This is a comment by Davey on the post “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too“.
This is a powerful, well-written article that strikes a little too close to home for me, and I’d like to actually add a different type of rape that we don’t talk about at all in society, either: the type where “consent” is given through coercion or wearing-down.
I know only too well how insidious this is, because it happened to me. Or rather, because I was the one who did it.
I was dating a woman in a long-distance relationship, and we saw each other in person for the first time in over half a year. Naturally, I had come to expect that the first night we’d have a wild night of passion liked we did every other time we saw each other. She, however, told me she didn’t want to, because she was tired from travel. And I promptly threw one hell of a temper tantrum, whining, pleading, and eventually expressing genuine anger like a child before turning over in a petulant huff and giving passive-aggressive sighs. At which point she said that okay, we could.
It wasn’t until later that she told me how betrayed and violated she felt. That I’d ignored her “no” to wear her down with repeated whining and pressure. That she’d felt scared by my anger, and worried I’d hurt her if she didn’t say yes. (The fact that I never would have is irrelevant, as it was what she perceived that led to her decision). The fact that I thought entitled to her body because we were dating and because we’d slept together before, and she agreed, which led to her feeling like she’d compromised herself. And eventually, she said the word that neither of us wanted to bring up: she felt like she’d been raped.
I always considered myself a good guy. I’ve always tried to fight for equality and for the rights of those who are marginalized. But this was years ago and I’m still not sure how to process it or how to deal with it as a man who identifies as feminist, or how to use it to maybe find a silver lining of purpose or redemption.
Yes, she said yes. On the surface, consent was given. But it was consent given after pestering and, from her perspective, threats. So she has every right to feel how she did. And at the time I had no clue I’d even done anything wrong.
Like the article discusses, we need as a society to talk about and be more aware of how (particularly) men wrongly interpret signals that (particularly) women send out. But we also need (particularly) boys to learn that a consent won through pestering isn’t much of a consent at all. I wish I’d learned that lesson before I had to.
Photo credit: Flickr / albertoabouganem