY WOMEN WHO GIVE ACCOUNTS OF THEIR RAPE makes me reeeeeeally curious about what your motivations are. It doesn't sound good.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:36 PM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


My motivations are simple. Rape is a very easy accusation to throw around with very heavy consequences.

Forgive me for being skeptical about a news source whose top headlines are, "Is my husband gay?" and "I obsessively monitor my husband's lube bottle."

Because clearly a site like that has high journalistic integrity and wouldn't post something just for a couple hundred thousand page clicks.
posted by haroon at 12:39 PM on May 17, 2011


Man I have a whole bunch to say about the current derail, but I'm at work. Someone please ping me if I forget to get back to this within 24 hours.
posted by desjardins at 12:43 PM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This wasn't a "news piece" and there are not consequences to someone sharing that they were raped and not pressing charges or releasing the name of the person who did it.

So you think that if the same woman had been published in a site that DID have high journalistic integrity it would suddenly be believable with the same amount of evidence?

Is it the site, or the WOMAN that you discount? The sites decision to publish is seperate than the womans decision to write that. You're using the sites lack of credibility to attack the woman's story, when likely she wrote it mostly because she wanted to share her story and not with the same intentions of the site that published it.

So all your whining about the site that published has nothing to do with her credibility.

If she really did say no, which sounds more likely than your "fibbed memory" idea--- than this is absolutely rape. Are you arguing that she didn't say no, or that even if she said no that it might "not be rape".
posted by xarnop at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


haroon, we don't even know the name of the rapist in the linked article. I could understand you arguing that the entire story was made up for page views, but to suggest that she is unfairly accusing a guy from her past of rape in order to make ad revenue-- that's fucked up. She isn't trying to get this guy locked up, at least that I'm aware of. She hasn't even said who he is. What are the heavy consequences you're afraid of?

There is a very long history of doubting accusations of rape that smacks of being anti-woman: headlines that label women as 'alleged rape victims' are far, far more common than headlines that label 'alleged mugging victims' or 'alleged burglary victims.' RAINN estimates that 60% of sexual assaults go unreported, and I can't help but believe that that is partially due to the deadly, sinister cloud of extra-doubt and extra-skepticism that's directed at women who dare to speak up.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


My motivations are simple. Rape is a very easy accusation to throw around with very heavy consequences.

All accusations are easy to make, since they are only words. One of the reasons that rape accusations are taken more seriously these days is because there is a long, long history of them being flat out ignored, or the accusations resulting in ostracism and shaming for the woman who was raped. We still see that today in many non-western countries.

As that changes, though, we see a lot of resistance to it culturally. Treating rape as seriously as we treat other crimes is seen as "special treatment" rather than a fundamental balancing of a previously slanted system.
posted by verb at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2011


This is something I will never understand. Why does being drunk suddenly mean that you can't consent? It's one thing if people are almost falling asleep and doesn't notice what happens around or with them, but when someone, in your own words, is literally dragging men to bed? Why is that not consent?

For the same reason why you wouldn't take your friend's brand new car if he/she was offering it to you after they'd had a few drinks. Even if they were pressing the keys into your hand and saying, "Take it! It's yours now!" Most reasonable people would tell their friend that they're drunk and not take that as a real offer of a gift between friends. So why would we treat someone making drunken sexual overtures any different?
posted by Fuego at 12:50 PM on May 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Rape is not a trivial thing to accuse someone of. Admitting that I was raped fundamentally changed how I viewed myself. It fundamentally changed the amount of self-respect I have for myself. I know it changed the way the people I told viewed me - to the degree that I am using a sock puppet because I don't want people I know IRL to view me through a lens of Rape Survivor. And to protect myself from people who view me through the lens of Girl Who Had Sex And Regretted It So She Said She Was Raped.

Going to the police with rape allegations is not a happy experience. I did not have the opportunity to do so, but I have heard horror stories about rape kits. I did not prosecute my rapist, but I have heard horror stories about going through a rape prosecution, and the following character assassination and continuous violation. Women do not accuse men of rape lightly. Let me restate this: rape is not an easy thing to throw around. For better or for worse, being a rape survivor in our culture carries a stigma, a set of expectations about your behavior, and a set of judgments about your character and personality. It is not fun. Women do not "throw around" rape accusations.
posted by SockMarionette at 1:01 PM on May 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Muddgirl -- my comment was out of line. Even if I had issues with what you said, I shouldn't have gone all shame-festival on you.

Sockmarionnette's most recent comment is 100% truth.

And Haroon's contributions -- what can one say. I'm sort of grateful, honestly. People have been leaving comments on the FPP article along the same lines. It's the world we live in, and metafilter usually has more class than Haroon. It's kind of nice to hear from monster-apologists, just to know they are there.

And with that, it's off to tell my therapist: "Yeah, remember when I told you I was raped in 2000? Well, I'm still full of rage so help me deal."

Good luck, all.
posted by angrycat at 1:09 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, there's always the theoretical sociopath who'll lie about other people to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. There are people who will fake hate crimes for attention, too, and people who will fake injuries for money.

Being accused of a hate crime, a hit-and-run, child abuse, or any other life-damaging crime can be devastating, both financially and personally. We still manage to give the benefit of the doubt to victims of those crimes, unless they're obviously, blatantly fabricating.

For some reason, though, our society reserves a deep, profound skepticism for victims of rape. That's one fo the reasons that people talk about a "culture of rape." It's not that everyone says, "Rape is good!" It's that rape is treated as a special case, its victims are dismissed in ways that victims of other crimes aren't, and there is an amplified level of skepticism that is brought to bear, to the point of damaging the lives of victims even further.

There amy be some people who err on the opposite side -- arguing essentially that 'innocent until proven guilty' shouldn't apply in this situation -- but those people are few and far between, and they are by and large attempting to push back against a culture of dismissal and shaming for rape victims. Given current rates of rape conviction, I don't think you need to worry about them taking control of the legal system anytime soon.
posted by verb at 1:19 PM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


SockMarionette, I favorited this thoughtful, reasoned and brutally honest comment one thousand times. Unfortunately, only one shows up on MeFi.
posted by likeso at 2:17 PM on May 17, 2011


That's one of the reasons I feel it's so important to iron out the complexities of how people can desire something but not be willing to voice consent and how dangerous that is when it becomes normed in a subculture.

I think my problem is that this sort of framing is sounding dangerously close to victim-blaming. It shouldn't be dangerous for people to say "no" to something that they secretly want - the worst that should happen is that they are disappointed when they don't get it, and eventually learn that they're doing it wrong. Expressed boundaries should be respected no matter what.

The problem isn't women who say no when they mean yes - the problem is all the people who are perfectly happy to extract a rare outlier to an entire, vocal population.
posted by muddgirl at 2:22 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think my problem is that this sort of framing is sounding dangerously close to victim-blaming.

I'm not sure how it could be victim-blaming, since the people I was talking about were not victims of rape, just people who wanted sex but didn't want to engage in the communication of explicit consent.

Again, I think I'm not doing a very good job of expressing what I'm trying to get at. Someone saying 'No' to something that they secretly want isn't inherently bad. People do it all the time, because they're still on the fence about a decision, because they are balancing multiple desires against each other, and so on.


It shouldn't be dangerous for people to say "no" to something that they secretly want - the worst that should happen is that they are disappointed when they don't get it, and eventually learn that they're doing it wrong.

When I said that earlier, you treated it as an attack on kinky people. I'm sorry I didn't thread that particular needle deftly enough. The problem I'm trying to get at is that those people will only 'get disappointed,' and learn they're doing it wrong, when men universally 'get' the idea that a partner who gets off on fuzzy consent without engaging in serious conversation about boundaries, consent, and safewords is messed up.

In short: Either you have clear and unambiguous consent, or your partner is dangerous and you need to step back and have a serious talk, OR YOU ARE A RAPIST.


The problem isn't women who say no when they mean yes - the problem is all the people who are perfectly happy to extract a rare outlier to an entire, vocal population.

There is no single problem contributing to rape, other than the tautological answer "rape." If discussing one of the outliers and how to respond to it healthily -- specifically because it is often used as an excuse -- is unacceptable, I apologize.
posted by verb at 2:46 PM on May 17, 2011


Sigh. That last bit sounded passive-agressive and snappy. I just mean, if it's a topic that just can't be discussed without it sending the wrong message, then I guess it can't be discussed.

I feel like we're culturally trapped at this point, unable to realistically discuss a lot of the assumptions and rationalizations because simply discussing them demonstrates insufficient sensitivity. I'm sympathetic, but I'm trying to figure out how we can change anything other than continuing to say, "Don't rape!" to people who don't actually grasp the definition of "rape" that is being used.

These outliers are why consent-based models get pushback. They're what results in people half-sarcastically recommending that anyone who wants to have sex needs to get a recorded video of their potential partner giving consent, or perhaps getting a signed form of some kind. And figuring out how to clearly, unambiguously explain what unambiguous consent looks like in the real world in the normal cases and the outliers makes it much easier to distinguish between "confused people" and "rape-justifying people."

My history is a big influence on trying to iron out the former. Coming from the evangelical world, I'd say that a majority of junior high and even high school students I knew were unlikely to give explicit consent. Not just women -- both men and women in that environment had the lessons about immorality, temptation, and so on drilled into them. Sex was treated as a dangerous thing that all people desired, but good people resisted.

Falling into temptation was perhaps understandable, but you couldn't plan for it or encourage it. I had close friends who explained without irony that using condoms was more of a sin than unprotected premarital sex because it implied premeditation. In that kind of environment, pushing boundaries -- both your own and your partner's -- becomes the only way anyone gets laid, and it becomes normed. Most of the time it functions as a sort of polite fiction, and people get what they want out of it -- they have sex with their partner, and they don't feel quite as much guilt because they can convince themselves that "It Just Happened." But inevitably you get the dark side of it, too: some apple-cheeked douchebag learns "that's how it works", and spends a couple years date raping girls in his youth group or goes on to college and does the same. That kid assumes that a woman's ambivalence -- or even protest, depending on how deluded or sociopathic he is -- is just part of the polite fiction "everyone" uses to avoid guilt and ambivalence about their own sexuality.

That's not "victim blaming," at least in my view. It's culture blaming. It's singling out a particularly fucked up dynamic that is prevalent in the culture I grew up in, and telling people, "If that is what your partner is doing, it is NOT what 'everyone' does. It is fucked up, and you need to either talk it through and get them to be unambiguous or you need to run like hell." That applies to both men and women, but in the broader context of 'rape culture' I believe it is absolutely a contributor.
posted by verb at 3:12 PM on May 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think that's a great comment, verb, and I like the distinction between victim-blaming and culture-blaming.
posted by Justinian at 3:27 PM on May 17, 2011


This is only tangential to verb's comment, but I feel it necessary to explain what actually goes on in the BDSM culture with respect to consensual non-consensual scenes (as we call them). I've been involved in several of these scenes (as the top) and the negotiation goes something like this (this is not meant to represent a particular person, and it's usually a much longer conversation):

Me: OK so what are you into? What kind of stuff turns you on?
OtherPerson: I like Activity X and Thing Y and ... [etc]
Me: Great, I like X and Y that you mentioned, but I don't like Z so we're not going to do that. What kind of scene are you looking for?
OtherPerson: I want to be forced to do $thing (or have $thing forced upon me)
Me: What do you absolutely not want done to you?
OtherPerson: No blood, no welts, no bruises... [this may be a long or short list]
Me: OK, I understand. You don't want blood or welts or bruises. Are you sure you want to go through with this? You know your safeword? What is it?
OtherPerson: Yes, it's $safeword
Me: You trust me?
OtherPerson: Yes
Me: OK, go get ready.

During the scene, the person may struggle, and they may say "no" or "stop," and my stock response to that is "No is not your safeword." This is intended to immediately prompt them to use their safeword if they need it. If the person uses their safeword, everything STOPS. IMMEDIATELY. I untie them if necessary, I comfort them, and we talk about how they're feeling (if they feel like talking). I've never had anyone safeword due to emotional issues; it's all been "this rope is too tight" or "my leg is cramping up" or somesuch.

Anyway. My point is that consent has to be explicit and enthusiastic beforehand or it's really not any fun during, because I'm wondering aretheyreallyokay. It's very, very clear that "no means yes" because they have told me so beforehand, and they have told me that the safeword is what means no.

I don't mean to sound defensive of kink or BDSM, and I don't feel accused of anything, I just want to be clear about what it is and is not.
posted by desjardins at 4:14 PM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


The contrast between that and the kind of culture I'm describing is so vast as to be almost unfathomable. People from the BDSM community should probably be giving lectures to evangelical youth groups.

I don't think that's likely, but I can dream.
posted by verb at 4:24 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've run across a number of ex-evangelicals in BDSM, actually. I'm not really sure what that means, since I'm not one myself.
posted by desjardins at 5:04 PM on May 17, 2011


One way of looking at it: There is always a safeword. And unless you've agreed on another one, that word is "no".
posted by ymgve at 6:21 PM on May 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


There's something else here that we are just not at all discussing.


Some comments read as if you assume this thing happened when she was 14, and then there's her whole life, and then NOW she writes about it for the first time, with only memories and the hazy gulf of time to foul them.

I feel like she makes it clear that she was happy to have these things confirmed, and that may be misleading for you guys, so I'm gonna put in a few words and try to keep it brief (and gloss lots of details, because...yeah, I don't know you guys well enough)

A series of BAD things happened when I was 14-16, and I left home...sometimes those things happened again when I went back until I was 22 or so. During and afterword I journaled extensively about those things, and many other things in my life in a series of handwritten and online journals. Sometimes I went months where it seemed like that was all I talked about, and sometimes months where it wasn't mentioned and I pretty much didn't think about it. I'm really good at pretending whole sections of my life didn't exist.

I have run the spectrum from "did this really happen" through "ok it happened but somehow I failed to express myself well enough to prevent it" to "it happened and it shouldn't have and it's not my fault" and back.

Let me be clear: I have it written down. I have it written down from hours after an event, graphically, and in detail, I can go back and read about it. ...I still manage to convince myself at times that maybe I'm just entirely making it up and am crazy. There is schizophrenia in my family...no one else has had this series of bad things, isn't it more likely I dreamed it, made it up, imagined it, had an episode than it's real and it happened and some people knew about it but did nothing, or did it and acted like nothing was different?

And ok, maybe it did happen but everyone thinks this person is just super great, so maybe it was just confusion and misunderstanding and lack of appropriate action, reaction, forcefulness on my part?

I've lived with this for a long time now. This person is accepted as a part of the life I get to live (although, I'm somewhat estranged from that part of my family, but still there is Christmas etc). I am not brave enough to initiate the conversation that Emily did, even though I would like to be able to stop the constant back and forth in my thinking about it.

As I have grown older, I've come to accept more that it was real - and maybe that's part of growing up? I haven't stopped being as hurt, but I have stopped being as angry...I've never been able to sustain anger, and also...there is a whole set of terrible feelings I am just used to in my life, so retribution is just not on my list of things to want. Maybe doubting myself was a way of denying what had happened. But 13 years of off and on doubting events in my life happened and what part of them I am culpable for? I would like to stop that, if I could. If I did have this conversation - I wouldn't press charges, life is not that black and white, there are other factors aside from me. But I would know if my fundamental idea of reality is true or not.


I don't think we should take her reaction to the conversation to mean anything other than this: It is complicated. It is different for everyone. It is unknowable by others. I am not crazy, what happened to me was real.

I wish I had the words to explain how powerful that validation is.
[and I wish I had managed to say this in a less rambly and more concise way.]
posted by nile_red at 8:10 PM on May 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah people should absolutely talk about this stuff. If there's one thing people do all the time it's sex and be horny and yet a large portion of people are still terrified of voicing that part of themselves.

Verb--- I know exactly the kind of religious STUFF you are talking about. Ten years of catholic school! Sex is bad. Desire is bad. Wanting is bad. Wanting to go to heaven is bad. Wanting to go to heaven means you're going to hell. so stop that. Wanting to go to hell makes you go to heaven. Or maybe it makes you go to hell too?

I'm pretty sure a lot of people from this environment do often make their way to BDSM communities but stats have found that it's not a ridiculously high portion. (So far all the surveys I've found offer a well wounded bunch but I can't vouch for validity of the surveys). However it's possible that these harsh religious sexual beliefs are passed on even by "non-religious" parents, so it can happen in non-religious families too.

But yes what you are talking about Verb are people who feel so bad about themselves and their sexuality that while they deeply desire sex they can't handle saying yes. The guys are expected to mess up here because their will is weaker, so it's really all the girls deal.

The girl is bad if sex happens and the guy messed up but it's forgiveable. But you also sound really mad at girls who were so confused and felt so bad about themselves they couldn't say yes when they wanted to say yes. I'm not sure why this makes you angry? Wanting sex but deciding your moral code tells you you can't, but deeply struggling internally and wishing it could happen is really not an attack on a guy.

If a woman is in that state and you feel like you might not be able to control yourself because you can tell "she must want it" but she doesn't want to say yes-- then yes--- get yourself out of there! Definately do not rape a girl that you think wants to be raped!

But this is not a person behaving dangerously. It's just a person who is really confused and unsure of what is the right thing to do. Which is pretty normal in sexually inexperienced girls, or even sometimes in sexually experienced girls.

Sex can be confusing and scary and painful and emotionally overwhelming. For some people it's really fun and awesome, most of the girls I have talked to who started having sex really young have a lot of mixed feelings about it and a huge range of experiences. (And a lot that are hard to classify as rape or not rape)

There is also an expectation in these religious groups that you do not FIGHT crime. You gently and kindly ask it to turn to the lord. You turn the other cheek. Did you have to watch all of those martyr videos where christians lay themselves in front of war zones to die and crap? Pacifists. No fighting.

So if a guy decides to do whatever, you can kindly have a conversation about please not being ready and scary and please don't and blah blah --- but push back? Fight? Throw a punch? That is not how to deal with sin. The way to deal with sin is with forgiveness and acceptance and waiting for them to choose to repent to the lord.

Look at that 18 years of being agnostic/nonreligious and I'm still a pro.
posted by xarnop at 8:50 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


But you also sound really mad at girls who were so confused and felt so bad about themselves they couldn't say yes when they wanted to say yes. I'm not sure why this makes you angry?

No, I'm just really pissed off that there's a subculture that is essentially a factory for people who are really confused about the concept of explicit consent. In my experience, both the guys and the girls were equally confused and filled with self-doubt and hatred. There was a small percentage of people who slowly but steadily developed a really unhealthy idea that the forbidden-ness and "it just happened!" dynamic was part of what made sex hot.

I mean, going by the consent-based metric we've been talking about in this thread, I know three or four guys from various junior/sr high youth groups who were raped by girls they were dating. I know even more girls who were, by that metric. The lesson I've taken away from that environment is that it is a really fucked up environment, sexually speaking. Because that kind of 'Oh, I wish it hadn't happened! (But I kind of did)' dynamic was normed, among both genders. That is absolutely positively playing with fire.


Wanting sex but deciding your moral code tells you you can't, but deeply struggling internally and wishing it could happen is really not an attack on a guy.

Oh, totally. Wanting sex and deciding your moral code tells you you can't, then engineering situations in which you can constantly tell yourself and your peers that "it just happened" to avoid the burden of responsibility for your own sexuality? That's not healthy. I saw both men and women do it. I did it. It took building friendships and relationships with people outside of that subculture -- with people who were able to express their desires and their boundaries in healthy ways -- to realize just how messed up and dangerous the dynamic was.


If a woman is in that state and you feel like you might not be able to control yourself because you can tell "she must want it" but she doesn't want to say yes-- then yes--- get yourself out of there! Definately do not rape a girl that you think wants to be raped!

Absolutely! Similarly, if your youth group boyfriend insists that he doesn't actually want a blowjob, don't assume he's just feeling guilty and plow on ahead. If he actually doesn't? You're a rapist. If he really does but he's trying to avoid responsibility for his own sexual decisions? You're communicating to him that saying 'no' is a polite fiction, and everyone understands that.

That's what I was trying to get to earlier when I was saying that guys need to learn that if someone says no but means yes, it's dangerous and not cool and you need to talk about it carefully or get the hell away, for their safety and yours. The BDSM example is a very different kind of situation, because fundamentally there is a very strong negotiated 'yes' that wraps those experiences. As ymgve noted, there's always a safeword and the default is 'no.'
posted by verb at 6:00 AM on May 18, 2011


Another important factor here is that if someone says no--- and you read yes--- you're guessing.

So you could be wrong. You might read, "She set herself up to be raped on purpose so she doesn't need to be take responsability" and you might in fact be right.

But she might have been thinking any number of things including, "I hope we can cuddle together and he'll just hold me!". I think young girls underestimate that males assume all alone time should result in sex and have absorbed this idea that you can hang out alone with a guy or boyfriend and watch movies or even snuggle and not do anything sexual. Guys tend to encourage girls to believe the situation is set up platonically-- 'yeah I won't do anything I just want to watch movies with you'.

Meanwhile the guy might be thinking she is setting herself up to be raped and she might genuinely be thinking, "Wow I have a boyfriend, this is so exciting! Gleefullness! Snuggling!"

So the whole thing is a head trip for everyone. Abstinance based sex education makes it extremely hard to help young people have honest conversations about their sexuality and that sucks. Because the message they get from the media is, "You fall in love and the second you realize you're in love you have sex"

It's PRIMAL! It's IMMEDIATE! It JUST HAPPENS! There is NO PLANNING OR DISCUSSION ABOUT IT! There are NO CONDOMS! You CAN'T STOP THE ANIMALISTIC FORCE!

Couple that with no outlet to discuss and understand sexuality in a meaningful way and BAM!

Everyone is skrewed.
posted by xarnop at 7:31 AM on May 18, 2011


So you could be wrong. You might read, "She set herself up to be raped on purpose so she doesn't need to be take responsibility" and you might in fact be right.

I also want to make sure that I'm super-clear that I'm not trying to suggest that rape in the subculture I'm describing is "the fault" of the victim. I'm saying that the subculture implicitly encourages "polite fictions" around sexual desire that hopelessly muddle the very concept of consent for those who take the lessons to heart.

In the case of one friend, it meant that she didn't even have a way of explaining why her rape had been any different than the sexual encounters she had willingly initiated. Because she wasn't able to accept that she had really wanted to have sex the first time, and explaining that it had been different would kick the supports out from underneath a long chain of rationalization.

That isn't to say that what happened to her is her fault; I still blame the system that taught a generation of impressionable kids staggeringly unhealthy ways of understanding desire, consent, and choice. The guy who raped her was not an innocent, confused kid. He was a rapist. But the community and culture she was a part of didn't even have tools for articulating what that meant and how it differed from what everyone else was doing.

That's the terrifying part.

It's PRIMAL! It's IMMEDIATE! It JUST HAPPENS! There is NO PLANNING OR DISCUSSION ABOUT IT! There are NO CONDOMS! You CAN'T STOP THE ANIMALISTIC FORCE!

Couple that with no outlet to discuss and understand sexuality in a meaningful way and BAM!


Bingo.
posted by verb at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2011


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