Author: has written 5267 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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81 Responses

  1. Heraclitus
    Heraclitus January 17, 2007 at 8:12 pm |

    This is another excellent and extremely penetrating post. I was going to single out your comments on male sexuality and aggression as the high point, but as you move from one point to the next, each one is equally compelling and illuminating. Brava.

    The whole bizarro notion that “date” rape isn’t rape reminds me of an exchange I had with a student at the University of Chicago years ago. I don’t remember the context, but he said something (perhaps in the course of grousing about a new women’s center) about there having recently been a “violent rape” of a student near campus. To which I, being the incredible a-hole that I am, just replied, “What would a non-violent rape be like?”

  2. freya
    freya January 17, 2007 at 8:14 pm |

    ::::standing up and clapping:::

  3. petitpoussin
    petitpoussin January 17, 2007 at 8:35 pm |

    Jill, this section really got me, too (well, the whole article did, but you know).

    But for me the experience had fundamentally altered my previously programmed reaction to stories of alcohol-fueled date rape on college campuses. No longer was my response autopilot compassion for the girl. No longer would I assume the guilt of intoxicated boys in the company of intoxicated girls everywhere.

    Autopilot compassion for the girl?! Yeah, that’s a big problem, isn’t it… everybody just automatically taking the side of those ‘intoxicated girls’ who have such a hard time telling the truth. Or as I like to call them, Triflin’ Drunk-Ass Bitchez.

    Thanks also for linking to that study, I’m going to check out the whole thing right now.

  4. Ginger
    Ginger January 17, 2007 at 8:49 pm |

    Wow. Just, wow.

  5. PhoenixRising
    PhoenixRising January 17, 2007 at 9:15 pm |

    You brought up something that puzzles me, and it could be that I’m just having one of my (TM pending) Confused by Heterosexuality Moments. I suffer from them daily, and sometimes more often. So here’s my question:

    What’s going on in the heads of the people who suggest that being raped by someone you know is somehow not as bad as being attacked by a stranger?

    Because it seems to me that it would be way more upsetting to have someone to whom you are socially tied treat your desires, and control over your body, as beneath consideration, than someone who is clearly a mugger for sex. In the latter case, the question is Who’s stronger/faster/louder? whereas in the former case the question is, Did I really get across to him that I don’t want to do this?

    So what’s the unstated assumption that makes it the opposite of what makes sense intuitively?

  6. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 17, 2007 at 9:18 pm |

    I missed this lovely exchange the first time around:

    “Did you rape her?” I asked.

    “We had sex,” he said. “But I didn’t mean to hurt her, no.”

    So, um, he’s under the impression that it’s only rape if you actively seek to hurt the other person rather than incidentally hurting them while seeking a higher goal, your orgasm?

    Jesus H. Christ. If this is the kind of thinker the Ivy League produces, I’m no longer surprised at the trouble we’re in in Iraq.

    “Sure, we invaded them, but we didn’t mean to hurt them. It just happened.”

  7. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 17, 2007 at 9:20 pm |

    So what’s the unstated assumption that makes it the opposite of what makes sense intuitively?

    The unstated assumption is that the girl led the guy on and therefore deserved what she got.

  8. cooper
    cooper January 17, 2007 at 9:22 pm |

    “Ashley’s boyfriend is emasculated because his sexual behavior lacks aggression and authority. She uses words like bold, authoritative, and primitive when describing the way a man should behave in bed. I think it’s fair to say that this doesn’t just speak to Ashley’s personal preference it’s indicative of the entire concept of masculinity in the sexual realm.”

    I’m going to address this first, being twenty-one and thinking I’m all that, it struck me that these thoughts could on some level pertain to me. Not that I’d readily admit but somewhere inside me that kind of thinking lurks around, despite the fact I know differently.

    It is a shame people can’t get it through their heads that it is all about conditioning.

    Males have been conditioned incorrectly, and because of that it’s always the women’s fault; she should know that and act accordingly. It is the women’s job because, as you said much better than I, we are keeper of the sex flame and in the eyes of so many that’s about it.

    Preventing rape isn’t going to happen with this pervasive attitude, and the fact that many women hold this attitude as well is a large stumbling block.

  9. Henry
    Henry January 17, 2007 at 9:30 pm |

    Is it wrong that I found the video you linked to be funny? Kids in the hall did something like that years ago. Anyway I agree with just about everything you wrote here, especially about sexual aggression being expected of men. I’ve found that especially as I get older, the likelihood of my having to ramp up the “manliness” in bed has drastically increased. It’s as though something is wrong with me if I’m not pulling hair and being physical and whatnot. Perhaps it’s due to perceptions of my profession or something. I don’t know. I’m not sure what that says about anything, just something I’ve noticed.

    I don’t know, though, if I agree with female sexuality being premised on passivity. I don’t know that many passive girls.

  10. Jane
    Jane January 17, 2007 at 9:37 pm |

    Here’s the problem with terms like “date rape“: They presume that there are levels of rape, and that forcing someone to have sex with you is less traumatic if you know that person…the rapists relationship to his victim — whether she was a stranger, a friend, an acquaintance, a parter, a stripper, a sex worker, a wife — shouldn’t play a role in determining just how guilty he is, or how bad the crime was. Yet in the greater social discussion, it does, and that plays into how these cases are tried.

    I can’t resist the comparison:

    My sister was date raped.
    My sister was date robbed.
    My sister was date assaulted.
    My sister was date murdered.

    Getting date robbed isn’t nearly as bad as getting stranger robbed. I mean, sure my date took my money, my credit cards and my grandmother’s ring, but I was probably going to give that stuff to him eventually anyway.

    And, I mean, if you go on a date with a guy, you were already planning on inviting him inside your vagina anyway, too, so why do you complain when he goes in there?

    Ashley Cross, Drew’s ex-girlfriend and the author of the Times piece lamenting his plight

    I love how the article was written by a woman. It also seems that the story for that obnoxious short film was written by a woman.

    But all the ladies know, being a rape apologist gets you LAID, right?

    Sardonicism aside, I’m ashamed to say that even though I’m a feminist, I have stopped myself from using the word rape in front of men. Why? Because I didn’t want to offend them.

    Disgusting.

  11. Longhairedweirdo
    Longhairedweirdo January 17, 2007 at 9:46 pm |

    Ashley’s boyfriend is “emasculated” because his sexual behavior lacks aggression and authority. She uses words like “bold,” “authoritative,” and “primitive” when describing the way a man should behave in bed. I think it’s fair to say that this doesn’t just speak to Ashley’s personal preference — it’s indicative of the entire concept of masculinity in the sexual realm.

    Herm. This illustrates one tiny piece of the problem, I think. There’s two types of “aggressive”. A guy who comes up behind his lover, and does the front-to-back grab-n-grr, who starts making demanding kisses while making other moves that mean “I want sex, now!’ is being aggressive. Nothing wrong with that, if his lover consents generally to such grab-n-grrs, and if he listens to what his partner wants.

    It’s also “aggressive” to keeps testing the limits and pushing forward, until he gets what he wants, no matter what his partner wants, and no matter what stands in the way.

    I desperately hope Ashley is referring to the first type of aggressiveness. This is the kind of aggressiveness that many women want.

    There’s got to be a better word to use for the kind of aggressiveness that goes hand-in-hand with not caring what other people want. Or a better word to use for the “aggressiveness” that causes you to go after what you want in an ethical manner. Using the same word for both types of behaviors causes confusion.

  12. Sara
    Sara January 17, 2007 at 9:51 pm |

    I’ve never felt that the term “date rape” (or “acquaintence rape”) implied that it’s less traumatic to be raped by someone you know than by someone you don’t. I’ve always imagined that it exists to demonstrate that not all rapes are stranger in a dark alley rapes. And God knows that some sexual assaults are more violent than others. All rape is bad, but there’s bad and then there’s worse – the existence of worse doesn’t make bad good.

  13. Frumious B
    Frumious B January 17, 2007 at 9:57 pm |

    It’s also “aggressive” to keeps testing the limits and pushing forward, until he gets what he wants, no matter what his partner wants, and no matter what stands in the way.

    that’s called manipulative asshaterry.

  14. Longhairedweirdo
    Longhairedweirdo January 17, 2007 at 9:58 pm |

    On previous rape threads, people have argued that educating men not to rape doesn’t make any sense, because if someone is going to be a rapist, telling him not to do it isn’t going to be particularly effective. Besides, they argue, we all know that rape is a crime — is telling men “don’t commit a crime” realistically going to deter someone who is intent on committing that crime?

    Well, yeah it will. When men are not properly educated on what sexual assault actually is, when stranger-rape is the only thing many people associate with sexual assault, and when male sexual aggression is accepted as natural, explaining that having sex with someone who makes it clear that they do not want to have sex with you makes you a rapist could be helpful.

    Instead of whining about how consent kills the mood, or how raping someone ruins the perpetrator’s life, perhaps we could start focusing on something more productive — like actually preventing sexual assault.

    Hear hear!

    This has been a longstanding issue for me; I’ve wanted to figure out some guy-accessible way to talk about what rape *is*, and why it’s terrible,

    And it seems crazy that you might have to do this, because, god, doesn’t everyone know?

    But hell, just look around at the world, and isn’t it friggin’ *obvious* that a lot of people *don’t*? This guy rapes a woman, and can then turn around and say he didn’t mean to hurt her. But if he’d punched her in the face, he wouldn’t have thought of saying he didn’t meant to hurt her.

    So, yeah, you do have to explain what it is, and why it’s bad. Well, not *you*, but someone’s gotta do it because it’s not getting done.

    Part of me keeps thinking (and yes, I might be hopelessly naive) that if we could just express to folks (guys especially, but there are women who are rape apologists to some extent or another) *why* rape is terrible, what elements of it make it terrible, it would break the logjam that prevents folks from understanding it.

  15. Sara
    Sara January 17, 2007 at 10:01 pm |

    LHW, I think part of it could be that people use lots of dumb tricks to allow themselves to excuse rape as okay behavior – victim-blaming, stereotyping, etc. Getting people to let go of those lame excuses and rationalizations (i.e. you moron, you don’t get to decide whether she’s hurt by your forcing sex on her) will help them see the reality of what’s going on, which I think people do essentially abhor.

  16. ako
    ako January 17, 2007 at 10:30 pm |

    I’ve never felt that the term “date rape” (or “acquaintence rape”) implied that it’s less traumatic to be raped by someone you know than by someone you don’t. I’ve always imagined that it exists to demonstrate that not all rapes are stranger in a dark alley rapes.

    In principle, there’s nothing wrong with the term ‘date rape’. It’s a specific type of rape, the way ‘drive-by shootings’ are a specific type of shooting, not somehow less than an actual shooting. I also always read the words date rape as meaning, “getting raped by the person you’re on a date with,” and real rape.

    But the way the words get used suggest that a lot of people translate it into “semi-rape,” or “thing enough like rape to be bad, but not a real crime. It’s odd that a term that has the word rape stuck right in there so obviously seems to be commonly treated as a way to avoid the idea of actual rape.

    So what’s the unstated assumption that makes it the opposite of what makes sense intuitively?

    The unstated assumptions are that she could reasonably owe him sex anyways, if a specific person owes you sex then you’re semi-justified in just taking it (like with any property), and since might have allowed him to anyways, it wasn’t as bad. Kind of the way your son’s friend joyriding in your car is less bad than some stranger stranger just vanishing it.

    Basically, a man’s genitals are part of his body and therefore part of him. A woman’s genitals are a piece of property that different people can have rights and access to regardless of her desires and will. So date rape isn’t a full on crime like stealing, it’s more bad behavior like borrowing without permission.

    A horribly sick way of looking at it, of course, but the best explanation I can figure out. Personally, one of the relatively few things that could make a rape significantly worse for me would be if it involved a betrayal from someone I thought I could trust.

  17. Starfoxy
    Starfoxy January 17, 2007 at 10:32 pm |

    PhoenixRising- I think the unstated assumption is based in the old fashioned notion of woman-as-property and rape as theft or vandalism. A man who is married to a woman owns her and cannot steal what is already his, whereas a stranger who rapes a woman has stolen what belongs to another man. The more closely associated the man is with the woman the greater the feeling that he at least partially owns her and therefore has some right to her body.

  18. Bruce from Missouri
    Bruce from Missouri January 17, 2007 at 10:49 pm |

    Great article except one thing:

    girls will always have to put on the breaks. And “putting on the breaks”

    Brakes, not breaks.

  19. Tipsy Toes
    Tipsy Toes January 17, 2007 at 10:54 pm |

    I loved this piece. And one of the things in it that makes me think:

    But the rapist’s relationship to his victim — whether she was a stranger, a friend, an acquaintance, a partner, a stripper, a sex worker, a wife — shouldn’t play a role in determining just how guilty he is, or how bad the crime was.

    Because here, in India, the law punishes rape more severely in some cases: custodial rape, for example, on the basis that the rapist in such cases exercises a degree of control over the victim (of course, this logic doesn’t apply evenly; marital rape is not even recognised as rape). To come back to what you said, and I think someone mentioned it in the comments, shouldn’t the fact that the victim knew and trusted the rapist make the crime worse?

  20. bitterpated
    bitterpated January 17, 2007 at 11:05 pm |

    I’d seen the video and the Kids in the Hall skit before. The main thing that annoyed me was that the assumption, in both skits, is that the man is negotiating to get sex and as fast as possible while the woman is resisting and demanding more commitment before anything happens. And the guy in the skit linked here gets a really grossed out look on his face when the girl tries to negotiate for him to go down on her. (which always confuses me. where are all these guys who don’t enjoy going down on a girl? wherever they are, I haven’t encountered them. )
    On a more serious note, did anyone else think this was the most disturbing line in the article?

    I found it harder to love an emasculated boyfriend than one accused of rape

    Because not being really aggressive in bed=being emasculated
    I really hadn’t thought much about the pressure on guys to be super aggressive till having a conversation with a male friend. He was bummed because within a period of a few months he had been interested in a couple different girls and in both cases slept with them fairly early on. He admitted that he really wished they had waited awhile. I told him, that’s easy, next time just wait longer to have sex. How hard is that? But he really felt that if they wanted to have sex and he wasn’t ready they would think he wasn’t interested at all or something was wrong with him if he said he wanted to slow down.
    This same line of thinking, that expects guys to be always ready for sex, is the same line of thinking that excuses “date” rape. Obviously women pay a much higher price (in the form of sexual assault) but it isn’t good for men either. I cringe at what your expectations of sex must be if you have a partner that is telling you no and somehow you can think that what is going on is just sex and not rape.

  21. bitterpated
    bitterpated January 17, 2007 at 11:13 pm |

    oh and, maybe the worst part of what that quote from the article suggests:
    being emasculated= worse than being a rapist
    And somehow the two things are connected, and opposite of each other. This is one of those things that makes me want to scream “And people claim FEMINISTS hate men?” We aren’t the ones who think concern for your partners feelings is somehow antithetical to being a man.

  22. Heraclitus
    Heraclitus January 18, 2007 at 12:17 am |

    Oh man. I feel like an idiot. Fixed.

    Speaking of being too hard on yourself–you write a brilliant post that leaves most onlookers staring in slack-jawed amazement, like they’ve just seen Michael Jordan take off from the free throw line and dunk. There’s really no need to feel like anything approaching an idiot for one trivial typo.

  23. Elizajoey
    Elizajoey January 18, 2007 at 12:36 am |

    As a person who recently dealt with what Frumious B calls “manipulative asshaterry” (I like the term), can anyone actually recommend books/websites that do this:

    that in learning about sex, sexuality and sexual health, boys and girls are never taught “how to articulate their own sexual needs and respect those articulated by their partners.”

    13 years of Catholic schooling gave me zero education on this.

    Good article Jill. Some really great points that have already been discussed.

  24. puellasolis
    puellasolis January 18, 2007 at 12:41 am |

    I know, right? Somehow we feminists end up being called man-haters, while others insist on reducing masculinity to “grr, argh, me want sex!” and making men entirely one-dimensional.

  25. utsusemi
    utsusemi January 18, 2007 at 12:45 am |

    PhoenixRising, you already go a few answers to this, but here’s mine:

    Because it seems to me that it would be way more upsetting to have someone to whom you are socially tied treat your desires, and control over your body, as beneath consideration, than someone who is clearly a mugger for sex. In the latter case, the question is Who’s stronger/faster/louder? whereas in the former case the question is, Did I really get across to him that I don’t want to do this?

    So what’s the unstated assumption that makes it the opposite of what makes sense intuitively?

    Beyond the obvious that some people don’t get that “no” means “no” even when you’ve said some degree of “yes” in the past, I think your formulation of why acquaintance rape could be more traumatic actually gets at the same reason many people think it’s the victim’s fault. Society conditions us to think women are not as strong/fast/loud as men. Not many people are going to blame a woman for being physically overpowered. But when someone is raped by a friend or boyfriend, I think a lot of people start asking that same question–”Did she really get across to him that she didn’t want to do this? Why not?” and then somehow it’s her fault for not finding the magic words. She said he was her friend, right? He’d listen to a friend, right? Etc.

  26. Jeff Fecke
    Jeff Fecke January 18, 2007 at 1:00 am |

    A command performance, across the board.

    I think we do everyone a disservice when we assume rapists are some other breed of human, like they’re vampires or zombies or something other. They aren’t. They’re obviously screwed up, or they wouldn’t be rapists–but that doesn’t mean what’s screwed up couldn’t be fixed before it ends up in rape.

    The pressure on guys to be the initiatior of all sex is enormous, more than I think women sometimes realize. (Women, of course, have the opposing pressure–to tamp down any desire to initiate anything, more than men realize.) It’s no wonder that some men skew the “make the next move, she won’t, but she wants you to” message into “make the next move, because she wants you to, even if she says she doesn’t.”

    The question is how we turn the message into, “hey, everyone: treat each other like human beings. It’s okay if women initate things. It’s okay if men don’t want to do anything right now. It’s okay to trust in your feelings, everyone. Most important is that you’re being clear with your partner. Carry on.” If we could get that message to permeate society, we’d do an awful lot to decrease acquaintance rape–and an awful lot to make men and women happier in the long run.

  27. LongHairedWeirdo
    LongHairedWeirdo January 18, 2007 at 1:37 am |

    PhoenixRising:

    What’s going on in the heads of the people who suggest that being raped by someone you know is somehow not as bad as being attacked by a stranger?

    Because it seems to me that it would be way more upsetting to have someone to whom you are socially tied treat your desires, and control over your body, as beneath consideration, than someone who is clearly a mugger for sex. In the latter case, the question is Who’s stronger/faster/louder? whereas in the former case the question is, Did I really get across to him that I don’t want to do this?

    So what’s the unstated assumption that makes it the opposite of what makes sense intuitively?

    Well, that’s been bugging me for a while. I blogged about it a bit here, where I’m talking about the idea that it’s not that it’s teh sex that makes rape horrible. If it was “OMG it was SEX!”, then having it be with someone you know would seem to be a bit better than with a stranger.

    Part of it seems to be a common belief that a woman might say “no” but could just as easily say “yes”. It’s like, these folks who hold this belief don’t understand that nonconsensual sex is awful. Again, if it was a stranger, it would seem more likely that she’d want her ‘no’ to stick.

    Part of it seems to be that sex is like walking down the stairs, and you might not want to do it with someone, but if you do,and you stumble and fall down the stairs, well, it’s just one of those things, you know? It happens, get up, brush yourself of, and for heaven’s sake, stop whining.

    And the last part that I’ve pieced together is the whole “Rape is about sex” thing. In order to think rape is about sex, you have to be looking at it from the perspective of the attacker, not the victim.

    It’s crazy; society just doesn’t seem to look at rape from the victims perspective (unless doing so allows one to downplay the harm suffered).

  28. Lisa
    Lisa January 18, 2007 at 2:09 am |

    Yes yes yes.

    I’m writing my masters thesis on these issues- more precisely: how educators and girls’ allies can teach teens sex-positive, feminist principles for healthy relationships. I’ve been looking for a year now, and I have not found ANY curricula that address both sexual AND emotional health (identifying abuse, etc) in relationships, so I’m writing and implementing my own. Part of the problem with current models of sex education (other than the abstinence thing and the hetero-normative thing) is that they leave no room for discussions of equality and reciprocity. So all lessons on responsibility are about STDs and not about a responsibility to your partner’s feelings/desires or even to your own. As you can imagine, I’m glad to see others talking about these things. keep up the good work.

    For anyone interested, there’s a really smart analysis of teen girls and sexual desire by Deborah L. Tolman:
    Tolman, D. (2002). Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk about Sexuality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  29. Jane
    Jane January 18, 2007 at 3:44 am |

    And the guy in the skit linked here gets a really grossed out look on his face when the girl tries to negotiate for him to go down on her. (which always confuses me. where are all these guys who don’t enjoy going down on a girl? wherever they are, I haven’t encountered them. )

    Bitterpated, I thought the same thing. However, I did know one (and only one) het couple with this problem. The guy expected oral sex from his girlfriend, but wouldn’t engage in cunnilingus because–get this–he thought it was disgusting and degrading.

    I don’t agree with him that oral sex is degrading, but obviously he thought so. And obviously he also felt only women should be degraded, although he would never say it that way.

    I think men find numerous ways to rationalize, to ignore or twist the language so that they don’t “sound like” oppressors. This is the reason some who commit rape are “shocked” to “find out” that they did so.

  30. Nickname Goes Here
    Nickname Goes Here January 18, 2007 at 4:01 am |

    You know, every time I read a post about rape and how it’s always “the woman’s fault” (ugh, btw), I get very painful flashbacks.

    When I was 19 I had just broken up with my boyfriend from high school. He cried and cried and claimed I was his life and his sunshine and whatever other stuff — but he also said “I made you mine”, “I made you a woman”, blah blah blah. *roll eyes*. Thing is, after a while he asked me if we could remain friends. Naive young me thought it was probably a good idea to remain friends with this guy. In hindsight, it was a very VERY bad idea.

    He started kinda stalking me. At first I didn’t think it was stalking, again because I was young and stupid. He’d go to my apartment in college (he went to college quite far away from where I went to college, about a 3hrs drive, so he had no buisnesss being at my apartment). He’d drop by my parents’ house when coincidentally I’d be there. A few friends thought this was “cute” and proof that he “truly loved” me. Other friends were more cautious and told me to keep an eye on him and to not trust him too much. I didn’t listen to either group, and now I know I should have listened to the second group.

    One of those days where he just happened to show up when I was at the apartment (on a day that I didn’t have classes), he also just happened to know that I planned on going shopping that day, and asked if he could tag along because he wanted new shoes. Stupid me agreed.

    As we passed a jewelry store in the mall, he pulled me in. The girl behind the counter asked “Oh, Mr [last name], are you here to pick up the ring?”. My face turned white and all I could think of was “?!?!?!?!?!?”. He then showed me a butt-ugly but ginormous ring that he had bought for me… after we broke up. Uh huh. I told him I didn’t want it. I told him I had broken up with him. I told him he shouldn’t think of me that way. Etc etc.

    As we got back to the apartment, he offered to carry my bags inside. Stupid me accepted. There was no one else in the apartment because my roomate had classes that day. He said “Hey, isn’t [his favorite show] on right now?” I said “dunno”. He picked up the remote and flipped channels until he found it. I, stupidly, sat down on the couch to watch tv.

    About 10 minutes into the show, he again started saying the whole thing about how he can’t live without me and that it’s killing him to now have me, blah blah blah blah. I suggested to him that he should leave, now, immediately. He started saying that he had dreams that I went to him and said I wanted to be back in his arms and that I still loved him, and that he’d be so happy. I repeated that he should leave. He dismissed my comment and kept talking about his ‘dreams’. I don’t remember much of the other dreams he narrated, but at one point he said “And then I did this in the dream”, and he pushed me down on the couch. He started kissing me even though I was trying to push him away. I’m 5’1”, he was 6′. He weighed probably 100 lbs more than me. I couldn’t physically even move him. He kept kissing me and holding me down, as I kept trying to get away. I couldn’t even scream to see if the neighbors heard because he wouldnt take his fu*king mouth off my mouth. Then he ripped my shirt and forced my pants down and had sex with me. I couldn’t move as he was doing this, not just because he was holding me down, but because I just froze. I had no control over my body.

    After he was finished he told me “You see? It could all still be like this if you take me back”. I was crying by that point, which he interpreted as me saying “Yes, I want you back”. He tried to kiss me again and I slapped him in the face and loudly said “Get the **** out of here, NOW!”. He left.

    I curled up into fetal position and cried and cried. I didn’t know why he’d done that. I was mad at myself for letting him do that. I was mad at my body for not reacting, for freezing up and not letting me move. I was angry at myself for letting him accompany me to the mall.

    My roomate eventually got home and found me crying. She, worried, asked what was wrong. I told her. Her eyes widened and she said “He raped you”. I didn’t understand why she said that. I told her that it was my fault, that I let him go shopping with me, that I let him go into the apartment, that I let him watch TV with me, etc. She insisted that he’d raped me and that I should call the police. I was still hesitant. She said that if I didn’t call the police, she’d do it. I begged her not to because then he might get mad and try to do something to me or to her. She said it was my choice, and she’d respect whatever I wanted to do.

    Next day, a delivery of 2 dozen roses arrives at the apartment. From him. The card repeatedly declared his love for me. He said he’d call me at night, after I get out of classes. Indeed, he called. I answered the phone almost crying because I saw his name in the caller ID. I was petrified. He started saying how much he loved me etc etc. My hands were shaking (as they are now, btw, as I relate this story that only my roomate knew and my fiance now knows). He kept talking and then there was a pause. He asked what I was thinking, and if I’d liked the flowers. I told him that the flowers had gone directly from the door to the trash. He, whining, said “Whyyyy?”. I said “Because you’re an ass and you raped me”. Dead silence. After a while he said, screaming “I DID NOT RAPE YOUU! YOU WANTED IT! YOU WANTED ME! AND IF YOU TELL ANYONE THAT IT WAS A RAPE I WILL CRUSH YOU AND YOUR REPUTATION BECAUSE YOU *KNOW* IT WASNT A RAPE AND YOU *WANTED* IT!”. I started crying again. He, more calmly, said “And besides, no one would believe you anyway”. He then hung up.

    I never pressed charges. I was scared.

    Now I realize I should have.

    …Sorry for the long comment, but I’ve read many posts about rape in the past one or two years in many feminist blogs, and every time I read them I desperately want to tell someone, anyone, what happened to me, but I’ve always been scared. Right now I’m crying as I type this because I realize how stupid I was back then, and it makes me really said that other women go through what I went through and many can’t do anything about it, like it happend with me…

  31. Nickname Goes Here
    Nickname Goes Here January 18, 2007 at 4:19 am |

    ^ By the way, this was years and years ago. I still have nightmares about it, and flashbacks. But I didn’t, and won’t, press charges because I haven’t seen him since then. By now I moved away from[state 1] to [state 2] and later from [state 2] to [state 3], and I have no idea what’s happened with him. And I don’t want to know either. I just feel pity for whoever was his next girlfriend or eventual wife. And I’m glad he’s out of my life, because if not I would have become a domestic violence statistical point. And like I said, only two people know about this. I’ve kept the names in this narration ambiguous enough that I hope no one recognizes me either, however small the possibility is of that happening…

    I’ll stop now. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s too painful.

  32. VK
    VK January 18, 2007 at 5:45 am |

    I’ve never felt that the term “date rape” (or “acquaintence rape”) implied that it’s less traumatic to be raped by someone you know than by someone you don’t. I’ve always imagined that it exists to demonstrate that not all rapes are stranger in a dark alley rapes.

    The main problem is the term gets used for rapes that happen not on a date. For example, when an estate agent rapes a client they are showing round a house alone. It gets called date rape, and suddenly questions like “Did she consent to going into a house alone with him” start turning up in the police investigation, as if they were on a date and the victim should have realised that going alone sonewhere with anyone means sex is completely on the cards…

    Similarly “date rape” gets applied to anything where the victim met/spoke to/saw the attacker before the rape occured, creating implications that the victim _should_ have known that was what the attacker intended and gotten out of there before the rapist got “confused” into thinking there was consent.

    more details here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors293.pdf

  33. VK
    VK January 18, 2007 at 5:51 am |
  34. VK
    VK January 18, 2007 at 6:02 am |

    Sorry to multiple post – just wanted to highlight this comment from the last link

    The notion that there are ‘types’ of rape permeates the court process, as exemplified by the following comment from a judge.
    “… I wonder whether the serious type of rape of a stranger… in a public place or whatever at night should not be a rather separate offence than, if I can put it to the other end of the scale, the misunderstanding between two people who know each other.”

  35. micheyd
    micheyd January 18, 2007 at 8:08 am |

    VK – from your link:

    “misunderstanding”?? That’s fucking disgusting. Let me guess his attitude on domestic violence…

  36. Joe
    Joe January 18, 2007 at 8:30 am |

    It looks to me that if you eliminated the sex from the encounter there would still have been criminal assault.

    Sex is not property but to use an analogy, if the encounter had ended in him taking all her cash would anyone reasonable call it a gift?

    He throw her against the wall, pushed into her bedroom, she told him no and to get out tried to wrestle her wallet away from him and than he took all her cash.

    This is a no brainier being defended by people with no brain.

  37. foresmac
    foresmac January 18, 2007 at 9:45 am |

    I can’t think of a bigger turn off during sex than someone who doesn’t want to have sex with me. I really, honestly, cannot understand the appeal.

    Then again, people are often surprised that I have both an X and Y chromosome.

  38. ako
    ako January 18, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    Nickname Goes Here, can I just say one thing about your story?

    You’re not stupid. Some of the decisions you made appear, in retrospect to be a mistake. They’re not particularly stupid mistakes, though. Letting some guy into your house without anticipating that he’s going to rape you isn’t stupid. Thinking that an ex-boyfriend might try to persuade you to take him back without raping you is not stupid. In hindsight, it’s a lot easier to see the warning signs. If you can look at those signs and get a useful lesson, good. Maybe you can get better ideas of what to watch for in the future, or where to draw the line. But I hope you can see that this isn’t something to blame yourself for, or a sign of stupidity.

  39. Dianne
    Dianne January 18, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    I think that one problem is that we teach girls that they are not supposed to have the right to control their bodies and we teach them this from a very young age. The classic example is what happens when a preschool age girl complains that a preschool age boy is bothering her. What’s the classic answer? “Oh, that’s because he likes you.” WTF? “He’s lonely and wants to play with someone” maybe. “He doesn’t know how to act around other kids yet”, probably. But what sort of “liking” leads people to harass those they like?

    An anecdote: A couple of weekends ago, on the 70 degree in January in NYC day, I took my daughter out to the playground. Because it was 70 degrees, the playground was very crowded. My daughter wanted to play on the tire swing so we joined another girl and boy, both about her age who were playing on it and their mothers, who were pushing the swing. One of the mothers began playfully tickling the children as they swang by her. Her daughter enjoyed this, but mine didn’t and said “no”. The woman replied, “No? But you’re smiling.” She was smiling because she was having fun on the tire swing and wasn’t sufficiently annoyed by the unwanted touching to stop enjoying herself yet, not because she wanted to be tickled by a stranger. While my daughter’s stupid mother was trying to compose a way of pointing that out to the other woman without offending anyone (god forbid that a woman offend someone), the woman tickled my daughter again. This time she was sufficiently disturbed to slip out of the swing trying to get away. We stopped the swing before she could get hurt and the woman apologized profusely. But it wasn’t until my daughter risked serious injury getting away from her that this woman was willing to take her no seriously. And this was an apparently nice, ordinary woman whose child seemed like a nice kid, suggesting that she wasn’t a child abuser or sadist, just an average woman who didn’t think that a girl could possibly mean no when she said no.

  40. lawbitch
    lawbitch January 18, 2007 at 10:21 am |

    Q: How hard does a women have to fight back to prove that nonconsentual sex is rape?

    Just wondering… How much evidence do I need? Do I have to draw some blood? I’m only 5′ 3″. Do I need less evidence than a taller woman? The whole line of reasoning becomes ludicrous.

    Just asking….

  41. Jeff Fecke
    Jeff Fecke January 18, 2007 at 10:40 am |

    Nickname Goes Here–

    You’re not stupid, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for not wanting to put yourself through the hell of filing a rape charge. One of the dispiriting things of the last week has been some of the lefty response to the Ashley Cross article, which basically boils down to, “Well, even though he pled guilty, who can really know what happened between two people? Maybe she’s partly responsible….”

    It angers me just to type that.

    You are brave for telling your story, and you are brave for picking up and moving on from that; your fiance and your friends are fortunate to know you, and the asshole who raped you is the moron–and no, you’re not stupid for inviting him in, or shopping with him, or any of that. He asked to be your friends, and you don’t rape your friends.

    It’s men like him that give men a bad name, and that pisses me off.

  42. johnieb
    johnieb January 18, 2007 at 10:48 am |

    Sometimes I’m tempted to despair by reports of statements such as those of Ms. Cross and Mr. Douglas; what happened to idealism? To good sense? Surely, they reveal the appalling misdirection of public sex education corrupted by Patriarchy. Thanks especially for the link to Ms. Martin’s piece in American Prospect.

    So I am especially grateful to find another illuminating example of your work, Jill. May you continue to find ways such as this blog to promote the common good. It’s a comfort to see people such as you leading the way.

  43. Hugo
    Hugo January 18, 2007 at 10:54 am |

    Jill, you are continuing to shame all of us with your prolific and insightful posts. Something about the whole issue of “emasculation” is stirring inside of me, and I hope to get a post up on this soon. Something about how the masculine ideal of decisivenss and action becomes confused with an absence of empathy.

  44. ACG
    ACG January 18, 2007 at 11:09 am |

    I think the problem with “aggressiveness” comes when we start confusing assertiveness with aggressiveness. Just about any activity is more enjoyable with someone who knows what s/he likes and isn’t afraid to articulate it. The guy who does the grab-n-grr is just saying, “Hey, feeling like sex now.” Assertive. Aggressive, in my mind, is when he won’t take, “That’s flattering, but I’m not interested” for an answer. When he says, “But I really want it,” or, “But baby, look what you’ve done to me,” or, “You’ll want it as soon as we get started,” or, “I can make you want me,” stop. Not sexy, not flattering, that is taking away my agency and denying my right and my ability to make those decisions for myself, so stop. I have no problem encouraging assertiveness in men and women, but aggressiveness is something I can do without.

    Nickname Goes Here – Allow me to add my voices to the ones that say you weren’t stupid. We make decisions all the time without being able to foresee the outcome, and a person who claims to love you is the last person who should be expected to hurt you like that. You’re incredibly strong to be able to share your story with us.

    Jill, as always, excellent post.

  45. Ethyl
    Ethyl January 18, 2007 at 11:17 am |

    Nickname,
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  46. Natalia
    Natalia January 18, 2007 at 12:42 pm |

    Jesus Christ…

  47. Bruce/Crablaw
    Bruce/Crablaw January 18, 2007 at 12:47 pm |

    Part of the challenge of getting many men to understand this subject is that it is really so horrific and predatory that doubting is easier than accepting that this is a reality. Those who do not engage in sexual predation and call it “dating” may not understand the psychology or reality of those who do exactly that. Overcoming the cognitive dissonance on this point is frustrating but difficult.

    In my own case, at 18 I had been socially and religiously conservative (20 years ago now), had attended an all-male high school, dated rarely and not at all my senior year, had no contact with older sisters or female cousins and had no course from the Jesuits on the reality of date rape. Latin? Plenty. European History? Check. Date rape reality circa 1987? Zero. Princeton’s Take Back the Night march of Spring 1988 radicalized me, as did that of 89, 90 and 91, and the later-learned experiences of family members and friends regarding sexual violence, assault, abuse and predation. A thick skull can, in fact, be overcome. My two now-toddler boys will be better educated on the subject.

    One way to get through to a hard-headed man is to ask whether he would find it acceptable if another man did to him what the survivor endured, where he has rights in his body, person, safety, travels, residence, studies and employment to be left the hell alone that his gay male neighbor must unfailingly respect.

  48. twf
    twf January 18, 2007 at 1:18 pm |

    Nickname,

    I just want to join with the others in urging you to make an effort to put the blame where it belongs (on the rapist, not on you). Please reread your story a few times and see how it reads to us: you did nothing stupid, nothing out of the ordinary, and your rape was in no way your fault.

    The feministe bloggers have my permission to share my e-mail address with you. If you write me with your phone number I can also call you (I have free long-distance calls anywhere in North America). We can talk about our shared experience of being raped by ex-boyfriends/friends. I also declined to prosecute, for complex reasons, and I’d be happy to listen to your story as many times as you need to tell it.

  49. thegirlfrommarz
    thegirlfrommarz January 18, 2007 at 1:34 pm |

    Had a longer comment, but the computer ate it.

    Jill – great article. Everything I was trying to say to someone offline the other day – wish I’d had your post then.

    Nickname Goes Here – I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to share your story, but I’m glad you did. You weren’t stupid. It’s so sad that someone you trusted would do that to you. Thanks for sharing your story.

  50. jennie
    jennie January 18, 2007 at 1:54 pm |

    nickname,

    Let me repeat it: you did nothing wrong. You weren’t stupid and you weren’t naive. Your long-ago boyfriend was a rapist, and you didn’t know, because, let’s face it, we don’t go around thinking the people we hang out with are probable rapists. (That’s the world the rape apologists and fear-mongers want us to live in, but it’s not the world we live in.) If you’ve already heard this enough, and you believe it down to your toenails, I apologize for singing to the choir.

    When I was younger, I too tried to remain “friends” with ex-boyfriends, who would try to maneuver and manipulate me into bed with them, crying, clinging to me, kissing or touching me without my consent, until I left, blaming and hating on myself for letting them do that, for leading the poor dears on, for confusing them. None of them ever raped me, because I usually managed to get up and leave before things went that far, but I think I was just lucky. Not smarter, just luckier.

    I hope that you tell your story as often as you need to tell it. I think people need to hear stories like yours, as long as things like your rape keep happening, because we (this would be the global “we,” not the people reading Feministe; they’re pretty up on not blaming victims) need to understand that the victims are not to blame, that rapes happen to good, smart, sensible people, that in order to stop rape we need to change the way people think about human interaction.

    I admire your bravery in doing so now, and I really, really hope that your nightmares and flashbacks and all the hurt in general stop.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  51. Joie
    Joie January 18, 2007 at 1:54 pm |

    This post reminds me of a conversation between my (now fiance, then boyfriend) and I just after we just started having sex.

    Me: “No.”
    Him: *Looks confused* “When girls say no, they really mean yes right?”
    Me: “No, it means no. I don’t feel like having sex right now.”
    Him: “But I was always under the impression that when it came to sex, no means yes.”
    Me: “Then how is a girl supposed to ever say no to something sexual?”
    Him: “Oh. Right.”

    And this is a great guy who is otherwise really respectful of my wants and needs (I’m still grateful that at least he took the time to confirm that my “No” meant no instead of just assuming that it meant “Yes”). That conversation cleared it up, but seriously, is this symptomatic of the perversions inherent in sex ed? Some deep seated societal mysogyny? What?!

    Nickname Goes Here: That was completely not stupid what you did. There was no way for you to -expect- rape from that asshat. In hindsight everything looks like you should’ve known, but c’mon, that’s hindsight. There is no way you could’ve predicted that he would act like that. His fault, completely not yours.

  52. Longhairedweirdo
    Longhairedweirdo January 18, 2007 at 1:54 pm |

    Bruce/Crablaw:

    Part of the challenge of getting many men to understand this subject is that it is really so horrific and predatory that doubting is easier than accepting that this is a reality. Those who do not engage in sexual predation and call it “dating” may not understand the psychology or reality of those who do exactly that. Overcoming the cognitive dissonance on this point is frustrating but difficult.

    Nod. It also helps (as in: it helped me) to understand that a lot of predators *use* the social expectations to provide an excuse for their behavior.

    e.g., if you’re on a date – a real, honest-to-goodness date – and you try to make a move, it’s okay, so long as you stop when asked, and aren’t moving too fast, so she has plenty of time to set the limits on what makes her comfortable.

    So there are guys who will just grope, and then, if called on it, say that they stopped as soon as she told them too.

    These kinds of guys are unbelievably damaging to sexual relationships, especially for guys who really are shy, awkward, clumsy or inexperienced.

    These kinds of guys are also the reasons so many discussions of rape and other forms of sexual misconduct can get so heated.

    Because some decent guys hear women angry as hell at guys who treat them like total crap, and those decent guys try to imagine the situations, and they mis-imagine them. They imagine things going the way they would have gone if a decent guy was involved. They don’t realize that a decent guy wouldn’t have left a woman in such an angry state.

    Frustrated, sure, maybe. Aggravated, sure, maybe. But real anger, coming from real harm, doesn’t just happen in a second. It takes time. And it doesn’t just happen from a single clumsy move, or a poorly timed and executed come on.

    What’s doubly frustrating about this is, if a person comes away from an encounter feeling mistreated, then the other person screwed up. I mean, that’s a given. Maybe the person was stupid, clumsy, callous, or outright evil, but the person, at best, screwed up big time.

    And it doesn’t matter if the other person was a fundamentally decent person who made a big mistake, or a predator who didn’t give a damn about the other person. In either case, you should be concerned with the person who was unjustly hurt, first and foremost. Then you can take some time to be concerned about the person who caused that hurt.

  53. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 18, 2007 at 1:57 pm |

    Nickname — you can also contact the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network 24 hours a day to talk to a professional rape counselor:

    http://www.rainn.org/

  54. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 18, 2007 at 2:05 pm |

    Nickname, I just want to echo what everyone else said–you weren’t stupid. At all. And as someone who’s been pursued by guys who refused the no, I know how easy it is to miss the danger. My friends constantly told me that it was romantic and that something must be wrong with me. And I believed them, and thought I was the problem.

    I’ll second what twf said as well–if you want my email, Jill has my permission to share it with you. I’m happy to listen anytime, and to let you know that you’re not alone in what you’ve been through.

  55. Jane
    Jane January 18, 2007 at 2:40 pm |

    Nickname,

    I’m glad you had the courage to tell your story. You deserve endless support.

    My respect to your former roommate for calling rape by its name, and mountains of respect to you for making it clear to your asshole of an ex that you also call rape by its name.

    Congrats on improving your life by removing him from it.

  56. Nickname Goes Here
    Nickname Goes Here January 18, 2007 at 3:28 pm |

    Thanks everyone for your kind words. Now, many years after that happened, I can somewhat see that I wasn’t stupid for making the choices I made. But still, every time the the memory get back in my head (and believe me, this is one memory I’ve tried my hardest to supress, much harder than the awful memories I have from catholc school) I can’t help but think about all the things I should have done differently. I wanted to break up with him like 6 months before, but I guess he’d figured that out from my behaviour (or I dunno, any kind of stalking, since now I know he was very capable of that), I guess he figured out that I was going to break up with him, because one time he told me that, oh so coincidentally, that he knew this guy in school that his girlfriend broke up with him after 5 years together and how devastating it was for him, and then he said someting along the lines of “Poor guy, I can’t imagine being in his situation. I’d kill myself if something like that happened to me”…

    Now I realize that was a very subtle and concealed threat. I should have broken up with him when I initially wanted to, but I still cared for him (not love anymore by that point, but I did care about him), and I didn’t want to cause him any pain. My old roomate (the one from the story) use to tell me that I’m too nice for my own good. And after the ‘situation’, she repeated that to me quite a few times, so that I understood that I was a good person and I didn’t deserve to go through what had happened to me. I feel very fortunate to have her as a friend. Many of my other friends wondered why I had broke up with him, cuz he was just such a nice boy and he loved me oh-so-much, and we’d been together for a long time and how could I break his little heart. But they don’t know what happened. It was impossible for me to tell anyone anyway.

    I was very hesitant to get close to a guy after that. The two boyfriends that followed turned out to be somewhat jerks themselves, but I guess you could call it the “good” kind of jerk, if compared to Psycho (that, btw, is the name that ever since then I use to refer to that asshole of an ex-boyfriend that raped me). Those two boyfriends never physically assaulted me, and they would back away if I told them to. I consider them jerks in the ways that they break up with me (one possibly was cheating on me because within a day of our breakup he already had a new girlfriend; the other decided one day that he didn’t have feelings for me anymore). Of course, after those not-too-pleasant experiences (mostly with Psycho), I decided I hated men and swore them off forever and wished I was a lesbian because if that were the case I wouldn’t have to deal with men.

    Later on I met my fiance. He was a friend of a friend, and eventually he and I became friends. When I started to develop feelings for him I was scared because I didn’t want another jerk boyfriend. Some time later he told me that he had feelings for me, and that sometimes he could tell that I have feelings for him too but that other times he would get a different vibe from me. I just told him “It’s not you, it’s me, I’ve had bad experiences with men that I don’t want to repeat again”. He respected that and didn’t bring up the subject again. But my feelings got stronger as time went by and I slowly allowed myself to get close to him. I realized I could trust him, that he wasn’t going to harm me in any way. I met his family and he met mine. At one point I told him the rape story and he cried with me as I was crying telling him. He hugged me and promised that something like that would never happen again to me because he could not even fathom the thought of doing such harm to someone he loves so much. He consoled me. He supported me. I feel incredibly lucky to have met him, because I’ve never been happier in my life.

    Every now and then, much as I want not to, I still get the flashbacks and the nightmares, and every time that happens a new detail that I’d forgotten pops back into my head. It’s painful. It’s frustrating. But now I have someone in my life who understands me. I tried not to talk about it much with my old roomate because it was still too soon for me, though we still did talk about it a few times. But my fiance has been there for me for three years now. It’s a good feeling knowing that if I wake up sweaty and scared in the middle of the night because I had a flashback, he’s there for me to comfort me and tell me evrything’s going to be fine. He also tells me I wasn’t stupid and that what had happend wasn’t my fault, and even thuogh I kinda know that now, like I said, it’s hard to not think that I could have done something different.

    TWF, I appreciate your sympathy and your kindness, but I’m afraid I will decline your offer to get in touch and talk about it. I really honestly from the bottom of my heart appreciate it, and I am also thankful for Jill for writing this post and willing to act as intermediary so that we could get in touch, but I’m really trying really really hard to not think about it anymore. I posted my story here because I needed to vent, to get it out, because every time I read a post about rape my heart hurts a little, and little by little I get profoundly sad that more women go through this horrible experience. And because I couldn’t tell anyone when it happend for fear of people not believing me and siding with him, and call me a slut for letting him do that. And because I could never bring myself to tell anyone after that, because I was sure that no matter how much time passed no one would believe me and they’d chide me for letting that happen. Even now, with my fiance, who I know believes me and loves me and comforts me and wants to spend the rest of our lives together, I make a big effort to not talk about it anymore, except for when I get nightmares and flashbacks. I had a feeling, I knew in my heart, that the feminist blogosphere (as Jill so eloquently put it) would understand what I went throguh, and I am grateful for all your kind words and understanding. Please believe me when I say that I truly appreciate your kind offer to talk about it, but even though I’ve always wanted to tell someone, anyone, everyone, about my story, at the same time I know I just couldn’t bring myself to do it because it’s too painful. I thank you all for listening to me and for your kind words, but I just don’t want to think about it anymore.

  57. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil January 18, 2007 at 3:36 pm |

    Way to go, Jill! Great post. I couldn’t agree more that there need to be educational programs for men. My boyfriend works for a university housing department and he had an issue where one of his residents was stalking another student and was totally oblivious to the fact that his attentions were unwanted: he just figured that she was playing hard to get. (It doesn’t help that said university is 70% male).

    And adults clearly aren’t immune. I subscribe to Self and there was a recent article about what to do when you have a stronger sex drive than your partner/he isn’t interested in sex. It started out fairly promising: the author works to deconstruct the myth that men “naturally” want more sex than women. But the suggestions for what to do if your partner isn’t interested in sex? Well, don’t talk about it! Because that’ll really kill his interest in sex, talking about sex with his partner. It might make him feel less manly. C’mon. Makes me want to cancel my subscription.

    Nickname, I also think you’re really brave for sharing your story. I hope this helps you heal.

  58. twf
    twf January 18, 2007 at 3:38 pm |

    Nickname,

    Cool. I also understand not wanting to talk about it. (My husband is very much that way with his own experience of rape, and of child abuse). The offer stands if you ever change your mind.

  59. Natalia
    Natalia January 18, 2007 at 3:49 pm |

    Nickname,

    Thank you for sharing. Your story is one of many I’ve heard over the years. I add it to my own experiences with sexual abuse and assault.

    There are a lot of us out there.

    We are not “stupid.”

    We did not “want it.”

    We are human beings, not walking vaginas, and if we continue telling our stories, we may inspire change.

  60. Erika
    Erika January 18, 2007 at 4:05 pm |

    The five Faculty … wrote that they concluded he was not a threat to the community.

    “It is the details of the case that led to our motion,” they wrote in the letter. “It is easy to imagine rapes that warrant the most severe penalty we can confer, if not more. It is our belief that this rape does not fall into that category.”

    Wow. I can’t imagine why the victim didn’t leave it to the university administration to “handle” the situation. Why isn’t punishment good enough? Punish the bastard by expelling him permanently.

    Abstinence-only education is problematic not just because it doesn’t deal with how to articulate desire (that is, how to say yes and no, and how to hear that), but because it emphasizes unhealthy and patriarchal sex roles.

    It’s not just abstinence-only education. I had what would be considered by most to be full and comprehensive sex ed, and yet, no one really discussed the issues of consent and sexual violence with us girls. I’m certain they didn’t even mention it to the boys, because, of course, that would amount to accusing them all of being rapists. The Phyllis Schaflys of the world would have a fit.

    “But I didn’t mean to hurt her, no.”

    Yes, he raped with with love and tenderness.

  61. Erika
    Erika January 18, 2007 at 4:09 pm |

    Argh. He raped her with love and tenderness. Can you believe I actually proofread my comment before I submitted it?

  62. eve
    eve January 18, 2007 at 4:35 pm |

    Nickname goes here,

    I was really moved by your story and I am very happy that you found such a truly caring partner.

  63. Red Stapler
    Red Stapler January 18, 2007 at 5:29 pm |

    FashionablyEvil

    I found Self Magazine to be really disappointing.

    I bought it one day, looking for good health and fitness tips, and was appalled by its missing-the-point-ness.

    I thought too much of it was “this is how you should look,” vs. “this is what to do to look the way you want to look.”

  64. StarWatcher
    StarWatcher January 18, 2007 at 5:30 pm |

    Floating an idea that may be half-baked, here. If so, I’d appreciate your input as to where the fallacy lies.

    Longhairedweirdo said — Part of me keeps thinking (and yes, I might be hopelessly naive) that if we could just express to folks (guys especially, but there are women who are rape apologists to some extent or another) *why* rape is terrible, what elements of it make it terrible, it would break the logjam that prevents folks from understanding it.

    I’ve had the same feeling. It seems to me that the men who NEED to be told why rape is terrible simply have an automatic shut-off in their brains when they perceive something as being a man/woman issue. The response is “Oh, well, that’s what they always say,” and refuse to actually consider the issue.

    On Monday, the teachers in our school system attended a mandatory anti-bullying workshop. The presenter told us that — “Bullying is about power. The bully is using his power — whether real or perceived — to intimidate others.” and “Bullying is any intentional act of aggression by a more powerful person, which causes embarrassment, pain, fear, or discomfort to another person.”

    I sat there thinking, “Hunh. That’s exactly what rape is, or sexually-based harrassment.” (I mean any man-on-woman harrassment, not confined to the workplace as a part of doing your job.)

    And it occurred to me that it seems that more men make a “connect” with understanding bullying than make a “connect” with understanding that women are not fair game. Maybe because bullying isn’t necessarily gender-based, they “understand” it better. And many men who wouldn’t quit hitting on a woman because “they always say no, you just have to play the game” might be highly offended to be considered a bully.

    So I wondered, if we connected sexually-based harrassment (not stopping their attentions when the woman says, “Quit”, because she “owes” them sex) to bullying, might it become clearer to them? As in, “That’s not cool, man, you’re being a bully!”

    Like, “If you continue after she says “No,” you’re a bully. Little kids know not to bully; isn’t it time you learned?” And other messages like that.

    And I think it could tie in nicely to the school-based programs that are teaching not to bully. If you start learning at 6 years old (yeah, I know, parents should already be teaching that, but let’s ignore that for now) that EVERY person has the inalienable right not to be intimidated, and it’s a gender-free issue, it might be a permanent knowledge pattern by the time a boy is 12 or 14 and gender issues are becomming recognized.

    What do you think? Does this make sense, or am I missing something?

  65. Violating the conservative mythos on rape  at  PunkAssBlog.com

    [...] er reading a Courtney Martin article on sex education that’s been covered quite well across the blogosphere, my mind was immediately flooded by the k [...]

  66. Reclusive Leftist » Blog Archive  » Abstinence-Only Sex Education, otherwise known as Godbag Bullshit

    [...] but Amanda filled in the blanks admirably. There’s also some great commentary from Jill, Sheelzebub, Echidne, Ann Bartow, Punkass Marc, and Mamacit [...]

  67. LongHairedWeirdo
    LongHairedWeirdo January 19, 2007 at 12:51 am |

    Starwatcher:

    Oh, god, what you say makes a little too much sense, in too many ways. Has anyone studied the relationship between bullies as children and rapists as adults? Because it wouldn’t surprise me if there turned out to be a connection.

    However, even if it’s just metaphorical (“it’s just like being a bully; doing something that pleases him, without caring if it hurts or humiliates you”), it’s a good thing, and I think it might be even better for another reason.

    There’s a lot of guy-angst about understanding the limits. Much of it’s overblown, but some of it’s real, and meaningful.

    Recognizing that it’s very similar to bullying might help ease some of that angst.

    After hearing, and understanding, how much sexual crap women often have to deal with, I got the wrong lesson out of the deal, and for several years, wouldn’t make a move on a woman, because of the fear that it would be unwanted. Of course, if you never make a move towards a woman, she figures you’re not interested, so, my lovelife kinda sucked for me for that period of time.

    If someone had told me “Look, John, rapists are bullies. If you make a move that you hope will make her happy, you might be *wrong*, but you *will not* look like a bully. It might be awkward, and uncomfortable, but it will be lightyears away from looking anything malicious,” that would have been a big help.

    I think it could also help guys push away stories of rape, and not identify with the rapists. I mean, guys understand the difference between horseplay and bullying, too. They understand the difference between busting on someone who is giving as good as getting, and bashing someone who doesn’t realize it’s supposed to be in fun.

    The identification would probably be gone if they realized that rape stories always include that bit of “and if you were there, you’d have seen damn well that it was time to stop, but he didn’t stop.”

    That it’s not just like throwing off a joking insult or two, before you realize that the person you’re busting on is being quiet and not firing back, and seems uncomfortable. It’s like noticing that, and not caring, and keeping up the insults, because you just don’t care.

    I’m probably babbling here, and I hope I’m not being confusing, but, regardless, StarWatcher, thank you, I think this is important.

  68. slashy
    slashy January 19, 2007 at 3:42 am |

    I am stopped in my tracks sometimes (literally, I will stop in the middle of a crowded footpath until my brain re-starts) over this sum: the overwhelming majority of women I know have been raped, or have experienced attempted rape. None of them have been assaulted by the same men. Therefor, for as many women as I know have been raped, there are that many men who have raped.

    I know a lot of women.

    That’s a lot of rapists.

    Sometimes I can’t even get my head past that fact to the other side, where I know that there is real work to be done. I’m pretty confident that reducing the world population of rapists would drastically reduce the world population of people who have been raped. Since killing off the menfolk is logistically improbable, might bother my hetero sisters, and would deprive me of the few male friends who’ve made it through my Arsehole Filter, I guess it’s gonna have to be a matter of making the existing men not be rapists. Education seems like the way, then.

  69. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte January 19, 2007 at 8:06 am |

    Jill, I usually reserve this one for Chris Clarke, but you are SUCH a wonderful writer.

  70. ACG
    ACG January 19, 2007 at 10:23 am |

    The “no doesn’t really mean no, right?” problem is one that has always astounded me. It’s not something you run into in a lot of other areas of life. “Are you hungry? I was thinking Arby’s.” “No, I just ate.” “So, when you say you just ate, what you really mean is you could go for a burger, right?” Cut to force-feeding.

    “That’s an awesome car. Don’t suppose it’s for sale?” “Actually, I spent a lot of time restoring it, and I want to hang on to it.” “Don’t be coy. You know you want to sell it to me.” Cut to grand theft auto.

    But when it’s about sex, and when it’s a woman involved, it’s perfectly okay for the Aggressive Male has to keep pushing until she consents grudgingly – or doesn’t consent at all. And because Aggressive Male is supposed to be a good thing, guys don’t make the connection between (and not to trivialize rape here) the violent rapist who shoves the burger down your throat and the acquaintance rapist who just won’t acknowledge that you’re not hungry.

    And that’s what bugs me so much about that NYT column; here’s a guy who recognizes that he doesn’t have healthy views about sex and respect and relationships, and he’s going to go slowly and tentatively until he really understands how it’s supposed to work. And here’s this woman accusing him of being “emasculated” because he’s not “aggressive” enough.

  71. Longhairedweirdo
    Longhairedweirdo January 19, 2007 at 10:57 am |

    ACG

    And that’s what bugs me so much about that NYT column; here’s a guy who recognizes that he doesn’t have healthy views about sex and respect and relationships, and he’s going to go slowly and tentatively until he really understands how it’s supposed to work. And here’s this woman accusing him of being “emasculated” because he’s not “aggressive” enough.

    Well, I don’t think it’s so much that he’s going slowly and tentatively; I think there’s a good chance that he came to an understanding of what he did, and was sick with himself.

    (I kind of hope that’s the case. It’d be an appropriate reaction.)

    Since she can’t come to grips with the idea that he did something terribly wrong, she couldn’t understand what he was going through enough to deal with it. If she’d accepted that, yes, there should be a huge load of guilt and shame he was working through, and it’s appropriate for him to be trying to feel out the limits once again, they probably could have worked things out.

    But since the only thing she couldn’t accept what he did, there wasn’t much hope.

  72. johnieb
    johnieb January 19, 2007 at 11:20 am |

    I had to leave immediately after posting yesterday, Nickname; I think and hope you will understand why. I’m a Vietnam combat veteran with PTSD; I’m beginning to understand how other people’s suffering triggers my re-enactment of mine. I hope the insights we have won over the last three decades or so help others; it gives it some good meaning, ya know?

    I hope you have little trouble in getting whatever help you need promptly, neither from the systems without nor within. I know what it’s like to try and fail, both giving and receiving, but I’ve noticed a substantial amount of progress, after I got the right services lined up, and there’s some great new approaches coming out I’m starting to try. I have found it’s better to be alert when facing the demons; in other words, avoid self-medication: train for the event.

    Shit, forgive me; I’m getting avuncular, and I just wanna help, ya know?

  73. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers January 19, 2007 at 2:42 pm |

    To be fair, the number of rapists is probably drastically less than the number of rape victims because the crime has enormously high recidivism. There’s almost no such thing as a rapist who rapes only one woman, once. Rapists rape many times.

    So cutting down the number of rapists is easier than it would sound from looking at the number of rape victims. Take out just *one* of these guys before his rape career starts and you may have saved 5-40 women from being raped.

  74. Laurie
    Laurie January 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm |

    ACG:
    Brilliant analogy — and no, I don’t think you trivialized rape at all with it. It just drives home the reality of what the “aggressive” guy is doing when he pushes for sex and eventually just takes what he wants. Well done.

  75. Hugo
    Hugo January 19, 2007 at 2:59 pm |

    FWIW, I got around to putting up the first of what will be two posts on this topic, but from the perspective of a Christian feminist frustrated with abstinence only education.

  76. David Dyer-Bennet
    David Dyer-Bennet January 19, 2007 at 3:11 pm |

    Also, it gives a simple and known name to the behavior between when it becomes unacceptable and when it becomes rape. Identifying and stigmatizing the earlier stages is good. (Harrassment wasn’t sticking well, though it’s also a proper term.)

  77. humbition
    humbition January 19, 2007 at 8:09 pm |

    Obviously I’m posting a little late on this long thread, but I would just like to commend LongHaired Weirdo on his comments. I think they address extremely important issues. The New York Times article was very deceptive, in terms of covering up the actual rape which Ashley’s ex-beau admitted to, but it was also insidious in another way. It pandered to the fear that ordinary, respectful, but still assertive masculine initiation of sex and relationships is what is demonized by feminism. On his blog and here, LongHaired Weirdo has made a very detailed analysis of this fear and how he overcame it. But I think this fear is rampant among men and even among women; perhaps it is a major cause of the “I’m not a feminist but” syndrome. It is very hard to talk about these matters in the specific ways he describes, and I want to commend him for doing so.

    I have another comment about the deceptive cover-story aspect of the Times article. There is a lot of attention paid to date rape as “miscommunication.” But whenever I read what survivors actually say happened, I almost always find myself thinking, “my God, how could anyone think there is any miscommunication here”? I think that somehow our cultural discourse has gotten into a fog — with a lot of causes — in which we think that “consent” is a more rocket-science issue than it really is in most real-life cases. If LongHaired Weirdo’s account of it became more widely dispersed, I think a lot of the suspicion of feminism, which the essayist Ashley would like to sow, would fall on much stonier ground.

  78. Kaytie
    Kaytie January 19, 2007 at 9:47 pm |

    This thread warms my heart.

    Let me explain – yesterday I got pulled into a blog discussion by someone’s comment that some girls who were beaten, molested, or raped by predators met through MySpace deserved what they got because “they must be dirty sluts who were asking for it.” The girls were ages 13-15.

    I just can’t let the “dirty slut” comments by, even in places where I know the audience doesn’t care. What suprised me is that I was one of only a few people who argued that victims don’t “deserve what they get.” More disturbing to me than that comment was how many people agreed with it, or who said “they should have known better.” I was vastly outnumbered and this is a blog I consider representative of mainstream, young America.

    I was feeling very much alone.

    So my thanks to Feministe (and also Pandagon as that’s where I came from) for providing a forum where I can read the comments of so many people who do understand, and who are working against serious resistance to the idea that people don’t deserve to be victimized, that bad judgment does not equal culpability, that women aren’t dirty sluts who ask for it.

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