Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Jessica Valenti wrote a really good piece at The Nation about “Rape Illiteracy.” You should definitely go check it out.
Not only do we live in a culture where many people, male and female, are more than willing to believe that women lie about rape, but we live in a culture where we don’t even know what rape IS for the most part. In addition to the “women lie about rape all the time” camp, we have the fact that many people, male and female, don’t recognize rape as rape. If you ask men and women if they have raped or been raped, you will get a far different set of responses than if you ask, “have you been pressured into sex you didn’t want to have,” “has someone forced or coerced you into an act you didn’t want to do,” “have you ever physically intimidated or manipulated someone into sex?”
I have had men describe raping a woman, complete with her saying “No,” trying to push them off, crying, and when I call what they did rape, they freak the fuck out. ”That wasn’t rape! Did that lying bitch tell you I raped her?”
“No, you did. You just said, ‘I held her down, she said, “No,” but I knew she didn’t mean it so I went ahead.’ She cried and tried to push you off. You. Raped. Her.”
On the heels of this pronouncement comes the list of “It wasn’t rape, because…”
“…because we were dating.”
“…because I bought her dinner and took her to the opera.”
“…because she came up to my place, what did she expect?”
“…because she didn’t fight THAT hard.”
Needless to say, after stories like this surface, I am not friends with these men anymore.
But the fact remains that even after having been told point blank, “That thing you did, there? That was RAPE!” they don’t see it. They don’t understand. They’ve been raised in a culture where they’re socialized to push women’s boundaries and defenses to get what they want. Where “No” isn’t a line in the sand, it’s an obstacle to be gotten around anyway possible.
We have got to quit glorifying the concept of “playing hard to get.” We have got to quit telling men and boys that women don’t want sex you have to “convince” them. We have got to quit telling girls that they don’t have a right to speak up and demand bodily autonomy. We have to reinforce the idea that any “unwanted sex” isn’t sex, it’s assault, rape. If you don’t want to have sex, and someone forces you, locks you in and won’t let you out until you say yes, drives you out of town and won’t take you back until you put out, or “surprise sex”-es you while you’re sleeping? That’s rape.
It’s not that “some girls rape easy,” as Wisconsin Representative Richard Rivard said. It’s not that you had sex and then the next day they regretted it and cried rape. It’s probably that it was rape the entire time, and you ignored her “No.” Look, if you’re not sure if she’s into it, ask. And ask nicely and without pressure, or better yet, just don’t try to have sex with her. Worst case scenario, you missed out on fully consensual sex you might have had, darn.* Best case, you didn’t rape someone. And you know what’s sexy? Respecting boundaries. I’m more likely to hang out with or date someone a second time if I don’t feel like I’m under siege the whole time, most people are.
As an aside, we also have to quit teaching girls that if they’re physically strong and muscley, no boys will ever like them. True, some boys won’t. But to paraphrase John Green, the Venn Diagram of boys who don’t like strong girls and boys you don’t want to date is a CIRCLE!
If a man fears your strength, it is because he fears you’ll fight back. Successfully. Men who fear muscles on a woman fear them because it means he may not be able to take what he wants. He will instead have to treat you like a human being, instead of a sex object.
We have to tell women and girls that not only is it OK for them to like sex, they should not be “having any sex” they don’t want to. And vice versa, because men can be raped, both by other men and by women. Coercion is not sex. Coercion is rape.
ETA: Check out this RH Reality Check link as well with some hard statistics.
*Some people ask what about women who are playing the, “If you want me you’ll try harder game?” Fuck that. You want no part of game players, consider it a bullet dodged and move on.