Monday, March 18, 2013

"I didn't know exactly what rape was."

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post and the article linked in it will contain graphic details of the Steubenville rape case and may be triggering to victims of sexual assault.

EDIT TO ADD: I am so grateful that this post has started up discussion in the comments section, and people are sharing their stories and talking about all of this. However, I have to include an additional trigger warning for some of the comments, and also bow out of the conversation. It isn't that I don't care about your experiences or don't want to keep the conversation going. I do. But in light of some of the victim blaming and misogynist comments this post has received, I have to step away for my own mental health.

When asked to explain why he didn't stop the gang rape of an unconscious sixteen-year-old girl, Evan Westlake said: "Well, it wasn't violent. I didn't know exactly what rape was. I always pictured it as forcing yourself on someone."

A detailed story of how the two rapists, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, weren't forcing themselves on the girl they raped can be found here. The story is very graphic, so again, trigger warning.

I have no doubt in my mind that these young men did not know they were raping that girl. Note: I'm not excusing them from raping her. I'm sure, I'm 100% sure, that they knew they were doing something very, very wrong. Maybe in their heads they thought, "We're taking advantage of this drunk girl," or "She's not saying yes, but she's not saying no, either." But I have no doubt that they didn't realize what they were engaged in was rape.

Because we don't teach young men what rape is; we want to protect their right to rape.

In our culture we teach girls all about rape. We teach them about how to dress, how to carry self defense items, how to scream "fire!" instead of "rape!" because no one will respond otherwise and what the shit does that say about us?! We live in a culture where, until as recently as the 1990's, it was considered impossible for a husband to rape his wife, because as his wife, he owned her, and could do with her whatever he liked. After all, she'd consented at least once, right? Consider the fact that the ridiculously small number of rape cases that actually go to trial end up focusing not on whether or not the rapist raped the victim, but whether or not the victim has masturbated in the past, what sexual partners she's had, and if she orgasmed during the attack.  And god help you if you're a lesbian or a trans woman, because that opens up all new avenues of humiliation for you in reporting and seeking justice for your rape. The prosecution can paint you as a deviant and a sex fiend to scare the jury into deciding that you were probably asking for it or, worse, deserved to be rape because you didn't conform to societal expectations. In rape cases, our justice system puts the victim, not the perpetrator, on trial.

Our media, and our rape apologists, try to narrow rape down to such specific details that there is probably no single case of actual rape that can fit the definitions they've come up with. Is it rape if she's too hammered to say no? No! Because she didn't say no! Is it rape if a woman's husband rapes her? No, because she married him! That's consent! Is it rape if she was on a date with him first? No, because she was alone with him, she should have expected to let him have sex with her!

Smarter people define rape as any act of nonconsensual sex or sexual touching. But there we hit another snag.

We don't teach people what "consent" means. We say, "No means no!" but think about that a second. It means that just not saying "no" is equivalent to a yes. So, by defining "consensual sex" as "sex where a woman has not said 'no,'" we're saying, "All women are open for business, every moment of every day, and you are allowed to stick your fingers in them, grope them on the dance floor, yell sexual comments at them, etc. unless she clearly and forcefully states otherwise after you have already begun doing this." Unless you're walking down the street shouting "No!" at every man you meet, you're consenting. That's what "No means no!" has hammered into our collective consciousness.

Let's say I'm a guy at a party, and I start having sex with a passed out girl. She doesn't wake up to say no, so I'm not raping her, by our cultural gold standard definition. If she wakes up and says no, I'll stop, and that will make me not a rapist. Does stopping somehow remove the three or so minutes I was penetrating her when she hadn't said "yes?" We seem to accept that yes, this makes the rapist not a rapist, just because he stopped when told "no." Somehow, I find this definition of "consent" dubious.

And we don't tell anyone what rape really is. When I was a teenager, I got told all the time not to go into the bad part of town, or I would get raped. I shouldn't walk alone at night by my favorite coffee shop, because there are lots of college guys over there and I would get raped. I actually started to try and list all the scenarios that have been described to me over the years, and I realized how long a list that would be. Too long for this blog post. Suffice it to say, every one of these scenarios involved a stranger coming up to me on the street and dragging me into an alley or a parked car. 

I was also told not to get too drunk, or a man could "take advantage" of me. I shouldn't dress a certain way, because a man "might not be able to help himself." I shouldn't "tease" boys by making out with them if I wasn't prepared to go all the way, because I might find myself in a position where I "had to." Seriously, this is this shit women of my generation were told about rape. And I wish women of the next generation were being told differently, but it's just the same old shit in pseudo-empowered packaging. We're still telling young people "no means no," without ever discussing whether "yes" should be a part of the equation.

Veering into personal storyland a moment, let me tell you about the time I was almost raped. I was at a friend's sister's wedding out of town, and we were staying at a hotel for the whole weekend. At this wedding was a family friend, a man I'll call George. That is not his name, it's just what I'll call him. George was in his early thirties, I was fifteen. I thought it was so fucking cool that George would get drinks from the bar for me, and with his encouragement I got hammered super fast. Then George was like, "I have weed back in my room, do you want to go smoke?" I was fifteen. Of course I wanted to be high and drunk, and yeah, I kind of got the feeling that we were going to fool around. Leaving aside the fact that I was a minor and he should not have been down for that, I was kind of down for it, and I thought, well, why the hell not? I'll go back to this guy's hotel room.

Long story short, I ended up blacking out. Now, what a lot of people might not realize is, you can black out several times in what feels like rapid succession. Your vision goes all hazy, you start to feel like you're falling asleep, and suddenly it's a few minutes later or whatever and you're like, "WTF, did I get abducted by aliens? Because I just lost time." The first time I lost consciousness, George and I were sitting on different beds. When I regained consciousness, he was sitting by me, with his hand on my skirt. He was asking me questions, but I couldn't really answer. I didn't feel good. I think I might have thrown up. But I knew I was in big trouble, with no way of defending myself. I kept slipping out. At one point, when I came back from blackoutsville, he had his hand up my skirt. I tried to push him off me, but I didn't have the coordination required.

The next time I faded off and woke up, I knew things were serious, because he was unbuckling his belt. If I nodded off again, he was going to rape me. But what I wasn't thinking at that moment was, "I'm going to get raped." It was, "If I pass out, he's going to have sex with me." I am incredibly thankful that I was able to pull myself out of my intoxication enough to say, "I'm going to throw up," because that's what got him off of me. I got up, stumbled to the door, and left the room entirely. He tried to follow me a bit to get me to come back, saying I should come back in and sit down until I felt better, but when a hotel employee came off the elevator, he turned right around and left me in the hallway, too fucked up to knew where I was going.

When I told my friend's mom what had happened, she advised me to just stay away from George from now on, and to not get drunk. After all, I wasn't supposed to have been drinking, anyway. I was only fifteen. And I knew better than to go back to some guy's hotel room. But the one thing she didn't do was assign blame to George. In fact, she suggested I not "make a big deal," because it might affect George negatively. And I agreed, because in hindsight I realized I had never actually said "no." I thought I had consented.

For years I walked around thinking that what had happened to me was no big deal, I was just a slut and I messed up and got in a scary situation. Now that I'm older, I realize what bullshit that was that I blamed myself, that my friend and her mom blamed me. And I realize, after hearing that both the rapists, the bystanders, and the victim in Steubenville "didn't know exactly" what rape was, that they probably didn't know. Because no matter how many strides we might make with rape education or awareness, we still pull the same bullshit victim blaming every single time an incident like this happens. We rally around the rapist, we worry about how his actions are going to affect him negatively, and we worry about that first, before we bother to think, "Hey... what about the victim?" Since we've already made him the victim, and there can't be two, we decide that he's the victim of this horrible thing that was done to him by the slutty, nasty girl who got drunk when she shouldn't have, wore clothes that turned him on, and gosh, he just couldn't help himself.

It's not men, by the way, who I consider the worst perpetrators of this behavior. I hear it so often from women, it's not funny, and when women say it, it's almost worse. We're giving men permission to blame us for rape now? Last night on twitter I saw an erotic romance author say over and over that she wasn't victim blaming, but maybe wearing skimpy clothes is the problem. And she argued over and over, with multiple people, that she wasn't blaming the victim, but preaching personal responsibility. Personal responsibility? Over another person's actions? Explain to me how that works, world, because I don't get it. And I definitely had hoped that someone working in an industry that's supposed to be sex-positive would fucking know better than to spout off bullshit like that.

Another problem is the way we talk about rape. For years, we've been saying that rape isn't about sex, it's about violence and power. When those two guys raped the girl in Steubenville, most likely they didn't do it out of a conscious desire to inflict their will on her, or overpower her. That's not to say that they weren't fitting the "it's about power" definition. Let's get real, they were small town football players, they definitely reaped the benefits of male privilege in their community. But what little they've learned about rape has probably been the same thing women learn about rape: that's it's about power, that a man will be violent while raping you, and that if she doesn't actually say "no," then she's consenting.

Some rape is openly intended as an act of violence and power and hatred. There are hundreds of scenarios in which the perpetrator knows, completely, that what he's doing is a willful subjugation of the woman in an attempt to permanently disempower her, hundreds of scenarios that your average person on the street would call "rape." But if a woman isn't beaten within an inch of her life, when the rapist isn't hurling vicious slurs at her, everyone seems to get all confused about what rape really is.

In a reddit thread a few months ago, men shared stories of times they had raped women. Some of them had argued that because they weren't violent, and because they didn't think of it as a means to overpower the woman, it didn't count as rape. "I was just really horny and didn't feel like stopping," was one of the most cited excuses as to why it wasn't rape. Because they didn't hit the women or knock them out, because they didn't roofie them or slap them or intend to do anything other than get their rocks off, they weren't raping. Because rape isn't about sex, it's about power, right?

The Steubenville boys probably didn't think, "We're doing this to permanently disempower her." They probably thought, "We're horny, and she's not saying no." Is there a power component there? Oh, absolutely. That they believed they were entitled to a woman's body without her express permission is a symptom of the male privilege that is keeping women subjugated. But until we can get our culture as a whole to recognize that male privilege exists, then maybe we should be shifting the focus on how we approach rape education and the issue of consent.

From here on out, why not accept that teaching "no means no" and "rape is about power, not sex" are not working? Why not change up our attitudes a bit, and suggest to our young men and women that the absence of refusal isn't the same thing as consent, and that even if you're not violent or you don't intend to get off on the power component of the rape you're committing, it's still rape. That wearing someone down ("ninety-nine 'no's and one 'yes' is still yes!") is still rape. That even if you can't be prosecuted, you're still a rapist, and that's something that is horrible to be.

I'm at a real point of despair here, when I'm seeing women and men defend the male right to rape, and denying that male privilege leads to entitlement over women's bodies, while not realizing what they're doing. If we need to change the way we talk about rape, then let's do that. Let's tell our young women "it's rape if you didn't say yes," instead of, "it's not rape if you don't say no." Let's tell our young men the same thing, and tell them that yes, some rapes are driven by a desire for sexual pleasure. That if they put their penis in an unconscious person's orifices, it's rape whether they wanted to humiliate the person, dominate them, or just get off. It's rape, no matter what their motivation.

I know a lot of feminist disagree with me (and I'm open to disagreement, because disagreement breeds discussion and I've learned a lot from reader comments on this blog), because approaching rape as a sexual crime instead of a crime of power and domination is ultimately denying the male privilege component. But we're living in a culture where men will passionately argue that they're the victims of feminism out of control, rather than blowback from patriarchal oppression. By allowing ourselves to define rape as only a violent crime, only motivated by a sick desire to inflict the rapist's will over their victim, we're giving millions of rapists permission to continue raping, and we're breeding more rapists. Until we can force every man to understand that women are not responsible for the actions of their rapist, we might just have to change how we're teaching them not to rape.


  1. You can't see it, but I am standing for the slow clap. This conversation is long overdue and while I hate it that this tragedy had to bring it about, I'm glad people are having it now.

  2. I have nothing constructive to add, except perhaps to thank you for this excellent post.

    I admit I feel a little bit defeated whenever stories like these come about. It feels like the same shit over and over again, whether it's college kids or DSK, or police officers, or whatever. It's men internalizing the idea that their right to get off trumps a woman's right to not be violated. And the MRAs still come out with the bullshit about how vast numbers of women lie about rape out of buyer's regret, as if reporting rape doesn't automatically mean that the victim is also put on trial. It sickens me and it exhausts me.

  3. Let's not forget that, as a 16 year old girl, conscious or not, she's not able to consent to anything. She's underage, and that's rape no matter how you slice it.

    1. I'm not at all condoning this horrible act or behaviour, but as a law geek I should point out the age of consent in Ohio is 16, just as it is in most of the US.

  4. Your story is scarily familiar, because that's how I almost got raped, only I was at a party and I was 17 and the guy in question was also a teenager. I kissed him, but I don't remember how I got to the bedroom, and I kept going in and out of consciousness like you. Woke up, he was unbuttoning my pants, woke up, he was over me and laughing really quietly (which was the creepiest thing I've ever experienced), woke up, wanted to move or say no and physically couldn't, woke up, my sister was hitting him in the head with my shoe and thank god I was wearing big clunky heels. She dragged me out into the hallway, ran to get our friends because a friend offered us a sober ride home, and came back to him trying to drag me into the room again. She hit him again and they got me in the car. Thank god for her.

    The worst part is that I didn't TELL ANYONE. I joked about how creepy he was with friends but it took me years to say, "He was going to rape me." Not, "what a weirdo, gross." If my sister hadn't caught him, he would have raped me. But people would've said, "Well you were drunk and you kissed him." Raaaaage.

    Now I refuse to justify what he did. I say that he tried to rape me whenever it comes up and I don't let anyone else try to justify it either, because FUCK that guy and what he did.

    1. Yeah, my friend and I laughed and joked about how creepy "George" was after that. And now I'm like... holy shit, that was not okay.

    2. Dear God, your sister was amazing.

    3. She was. She was only 15 or barely 16 at the time. She could be a real asshole to me when she wanted to be but if anyone else was, she came at them like a spider monkey.

  5. Thank you for this. I'm glad that those boys were found guilty. I was worried for a bit that they wouldn't be with their weak defense. Hopefully this will continue the conversation about our rape culture. It will be slow going because these ideas of blaming the victims are so deeply taught and ingrained. Look at what happened to Zerlina Maxwell who said the we shouldn't have to teach the victim how to better defend themselves against rape, but teaching the men not to rape and addressing the rape culture.
    However, we can't loose hope that things will get better! There are men groups out there that are trying to help: Ring the Bell and Men Can Stop Rape. It will be slow, but that fact that this conversation is happening nation wide will help.

  6. Just had a man tell me in another forum, where I explained all the precautions I take before going on my morning run, that I should not purport to know how men feel and that a man running on the trail before daylight is just as scared of being mugged or randomly attacked (apparently for no reason at all) as any woman is of being raped (but apparently it's ok for him to purport to understand how all woman feel).

    What can we do when folks so insist that rape culture does not exist? You can't talk sense to someone like that.

  7. Anonymous Coward sharing TMIMarch 18, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    "And we don't tell anyone what rape really is. When I was a teenager, I got told all the time not to go into the bad part of town, or I would get raped. I shouldn't walk alone at night by my favorite coffee shop, because there are lots of college guys over there and I would get raped. I actually started to try and list all the scenarios that have been described to me over the years, and I realized how long a list that would be. Too long for this blog post. Suffice it to say, every one of these scenarios involved a stranger coming up to me on the street and dragging me into an alley or a parked car.

    I was also told not to get too drunk, or a man could "take advantage" of me. I shouldn't dress a certain way, because a man "might not be able to help himself." I shouldn't "tease" boys by making out with them if I wasn't prepared to go all the way, because I might find myself in a position where I "had to." Seriously, this is this shit women of my generation were told about rape. And I wish women of the next generation were being told differently, but it's just the same old shit in pseudo-empowered packaging. We're still telling young people "no means no," without ever discussing whether "yes" should be a part of the equation."

    This resonated so strongly with me. When I was young, I was told that all men wanted was sex so, instead of having sex with them, I should give them hand jobs or blow jobs. I wasn't told that I could give a big F.U. to someone who wanted sex with me because, oh, I dunno, MAYBE I HAD A SAY IN THE MATTER. I also wasn't told that men were three dimensional characters who could desire a variety of different shit from a relationship. I was just taught to satisfy the man so that they wouldn't go for the shiny vagina and make teh babbies that my parents dreaded. So women have to avoid certain areas of town, not act in certain ways, or have to learn how to satisfy men and stave off the throbbing peni of all power, but we can't all be taught that an individual's no-no spot is his/hers alone and unless said person grants specific, per-incident permissions for touching, it's off limits? Really? I mean, for fuck's sake, how hard is that to understand?

    I don't really know where in hell I'm going with all this, your post just really got to me. Thank you for that, it's nice you have the ovaries to go there.

  8. You're right. We live in a society that tells girls don't get raped, not one that says, boys don't rape.

    Several years back, I dated a guy who on all outward appearances, was a pretty good catch. Worked for the state (thus had background check done. I had another done before we really got serious.) We were driving home one evening when a couple of tween girls were walking in the crosswalk at the intersection.

    Fucker told me, "They look like they want to get raped."

    They were wearing jean shorts and tank tops, swimsuits visible beneath, as it was summer in California, thus hotter than hell. Had there not been a line of cars behind, risking rear-ending me, I would have slammed on my breaks and kicked his ass out of the car right goddamn then.

    He got what was coming to him, though. I found out he collected child porn. So I handed his ass over to the FBI.

    I equate rapey assholes with him. Skeevy bastards, thinking a female is advertising sexual attention by showing some skin. That if a female dresses in a certain way, she's dressing just for him, because she wants him, right then and there.

    Unless a chick says, "Yes, please fuck the bejesus out of me," or it's more eloquent cousin, just keep one's fucking cock in one's fucking jeans, and one's hands in their pockets. Seems so simple!

    I'm sorry you had a mecha creepster experience and that instead of being proactive for a minor's welfare, your friend and her mother blamed you for being a kid. That's way fucked up.

    There's a part of me that would like to point fingers at advertising methods which portray women as objects to be conquered (buy this and hot chicks will flock to you on charm/appeal/label groupie powers alone), that women are easy (again, flash something she wants/needs/has thought about and she'll fall into your lap, "happy ending" and all) that we are shallow (oh, a high priced label on those jeans/hood emblem of car? you are sooo dreamy!)
    It's like a whole culture of "but the tv told me so," and then males try to act out what they see. Man, who would LOVE if the pizza delivery guy was actually a hot chick wearing daisy dukes, go go boots and a glitter bra? Best pizza place EVER!

    1. I wanted to share this, it's my take on how men see women. I have heard the male end of this conversation from more than one guy.

      It's a society thing, and it deeply saddens me.

      “You know, I know exactly what kind of dame you are... you're the kind of gal who butts into conversations to add some snarky commentary to anyone within earshot.” Caleb Boldton cocked his head to the side and snarled, “And from the looks of it, a tatted, diseased bimbo. I would say whore, but I don't know if you have to be paid to get nailed. I suppose in a modern sense, me buying you dinner as suggested earlier would constitute a form of prostitution, right? Free meal then you get all kinky?


      Dmitri put a hand on Wiley's shoulder and issued a stern warning of “Dude, chill...” didn't do much to mellow the fuming giant.

      Jet growled, “Oh, that is fucking it!” and stalked off to the house only to return a few moments later wearing her flame red platform heels with tiny white stars.

      Thank God, no cast iron pan in hand.

      With a catwalk saunter, she strode towards the two men. “No, Dmitri, it's okay. Your friend is indeed entitled to his opinion of me. He's ignorant.” Jet stalked up to Wiley. She got in his face as much as she could without physically touching him, and because of the heels, stood eye to eye to the pissed off man. She spoke low and very clearly to Wiley in a deceivingly friendly voice.

      “You may think whatever you like about me. The fact is you know nothing about me. Nothing. You may see a tatted slut, bimbo, whatever blows your skirt up, but that's because you are an ignorant fool. I don't know what I did to piss you off last year, so unless you stop acting like an assjacket and tell me what the fuck is up, I won't apologize. So what bug is up your posterior, Mr. Party Foul?”

      She leaned in and raised a finger to almost touch his nose with a bright blue nail. “Oh! I needed to share this with ya before I forget. You don't need to call me a whore, because unlike some females I don't cash in on free dinners in exchange for sex. I actually pay for myself, just so fucktard males can't pull that fucked up train of thought out of their pants with the fucking expectation of it being swallowed. Fuck assjackets like that. Like you. Chauvinist bastards like you are the downfall of a modern society evolution because you think its a God-given right to keep a female in her place. Fuck you, asshole. Why don't you go have another beer?” This all was said with a friendly grin on her face.

      Ladies and Gentlemen, I know who I'd like to nominate for the Best Actress Oscar.

  9. From here on out, why not accept that teaching "no means no" and "rape is about power, not sex" are not working? Why not change up our attitudes a bit, and suggest to our young men and women that the absence of refusal isn't the same thing as consent, and that even if you're not violent or you don't intend to get off on the power component of the rape you're committing, it's still rape. That wearing someone down ("ninety-nine 'no's and one 'yes' is still yes!") is still rape. That even if you can't be prosecuted, you're still a rapist, and that's something that is horrible to be.

    This. This, so much.

    I was raped when I was 16. He was my boyfriend at the time, my very first boyfriend, and he just kept pressuring me to let him finger me. We were in the middle of the woods. He was getting more and more angry and insistent, and finally I stopped resisting because I didn't want to get hurt. We were in the middle of nowhere where no one would have heard me if I yelled for help (assuming anyone cared enough to come help, anyway), so I just let him do what he wanted. Because I didn't want to get hurt. And it hurt anyway: He used his fingernails and I bled.

    And I didn't even realize it was rape until months later, when a sexual assault support group came to do a bit for our Health Science class.

    I was raped and didn't even know it. That 17 year old boyfriend of mine was a rapist and he will never even know it: I confronted him about it and he denied it all. Of course he would, and I don't know what I was expecting.

    We have to do better as a society in educating our boys. We must do better as a society in acknowledging rape in all it's forms, not just the violent stranger rape bogeyman played out in the media. It feels like such a long and fruitless struggle.

    1. I think there are, sadly, a lot of men out there who have raped women and honestly don't realize they're rapists. And it's like... can't we protect these men from themselves, even?

    2. It's obviously not good enough to protect women from getting raped, is what I'm saying here. Not that it's more important to protect the men, just maybe that could get anybody to give a shit about the issue.

    3. You are braver than I am. My experience is similar to yours - only we were in his room, and her elderly grandmother was in the next room, and I didn't want to shout not to scare her. I didn't realise it was rape until years passed.
      I never confronted him. He probably still doesn't know. But he wouldn't understand, I know this much.

  10. I just want to say that at my college, the group responsible for teaching our community about rape and sexual assault did stress, over and over, that consent is a sober yes. If you had sex with a girl after she said maybe, you raped her. If you had sex with a drunk boy who had said yes, you raped him. I don't know how many other groups out there teach this, and I know I hadn't been taught that way until I got to college. But at least someone is teaching people that consent is only a sober yes, and hopefully this will spread further until everyone knows it.

    1. Amen! I once went ballistic on a male acquaintance when I found out that he had taken home an extremely intoxicated woman from a bar and had sex with her. He defended it by saying that she had been flirting with him all night and besides, they'd already had sex a few months ago. And horrifyingly enough, several other people stepped in to agree with him.

      She/He flirted with you? = NOT CONSENT
      She/He had sex with you before? = NOT CONSENT
      She/He says "yes," but is vomiting, disoriented, and generally too drunk to tell a person from a mailbox? = NOT CONSENT

    2. I agree with this but there is something of a complication in "What counts as sober?" I mean I would not say I was raped when I have had sex when drunk because I was sober enough that I would still not have consented if I didn't want to.

      I don't want to negate your point but clearly some people do not have an instinctive idea of when someone is just tipsy or actually too drunk to give consent.

    3. This is a little too black-and-white for me. I prefer the term -- I believe coined by the "Yes Means Yes" project, but I could be wrong -- consent is an enthusiastic yes. So a slurred, stumbling "Ok sure, I guess" is not consent, but an enthusiastic yes from someone who has clearly been drinking and may well consider hirself drunk could be.

      For all the smoke apologists like to blow up our asses about women who "change their minds in the morning," if the type of consent they thought they were getting was that of the enthusiastic variety (read: REAL consent as opposed to well-she-didn't-say-no-exactly,) it's not likely at all that there would be much regret and "mind-changing" later.

    4. That makes sense, especially as a victim can be coerced into saying the word 'yes'.

    5. Amanda - you're right, it is very black and white, but this is one subject where I think people should definitely err on the side of safety. If someone's been drinking but does want to have sex with you, they'll probably still want to have sex with you when they sober up. Turning down someone who wants to have sex with you may give you a bad rep, but it's much more reversible than risking having sex with someone who actually doesn't want to.

    6. Agh society... "Turning down someone who wants to have sex with you may give you a bad rep" really? Not raping someone will give you a bad rep?

  11. Re power vs. sex. I agree, and disagree.

    Thing is, healthy sex - even if it involves power play - involves two or more consenting adults. The other person's pleasure and enthusiasm is vitally important for most of us - including most people who commit rape. That's the sex they want. And statistically, men who rape are usually those who are getting lots of that kind of sex anyway.

    The myth that sex is about sexual frustration, sex overriding all other inhibitions or a victim or situation being somehow irresistible... all myth. Meanwhile, straight men are by no means unknown to rape other men as an act of violent humiliation.

    However, I agree that so much of our problem with rape lies with the way we discuss sex, and what sex (especially sex between men and women) should or should not look like. I wrote a post about this in the context of fiction; the way that sex is seen as a prize, the way women's sexuality is seen as reactive to men's sexuality and so forth.

    So, I suppose I would say something like rape is about power, but how we tackle rape, how we prevent it, begins with talking about sex.

  12. This was a great post. If you ever get a chance, feel like writing about the phenomenon you touched on briefly in the last paragraph- "Men feel they are victims of feminism gone out of control, instead of the victims of a blowback of patriarchal oppression?"

  13. I just have one thing to say, and that is this: one time me and my boyfriend slept together. I went to his house, we watched some tv, then we went to bed. Of course things got a little heated, we made out, clothes were stripped off, blah blah blah. When he used his free hand to unbutton my shorts, I grabbed it. I didn't say no, I didn't shift, all I did was grab his hand. He immediatly stopped, apologized, and buttoned up my shorts again. That, to me, means I am dating the best man in the world. If there's no yes, there's no consent. There's not need to verbalize the negative if we're dealing with intelligent people. I didn't need to say no. I never said no. My only motion was to grab his hand and he just stopped. Best man ever or best man ever?

    Anyway, fantastic blog post, and I agree completely. Such a shame rape is still considered so normal.

    1. Can I just say (and not to disparage you or your boyfriend) that it is sad to acclaim a man for NOT raping.

  14. Bravo! Amazing, intelligent and compassionate blogpost!

  15. The whole "no means no" thing really needs to get replaced with "yes means yes"--in other words, you do not have consent until told otherwise (by someone who is legally capable of consenting--so, not drunk).

  16. Jennifer, I absolutely adore you and I love your blog like a child loves Christmas morning. Having said that, I am calling bullshit that these boys didn't know they were raping her. I do, however, agree that perhaps men sometime don't realize what rape is because of the factors you listed.

    Back to the Steubenville boys, here are the reasons they knew exactly what they were doing:

    1. The victim had been dating one of the football players, but had broken up with him over the summer prior to the rape. The victim's former best friend set her up to go to the party with the boys. She had no plans on attending prior to her friend talking her into it. The hacker group Anonymous reported in January that the victim was given a vodka slushy laced with GHB when she was picked up causing her to be unconcious before they got to the first party, but she was not tested for it in the emergency room. I can conclude the victim was invited to the party to be humiliated that night for dumping the football player.

    The Douche / star of infamous twelve minute youtube video repeatedly made jokes about the "rape" of the "dead girl". Douchey McDoucherson doesn't seem like the smartest crayon in the box, but even he knew the "dead girl" had been raped.

    The boys involved needed the help of trusted adults to cover up their dirty deeds. The head coach told the boys to take down everything posted on social media and to delete all of the texts. This information was found through deleted texts on one of the boy's phones.

    If I think about it some more, I may be able to add to this list. In the meantime, I just want to add that the adults in this situation are as disgusting as the boys' behavior that night - and it takes a lot to outdo the classiness of multiple boys having sex with an unconcious girl. Something that hasn't been widely repoted is that the basement where some of the attack happened belongs to the mother of one of the boys; the mother works for the district attorney and had to recuse herself from the case early on. She should have never even been around the victim. And all of these shananigans to protect football players and their beloved Big Red Football team.

    1. He didn't seem like the brightest crayon in the box either. Must learn to read before submitting. :/

    2. I didn't realize the girl was a former girlfriend of a player, that's even shittier and more horrible.

    3. This link may be helpful in understanding why I believe these boys and everyone in attendance knew damn well what they were doing.

    4. And here is the link in which Local Leaks uncovered she had previously dated one of the players.

    5. I agree with this entirely. It's been demonstrated that rapists will outright admit to rape as long as you don't use the word "rape," indicating that there is a mental block between them knowing what they are doing is actually rape. I don't even think that's the case here, as the video you mentioned makes completely clear; everyone in the video is using the word "rape" repeatedly to describe exactly what happened to that girl. They knew what they did and they didn't care.

    6. "I didn't know exactly what rape was." is a copout. Plain and simple. Children use the "I don't know.", "I didn't know.", "I didn't mean to." method when they've done something they know to be wrong to keep from getting in trouble. They claim ignorance as way to keep from getting in trouble. That is exactly what has happened here. Every person in attendance knew having sex with an unconscious person was wrong. But for argument's sake, let's say they didn't know they were raping her. There isn't anything anyone can say to argue they didn't know sodomizing and pissing on her was wrong (for lack of a better word).

  17. Not completely unrelated: I spent my teenage years at a catholic school, where we discussed abortion pretty much every other day and how it was wrong, wrong, wrong!

    I remember asking my sex ed teacher: "What about abortion when the pregnancy is product of rape?" She said (I kid you not): "It is very difficult for a woman to get pregnant by rape, because she doesn't feel sexual pleasure, and therefore she won't segregate all the 'juices' that must flow for a woman to get pregnant."

    This was Argentina, early 2000's, and I thought it was utter bullsh*t, but saying so may have had me expelled or something (the nuns were pretty hardcore). Imagine my surprise when I hear pretty much the same argument coming out of the mouth of a US Senate candidate just a few years leater. I could not believe how widespread this stupid idea was.

    In that school, I received that same indoctrination of "Rape is about power" and (this is my favorite one) "Rapist many times have some sort of sexual dysfunction". All of these was tought under the explicit consent of a very religious group of teachers who believed they were doing the work of God by badgering teenage minds with these super medieval way of thinking.

    And all the time I was like: "What the hell, Jesus? What the hell?!" I eventually became what my mother calls an "apostate", which means I renounced the catholic faith because I found what it preached insulting to me as a woman.

    1. Hmmm, "It is very difficult for a woman to get pregnant by rape, because she doesn't feel sexual pleasure, and therefore she won't segregate all the 'juices' that must flow for a woman to get pregnant."
      Remember that guy running in Indiana (I think) that got blasted for saying the same thing? While I don't think he should have been elected cause that's stupid to believe that,bioligy doesn't work that way, perhaps he was taught the same thing and who knows how many other people think that way.
      Not cutting him any slack for what he said during the election, but wondering who is teaching this stuff.

    2. Well, it was in an ultra-religious, ultra-conservative enviroment where I heard this, and wasn't that guy some sort of Christian? I don't remember if he was catholic, exactly.

      I'm not saying all religious people are like this, 'cause that would be unjust, but I have definetly met very dogmatic people is, and more often than not, they defend a pathriarcal way of living, where yeah, "men can't rape their wives" and "it's partly your fault if you got raped if you were wearing that."

      Unfortunatly for religious people who are not like that, the dogmatic types also happen to be very loud and agressive.

  18. This case has been one of the most rape blamey cases I've seen in a long time. It is truly sickening. I mean have you seen this:

    and this:

    How in anyone's eye could this girl be to blame? And how is her life not ruined in much more of a way than those boys?

    I agree with you totally. And why aren't more parents teaching their sons to have respect for women? I mean that is what it really comes down to right? I do think though, unless Texas is even more screwed up than I think it is, there is no way they didn't know they weren't raping that girl. I'm from your generation, and I don't think any of the guys I knew thought you could just have sex with unconscious people. I think people don't want to go to jail and say what they can to get out of it.

    1. Watching that video is more disturbing to me than the actual descriptions of the rape. Is the victim mentioned even ONCE? No, only talk about how hard it was to see these boys' lives ruined and 'what is the lasting effect of this sentence' on them? Pardon my French, but who the fuck cares! Poor boys might be traumatized enough not to rape anyone again? What about this girl's future? How will she ever trust herself or her friends again?

      One of the boys collapsed upon hearing the verdict? Well thank goodness no one took advantage of HIM when he was incapacitated. Then again if he were a woman, who knows? The whole sense I get from the article and video isn't "why did these boys do such a thing?" but "why do we have to be so hard on them?" I wouldn't be surprised if the defense argument included our favorite 'boys will be boys' line.

  19. I'm around your age, but sometimes reading your posts I feel like I grew up in a different world. It's hard to explain why, but I will say I never felt this way and I never knew a decent man or woman who thought sex with someone unconscous was anything but rape.

    That said, you seem to argue that teaching girls and women to protect themselves tells them it's their fault. But the reality is that there are bad people in the world and it's smart to do your best to avoid certain things. I love to hike, but you will NEVER find me alone on a secluded trail. No one deserves tobe a victim and it is always the perpetrator's fault. But I'm not risking my own safety to make a political statement.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that's what comes across from this post (and others I've seen, and not just from you).

    1. For what it's worth, I've struggled with the same issue. I think it's important we know how to protect ourselves and how to take precautions, but at the same time when society accepts that the responsibility of avoiding rape rests with women (ie. the potential victims) rather than educating potential rapists and bystanders who, like in this case, purport not to know what rape is, then we have a bigger issue on our hands.

      Ultimately no amount of teaching girls and women how to protect themselves will alter the way we as a society perceive rape until and unless we acknowledge that the onus of responsibility does not rest with the victim. Not a little bit, not at all.

      We should be able to walk outside after dark and we should be able to go to a party and drink. And we should be able to go home with a man and not be afraid that if we don't put out we'll be raped. It's a false sense of reassurance we give ourselves that if we avoid all these scenarios (and more!), we'll avoid being sexually assaulted. And that's simply not the case.

    2. I don't look at it as specifically avoiding rape. I'm avoiding being a victim -- robbery, murder, whatever. Rape is one of many possibilities. If I had a son, I would teach him the same.

      There are always going to be bad people in the world who will prey on those weaker than they are, physically or emotionally. I'm not going to give them the opportunity.

      And even if it wouldn't make you open to being a victim, is it ever a good idea to get so drunk you pass out or lose memory or control of yourself? It doesn't make anyone else's actions your fault, but it isn't an intelligent decision.

    3. Renee, what exactly are you saying with that last "but"? If we agree that getting blackout drunk doesn't make anyone's actions your fault, why tack that on there?

      It's not necessarily a problem to teach girls to minimize risks to themselves. But it is a problem to only teach girls this, while NOT teaching kids of any gender what consent is, what rape is, and to never ever do it. It's particularly problematic in our current societal context, in which "unintelligent decisions" are often correlated with positive social indicators. As a woman in my '20s, going out in a miniskirt and makeup to a club in a bad part of town and getting drunk there is a "bad decision"--but simultaneously, it's a sign that I'm socially well-adjusted, confident in my sexuality, and know how to have fun with my friends. (This is not a value judgment at all, and I love quiet nights at home playing Portal. I'm just making an observation about what these actions SIGNAL and what I have been taught that they signal.) What actually makes my choice a good decision vs. a bad one? Usually, it's figured out post hoc: If nothing happens to me, it was fine; if I am assaulted, I shouldn't have been dancing on tables. Better luck next time.

      To further add to this confusion, many girls are taught to be extremely careful with their personal choices to avoid being raped--I definitely was, and was warned specifically that I didn't really know my male friends and they could turn on me at any time. Yet girls are also encouraged to give male friends the benefit of the doubt, and even to extend this courtesy to male strangers. Because it would be awful--awful!--to give offense to a poor guy who doesn't mean any harm.

      Even if I agreed with your premise that one can "avoid being a victim" in any meaningful sense, which I don't, I think this type of socialization severely complicates what might seem to be a straightforward question of "intelligent" vs. unintelligent decisions.

    4. The problem with that line of thinking is that it plays so neatly into the victim blaming though. Sometimes I want to get drunk and lose control and that's my right. If someone happens to me it's still not my fault but you bet if it got to court they'd do their damndest to use that against me.

    5. Another problem is that a lot of advice that is given to women is total b.s. I have heard variations of "watch what you wear" a thousands time. Too bad clothes have NO correlation (let alone causation) to rape. None. At all. Talk about worthless advice. Watch the bartender make my drink (only works if he isn't paid/friends with/is a rapist, etc). We don't teach useful advice. Most rapes are commited by a friend in our own homes. In my opinion RAD courses or something similar are much more useful. i took one in college and it taught me how to physically get out of a situation (while emphasizing that compliance is also an OK option and no one should judge that). I took a RAD course in college and RAGED that I hadn't learned it in high school because it would have come in handy when my (female) friend tried to smother me. We don't teach girls valuble life skills. We teach them to be paranoid and never trust men. We need to teach them physical self-defense, how to assert boundries clearly, and most of all we need to teach men that without a "YES YES OH GOD YES" you should double check that they are into it (and women too). And we need to teach ppl HOW to get consent. "Do you wanna have sex?" Isnt the only way. My Ex used to go "oh I see you're not so into this..." And stop so I'd yell at him until he kept going. It was sexy and he got clear consent that way. So consent can be sexy and that needs to be taught. Oh and that you know woman aren't passive sex objects but active participants is key. /end rant

    6. Re: 'watch what you wear':

      Something I've noticed in pop culture the last several years (and I'm sure everyone else has seen it too, it's pretty hard to miss), is that our female pop icons often appear in videos wearing essentially just corsets, stockings, heels, that kind of stuff.

      Now, I know that women should absolutely be able to wear whatever the hell they like, but if we still blame victims of sexual assault for wearing skimpy clothes, then we aren't there yet. Not even close.

      Seeing these women dressed essentially for the bedroom, it makes me uncomfortable. And I think the reason for that is it feels like they are being portrayed as ladies of negotiable affection.

      I'm thinking there's a really fine line between 'sexually empowered, and can wear what I want', and 'sexually available to anyone viewing this video'.

      And if female fans dress like their idols, (perhaps not quite to that extreme, but wearing revealing clothes), does the 'available' tag then automatically get placed on them? If so, that can't be helpful.

      Is my interpretation off base here? I'm not sure if it's just me that sees this, and is disconcerted by it?

      Andi in NZ

    7. Andi it's not about what we wear, it's about jackasses making judgment calls about us based on it. I should be able to walk up the street naked and not be called a slut or have people assume I'm a lady of 'negotiable affection.'

      Whether or not it's empowering is a whole 'nother conversation.

    8. @ Anon: I definitely see that.

      But I've felt uneasy about this trend, and I think I'm close to pinning down why, as above.

      I'm just not sure if the intended targets of these videos are the men that watch them, though, or if they're trying to portray strong, 'I can wear what I want' women.

      Feeling uneasy about it makes me feel kind of like a prude, because if that's the aim, I'm not seeing it, and it feels more like the video is just more objectification?

      Thank you for your thoughts though, I'll give it some more consideration.

      Andi in NZ

  20. I say execute all rapists. And I dunno about agreeing with you about teaching men what rape is. I was. But, I was raised in a pretty good home and the private school I had taught about what rape was in our health class to everyone "as long as he or she doesn't say yes, then it is rape" basically. So my experience, admittedly, isn't representative of the rest of society. Though I'm not sure if your case is representative of the rest of society either. Your anecdotal evidence is no stronger than mine, I would love to see a study on this and how rape is taught in schools and other ways across the country. I would probably bet it'd come to the conclusion you did about it not properly defining it.

    Though, with your example, you are to blame partially for almost having it happen. Yes, the blame is far FAR more on the guy for trying to take advantage, but you made all those decisions to get drunk and high and go to his room. If you had opted to not do things with someone you barely knew, you wouldn't have been in that situation. We can not free up the responsibility from others entirely.

    But, regardless, fuck that guy "George" and I hope he got a rusty spork shoved up his ass. My hatred for guys who take advantage of girls (or vice versa as that does happen) knows no bounds. It's a good thing I don't rule this world or I'm sure a great many people would find themselves in prison for at least life (or their family members) for things that really disgust me like that.

    You know what really pisses me off? How so many can get away with rape just cause their parents are politicians or something.

    I wish more people were like my brother. He was at a party, girl was passed out, 3 guys were talking about how they were gonna take turns doing her. My brother stood up to them and beat them the hell up. It helped he is army trained, but man he showed them what it is to be a real man. To defend those from predators who can't control themselves.

    And I think it's time we stop treating people who rape, murder or willingly destroy other people's lives for their own pleasure/benefit/amusement/whatever. They are not humans. They are beasts in the form of humans. They might appear human, but appearing human does not make you human. And anyone who argues "Well now you're dehumanizing them" I say "no, they dehumanize themselves by doing the actions they do."

    1. She was a minor being groomed by an adult. She is not to blame. The sick fucker who got her alcohol is fully to blame. She could have been ready to hop on his lap, but as the adult in the situation, it's HIS responsibility so say no, not get her incapacitated instead.

      That sir, is victim blaming.

    2. Agreed! I'm so sick of people saying stuff like that about the poor girl in Steubenville. "If she hadn't gone out and gotten drunk then none of this would have happened to her" Well yes, but if she hadn't left the house that day then it wouldn't have happened either. If you follow that line of reasoning through to conclusion then you are telling women to never interact with anyone, and don't you dare enjoy a drink or anything like that. In fact just don't ever leave the house, then bad things won't happen to you. Its ridciulous, and disgusting.

    3. You're kidding, right? She was a teenager, he was an adult. And even if she had been a grown ass woman, it still would have been his responsibility to stop because she was a) unconscious, b) unable to consent, c) actively trying to get away from him. This is tantamount to accusing someone of carrying a little bit of the blame for getting shanked or robbed. The crime is perpetrated by the person committing it, not by the victim.

    4. There's a whole lot of disturbing in that comment. Victim blaming, advocating of violence, bizarre equivocation.

      Dehumanising perpetrators doesn't help in the slightest. Jenny's argument is that these boys, in their privileged position, aren't taught properly what rape is. You yourself suggest that that's likely the case quite often. Plus, boys are exposed to so much porn online, so many dreadful messages about sex, and what 'women want' and what 'men do' - if those messages aren't counteracted by education, no wonder rape culture proliferates. As Jenny suggests, it's a societal problem.

      Banging on about how much violence you'd like to do to offenders and how you excuse that by considering them "beasts" (whatever that means) just sounds like obnoxious white knighting to me.

      I don't feel safe with men whose answer to violence is more violence in society any more than I feel safe in rape culture. I certainly don't think 'hey, what a good guy! he'll hit anyone trying to hurt defenceless women', which is the effect your post kind of reads like you might be going for. Sure, in cases where hitting someone is the only way to protect their victim, that's different. Pontificating about moral superiority giving you the right to think you would be justified in 'executing' an offender - no.

    5. And absolutely, about the grooming. I remember once, I got on a train, it was an old-fashioned train with closed compartments so you were stuck there until the next station. i specifically chose a compartment with an adult woman in it, because I was 14 and knew I 'mustn't' be alone with a man/men 'just in case'. Anyway, a man started talking to me and asking me personal questions, I was uncomfortable but I felt immense pressure not to be rude. As a teenager, school conditions you to believe that adults know what the right thing to do, and refusing to do as asked is likely to lead to trouble. And I was frightened he'd think I was racist if I told him to stop asking questions, because he was a different race to me. The woman in the carriage spoke up after a while, she really told him off. Luckily, she'd got over the nonsense that was paralysing me.

      but anyway this is just to say, victim blaming is appalling no matter what the age of the victim or the situation, but obviously the dynamic between teenager and adult makes this instance of victim blaming, well, I hesitate to say 'worse' but maybe 'especially idiotic and insensitive'.

    6. oh one last thought, between about the ages of 14 and 22 or so I was always out at clubs and parties and very often drunk and/or stoned. If you'd told me I was 'asking for it' or even 'not doing enough to stop it' I would have laughed in your face. I also never got raped by a violent stranger.

      I also had horrible 'boyfriends' and horrible one night 'things' and if I'd known anything at all I would have had nothing to do with any of them, but I didn't know better. There were occasions, many, many occasions where I had sex 'for a quiet life', to 'avoid trouble', to 'shut him up', etc. I believe this is true for many, many women. I sort of despair for society when i think about how many messages out there counteract any of the kind of education we're talking about, but we have to start in every way we can.

    7. I can't stand this attitude of anyone who would do such an act is a "beast" and less than human, and so we should just assume that nothing like this would ever happen if the guy is a "real man."

      What happened in Steubenville is tragic, and nothing excuses the decisions that those boys made that night. But as Jenny pointed out, these were boys who had never been told "no" in their whole lives and were brought up to literally believe they could get away with anything. We need to teach young men that they need to respect young women, and parents need to actively teach them that. Women aren't something to either be "defended" by the "real men" or attacked by the "beasts." We are people and thus all we ask is to be treated as such, not as objects.

    8. I think your post elucidates the very fact you're trying to deny. You start off saying that *you* know what rape is, and *you* were taught the right things about rape, but you go straight from that into saying you think a fifteen year old girl (in *any* way shape or form) shares the blame for her near-rape experience at the hands of a thirty year old man. How is this not EXACTLY the wrong thing to teach children about rape?

      Should she have been drinking? No. Should she have gone up to his room for pot? No.

      That means she is responsible for her hangover the next day, it means she's responsible for any injury SHE DOES TO HERSELF as a result of her intoxication, and it means she is responsible if she ends up puking her guts out that night. It does NOT mean she is responsible for the actions of another person - particularly not one who offered her booze and pot for the express purpose of getting her messed up enough not to be able to resist when he tried to have sex with her without her consent: also known as RAPE.

      If someone makes poor decisions, yes the DIRECT results of those decisions are their responsibility, but the second you blame them for someone ELSE's decisions and someone ELSE's actions during that time, you are contributing to victim blaming and you are perpetuating rape culture.

      I am not saying this to try to attack you, though I realize it may come across this way. I am saying this to try to illustrate to you how pervasive rape culture is. There's virtually no one out there walking around saying, "Oh, rape. Yeah, that's fine." No one sees themselves as a contributor to rape culture. We all go along agreeing, "Rape; terrible, of course. *I* would never condone that, *I* know right from wrong," but until people realize that excusing rape to ANY degree *is* condoning it, we'll never make significant progress in changing things.

  21. You are so absolutely right. A couple of month back I was shocked to find out that in my country (Germany) a man got away with rape because the drunk girl he was home alone with and had sex with did say no several times during the act BUT since she never forcefully disagreed, like screaming, biting, scratching it was not considered rape. I studied German law for several semesters and believe me when I tell you that (probably because of our history) it is a very genius humane philantrophic system that really tries to make justice possible and does not like to be used and twisted in the way the American law system is used sometimes to just win a case. Of course it happens to some degree because there are lawyers and they want to win, but since there are always a judge and two jurors to decide and not just a jury it is not about convincing some random jury people of right and wrong. Which makes it even more shocking to me that this kind of rape culture (and I hate those buzz words but it really fits)sits so deep that even one of the most humane and well thought trough legal systems of the world does not recognize rape unless you forcefully disagree. It is even worse considering that forcefully disagreeing in a situation like this can get you hurt or killed. I have been in a situation where I had to balance on that line and I was really scared. I got out of it unhurt and alright but I was blaming myself to some degree. Even though I have not been brought up with the advice you got and me and my brothers have always been taught that consent is more than the absence of "no". But I thought that as I was a grown up and smart person who should be able to know what situations to get in and what not and I thought that I had been playing with fire and therefore almost getting burned was my fault. Especially since the other person involved just had no malicious intend and really just couldn't help himself. (See, I am even trying to justify his awful behaviour right now). In that regard I noticed he seemed like a little boy and when I scolded him for his behaviour the next day and explained to him that what he did was seriously wrong and he really scared me he honestly seemed upset and ashamed of himself. We need to teach our girls to never be ashamed to set their boundries in fear of hurting someone (and I have been told and still have a hard time with it because i am pleaser by nature) and our boys to look out for and respect that boundries, and maybe some of them still have a hard time to do so even though they respect their mothers and sisters, taking advantage of someone can be tempting and since there is truth to the proverb that opportunity makes the thief, we have to keep up all the precautions of not getting raped AND try to get society to change it view on the subject.

  22. CNN's response to the rape made me physically ill. Their wall is exploding with comments about how they approached the verdict. There is a video here:

  23. I think part of the confusion is that no doesnt in fact always mean no. Theres alot of body language, timing, subtle hints, and flirtations- not to mention some people just dont feel comfortable saying yes, but do feel comfortable climbing on board. Ive slept with a few girls who didnt come out and say "yes, we should have sex" but showed through action that they were interested.

    Another part is that there are some people out there who claim rape for reasons that arent... rape. IE their mother walks in on them and their new boyfriend, their spouse walks in on their affair, etc. And charges get pressed. If I could guarantee that none of these scenarios were happening Id be fine with taking every rapist out back and shooting them.

    Ill definitely agree that unconscious should be intuitively an automatic 'no'. That this kind of thing should be part of sex education- scenarios where its just not going to be appropriate, no matter what. Of course, that would require candid sex ed in american schools wouldnt it?

    1. It doesn't matter if you think they're interested. Unless they SAY YES, then don't have sex with them.

    2. To add some nuance to this, I've been told by someone who lives in Japan that Japanese women are under a lot of pressure to act virginal, while being under no pressure to actually BE virginal. Which means that, in his experience, Japanese women will absolutely refuse to say "I want you to fuck my brains out" even though that's what they want (and just to head off the next question: he refuses to have sex with the women who act like that for fear of misreading the signals).

      Now, given how our culture tends to treat women who enjoy sex (slut-shaming and the like) is it possible that a similar phenomena is occurring here? That some women who do want sex are afraid to say so because they don't want to be seen as sluts, so they try to say "yes" with body language and not words?

      To be perfectly clear I am NOT saying that this happens often, or that it makes it acceptable to have sex with someone who hasn't consented. I'm just wondering if there isn't at least a grain of truth to what Someguy said.

    3. Possible or not, likely or not, saying that you can just use body language, not words, to interpret consent will lead to horrible situations. "She said no, but she flipped her hair over her shoulder in that way, so I knew she really wanted to have sex with me!" There are probably more women who feel like it's their duty to have sex with a guy who pays for a meal, who can be easily pressured into having sex because he did help her move. And body language isn't universal. For example, maybe some people tug on their hair when they're excited, or turned on? And maybe others tug on their hair when they're scared or nervous? So because a woman is nervously tugging on her hair and saying no, a guy thinks she's nervous about being called a slut if she says yes, and thinks he's doing her a favor by continuing to pressure her into sex?
      Yeah, how about we just get society to the point to where we can all say what we feel, not give rapists more reasons to not realize they're rapists.

    4. Katie, I'm in agreement with you...I do think this happens in the US. I've SEEN this happen! (I still think it should be a vocalized "Yes".) As a girl who was raised to "hold sacred my virginity until marriage" and not given any sexual education, going to college with other young women taught the same thing... I often found that the girls were quite capable of slut-shaming themselves out of sex.
      FlamingFool, I was going to point out that I didn't think that Someguy was talking about something as subtle as tugging hair, but then I re-read what he wrote and decided he is an idiot. :-P

    5. @FlamingFool:

      I absolutely agree that "I thought her body language meant 'yes'" is not an excuse, and should not be used in place of clear consent. But if we want any hope of fixing our culture's issues with rape we need to make sure we actually address everything that's going on. If boys are taking body language to be consent then that's a problem. If girls are using body language to give consent (without offering verbal consent as well) then that is also a problem. Ideally both of those issues need to be addressed and fixed.

    6. Non-verbal consent exists, yes. I've certainly given it myself. The problem is that it is extremely context-dependent and hard to quantify. I don't actually think people who act in good faith with due concern for their partners' wellbeing end up "accidentally" raping people often, even if the word "yes" never passed their lips. It's actually shockingly easy NOT to rape people, when you think about it - just don't have sex with people who aren't clearly demonstrating that they want to have sex with you. However, there are people out there who will twist and turn and use every loophole they can get their hands on to claim that they got consent, or at least that they misinterpreted what they got. That is why I encourage the idea that asking should be standard.

    7. Yeah.... No.

      If someone can't get their shit together enough be clear about consenting to sex, then YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH THAT PERSON. They are not ready for real, adult relations. Best cases, you're chance of good sex are slim to none. (Do you like this? maybe. What about this? maybe. What do you like? dunno. Damn it! I give up.) And the worst case - the worst case is you're a rapist.

      But don't just take my word for it - listen to Louis CK:

    8. Good lord SomeGuy...NO!!!!!!!!!!!! no. Beyond the fact that no is not in fact the jumping off point for negotiations is the laughable idea that men know what women want in even the most mundane things (generalizing here).

      The last time a dude knew what I wanted based on my body language was when the McDonald's worker could tell I wanted him to super size everything. And quite frankly that one was a given.

      So yeah, let's not base our consent to your sexual advances on your mind reading abilities or your intuitiveness.

  24. I was raped about a month ago and it was eerily similar to the story told above with the girl and her boyfriend in the woods. (I am so sorry that happened to you, btw.) Even after telling him I didn't want sex earlier in the day, he still thought he could convince me later on (which was partially my fault, due to poor word choices). Still, though. I said no, kept saying no, but eventually said yes because I didn't want things to get more out of control than they already had.

    I told my boyfriend and a friend (who was a guy) about it later and my boyfriend said, "You shouldn't have put yourself in a situation where you'd be left alone with him, but I'm furious that he raped you."

    Friend said, "I don't like that you did that, but what he did was even more despicable."

    Is this why men are so confused? I don't know how to react to this dual reaction. Why is it that his "wearing me down" was so heinous, but it was still my fault anyway? I should want to hang out with a friend of mine and expect to not be coerced into sex. (It was a friend I "put myself into that situation" with.) I shouldn't still feel ashamed. This mixed opinion is something I haven't had to deal with before. Has anyone else experienced this?

    P.S. I am in fact female, I just use Jim John to stay anonymous.

    1. I'm so sorry this happened to you. Your boyfriend, your friend are both wrong. Coercion doesn't mean consent. You're not to blame for your rape, not even if you gave mixed messages, not even if you eventually caved in because you were afraid things could escalate and you would be hurt. You did nothing wrong.

    2. You were in no way to blame. I'm sorry that happened to you, and I'm sorry your friends weren't supportive.

    3. It wasn't your fault. Everything Em said, basically. We can't stress this enough, it was not your fault.

      I'm really sorry to hear this happened to you.

    4. I'm so sorry to hear this happened to you and I hope you can get through it ok. Absolutely nothing was your fault, remember that always.

  25. Really good post, and it resonated with me on a personal level.

    A couple of years ago my first boyfriend raped me. It wasn't violent and he stopped halfway through but he knew I didn't want sex that night because I'd told him so. I'm only just starting to come to terms with it because I suppressed it, and for years I excused his actions because I couldn't deal with it. Reading your post was like reading the list of excuses I used to explain his behaviour, but it was something that I needed to hear.

    When I went to my high school sex ed classes, consent was never discussed once, and I suffered as a direct result of this. It has to change.

    1. Sadly, I've heard from a lot of women today who have been raped and only realized it years later. :( I'm sorry that happened to you.

  26. When I first heard about this case, I was utterly appalled, not only at the actions of the two rapists, but also at the attitudes and actions of those others at the party, fully aware of what was happening. In my mind, when they did NOTHING, and even laughed and joked about it, this made them as equally guilty as the rapists.

    A disturbingly large number of male circles seem to have this strange unwritten rule that women cease being people in certain environments, and, speaking with extreme sarcasm, ‘rape only happens if women are people’. Parties, bars, clubs, alone with a new girlfriend, for some reason many men in these environments instantly turn women from people, into entertainment venues. To these fellows, the only reason women are there is to provide entertainment, in whatever form that may be, to the men present. Thus making unwanted sexual advances is A-OK! That’s what she’s here for. The SECOND you start thinking this way, you instantly turn from ‘decent guy,’ to potential rapist.

    That attitude, is utterly disgusting and appalling, and leads to rape, and cases like this, when bystanders do nothing. And what’s most horrible about it is how insidious it is. How it gets in your head, men and women, when they start blaming the victim, or when otherwise nice people start dismissing women going to parties, that they should of ‘expected it.’

    Ugh. The entire thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I truly hope to see more of the party goers prosecuted in this case. No-one cared about this girl, and that breaks my heart. No-one saw her and thought, ‘jeeze, she’s really out of it, I should see her safely home, or at least make sure she’s alright.’

    Compassion is the key foundation of humanity, and the general lack of it shown at, and towards the victim in this case makes me despair. I am glad to see, though, that there are many online that do care, and are striving to make people aware of this case, and make men realize the error in this disturbing double-thinking.

    Go Jenny Go!

  27. My daughter is ten, and I don't know what the hell to tell her. She's currently in a sex ed class (that OWL class that I linked to you on twitter), but I don't know if it covers rape. We talk a fine talk about her body being her body, but really? She's small. Even when she's an adult, she's going to be small. She takes martial arts, and kicks ass at it, but if somebody really wants to rape her, it will happen. And that's not her fault. But seriously. If these boys can honestly say "I don't know it was rape", what the hell are we teaching our kids?

    There's a lot more in my head, but I just can't get it out right now.

    1. I just went and asked my daughter if her OWL class mentioned rape. (Response: "I don't know what that is.") Turns out, they talk about it, but I think it's more in the line of child abuse. I told her what it was, and we talked about it, and, of course, the conversation turned to Buffy.

    2. As an OWL graduate and an OWL teacher, I can tell you that while rape isn't discussed much in the younger age groups, it is in the 7-9th grade and the 10th-12th grade classes. Your daughter just hasn't gotten there yet.

    3. I remember in the 5th grade, I think I hit someone playfully or something, and the guy playfully screamed "Rape, rape!" I had no idea what it was, so I turned to my friendly Children's Dictionary. You know what it said rape was? Striking or hitting. Maybe abuse was somewhere in there (I can't quite remember). It was years and years before I ever fully understood what rape was, so I'm not surprised your 10 year old hasn't been taught about it either. I'm pretty sure we never covered it in my "sex ed" in Jr. High, and I didn't have sex ed in high school (which shows more troubling things than just learning about consent). Yay conservative Missouri.

    4. Jess, thank you for talking to your daughter about rape. My father gave me a rape talk when I was 10 years old as well. I probably didn't fully understand what he was saying at the time, but I look back now & feel grateful.

  28. I definitely think that the way male sexuality is discussed and framed contributes to things like this. I have overheard way too many discussions about my college where sex as framed as acting upon a woman or doing whatever you want with a woman was seen as a desirable situation. It always leaves me feeling uncomfortable. In turn a lot of popular sex tips for women revolve around pleasing men.

    It is SO important to emphasize that not all harassment or rape occurs in a threatening context. I was approached by a man last spring when walking to my dorm. He never said anything overtly sexual to me although he complimented me and asked about my relationship status. He assumed that I didn't have a boyfriend, and he talked about other girls he had dated even though I had not shown any interest in it. It wasn't like obvious, but something definitely felt off about it. It bothered me enough to talk with someone about it and until she brought it up I hadn't even identified it as harassment. I thought it was my fault for being afraid of someone who was just trying to be nice. I honestly don't think that guy even knew he was making me uncomfortable either. I am very guarded around men because of rape culture, to be honest I am actually kind of afraid of them. It's shitty, but I don't know what else I can do to protect myself except be as careful as I can.

    1. Also there really isn't a definite way for me to protect myself. I guess it's more like preventative measures or just making me feel safer even though I may never actually be safer.

  29. I went all through high school AND university with a guy who couldn't keep his fucking hands to himself. He was CONSTANTLY giving his female friends unasked for and unwanted backrubs. Every time he touched me I'd grit my teeth and say nothing (!) because I was so sure he was just trying to be a nice guy (!!) and after all, it was just a goddamn backrub and if it made me feel like I wanted to take his hands off at the wrists that was my problem, right?

    It was years before I could admit how he violated me (and many of my friends, too)... years before I say even to myself that his actions made me feel unsafe... and I still wish I could confront him.

    This post will stay with me, I think. Thank you for writing it.

    1. I think I went to college with that guy...*shudders*

  30. First of all at least these guys got some sort of legal action against them and possibly more to get handed down by the court and to more people, while I feel they should have gotten the max sentence at least they were sentenced to something. I love the way they were all I am so sorry (yeah now that you are going to get a verdict handed down you are sorry).
    This perhaps will bring to teens and their parents discussions of the need to stop this kind of shit. I am tired of everytime a guy is a promising jock that he gets a pass. This happens all the time in the sports world and continues into adulthood. Just cause someone is good at sports doesn't mean he should get out of every situation that the rest of us would be in trouble for.
    I hate that teens drink like this, I hate that teens think sex is ok like this, I hate that guys think like this, but girls do too. They see this in a show and think it's funny and ok. They saw one of our past presidents get head under his desk and think that it's not violation unless it's a penis in the vagina, so fingers and blow-jobs are ok, that's not really sex, our president even said so (and dnon't think that kids didn't think so after that, I have heard them say it). I am sick of sex being used as power, or as something funny (look at all the the teen comedies made in the last 5-10 years). Sex with someone should also mean respect of that person. Before you enter into that step of your life you should be old enough to know what it means and please be sober!
    So lets leave out the sex part and just talk about her being that drunk or drugged or whatever, she could have needed medical help, good thing she pucked without aspirating it in her lungs and choked to death, they probably would have left her there. She was probably suffering from alcohol poisoning. This whole story is bad on so many levels that I had better just leave it at that.

    I think the reason that these boys didn't see this as rape is because it is always described as something violent and as something used for control and not really sexual, for example a serial rapist attacking an 80 year old woman.

    The definition of rape varies in different parts of the world. It is often defined as sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, of one person by another person without the consent of the victim. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines it as "sexual intercourse without valid consent," and the World Health Organization defined it in 2002 as "physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – even if slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object". Remember it can also happen to boys and men.
    And if you haven't heard or seen this one yet,

    1. let's not forget a;; Christian teens having anal sex in order to remain 'pure virgins' and all the utter awfulness tied up with that mess.

    2. You are so right. I grew up in a football town (not in the US though) and it was pretty much expected that women were there to be paraded and used however the football players liked. I was threatened with rape and subjected to sexual assaults of a non penetrative nature reasonably regularly and my thinking was so screwed up from growing up in that environment that I was flattered. Flattered!!!!! And yet if I'd gone along with their intentions I'd have been a filthy slut, just a football groupie out to get with the main chance and I'd have been shunned by the women and treated even worse by the men. Seriously it is a toxic environment and to this day I wonder how any right thinking member of society can allow it to continue.

  31. Last year (aged 17) I was at a house party after being invited by a guy I had been seeing for a month or two. Alcohol/drugs were passed around and I had quite a lot. I remember the exact feeling you described of blacking out/regaining consciousness as he physically pushed me up the stairs and into a bedroom. I remember thinking about going to sleep because I was super tired. We were couple-y at the party, kissing etc and I remember him telling be that I couldn't be such a tease and not follow through as he was literally taking my shoes off for me.

    I lost my virginity probably while passed out after drinking/getting high and I feel sick typing this out and admitting the worst part - that I will always blame myself for getting into the situation of being too wasted to stop him.

    1. It was *not* your fault. Honestly. I'm sorry this happened to you.

    2. You are not to blame, and I'm so sorry that that happened to you.

    3. Oh God, I am so sorry. Other anons are right, that was not your fault. If you're college bound soon (or are at school now, I can't tell if you meant you're 17 now or were then) it might be worth checking out your school's counseling services. This is not like, a medical recommendation or decree or anything at all, but I've gotten campus counseling for a slew of issues (sexual assault, EDs, suicidal urges) and it kept me sane.

  32. I still have a hard time saying "I was raped" when talking about the 28yr old man who had sex with me when I was barely 13. It was rape. It happened multiple times over the course of several weeks. And yet, because it wasn't violent and because I didn't get myself out of that situation, I still have a hard time just saying "I was raped". It's been more than a dozen years now. What is wrong with this society that I can still feel like it was my fault? When trying to talk to an ex about this, he just shrugged it off when he found out it wasn't violent. "oh, well, if that's how it went down then no big deal".

    1. And it was *not* your fault. Honestly. I'm sorry this happened to you, too.

  33. Thanks Jenny!! I did comment about this on another of your posts but it bears repeating. We MUST teach our boys not to rape. FULL STOP.
    I cannot do much to change this fucked up world - BUT I do have a son and I will teach him about a women's absolute agency over her body. I encourage everyone to pledge to do the same!!!

  34. Just wondering if anyone saw these stories;

    the first link is to the news report from this rape trial where they seemed more offended at the lives of the football players being destroyed, instead of focusing on the actual victim.

    and the second link is to a story about an African country banning 'rape-inducing' clothing.



  36. I was about to write that I felt lucky for never having been in the kind of situation that both you and many commenters have described, but I had to take it back because 'lucky' just seems the completely wrong word. It shouldn't be just dumb luck that has kept me safe. It should be an exception to suffer not just assault but grooming or a narrow escape, not an execption to have avoided it.

    As I read this post and the comments, I've been thinking about why it is that I've never been in this kind of situation and I've come up with the conclusion that it is down to fear. A combination of a Catholic school sex education, an all-girls school led to me being really confused about sex. I think I thought it was something that didn't really apply to me. My parents' fear of my being bundled into the back of a van by a stranger (there is actually believed to have been a serial killer operating in my area for some years) meant that I didn't really go anywhere by myself. My friends and I used to walk each other home and we only lived around the corner from each other, in a dead end road where we knew everyone who lived on the street.

    At college, I discovered alcohol but as I only went out with large gaggles of girls, there was always somewhere to hide when, at the end of the night, guys would wander up to girls and start trying to make out with them without even saying hello. Always struck me as weird but a lot of people thought I was a bit of a prude. I never did anything with my body that I didn't want to but this seemed to result in my peers thinking I was a bit odd. Were they judging me for my sexual behaviour or am I over-analysing? Who knows...

    I'm in my late 20s now and it was only when I started dating my current boyfriend that I realised how much I moderate my own behaviour. He lives in a seaside town and often goes out at night walking or fishing. I was very stressed and trying to write a thesis and he was telling me how he found the night air cleared his head and it was so peaceful with no one else around. And it really hit me that not only do I not go out by myself at night, I don't even consider doing so. I don't think 'Well, I can't do that, I might get raped', it goes completely beyond that into my subconscious. Which sucks.

    This long rambling comment isn't really going anywhere but I guess I just wanted to get my thoughts out there. I find not that many people in my day-to-day life agree with me on issues like this. They are otherwise mostly decent, kind people so I'm left with the impression that, like this post suggests, education is the problem.

    I have a (female) friend from college who used to always complain about our mutual friend 'leading guys on'. I feel she was never able to understand the situation as she always had the cast iron excuse of being in a relationship with her now husband so she was not in the position of having to decide whether to get with a guy or not. The supposed 'tease' was not up for casual sex mostly on religious grounds. I didn't agree with her religious reasoning but I've always respected her choice. As for the girl who thinks she's a tease, I've always disagreed with her but I've never come up with a way to change her opinion.

    1. I meant to add at the end, Jenny, that I think it's really great to see someone talking about this issue in a sensible way. It's difficult to see how to solve the problems you talk about in your post but people expressing the opinion that something is clearly wrong has to be a step in the right direction.

  37. As someone with a young daughter, I would love to see schools, parents, media, and society teach her that she is empowered. She gets to decide who she has sex with - entirely her decision - and how that happens. And, if she is unable to tell him her wishes or make them known beyond a shadow of a doubt, then it is rape.

    For the longest time, I've dealt with some guilt. I met a guy over the internet and during the time we were talking, he had asked me some sexually explicit things that I answered.

    We arranged to go out and meet and he came over to pick me up. I invited him in momentarily while I got my stuff together. He started talking sexually explicit to me there... and asked for a "tour" of the apartment. I showed it to him without my bedroom - and he started walking toward the room I didn't show him - he wanted to see the whole house.

    So, I followed him back there and stood in the doorway and he kept trying to get me to come in. I knew what was happening, and I didn't want it to happen.

    But, I was scared. I felt that, just like society had taught me, I had led him on - answered his sexually explicit questions, invited him into my home. And when he walked into rooms I didn't invite him, I didn't have the power to tell him no because I was a tease.

    I had sex with him and asked him to leave - because I was afraid of what would happen if I said no. I've always blamed myself for that - I should have said no and stood up to him. After he left, I felt like I had been raped. It wasn't what I wanted, but I was intimidated into doing it because of how he acted. But, yet, I blamed myself. And I realize that it was from this message we give - if you don't say no, it's not rape.

  38. Both Captain Awkward ( and Pervocracy ( talk a lot about "Enthusiastic Consent." They are excellent blogs.

  39. This is an incredibly courageous post but it needs to be said and said in plain English. I had an uncle molest me age 13 - I was left with him and his 2 young kids while my Mum and aunt went to visit a chronically ill relative. He basically had a captive audience, twice a week. When I told my mum what was happening and begged her not to leave me there, she stopped her ears and said "Why are you trying to make it so difficult for me to visit my sister?". If my daughter ever told me this - I would take the nine-iron to the man. Or let her. This was in the house with his TWO YOUNG KIDS!!!!! What part of that wasn't totally wrong on every level? Our sons need us to educate them and our daughters need us to support them.

  40. Thank you for writing this. Sorry you had to experience that and were made to feel guilty for it.
    I completely agree with all that you've said and would emphasize that we also need to tell girls from a young age that their body is only theirs. I remember being in maybe grade 6 or 7 and there was this "game" going around at my school where the boys would try to sneak up to girls and touch them somewhere (usually the thigh or abdominal) and girls would just uncomfortably giggle, but do nothing about it. I made it clear I was not playing this game. One day, one of the athletically gifted assholes at my school came up to me and said he was going to just poke my stomach because geez, it's just a gaaaaame. I warned him if he did, he'd get a really painful smack across the face. He did it, and I followed up as I'd warned. After recess, we were in class when our teacher asked him what happened to his face and he sheepishly mumbled, "Nothing." My classmates giggled since they'd witnessed what happened. As an adult, I realize violence is not the answer. I should have gone straight to the administration and my parents (who always stuck up for me, thankfully) and not shut up until that nonsense was put to and end. But it did put a stop to the "game."
    The reason I shared this was to point out that this entitlement starts early. Somewhere along the way my parents and other adults in my life taught me that no one had a right to touch me, but somehow so many other girls took it as a compliment that these boys were violating their agency over their own bodies. These boys had also never been taught girls aren't just play things. If they'd been grazing the legs of male classmates, they would expect anger, probably even aggression, but because we were girls, we would remain passive.
    I went to a fairly liberal all-girls high school. We regularly had an advocacy group come in and talk to us about abusive relationships (we also had a bunch of women come to our home rooms to tell us how much fun heavy petting is so we'd delay having sex. That was an interesting day.) They stressed that stranger rape was rather rare and most rape is perpetrated by an acquaintance, even a boyfriend. How sad is it that most of us girls had never even considered that we could be raped by a boyfriend? It was around that time I started dating my current boyfriend and basically had to teach him in clear terms what consent was because he'd never been taught (he went to an all-boys school. I think there's a relation there. He had a teacher who believes pregnancy via rape is impossible. Ahem.) He still made jokes about "No doesn't always mean no" because with enough begging a girl might change her mind. His attitude very quickly turned into, "Why would you even want a girl to do something if you know she's not enjoying it, too?" It seems like such a simple concept that we could easily teach all kids from a young age -- all parties involved in a sexual encounter should be visibly, enthusiastically enjoying themselves!
    Sadly, I could share loads more anecdotes in my life that demonstrate the prevalence of rape culture but I think I'm officially rambling...and a little depressed by this whole conversation. Off to ZooBorns! Thanks again, Jenny.

    1. Whoops. I meant to say we need to teach girls AND boys that girls have agency (and boys, too, of course) over their own bodies. If we only taught girls, we wouldn't be going much further than we are now by telling girls it's their responsibility to protect themselves.

  41. I think we also need to touch more on the, " if she says no half way through, it is still rape." Too many people get away with it and blame the victim because she "changed her mind." I changed my mind when he got violent and scary. The cops didn't believe me and actually denied me the things a rape victim gets: a kit, an exam, an investigation. They only took a statement because 1) I never verbally said, "No." 2) I had slept with him before. 3) I was engaged with sex with him before I panicked. 4) I kept him from accidentally killing himself afterwards. He swears he doesn't remember because he was too hopped up. I spent half a year blaming myself for "getting into that position". That's a lot less than a lot of women.

    1. See, this line of thinking is one thing that freaks me out about having sex with new partners. In my last relationship, I ended up having a lot of sex problems, where I'd really want to have sex, but it was painful without a lot of build up, and sometimes even then. My partner would stop, and we'd do something else, sexual or otherwise.
      I'm just afraid I'll get with a person who won't stop if it starts hurting. Like, I morally am not opposed to one night stands, and I've been considering them since it's *ahem* been awhile, but there are just too many frightening possibilities of me changing my mind, or going for one person so another person thinks I'm fair game to them, or, as mentioned, having issues and needing to stop in the middle, but that person not respecting that no.
      So instead I sit at home and read Jenny's blog. haha

    2. Laura...That is just horrible. The cops should not be given the power to negate your right to say no!
      This is why we can't just teach "Yes means yes". We must teach "yes means yes" AND "no means no". Just because someone consents, doesn't mean they do not have the right to change their minds!

  42. I am completely burnt out, and utterly sick and tired, of arguing with rape apologists until I'm blue in the face. I just cannot do it any longer, and I feel quite bad about it because it feels like giving up, and in a way, I'm pretty sure it is. I should do more. I should go back out and keep on arguing over and over and over again because hey, if I change the perspective of at least one person then it's worth it, right? I really, really wish I had the energy to do so, and I feel cripplingly guilty when this sort of thing happens and I tell myself "What are you doing to stop this from happening? Nothing? Then you are part of the problem. And even when you are doing something, you're still part of the problem."

    I know about Enthusiastic Consent, I believe rape is any sexual act or contact without the express (and enthusiastic) consent of the other person, I believe a person has a right to withdraw consent at any time, I believe we should teach men not to rape instead of teaching women not to get raped, I believe rape culture exists and is a horrible, pervasive, overwhelming thing, I believe in male privilege and think it's disgusting that men put their own desires over anything else (that's why the objectification of women is such a huge problem: it teaches men to see women as objects that exist only for their pleasure, instead of as actual human beings).

    But it's not enough. Butting heads with people both in and out of the internet has made me realise this is an enormous, overwhelming, absolutely hopeless problem that I have no idea how to tackle. People cling tenaciously to their skewed worldview and are rarely interested in educating themselves. Instead of trying to empathise with rape victims and understand the problems that plague society in that regard, they engage in apologism and denialism.

    I swear, if I hear or see one more person spouting rubbish about how terribly important "false rape accusations" are, or how rape suspects are the true victims, or that hideous "at least rape victims can get over their trauma, while a rapist/rape suspect's lives are ruined forever" bullshit, I will scream until my voice goes hoarse.

    1. After reading the comments, I feel really, really shitty about all the people who have had such a close brush with rape, or who have been actually raped. I am so sorry that happened to you. And I think it's so fucking unfair that our shitty, shitty culture gives people like me a peace of mind and a sense of safety that we just flat out take for granted. Every single time a woman has made me uncomfortable with overt sexual advances, I knew, at least on a subconscious level, that I had nothing to fear from her. I was bigger and stronger, so as long as I didn't drink or intoxicated myself, and as long as I remained firm against the "wear down" effect, I knew she couldn't rape me.

      And that's something men just flat-out take for granted. Even when I was repeatedly hit on by a (male) cab driver, whose flirting kept escalating into more overtly disgusting remarks (because I, being part of the LGBT community, wasn't going to act like a homophobic douchebag, so he took advantage of my "letting him down easily" attitude to try and wear me down with more graphic and overt flirting. While I was stuck with him in the cab and practically squirming with discomfort) and he didn't let up until I invented a non-existent girlfriend, I knew I was in no real danger of being raped.

      It just makes me feel sad and impotent that things are so fucking unequal, that I know that if I get raped, it'll be due to a combination of really unlikely factors (and will be an exception, not the rule), while women have to face that very real possibility every single day.

  43. Thanks for this post, Jen. Recently I've been thinking about the time that my ex-boyfriend talked me into having sex when I had made it clear several times that I didn't want to that day - he "wore me down." I feel upset about this. I don't hate him, he was a good boyfriend, but I am so furious at this culture that told him he was entitled to sex and that he could get "the yes" if he just kept asking. I hope that these conversations will soon be had in the public sphere, instead of being thought of as something "radical."

  44. This post really struck a nerve with me. As someone who lost their virginity to a rape just like this, I am in full agreement. I think this post is very important. The day after it happened he asked me why I wasn't there in the morning. He didn't understand what he had done. Yes, I was drunk, but I remember saying no. He just kept on doing his thing. I confronted him the next day, told him he raped me, and he defended his actions, then he asked me to "give him another chance." I was too scared to report it because I knew it would be a "he said, she said" situation. I wish I had been braver back then.

  45. Women and men ask to be raped. They dress and act a certain way, they ask to be raped. They do anything that isn't being a perfectly, socially acceptable clone, they ask to be raped.

    They didn't say no. It's not rape.

    Women can't get pregnant from rape. Even if she somehow did, it's still not her place to terminate "the baby."

    Men who get raped must be homosexual. They must be social deviants. They asked for it.

    It's not rape, they said yes eventually. It's not rape, they didn't say no.

    Don't accuse them of rape, think of how that will ruin their lives.

    Don't ever say you were assaulted. That makes you a whore who asked for it.

    It's things like this that make me sick, that make me ashamed of living in this culture that ALLOWS this and fucking glorifies it. It's MY body. Not your plaything. What happened to that girl was rape, no matter how you slice it. She gave NO consent. Those boys should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and then some. They should be made an example. Their "bright and promising futures?" Oh, I'm so sorry. I guess they should have thought of that before they used that poor girl as a sex toy.
    I applaud you for your article. :) These things need to be said!

  46. My ex husband wanted a four some. I wasn't keen on it. He and I were at home, drinking, celebrating the end of finals. I got really fucked up. I went out back for air. He called the chick and her boyfriend over. They got even more drunk.

    While I was outside, my rapist went to find me. I mean, I was hidden in the shadow of a tree, because I didn't want to be in that situation. When hubby dearest first proposed such play, I was not interested. Still wasn't interested and now I was scared. Went inside, puked, laid down in my own bed.

    He asked me what I wanted, I said I don't know. Because I was really fucking drunk, more plastered than I had ever been-- and I went to a party college-- so ROYALLY fucked up. Just like they wanted.

    I was raped repeatedly that night, while my "husband" took off with the chick and evidently banged her in his van, because he threw that in my face when I got slut-shamed. And, oh, the slut-shaming which was only one way.

    I think those little rapists in Ohio got off easy. For all the time they serve, with that many years of therapy, that girl will still not have the same trust in humanity back. Those monsters destroyed it, and tried paying three dollars for someone to piss on it.

    Our society SUCKS in regards to women. Barefoot and in the kitchen, that's a guy-centric joke. On her feet or on her back... that's the perfect place for a woman.

    Those "mothers" of those scumbags, they should be proud of their lack of parenting techniques. So, freaking proud that their spawn, instead of being national headlines for athletic prowess, are just another over-entitled brat with an over-weening sense of self importance who destroyed a girl's sense of trust in the world.

    [ insert rage black out here ]

  47. You know...

    I'm an average young adult male who just stumbled upon your article, and I could have a lot to say about why it's both pointless and actually hurtful to post such articles about common places. (Really, you're taking a stance against rape? You're stating that culture is entertaining a sick and twisted message against victims of rape? How bold and insightful.)
    But I'll talk about something else. About something you really doesn't seem to grasp.

    I'm on your freaking side.
    I, too, think rape is horrible whoever the victim is and that the way some excuse it needs to be changed. That shouldn't come as a shock, but everybody is on this side of the argument. Especially today and whatever you might think, rape is vilified enough to make sure everybody -and even the ones who rape- know you awful it is.

    So it's kind of counterproductive when the only thing your article gets to an actual impact is angering me.
    Society says rape is women's fault, you blog BACK saying this situation is society's fault, and in between the lines the only thing I can read is a women's only dialog AND patronizing in which I can't and will never be able to take part (because I'm a man, and have never been sexually assaulted, you see, so I don't KNOW what it's like) and a whole lot of "ah, if only men could behave themselves".

    So I'll repeat.
    I'm on your side. I want to help, I really do, I want to bring my stone to the creation of a future were rapists get the justice they deserve. I can't really do much on my own, but at least I'm willing, as I think the best part of the population is (be it the younger people).
    And then this kind of article appears, where there is whining more so than there is anything of matter, there is self gratification and a lot of applause, 'bravo' in the comments that really don't do anything, and there is me, being pissed off once again for being told how men are pigs and I can't say anything because I don't KNOW what it's LIKE.

    So, there.
    You're not helping.

    1. I literally have no idea what you're trying to say, other than "It's not fair that I don't get to tell women how to feel about getting raped." Door's that away, bro.

    2. No... I think you specifically get exactly what I'm trying to say, in the worst way possible.
      I'll take the door, I didn't expect anything less. Keep on talking with yourselves.

    3. You know what? I couldn't tell what you were trying to say, but let me tell you what I think you might have been trying to get across. You're saying that women should shut up and stop being so mean when we discuss rape and men and male privilege. And for that, I sincerely hope you slam your hand in a car door on accident. You deserve absolutely no less.

    4. Actually not everyone DOES agree with us. That's the point. How many women on here, myself included, never told anyone about what happened to them, or blamed themselves, or assumed that's what they were supposed to do? Where the hell do you think that attitude came from? We didn't all develop these feelings in a vacuum independently of one another. As much as people act like, "Well everyone agrees rape is wrong, why do we need to talk about it," THEY DON'T.

      People have threatened the girl in this case, because those boys are good kids and she's just trying to ruin their life. The fucking news reports at how the BOYS lives are ruined and the girl made the honor roll (implying that she's fine). They got 1-2 years in juvie. She may never be able to trust men again because that is a real thing that happens, especially when you're violated by so many people. But there are plenty of people who still find a way to defend the criminals instead of the victim.

      Also, even if you think the comments here are not productive or exclusionary or whatever, sometimes it just helps to talk about it. Maybe people just want to share their experience in a place where others will understand what it feels like. And I don't know about other women, but I'm always willing to welcome men into the conversation because a) men are raped too, and b) the vast majority of rapes are committed by men. If we exclude you, that doesn't do much to solve this massive problem, does it? But you can't come into it acting like we shouldn't talk about what happened because it's "just whining."

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. There's plenty of realistic positive action being discussed, most importantly educating our sons and daughters.

    7. You're far from it but once you stop reassessing your list of thoughtless automatic answers to legitimate misogynistic comments, which my own are not, we might actually get somewhere.

      But this is stem of the problem, actually. I can't talk to you, can't debate on issue where I disagree with you without getting the accusation of being an asshole macho man.
      I might not be politically correct on every account, but I'm really, really not saying anything you said is wrong. Or that 'dumb woman don't know what she's sayin'.

      What I'm saying is this: "society" won't read your article on the Internet and realize the errors of its way, but I will, and all it does is perpetrating hate against men by via of 'patriarchal society' (Which, again, IS NOT MY FAULT, DESPITE BEING A MAN MYSELF) and in consequence alienating me from the discussion and further, the process of trying to change the 'rape culture' in the future.

      What I'm saying is, your article seems on a crusade against a Great Malevolence that doesn't exist. We are society, we make the culture, and like it or not, people my age don't need an article to know what you're saying. Will that mean 'rape culture' will be gone when we're way older? I hope so, I shall act accordingly all my life.

      What I'm saying is, I'm not the villain here, so stop acting like it, or making me feel like it's my fault. Which is the only thing you're actively doing with this article.

    8. Dude, nobody's accusing you of anything. Most rapists are men. Not all of them, but most. Most rape victims are female. Not all of them, but most. When we talk about rape on a societal level, we're likely going to be talking about male-on-female rape, which is the most common kind of rape (in terms of gender) by a fair bit. These are facts and we have to accept them.

      Talking about the societal messages we give to men and women is not the same as unilaterally blaming men for everything (which is even more glaring when Jenny repeatedly mentions how much she dislikes that so many women are perpetuating the problem too; and I agree, it is quite disheartening).

      In order to be able to fix something, we need to recognise what's wrong. Male privilege is one of those things. We have it, and we can't get rid of it until society stops being so damn patriarchal.

      Don't take it personally. It's not about you.

    9. You're telling me that writing about MY feelings about MY ACTUAL EXPERIENCE in regards to a real event happening in the media is not helping, and therefore I am causing rape culture, while dismissing ALL THE WAYS I'VE SUGGESTED THE PROBLEM COULD BE COMBATED THROUGH EDUCATION.

      This "Great Malevolence" does exist. It's call rape culture. And you are a part of the problem when you run around telling people not to talk about rape in ways that make you feel alienated.

    10. Shadow Knight was nicer than I am going to be, but anonymous, check your goddamn privilege. Maybe you need to shut the fuck up and listen to what is actually being said here instead of whining about how your feelers got hurt and making the conversation about you and how to make you comfortable so you can participate and feel all warm and fuzzy about it.

      Guess what? Rape is not a warm and fuzzy topic. So fuck you.

    11. To Tori:
      I'm not disagreeing with anything you said. I'm just trying to say talking about it doesn't change that, it only makes people like me feel more guilty for my kind for things that I personally never did and will never do, it promotes mistrust and shuts down the dialogue between me and you, and it can only make of rape something even more feared, traumatizing and 'you-have-no-way-of-recovering-from-this'...
      This is a larger debate and I won't go on.

      It's just that I don't think this kind of article trades the way we treat rape in culture for a better one.

    12. Okay, so maybe I didn't make myself clear on that point: this is not about gender. Neither mine nor the fact that most rape victims are female. I took my example as only that (even though yes, obviously, it matters to a certain degree and I'm really sad it does.)

      I'm not saying "blaming men in general" is the issue I'm tackling, not at all.
      I'm saying "blaming" is the issue. Because this is the only impression I'm getting from the article, it's a blame who doesn't know its audience. Like I said, those with Internet access either don't care, because machists aren't known for their empathy, or already know about the problem. I dare you to find anyone who'll comment on this article saying what's happening in India is normal. Maybe some older, or old fashioned people would, and even.
      I won't go on about my opinion about how we should fight rape culture via education, this is not my point. Of course I agree with that. Obviously.

      My problem is that this article despite everything still transpires notions that should be fought against, the bigger being that even if you believe I should "check my privilege" if I think I am alienated, THIS IS NOT something you want to convey when writing this kind of article.
      You think that's a petty issue of me being a egocentric prick? You can. Me, I think this is the very reason why you won't ever solve this 'rape culture' issue.

    13. Anonymous,

      Even if "society" as a whole won't read this, it doesn't mean it isn't a valid discussion to have in light of recent events. The sad truth is a lot of people genuinely DON'T understand what constitutes rape, or that a girl isn't "asking for it", or whatever else. If you need proof of that just look at some of the reactions people have had to this rape trial:

      Honestly, if one person reads this and stops to think about what rape is, and then down the line decides to act decently because of it? It's worth talking about.

    14. Anon, fact is, women have to be wary whenever in the presence of men.

      Humans by nature are opportunistic, and some more than others. Not all men are evil. Not all are rapists, nor are all apologeticist. However, there is a massive percentage of your brethern who would take advantage of someone, most especially if the sense of consequences is small.

      Don't get angry at us. We own what happened to us, we have been in those shoes.

      The core of what we women want, is to make sure our sons don't turn out like those rapists jocks. We want to make sure girls in the future don't have to wake up to a rape kit.

      Go watch the Netflix documentary, "Girl 27" and then go tell me we don't live in a culture that encourages rape culture.

    15. Anon, I understand what you're saying, but rape culture is built on murkiness. We see it all the time, in the "being ravished by an Alpha male is sexy" thinking behind awful romance, in the "it's not rape if she didn't say no" rationale, in the way people debate about consent and in many, many other instances. What happens when you couch an article in vague terms to try and make sure none of the men who grew up indoctrinated by the patriarchy feel alienated? You create murkiness. And in so doing, rape culture becomes all the harder to fight.

      We have to take a firm stance against rape culture. We have to be clear and precise, because rape culture thrives on murkiness and vagueness.

      And when it comes to us men, we have to accept that, in this specific matter, our feelings are meaningless. We don't have the right to feel alienated (or any other negative emotion towards women) when this subject is being discussed, because our privilege protects us in ways we don't even realise. We don't have a right to complain, because we ought to be mature enough to realise how damn privileged we are, and how disrespectful it is to complain about our metaphorical paper cuts to people who have known suffering the likes of which we have been mercifully spared.

      When you get told to check your privilege, it's not a buzz phrase to shut you down. It's a wake up call to search for some maturity within you, and approach the topic with sensitivity.

    16. Look, unless you're raping people this ISN'T ABOUT YOU. You don't need to feel bad for something you haven't done and the fact that you're taking the experiences and discussion here and making it all about you is disgusting. When we say 'check your privilege' this is exactly what we're talking about. You're using your male privilege to come in here and try to derail a discussion because you don't like that it might make your gender look bad. If you're living your life well and not hurting anyone nobody gives two flying fucks what you do, guy.

    17. Okay, now it'll come down to my personal opinion on this subject, regarding the two last comments.

      Obviously, the biggest challenge is teaching rape victims to stand against their perpetrators instead of living in fear after the act, and teaching perpetrators how horrible and Hell-like jail is if they ever intend sexual assault.

      And that's why I think, and this has nothing to do with anything I said before, that you women should get angry.
      Obviously in this case this is a gender issue, sadly, we can't deny the male-female victim ratio. The problem I have with the article comes from the fact that blaming doesn't change anything (it can help individual to discuss it, but it's treating the symptoms), and if anything it only furthers the fear of living in such a world in which you apparently can't do anything to change it.

      So yeah, get angry. Women outnumbers men and live longer. There is no reason as to why we're still living in that 'patriarchal society' now that misogyny isn't considered natural. I told earlier there is no such thing as a Great Malevolence, it's because we are what makes culture and it's in our hands to change it in any way we want.
      So why don't you. Aiming for equality isn't even a prerequisite, you could try even higher. Patriarchy won't go out with a fight but, again, you have the advantages here.
      For the love of god, please let's stop living like slaves of dead people's habits. I think the most important thing to teach people is that the world is ours now and we do what we want with it.

      So, yeah, I know, rape sucks. Establishing whose fault is it isn't going to change the fact that rape has, does, and will always be an awful thing. Demonizing it doesn't help either, I think, but it's on me. But let's do something about it, shouldn't we.

    18. I'm sorry Shadow Knight, but I really can't take yourself seriously if you keep on using "privilege" in every sentence. Once was bad enough.

    19. Yeah, it's quite evident that your refusal to acknowledge your privilege (as demonstrated by your distaste of my usage of the word) is the main reason people want you to catch your hand with the car door by accident.

      It does not make you very pleasant company.

    20. Okay MRA anon, which is what I will call you to distinguish you from myself, I have cracked your code.

      You're my little brother sent backward in time to when he was an adolescent, and the need to preserve his ego (conception of self, not hubris) was so great that he viewed any discussion of feminism as a personal, direct attack against him as person. Reading your comments puts me right back in college, when we spent vacation weekends arguing passionately about whether sexism in SPN was a real thing.

      I'm not gonna fight with you, buddy. I don't want to ruin Thanksgiving for mom.

    21. The problem, Shadow Knight, isn't the existence of male privilege, which is obviously and sadly undeniable, but the fact that everything I could say, all the reason I could invoke, all my personal experience, all the empathy I could share, can be brushed away because I have a fucking Y chromosome and you have a stupid argument in your pocket, as silly, pointless and frustrating as, and pretty much exactly the same as LALALALAIMNOTLISTENING but with strangely more credibility in arguments.

    22. Anon:

      1) Nobody is going to brush your empathy away (unless it's fake empathy, but let's assume it's not). Whenever rape is discussed and rape survivors/victims speak out, any and all empathy, sympathy and support is appreciated, at least as far as my experience goes.
      2) Your personal experience is just as valid as anyone else's and isn't going to be brushed off either, unless you try to hide behind it to justify misogyny. If you don't, then you have nothing to worry about.
      3) What exactly is this "reason you could invoke" exactly? Invoke it to support what? Or against what? If you invoke it to dismiss the experiences of the people in these comments, then yeah, you're going to get dismissed right back. If you handle the issue with respect and maturity, you shouldn't have a problem.

      So what's the problem, then? Because I don't see it. I'm a guy and nobody dismissed anything I said. There have been a couple guys too, I think, that also weren't dismissed or brushed away. I have felt nothing but welcome in this blog, so if people are jumping on your comments, I don't think it's because you're male, I think it's because you're saying some questionable things.

    23. Okay, if you manage to be so far off the point I'm making, it's no use trying to argue.

    24. Anon:

      Do you even know what blogs are?

      They are typically one person's opinions/experiences/thinks/whateverthehell. They are never intended to be anything but a personal thing. Jenny is expressing her very personal frustration on how society views rape and her very personal experience of almost being raped.

      Just because she has a lot of readers does not make this blog any less personal. Because of the personal nature of blogs, it doesn't matter that society won't read this. That's not why it was written.

      You are taking this insanely personally. It is not your chromosome that leads people to want to ignore your posts, but your strangely narcissistic attitude. Again, this is a personal blog. It's not about you.

    25. Betelgeuse:
      Do you know what comments are? Because if your condescension doesn't really help to get me in a convivial arguing mood, I'll explain that those are made especially so I can explain my personal view, Commenting you might say, on said blog post.
      And no, I not taking this personally. I expressed my opinion, yeah, but not because my feelings were hurt, -they weren't, I was more annoyed than anything- but because I think my thoughts mattered. In the midst of all those think alike, a little dissonance never hurt. And you know, if you think I don't deserve to be answered to, well, I don't force anyone to.

  48. Ien've always considered that in some ways, very little of this will change while open and Frank discussion of sexual and relationship issues is still very much a dark art. We simply don't prepare people to discuss these matters in any kind of fashion that would help (eg. the whole thing about enthusiastic consent. There is almost a kind of mythos surrounding sex, especially first time sex, fueled by literature and tv aimed at both genders that positions sex as something both people fall into, without discussion or often even words. Even in the "by women for women" stuff, you'd be hard-pressed to find any example where the great lo e scene is prefaced with some variation on "Shall we have sex?" and if that's all you know, the concep is going to be embarrasing and ridiculous to both parties.) I agree that some kind of improvement on "no means no" is needed, as it keeps shooting itself in the foot as so much of what I can only call the dating game is couched in stick insanities like "playing hard to get" or "treat them mean to keep them keen." So much of the time, we end up with "no means no, except wen I say it means maybe if you play your cards right." so much of this is about true communication between the people in a situation, and the fact that most cultures still have enough hangups about sex that we willingly let fiction set the tone for how we approach matters of consent and ettiquette. In this case, we need to get to a place where a partner can initiate discussions on sex with their prospective without embarrassment or shame, so yes and no can really mean those things, without reference to peer pressure or other externalities. We also need to kill the idea for both genders that being turned down is a matter of humiliation (peer pressure, again.)

  49. "What I'm saying is, your article seems on a crusade against a Great Malevolence that doesn't exist. We are society, we make the culture, and like it or not, people my age don't need an article to know what you're saying. Will that mean 'rape culture' will be gone when we're way older? I hope so, I shall act accordingly all my life.

    What I'm saying is, I'm not the villain here, so stop acting like it, or making me feel like it's my fault. Which is the only thing you're actively doing with this article."

    Yes, this, exactly. I 100% agree.

    Obviously rape is wrong, and it takes an emphatic "yes" for sex not to be rape. But articles like these offer little practical advice to the non-rapist men of the world other than "don't rape" and "if you see rape happening, stop it and report it," both of which are patently, completely obvious.

    If there is some Grand Patriarchy Designed to Keep Women in Their Place, Gawddammit, then tell us good guys what to do to fight it. We will gladly help.

    1. I did not write this to help YOU.

    2. Talk to other men about it. That's probably the most useful thing you can do. Just because you know what enthusiastic consent is doesn't mean it's common knowledge. Educate the guys in your circle. Try to spread the word on the internet. Whenever there's an argument about this sort of thing on a forum or blog you frequent, speak up. Support rape victims/survivors unconditionally and stand against the mud-slinging, slut-shaming and victim-blaming thrown against them.

      Just a few suggestions.

    3. You know it's very sad when you, Shadow Knight, are way more insightful and an interesting and productive read than the article writer's comment.

      Just for the record, I'm doing my best.
      My sister was raped years ago and literally the only thing that got her out of it was to tell her to get out of it, that it wasn't the horrible thing society told her it was, that she was way more okay than society told her to be after such a you-won't-ever-recover event.
      In the end, she wasn't physically traumatized, and the only way to get through it is to believe, to know, that "it wasn't that bad", not as bad as losing a limb, or a sense, certainly not as bad as society told her to feel.

    4. I'm pretty sure Jenny's long, well thought-out post where she touches on several different subjects and expounds on the severity of the issue is far more insightful and productive than a quick paragraph. But thanks, I guess.

      As for the rest, I highly disagree with that approach (I prefer therapy for the victim and punishing the perpetrator without the travesty victims suffer throughout investigation and trial), but I am glad your sister recovered.

    5. Well, nobody's an expert.

    6. "Obviously rape is wrong, and it takes an emphatic "yes" for sex not to be rape. But articles like these offer little practical advice to the non-rapist men of the world other than "don't rape" and "if you see rape happening, stop it and report it," both of which are patently, completely obvious."

      If this is so obvious, then why did Steubenville happen?!? If the majority of guys are good and know this, then why did so many people SEE what was happening and do nothing?!
      I'm pretty sure one of the points Jenny made was that until rape is clearly defined and people (read everyone: male and female) are educated in what constitutes rape; things like Steubenville will continue to happen (and most will remain unreported).

      "then tell us good guys what to do to fight it. We will gladly help." --I'm telling you (and Jenny told you first) if you are one of the people who KNOW these things are obviously wrong, then help spread the word and educate the uneducated!

    7. I love how intense you get to say such obvious things. Of course we, all commenters here, know everything in the post, of course we all know it's important to spread the word to those who don't. When was that not obvious?

    8. Waow, I didn't even realize one part of the site was dedicated to FIFTY FUCKING SHADES.
      You know, you can argue society is to blame all you want. The only thing it means is that rape victims and women in general are letting themselves ruled by it and do nothing to change that.

    9. The recaps of fifty shades are not remotely complimentary to the book, talk about themes of feminism and abuse and are also a damn funny read. Don't diss what you don't know.

  50. Can I just say that it's truly wonderful that Anonymous' takeaway of a discussion in which several women recount their brush with rape, or their outright rape, is that this kind of conversation isn't helping? You heard him, victims of the world: please shut your traps, you're making him uncomfortable.

    1. Ok so I am a different anon (I must get in here with a name at some point) But I think we need to stop some of the picking on guys here, this can happen to boys and men too and we all are acting like it's a women only thing to get raped.
      I know of a middle school boy in my neighborhood that was sexually assulted by two boys and the poor kid had to still go to school with his attackers:

      The odd thing about this was that people called it bullying more than a violation.

      Then the final blow was when Rep. Darlene Senger's bill concerning this didn't pass and Rep. Monique Davis claimed that "kids will be kids"

      This whole way of looking at rape under the age of 18 is just as messed up by the adults as it is by the kids that should be learning the correct way to behave by adults.

      All I know is that my boys don't rape they were taught by me to respect women and frankly all people and to respect themselves. They do know some girls who don't respect themselves and that does send out the wrong message to guys.
      I think if we start calling people names we shut down some possible dialog from the other side that might shed some light on when guys think this is ok to do.
      Perhaps if we can change somebodies way of looking at things that guy will have a discussion with his friends and then the change in thought will start to take place.
      As a parent I know that my kids sometimes listen to others more than "Oh mom is lecturing again".
      Lets be a little more understanding of everyone.

    2. Yes, by all means, let's tell rape victims that their discussing their violation is useless, and let's be a little more understanding of perpetrators. Or, you know, pat ourselves on the back while not-so-subtly implying that some women "no respecting themselves", whatever the hell that means, send some sort of message to men that tells them that nonconsensual sex might just be vaguely okay-ish. And, above all, let's pretend that Jenny here was "picking" on guys as a whole and "acting like it's only women who get raped", lest you think we can discuss a problem that is overwhelmingly female through the personal experience of a woman without having to justify ourselves and assure you that yes, as weird as it sounds, we think rape is never OK, whether the victim is female or male.

    3. This is actually quite absolutely nothing that I said.

    4. Anonymous, it's quite difficult to find out exactly what it is that you've said, since you insist on posting as "Anonymous".
      But let's entertain the idea that you're the same Anonymous who posted above. I would point out that you responded to a post that made fun of another Anonymous' assertion that, and I quote "it's both pointless and actually hurtful to post such articles".
      You do write "I think we need to stop some of the picking on guys here", and again, what picking are we talking about, and what constitutes said "picking"? Respectful people who do not try to detract from the issue at hand, such as Shadow Knight and Lee Steventon, do not appear to have suffered for their intervention.
      You also write "this can happen to boys and men too and we all are acting like it's a women only thing to get raped." and this is where the BS detector starts flashing red, because that's your skewed perception of a post and a discussion that never came even close to that realm of obliviousness. This discussion follows a post about a rape case that involved a female victim, and the author's experience as the near victim of another rape, as well as the societal implications in terms of male privilege and female indoctrination.
      Lastly, and that's where the BS detector explodes and the good people around here see red, is your comment about teaching your sons respect (kudos?) and, I quote, how your boys know "some girls who don't respect themselves and that does send out the wrong message to guys." And right there, you lose people's interest in having any sort of productive and meaningful dialog and make them want to do some "name calling", because, really? To hell with that line of reasoning. A woman (or a man, there you go)'s self-respect, or lack of thereof (whatever the bloody hell that means) has never been, and will never be akin to "sending" the wrong message to confused men. Sex without explicit "enthousiastic" consent is reprehensible, repulsive and criminal, regardless of the proclivities of the woman.
      Everything but paragraph 2 is a direct answer to the pearls of wisdom you've published above, so have fun with your further rationalizing and retconning.

    5. Yeaaah I didn't write the comment you're referencing. Awkward. You could have known, based on writing style, coherence, but hey, let's not be hasty and expect some actual intelligence to come out.

  51. All sex is rape unless she throws herself on your penis.

  52. "And then this kind of article appears, where there is whining more so than there is anything of matter, there is self gratification and a lot of applause, 'bravo' in the comments that really don't do anything, and there is me, being pissed off once again for being told how men are pigs and I can't say anything because I don't KNOW what it's LIKE." (Anonymous "average young adult male")
    The whining and self-gratification you seem to be talking about is women sharing with other women that when other people did something to them to make them feel afraid, powerless, etc. and then used that to take advantage of them sexually, that it WAS NOT THEIR FAULT.
    Now, I appreciate that it shouldn't be news to them that it wasn't their fault, but all of the emphasis that commenters here have put on it should "prove" to you that it *is* news. Our society is still blaming women (and you seem to have mentioned that in your post, as well).
    This includes parents blaming their own damn children for things that happen that the parents should be protecting their children from!
    So if you want to help with this problem -- really help -- then jump on the "bravo, nothing of matter" bandwagon and help rape survivors realize that: A) If you didn't consent, it was rape; and B) It wasn't your fault.
    If you're not willing to do that, then you aren't going to be able to be a part of anything larger. Sorry.

    1. Wow. A lot of people posted things while I was writing this. Didn't realize that the timestamps are in Pacific Time (I'm on the East Coast).

    2. If I act all my life like it's not news, it WILL influence people to act accordingly. The power of suggestion.

  53. This blog post has been an enlightenment, not necessarily for what the message is but for how definitively and clearly it has been defined.

    This is going to take courage to say, not nearly as much as it must have taken everybody else on this blog but I don't know jack all about sex. I know the biology and what bits are involved but bad parents, bad school and no social life way back when means basically all I know about relationships and the act of sex is from the media which means I am all too aware of how dangerous and misleading it can be.

    As a very naive straight man who has had more than one drunken man try for a kiss and is terrified of entering clubs for the unnerving and slightly terrifying prospects that might await I could not agree more with this blog and the essential message of 'yes means yes' which always seemed the logical and simple thing but I feared was far too simple and that actually it was all a very complex code of flirting I knew nothing about.

    I also really think boys should be taught better sex education at school and at least the basics of feminist ideology so that when men do decide to join in with a topic that naturally touches on feminist values they don't get scared off by big words like "Patriarchal" and "Ideology" or even heaven forbid "Objectification".

    Oh and I nearly forgot, this one time a year or two after leaving school due to being bullied too much I turned up at the local park to hang out with some mates when a guy who'd tormented me during school, turned up and started having a go. He went away, only to come back after the weekend with 9 of his pals, all on bikes while I started walking the hell out of there, not running because I wouldn't get far and it'd only tire me out. After cycling alongside me for a while, throwing insults and projectiles in my direction, they bundled on top of me and my tormentor from school threatened to rape me if I called the police. Fortunately I got out of there because a woman with a push chair happened to be walking past and they didn't want witnesses so they fled.

    Not in the same vein as any of the stories here and I hope you'll excuse me for offering a different perspective, some men truly are monsters.

    1. Watch romantic movies and porn.
      Jesus, like sex is some kind of mystical matter mere mortals take years to grasp. Pfff.

    2. ah, yes, those notoriously accurate compendiums of realistic human sexual behaviour! seriously, anonymous, i would ask if you missed the part where he said that what information he did have he had from the media, but a lot of the anons stumbling into this thread seem to have little to no grasp on reading comprehension, so...

    3. I'm sorry you were attacked like that Gordon. It is truly horrific the extent some people will go to in their bullying of others.

  54. Just leaving that out there for you ladies.
    - If you forget to close your house, and somebody introduces and steals you, whose fault is it?
    -If you wander thoughtlessly into a drug cartel hideout and get murdered, whose fault is it?
    - If you run into a forest for fun and get eaten by a bear, whose fault is it?

    The good answer being: WHO THE FUCK CARES. Stop trying to pin down the blame, it's petty and pointless, judge the perpetrators, and stop wasting your time and your mental health on moronic questions.
    Just take care of yourselves. Jesus, is that so hard?

    1. I give up.

      Just going to leave some links and hope you find it in you to educate yourself.

    2. Come back when you know what you're talking about.

    3. Please stop!!!! I thought Jenny wrote such a thought provoking post. I hadn't heard of the Steubenville case (living in Perth, Australia) and was shocked by how horrible it was. It was great to read the posts that followed, people sharing their experiences, and discussing how we can teach our sons and daughters about rape. Then you come along and and say it is not a helpful discussion. I don't get it? Are we reading the same blog??

      It bought back the time a friend, who was high, came to visit. We hung out, drank coffee, made out a bit ( I really fancied him) but I tried to stop it before it went too far. Partly because he was high, and partly because I didn't want to seem "slutty". He didn't want to stop, and ended up ejaculating all over me. I felt sick. I still feel sick about it. I blamed myself, because he was high, he had no control. I liked him.... Fuck that! I pushed him away, asked him to stop and he didn't.

      And then, went to see a counselor, and she told me "It could have been worse". Nice! Of course it could have. And I am thankful it wasn't, but not very helpful.

      Rant over. Thanks Jenny, love your work! x

    4. If someone walks into my house and steals something, it is their fault. Not mine. Theirs.

      That you don't understand something as simple as that indicates you are currently unable to understand the points of view being given to you.

      If someone chooses to walk on to my property and take something, without my express consent, they are in the wrong. Their choice is not my fault. I am not responsible for their action to steal. I am not accountable for 'leading them on' or 'asking for my stuff to be taken'. Their choice is not my responsibility.

      If you touch my stuff without my consent, then you are in the wrong. My stuff includes my body.

    5. Oh and also, because I'm not sure you really understand the concepts I will add this.

      If I invite someone into my house for a meal, that is not permission for them to steal the silverware. That I gave consent for them to enter my house doesn't mean I give consent for them to take my possessions.They don't get to excuse their stealing by saying I invited them inside, so I must have been consenting to the stealing of my possessions.

      Seriously, think about that. Do you believe that by allowing someone into my house I am consenting to them stealing my stuff, that I am in any way responsible for their choice to take my possessions?

    6. See, you're missing the point so much I won't even grant you the condescension of educating you.

    7. No, you're missing the point. You say it is easy to take care of ourselves. You treat us like we're stupid for thinking otherwise.

      You say it is petty and pointless to worry about blame, while placing that same blame on the victim. You think you know so much, and it's beneath you to talk to us, to show us how foolish we really are.

      You're the problem. If it's a condescension to educate us, you place yourselves above us. You're the one that needs education, but sadly you're too closed off to see it.

    8. Oh but I will. Not as a man, mind you, simply as someone less passive and whiny than you are.
      See, society told me something too. It told me I should behave a certain way, like certain things, adhere to a social contract.
      You know the difference between you and me? I never gave a damn. I always was the person I wanted, I took only was could be of use, I never cared of what anyone thought and I'm the happiest person on the face on earth.

      Do I fucking wish I were a girl, you know. Just so I could wear the skinniest clothes and laughing at the face of everyone who would have its personal judgement to give.

      That's how it's done. It's called having conviction, character, being strong, not being a fucking sponge and crying out loud every idiot tells you how slutty you are. Everybody here thinks I'm an asshole, do you think I care?

      So what, you're not string enough? Jugdemental people are not as easily dismantled because they hurt your feelings with their stupid opinions?
      Well, come on, be angry. This is training. I'm waiting.

    9. That person's.

      Those people's.

      Nature's/no one's.

      Why do we care who gets the blame? Well let's see...maybe because someone might rape us and not go to jail because society thinks it's our fault and not the rapist's. Not exactly hard to understand, but given your responses to other people, I can surmise that you are a special kind of stupid.


    10. Oh, you are a special one.
      I'm saying that we shouldn't care about who gets the blame because it's not OBVIOUSLY always and immediately the perpetrator, and you say it matters because we need to make sure! Because it might not always be, you see!

    11. Oh John Galt anon, you make my heart giggle.

      I BET you take what you want! And stomp the social contract squarely beneath the soles of the boots whose bootstraps you pull yourself up by! You strapping master of the universe you.

      You sound suuuuuper happy.

    12. Yeah, I'm actually not. I've struggled with depression the best part of my life. But hey, I now know how it is to take a pill so that everything's fine, and you agree with everybody.
      Made me think of what I wanted from life. If I was going to let it be, pass me by with a bruise and relax, or if I wanted to at least denouce things I don't think were right.

      Maybe I'm making the wrong choice.

  55. Thinking on this a bit more, I wonder if the situation wouldn't be at least somewhat improved if we had better terminology to differentiate between "here are things you could do to minimize your chance of being victimized, but it's still not your fault either way" and "if you don't do these things you're asking for it". I mean, a lot of the warnings girls get ("don't wear skimpy clothes", "don't go out alone", "don't get drunk around strange guys", etc) can be used both as legitimate advice to try and keep them from accidentally ending up in a dangerous situation, or as an attempt to blame the victim. A well-meaning adult can say "you shouldn't get drunk at parties", and the girl might take it to mean "if I get drunk at a party it means I deserve to get raped."

    Obviously the best scenario would be if women didn't need to worry about being raped at all, but we don't live in that world yet. Adults need to be able to tell girls "these are things you can do that might keep you safer", but we also need to make sure the message isn't internalized as "if you don't follow this advice then you're asking for it".

    Then again, this is all coming from someone who has a lot of problems with misinterpreting well-meaning advice and internalizing completely fucked up messages as a result, so this may not actually be a widespread problem and may only be me.

    1. See, if I say to a person "you led the shark to eat your leg by not having shark repellent on you" and she answer in any other way that sighing and telling me to shut up because I'm being ungodly moronic, I'm having doubts on her intelligence.
      If, furthermore, she develop a fear of all water based animals, she grows self depreciating and blame herself for the loss of her leg, she's a fucking idiot.

      Her fault, the shark's? Who the hell cares. At least the shark is smart enough not to feel guilty when jugdemental people with way too much time on their hands assign blame on him.

    2. I agree with you, but the legal system/s won't necessarily back that up, and in fact will explicitly tell a victim "you didn't do x, y or z, in which case this would never have happened, so you WERE asking for it'.

      I'm sure you know, but a girl should be able to wear what she likes, go where she likes, with whomever she likes, and be secure in the knowledge that no one will attempt to violate her in any way. Sadly, that's not the world we live in.

      Regardless of what Anon up there says (the one who Just Doesn't Get it, and worse, doesn't even understand that he Just Doesn't Get It), society can't be changed overnight, it is a fairly glacial process. But the more of these types of discussions there are, the better, for sure.

      @ Shadow Knight - keep fighting the good fight! I feel pretty burnt out and overwhelmed by this a lot as well, but the end goal is worth fighting for - a better society for everyone, where women don't have to be afraid that every man is a threat, and men don't suffer from the consequences of that internalised fear.

      Jenny, thank you for an articulate and well-reasoned post, as ever.

      Andi in NZ.

    3. Sharks that gets hunted down and destroyed indiscriminately whether they were the actual shark responsible for the attack or not? One shark attacks a person, dozens die in retribution. Blame is most certainly apportioned.

      People do care about blame, otherwise there wouldn't be the victim blaming that occurs. People care about fault and accountability, since that's what our legal system is based on. When someone is convicted of a crime, the responsibility, the accountability,t he fault and the blame are all placed upon that person.

      You seem to be advocating the 'shut up and don't talk about it' approach to crime. Don't tell anyone you were attacked, don't tell anyone that something bad happened to you. Ignore it and it isn't real. Whatever you do, don't you dare try and say it was someone else's fault.

      You don't care about what happens to people. That's how you feel. You don't care. How nice for you. Don't tell the rest of us we have no business caring about what happens to people.

    4. Drea B:
      You don't get my point, at all. Too bad.

      You know, we might forcefully not change society in one night by convincing rape victims not to fall catatonic. We might not rewritte our entire legal system in one night either.
      But, oh boy, would it be a fucking progress if people started to stop caring about what society thinks or tells them to think in those situations.
      How much better than having those petty, unproductive, plaid out self satisfying one ended and glaringly obvious discussions? Infinitely.

    5. Um, I get what you're saying, but what is "don't wear skimpy clothes" doing there? You can't make that into legitimate advice in any way because there is no type of clothing that will make you more or less likely to get raped.

    6. @ Anonymous:

      Dude, what I might *think* of what society tells me about a situation won't make any difference to whether or not someone chooses to rape me - as long as society overtly or covertly reinforces that it's ok for them to put their desires above mine. No action or inaction on my part will matter, either.

      If you are the same Anon with the sister who was raped, I truly hope she is ok, as you said. But maybe it's something she doesn't discuss openly with you?

      Open discussion isn't 'whining', by the way. Characterising it that way is part of the problem, it seeks to shut down the conversation.

      Andi in NZ

    7. Actually, would would be progress is if society stopped telling victims it was their fault.

      Society is made up of people. We're all society. If people started caring about how society treats people, if people started claiming their place in society and standing up and voicing their view that it isn't the victim 's fault.

      You advocate people stop caring. I don't believe that is a good way for people to go. If people stop caring, then we get the perpetuation of situations listed above, where people do nothing even though they can see something wrong occurring. In my opinion, people need to care more, and be more vocal, more active. Not tell a victim that is isn't their fault, don't blame yourself but do nothing visible in society to make that clear to everyone else. Society will change when the members of that society are willing to speak up and tell someone that they're doing the wrong thing and they won't stand by and let an unconscious person be violated.

      Keeping quiet won't do a damn thing. Acting like your'e not part of society isnt' helping. And while you may consider things to be "glaringly obvious", given there are guys saying they didn't think the 16 yo girl in the court case was being raped, in their plain sight, it is clear that not everyone sees things as clearly as you do.

    8. You both don't get anything of what I'm saying. Nothing. This is maddening. I don't advocate less care, I advocate less care about what other people think of you.

      This is pointless.
      I call this off. Keep blaming Big Evil Society, that'll sure help.

  56. Sorry if this is a double-post.

    I don't think we should stop saying that rape is about power and not sex. However, I do think we should add that it's about power even if sexual desire is present. Acting on sexual desire without regard for your partner is not about sex; it's about entitlement, which is itself about power.

  57. Excellent post, Jenny. I just want to say I agree with you 100%.

  58. I've found this whole story a bit of a trigger and didn't realize how much it affected me until I tried to sleep. It was the first time I've had nightmares in years.
    This might help clear things about about how much the guys were aware that what they were doing was bad,
    The list of tweets turned my stomach, the fact that they actually thought she was dead and then still did what they did, disgusts me.
    I just wanted to post this link if anyone wanted to see some of the original tweets from that night since they had been taken down.

    1. I also wanted to say thank you for posting a very well written piece on the subject. As someone who was raped I can't ever put to words how things affected me and how they still do. I'm a little frustrated at the response to this story but I'm hoping it shows everyone that we are still a long way from where we should be.

  59. So much victim shaming going on the last few weeks, which is just another way to 'slut' shame, as if any women who isn't walking around in a nun's habit pure as the virgin Mary is just 'asking' for it. Yeah well, that makes me stabby.

    I reject the notion that those 'boys' weren't completely cognoscente that what they were doing was heinous, and find myself gritting my teeth when I hear the news reports of 'poor little rapist' varieties.

    The whole thing makes me want to rant for days.

    1. Sorry for the anon posting this above was me. I am an obvious 'pro' at posting. :-\

  60. Why does discussion about rape automatically jump to "stop blaming all the menz! You're just penis-hating feminazis!"?

    Oh yeah: RAPE CULTURE.

    Excuse me while I rage over how ridiculous it is that women can't share their stories of sexual abuse without someone riding in on their high horse and pointing their finger at the VICTIMS.

    How can you not see how FUCKED UP your logic is, other anons? WOMEN SHOULDN'T TALK ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES NOW? NO ONE IS TO BLAME FOR RAPE? Oh you bet your ass someone is to blame: WHOEVER FORCES THEMSELVES ON ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. THAT'S who is to blame. And society is to blame for YOU, trying to brush the victims under the rug and whining that their testimonies "are part of the problem".

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.

    Love you, Jenny <3

  61. A very interesting article with many well made points.

    But I can't help but think more should be taught about rape. Something that seemed to be missing here is the fact, (although smaller in number of cases), women have raped men. Especially when we talk about inappropriate touching. Also but to a lesser extent women raping women. I think the whole educational system on rape needs to be reviewed.

    However what I really see is the problem, is where peoples morals seem to be.


Say some stuff! If you can't think of anything to say, leave a link to a cute dog picture. I'm easy.