Nice Guys Commit Rape Too

Alyssa Royse believes that society’s relationship with sexuality is at least partially responsible when good men and women commit rape.

I am used to getting the call in which a reluctant voice says, “I was raped.” I used to carry a pager and get that call at all hours, racing to emergency rooms to counsel women through the byzantine maze of emotions, doctors, cops and—for lucky ones—lawyers that were soon to come.

However, I was not used to getting the call in which a dear friend of mine says, “I am being accused of rape.” And I was certainly not used to saying, “did you do it?”

It seems like a simple question to answer. But he, like many people, struggled with it. He didn’t answer. So I asked the question from another angle, “What did she say happened?”

“She said I raped her,” he answered.

“Well, then you probably did. What exactly happened?”

This is where this particular story becomes much more general. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is a scene whose generalities are probably repeated every night, somewhere. And they rarely happen in the tidy confines of a dark alley, with a stranger who is clearly a “rapist” and a woman who is clearly being victimized. More often than not, rape happens amongst people who know each other, and the rapist is not someone carrying a villainous cloak and look of ill intent. The rapist is just a person who may genuinely not realize that what he’s doing is rape.

My friend, for instance, was genuinely unsure, which was why he called me. At the time, I was fresh from giving a rousing talk at SlutWalk, in which I very clearly stated that the only person responsible for rape is the rapist. I said that no matter what a woman is wearing or doing, no one has the right to touch her without her explicit consent. It was a great talk.

But it cannot undo generations of training in which the goal of getting dressed and going out is to get the guy or get the girl and hook up or get lucky. In this training, we are taught that in order to get the guy, we have to look sexy—and sometimes have sex. The training has also taught men that the reason we dress up and look sexy is to “catch him”. We even use those words, as if our bodies themselves are the lure, and our sexuality the hook.

In this particular case, I had watched the woman in question flirt aggressively with my friend for weeks. I had watched her sit on his lap, dance with him, twirl his hair in her fingers. I had seen her at parties discussing the various kinds of sex work she had done, and the pleasure with which she explored her own very fluid sexuality, all while looking my friend straight in the eye.

Only she knows what signals she intended to send out. But many of us can guess the signals he received.

This is not a “some girls, they rape so easy” story. I promise. This is a “some signals, they read so wrong” story. And the fault is not hers, it’s ours—all of ours—for not explaining what these signals DON’T mean, even if we don’t know exactly what they DO mean.

♦◊♦

On the night in question, there was drinking. A lot of it. I wasn’t there, but there was probably some drugging. There was music and dancing. At some point, people started clustering off into smaller groups, some of which turned sexual. My friend and this woman fell asleep together. And by all accounts, when she woke up, he was penetrating her.

Which is to say that she was asleep when he started to penetrate her. She did not consent prior. Anything said after the penetration beside the point, so I’m leaving it out on purpose. It is the mixed signals of everything leading up to this moment that are the point of this story.

In my mind, this was rape. Because being hot, flirty, frolicky and drunk is NOT consent. Putting your penis in a woman without her consent is rape. Being drunk was not an excuse for either party. The responsibility was not on her to say “stop”, it was on him to ask if it’s okay before he did it. This part is simple.

To some of you, it may sound ridiculous when I say that my friend is a really sweet guy. He was devastated at the allegation of rape, and even more so at my confirmation that it was rape. We spent a week or so exploring how this could have happened. Not excusing it, but trying to understand it. With him, the conversations were painful and beautiful, and he understood. He claimed it, at least to me, and learned a hard lesson: he had committed rape. That “nice guys” can do that.

Still, the fact that he is a nice guy doesn’t make it okay. Ever.

♦◊♦

Within the community at large, there were much harder discussions centering on how it was that he thought penetrating her while she was asleep was okay, but any discussion of her behavior leading up to it was taboo. Any suggestion that her behavior may have led to—NOT JUSTIFIED OR EXCUSED—the rape was met with screams of “victim blaming” and “rape apology”.

But to run from this part of the discussion is to let the problem stagnate and fester.

There are two simple truths here:

1. She had every right to do everything she was doing and fully expect to be safe from rape. (She was right.)

2. He believed that everything she was doing was an invitation to have sex.  (He was wrong.)

The problem is not that she’s a “slut”. The implications of that word make my brain shrivel when sprinkled with the salty insinuations that so often accompany it: that a woman who exhibits a fondness for her own sexuality is somehow inviting anyone who sees her to have sex with her.

The problem isn’t even that he’s a rapist.

The problem is that no one is taking responsibility for the mixed messages about sex and sexuality in which we are stewing. And no one is taking responsibility for teaching people how the messages we are sending are often being misunderstood.

Just to be painfully clear, the ONLY thing that counts as consent to have sex is the word “YES”, accompanied with any form of “I would like to have sex with you”. But we need to stop denying that we sell sex as the reason for everything—from what car to buy, to why to work out to what clothes will help us “get ahead”. In our world, sex is the end game. Period. Anything shy of sex is quitting, or worse, losing.

We use other’s people’s assessment of whether or not we are “hot” to feel good about ourselves. After all, the question we ask when we get dressed is “how do I look,” not “how do I feel?” And “look” in this case is meant to mean, “will other people find me attractive?”

Magazines and web sites feature an endless barrage of “How to get your guy or girl to do _____” and most of it is based on using looks and/or sex to get something. We walk a really fine tightrope between seeking validation and sending out signals that are easily misinterpreted as an invitation.

To continue ignoring these truths is going to keep getting us in trouble. Not because we need to change how we walk, talk or dress (personally, I love putting on a corset and leather pants to go out), but because we need to teach people that anything short of verbal consent is not an invitation to stick any part of your body on or in any part of anyone else’s body.

♦◊♦

To a large degree, my friend thought he was doing what was expected. And while he was wrong, weeks of flirting, provocative dancing and intimate innuendo led him to believe that sex was the logical conclusion of their social intercourse. Many people watching it unfold would have thought that, too.

Of course they would all be wrong. But if something walks like a fuck and talks like fuck, at what point are we supposed to understand that it’s not a fuck? Our binary language of “yes means yes” and “no means no” doesn’t address the entire spectrum of both spoken language and body language, which mean different things to different people.

I would love for “no means no” to work, but it doesn’t.

How do I know it doesn’t work? I know because my friend raped someone and didn’t even know it. I know because on any given night, people who think they are having drunk party sex with a partner who wants it are actually committing rape. Rape, although clear as hell at the ends of the spectrum, often exists in the dark murky world of mixed signals, confusing messages and alcohol. It happens to “good girls” who didn’t ask for it, and it happens at the hands of “good guys” who honestly didn’t know that’s what they were doing.

But it’s still rape. We often try to call it something else. We give it the name “date rape,” as if that’s softer and gentler. My friend didn’t commit actual rape, it was “just date rape”. Nope. That doesn’t fly. Rape is rape. The question is, why is it happening?

In order to get to that answer we need to first abolish the idea that all rape is about power and violence. It’s not. Some rape begins as the earnest belief that sex is going to happen, and that it should. The confusion starts with misreading socially accepted cues. Like, for instance, the cue that says, she’s dressed in a way that I find sexy, and she’s flirting with me, so that means we’re going to have sex. That is not an illogical conclusion. A lot of times, that’s exactly the case. But not always.

The confusion about when social intercourse turns into sexual intercourse is real, and we are all, in large part, to blame for it because we don’t address the underlying mythologies and mixed messages about what sex is. Without letting anyone off the hook for committing rape, we have to look at how we are all accomplices in making women’s bodies and sexuality a prize and something to which some men feel entitled, especially when they’re wrapped in pleasing packages and smiling in an inviting way. So while the individual rapist is solely responsible for the rape he committed, we all—as a society—are responsible for the culture that created the confusion.

♦◊♦

We need to change the emotional algebra with which we interpret social cues. We need to go from “sexy = sex” to “someone else’s sexuality doesn’t have anything to do with me”. We need to teach people that sex, as awesome as it is, is not the goal. We need to teach people that we each have the right to express our sexuality any way we want—in our movement, our dress, our language—and that it is not an invitation.

Just because someone has a sexuality does not entitle you to use it any more than someone else having a car entitles you to drive it.

Nice girls get raped. Nice guys commit rape. And it can happen the other way too. I have known men who felt violated when a date touched them in a sexual manner that they didn’t want. And certainly, if a guy wakes up to a woman “riding” him without his consent, that’s rape too. Whether or not it would be perceived as such is a much larger question, much less why. I know from experience that there are many men who feel they have been violated but don’t even know what to call it, because they have been led to believe that they are supposed to get—or at least want—sex all the time. But the simple fact is that consent needs to be the first order of business when having sex. Otherwise, well, it’s not sex, it’s rape.

Rape is what happens when we aren’t allowed to discuss sex and sexuality as if it were as natural as food, and instead shroud it in mysterious languages and grant it mysterious powers and lust for it like Gollum after the ring. Rape is what happens we don’t even understand what sex and sexuality are, but use them for everything anyway.

♦◊♦

My friend ended up leaving town. He left for a lot of reasons, but this was certainly a major part of it. And when his name comes up, there are knowing glances—disdain and remorse and a sort of sadness because he “was such a nice guy”. I don’t expect to hear from him again. I haven’t heard from her either, though we were never friends and I’m sure that my willingness to explore the nuance was seen as excusing him.

What happened to her was wrong. My friend raped her. But I am still trying to figure out why. And no, it’s not as simple as the fact that he put his penis in her. It is a lot more complicated than that. And we need to talk about it.

 

 

Photo: Parody magazine cover courtesy of the author

 

About Alyssa Royse

Alyssa is freelance writer, speaker, fitness trainer and personal coach living in Seattle with her husband and their 3 daughters. They own Rocket CrossFit where she spends most of her time training men and women in ways that are as much emotional as physical. She can also be found on her eponymous blog, where she pontificates about food, family, politics and the Seattle rain. Yes, she would love to speak at your event, host a workshop or write something for you. Just ask.

Comments

  1. “She said I raped her,” he answered.
    “Well, then you probably did.”

    Speaking of poor communication, I hope you spotted your error here and will never make this same mistake again.


  2. Being drunk was not an excuse for either party. The responsibility was not on her to say “stop”, it was on him to ask if it’s okay before he did it. This part is simple.

    I have to admit a bit of confusion. This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen that while drinking does not shift responsibility in a situation like this it seems that in the end the responsibility is always put on the guy.

    Ideally I would think that in a situation where some sort of substance is used the initiator of the sex act is the one that should be held responsible (which I would agree with) however that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s always on the guy no matter what. As if the woman’s responsibility can actually be absolved by some means but in no circumstance can the guy’s responsibility ever be absolved.

    That’s the mixed signal that I have a problem with.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Danny, in what way – ever – would a man putting his penis in a sleeping woman (drunk or not) put ANY responsibility upon her?

      If they’re both drunk and both consenting at the time, then yes, I agree that the responsibility shouldn’t automatically be on the guy.

      • Yeah, I”d like to know the answer to that.

        To me the issue is we are, as a culture, relying on non verbal communication to relay intent (flirting, sexy clothes, posturing, etc) but that doesn’t always indicate consent (saying, I would like to have sex with you now).

        There is a lot to unpack, including that many human beings are very willing to justify their desires even when they act badly (She had been flirting for weeks, I thought I was supposed to…. when in reality a sleeping person isn’t a good sexual experience nor a consensual one) and I’m glad for articles like this.

        Initiating sex with a sleeping person isn’t much different (to me) than stealing that person’s wallet (in that it is a crime, not in impact). It’s not ok, it wasn’t agreed to, they aren’t in a position to stop the act. It’s all wrong at that moment.

        I would like to know what happened after she woke up, which was purposefully left out because my guess is that’s part of what lead to his continued statement of confusion. Regardless of if she went with it in the moment (drunk, tired etc) his initiating while she was asleep was pretty damn wrong.

      • John Schtoll says:

        @Joanna: Let me explain how I feel about your question.

        Being drunk doesn’t put the responsibility on her but IT SHOULD remove the responsibility from him. If he is too drunk to know what he is doing then he shouldn’t be held responsible.

        Responsibility isn’t an all or nothing thing, in fact two people can be 100% responsible. In this case NO responsibility lies with her BUT none ( or very little ) should lie with him.

        Now, where it gets even murkier (is that even a word) is IF SHE SAID YES while drunk and I believe that maybe that is what Danny is referring to.

        Society and the law have said that ALL the responsibility for the sex act lies with the man because we as a society still believe that sex is something that men DO TO women , not something they do with each other.

        • No John. Not as described here in this story.

          If my partner and I are heavily drinking and have sex, then I claim that I could not have consented because of my drunkenness, and shift responsibility to my drunken partner – then I agree with your position. This story is different however.

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            There are two different things happening here – a discussion about what Alyssa is talking about in THIS article, and speculation as to what would happen if two people were both drunk and both consented to sex.

            They’re VERY separate.

        • “If he is too drunk to know what he is doing then he shouldn’t be held responsible.”

          That’s not true. Apply that argument to a drunk driver that kills someone because he’s too drunk to know he shouldn’t get in the car. It doesn’t fly, does it? I agree that the way we view sex as something men DO TO women needs to change, but that he is absolved because he was TOO DRUNK is a ludicrous argument.

        • Being drunk absolutely does NOT absolve him of responsibility. He is an adult, and he made the choice to get drunk.

          Ignorance is never accepted as an excuse for breaking the law. If I go to a country where they drive on the left, and I decide to drive on the right and cause an accident, they won’t say “the accident wan’t her fault, she didn’t know.” That would be ridiculous and unacceptable.

          • But if he weren’t drunk and she were drunk , it would absolve her of responsibility though wouldn’t it.

            See how that works.

      • Joanna:
        Danny, in what way – ever – would a man putting his penis in a sleeping woman (drunk or not) put ANY responsibility upon her?
        I was thinking of saying something along the lines of, “If you and/or Julie can show me where I said it should put responsibility on her then I’ll answer that.”

        But I’ll be nice. What I actually said was I would imagine that the one that initiates the sex would be the one held responsible and called a rapist accordingly. However it seems that that is not the case and once a substance comes into the picture the responsibility is fully shifted to the guy regardless of what happened.

        Like John Sctoll mentions in his example. He wants to initiate sex and she says yes. Apparently if they were both drunk he’s the rapist because he should have known that she was drunk and her consent may not have been genuine.

        John Sctoll:

        Responsibility isn’t an all or nothing thing, in fact two people can be 100% responsible. In this case NO responsibility lies with her BUT none ( or very little ) should lie with him.

        Exactly. It seems that with it comes sex where substances are involved there is a rush to declare one 100% responsible and the other 0%.


        Society and the law have said that ALL the responsibility for the sex act lies with the man because we as a society still believe that sex is something that men DO TO women , not something they do with each other.

        True. And it seems that those that want women to be sexually free want women to have their cake and eat it too. They don’t seem to want to end the presumption of responsibility you mention here because it puts responsibility on men and strips freedom away from women.

        (But Joanna and Julie to answer that burning question of yours the answer is never. Because as I said I would hold the initiator responsible. In this exact case he initiated while she was sleep.)

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          If the incident in this story had been reversed, and he had flirted with her for weeks, they got drunk and went to sleep, he woke up with her using his nocturnal erection to penetrate herself without his consent then she would be the rapist. Period. I think the law and most rational people would see it that way. In that case, he would be being used as a tool for her sexual gratification without his consent, and that would be rape. Period.

          The nuance that I, personally, am curious about is when sex has been initiated and accepted. Is the act of flirting an invitation to sex? No, I do not think so. And that’s the puzzle we need to unpack and put together. How to deal with the myriad signs and signals that are beyond the yes and no binary. But consent must be certain, not “maybe probably I think that’s what is likely supposed to possibly happen.”

          • If the incident in this story had been reversed, and he had flirted with her for weeks, they got drunk and went to sleep, he woke up with her using his nocturnal erection to penetrate herself without his consent then she would be the rapist. Period.

            Sorry – Not in the USA! .. and I’m not sure about quite a few other countries too! Envelopment is not recognised as Big R even under the updated FBI definition of November/December 2011.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              MediaHound is correct – most places a woman would not be charged with rape for non-consensual envelopment. However, it would be a felony sexual assault in most cases, in most states.

              But please note, forcible sodomy is also not considered rape in most places.

            • Many thanks for getting to this MediaHound.

              And not only does this happen in the law books but there is also something else.

              I think the law and most rational people would see it that way.
              But even today it’s still argued as to whether a woman/girl can even rape a man/boy. In the news coverage of cases (like Joanna and MediaHound mention) you can see a difference in the language. Namely when it comes to statutory rape.

              When it’s man/girl it’s said he raped her. When it’s woman/boy it’s said she had sex with him.

            • in California it would be a form of unlawful sexual penetration. Penal Code 289, subsection l (that’s a lower case L) includes causing another person to penetrate ones genitals against their will (i.e. envelopment) I believe the penalties for PC 289 can be as severe as for rape. http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/289.html

    • Danny…there were a several things he could have done in that situation…

      Like getting out of bed and brushing his teeth and getting dressed and going out for bagels to bring back to her when she awoke….

      Like going to the kitchen and making an awesome omelette with fresh-squeezed juice…

      Like gently shaking her on the shoulder and just cuddle….

      Like getting up and folding up the clothes on the floor and straightening up the room….
      But, no, that’s not what he did, did he?
      He chose to do that, which is abusive….

      NOT NICE AT ALL…

      • I don’t recall trying to say that it was nice in that comment. I’ve already said that the guy talked about in this post was a rapist and should be held responsible for it.

        I took Alyssa’s post here as a change to talk about the mixed signals and messed up things that can happen as a result of them when it comes to sex. Or is the only thing that’s allowed here are declarations that he’s a rapist end of story?

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Danny, I don’t think the issue here is people twisting your words as much as people not understanding your first comment. I made clear that I didn’t really understand it.

          No one’s trying to put words in your mouth, but it was a bit unclear.

          • If it’s unclear then ask for clarification.

            You and Julie seemed to have some sort of reservation about that first comment. You made clear that you didn’t understand it and when you asked that question I clarified. You didn’t go into some sort of list of what he could have done instead and then flip out in all caps at the end did you? No you found my first comment to be unclear and asked about it.

            So in light of that Leia:

            What I actually said was I would imagine that the one that initiates the sex would be the one held responsible and called a rapist accordingly.

            What about this is unclear that I think by initiating sex with her while she was sleep he is a rapist ?

  3. No ethical decent man shoves his dick into a sleeping woman’s vagina, outside of a relationship where it’s been agreed that that’s OK. Your friend wasn’t confused. He’s just justifying himself like all malignant abusers do. He isn’t nice at all. He’s a dangerous creep who belongs in jail. This article is full of nonsense.

    • I agree this isn’t a case at all about mixed signals. The signal a sleeping person gives you is not “please insert your penis into me.” This isn’t even they were fooling around and he went “too far.” There’s no fooling around with a sleeping person.

      The title of this piece is a lot more truthful than the piece itself. If we as a society are actually teaching hetero men that sleeping women are consenting, then that’s wrong teaching. We should fix that, then. But that isn’t a mixed signal. “Nice guys commit rape, too”? Hell, yes. In fact, most rapists don’t walk around with an “I’m a rapist” sign attached to their foreheads.

      How often have you read news headlines about murderers or rapists, and the next door neighbor says “Oh, he seemed like such a nice man”? All the time.

      • No one is teaching anyone that sleeping women are consenting to anything. That’s ridiculous. I agree society has its problems regarding its attitudes to sexuality and consent, but that isn’t one of them.

        This is just a whole heap of nonsense caused by one clever abuser who’s apparently smart enough to get away with it scot-free, manipulating with great skill the author of this article, tricking her into seeing nuance where there is none. He wasn’t “unsure” when he called her to ask if he’d raped this girl, he was minimizing fallout by finding someone who he was convinced he could fool into acting as a useful idiot, and evidently he was quite right.

        This guy isn’t nice in any way, just smart. Like most rapists (ever read Lisak’s research?) he’s probably just a skilled predator who’s done it before and will do it again, using alcohol and drugs as weapons (but never overt violence, because it’s easier to get busted that way), just as in this story. He isn’t misguided. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding to think that most rapists are.

        • You know, you’re really failing to give the author’s discretion the benefit of the doubt here. She chose not to share the specifics of this incident, as mentioned in the article, and without that context we have no way of knowing if this guy is really a creepy, manipulative repeat offender or if he is, as the author’s described, a nice guy who did something really fucking stupid while quite drunk.

          Consider: two adults consume an inordinate amount of alcohol. The female in the relationship has been extremely forthcoming about sex and her sexuality, extremely flirtatious, and has acted generally interested in the male for a few weeks now. These two people, now extremely drunk, wind up naked in bed together. The male wakes up and in his drunken stupor discovers himself curled up with a naked woman and reacts by doing what seems like the obvious thing. Author left out what happened after she woke up, so let’s speculate on what might have happened. She wakes up, she’s drunk, she wasn’t planning on having sex with this guy, but she’s not all there and she’s horny so she gets into it. They both go back to sleep. Morning rolls around, and they both realize what has happened. She feels violated, he is ashamed and confused, and they go their separate ways.

          It’s quite likely that this guy never intended to do anything like this. It’s quite likely that he was mortified when he discovered his behavior. Does that excuse it entirely? No. Does it make the woman responsible for what happened to her? No. But it certainly puts him in a different category from someone who’d spike a girl’s drink, for example. And it certainly demands a few questions of her: like, without discounting the trauma of her experience or the fact of his responsibility, I would like to understand the logic that leads a woman to get wasted and curl up in the nude with a guy she does not intend to sex. That’s sending a pretty strong and inaccurate signal, wouldn’t you say?

          The world is not black-and-white. It is, as you write, “a fundamental misunderstanding to think that most rapists are [misguided].” But to discount that ANY rapists are misguided, to assume that anyone who has ever committed any offense which could be categorized as rape MUST by necessity be predatory and manipulative, is almost as disgusting in my eyes as victim blaming. It’s this sort of thinking that leads to public urination as a sexual offense.

          • I don’t see how it’s the “obvious thing” to start having sex with someone while they’re asleep. It’s just wrong and disgusting, and yes, that should be obvious no matter how plastered you are. This girl didn’t send any signals that she wanted to be shagged in her sleep, at least not as the story is told.

            Sure, she made herself very vulnerable, and in retrospect that looks like a dumb decision. But I do think we have a reasonable expectation that it’s OK to make yourself vulnerable around friends and you won’t be violated or taken advantage of as a consequence. We’ve all done it, male and female.

            I’m into some pretty kinky shit, but I do require my partners to be awake for it so they can actually consent, and enjoy themselves, y’know?

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              I’m 100% with you on the above, CmE

            • Yes, and you’d be correct, for the most part. But to expect an incredibly drunk and horny man who is currently entwined with the object of his affections, naked, to retain his faculties is a bit of a stretch.

              Which leaves him responsible. Being drunk does not absolve you of responsibility for your actions.

              But this is also a case of fundamental stupidity on the part of the female. Regardless of what people have a right to expect to be able to do around friends, this is pushing “vulnerability in safe company” to a phenomenal extreme. The author’s description of her behavior prior to this incident sounds like a woman who’s trying to turn a man on, and trying pretty hard. If she wants to do that for its own sake, or for the sake of flirtation, or anticipation, or whatever, good. That’s her business and I hope she has fun. But if the point of her behavior is to make the man horny, and she doesn’t actually intend to have sex with him, it’s PROBABLY wiser NOT to get wasted with him and then remove some clothing and then curl up in bed with him.

              And the fact that drunk him misread the situation does not paint him an abuser, period. He committed rape. He is not your run-of-the-mill rapist. Another commenter said it better than I ever could:

              “In the case in question, I think penetrating an unsuspecting sleeping woman for first-time sex is completely wrong, no matter how much she’d flirted up to that point. It sounds pretty clear though, that he *thought* she would welcome it, and given that description of her behavior toward him up to that point, combined with the impaired judgment of the partying, I can see why. He was wrong, which led to a terrible mistake, but I can’t lump this guy in with “any other rapist” who just finds a random vulnerable target to put his penis in when she’s sleeping. Even murder has degrees depending on intent and premeditation, so I don’t see why it’s unconscionable to consider the possibility that not all rapes are created equal.”

        • WOW there CmE. Ever thought ough of using your amazing clairvoyant powers which allow you to see everything from a distance – know the truth of everything – from a distance, Closed doors are nothing to you there…. WOW, ever thought of using them Super hero Powers for you know … Saving the universe and preventing all rape on a planet wide scale? If you need an agent to market your gifts let me know – I take 10%.

  4. That’s funny. I’ve never raped anyone, and yet, nobody has every said to me, “Yes, I would like to have sex with you.” That isn’t, in fact, required by law. It’s just what’s required by the current – and ever-expanding – feminist definition of rape.

    What your friend did was rape – actual rape, under the law. There’s no reason to muddy the waters with an ideological motivation. Rape is crime defined by law. It isn’t something that people get to define themselves.

    I know that this won’t get posted – nothing ever gets allowed here if it disagrees with feminist definitions of rape; they allow more leeway on any other issue, but on rape, it’s ‘damn the law, whatever feminists believe is what really counts’. But I’m still going to make these comments, because fighting the good fight is the right thing to do.

    • There’s a difference between the legal definition of rape and the ethical and semantic analysis of rape–feminists simply believe that the law has to catch up with more developed thinking on the issue.

      • So – why was the opportunity to fully develop the issue in 2011 with the FBI redefining matters so comprehensively missed?

        It’s odd how certain forms of the big R, recognised even under International law since the 1990’s, got missed. When it comes to playing catch up so may need to try harder or even just succeed. The Homework has already been done for them! P^)

    • I do grasp your frustrations and concerns. Of course – if there is to be an open and considered communication about the issues, one that has to be addressed is what do you call it if he woke up and he was — well — surrounded without consent?

      I’m all for being honest and open on the subject of the Big R Word, but that means looking at it from all the relevant angle and not always making it a One Way Trope!

    • “Rape is when a man forcibly inserts his penis into a woman’s vagina” just doesn’t allow the whole story, does it? Sex acts performed on an unwilling person has always been rape, we’re just calling it what it is. You’ll notice the original narrow definition doesn’t allow for male victims or female perpetrators. Do you think we should keep the definition that narrow anyway? The reason for the expanding definition has to do with recognising the humanity and value of more people.

  5. It always angers me when I hear people say that “any man can be a rapist”. Imagine if someone said “any Muslim can be a terrorist”. It’s prejudice, pure and simple.

    As such, I started reading this article expecting it to anger me. It didn’t. It’s simply true and beautifully written. Thankyou.

  6. The problem is that no one is taking responsibility for the mixed messages about sex and sexuality in which we are stewing. And no one is taking responsibility for teaching people how the messages we are sending are often being misunderstood.

    I would agree – and putting my qualified educator on I would recommend some other home work too!

    1) Teach all students what assault means – basic flavour
    2) Teach all students what sexual assault means and how it is different to assault
    3) Teach all students what rape means and why it is different to both assault and sexual assault
    4) Make sure they all know why it’s bad to mix them up and use them indiscriminately and incorrectly
    5) Teach all students that throwing words together with rape for fun is not a good idea – such as Verbal Rape – It’s not possible to commit rape by act of word – and it’s even worse if you insist that written words mean verbal (The Spoken Word) and you insist that the words have been used to commit rape. Standing by whilst sitting down may be seen as idiomatic, but verbal rape is not.

    Above all else any lessons and lectures should address just how negative an impact there is upon everyone in using lnaguage and ideas in nonsensical ways. Just because a person has a certain gender, sex, sexuality, affiliation with any group or any claimed victim status it does not provide consent to take the word rape and misuse it with impunity.

    In also am still wondering why this is such a Trope in the US centric Anglophone net? Also, Why is it such a seasonal issue?

  7. Excellent article–very measured and well-written. Thank you.

    The relationship between sexualty (as expressed by a person) and sex (as engaged in–or not–by a person) is a fascinating one and definitely one that requires more discussion.

    • That said, I do agree with both CmE and Neil Sheppard above, in that the man in the article can hardly be called a “nice guy”–he may be nice in many other ways, and he does show remorse, but nonetheless, he took advantage of the sleeping woman next to him, and no misbegotten signals can excuse that–and the title, while eye-catching, is unnecessary incendiary and horribly broad (for reasons related to the first point in this comment).

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        I am going to try to answer this, and may not get it right the first time, but let’s dialog through this. I called him a nice guy because he was and is a nice guy. And he did something really wrong and stupid and bad. He was a caring guy, a considerate guy, friendly, fun, genuine, thoughtful – all of those things. he was also young, horny, drunk, careless, and occasionally really just sort of lost in the world, or at least the world of the moment.

        The reason this story is so important to me, and the reason I chose that title, is because we need to understand and accept that rape is not something that “other” people do, in a horrifying and forceful way. It is something that happens to nice people by nice people. Saying that just because he did this he is now an evil, wrong, or bad person is, I believe, a common attempt at distancing ourself from the reality. Because if “I” am nice guy, and nice guys don’t rape, than that drunken coerced sex I just had can’t be rape. But the thing is, it often is rape.

        What this guy did was rape. No doubt about it. And it didn’t happen because he’s an asshole. It happened because he made a really bad decision for a whole lot of reasons. Her behavior leading up to the moment, our society’s unhealthy focus on the act of sex rather than the process of sexuality, being drunk, falling asleep with her, misinterpreting signals. Yes, by the time he called me, he was pretty sure that what he did was wrong. What he wasn’t sure about was why he did it or why he was SO VERY WRONG.

        The reason it matters to me that he was a nice guy is because this story is so common. (I have had so many emails from people on both sides of this type of story today, personally, I have cried a lot today, realizing what a vein I hit.) He is not a bogey man. He’s a regular guy, living in a world of regret. As he should. But as some point, regret simply isn’t as useful as thoughtful analysis and conversation.

        Not all nice guys will commit rape. Most of them won’t. But not all rapists are bad guys. Some of them are nice guys who do bad things. Kind of like not all people who kill someone in a DUI are what we would consider a “murderer” even though someone died at their hand.

        In this situation, the power to create change really is in the nuance. I hope that makes some sense.

        • I see what you’re saying, Alyssa, and I appreciate it, I do. While otherwise nice guys may rape, though, I do think it renders thiem “less nice”–and if we continue to call them nice, it may minimize the severity of what they’ve done (i.e., “you can rape and still be a nice guy”).

          It all comes back to the question, how nice can you be if you don’t know that sex without consent is wrong, and–as you’re asking–what makes otherwise nice guys blind to this? And I thank you for raising this question!

  8. “Just to be painfully clear, the ONLY thing that counts as consent to have sex is the word “YES”, accompanied with any form of “I would like to have sex with you”.”
    By this standard I am a rapist and a rape victim and I wonder if the same isn’t true for anybody who reads this site and had sex.
    “I would love for “no means no” to work, but it doesn’t.”
    Of course no means no works, you just have to define it properly:
    “Every person involved in a sexual act must have the possibility and the ability to stop the encounter at any time without fearing retribution.”
    “How do I know it doesn’t work? I know because my friend raped someone and didn’t even know it.”
    She was asleep.

    • Yeah, this. I don’t know how you couldn’t know that penetrating an unconscious woman was wrong. He knew full well what he was doing.

      “No means no” is absolutely fine, especially as far as the law is concerned, and yes, non-verbal consent is a thing. If not, them I’m a rapist and a rape victim many many times over, just as Alberich says.

    • Yeah, this. I’m pretty sure in six years with my husband, that discussion never took place. We used body language, innuendo, things like that – as, I imagine, most couples do. If this were to become the definition of rape, any divorce could involve accusations of hundreds of counts of rape on both sides. I think “no means no” works fine!

  9. Just to be painfully clear, the ONLY thing that counts as consent to have sex is the word “YES”, accompanied with any form of “I would like to have sex with you”.

    This may be painfully nitpicky, but I don’t think that’s accurate. There are many other words not involving the word “yes” or such a blunt direct statement that also constitute consent, especially in established relationships where a presumption of likely consent exists. Even in first-time encounters, though, I imagine a whole lot of consensual sex would get re-classified as rape by not counting other assenting words or non-verbal signs as consent. Assuming such standards apply to either gender, it would also treat most men in sexual counters as non-consenting victims, since their “yes” is rarely sought, and a man saying “I would like to have sex with you” would typically be met with disgust, not respect for having made his consent clear.

    In the case in question, I think penetrating an unsuspecting sleeping woman for first-time sex is completely wrong, no matter how much she’d flirted up to that point. It sounds pretty clear though, that he *thought* she would welcome it, and given that description of her behavior toward him up to that point, combined with the impaired judgment of the partying, I can see why. He was wrong, which led to a terrible mistake, but I can’t lump this guy in with “any other rapist” who just finds a random vulnerable target to put his penis in when she’s sleeping. Even murder has degrees depending on intent and premeditation, so I don’t see why it’s unconscionable to consider the possibility that not all rapes are created equal.

    In this particular case, I had watched the woman in question flirt aggressively with my friend for weeks. I had watched her sit on his lap, dance with him, twirl his hair in her fingers. I had seen her at parties discussing the various kinds of sex work she had done, and the pleasure with which she explored her own very fluid sexuality, all while looking my friend straight in the eye.

    It doesn’t look like he misread at least a potential interest in having sex with him, but his criminal error, that other guys should be more educated about to prevent doing the same thing, was thinking that her waking behavior was permission to initiate a sexual encounter while she slept. He should have proffered sex when she was awake, and from the looks of it, there was a good chance that would have been welcomed. On the flip side, no woman *deserves* to be raped in her sleep, but for chrissakes, there were a ton of things this woman did that were high risk. For starters, if you’ve been heavily flirting with someone, then on a night of heavy drinking (and possibly drugging), don’t lie down to sleep with the guy if you’re not ready for a sexual move to be made. Granted, penetration isn’t an acceptable first move, but don’t count on a drunk, drugged guy to remain in a holding pattern when all your signals have been to guide him in for a landing. I’m not talking about “blame the victim” signals like she dressed too sexy or walked in a dangerous part of town — look again at that quote, which contains abundant examples of the kind of behavior that often precedes consent. They both should have known better, and both engaged in high-risk behavior.

    • “Granted, penetration isn’t an acceptable first move, but don’t count on a drunk, drugged guy to remain in a holding pattern when all your signals have been to guide him in for a landing.”

      Wow. It most certainly isn’t an acceptable first move. A passed out person (asleep or passed out due to drugs/drink) is not guiding someone in for a landing.

      Let’s say that I’ve been talking with you about buying you dinner for a week. And we go to a party and get drunk and talk about that dinner. And I pass out with my jacket open and you can see my wallet. Does that mean I’ve given you permission to take the wallet, take the money and go get a meal while I’m not conscious? Or that it is any less of a crime? It’s still theft, plain and simple. And it’s a person justifying theft because of some behaviors indicating a future meal.

      I get what you are saying about high risk, I really do Marcus and more people should take care of themselves, but if I passed out a party and someone stole my wallet, I doubt people would be saying I asked for it because I’d been offering to feed the person with my own money earlier in the week.

      I’ve been flirted with plenty by men, but if i did to them what this man did to the woman, it would be wrong and people would and should call it assault. No mater how much he said he wanted me, for me to take that during him being passed out, is totally unconscionable.

      • And I also get that if my wallet was stolen while i was drunk, I’d probably beat the hell out of myself for putting myself in a risky situation. As do pretty much all sexual assault victims. The guilt they feel is enormous because the message around them is “prettymuchthiswillwindupyourfault” the thief is the one stealing, the rapist is the one raping.

        And for the life of me, and this is another topic all together…why would anyone thing having sex with an unconscious person is a good idea? Or good sex? There is nothing mutual about it. No one sleeping is participating, engaging, exchanging pleasure or doing that guiding in for a landing…that person is asleep or passed out and is basically then a sex doll, not a partner.

        I don’t get it.

        I’m not upset or concerned by drunk people wanting to hook up. I’m not upset or concerned by people getting mixed signals, and trying to work it out. I’m upset and concerned by anyone treating another human being like an object. Deciding to mount or penetrate someone who is passed out seems like that exactly. Even if that person wakes up and is like…eh..ok… it still started from a place of isolation, not joining. I’m also concerned by anyone (male or female) that plays the role of “easy lay” as some kind of manipulation as well, cause it indicates talk AROUND the subject of sex without actually having to own their own decisions instead of talking directly and transparently ABOUT the actual sex that might happen. There were boundary issues all over the map with the case described above. Which, for better or for worse, is a lot of people in college and their 20’s.

        Which is a cultural problem in a huge way.

      • A passed out person (asleep or passed out due to drugs/drink) is not guiding someone in for a landing.

        If that’s all that happens – passing out – then obviously, that’s not guiding someone in for a landing. Of course, I never said it was. I quoted from the article itself, abundant *other* signs that preceded that moment, that reasonably could be construed as heading in that direction. Other details weren’t given, but if, as some have speculated, the falling asleep together included nudity and some making out, then that would be even more reason to mitigate against the *intentional* rapeyness of the situation. If the sexy-talk she was described as engaging in include a fondness for giving/receiving sleepy affection, that could make a difference, too, right? I don’t assert that the most generous possible interpretation is what happened, but it’s not reasonable to assume the worst about everything, either, based on a sketchy second-hand summary. Obviously, sex she didn’t want or explicitly consent to occurred, and that’s a Very Bad Thing, but this guy is being condemned as though there were no mixed signals and all the bad decision-making was strictly his responsibility, like all she did was pass out in his vicinity, which isn’t what it sounds like to me. If this was the only testimony in a court case, I’d feel bad for her, but it wouldn’t be enough for me to convict the guy of rape.

        Regarding sleep sex, many comments have expressed horror and disgust at the very idea. I think it’s a terrible idea for *starting* a sexual relationship, but believe it or not, like just about any other sexual taste, there are people who get off on being on the giving or receiving end of that with a trusted partner. I would say the same about intoxicated sex, in that the potential for miscommunication and/or regret in a casual or first-time hookup is so high it should be avoided just as a matter of safety, but the risks and ethical concerns go way down in an already-established sexual relationship. If more people could be convinced to abide by a rule of mandatory mutual sobriety for first-time sex, a story like this one wouldn’t even occur. Like drunk driving campaigns, it’s worth fighting the good fight to educate people, but I won’t hold my breath about ever convincing everyone to do the smart thing.

        • It’s all a bit pointless then, this exercise, since we don’t know what they said to each other before and right after. And I see plenty of information in the article saying that mixed messages are a problem. Thus communication is needed.

          Still, I don’t believe that if I flirt hard and say, “wow do I want to sleep with you” on a Tuesday, that that means you have permission to sleep with me on a Saturday if I”m asleep or druggedout/drunk. Which I’m not sure that’s what you are saying, but it sounded a little like it.

          • The Tuesday-Saturday time gap isn’t part of the story, so it’s just as plausible that she said, while drinking and drugging with him that night, “Man, do I want to sleep with you,” and got naked and made out with him for a while before they both passed out with him spooning her. If that was the case, then I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to classify this guy as a sociopathic rapist who cares nothing for consent, since I’d consider it more in the realm of “honest mistake”. (That’s not to trivialize it, because an honest mistake can cost someone’s life, but there’s a difference between manslaughter and premeditated murder, isn’t there?) But neither of us knows the facts, so yes, it’s a bit pointless to argue whether *this guy* was a rapist who ought to be locked up, or a guy who understandably thought he had her consent when it turns out he didn’t. It all argues in favor of more communication for people who actually get themselves into such situations, and I’m pretty sure we don’t have any disagreement about that.

    • Marcus – you make quite a valid – In fact and extremely valid point – about the word “Yes” and other forms being used. But you have missed a whopping big issue. Intonation and Stress… and I’m not referring to emotional state linked to anxiety – it’s how people “SAY” words. For the word yes there are 3 basic intonation and stress modes .. and actually a lot more besides.

      The Fundamentalist who do love their black and white – it has to be Binary mind set – are plain lazy when it comes to considering language. Maybe if they did a very basic foreign language course they would learn, but I do doubt it! I doubt it so much!

      You see in Spoken English – Verbal not Written – there are three basic Intonations – a rising ending, a flat ending and the falling end. I’ll keep it simple and miss out all forms of the Declarative, Interrogative, Negative and just plain bored.

      Rising intonation makes the word yes into an Interrogative as as in “Yes?” and without full contextual analysis it’s simply not possible to say if it is consensual or not! In fact, answering a question with a question is generally accepted as no consent given. Lovely example of issue can be found on this link – It uses the word “Today”.

      The same occurs with the lack of intonation and flat ending – that depending upon context and even tone of voice can be consent or even a parody of consent being given – so that’s no use either without full context being used to check what was communicated.

      And the dropping end which implies a negative – well equally could be either positive or negative – even ironic and totally none committal depending upon context.

      So I have to say that when people set of to peddle their universal cure alls for the ills of mankind, it may engender progress if they actually considered what the hell they are saying and checking it’s basic validity!

      It is not possible to say “Yes Means Yes” or “No Means No” without full context being explicitly given and that is not just situation but also dispositional as to the people within the context. I know It’s a crashing bore having to repeatedly highlight the gross flaws in the thinking of some who keep attempting to come up with a Universal and Killer Advertising campaign that will end rape with one simple application.

      But someone has to do it – and you never know after the errors have been pointed out for the 3000th time maybe some basic reality nay prevail and some thinking and reasoning may occur.

      Slogans are great – but there is an art to making sure they are about for more than a week at a time! Maybe when some have actually done some learning rather than just residing at an educational establishment they may be able to deal with the complexity of issues rather than just a few chapters from a text book. P^) .

      If anyone is in an objecting mood they may find some back ground reading of value – I’d start with “Intonational Prominence on Negatives in English. – Language and Speech, v28 n3 p197-230 Jul-Sep – 1985 – Describes a study done to determine which intonational parameters are most important to the meaning being conveyed within different social settings. Defines the factors that appear to influence the use of pitch and/or intensity prominence on negative words. Found that, in many situations, interactional rules take precedence over linguistic rules.”

      Odd that – in many situations, interactional rules take precedence over linguistic rules – in which case laying down Linguistic Rules is not the way to go – interactional are far more useful.

      Simply demanding that all interaction is to be controlled by simplistic use of language is doomed to failure – especially when the people making the pronouncements cant even understand the word “Yes” and how it gets used in interactions.

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    If a guy walks past the sign on the beach that says, “NO SWIMMING ON ACCOUNT OF SHARK ATTACKS”, and the likely happens, somebody at the funeral for whatever washes up will probably whisper to someone else….”Maybe he should have stayed out of the water.” The same thing is probably true of a guy trying to cross the expressway blindfolded. “Maybe….”
    Only with regard to rape are we reproached for commending caution.
    While, in this case, the guy was responsible, legally and ethically, can we get away with saying she shouldn’t have done the “I’m an easy lay” schtick? Sure, she’s allowed. So’s the unlucky swimmer. It’s just that…it would be a little bit, I don’t know, less likely to have a bad result.
    Communications can be misunderstood. Just like the “I’m an easy lay” schtick might be confused with “I’m an easy lay.” We need to teach guys it might not mean that, and it might be just a wee bit prudent to teach women that some guys might not be all that sophisticated and, even though it’s his responsibility, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped.

    • The difference is that a shark is not capable of reason, or understanding rules, consequences and so forth. A person committing rape is.
      If you take that analogy “Danger Shark Attack Possible” then should we put “Danger Rape Attack Possible” up at all bars? Churches? School yards? Your own apartments? Your dorm room? Cause rapes happen all over the place even in the places you feel the most safe.

      Of course people should take precautions. Everyone should. But people who have reason and judgement should do their best to exercise that reason and judgement. Of course, there are people in the world who have the ethics and empathy of sharks. It’s often hard to tell who those people are just by looks.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        Julie.
        Precisely. And if rapes occur in bars or after barhopping, a sign would be appropriate.
        Thing is, the implication of this article is that being raped is a Very Bad Thing. And if you can’t trust guys, one hundred and ten percent of the guys, to get the real message, to read past the “I’m an easy lay” schtick, then some caution might be commended to women. Them being the ones being raped.
        So, until we’re sure something north of one hundred percent of the guys get it, and get it drunk, sober, drugged, aroused, maybe taking some precaution about messaging would be prudent.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        Julie.
        Sharks are sharks. But some percentage of men are rapists. I believe some activists will say the percentage approaches 100.
        The point is not who gets to be blamed. The point is not to be raped. Call me crazy here, but I thought that was the point.
        You can’t depend on one hundred percent of men to be able to read past the “I’m an easy lay,” schtick to see, “Maybe, maybe not, but certainly not without asking,” Sometimes you look like what you look like.
        Problem is, and most guys have heard of it if not experienced it, is….
        When I was a college official, on a low-level, part-time basis, and because of a couple of other things, people thought I was a guy to talk to, or at, depending.
        One way or another, from the woman in question, or the roommate of a woman I didn’t know, or from a guy who was puzzled and angry, or some other way, I encountered half a dozen cases where the woman in question was annoyed or puzzled that the guy in question took no for an answer.
        We do have communication issues, one way or another, and putting on a schtick you don’t mean is probably not a good idea. Sure, you can blame the guy afterwards. Which is good for…?

        • “The point is not who gets to be blamed. The point is not to be raped. Call me crazy here, but I thought that was the point.”

          The point also is? Not to rape. “Not being raped” puts all the responsibility on the person not wanting to be raped. In the case of someone who has a security system, locks his/her doors, vets his/her friends and still winds up in a date rape…well I guess she/he just didn’t want to be raped badly enough? Uh, no, actually, the rapist who raped her/him is a horrible excuse for a human being and the rapist is the one who should be blamed for encroaching on her/his bodily autonomy, not the victim.

          It’s got to be a both and deal. People should do their due diligence not to get hurt and take reasonable precautions, but if that means policing one’s entire life to avoid predators,never trusting anyone, and relying on agents to protect you from other people, something is wrong, very wrong.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Julie.
            The point for a woman is to not be raped. Since she’s not the one doing the raping, telling her not to rape is kind of a waste.
            We can tell guys, but as some feminists insist, not even one gets the message. Which leaves women facing a horde of ravening rapists. Sharks, in other words.
            What to do? Well, you can go about insisting you have the right and privilege to do whatever you want and not be victimized..
            Or you can take precautions and reduce the chances.
            And, to pass the time, you can slag people who suggest the latter.

            • Pretty much every woman I know is aware of how to reduce her chances of assault and believe me, you have no idea how many things the average woman does to protect herself from not walking alone at night to carrying her keys to worrying about the damn length of her skirt.

              I do have the right to go about the world after doing my due diligence and taking precautions. You as well have the right to go about the world in the same way. And if you are attacked, after taking reasonable precautions, I would hope that justice would be done and you’d be able to face your assailant and not be treated like sh*t for going about your business like a human being.

              What’s “taking precautions” and what’s reasonable? I just got in from a job around the block during twilight? Should I not have? Should I have taken a gun? Mace? Told five people where I was going? Not exercised? I don’t think it’s reasonable for me to have to live in fear all the time. And then, if I have a male friend come over, one that I trust or my husband trusts, and something bad happens…how does one take precautions about that? This is the problem.

              For the record I don’t think there are hoards of ravening rapists out there. I do think there are some people, male and female, that are probably sociopathic to a certain extent and enjoy hurting people.

              I don’t slag people. I’m not slagging you. I’m engaging with you in a reasonable dialogue. If you think this is slagging, then….I don’t know what to say.

            • Richard Aubrey says:

              Julie.
              For slagging…. pretending I said that a woman should stay locked up and if she’s still raped she didn’t want not to be raped enough.
              Taking precautions is one thing. The woman in the article wasn’t taking precautions. She was presenting herself as an easy lay. The opposite of taking precautions. Problem is, the guy took her at her self-presentation. Had she not sent that message, or the appearance of that message, he might not have bothered her. Or maybe he would have, but there was no obvious downside to being less demonstrative.
              Clearly, she didn’t know who she was getting drunk with, despite thinking she did.
              Sometimes you don’t know. The way to avoid trouble in that case is not to get passing-out drunk with somebody.

            • No he didn’t. He penetrated a sleeping/passed out person because he wanted to. In the case of date rapes, you usually don’t know and thus that would mean you’d need to take every precaution of every thing and every day.
              She didn’t send a message of “penetrate me when I’m passed out.” She sent a message of “let’s have a sexual relationship between the two of us.” He apparently got the message wrong. Or he got it right but felt..well, why not.
              And I”m not slagging you, just pointing out where that particular thought process leads. I don’t believe, from what I remember about everything you’ve written, that you think women need to be imprisoned in their homes by their relatives for fear of attack.
              But women and men both do deserve the right to travel freely.

            • Richard Aubrey says:

              You have the right to travel freely. Doesn’t mean you won’t have a flat tire, a serious auto accident, a mugging, miss your airline connections. Or anything else.
              “should” “right” “ought” All good. But do not represent the reality. It’s like saying I deserve the right to go outside wearing whatever I want and not get hot, cold, wet, or sumburned. Sure you do. You have that right. Nobody’s going to argue with that. Go ahead.
              This guy was a creep. He didn’t think he could get any action with a conscious woman. That’s interesting. According to the article, he didn’t try, despite what looked like serious invites. Sheesh. Even with those, he had to wait until she was passed out. Wonder what about him turned her on, or at least led her to self-present as an eager, easy lay.
              What a pair.

  11. FOR GOD SAKE, PUT A TRIGGER WARNING ON ARTICLES LIKE THIS. YOU’RE RISKING WORSENING PEOPLE’S TRAUMA BY NOT DOING SO.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      The title has “rape” in it.

      Editorially, as a policy, we do not put trigger warnings on articles where the title is very clear about what content will be contained therein.

    • C – your view that trigger warnings should be applied to all materials you may have issues with is not in line with recognised best practice in the treatment and management of Stress Reactions and PTSD. Such activity incorrectly and unreasonably places management of the persons health issues outside of the person. It is the responsibility of the person with PTSD or PTSD like illness to manage their own triggers in all areas of their lives and that includes internet usage of all types.

      If you have been advised other wise by any health professional, organisation dealing with any form of mental health issues or trauma recovery, I can only advise that you seek better advice, support and possible medical care.

      I am aware that there has been a meme concerning Trigger Warnings Circulating the net. Unfortunately many have mistaken that for good advice and professional help.

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Here at GMP, just for clarification, use a trigger warning when we feel there isn’t adequate information in the title and/or subtitle indicating that a common trigger (child abuse, rape, violence, etc) may be contained within an article.

        That way, the person with PTSD or -like condition can self-regulate on what materials are best suitable for him/herself.

        We feel that is just respectful to everyone, not even just those who may be triggered. In this case, as I said, the word “rape” in the title and sub should be a tip-off that this is an article about rape.

        • Joanna – I get the compromise and position of GMP around trigger warnings.

          I have PTSD and an associated trigger from Jelly Doughnuts. I find it cruel when confectionery is displayed without warning! P^))))

          I deal with people with PTSD daily from such diverse issues as a failed parachute to having surgery whilst paralysed and anaesthetic having failed – 10 hours of most invasive surgery and wide awake. One person was trapped in a capsized yacht in a force 10 storm in the southern ocean for 8 days, and one guy and airline pilot ended up with PTSD from expertly landing a plane with engine failure whilst saving 256 passengers and crew. He was last off the plane, making sure all others were safe, and a fuel tank exploding as he jumped down an escape chute. Then you have the military guys and gals from The Falklands, Bosnia (Ex-Yugoslavia – genocide), Rwnada (genocide) Iraq (2 wars), Afghanistan (terror war of attrition) and don’t forget the guys who every day patrolled the streets of Northern Ireland for over 30 years facing terrorist snipers, bombs and boobytraps. Would you like me to list all the forms of abuse that can happen, from the sexual to the physical to the extremes of the psychological like the refugees from Somalia or even Libya and what was done to them? I haven’t even mentioned rape, domestic abuse(by child), domestic abuse(by adult) spousal abuse, elder abuse, disability abuse….. People tend to focus upon what they see as victim – they forget medical staff, doctors, paramedics, firemen, dispatchers, members of the public who witness events and are helpless….

          To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “There are more triggers in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

          Worst of all – indiscriminate and improper use of Trigger warnings actually make Trigger Warnings Triggers for PTSD and anxiety! They are not recommended because it is not possible to rationally protect all possible people from all possible triggers, and improper usage makes people expect to be triggered and the trigger warning will actually heighten reaction to any trigger.

          Also it is best practice in net usage to use scripting tools available via grease monkey to list key words and phrases from texts which may be linked to triggers. The person can choose to block all sites – receive warnings which are person specific and therefore more useful and it gives the individual control of their welfare and is NET wide not site specific. Multiple options that meet different level of need, ability, operating systems exist.

          It also reduces editorial burden and also reduces specious and false claims being made concerning what percentage of the net is likely to trigger people who have been raped, and other specious claims that a site is not protecting users. Individuals who wish to express power and to manipulate by using then issue are prevented from public drama and disruptive conduct.

          I would also point out that the only groups advocating for Trigger warnings are those which still contest the view that PTSD is not the same as Rape trauma syndrome and demands that there be special distinctions made for rape and trauma which do not apply to any other trauma and PTSD.

          Interestingly, on Wikipedia there is a page with Trauma trigger as it’s title – and it advocated for Trigger warnings. Oddly it only uses references related to rape and Rape trauma syndrome for supposed justification and of course ignores all other evidence and sources on a global basis as to Trauma Triggers and best practice in treatment and management.

          Hell they have even missed the basic and seminal texts reporting findings from Functional MRI scans which showed that the Triggers actually exist – and when I wrote about that one It got featured here on GMP – Deniers and PTSD – November 26, 2011

          I would also remind you of the concerns that exist around some advocating that all women should at all times be viewed as Rape Survivors with PTSD … and treated as such. Not only is that most incorrect as to how women should be viewed at al times, but it gets sexists when you factor out male rape survivors. It is also a most egregious misinterpretation of a Disability issue (PTSD) into a gender issue. You may have seen my earlier comments correcting claims that making adjustments for colour blindness where more males have the condition is a gender issue. It’s a Disability Discrimination Issue. It’s shocking how confused some people are over minority status and what rightfully belongs to which groups!

          I appreciate the thought and care that has gone into consideration of PTSD – Trauma and how GMP should reasonably and rationally manage Trauma Triggers. It is of concern that the reality has not been fully articulated so that a more rounded and inclusive decision could be made!

          It is a terrible thing to have to consider and get to grips with the reality of, but well intentioned actions by some can and will be used to pervert reality for others with claims that they lack the insight and skills to deal with. Never underestimate how others will look at others good intentions and work out how to use then to achieve ends that begger belief.

          And to be very basic and direct People with PTSD are responsible for their own management – The world is not responsible for what ever caused the PTSD – and it’s not the worlds responsibility to either protect the person from themselves or provide excuses for not being responsible in managing themselves and living their lives.

          Do all bars have a notice stating all alcoholics should be warned that alcohol may be inside? Alcohol is a trigger to Alcoholics and it just being Present or Mentioned can be traumatic and trigger alcohol related PTSD stressor!

          Not using Trigger warnings is Win Win – and the responsible course of action, even if not seen as trendy and surfing the memes.

      • Don’t trigger warnings actually trigger people more? And if they read it they will trigger more because they expect to be triggered?

  12. I had an incident with a guy in college where we both got extremely drunk. The next thing I remember is being in bed with him and he was penetrating me. We had been dating for 2-3 weeks but had not had sex yet before that. I was too drunk to react. Later I felt violated but to this day I’m not sure if it was rape or not. He told me I came to the bedroom willingly and he didn’t realize that I passed out. He was very drunk as well. I honestly don’t have enough memory of the incident to know if I indicated that I had consented or not. I blamed myself for drinking too much.

    We kept dating for a couple weeks after that, but every time we tried to have sex, he couldn’t get an erection. Guilt? I don’t know. We broke up.

  13. To me its not that complex. I wouldn’t say its indicative of society’s ideas’s about sexuality per se but the age old issue of that a woman dressing proactively, talking about sex, being flirtatious is considered an invitation or consent to men have sex.

    If he was unclear that it was rape then he thought they were already there. Although I don’t see how having sex with someone for the first time while they are asleep is considered consent.

    There is something missing from his perception, his notion of responsibility and awareness of the event. Did he blame it on the alcohol and drugs? Did he get having sex with someone while they are asleep is not okay? That is where there is more to learn from.

  14. “On the night in question, there was drinking. A lot of it. I wasn’t there, but there was probably some drugging……. My friend and this woman fell asleep together. ”
    I stopped reading right there.
    Passed out is probably more accurate…
    Heavy machinery, firearms, automobiles and libidos should probably not be fooled with inebriated….
    Why would you get involved?

  15. I do agree we need to continue to define and examine what sexuality is and isn’t as a society. I think when I wrote that I wanted to blame it on men’s skewed ideas in this area.

  16. I really appreciate the nuance, complexity, and humanity this article brings to these really difficult issues–thank you for writing this.

  17. 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.

    • THANK YOU for sharing that. It is these shades of grey that will really change the way we handle situations of sexual violence. I think many people have a similar story, and don’t feel comfortable sharing it.

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      ” 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. ”

      My opinion is if guys misread womens signal is mostly because women are inefficient communicators. And guys inept receptors. So IMO boys/men need to learn to be aware of what women communicate, but women need to improve their communicating skills. No more subtle signals, no more clues. Be straightforward and say what you want.

      Anyhow, but boys and girls need to learn how to communicate efficiently. If misunderstanding happens, often is because the basic communication between the two was flawed. Learn how to communicate properly (not only or especially men, but both genders equally) and 98% of misunderstanding like magic will vanish.

      • Mr Supertypo says:

        “but boys and girls need to learn how to communicate efficiently”
        it should have been ‘ both boys and girls need to learn how to communicate efficiently […]

        • Mr Supertypo – so nice to see someone using four letter words in a hyper accurate and none confrontational manner.

          Equality in language and even thought is such a tricky thing, and even inhuman. People hate equality and hate learning about it – they prefer and desire prejudice – it’s their comfort zone.

          • Mr Supertypo says:

            Four letters word? lol are you maybe referring to my spelling skills? well take a look to my nick, ‘SuperTYPO’ the worst speller in the world 😉

            I dont know, but sometimes I think that being judgmental, confrontational and prejudged may be a protective behavior. Maybe to cover or silence the conscience? or to hide the lack of reason skills?

            It’s much more difficult and dangerous to be open minded, and understand the situation rather than being close minded and defensive. About the subject, its easier making the guy a pariah than give a close look to all the dynamics involved. Wrong it’s still wrong, no doubt in that. But no matter what some people claims or belive, there is a ocean of difference between a pre meditated assault and a honest mistake due to poor communication.

            So what can we all learn from this? what is the lesson? dont sleep with people when you are drunk and be clear how to communicate. And even if she express the desire to be ravished in her sleep (more common than people things) dont do it. Wake her up, and speak to her. And the woman can say either yes or no; she has the last word in this case. If she is dissapointed the morning after, that ‘s her problem. Not his :-)

            • I think that being judgmental, confrontational and prejudged may be a protective behavior. Maybe to cover or silence the conscience? or to hide the lack of reason skills?

              I saw that on a T-shirt once. It was torn off the wearer and burned in public. I wasn’t sure if it was performance art or just Ironic.

  18. Psychopaths may wear a nice thin veneer of niceness….until they get their intended target alone…

    This story is sickening….

    But I think it does illustrate the fact that quite a few “nice-looking guys” do really sick things when they think no one is watching….like Jekyll and Hyde…

    • Leia – I’m just amazed at how your super powers and ability to know all about reality over all distances and outwith time is so poorly managed. My fee is 10%.

  19. JoAnne Dietrich says:

    This guy sounds like a jerk. It is never o.k. to have sex with a sleeping woman.

    • Thank you JoAnne for maintaining a sense of decorum and balance. At least you left the perps gender/sex as neutral rather than turning your statement into a polarised and even sexist one.

      I Wonder though, what is your view of having sex with a sleeping man by another person of unknown sex/gender?

      • JoAnne Dietrich says:

        Mediahound, it is never o.k. to have sex with anyone while they are sleeping. I was just made the comment about the sleeping woman because that was what the article was about.

        • What if the sleeping person explicitly asked the partner to have sex with them, while they were conscious?

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            This is a weird, nitpicky conversation, MediaHound and Alberich.

            Yes, it is wrong for all people to have sex with someone who is asleep, but if your particular interest is in having someone have sex with you while you’re sleeping, and you give consent prior, then of course that’s okay.

            See Jamie Utt’s “Yes, No, Maybe” consent checklist for more details.

            http://goodmenproject.com/sex-relationships/the-yes-no-maybe-chart-a-tool-for-talking-about-consent/

            • Nitpicky? odd word for verifying matters precisely. I hope that if some one is being asked to verify what they mean that nitpicky isn’t the new control lingo!

              Some? Some one? One? Monolithic!

              Men have to deal with being told we have shame – fear – can’t consent – lack capacities in so many ways and now we run the risk of being nitpicky as well? I am an advocate for self determined end of life. If I loose any more strings to me bow as a basic chap I may just have to sign out of the The Big Hilton for good!

              I get drama and language and how people read it and get the direct messages, the indirect ones and even the ones that are so obvious people just miss them …. The sky is blue sort of thing … the silent things that just don’t need to be said …. the things accepted as reality – presumed to be reality – hey they get made reality.

              It’s them silent and invisible words like some …. as in “SOME” Nice Guys Commit Rape Too.

              Alternate titles – Confessions of an accidental? rapist – Being a friends Judge and Jury – Advocate or Confessor – what do you do when your best friend asks Am I A Rapist?

              Aint it terrble when the men rape trope is so universal that when things get written they keep on being so expansive when dealing with a small group. Why not just put it up there Another Men Rape Thread – rape Some? I wonder what Some think? Some?

              Some still insist that the way they communicate in written form or by spoken word does not reveal patterns of thinking and how the world gets viewed. My View Fooey to that one – I see Finger prints and forensics.

              Just be glad I aint being Pernickety ! P^)

              Some? Some one? One? Monolithic!

            • Joanna:
              “Yes, it is wrong for all people to have sex with someone who is asleep, but if your particular interest is in having someone have sex with you while you’re sleeping, and you give consent prior, then of course that’s okay.”
              The problem is “no means no” requires both parties to be able to stop the encounter at any time. While one partner is asleep they can’t exercise this right. You can compare this to a BDSM encounter with no safeword (and I can easily see why a submissive might want not to have a safeword).
              I asked the question because, it leads to a defence of the guy in Alyssa’s post.
              Now let us assume that we agree that:
              a) People can give valid prior consent to sleep sex.
              We also have as a given standard in society
              b) Valid consent to sex doesn’t have to be explicit and verbal.
              In light of a), b) and the fact that we don’t know the details of the prior interaction of the two people in the post, could it be that he could reasonably believe, that she wanted to have sex while asleep? Obviously what he did was wrong, but was it rape?
              The crucial question is:
              When does her behaviour allow him to have sex with her and when is it rape? Where exactly is the line?

            • When she says, Yes! Let’s do it! And there is a mutual, non verbal communication/verbal communcation indicating that yes the sexytimes are AOK!

              If she said, “Hey I love having sleep sex! Feel free to wake me up with sex!” If she said “Yes I want sex tonight, and if she said, wake me if I fall asleep and let’s keep doing it.” and then he did, and then she got pissed off, then I’d not think he raped her.

              Going on what the author states, he felt like something bad had happened, he described it to the author fully and in detail, and she concurred, and he agreed that his actions were not welcome in that particular case.

              The thing that is bugging me here is that it keeps reading like her behavior is a contract that she has to fulfill with sex to satisfy him. That she’s selling and he’s buying and if she flirts with him it’s a false bill of goods.

              Leaving aside whether what they both did was high risk behavior (it was) and that they were both placing themselves in less than ideal circumstances (they were), this is why a lot of women react badly to the defenses of his initial action of penetrating her while sleeping. “He was confused! She led him on!” Because it can read that if you approach a man with your sexuality visible, if you are a sexually active person, and if you are interested in sex with someone then you will wind up owing that sex and well, it was the obvious choice for him wasn’t it? I mean, she’s right there! in some state of undress! Ripe for the picking!

              And that places her in the position of object, not partner. Let’s say we live in a world where that isn’t called rape, but a really bad night with clumsy, rude sex. It still means he was more interested in getting his rocks off (with a sleeping or passed out partner) than with having a mutually pleasurable sexual experience with a partner he was communicating ethically with. In that world her crime would be not protecting herself well and his crime would be being a selfish jerk.

              Currently, in our world it’s a kind of sexual assault and it’s also very possible she’s guilty of being really provocative and manipulative which is totally wrong, but I don’t think that means he gets to take what was supposedly offered because she’s being a tease. You don’t get to take it. It’s got to be mutual.

              Both of their jobs should be to communicate. No one should be manipulating, no one should be, as I used in another example, “taking the wallet in which money is available for that dinner you promised me.”

              And frankly, I’ve been on the dude’s end of things-being flirted with shamelessly for a long time, and then when I tried to get the situation to happen, told…”I don’t feel that way about you.” Should that man have manipulated the situation? No, it means he was a jerk interested in toying with me. Does that mean I’d have had the right to take what I wanted if we passed out together after a party? No, no it does not.

            • Julie,
              to clarify a couple of questions:
              1.Assuming we have a boy and a girl. The girl desires to being woken up through penetration the next morning and agrees to that with the boy. The boy wakes her up through penetration, but now the girl feels used and awful. Does the boy bear any guilt?
              2.Is explicit verbal consent the only valid consent to sleep sex?
              3.Which kinds of sex require explicit verbal consent and which kinds of sex can be agreed using different methods (like body language etc.)?
              4.Which sex acts require that all participants have the ability and the possibility to end the act at any time? (I thought this was just the standard “no means no”, but as you seem to be OK with sleep sex, you obviously don’t require this standard always.)
              Julie:
              “The thing that is bugging me here is that it keeps reading like her behavior is a contract that she has to fulfill with sex to satisfy him.”
              I don’t see anybody here denying her the right to end the sex act whenever she wants, the problem is that if she is not conscious, she can’t exercise this right. By abandoning the “no means no” standard, which must include the ability of every participant to say stop, you wind up with such problems.
              Julie.
              “No one should be manipulating, no one should be, as I used in another example, “taking the wallet in which money is available for that dinner you promised me.””
              Obviously not, but what if he is sure that she wants him to have sex with her while she is asleep?
              “And frankly, I’ve been on the dude’s end of things-being flirted with shamelessly for a long time, and then when I tried to get the situation to happen, told…”I don’t feel that way about you.” Should that man have manipulated the situation? No, it means he was a jerk interested in toying with me.”
              Why was he a jerk in this situation? You making wrong assumptions doesn’t make him a jerk, it makes you wrong. If you don’t like flirting you could have told him, couldn’t you?

            • Julie,
              to clarify a couple of questions:
              1.Assuming we have a boy and a girl. The girl desires to being woken up through penetration the next morning and agrees to that with the boy. The boy wakes her up through penetration, but now the girl feels used and awful. Does the boy bear any guilt?

              Guilt as in legal guilt? Probably not. Guilt as in having empathy for someone who he cares about and now feels bad? I would hope he’d feel something akin to not wanting her to feel used and that they would discuss why it turned out that way.

              2.Is explicit verbal consent the only valid consent to sleep sex?

              Given the risks? Probably wouldn’t hurt. If long term partners know each other well and are used to doing sleep sex, then probably not. Depends on their level of communication.

              3.Which kinds of sex require explicit verbal consent and which kinds of sex can be agreed using different methods (like body language etc.)?

              Personally, for me (and because I am not a lawyer) if I have a new partner or I am doing brand new things with a partner that carry some level of physical or emotional risk, I think it’s really good to have verbal convos about them. Obviously nothing is required, and people do things all the time without it, but it lessens risk if you actually communicate with people. Indeed, if you are very good at reading people and feel confident in the ongoing nonverbal consent, then that’s up to the people involved.

              4.Which sex acts require that all participants have the ability and the possibility to end the act at any time? (I thought this was just the standard “no means no”, but as you seem to be OK with sleep sex, you obviously don’t require this standard always.)

              Um, all of them? Like, if you are having sex with someone and you don’t like what she’s doing/or you feel ill or whatever…wouldn’t you believe you have the right to say no/stop? Did I say I was ok with sleep sex? Can’t recall, but I’m in a very long term partnership and we’ve talked about a great many things.

              Julie:
              “The thing that is bugging me here is that it keeps reading like her behavior is a contract that she has to fulfill with sex to satisfy him.”
              I don’t see anybody here denying her the right to end the sex act whenever she wants, the problem is that if she is not conscious, she can’t exercise this right. By abandoning the “no means no” standard, which must include the ability of every participant to say stop, you wind up with such problems.

              Enthusiastic consent means the presence of a “YES” (verbal or non verbal and clear, not assumed) not just the absence of a no. Thus, she’s sleeping and not saying yes, so don’t stick your penis in her unless you feel really really certain that’s on the table and has been discussed.

              Julie.
              “No one should be manipulating, no one should be, as I used in another example, “taking the wallet in which money is available for that dinner you promised me.””
              Obviously not, but what if he is sure that she wants him to have sex with her while she is asleep?

              Then we wouldn’t be having this conversation….

              “And frankly, I’ve been on the dude’s end of things-being flirted with shamelessly for a long time, and then when I tried to get the situation to happen, told…”I don’t feel that way about you.” Should that man have manipulated the situation? No, it means he was a jerk interested in toying with me.”
              Why was he a jerk in this situation? You making wrong assumptions doesn’t make him a jerk, it makes you wrong. If you don’t like flirting you could have told him, couldn’t you?

            • Julie,
              re 1.“Guilt as in having empathy for someone who he cares about and now feels bad?”
              Empathy is not guilt. Guilt implies that he was responsible. So how guilty he feels should not depend on her reaction to his actions, but only on his actions.
              re 2. Me: “Is explicit verbal consent the only valid consent to sleep sex?”
              Julie:“Given the risks? Probably wouldn’t hurt. If long term partners know each other well and are used to doing sleep sex, then probably not. Depends on their level of communication.”
              Your answer implies, that there is valid consent to sleep sex and hence that sleep sex can be consensual.
              re 4.Julie:“Did I say I was ok with sleep sex?”
              As far I understand you imply that. See above, what you said above implies that you think sleep sex can be consensual and if it is consensual it is OK, isn’t it? Originally I understood your statement:
              “When she says, Yes! Let’s do it! And there is a mutual, non verbal communication/verbal communcation indicating that yes the sexytimes are AOK!”
              to be about sleep sex, maybe I misunderstood you here.
              As I understand it, sleep sex doesn’t meet the standard of “no means no” and hence can’t be consensual.
              Julie:“Enthusiastic consent means the presence of a “YES” (verbal or non verbal and clear, not assumed) not just the absence of a no.”
              My real problem is the question of consensuality of sleep sex and the validity of prior consent, see above.
              Julie“Thus, she’s sleeping and not saying yes, so don’t stick your penis in her unless you feel really really certain that’s on the table and has been discussed.”
              What I feel shouldn’t matter, only her observable behaviour is important to me for the question if she consents. Anyway, I doubt that she can can give meaningful consent to sleep sex.
              Me:”Obviously not, but what if he is sure that she wants him to have sex with her while she is asleep?”
              Julie:“Then we wouldn’t be having this conversation….”
              Well you can be sure of something that is wrong.

  20. Honest Questions says:

    I’m a male who works in an environment where the topic of Rape Culture is coming up repeatedly in discussion, so I’d like to ask a few questions.

    1) If both a man and a woman are drunk, and fall asleep (pass out), but then–unlike in this article–both come to, have enough of verbal/non-verbal discussion to conclude both want sex, and have it, and the next day the woman says she regards it as rape because she was under the influence, is it rape? He was under the influence too. This relates to a comment made above. Why is it only on the male? Keep in mind, this isn’t an example where she said no and he drunkenly raped her anyway. This is an example where she drunkenly said yes after he drunkenly asked. How was he NOT doing what he was supposed to (in asking), and if he shouldn’t have even been around her while drunk, why is it okay for HER to have been around HIM while drunk?

    2) This guy pentetrated her while she was sleeping, so to me that’s clear rape. Different question. If a woman is sleeping, and you’re in the kind of situation where you’ve had sex before or fooled around before (which is not necessarily a “relationship”) and you touch the woman–let’s say you begin massaging her neck or something–as a way of communicating you’d like to have sex but are checking to see if that “No” is coming… is that considered a sexual assault? Because after all she’s asleep. Right? And if it is, then you realize the only way to be sure would be to completely wake her up, ask her clearly, “Would you like to have sex,” and then start doing whatever it is you do for warming up, etc. And women are going to RESPOND to this? I’m sorry… but that seems like a the mood is going to be totally destroyed by that. Which isn’t to say the mood is more important than establishing consent but I am saying that pretty much any kind of waking up next to you (drunk or not) fumbling -leads-to-sex kind of thing is absolutely off limits now. Or is this too extreme an interpretation on my part?

    Again just asking.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      I can try to take a stab at MY OPINION of those two scenarios, and hope it’s taken as an open dialog.

      1) This is an example of why my mantra is “No Fucked Up Hook Ups.” Is it rape? Not to me. But is it totally ill-advised, a form of coercion, likely to lead to a whole lot of drama? Yup. To me it’s just a really bad risk / reward ratio. And a bad idea. I know that getting wasted and hooking is pretty normal, but I think it’s a pretty bad idea, for a lot of reasons that I’m not going to lecture anyone on.

      2) Touching someone’s neck to see if they’re interested in having sex is about as accurate as driving past a McDonald’s to see if someone’s hungry. Or a vegetarian. Yes, asking is your best bet, and in my mind it is not only necessary, but smoking hot. Now, is it 100% guaranteed to result in a guy getting to stick is dick in a girl? Nope. It’s not. But it’s not as if there is an inherent right there anyway. You do have to ask. Just like a store has to be open for you to shop in it. And I promise you that if a woman wants to have sex with you and you ask her, it’s a turn-on. I promise. You can even make it into actual foreplay by asking where she wants you to touch her, and how. Not only is that respecting her agency over her body, it is a surefire way to make sure you are giving her what she wants, which is hot. And you can return the favor, by asking her for what you want. See Jamie Utt’s article from yesterday on this site.

      Honestly, the hottest words anyone’s ever said to me are “what do you want me to do now?”

      • 1) This is an example of why my mantra is “No Fucked Up Hook Ups.” Is it rape? Not to me. But is it totally ill-advised, a form of coercion, likely to lead to a whole lot of drama? Yup. To me it’s just a really bad risk / reward ratio. And a bad idea. I know that getting wasted and hooking is pretty normal, but I think it’s a pretty bad idea, for a lot of reasons that I’m not going to lecture anyone on.
        I think the problem is, even if you remove the word rape from the equation, it is still seen as something that he did to her. It’s still painted up as he took advantage of her.

        • Well, in this case he did. In the preliminary interactions, they did things with and to each other (flirting, touching, talking). If she was asleep or passed out and had not said “do me when I’m asleep” then he was the actor and she was acted upon. We don’t know what happened after she woke up, and if there were things she did to or with him and if that was consensual (through word or non verbal understanding).

          If she had enveloped him while he was sleeping, this would be something she did TO him, without consent. In this case, he did do something TO her.

          • “If she had enveloped him” – would he have been raped?

            • I absolutely think so, yes. I understand current US law does not agree with me, but yes, if he woke up with her on him without his permission, using him, then I’d call that rape.

              And in the case of couples who don’t mind being awoke to sex, well they have history and understanding BUT let’s say it’s 6 months in the relationship. One is horny prior to bed. The other says, “No, I’m ill/tired.” They sleep, first one mounts the other because damnit, they usually like it and I’m still aroused! That person being woken up has every right to be really really angry. I still think that’s non consensual and extremely bad behavior.

            • Julie you have just made a very clear point and missed it!

              The title here is “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too” – but it is dishonest when the author knows full well that being in the USA it could never read “Nice Girls Commit Rape Too” – unless she started getting into strap ons and other ideas about penetrating his mouth or anus.

              I just wonder why on a site about men it’s always about lecturing in only one direction and the realities of inequality against men in this area of rape and basic sexuality are ignored. I’m not even in the USA or North America, but you know, the way men are being treated makes me wonder if I would ever wish to visit again and in any way be party to what is going on.

            • No, I didn’t miss it. I’ve been expecting this comment or one like it, which is why I’ve been pointing out that indeed the reverse could happen and I’ve tried to use language that is indicative that both could happen. I’m not sure why “on a site about men it’s always…” unless there are just not any men willing to write the articles, or because there are more accounts of rapes such as this that people are willing are willing to write about.

              In fact, I’ve written several articles (linked in the one linked here) about rape, gender etc. So it’s not like “this site” isn’t going in multiple directions. Or hasn’t at least.

              Write a post, recruit writers. It’s vital and important.

            • How odd – three times in the last 12 months I’ve offered to write on the very subject and how the consent issues and legal definition issues (lack of) dovetail with things like prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.

              Evidently,when the autumn rape media season came up last year and I started offering it was the wrong time. Is it the right time now, given that the season has started all over again? What is the correct time to submit pieces for inclusion during the autumn rape season – I aint seen a call for submissions?

              I keep wondering why there is such a strange media focus around rape in the USA and even why the US based editors of rape stats on Wikipedia keep demanding that they will NOT use the internationally standardised rape stats by country from Interpol, but keep demanding that they will use non-indexed stats which ensure that the USA is the Rape capital of the World over such places as South Africa which it’s own government recognised as a manifest Rape Culture as far back as 1997. That is just one oddity out of so many! You have a 33% chance of being raped in South Africa before the age of 15 – you have a 10% chance of going to school.

              Oh and those figures come from a little known researcher – Teboho Maitse – head of equality and diversity for all South Africa. Why is her work and the work of so many others ignored by white middle class female students at US based universities – just as the work of Loretta Ross, Yulanda Ward and Nkenge Toure and others is just ignored? It does get interesting as to why there is this odd racial thing going on around rape and who gets to speak and say what about it!

              Hell a prof of law in India called out the Indian Government for allowing genocide by rape in Gujarat – 2002 – he wrote a full legal brief calling teh government and indian Politics Rape Culture 3 times – it’s taken a while but ministers have been convicted of conspiting to have muslims wiped out by genocidal rape …. but what would that matter.

              In the USA in 2004 a Dutch Academic writing for the Encyclopedia of rape stated on page 179 that whilst some wish to see the USA as a rape culture it isn’t and there are even issues about how the US approach rape via the media … and some students have been misquoting it ever since claiming that it says America Is A rape culture. … it;s a pity they couldn’t read – them SATs aint what they used to be!

              I’s also love to know why it is all so seasonal in the USA? The more I dig back the more you find October to December is the internet rape trope season on a US basis. Do all rapes happen in a three month window?

              Imagine the defence – Not Guilty, it was June!

              The only significant case that had hit the net and not followed the Autumn Window as The Duke lacrosse case, and that was primarily because so many demanded that the accused had to be guilty, and there was extra hot water generated by things said by people with political connections which resulted in jobs being lost – that was March 2006. Odd too how there was that whole race thing going on there too.

              However, It has been observed that following on from that each Autumn for the last 6 years there has been this massive Autumn Rape season on the net. Hell even Slutwalk peaked in the Autumn.

              Is there by any chance anything happening in the autumn each year which is driving people to think about – blog about and generally use the net to push Rape Forward into the Public Domain?

              But then again – maybe next year…. Hell the last piece I submitted and it wasn’t even about sex but guys crying – got an auto email response and not heard anything since!

              Write for us is one thing, but even when people write one wonders why cos it’s not acknowledged. Hell even comments don’t get published if they contain accurate but uncomfortable truths about reality – and some folks simply don’t want that reality, because it’s the wrong season! P^)

            • I have no idea why you weren’t published. I’m not an editor. I’d email Joanna, or Marcus, or Justin or Lisa directly and perhaps you can get a clear answer.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              MediaHound, I never got an email about that.

              Feel free to send me one joanna @ goodmenproject.com

            • As a Wikipedia Administrator (only one of thousands, I hasten to add 😉 I find your report of various apparently-reputable sources of information being ignored disturbing.

              If I might make a suggestion, a good way to start fixing this problem would be to write articles about the studies you reference, comparing them to those you say are preferred, rather than trying to wedge the new information into existing articles. I don’t know the best way to start a dialogue on the best way to stop such articles being deleted: maybe if you post a reference here then I could take a look (I am loath to simply drop my email address in a public place for various reasons which I hope you understand) or it might be that if you take up Joanna’s offer above she could facilitate an exchange of details (if as I assume she has some administrative way of seeing my address without it being made public).

              Please note: I am not promising that whatever you write will not be deleted from Wikipedia, which would be foolish in the extreme! I can however make some informed and at least semi-intelligent guesses as to the best way to avoid deletion.

            • NotACat – I don’t find it disturbing, I just use it actively along with others to investigate abuse and control issues on-line. It is s fertile study ground.

            • Honest Questions says:

              I actually know a guy that happened to. He was camping out with some people we worked with, they were all drunk, etc, and one woman went into his tent, they had sex, the next day he’s upset about it cuz he said he was drunk, didn’t want it. He didn’t consider her attractive and said he never would have gone for her had he been sober. The thing that sticks with me is how shook up he was about it, and other bystanders (females included) said “Yeah, that’s rape.” The woman in question was dismissed from the workplace, to my understanding, but he never filed charges. So yeah that happens. And I’ve also heard stories from a woman I know who is a lesbian talk about what her gf did to her when she was asleep (same thing as here with varied body part details). I know the author and probably the overall Project are taking pains to say it could go either way but I really think there’s this vibe out there… if it’s rape it’s man to woman, not woman to man, not woman to woman. If it’s man to man it’s a prison thing. And that’s just absolutely not true. And furthermore I’ve seen men try to bring this up and then get accused of derailing the discussion, or detracting the from the focus on the much higher percentage of women who get raped by men. And while that might be true, is that fair? There’s this HUGE environment of hostility out there. I’m left wanting to communicate one thought: Being a man is no picnic. My view, in a truly equal society a man should not have to ask MORE questions than a woman, as MORE often than a woman, be MORE careful than a woman, etc. It should be just equal. But we never get within a mile of establishing what that kind of equality might entail.

            • Thank you for sharing that. Yes, issues of sexual violence – or maybe in honor of your earlier comment we should say on the spectrum of sexual coercion – happen across genders, orientations and social situations. And we need to talk about all of them. With as little hostility as possible so that we can hear what we’re saying and begin to understand.

          • Julie:
            Well, in this case he did. In the preliminary interactions, they did things with and to each other (flirting, touching, talking). If she was asleep or passed out and had not said “do me when I’m asleep” then he was the actor and she was acted upon. We don’t know what happened after she woke up, and if there were things she did to or with him and if that was consensual (through word or non verbal understanding).

            If she had enveloped him while he was sleeping, this would be something she did TO him, without consent. In this case, he did do something TO her.
            Oh yes in this case he did. What I’m talking about is when it is reversed the so the responsibility is still put on him.

            As in man/woman have a drunken hook up people still say that he did something to her as if being intoxicated absolves her of responsibility but doesn’t do the same for him. That’s what I’m trying to get at. When it comes to sexual choices it seems that men, no matter what are always responsible for their sexual choices and decisions while women may or may not be responsible for their sexual choices and decisions.

            I was reading Alyssa’s post as not only the telling of a story but also a call for a conversation on the way we negotiate/navigate our way around sex. With that in mind I was trying to bring up what seems to be a sticky subject when it comes to responsibility. Yet and still people respond with the story she was telling, as there is some rule in effect that if it doesn’t relate to that story then it off limits or something.

        • I think the problem is, even if you remove the word rape from the equation, it is still seen as something that he did to her. It’s still painted up as he took advantage of her.

          The dynamic is not just in the doing, it is also in the obtaining and the granting – the giving to and the receiving. There is that ongoing and endemic trope of male and female – he does – she is done too – he has to ask she has to grant – he is being given to she is the giver.

          The lanaguage is comical as it’s actually built upon a Great Misquote of Dworkin. It is fascinating when a whole set of and dynamic within language has occurred and it’s all based upon a misquote.

          Maybe when it becomes about both partners having sexualities and not just one – and the relationships presently controlled by language are either removed or made into one’s of equality it may be possible to have advance. I do find that being a pouf has distinct advantages – you just ask fancy a F###? and off you go! Lesbians are even worse – they don’t get past fancy….? P^)

  21. Honest Questions says:

    (Sorry… wake her up, ask her clearly if she’d like to have sex, AND IF GIVEN CONSENT, start doing whatever you do to warm up…)

  22. I find articles like these somewhat damaging. Men seem to get 100% of the blame and 100% of the accusations when it comes to rape, its both unfair and unjustified.

    If he knew she was asleep I would say it was rape, although I wouldn’t put the blame entirely on him in the first place, assuming I understood the story correctly she has flirted all night and taken a guy home with her and got in to bed. I imagine both lost some clothes for any of this to work very well. Then he penetrated her.

    is did she pass out or was she asleep? its complicated to assign blame to just him when they both put themselves in a situation where it could go so wrong. did he penetrate her before she passed out or fell asleep and did he think she had given consent and was to drunk to do much of the “work”

    It seems like an odd messed up case, but its obvious its not black and white the man is always at fault which articles like this seem to say.

    Women can rape, nice women can rape and nice men can be victims, its a shame the article was posted by someone sexist enough to forget that men can be victims too and unfortunately for us, man culture makes it near impossible to report the crime or get justice so figures will say nothing about how bad it actually is.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      Pretty sure the point of this whole article is that it is NOT black and white, that the man (even this one) though totally responsible for his actions, is not 100% to blame. Her actions were logically confusing. And society on the whole is skewed to skew the issue in a way that is incredibly complicated for people to understand. Although what he did was clearly rape, it is the “why” that is the point. And that why points to anything but a black and white clear cut case.

      • Although what he did was clearly rape, it is the “why” that is the point.

        That is back to front! If there is doubt about motive and intent, clarity is lacking and so it’s not possible to state it is clearly anything, unless you come from an absolutist position in which case his motive and intent are irrelevant! Words is tricky! When does consent start and what is it?

    • When it comes to the straight act of rape, the only important part is the part where there was rape happening, and he didn’t ask. Did you read the article? the flirting doesn’t play in, when there is penetration happening, the only thing that can steadfastly prevent anyone from being a rapist is the affirmative verbal consent.
      And yes, women can be rapists and men can be raped, definitely, no question, but within the whole culture (rape culture) there tends to be different roles taught – men are taught a certain set of things that make them more likely to rape, even when they think they aren’t. It’s not rules, but it’s an artifact of the societal tie-ins.

      • I am a bit discouraged to having to point out that women are also taught a certain set of things that makes them more likely to rape men – three major ones being that men always want sex, an erection means that he wants sex and that men can’t be raped by women.

      • John Anderson says:

        “men are taught a certain set of things that make them more likely to rape,”

        I don’t know. I think a lot of women and even some men, believe that an erection = consent.

      • “the flirting doesn’t play in, when there is penetration happening, the only thing that can steadfastly prevent anyone from being a rapist is the affirmative verbal consent.”
        By this standard, I wonder who taking part in this thread is not a rapist and a rape victim at the same time. You are calling common non harmful sexual behaviour rape.

  23. Honest Questions says:

    Alyssa, thank you. It’s just that respectfully a key issue wasn’t addressed. You see, IN ORDER to ask a sleeping woman if she wants to have sex, what she’d like you to do now, etc., YOU HAVE TO WAKE HER UP. Which I totally agree with, of course, yes, wake her up and ask, certainly don’t do what the guy in this article did.

    But in waking her up and asking there are a variety of ways to do that. And the safest one is to fully waken her and directly bluntly ask “Do you want to have sex?” It brings consent to the forefront, yes, but how many women are going to find THAT SPECIFICALLY “sexy” or to “help the mood”?

    Which brings us back to the neck massage or something. Now, she’s asleep. You have to wake her up. So you do this by massaging her neck, which has better odds of turning her on than shaking her shoulder. But you’re still touching her. And sexual assault or harassment is being touched in an unwanted manner, right? Doesn’t have to be intercourse. Even though this article talks about rape, Rape Culture itself seems to be about more than just penetration. It’s also about everything that can lead up to rape, including sexism, sexual harassment, etc.

    So here the guy (or to be non-specific about it the person doing the initiating) is in a bind. If you touch the other person, they have every right to say “No I didn’t want that.” But you did it. Even if you did it as a part of the process of awakening them to obtain consent, you did it. Hypothetically speaking of course in this example but you see what I mean, hopefully.

    I just think that’s an issue too, because if falling asleep next to each other is not an automatic invitation to sexual activity (I agree with this), it’s not an invitation to ANY kind of sexual activity, including touching in ANY way, even to obtain consent. So I’d like to know how people feel about that argument. Because that’s setting the stage where the only allowable thing is to awaken someone verbally. And only touch in any way after consent.

    Thank you for your opinion though. This isn’t just addressed to you, it’s meant as a general question for whoever.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I agree that any sort of touching without consent is a risk. What we know is that there are more dangerous touches – a penis in a vagina risks STIs (even deadly ones) and pregnancy. A neck massage does not. A gentle touch on the arm does not. A whisper in the ear does not.

      So while you’re right in that extrapolation that ANY touch could be unwanted, He chose what is probably the very most dangerous/criminal way to wake her up.

      And yes, it’s rape, as Alyssa says multiple times throughout the piece: this rapist IS 100% responsible for raping this woman.

      • Honest Questions says:

        Oh yeah I agree with you entirely, that was rape. A sleeping person? Jesus, how he ever could have thought he was in the clear to do that is beyond me as a man.

        It’s just that what I’ve talked about here is something I continue to see as a problem. Because if rape where penetration occurs is on one end of the continuum and sexual harassment is on the other, and it’s ALL bad news but as you progress towards rape it gets worse and worse (I mean that IS what Rape Culture is all about, right? Anything that feeds into the situation where a woman is raped, including the messages society sends, etc), then dealing with consent to do ANYTHING is a huge issue, and how to get that consent is part of the issue, and if getting the consent to touch itself INVOLVES TOUCHING then all that’s left is verbalization. So if women in general are ready to say, “Yeah, I want to be fully woken up and verbally asked each time. I don’t want my earlobe nuzzled, I don’t want my neck kissed, I don’t want my arm touched. I might privately enjoy that with a man I trust but I see how accepting those things is feeding into a larger situation in which women can’t fall asleep next to a guy without expecting to have their own arm touched and asked for sex. Maybe my enjoyment is feeding into Rape Culture too.”

        Do you see what I mean? That kind of thing would piss a lot of women off. But think of the implications. I don’t know and I’m asking… does that piss you off because that puts some of the weight of this on you? Instead of just on the guy? You see, in the environment I see coming, the GUY has to give something up here. The GUY, if he wants to be super careful, won’t touch her now (not talking about rape here talking about risking ANY contact she might not want including touching her arm), thinking this makes him a better man, a responsible man, the kind of man women want him to be. But do women want to give up being touched like that (arm brushes, neck kissed, earlobe nuzzled)? ENTIRELY? Do they really want the only approach to sex to be narrowed down to clear verbalization before ANYTHING happens? If the answer somewhere in there is “no,” they’re not ready to give that up, okay, they can define the line then. But then you have to consider how much shit men take for not knowing what to do, not being aggressive enough (they take this FROM WOMEN, not just other guys), not turning her on, etc. I repeat what I said in another comment… being a man is no picnic. Sometimes it’s starts to feel like it doesn’t matter if a guy raped anyone or not. By virtue of the fact he’s a man, he’s just wrong.

        Remember, people have said they wanted this discussion. All right. Well here it is. And hey, keep something in mind. When I came in here, my questions were (and still are) entirely respectful. Look at what the author said to me under my first post. I’m being talked to like I don’t already fucking KNOW it’s not okay to stick my dick into a sleeping woman, like I don’t already know that getting consent is way hotter. It’s just assumed. There’s SO MUCH disrespect from the outset. And it surprises people there’s not more discussion on this.

        REALLY?

        (Not pissed off at the author. Was going to let is slide but now that I’m into this, no, I wanted to address it.)

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          I actually like the idea of a spectrum. And am VERY clear that I think, and that I stated, that although ultimately a rapist / harasser (of ANY gender) is responsible for their action, we do have to allow for leeway that all of the nonverbal cues we put into the world are interpreted differently by different people. In many cases, I’d like to lay aside the concept of blame and just look for “why.” But sometimes, you just can’t ignore it. Waking a woman up by sticking your penis in her is going to be wrong, 99.9% of the time. However, thinking that’s what she wanted because of weeks of flirting, talking about sex and falling asleep, drunk, together. Ya, that’s gonna have a lot of mixed messages in there. And yes, we need to own that. There are A LOT of “whys” to unpack in there. Even though I think we all agree that what he did was wrong. The useful bits lie in unpacking WHY it happened. And no, “he’s an asshole” is not the answer. Does that make sense?

          I don’t think anyone wants to give up the gentle touches, the flirtations. That’s the stuff that makes like fun. But what we do want is to be able to do that without it meaning that someone thinks they have permission to have sex with us. Much less without asking. That’s the stuff that we use to gauge whether or not we want to have sex…..

          Did the flirtations feel good? Did they make us want more? I know that I have been unsure about chemistry with someone, kissed them and then known for sure that it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. I’m trying to think of an analogy. Maybe something like, i tried running, going more and more distance to see if I wanted to run a marathon. Turned out I loved it, couldn’t get enough and marathoning became my thing. OR, turned out it total wasn’t for me and I took up cycling. That’s the point of the social intercourse that may or may not lead to sexual intercourse.

          But regardless, consent is a must. And getting consent in the form of words is usually the safest bet, all the way around.

          • Honest Questions says:

            Alyssa, I understand. I see your points and agree. I do.

            I just wish more women in general knew what I as a man am going through sometimes. Let’s take a look at something. This is going to involve something you directly said to the man discussed in this article. He said that she said he raped her, and you without apparently knowing anything more about it at that time, said “Well then you probably did.”

            You know something, that scares the living shit out of me. And it’s weird because I don’t mean it against you personally. I don’t even know you, nor you me. But the fact any woman can say that, and however many other women will just jump on that bandwagon, is downright fucking frightening. I mean, you don’t know. YOU DO NOT KNOW. Do you base the “probably” on stats or something? I can see that but look at this. Look at this situation.

            If the guy passed out next to her, woke up, yanked her clothes off, and penetrated her, he’s absolutely a rapist. Absolutely.

            If they flirted, drank, made out, whatever, crawl into bed, made out more, they’re naked, they attempt to do the deed, can’t. Too drunk. Pass out. Wake up spooning. He’s gets a hard on. He either can’t see her face because her back is to him, or it’s dark. Nothing in their past behavior so far in this particular should have made him think that waking up and getting hard and trying again would be something he shouldnt do but of course yes he has to get consent. So he starts massaging her, she doesn’t wake up but moves against him, responds like that. And he’s drunk. I mean let’s take all of this into account. All of it. If THIS is what happened, this is NOT the same thing as he came to, she was out cold, he pulled off her clothes and proceeded to penetrate her. And further keep in mind… for anyone out there who’s gonna say “moving against him doesn’t count as consent”, you’re also not gonna be all that impressed if he talked to her until she woke up and gave drunken consent. Which isn’t all that different from the drunken consent that got them in bed naked together but fuck that apparently, let’s overlook that because obviously it’s a rapist we’re talking about here, right?

            Now maybe it wasn’t this scenario (where he pulled off her clothes and raped her). Maybe it wasn’t the other one either that I just described. I don’t know. But you do?

            This is a fucked up scary ass world, let me tell you. I totally understand the argument that society blames the victim, absolutely. It beats women over the head with how they dress, how they talk, walk, everything. And maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that now it gonna start beating men over the head too, becasue that’s all it knows how to do, beat you up, not dispense actual justice. And I’d really like to see some fucking justice here, because if they went to bed naked, and they had enough presence of mind to GET naked, and it’s not the first thought running through the guy’s mind that “Oh, okay, this only means that we are sleeping together,” I understand that. He does absolutely have to get consent, dont get me wrong, but I can see how he’s thinking he’s pretty close to getting it. And I can see how this can get fucked up. I can see all kinds of things, things that would make me say “All right tell me what happened.” But you didn’t. You thought he probably did. Maybe you’re even right, I don’t know. But it still scares me. When all is said and done, while a woman CAN flirt as much as she wants, CAN dress as sexy as she wants, etc, I would certainly hope if she’s in bed naked with me of her own free will I’m pretty safe in assuming I can let my guard drop at least somewhat. “Stick my dick in her while she’s asleep” kind of letting my guard drop, obviously NO, I’m not a pig. But safe in assuming that well hey she’s an adult too, she drank of her own free will too, she was hot for me before going to the bar and said so, etc, so if I’m hard (surprise!) I could maybe touch her arm and kiss her neck and and see where this goes, hey? Christ almighty. Can any woman out there at the very least understand how this might lead to some stress on the guy’s part? And hey for anyone who answers this don’t talk to me like I’m a rapist or like I think women deserve it. I’ve never raped anyone. I’m just saying that like it or not maybe there’s a difference between situations and some of them are CLEAR rape and others could be a litte but more unclear. At least unclear enough for us to find out what happened first before automatically judging in favor of the woman. And if you don’t own your own goddamn breathalyzer or blood alcohol test kit and keep it stored in your bathroom who’s to say YOU didn’t rape some guy in the midst of your drunken fumblings (not you, Alyssa, general question for the audience).

            This is the kind of shit that’s caused me to stop going to bars. I think this is a very very very wise decision on my part. What you said earlier, Alyssa, about not mixing booze and hook-ups… I absolutely agree. Walking goddamn time-bomb. Absolutely not worth it.

            Just my honest take on it.

            • Honest Questions says:

              Clarifying:

              And I can see how this can get fucked up. I can see all kinds of things, things that would make me say “All right tell me what happened.” But you didn’t [ASK HIM THAT]. You thought he probably did [RAPE HER.]

            • Well said. The automatic presumption of total guilt on the man’s part, and treating worst-case speculation about the circumstances as the only way for a decent person to think about the situation, is disturbing. I think the author is taking a more nuanced view, but the comments mostly look like every other discussion of rape that comes up, where caring about the nuances is a quick way to be regarded as a rape apologist.

            • Honest Questions says:

              I just wanna point out that I said in an earlier comment to Alyssa that I agreed with her, I couldn’t figure out what the hell he was thinking if he penetrated a sleeping woman, that’s absolutely rape. And I still think that is. So if it seems I’m contradicting myself with what I just said above I only want to say in my defense that unpacking this stuff, as we’re supposed to, brings up these contradictions. I can see more than one side of it. The best truth I have… I can agree with Alyssa if the “pull off her clothes and penetrate her” scenario is what happened, AND I can be scared that she jumped to conclusions before hearing the story (if that’s how it went down). Without blaming her for doing so because women are unfairly blamed too (blaming the victim). It’s just so hideously fucked up sometimes. The thing that scares me the most, and I don’t think I’m alone here in this… I see it developing that men are ALWAYS to be held responsible and accountable, but women only sometimes are…. increasingly, it seems, no matter how far they go or what they do.

              Scary, scary, scary. Sorry, that’s how I feel.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              It is scary scary scary scary. Agreed. That’s why I am so grateful to the people who are willing to dialog through this without yelling and blaming. Honestly, this is the most constructive dialog of seen yet, and I am thoroughly gratified.

              All of which still points that the best way to avoid this is to use words, and listen to teh answers. I can see why he thought sex was what was understood and expected. He was wrong. But I can see why his brain thought that’s what was happening. In this situation, regardless of anything that led up to it, he could have said, “do you want to have sex” and her answer would have cleared things up.

              Ultimately, men are always responsible for what they chose to do. You can make what seems like the right decision based on a misreading of the signals. Women are also always responsible for what they chose to do. Aggressively flirting, getting wasted and falling asleep with a guy is high risk behavior, no two ways about it. She put herself in this situation. But he did it.

              FWIW, this is why I really do not hang around people who are fucked up on drugs or alcohol. It is damned near impossible to make a good decision that way, and drama often ensues. And I do not have drunk hook-ups. (Well, now I’m married and monogamous, so that’s less of a concern, but even with him, alcohol turns me off, I don’t feel safe.)

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              I can see why that phrase triggered you. All I can say is that I knew all the players involved, very well, and was speaking casually with a close friend. The irony is that by having this discussion, in which I admitted that I saw rape clearly, but also that I saw all sorts of red flags leading up to it, I was accused by many of defending the rapist. This is truly a situation in which no one – including me – can win. And that illustrates the problem. Everyone has to have their side be right at the exclusion of the other side also being right. What I said here, in every way I can think of, is “yes, you raped her. Let’s figure out why, because I don’t find this surprising, given everything that led up to it. You are not solely to blame.”

              I did not turn my back on him for it, and if I had it to do over again, I would not change that. Yes, given my relationships in this situation, I felt pretty clear that I could guess what happened.

              Had it been a situation that I was not familiar with, I would have asked more questions first. This situation was a slow-motion train wreck, and I don’t know what else to say except you have to trust me on that.

              I will, at the end of the day, always hold someone responsible for their behavior. But I will also try to dissect the situation so that it can be understood and not repeated.

            • I think the author is taking a more nuanced view, but the comments mostly look like every other discussion of rape that comes up, where caring about the nuances is a quick way to be regarded as a rape apologist.

              Well I have been wondering about progressions too It’s gone from Rape Loving Scum to Rape Apologist to Rape Nuancer – I know the big R tends to colour all vision, but if you squint to the left on each one it does sort of look progressive.

              I’m still bemused though – why is rape such a season thing on the internet – coming up like clockwork oCyober-november every year>?

            • I posted this already but I wanted you to see it.

              The thing that is bugging me here is that it keeps reading like her behavior is a contract that she has to fulfill with sex to satisfy him. That she’s selling and he’s buying and if she flirts with him it’s a false bill of goods.

              Leaving aside whether what they both did was high risk behavior (it was) and that they were both placing themselves in less than ideal circumstances (they were), this is why a lot of women react badly to the defenses of his initial action of penetrating her while sleeping. “He was confused! She led him on!” Because it can read that if you approach a man with your sexuality visible, if you are a sexually active person, and if you are interested in sex with someone then you will wind up owing that sex and well, it was the obvious choice for him wasn’t it? I mean, she’s right there! in some state of undress! Ripe for the picking!

              I am not saying you believe that. But it’s a tone I’m reading in many comments.

              And that places her in the position of object, not partner. Let’s say we live in a world where that isn’t called rape, but a really bad night with clumsy, rude sex. It still means he was more interested in getting his rocks off (with a sleeping or passed out partner) than with having a mutually pleasurable sexual experience with a partner he was communicating ethically with. In that world her crime would be not protecting herself well and his crime would be being a selfish jerk.

              Currently, in our world it’s a kind of sexual assault and it’s also very possible she’s guilty of being really provocative and manipulative which is totally wrong, but I don’t think that means he gets to take what was supposedly offered because she’s being a tease. You don’t get to take it. It’s got to be mutual.

              Both of their jobs should be to communicate. No one should be manipulating, no one should be, as I used in another example, “taking the wallet in which money is available for that dinner you promised me.”

              And frankly, I’ve been on the dude’s end of things-being flirted with shamelessly for a long time, and then when I tried to get the situation to happen, told…”I don’t feel that way about you.” Should that man have manipulated the situation? No, it means he was a jerk interested in toying with me. Does that mean I’d have had the right to take what I wanted if we passed out together after a party? No, no it does not.

              See, I don’t know if I even see him as being guilty of rape so much as I see him being a victim and participant of a world that says, when you are super horny, and you really want something, you just…take it without clarity, without mutuality, cause well…she’s there, and hot. And well, she kissed me earlier. And I really want to stick it in. And damnit she was leading me on! (and she might very well have been). A world that still is placing the sexual relationship in a buyer and seller capacity and that places both too much and too little stakes on sex-too much meaning every encounter has to be perfect and equal. Too little in that these are our bodies and minds we are discussing here. Feelings! Autonomy.

              We don’t know the details of how he did what he did. We don’t know if it was dark and she was moving against him and he was like yes! Or if it was clear she was not into it but he was like…hmmm…. we don’t know if she was a borderline personality disorder with boundary issues or if he was a resentful dude that just wanted to get laid however he could.

              All we have to go on is what the author describes and that she says they both broke the situation down to a place where he’s pretty clear he did something unwanted.

              And I credit the author for talking with him, trying to figure out what happened, and treating him like a human being. The woman is a human being too. And maybe if they’d both been communicating a lot more about what it would have meant to be two human beings having a mutual experience (instead of her playing with him and him figuring out when to make a move) they’d have avoided this entirely.

            • The thing that is bugging me here is that it keeps reading like her behavior is a contract that she has to fulfill with sex to satisfy him. That she’s selling and he’s buying and if she flirts with him it’s a false bill of goods.

              But Julie – this has been raised so many times. If it’s viewed as a contract there are clauses and sub clauses. It gets silly because it keeps viewing all human behaviour as being reduced to individual puppet strings and claiming it can be perfectly modelled – IT can’t.

              You can use many models to predict how groups will act – react but its is statistical and only works for the group not an individual. There is this, for want for a better word, Agenda being pushed that all human behaviour on a singular basis can be modelled reduced to absolutely discrete components and then map, predict and control them. Here there is this massive clash about attempting to do it with sex – sexuality – rape. Hell they have been attempting to model human sexuality for over 100 years – and we have so fare got – it feels good and an Orgasm is a type of sneeze.

              This 100% reductionist meme – this get out ochams razor and treat reality as Parmasan and keep shaving bits off to season what ever you are serving up .. well you can only reduce and control so much before you hit limits.

              In which case – when a next go to the Supermarket I expect to see all children 100% controlled and adequately managed whilst I’m in the cheese section fondling me Regiano … and maybe some Pecorino. P^)

              If some wish to pursue the reductionist rabbit down the rabbit hole …. they can have the Alice in Wonderland meme’s and keep them.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Julie, I agree with you 100%.

            • Loretta Ross, Yulanda Ward and Nkenge Toure – 40 years ahead of the game.

            • Honest Questions says:

              Alyssa and Julie, I’m going to respond at the bottom (where there’s more room instead of in these little boxes). Something happened to the comment I was typing… got cut off. If it shows up just delete it. I’ll re-do it below.

            • I have to admit, I loathe the use of the word “entitled” when it comes to these discussions. If someone is acting like they want to have sex with someone, then it’s logical and understandable that the latter person would come to the conclusion that the former wants to have sex with them.

              If I tell you I recently came into a fairly large sum of money, make reservations at a fancy restaurant and invite you out to dinner, I think it’s reasonable for you to expect me to pay. Even if I haven’t clearly stated “If you come and have dinner with me I will pay for your meal,” we both know that, in our current society, unless you specifically state that one party will not treat the other, it’s implied that the inviting party is willing to pick up the tab. And I think you would be reasonably annoyed if I invited you out, waited until the check came, and became irate and indignant when you expected me to pay. “What, do you think you’re ENTITLED to me buying you dinner?! I swear, every time a man shows that he has some money, a woman thinks she’s ENTITLED to spend it on herself!”

              It would be a ridiculous accusation, because my actions clearly led you to the conclusion that I was more than willing to treat you to a meal. My doing those things is what caused you to think what you did, not some pre-existing belief that you are entitled to my money or that I owe you a meal.

              I know it’s an imperfect analogy, so please don’t respond with “its different because sex isn’t food!.” I’m aware there are many differences and the severity is different.

              I’m just trying to put it into a different perspective to show why it’s frustrating for men to receive signals that women know are sexual in nature, but then be told they think they’re “entitled” to sex or that they “own women’s bodies”.

              Clarifications: I do not believe a woman “has to” have sex with a man if she sends too many sexual signals or the man “really thinks” she wants to have sex with him. I do not believe a woman dressing sexy means she wants to have sex with any particular man, or any man, or woman. I do not believe that no men think it’s okay to ignore a woman’s consent or lack thereof. I do not think it’s okay for a man to force sex on a woman “because she led him on”. I do not think it’s acceptable or excusable for a man to have sex with a woman who is sleeping, drunk, drugged, underage or otherwise unable to consent to having sex with him, regardless of what she did or said before or after the sex.

            • Agreed, Drew. I hadn’t seen your example when I wrote my 2-scenario comment, but I was getting at the same thing.

            • QuantumInc says:

              What you’re describing is “Implicit Consent” often Feminists insist on explicit consent in sex, however other Feminists admit that implicit consent works too. I think if a woman has made numerous signs that she is interested, flirting, discussing her favorite position, smoldering eyes, etc. it could count as implicit consent. However if you only have Implicit Consent, you should proceed cautiously. In a dinner date, bring your credit card, and if the lobster is the same as your rent, double check! (i.e. ask for explicit consent). In sex you would either ask the person directly, or proceed very slowly while focusing on their reactions. A positive reaction is implicit consent to do more, but if you see a negative reaction, a frown, a yelp, moving away, or even the absence of a reaction, that probably overrides merely implicit consent. Ideally you have explicit consent.

            • “Implicit Consent”? “Explicit Consent”?

              How dare you put anything before “Consent”! P^)

              Consent is not to be altered or changed – it’s 100% Consent and perfect just as it is!

            • “And frankly, I’ve been on the dude’s end of things-being flirted with shamelessly for a long time, and then when I tried to get the situation to happen, told…”I don’t feel that way about you.” Should that man have manipulated the situation? No, it means he was a jerk interested in toying with me.”

              So when a man does it to you, the problem is him, because he’s a jerk who led you on. If a woman does it to a man, the problem is him because he’s a misogynistic rapist who thinks he’s ENTITLED to sex.

              It’s a bit of an unfair double standard.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              For what it’s worth, I do think that there are some lines that are routinely crossed. We have learned that the way to get attention, rise on the social hierarchy etc is to flirt and be “sexy.” This is a lot of what I was trying to call out in the cover. And I think it’s wrong, for both men and women. What I was trying to say in the fake magazine cover is exactly that. We’ve been sold that this is what we’re supposed to do, and we need to stop buying it. We know that it pushes men’s buttons, even if we aren’t totally aware of it.

              However, the other side is also true. IT has created an environment in which men think that engaging and intimate conversation or flirtatiousness means “they have a shot” and it was an invitation from her to believe that. And that’s wrong too. We have to acknowledge that there is a vast middle ground of behavior that may well turn someone on, for no reason.

              Personally, I don’t do that with people. I keep it very close to the cuff, because it’s how I am. It has served me well, though I’ve often watched good guys go off with women who were in their face with sexuality in a way that proved to be smoke and mirrors, with a side order of attention-seeking instability. It is possible that men need to learn to read those signals too. “Yes, my penis may have a chance, but it may not be worth it.”

              That double standard is real, and is precisely what I was hoping to get at with this piece. That is what we need to talk about. And it starts with admitting that it’s real, and that not everything is going to lead to sex, even if it occurs to us. 😉

            • Thank you for the reply.

              I also don’t want to go to the other side and say “The REAL problem is women toy with men!” Laying all the blame at the feet of either gender just pushes us back into more “us vs them” fighting.

              Personally, I think a HUGE part of the problem is the different ways men and women are socialized to see flirting and sex. From what I can see, women are comfortable engaging in flirtation without needing, or even wanting, it to lead to sex. To many or even most women, (as best I can see from my perspective as a man) flirting is a fun thing to do for it’s own sake. Sex, however, doesn’t seem to be something most women do for it’s own sake. Women are told that having “meaningless” sex is “dirty” and “means they don’t respect themselves” or are “sluts”. Sex ‘should’ be something more than just sex.

              Men are socialized in almost the opposite way. Men seem to be much more comfortable having sex just for the sake of sex, seeing it as a fun activity to do just because. Flirting, to many or even most men, is something you do to get to sex. I know, as a guy, I’ve often felt like flirting and not having a physical encounter is like cooking and then not eating – what’s the point?

              Given then “Women flirt for the sake of it but want sex to mean something more” and “Men have sex for the sake of it but want flirting to lead to something more” model, it makes sense that a man who is flirted with but doesn’t have sex feels manipulated and used, and a woman who has sex without it meaning something more feels.. well, manipulated and used.

              To clarify, I don’t think any of these statements apply to all men or all women, just that they are general trends I’ve noticed.

            • I think you have a good kernel of info here. And yes, if those trends were in place in the scenario it’s no wonder the signals seemed mixed.

            • Nope I already stated that its pretty likely she was being manipulative. Nothing abOut the situation is cool. As I said if I forced the man to sleep with me or groped him, I’d be the assaulter.

            • I’m sorry to have accused you of something you didn’t say and don’t believe.

            • Both of their jobs should be to communicate. No one should be manipulating, no one should be, as I used in another example, “taking the wallet in which money is available for that dinner you promised me.” [Emphasis added.]

              I’m going to present a couple of scenarios to illustrate how your wallet example works for me. To avoid the appearance of heteronormativity, let’s refer to them gender-neutrally as X and Y, so make them whatever gender combination you like as you picture it in your head.

              Scenario 1
              X and Y meet on a Tuesday, chat for a while, and hit it off. X expresses an interest in treating Y to dinner some time soon, Y thinks that sounds great, and they part with both of them looking forward to following up on that meal date.

              Saturday evening rolls around, and no plans have been made yet to arrange that meal date, but Y goes out to dinner and as his check is arriving, sees X arrive and get seated a few tables away without noticing Y is there. X sets some belongings on the table, including a wallet, and goes to the bathroom to wash hands. Y recalls that earlier conversation and the mutual interest that was expressed about buying Y dinner, so while X is in the bathroom, Y goes over, fishes out some cash from X’s wallet, pays his/her bill, and leaves without even waiting for X to return.

              Scenario 2
              X and Y meet on a Tuesday, chat for a while, and hit it off. X expresses an interest in treating Y to dinner some time soon, Y thinks that sounds great, and they make plans to meet again soon. On Thursday and Friday, the get together and continue enjoying each other’s company and talking about that meal date, but they’re not meeting for food these times, so that meal date is still a mutually anticipated event, not the focus of why they’re hanging out.

              Saturday evening rolls around, X suggests meeting at a restaurant, and Y eagerly accepts the invitation. Over dinner and a couple bottles of wine, the good chemistry continues and X expresses again how nice it is to finally be taking Y out for a meal. After dessert, X places his/her wallet on the table, then excuses him-/herself to the restroom. While X is away, the check arrives, so Y fishes some cash out of X’s wallet and pays up. Y is still there when X returns from the restroom, having footed the bill in absentia.

              Commentary

              Presented with Scenario 1, I think most reasonable people would classify Y’s actions as theft. Someone saying they might want to do something someday with you does not grant perpetual consent to just do that thing or make them do it regardless of whether they’re involved in the decision. At best, that would be rude and inconsiderate, and at worst, it’s criminal.

              Presented with Scenario 2, I think most reasonable people would agree that Y was not out of line to think everything leading up to the point of paying the bill indicated X’s intention and consent to pay the bill, including specific conversation about that point, and putting the wallet on the table. The smarter and more considerate thing to do would have been to wait for X to return and handle the bill, and on the off chance they’d had a change of heart in that space of time, it would have given him/her a chance to reverse his/her intention and let Y split the bill. I think many people would agree that even with all those signs, it was a bad move on Y’s part. However, if X returns and is in a fury and calling Y a thief who felt entitled to the contents of X’s wallet, I think most reasonable people would consider that unduly harsh.

              Unlike money, sex that has been “taken” without consent can’t be given back, so of course the wallet analogy is doomed to be inapt in some important ways. However, these two scenarios illustrate a couple of possible extremes, with one end being (IMO) an example of where there’s no reason to think X gave consent based on some prior, indirect clues, and another extreme where X gave so many signs short of directly verbalizing his/her intention that if X did *not* actually intend for Y to think there was consent, the burden shifted back to Y to make non-consent explicit. (Which is why I added emphasis in that quote to the part about communication being a shared responsibility.) In the hypothetical, that could mean taking the wallet along to the restroom, telling Y not to pay if the bill got there before X returned, and so on. There’s no obligation that says X couldn’t have changed his/her mind in the bathroom, but it would not be reasonable for X to return to a settled bill and accuse Y of being a no-good, dirty rotten thief who belongs in prison like every other thief.

              The incident in question isn’t as trivial as who paid the bill with who’s money, but the summary presented by the author doesn’t provide enough detail to know if it was more like one of those hypothetical scenarios than the other. To my eye, it’s closer to #2, because she details quite a bit of heading-for-consent behavior, and the only indications to the contrary seem to come in facts or circumstances hypothesized in the comments. I don’t assume the most favorable set of circumstances, but I see no reason to assume the worst, either. Either way, the point HQ made and I agree with (assuming I understood correctly) is that there’s a troubling tendency in stories like this to jump immediately to worst-case assumptions (like those in Scenario 1), and not only reject any discussion of mitigating circumstances as rape apologism, but to keep responding as though anyone who brings up mitigating circumstances is defending more clear-cut cases where such circumstances are absent.

            • The problem is with respect to sex “no means no” means every participant can opt out at any moment. If somebody is unable to say “no” (because they are asleep, for example), then they don’t consent (consent being not saying no, while being in a position to do so). I thought this was the common standard and any standard incorporating prior consent to future actions runs into problems like the one discussed here.
              What is your standard to consent in sex, Marcus?

            • You seem to be suggesting that prior consent has no relevance. Do you ask for verbal consent before kissing someone, then again before putting a hand on them, then again before touching a breast, then again before touching genitals, then again before penetration, then again before having an orgasm? Of course consent is required, and it’s damn insulting to have it repeatedly implied that I disagree with that, but what you and others ignore in comments like this were any hints that the guy in question had reason to believe he had her consent, even though there is evidence of such in the author’s account. More details could make it less ambiguous in either direction, but lacking such details, it’s no more reasonable for you to assume a rather obvious circumstance of no consent given than it is for anyone else to assume that “passing out together” was immediately preceded by some nude making out and spooning (while intoxicated), which would paint a very different picture of consent and how reasonable or unreasonable it was for him to think she *had consented*.

              That he was wrong is not in dispute, but why is she automatically absolved of all responsibility for her verbal and non-verbal actions that could lead to such a mistake? Why is it so important to believe that the only kind of rape that can happen is intentional, pre-meditated, evil-to-the-bone rape? Most people don’t have a problem distinguishing between different degrees of murder with respect to premeditation and other circumstances, even though the result is still a body that’s just as dead, so why is it so hard to concede that rape can *gasp* happen accidentally? It takes that kind of admission to actually improve awareness that “nice guys” (or “people”, to be gender neutral about it) can in fact perpetrate rape, and try to educate about some danger signs to look for to avoid committing such an egregious error. When you insist that only evil people can do it, you get way more of that false sense of security that leads to such mistakes, but because people who know they’re not “one of those people” aren’t as careful.

            • Short answer, scenario 2. If I just met someone on a Tuesday and had a first dinner date with said person on Saturday there is no way in hell I’d touch his wallet. If he touched mine, I’d think he had a serious issue with boundaries.

              Unless he said or I said, please get my credit card out and pay, I”m going to the restroom. Even then, I’d probably wouldn’t touch his wallet. Cause it would seem seriously weird to me.

              It would be a huge issue for me.

            • You’re cutting out details again, and rendering judgment like it’s Scenario 1. Scenario 2 wasn’t just a first dinner date, it was a fourth meeting, and “treating to dinner” had been explicitly mentioned with enthusiasm at every single occasion. Wine was consumed (by both parties), all interaction was positive, and X placed the wallet on the table before going away.

              So, I already agreed in my commentary that the smart and considerate thing to do would be wait for X to return and settle the bill (or potentially, change her mind and tell him to pay his half), but seriously, you think it would be weird after all that build-up for him to think she intended to pay the bill? You seriously think he’s got no more reason to believe X has consented to pick up the check than in Scenario 1 where he just raided her wallet after an unfollowed-up conversation a few days prior?

              What it sounds to me like you and some others are saying isn’t just that “no means no” and “absence of yes means no” – it’s “the possibility of changing one’s mind should be treated as a ‘no’, even if you’ve already heard ‘yes’ repeatedly”.

              To be clear, I’ve never said and still don’t that passing out after flirting should have been treated as consent to be penetrated while passed out. But this didn’t happen in a mist of innocent circumstances, either. Both engaged in reckless behavior (drinking and drugging) that led to an easily avoidable rape. He could have avoided it by somehow seeing through the haze of his intoxication that her heavy flirting was not permission to penetrate her without clear affirmative consent, and she could have avoided it by not getting intoxicated with a guy she was heavily flirting with, “going to sleep”, and thinking that was a safe thing to do if she had no sexual interest in him.

              The title on this piece was appropriate and provocative, but it could also have been, “Booze & Drugs Impair the Ability to Distinguish Consensual Sex from Rape”. That’s a huge part of what’s going on in this story, no?

            • If I had known someone for four meetings, there is no way in hell I would open their wallet and get out a card/cash without explicit permission from them. I have a neighbor that I’ve known 8 years and we go out frequently with our families and on our own. If he said he was taking me to dinner and he left his wallet on the table and went to the restroom, there is no way in hell I would open his wallet without his explicit permission.

              It feels, to me at least, like a total boundary crossing of a social norm. His wallet, his money and unless he says, Hey pay for this, not my place to do the paying, even if he’s said he’s buying.

              This kind of thing makes me out of my mind angry, Marcus.

              I’ve had, in college and after, maybe 2-3 examples of very gray area sex. Sex where it was verbally and non verbally clear I was not into it, wanted to stop, wasn’t having a good time, not feeling well etc. And in all the cases I either made an attempt to get the sex to stop, and he “just wanted to finish” and I complied, or I figured it was less risky not to complain. I hated every minute of it, even as he was pumping away to a finish (where frankly I might not even have been there for all his concern about me).

              And, I had an experience (that I wrote about here) where I seduced and pressured a fellow theater person into sleeping with me and it was pretty clear he wasn’t into me, though he never said no, or asked me to stop.

              That’s not rape in the traditional sense, not at all. Nor would I (or did I) call it rape at the time, nor did he. But it is extremely selfish behavior on their part and yes, my part. It’s a boundary issue, them (and then me) not seeing me (or him) as a means to an end rather than a mutually pleasurable and consensual relationship. They were being, dare I say, creepy, and yes, so was I.

              If sex is something that two people do WITH each other, then each person has the right to stop the exchange at any given point in the experience. If we are having sex and I get a violent leg cramp, and I ask you to stop and you don’t? That’s not cool. At all. Even if I’d said yes I want to have sex. There is no guarantee that “finishing” is going to happen. If you get freaked out and want to stop? And I’m still wanting to have sex? You get to say stop. And I should stop. If I don’t stop? I’m being horrifically selfish and not worth your time as a partner.

              There is no way to put lipstick on this particular pig. They both did high risk things. I said that. They both put themselves in a dangerous setting, with intoxicants and a deep lack of communication (and perhaps other issues like people being manipulative (her) and over eager (him). But I still think that no matter how much you think you have consent, if she’s not said the words, do me while I’m sleeping….it’s a violation.

              It would be a violation if I did it to a man, it would be a violation if two men were bunking together and one was flirting with the other, it would be a violation if two women did it. Wake them up fully, say in a sexy voice, let’s get it on baby? And then get it on.

              I would never take money out of a wallet that didn’t belong to me if I didn’t know that I had explicit permission. I would not like it if anyone did it to me.

            • Also? I asked my husband scenario 2. He said, “no way in hell would I ever touch anyone else’s wallet, no matter what they said.”

            • Richard Aubrey says:

              It’s not a contract. It’s an expectation practically written down. Only she didn’t mean for it to happen when she was asleep. And, in fact, we don’t know that she meant it to happen at all.

            • John Anderson says:

              Maybe she actually did want to have sex with him. That wouldn’t excuse his actions either. When I accepted that drink from the women at the bar, I would have probably had sex with them that night anyway of course I was never given the choice. That’s what hurts.

            • Amen. Spot on.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      If a woman wants to have sex with you, and you ask her, she’ll say yes. Which is definitely going to heat the mood up. If she doesn’t want to, she’ll say no, and that’s not so much killing the mood as preventing unwanted assault.

      And not asking because you’re afraid she’ll say no is, well…. Obviously wrong.

      And yes, there are relationships in which partners grant each other access to wake them up whenever and however. My fiance knows that’s our standing consent. Though, even so, I have been told that I push him away now and then. And even without words, he knows what that means.

      There really aren’t grey areas with consent when you use words. That’s why we advocate using words.

      • Honest Questions says:

        Thank you Alyssa. This is a better reply than the first one you gave me (the one I’m talking about above that sort of irritated me). Don’t mean any of this is a confrontational way. Just… the conversation is tougher to have than it should be. And sometimes I really wonder WHY that is. Many different reasons I guess.

      • If a woman wants to have sex with you, and you ask her, she’ll say yes. Which is definitely going to heat the mood up.

        The water would be much less muddied if this really was the case. I’ve had women ask me at a later date why I didn’t push harder the time they said “no”. I’ve had commenters on this site point out that the reason for that might be that they are afraid of being stamped as a slut. We’ve had articles on this sites where the female authors lament the lack of real men who will ravish women, who will take what he wants without waiting for her yes.

        • Amen to that. I’m a guy who cares about consent, and I can vouch for the fact that Alyssa’s statement is not universally true. I can only speak from my own experience, but I have been involved with multiple women who either a) wanted me to disregard their explicit statements of non-consent and were disappointed or upset when I did not, or b) were turned off by me asking for consent. Note that I am not just inferring their preferences from their behavior; they actually told me in as many words (usually at a later date). And these weren’t just women who wanted to roleplay a non-consensual encounter. They would have preferred, during our first sexual encounters, for me to have either not heeded what they said about consent or to not have asked them.

          For women who care about consent, this may seem bizarre and improbable (hell, it seems bizarre and improbable to me), but it is true: there are women who actively dislike it when men explicitly check for consent. I strongly doubt that a majority of women feel that way, but a significant minority of women that I’ve slept with have. I find this absolutely maddening to deal with, and it is just as frustrating when other women say things like, “Just ask! Getting consent is sexy!” That’s a perfectly reasonable sentiment, but not all women are that reasonable.

          I think that men ought to make sure that they get consent before having sex, because it is obviously the better policy. It would be nice, however, if women (and militantly feminist men) would recognize that men who do so are sometimes punished for it.

          • D.R. Bartlette says:

            I know you’re right – I’ve met a few women like that. And that is a *huge* red flag – women who find “giving explicit consent” a turn-off obviously have some serious issues about their sexuality. Run far, far away.

    • John Anderson says:

      Sometimes I wonder about that. If a spouse kisses a sleeping spouse is it sexual assault? What if they didn’t get retroactive consent in the morning? Does being in a committed relationship entitle people to certain things?

      • There is, and can be, presumed consent in long term relationships which can change if circumstances change. People complain about enthusiastic consent as if women want men to sign a contract for each physical move. This is foolishness.
        Enthusiastic sexuality means everyone is into it, happy about it, checking in on each other verbally and non verbally (and the more you know someone the less verbal you need to be unless you are bringing new things into the mix…as in if you have been comfortable with vanilla sex there is more “shorthand” and then you want to try spankings? I’d do way more verbal checking in to make sure things work well. After a while of that, then you develop shorthand for the kink. This is much like needing to check your recipe book when you try a new recipe and then once you’ve learned it, you can start improvising with more confidence.

        I don’t see what’s so difficult about meeting someone in the middle and taking enough time to make sure everyone is having a good time, both partners included. It only took me a few bad “gray area” sexual encounters to learn that conversations about hotness and safety went really well together.

        • It only took me a few bad “gray area” sexual encounters to learn that conversations about hotness and safety went really well together.

          And from your comment a few minutes earlier:

          And, I had an experience (that I wrote about here) where I seduced and pressured a fellow theater person into sleeping with me and it was pretty clear he wasn’t into me, though he never said no, or asked me to stop.

          That’s not rape in the traditional sense, not at all. Nor would I (or did I) call it rape at the time, nor did he. But it is extremely selfish behavior on their part and yes, my part. It’s a boundary issue, them (and then me) not seeing me (or him) as a means to an end rather than a mutually pleasurable and consensual relationship. They were being, dare I say, creepy, and yes, so was I.

          You’re saying your behavior was not “rape in the traditional sense”, and I agree, but you only get away with such self-forgiving language because you’re a feminist woman posting in a predominantly feminist space. Try saying the same words somewhere like Jezebel or Pandagon, identifying yourself as a man, and see how long it takes for someone to tell you that rape is rape, you just admitted being rapist scum, and you aren’t nice (or good) and never were. Now, I don’t believe that about you, and from the way you describe it, neither do you, yet what you seem to be debating with me is that a man such as the one described in the original post could be thought of in a similar way, depending on the circumstances. If you’re saying he’s a good guy who crossed a boundary and might learn from that experience to not ever do that again – like you – then that’s not what I’m hearing. What I’m hearing (and I could be misinterpreting you) is that when it comes to this guy, you just see a scumbag rapist, not a fellow human who like you, may have *unwittingly* violated someone and later felt deep remorse when he realized it. You seem to find it inconceivable that he may have learned something from the experience and emerged as a safer and more respectful sexual partner than he was before…like you. You don’t hesitate to call it rape in a story that describes a man being the instigator, but your own case gets words like “boundary issue”, “selfish behavior”, and “bad sexual encounter”. I don’t have a switch that I can toggle on to care what your state of mind was and what you learned, and then off for men in similar circumstances. It’s on for both. As a result, I agree with the author’s thesis that yes, nice guys can in fact rape (accidentally), and acknowledging that in all its terrible complexity and implications is a better way to reduce rapes than a false sense of security that only monsters rape.

          • How much pressure because that may trigger coercion in the rape law? I could imagine a guy saying he pressured a woman into sex who clearly wasn’t into it, I guarantee someone will call it rape or close to it. What he thought of it isn’t he full story, I’ve read plenty of stories of women who don’t think it was rape yet others have clearly said it was rape based on their actions. You’d at least get creep-shamed for it and your actions would be seen as violence against women if you were male on female.

            The OP guy is confusing, how drunk was he, do you get to a point when you’ve been drinking that you fail to notice things like someone being asleep? It’s no excuse but I want to know if he realized she was asleep when he had sex with her and thought she had consented, or did he know she can’t consent? The latter to me is far more dangerous as it’d be willful rape whilst the former may be a major fuckup on his part, badddd as hell, criminal, but could be a once-off thing. At the bare minimum I’d be making him research the hell out of consent, the law, rape, etc if she isn’t pressing charges so he can know what is what and I hope others are taught what is what as well to avoid this shit in the future.

            Alcohol and sex sound like a very dangerous combo…

          • (accidentally) – that just confuses people. Different and more valid language will have to be found or emerge. Incognitive?

            • Yeah, I used the same language in another comment, but it’s not ideal. I think what we need is a distinction similar to the one between murder and manslaughter. You can do something bad unintentionally, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still your fault. You still have a responsibility to prevent it.

            • Well when you use the Murder Vs Manslaughter example that means what some demand is rape is best viewed as sexual assault. Oh hold on that is actually what the law does ! In which case the OP was wrong to tell the guy he was a rapist?

            • No, but I think it is useful to distinguish between different types of rape, just as it is useful to distinguish between different types of other crimes. The act described in Alyssa’s example is pretty clearly rape. However, when someone commits a crime, there are other questions to ask besides just, “Is the defendant guilty?”

              We need to ask whether the perpetrator is likely to offend again, and what the best way to prevent that is. We can also see if there’s anything we can learn from the case that will prevent similar crimes in the future. The answers to all of those questions depend to some extent on whether we can divine what the perpetrator’s intent was.

              When someone is responsible for the death of someone else, the way society responds depends to some extent on the circumstances and the perpetrator’s intent. Were they *trying* to kill the person? If so, did they plan to do so in advance, or did they snap in the heat of the moment? These factors and more affect sentencing, as well as how we think about how to predict and prevent other killings.

              We need to apply the same kind of thinking to rape. Some rapists are heartless sociopaths, some are entitled assholes, and some just exercise extraordinarily poor judgement. How we respond to their crimes should vary accordingly. That doesn’t mean that we should excuse them, but we should use what we know about them to prevent future rapes. That will almost certainly require a variety of approaches.

          • You hear wrong. You misinterpret.

            What I was debating with you was not the man in question but the act in question, Marcus. Wallet, sex, whatever, don’t touch or take without a mutual relationship/prior consent/ongoing consent etc etc etc. Penetrating while someone is passed out or sleeping is a violation of some kind, unless you have a very familiar relationship and have permission to do that thing. Which I’ve already said I think can be given permission for.

            1) I have already stated, several times that I believe the people in question engaged in high risk behavior and went about their liaison with limited and poor communications (as it’s written in the article).
            2) I’ve already stated that both parties bear some responsibility for the mixed signals, problems etc
            3) It’s not clear at all what happened after she woke up and indeed it’s purposefully left out which makes me very suspicious that consensual sex took place, but what can I do, the writer didn’t share it.
            4) You have NO idea what I might think about what he learned or didn’t learn so DO NOT put words in my mouth.
            5) Have I called him a rapist scum? No, I haven’t. I’ve said it’s likely he committed a violation of boundaries that seems in the best case scenario rude, clumsy and selfish and in the worse, a person who did something really really bad that has (from the article) negatively affected his life. And in the article he comes to the determination that what he did was likely rape.
            6) I’ve given the author credit for listening, talking and working with her friend and for looking at this from that terrible complexity.
            7) I actually agree that there should probably be a gradation of sex crimes that takes into account intent, communication etc as you’ve stated. I suppose that surprised you. But I don’t think we’ll get to that point any time soon because our culture can’t even talk about consensual sex and what consent means without getting into a total fucking snit about it.

            Would you like to know what I think it’s possible he learned? -that he felt guilt, shame, remorse but didn’t know how to face people or her. That he left town indicates that he probably was suffering from anxiety or depression and wanted to be somewhere that felt safe and new. It’s possible he learned that consent is something that is active and fluid not just “impending” and then assumed. It’s also possible he learned not to trust women, or that sex is dangerous or that women are bad mean bitches. As for what she learned? Possible that she learned how to be a victim, how to blame men, and not take responsibility. It’s also possible she learned that she put herself in a high risk situation and that she perhaps treated the man badly. Or not. Or all of those things. I have no idea what went on in the dark swirlings of the minds of people who have been through something so difficult.

            Which is why I wasn’t debating that. I was debating the act, Marcus, because that’s what everyone wound up debating.

            By the way, I didn’t say that I thought I was raped during those encounters. In fact I called them “gray area” bad sex. I stated that I didn’t think I was raped. If I had believed at the time that I was raped I would have gone to the police. If I believed TODAY that I had been raped I would say, I am a rape survivor. In fact, I’ve had those feminists which you seem to dislike so much tell me that it might be rape and I was like, no, it was shitty terrible sex with a selfish person. There were no threats, no forceful holding down of anyone. And in the case with the guy, He didn’t freak out, he didn’t ask me to stop, he didn’t not participate and in fact participated but wasn’t into me. It was just…really shitty communication, selfish behavior and I felt like they were encounters that were selfish, shitty, rude, and pointless with people who didn’t give a shit about each other, not really. The reason I said “not rape in a traditional sense” is because some people would call what happened coercion or rape. And I happen to like the newer term “gray area” because that’s what all those circumstances were. Gray. Murky. Clumsy. Rude.

            But, I will say we all were wide awake when things started.

  24. Honest – I would say it depends and this story is not clear on certain aspects that would, for me, make a sizeable difference. How did they fall asleep together? Were they dressed or naked? Was there some foreplay prior to falling asleep? Did they just sleep were they landed, as some would do on a couch after a hard night of drinking and drugs? Were they spooning?

    Some answers to the above would make certain actions more appropriate than others – like a caress to wake the sleeper, for instance.

    I’ve both woken and been awaken by sexual caresses, while naked, and don’t find that sort of thing inappropriate at all. It’s easy to say “no thanks”. In that sort of circumstance, a caress is pretty close to a verbal request, in my sexual encyclopedia.

    And if you’ve just landed on a couch side by side, then that is a bit different from the above. If it all seems very complicated and nuanced – well no and yes. It is not that complicated but it is nuanced. Most everyone knows where the line sits. Inappropriate judgment is heightened by the combination of drugs, alcohol and youth (inexperience). That is a reality and it needs to be discussed openly and without the use of tropes such as: blaming the victim, enthusiastic consent etc. This form of linear mental algebra has little practical value if understanding is the goal.

    A past ex of mine would not be able to muster enthusiasm from a winning lottery ticket, never mind me flashing my tits in his face.

    • I agree with you entirely on this, I think she could have just as easily have passed out due to alcohol, if they fell asleep naked together it backs up the thought that she led him on.

      We don’t have enough information to call the man guilty of rape, and we shouldn’t point fingers until we have that information because as you can see this man has had to move towns due to pointing fingers even though he hasn’t been convicted of a crime( I assume I missed why he wasn’t convicted or this wasn’t reported).

      If she was asleep and he tried to have sex with her without her consent knowing she was asleep that would be rape, but if they flirted, kissed,went home together, stripped off and then she passed out during the foreplay without him realising due to his drunken state I wouldn’t put all of the blame on him since everything up to that point implies the idea of sex.

  25. I’ve had this happen to me, two different ocassions. As described, I agree its rape. Even in marriage or a long term relationship its a violation and the ultimate disrespect, disregard and basically dehumanizes you to an orfice.

  26. Christopher says:

    Sexuality and sexual body language is a concept that I find extremely hard to understand, probably because of my asexuality. But I still agree with the author; Rape is rape, no matter how hard it is to swallow (pun not intended). The social “foreplay” may be misleading, the hormones may be arousing and the alcohol may be flowing, but both parties should retain the good sense not to overindulge in any of these items (yes, I do in fact say that people should put a lid on their flirting; this so called “sexuality”, especially if one does not intend to have sex with the person in question) and not complicate things further.

    On a personal note I really despise the focus on “mainstream” sexuality in media. It took years of soul searching to discover that there was, in fact, nothing “wrong” with me for not wanting to have sex; indeed to find the act of exchanging (precious) bodily fluids quite nauseating. That I do NOT have to react sexually if a woman sits on my lap, two women kissing is in fact NOT hot and that each and every man on this earth do not have a constant craving after sex.
    After realizing this it became amazingly simple to sit down and have meaningful and/or simple conversation with a woman. I’m also told by quite a few women that it’s a relief not having to “play the game” with me.

  27. Reading this when I am pretty tired, so I’m curious. Did they both fall asleep together, then he wakes up n starts penetrating her? or did they fool around and he started penetrating her without realizing she passed out?

    • Skull Bearer says:

      The first instance.

      • Ahh, that be intentional rape then. Why on Earth would he think that was ok? Just because she flirted heaps? Chances are she’d probably have sex if they were sober and alert anyway if she’s flirting that much so he could have just waited….

    • The article is inconclusive on that point, though several comments have injected additional speculative details ranging from there was no making out or consensual foreplay (since the article didn’t mention it) to they were making out naked and fell asleep spooning (since the article didn’t say it didn’t happen). Here’s the excerpt describing the circumstances of how they ended up asleep together:

      On the night in question, there was drinking. A lot of it. I wasn’t there, but there was probably some drugging. There was music and dancing. At some point, people started clustering off into smaller groups, some of which turned sexual. My friend and this woman fell asleep together. And by all accounts, when she woke up, he was penetrating her.

      Which is to say that she was asleep when he started to penetrate her. She did not consent prior. Anything said after the penetration beside the point, so I’m leaving it out on purpose. It is the mixed signals of everything leading up to this moment that are the point of this story.

      So, there was drinking for sure, and probably drugging, which doesn’t equal consent, but that has mostly been glossed over as being irrelevant to either one’s judgment, or any expectation of rational decision-making when it came to sex. Though it’s pointed out that people were clustering off and in some cases getting sexual, there’s no indication one way or the other whether the couple in question had “turned sexual” in any way, before “falling asleep”, which given the circumstances, could easily be interpreted as “passing out”.

      Passing out isn’t consent, falling asleep isn’t consent, and consensual making out while intoxicated is not a green light to be penetrated while unconscious. However, I don’t see anything in this account that rules out possibilities like he thought she was awake (remember, they were both impaired), or that he thought he was simply continuing a consensual encounter, which he later realized was not the case. Unlike the author, I consider what happened after penetration relevant, since I’d think differently if she gave a startled “No! Stop!” and he did, versus a much more mixed signal like her getting into it and only saying later that it wasn’t a cool way to start. Such variables wouldn’t change the fact that she was violated at the outset, but it would sure make a difference to me about whether it’s reasonable to consider him a nice guy who who made a terrible mistake, or a rapist like any other who knew exactly what he was doing all along. There are also many unknown details that could be even more damning than the ones given, so I don’t think it’s reasonable to either condemn the guy or give him a pass on the basis of speculation that just feels true.

  28. @Alyssa Royse – Hi there – I’ve been doing my usual thing of verifying content, and of course I’ve had to look at that speech you mentioned. I’m seen as an odd ball – and I’ve been been called an anally retentive scholar because to do things like checks facts and if there are references to external claims and materials I often go look and check. Some even call me MRA which I take as a compliment – me being a Meddling Rational Archivist to likes to keep reality straight and well ironed.

    You referred to “Rape is a Violent Crime” and you said this and reference this repeatedly. The “##### is a violent crime is significant. It means that it’ always true – it’s basic grammar and semantics.

    I know some get lost under the Big Rape Tent issue, but I’m one of those people who looks at the poles and ropes and pegs in the ground used to hold it all up. So I’m interested in why the change from one frame to another frame? From the 100% position to something that is clearly not as 100% and is definitely less than 100%.

    I’m struck by the fact that in this piece you state “In order to get to that answer we need to first abolish the idea that all rape is about power and violence.” – that is also a whole new frame. Hell – where is that coming from – 2 new frames – even 2 news frames.

    That is a pretty spectacular 180 – the same as in 2011 you were stating that you were raped because a rapist raped you and continued with the view that if someone calls it rape it automatically creates a rapist, but until someone does it’s well not rape and there is no rapist. It sort a goes into the realms of quantum mechanics. P^)

    It seems that in the last 18 months or so you have changed so many views and ideas that you were very vocal about in 2011. But I’m most intrigued by that shift in the Violence Issue.

    One time all rape is violent and then suddenly violence is gone – I’m also most intrigued as to who has been the biggest influence in changing your mind and the frames you keep using? Who have you been reading and listening to?

    I’m finding it fascinating watching this whole issue of rape in the USA play out across the net and modern media. I’m not sure if you can add to that analysis, but it does seem that the changes you have shown in the last 18 months are significant and linked to that.

  29. Thank you so much for writing this and doing the work you do.

  30. I’ve heard this brought up a lot, about whether we need to explicitly ask before any contact in order to ensure consent. I think it’s rather black and white thinking to say that because we need consent every single touch must be verbally consented. I expect men and women to be smart enough to know when that isn’t necessary. There is a spectrum of touch, and when you are touching someone for the first time, you need to be careful. You don’t just grab their genitals before you’ve kissed them. You test the waters with small things – brushing against their arm perhaps. If they move away from you, you’re moving too fast. Slow down, or ask them if it’s ok next time. If they respond by touching you back or moving closer, then that is a form of consent. It is consent of THAT touch, not consent necessarily of anything more. but you can progress slowly. I think the main problem with communicating consent is that some people just ignore the non-verbal YESes and NOs, while others allow things they don’t like to happen, out of politeness or thinking they’re being to sensitive if they tell them to stop.
    I’m thinking of, for example, at a club, a guy says hi to a girl, she smiles back to be polite, he starts bumping and grinding on her. Now, there might be some girls who want to do that right away, but you can’t assume any of them do. you have to at least chat them up and see how they react. do they look excited to be talking to you, or are they looking around for their friends? are they staring at you, smiling suggestively, or are they moving further and further away from you? I don’t think it takes a genius to read these signals, but I see them ignored all the time, and we’re taught to accept a certain amount of it. I have seen this happen to my female friend, as she stared at me, giving me an expression that said “Ew, what is he doing? save me..” while a guy came up behind her and started grinding. This really upset me, that my friend, a grown woman, couldn’t just turn around and say “Stop. I’m not interested. Don’t touch me.” the fact that i think she should have said that instead of allowing it to happen doesn’t mean I think he was allowed to do it. He never should have started touching her that way without first spending the time building up some rapport and reading her signals to see if she might want to do it. but the fact that she let him, only encourages him to think that women want that. but if every woman called him on his behaviour than maybe he might change, he might learn. Both sides in that situation were adding to the problem.

    I have seen a lot of people ignore clear signals from others of disinterest, and I have seen people act more interested than they actually were, and both perpetuate a cycle of miscommunication. No, I don’t think we need to explicitly ask for consent for every single touch. I expect people to be smart enough to tell if someone is saying yes or no and if you aren’t totally clear, then DO ask. Be aware of whether you’re honestly sure of their signals. And understand that consenting to flirtation, dirty dancing, holding hands, is consenting ONLY to that particular thing, and nothing more. Even getting naked and fooling around is not consent to penetration.
    And yeah, it’s true there are some people who might say no who dont mean it, or play “hard to get” a bit, wanting you to seduce them, or who like to tease, but too bad for them, its their own damned fault if they lie to you. If they say stop, stop. If people stopped playing their game and just refused to go further, they would stop playing that silly game and start being more active in going after what they actually want.
    All of this is different when you are in a relationship, and you know what is or isn’t acceptable. my partner knows that I love spontaneous sex, and that he can start touching me sexually any time, and if I’m not in the mood, I’ll tell him right away, and we’ll stop. I know that I can trust him, so it’s ok. But I would not feel the same way about someone I’ve just gone on a few dates with. I expect them to play it safely, and if they’re moving too slow for me, I’ll tell or show them I’m interested in more.

    ps) I fail to see how it could ever not be rape to penetrate someone who is not concious, no matter what happened beforehand. the only exception being if she told him “if you want to fuck me while I’m unconcious that’s ok with me”.

    • It’s still rape no matter what they say, you can sign a legal document saying “fuck me when I am asleep” and still it’s rape. They need to be fully conscious to consent, that includes not drunk, infact many people who have sex drunk are technically raping each other.

      • I have to say that this attitude makes no sense to me. If consent and desire are truly important, shouldn’t a person have the right to say what can and can’t be done with their body while they are asleep? There’s even a clear legal and ethical precedent: living wills. It seems to me that to say that someone can’t make that decision about their body in advance fundamentally disrespects them.

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          Honestly, as I said somewhere else in this thread, my sweetie and I each have given each other verbal consent to wake up the other whenever the “need” strikes in the middle of the night. I think all of the lines blur and become more “understood” when you are in a loving relationship that is rooted in respect and has good communication. Ironically, those are also the situations in which it’s easiest so say “no,” both verbally and non-verbally. Just the other night, I sort of woke up to his hands tweaking my nipples and I sort of remember smacking his hand away and rolling over. He tried, as I’ve told him he is more than welcome to, and when I brushed him off, that was that. If he tried again, I may have gone for it, or I may have mustered up the brain power to grunt “no,” and no would mean no. It doesn’t feel gray to me between us because in our relationship – which does not make it true for any or all other relationships – I have not only told him it’s okay, but I have never ever felt anything other than respected, cared for, trusted, protected and all the rest.

          This is ENTIRELY AND COMPLETELY different from the situation of the story, in which they were not only not in a previous relationship, but had never previously really messed around beyond, maybe, kissing. (I don’t know for a fact if it had even gone that far, so guessing is pointless on anyone’s part.)

          I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that the same rules of permission and etiquette apply in established relationships as in early courtship or new potential hook-ups. I certainly am not. However, in all cases, regardless of any confusing signals prior, “NO” means NO. (Unless you are in consensual non-con play in which you agree that no dos not mean no and have a safeword. But that is still totally predicated on consent, and still has an agreed upon stop-action command. Violating a safe word is the same thing as not having consent.)

          • Alyssa,
            are you saying here that sex in which one partner is asleep can be consensual?
            If yes, this means you don’t require for a sex act to be consnsual, that both parties can opt out at any time, which I thought was the standard “no means no”.

            • No? means a question! Not the declarative or imperative. Simple and Simplistic Slogans have limited value. They primarily identify where people’s mind sets are.

          • I agree with your comments, Alyssa. I think that the guy in your example was clearly out of line, and agree that there ought to be different standards of behavior in different stages of a relationship. My quibble was was with the more absolute view that sex while asleep by definition could never be consensual, which I would dispute.

            I mentioned living wills as an ethical precedent; you brought up safe words, which I think are also a useful precedent. A person who wishes to engage in BDSM can make an agreement with their partner to disregard the word “stop” or “no” and instead use some other word for that purpose so that they can play out a fantasy scenario. The analogy is not exact, but I think a similar precedent applies. In both cases, a couple are agreeing in advance to alter the normal protocol for consent. If (and only if) such agreements are not coerced and provide a way for the parties to back out, I think they are ethically sound.

        • *Sidenote, this doesn’t all apply to the case in the article as she didn’t give consent beforehand so it’s both legally rape and also morally rape?*
          From the Law’s perspective, it’s rape. Even if you agree to beforehand, the law AFAIK clearly states they have to be conscious to consent so starting sex whilst they’re alseep and gave you an ok before they fell asleep can still be prosecuted if the person waking up decides to press charges. I think most don’t though as Alyssa says, and that’d be a very fucking low act to give permission then charge em for rape if you gave them explicit permission.

          If someone has an ongoing permission n consent but one day wakes up and doesn’t want the sex, they can of course say no and the other HAS to stop but for that time period whilst waking up the initiator was given verbal permission so should they be at risk of being charged for rape? My guess is 99.9999% of the time this part of the law is used is when there is no verbal permission beforehand but even still I’m 99% sure the law doesn’t regard what a person said before going to bed, or 6 months ago. It’s a huge risk to do so and requires a lot of trust for both parties, I don’t think I could ever do it unless I knew there is 0% chance of being charged with rape if she wanted me to wake her up for sex.

          I wouldn’t mind being woken up to a bj by someone I trust n desire but for me personally I think I’d nudge their arm n wake em up and wait a lil bit to get appropriate consent. It’s probably overcautious but I don’t want to risk the possibility, especially if the time I chose was a time she wasn’t into it which could be avoided by having a consent before each sleep (8 hours before) but still risky.

          WANTING to be woken up with sex though often is accepted rape, like spanking your partner is accepted assault. If I wanted that bj/sex and told her the night before and she does it then I am ok with being legally-raped for however long it takes for me to wake up (I’d make sure she doesn’t’ keep going if I don’t wake up of course) and I probably won’t feel like it is rape nor feel violated, etc. I’m not awake to consent but I have given some form of consent beforehand, I dunno wtf you’d call it other than accepted-rape. These things need to be talked about BEFOREhand indepth with all the right safety in place (such as wear a condom, don’t do anal if you don’t want, etc).

          Wonder if this post is going to cop some epic hate n be called a rape apologist over it?

          • To be clear, I should say that I’m talking about the ethics of it, not the legalities. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know what the law says (and since it’s such a complex issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if the law varied from place to place). I’m generally of the view that consensual activities that don’t harm third parties ought to be legal, however. People ought to have the right to dictate what happens to their bodies, and sometimes that requires advance agreements.

            • “I wouldn’t be surprised if the law varied from place to place” Shock Horror! It Does! US – UK – Ireland – South Africa – India – Australia ….. bias is a terrible thing!

            • Obviously some laws vary from place to place, and many don’t. Rape is going to be illegal pretty much everywhere you go, but the exact definition of rape surely varies. How standardized are legal definitions of rape across borders? I couldn’t tell you, and I wouldn’t trust anybody who wasn’t an expert in international law to do so, either. That was my whole point.

            • Rape is going to be illegal pretty much everywhere you go, but the exact definition of rape surely varies.

              Words are tricky and can be so odd. It may seem illogical to some but you can’t use the term rape as you have to actually mean rape. If you said “Sexual Assault is going to ….” it would be valid, but a soon as you acknowledge that rape has different definitions if different places it is impossible to say it’s illegal everywhere because the where defines the what and not the other way round.

              I do find it interesting that the word rape keeps getting used and people presume they know what it is in reality and in law. I’ve actually been bothered and courteous and made sure I know what the definitions are in The USA and even how to find out how they vary from state to state.

              I wonder how many readers could tell me what the definitions are in the UK – and better still, where to find them? Would it be the same in England – Wales – Scotland – Northern Ireland?

              I know that many will simply not care, because of US centric views and bias built into them – hell they could be bothered with Canada – but It would be very interesting to see who is up to the challenge and has even an Iota of Courtesy and respect for Diversity.

            • Well, exactly. There’s something called “rape” (or the local linguistic equivalent) on the books pretty much everywhere, but exactly what it means differs by location. “Rape” has no inherent meaning because *no* words have any inherent meaning. It’s all about how we use them in combination with each other. When we say “rape” and simply assume that everyone knows exactly what we’re talking about, that’s a pretty dangerous assumption to make. (And the same goes for pretty much any other word, although it’s a lot worse with words that have a lot of baggage.)

            • Words can come with baggage – and yet other are like air-planes and made to fly. The “made to” is significant, due to the overloading with excess baggage – and worst still they all refuse to pay for the excess baggage, and demand that others pay the price – plus taxes.P^)

        • “It seems to me that to say that someone can’t make that decision about their body in advance fundamentally disrespects them.”
          Yes and so do age of consent laws. The problem is the awake partner can’t know if the sleeping partner is consenting

          • Age of consent laws are a whole other ethical can of worms, and I don’t think they have much in common. I think the question of when someone earns the right to consent is a very different one from when that right to consent can be taken away.

            To my mind, consenting in advance to sex while sleeping is essentially the same as consenting to any sex act. If you agree to do something and then decide while you’re doing it that you dislike it, that doesn’t make your partner a rapist, unless you ask them to stop and they refuse. In the case of sex while asleep, you won’t know if you’re enjoying it or not until you’re awake, in which case the normal ethics of the situation apply (you can tell your partner to stop and they had better stop). Sex (and consent) doesn’t necessarily start at the moment of penetration. It’s a whole process, and going to sleep could potentially be part of that process.

            (I want to reiterate that I’m talking in generalities, and not about the specific situation in the original post, which was clearly not okay.)

            • Just realized that my post could be misread, so I want to make it clear that sex and/or consent could start *before* the moment of penetration, not after.

  31. Honest Questions says:

    Alyssa and Julie, I get what you’re saying above. I agree. Julie, there is a distinction I want to make with something you said though. I don’t think and never have thought there is a social contract in which a woman HAS to have sex with me, no. Even when we’re in bed naked fooling around, I know that penetration isn’t automatically consented to. What I DO expect a woman to know, however, and respond to, is that, okay, if I’ve been taking the lead, odds are high that’s where I’m headed, that’s what I’m hoping for, and no that’s not wrong on my part, doesn’t make me a scumbag, doesn’t make me selfish, doesn’t make me a rape-orientated person. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about her pleasure and it CERTAINLY doesn’t mean I don’t care about getting her consent. But in the midst of getting strictly “verbal” consent too there’s a LOT of opportunities for giving consent (or not giving it) that are non-verbal, as well. If my lips move there, and you don’t want them to, you simply put both hands on the sides of my head and nudge my head over “here” instead, where you DO want them to. Do that and I’m game. I’m cool. Wherever it goes, wherever it stops, all good.

    But if a woman is PARTICIPATING in guiding me here, moving me there, and then we’re poised to do the deed and instead of those indications to not go further there’s an automatic surge of anger, like I was supposed to “know” this somehow, when all along I’ve been watching for your signals, and didn’t get any indication you didn’t want that, that’s on you. Doesn’t mean I’ll push ahead, doesn’t mean I’m owed anything, doesn’t mean I THINK I’m owed anything, it means your communication skills fucking SUCK. And you should work on those, because I’m now putting my pants on and leaving and am of the opinion you’re a fuckwit. Pardon my language. I don’t mean it to sound like I’m yelling, or like I’m against the two of you, I’m not. This is just my normal honest way of talking, and in that honesty I mean nothing but respect.

    One more fucked up story to illustrate what I mean. I knew this guy once, he told the following horror story: Most fucked up encounter he ever had… met a girl at a bar. They go home. Both drunk. She says clearly before they start fooling around they can do everything except intercourse, and he says yes. They start fooling around. She starts doing whatever, getting him more and more excited, still all the while saying I don’t want sex (intercourse), I don’t want sex. He says yeah, it’s all right. She’s on top. She’s got ahold of his dick, manipulating it against herself (yes, “right down there on that spot” if you know what I mean) and she’s screaming and fucked up and drunk saying “I don’t want sex!” and he’s like Well what the fuck then? And then SHE pushes it into HER. This story ends with HER bouncing up and down on HIM screaming all the while I don’t want sex, i don’t want sex!

    Now is it possible he’s totally fucking lying? Yeah. I’m not friends with the dude anymore for unrelated reasons. But the story stands out. Whenever he told it, he was never braggin about it–i could see that clearly. He was fuckin disturbed by this. Scared, you know? Not terrified or anything but the kind of fear that gives you pause–what was the right move here? Fuck if he knew. Fuck if *I* know. The easy answer is stay out of bars. Let’s all pause and sit back and see how many people reading this are gonna follow THAT advice.

    Anyway, an honor talking to you both. Learned a lot. Disturbing article. GOOD, but disturbing. Gotta think about a lot of this.

    • If she’s manipulating his penis inside her into fucking her when he didn’t want to go that far to respect her boundary, then to be honest she’s probably raping him. Saying no whilst actively being the one to initiate the sex without threat of violence/etc is all kinds of fucked up and he’s basically lying back whilst she does it all, she can’t claim rape since he’s not actively doing anything.

      Your friend was raped by her.

  32. I agree that the way the world thinks about sex is a huge factor in not only sexual crime, but the general dysfunction of the human race. Sex has become both incredibly desirable and taboo. It is both the end goal and the ultimate prize while being bad. And both of these messages are shoved into the faces of everyone, including children, though mass media. And children don’t deal well with mixed messages. It confuses them and produces generation after generation of people who can pretend they don’t know what consent is.

    I’m sorry, but I cannot believe that your friend is a nice guy. I’m sure he’s been nice to people, but if we really want to have a discussion, we need to get right down to brutal honesty. We need to admit the truth to ourselves. Especially these days, as rape becomes increasingly publicized and discussed, there is no way that someone who has not been living under a rock doesn’t know what consent is. It’s so very convenient to pretend like you didn’t know what the incredibly simple concept of consent meant, and it’s time to see through this bullshit.

    We have to deal with the fact that yes, there are that many people on the planet who would look upon another human being as less than human, as more of a fuck prize than anything else. You have to deal with the fact that your friend, while being nice in many ways, deep down was capable of rape. Not because he didn’t know what he was doing. Your friend knew what consent was. We all do – it’s a simple and intuitive thing. Everyone knows that having sex with a sleeping woman is rape. Anyone who honestly doesn’t know has some sort of brain damage or retardation. Your friend knew, deep down, exactly what he was doing, but decided (likely unconsciously) to convince himself that he didn’t know the obvious facts and hope that the woman would like it and that he wouldn’t have to deal with the fact that he committed rape.

    If you really want to understand rape, you have to understand what the human mind is capable of. If we really want something, we can twist the plain facts of a situation in our heads expertly to meet our desires. It happens all the time. The fact is that your friend, deep down, knew exactly what he was doing and did it anyway, which means that he is a person morally capable of rape. It was not a mistake. Sometimes rape can be complicated, in the case of statutory rape and when heavy drinking or drug use are involved. This is not one of those times. The woman was asleep. Sleeping people cannot say “yes have sex with me.” We all know that’s what consent is, as much as people want to pretend that it’s not clear to protect themselves or people they know. I know you don’t want to admit that your friend had that dark part of him deep down who cared more about his fuck prize than the humanity of the woman sleeping beside him. But that is reality. Before you can have a discussion about rape, you need to deal with what the reality is. We all do.

    Stop sugar coating your lives. Face reality. Stop with the denial and defensiveness, and be brave enough to open yourselves to the stark and brutal truth. Normal people know exactly what they’re doing. All rapists, whether they are nice people in public or not, all have something deep within them that allows them to think of their victims as less than human. Let’s address that.

    • I agree that this particular instance sounds like a fairly clear-cut case of rape, and the guy ought to have known what he was doing was at least stupid, and probably morally wrong.

      However, your post demonstrates a basic conceptual problem that crops up in many conversations about rape. Basically it’s the intersection of two desires: the desire to stigmatize rape and rapists, and the desire to broaden the conversation about rape. These are both reasonable things to want, but when they come together they can lead to unreasonable outcomes.

      We are accustomed to thinking about rape as an obviously violent act that is perpetrated willfully and intentionally by the rapist. The archetypal rape in this vein is perpetrated by a back-alley mugger or an abusive husband. It is completely clear that the woman is not consenting, and the perpetrator does not care. In that context it makes perfect sense to take a hard line about rapists. What they do is obviously wrong in a way that needs no explanation and is equally obviously deserving of punishment.

      However, rape is not limited to just those obvious, black-and-white cases, and as a result, our conversation about rape is becoming broader. We talk about rape in cases where there is miscommunication or lack of communication. The root issue here is intent. In the classic, archetypal examples of rape I gave above, the rapist *intends* to commit rape. The rapist may not think of it in those terms, but he or she knows that the victim actively does not consent and proceeds anyway. However, the growing consensus is that rape can happen without that intent, that *any* sex without consent is still rape, whether the rapist realizes that or not.

      If we discuss rape in broader terms, then we need to discuss rapists in broader terms as well. You wrote, “All rapists, whether they are nice people in public or not, all have something deep within them that allows them to think of their victims as less than human.” That may be true of people who intentionally commit rape, but it is not universally true of people who unintentionally commit rape.

      That doesn’t mean that what the rapist did is any less wrong or that they are less deserving of blame for it, but it does mean that we need to think differently about how to prevent those kinds of rapes. It is not enough to simply assume that every rapist is motivated a lust for power or a latent sociopathy. Some rapes happen merely because of mistaken assumptions and miscommunication. If we want to prevent those rapes, demonizing the people who commit them will only muddle our efforts. Again, I don’t think that this particular case is that ambiguous. But other kinds of rape do exist, as well as other kinds of rapists.

    • “Everyone knows that having sex with a sleeping woman is rape.”
      Obviously not everybody in this thread agrees,
      here somebody who states it very clearly, way further above in the thread.
      Joanna Schroeder:
      “Yes, it is wrong for all people to have sex with someone who is asleep, but if your particular interest is in having someone have sex with you while you’re sleeping, and you give consent prior, then of course that’s okay.”
      which raises doubt about your assertion:
      “Your friend knew what consent was. We all do – it’s a simple and intuitive thing.”

      • Simple and intuitive thing?

        They used to say the world was flat and that was a simple and intuitive thing. Oddly, people kept on discovering it was wrong – and the after a time reality got lost and misplaced – and someone demanded again the earth was flat all over again. People got hung, drawn and quartered for saying the Simple and intuitive was wrong and they could prove it. Dogam is like that – sort of Dogmatic. Some still do believe the Simple and intuitive and insist the earth is still flat! It seems that some rely heavily upon simple and intuitive. Reality is better but hard for some to take, even with sugar, a spoon and a glass of water!

        Some are confusing pre·con·sent with con·sent – they require a consent in advance of the fact which can also be removed prior to the fact, not at the point of the con·sent being valid. It’s not even the cart before the horse – it’s the cart before the cart. It ends up being a logical fallacy and trap which of course certain people can’t escape from! Depending where the trap activates in a time line, it will trap different people.

  33. @Alyssa – One Point which may also help a lot of readers look at this whole story vs issues battle that is going on.

    Did the nice guy have a condom on? Was he by his own report sufficiently aware – awake to know that a condom was part of any implied social bargain around sexual activity?

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      That was indeed a huge part of the problem. He did not use a condom. But who’s to say that’s why? I don’t know why he didn’t, just that he didn’t. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are pretty lax about condom use, so I don’t know how relevant that is here. It may be relevant, it may not be, because I don’t know what his habits were like in other situations.

      • Alyssa – I have been on the front lines with HIV since before the name AIDS was created in ’82. Using or not using a condom is not a biggy. (Shock and did he really just say that?) It’s the attitudes towards people using or not using condoms which is the biggy. Subtle change of focus but necessary. Condoms are after all stupid inanimate, objects a bit like sausage skins. Human’s have brains and are like sausages and I deal not with the sausage skin or even the chopped up meat – I go for that seasoning called brain and see why that needs adjusting.

        The lack of condom actually vaults everything back into the grey area. If the answer has been yes to either wearing or being aware enough there would have been a Guilt Guillotine and it’s off with his head.

        One other question which is in so many ways irrelevant – but did he actually indicate that he was conscious when this occurred? Morning boners, drunk naked couple spooning – it has been known and suddenly there they are – her violated and him not even aware of what is being reported.
        Some will of course jump in and scream that what I have just said is Apologist and that I have to be scum, but I’m not using it to decide if he is guilty or not – they have decided he is guilty only because you have – and you have not even provided full details and evidence.

        There are real burdens and obstacles to look at in human behaviour, and people love to fill in gaps and be decisive. People like to know their ground and it even seems to be a genetic character trait – it can be seen as good for survival of the fittest. Environment induces tension/stressor – make decision, drop stress move on and do a vulcan with Live Long And Prosper.

        Rape is a social No No, given the ages indicated. awareness of HIV and other STDS is also likely to be high. The inertia against what some see as him being fully awake, caffeinated, not hungover, 100% in control of all of his faculties and deciding to simply, upon reflection, ravish and be damned … well there does need to be some quite heavy engineering there. And of course a great deal of information needed to carry out a public trial is missing.

        It’s funny how people complain about stereotypes and just how bad they are – and yet when they want to fill in gaps and get away from the grey areas they will use them – even down to having the stereotypical rapist and stereotypical rape victim. They even redraw the edges to amke it all fit.

        For all I know the nice guy could be one of the approximately 0.1% of the population (both male and female) who are not just sociopathic but distinctly criminally socioathic – and he through a combination of glib and superficial charm and manipulation of many other social factors not only has he raped this women but been such a devious and cunning manipulator that he has managed to get you to write about him and even fight his corner … and doing that is even more worrying cos it shows levels of psychological manipulation and contempt for others that are criminal. It would have been easier for him to just drive as few hours, find a target and use anonymity and social pressure to just be that guy who people like. I do wonder when that will become a stereotype and not possible reality in cases like the one you outline?

        I’m agnostic when it comes to apportioning blame – guilt and final judgement upon anyone via the net. I go where the evidence leads. I’m also rather aware of just how evidence gets played with by all parties. Over the years I have counselled many rape victims and I refuse to use legal boundaries with them. In fact, many have been disturbed at being told by others that they have been raped when the victim is not of that mind set. Politicising rape has created many victims and stats – but many of the victims are of other people’s dogma and process and not rapists. I have even had the joy of dealing with a couple who where one was being told they had been raped and the other was a felonious rapist and they both disagreed 100% with the assessments.

        I do love talking to people who have a massive black and white barrier where rape is concerned and they pull out legal definitions and will perform multiple cartwheels in logic, rhetoric and attack all comers to defend the line in the sand – and the view that anyone who meets the definition of rapist should be behind bars – and throw away the key. Worse still is the brow beating and manipulation of people to require the to be Rape Victims so that it empowers others to use them as stats – stories and cannon fodder in ongoing warfare.

        Then you ask them when was the last time they knowingly exceeded the speed limit whilst driving and are they aware of how many humans are injured, disabled and die each year due to people being just Kilometre Per Hour over legally set speed limits? Where are the calls for them to all be in jail? Some look guilty – some say nothing – a few who are the Berserkers just keep going and throw anything about to stop the point sinking home – and they even think that the point is about speed limits – and not people.

        I’m interested in why you have said one thing which simply throws out some 40+ years of Holy Writ and Papul Bull from certain second wave feminist battlements. Rape is Violence and Rape Is Power and Control. in 2011 you said the same things and now you say “In order to get to that answer we need to first abolish the idea that all rape is about power and violence.”. Now that change is a real discussion point.

        Judging by net is such a poor quality past time – it’s almost like a video game and a shoot um up – have target will score. On the other hand spotting real change and not just something to take pot shots at is a rarity, and I for one would very much like to hear more. Cheers – P^)

        • Over the years I have counselled many rape victims and I refuse to use legal boundaries with them. In fact, many have been disturbed at being told by others that they have been raped when the victim is not of that mind set. Politicising rape has created many victims and stats – but many of the victims are of other people’s dogma and process and not rapists. I have even had the joy of dealing with a couple who where one was being told they had been raped and the other was a felonious rapist and they both disagreed 100% with the assessments.

          I agree. It is easy in these conversations to lose sight of the most important things – caring for victims of rape and preventing future rapes. Everything we do – what words we use to describe rape, how we treat rape victims, how we treat rapists – should serve those goals.

          Rape victims are all individuals and each has a slightly different situation. I have known rape victims who were hurt by the lack of response to the way they were violated and I have known other rape victims who were hurt by the way people around them overreacted. I have also known rape victims for whom the whole affair was almost a non-event, who generally seemed to not be bothered at all by what had been done to them. Too much discussion of rape carries with it the unspoken assumption that there can only be one correct way to respond, and I think that assumption does a great deal of harm.

          We should also be careful not to lose sight of our priorities when it comes time to punish rapists. We need to ask ourselves whether the way we deal with rapists actually helps prevent future rapes, or just comforts us with the idea that their punishment is somehow making up for their crimes. A good example of this is sex offender registries – there is some evidence that suggests that sex offender registries may actually increase the rate of recidivism by making it difficult for sex offenders to lead normal lives. If we find that we have to choose between harsher punishments and more effective prevention of sex crimes, we should choose the latter – but I would not be surprised if many people advocated for the former. (A similar dynamic exists in the debate over drug policy – most research suggest that treatment and harm-reduction policies are more effective than criminalization, but “get tough on drugs” policies are more politically popular than nuanced discussions of what policies actually reduce drug use.)

          • Huh. Not sure how the formatting got so screwy there.

            • On what you intended to be the closing BLOCKQUOTE tag, you omitted the slash, so the first block was never closed and it acted like a new opening tag and caused the subsequent text to nest as another block (also unclosed).

            • Yeah, I know how it works. What’s puzzling to me is that I had spotted the missing slash and thought I had fixed it.

          • It’s even more fascinating to be working with someone who is there because they are binge told they have been raped – and after some time they decide quite clearly they have not. Formats getting screwed up is not just on the screen!

  34. Another thing – this guy feels bad about what he did, yet he skipped town rather than turning himself in for the crime that he and you admit he committed? Because if you really feel bad about something, you take your just punishment. He doesn’t feel bad for raping someone, he just feels bad that it didn’t work out the way he’d hoped and now everyone knows him to be a rapist. And what about you and the rest of his friends? You aided and abetted a criminal. Did you even suggest that he turn himself in? Oh how sad, poor guy GOT AWAY WITH RAPE. You’re part of the problem.

    • John Anderson says:

      I’ve heard different opinions on whether anyone other than the victim should initiate criminal proceedings. She might not want to make statements to police, etc, but I understand what you’re saying. He could have certainly turned himself in, but I think that it was always his intention to get away with it if he knew she was sleeping when he started.

  35. John Anderson says:

    Sorry, I couldn’t read the entire article. This was my third try. I keep getting to him penetrating her while she slept and just stop. I don’t see how anyone can see that’s not rape. That’s not even close to grey. He just decided that what he wanted was more important than her feelings or worse that he might finish before she woke and get away with it. I just don’t see how he can be classified as a nice guy.

    • Jonathan G says:

      He just decided that what he wanted was more important than her feelings or worse that he might finish before she woke and get away with it.

      How do you know that? Is it because men only and ever look for opportunities to “get one over” on a woman and get sex from her? That women never want sex, and sometimes lower themselves to engaging in it to serve some other objective?

      What if he honestly, truly believed that when she woke up (assuming he was even aware she was asleep) that she would be thrilled and eagerly participate? What if he though he was being a considerate, nice guy by providing her with something that she seemed to want?

      • John Anderson says:

        “How do you know that?”

        Because I’ve been on the other end. Let me repost something I just said to Julie. I don’t have it in me to go over the details right now, but I hope it’s enough for you to understand.

        Maybe she actually did want to have sex with him. That wouldn’t excuse his actions either. When I accepted that drink from the women at the bar, I would have probably had sex with them that night anyway of course I was never given the choice. That’s what hurts.

        Why would she want something she wasn’t awake to enjoy?

  36. No can mean no. It should, it can and it must. “No” should always have the exact meaning we have ascribed to it. But even with the Alyssa’s personal experience, there is a slight suggestion that “no means no” does not work at all. I must say that as a self proclaimed “good man” and “nice guy” I do understand its meaning and have full respect when it may be spoken in my presence.

    Engaging in healthy, consensual sex consists partially of baring ourselves to another in a very intimate way. Our emotions become charged as we become more aroused and intertwined in so many ways, so to introduce something negative while in such a bare state is vulgar at best. Not to mention you can lose the vibe or offend.

    Limits should be discussed beforehand and not so much during, but I believe we all should be able to tell when too much is too much. We are all capable of being conscious enough to not take advantage and to delay gratification.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Alyssa when she says her friend’s situation is rape, no matter. And yes, these things happen very regularly, even in my city. Rape is unacceptable under any circumstances and it is an atrocious crime. Quite impossible to disagree with any of that. It is good to see she is telling the truth about the fact that to even begin to fix it, we have to identify the root cause.

    Yes, as Joanna mentioned, the rapist is “100% responsible.” Part of that responsibility does exist, as the author mentioned, in mainstream media’s continual barrage of lies and propaganda and our continued allowance of its existence. Although the magazine cover she did is humorous, it is there for all to see in every market, airport, newsstand and library. It is seen online and on tv. The message continues to confuse men, believe me, yet we allow media to propagate this BS because people actually buy these f**king magazines and choose to believe their message.

    Alyssa is also very clear and correct when she states “The problem is that no one is taking responsibility for the mixed messages about sex and sexuality in which we are stewing. And no one is taking responsibility for teaching people how the messages we are sending are often being misunderstood.”

    One hopes that she is intending to take the responsibility, starting with this article. Maybe it started in conversations with friends long before, it doesn’t necessarily matter. The fact that we are reading the article or maybe Googling terms that got us here all speak to the fact that there are people looking for answers. There are people searching for the power/platform/words/actions to foment radical changes of perception in our current society.

    I am very ok with sexually empowered women. As friends, lovers, bosses, strangers…It would seem that with further education and constant and evolving discussions that all women should become aware enough to not find themselves in/put themselves in the position of Alyssa’s friend. It wound up bad for the girl; it wound up bad for the guy.

    Rape affects both the victim and the perpetrator. We hate to admit the rapist suffers, but it is an extension of the tragicness and horror of the act. I have known men convicted of violent rape. Many of these men’s lives are essentially over even though they still exist as they are, free or interned. Most crime comes from a very basal confusion about fitting in and many people do not find out why they act out in certain ways. It is too shameful and again, confusing.

    Through it all, only I know what I truly need and desire sexually. I also know that is true for everyone else on the planet, my potential sexual partner or not. Finding someone who shares some of those needs can be truly exciting. Then someone else knows what you like and you can really have fun. I believe this comes with the blossoming of Love, and less so in casual sexual relationships, but most healthy sex is good sex.

    The natural evolution of hello, getting a phone #, making that first call, finally hanging out, the first touch, etc., is what allows a deep and foundational relationship. But this natural flow seems to have been lost in a world of Craigslist and the like which is too bad because goddamn, monogamy is a wonderful thing from time to time…

    Knowledge equals empowerment and knowledge comes from interaction and honest discussion. We cannot continue to be afraid to speak our minds and the confusion must go away. Alyssa has put together a thought provoking article and opened a dialog. The onus is on us all to share and keep the conversation going.

    Lights! Camera! Action!

  37. What a sad story :/
    I’m sorry it happened to them, but at the very least, it has us talking, and thinking logically.

  38. Alyssa Royse says:

    I am thoroughly blown away by the level of discourse here. If I were to respond to each comment that I want to, it would be a novel. As messy as this comment thread may be, I hear a genuine desire to understand things. While I do not agree with everyone, obviously, seeing this level of discourse fills me with hope.

    I do not think it is necessary to wholly demonize good people who do bad things. And I never will. I think the harsher reality that we need to face is that we are all capable of most things, whether we want to think we are or not. I think that is much harder than simply otherizing bad things as the domain of “those” people. I do believe we need to do just the opposite, and humanize the actions that seem monstrous, so that we may understand what the root cause is that enables some humans to act like monsters. That allows for both prevention and redemption, both of which are vital.

    If at any point you have thought I was not allowing some causal burden to rest on her, then I have not communicated well. Likewise, if you have seen my allocation of responsibility to society as one that replaces his responsibility, then I have not communicated well. We all share the burden of responsibility here, even though he is ultimately responsible for the last fateful decision. Everything leading up to it is all of us.

    I stand firm. He’s a nice guy. A good one even. Which is precisely the thing that should scare us the most. But also make it the most clear that we are in trouble when even nice guys don’t understand this. Personally, I would trust him far more than I would trust someone who wasn’t able to accept that they too are capable of committing some hurtful act that they didn’t think they would ever do. That kind of pragmatic polemic is usually proven false in the heat of one kind of passion or another. After all, you can’t fix a weakness that you refuse to see. Whether it’s in you or society at large.

    Thank you, all of you, for being part of this discussion. I look forward to carrying this dialog forward in both writing and public speaking / conferences in the future. I’m in this for the long haul, and you have all supported my belief that it is both necessary and possible.

    I am filled with gratitude.

    • SOME nice guys. Don’t lump the millions/billions of decent men that don’t rape. I’ve been called a nice guy before and haven’t raped.

  39. Lord Boofhead says:

    I’m sorry but, no the guy is not ‘A nice guy’ he wears a thin veneer of ‘nice guy’ genuine nice guys no matter how drunk do not think that putting their penis in an unconscious woman is ok.

    • “I think the harsher reality that we need to face is that we are all capable of most things, whether we want to think we are or not.”

      Somewhere between 50 and 70% of all people, of both genders, cheat on a romantic partner at least once in their lives. So, unless you think that is perfectly ok, there are two possibilities: 1) being a genuinely good person is extremely rare, or 2) good people occasionally do bad things.

  40. In this particular case, I had watched the woman in question flirt aggressively with my friend for weeks. I had watched her sit on his lap, dance with him, twirl his hair in her fingers. I had seen her at parties discussing the various kinds of sex work she had done, and the pleasure with which she explored her own very fluid sexuality, all while looking my friend straight in the eye.

    Only she knows what signals she intended to send out. But many of us can guess the signals he received.

    This part keeps nagging at me. How is it remotely fair to blame him for misinterpreting signals that “many of us” would interpret the same way? If I flip you off, curse at you, and spit in your direction, but later claim I had no problem with you, it wouldn’t make sense for a third party to say, “Only he know what signals he intended to send out, but many of us can guess the signals she received.” Those would all be pretty unambiguous signals of anger and disrespect, so if I meant something else, the blame for ineffective communication would be completely on me, not on you for jumping to conclusions.

    All those signals you describe, considered together over the course of a few weeks as you describe them happening, are unambiguous signals of sexual interest. That’s not the same as outright consent to begin a sex act, but to say “many of us can guess the signals he received” makes it sound like he was a wishful thinker reading sexual intent into some completely platonic and friendly interaction. If her signals did not reflect sexual intent, then she is dangerously inept at sending signals, which would be her flaw, not the flaw of people who “read her wrong”.

    She is 100% allowed to change her mind and have that respected no matter how hard-core the flirting gets, but having sent signal after signal of impending consent, I think it’s fair to expect her to make her boundaries clear prior to engaging in hi-risk behavior where sexual judgment (hers and his) are going to be impaired, rather than relying on niceness (or luck) to protect her from a misjudgment of just how much consent she’d given. “No” means no, and “not yet” means no, but weeks of sexytalk, lap-sitting, hair twirling, and eye-gazing recaps of prior sex work and a fluid sexuality are a pretty ineffective way to say “No”, so I think the burden shifts more to the signal-giver in such situations to clarify the consent picture as needed before entering into a party scene involving drink, drugs, and pairing off for sexual behavior.

    • Marcus,
      I will reply to you here. There seem to be different branches of discussion.
      The first question is, if sleep sex can ever be consensual.
      This is already where I depart from the discussion you are having by saying no. I understand that it is a formal line, kind of similar to “age of consent”. It doesn’t matter if she wanted to have sleep sex or not, by her being asleep he can’t know if she consents, because she has no possibilty to stop the encounter if she doesn’t.
      Now if we assume that sleep sex is consensual, than we would have to talk about what constitues consent and about how communication works. This seems very complicated and unclear.

      • @Alberich – I know a lady with Narcolepsy. Strong emotional and physical sensations such as Orgasm cause her to pass out. She tells her male partners that they can keep going if she passes out. By your views she is not allowed to do that and her sex life is controlled by the words “yes” or “no” and not by her!

    • Marcus – you have raised an issue that is close to my own heart – and one that I get told is either 100% positive or negative. I watch body language and monitor what is happening.

      Now there is this trope of People have to be able to express their sexuality 100% – Wear what they like 100% – dance on bars flambéed in Sambuca as much as they like and everyone does all of these 100% insulated from everyone else’s bubbles of reality. It’s like everyone is in a massive foam party and we all are 100% bubble wrapped.

      I do a lot of work in queer venues and I come across some great people and there are some who can be a danger to people in my community. I often come across young guys who are doing that 100% thing and loving it – shirts off dancing in ways that would make momma blush – and basking in the adoration and the I’m Queer and Here and the world can go #### itself if anyone objects.

      Now the issues comes when my older more experienced and gossip filled head goes into gear and I notice a Triangle. You have Mr 100% boogying his new found sexuality off – Mr 100% I want that and I’ll get it and he’s young, immature, unaware and 100% in the dogma zone – and me seeing the dynamics and doing a probability vector diagram and predicting … Young guy gets picked up – gets used and most likely abused – bastard denies everything or even worse makes it all public cos technically nothing illegal has taken place – young chap has massive regrets and long term image and self image damage… etc etc etc.

      Now me being a nosy type – busy body and interfering clucking hen – I say to young guy “Love the shoes and how you move – you is hot and great to look at! YUM YUM – so he’s a condom – in fact here’s a bucket .. and you is one hot lamb but watch out for the wolves! That one over there is not just drooling he’s getting ready to be nasty with fangs (Wink) (Wink)(Wink) Be safe – be happy and be careful!!”.

      You even repeatedly make contact with the young guy through out the night joking about him being lamb and even a sacrifice … and making sure that he is aware that if anything is an issue he knows there are people about – and you even give him a cover or his glass – you know the ones that get used to deal with spiking drinks. Subtle eduction and guidance.

      So – when I do that, Am I an interfering old Faggot who is cramping people’s style or concerned and aware of risk beyond a condom and HIV?

      If the kid comes to me as says that last night he didn’t go home with the Hooded Claw of the Wolf, but chose Peter Pervis and it was sweet and nice and gentle and then something happened because well he was still in the 100% bubble becasue he had been told over and over that being Gay was this 100% bubble entitlement thing .. well how should I view the kid the morning after and where does one bubble end and another begin?

      Maybe I should just be a bigger social prick and not allow any bubbles at all?

  41. “I think the harsher reality that we need to face is that we are all capable of most things, whether we want to think we are or not. I think that is much harder than simply otherizing bad things as the domain of “those” people. I do believe we need to do just the opposite, and humanize the actions that seem monstrous, so that we may understand what the root cause is that enables some humans to act like monsters. That allows for both prevention and redemption, both of which are vital.”

    This part may as well have been taken directly from my own thoughts. Trying to explain that everyone is capable of truly awful behaviour without seeming like you’re trying to excuse, deny, or belittle it is difficult, and I greatly admire what you’re trying to do with this post, and this discussion. I believe it’s something we – all of us – really need to talk about, so it’s great to see the responses this article is getting.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. It is comforting to tell ourselves that people who do bad things are fundamentally different, but it is generally more useful to recognize that any of us *could* do bad things, and to try to understand why most people do not.

      There are far fewer sociopaths and psychopaths than there are rapists. When we ignore the fact that well-meaning people can do horrible things, we just make it that much harder to prevent them from doing so. The stigmatization of rape and rapists is useful, but only to a point. When it gets in the way of reducing the number of rapes, we need to rethink our strategy.

  42. This is the exact same situation, being discussed at feministe.

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/09/19/is-it-rape-if-you-dont-mean-for-it-to-be-rape/

    The difference is that the victim is male, and the perpetrator female. Suddenly the consensus is “I’m not going to say he wasn’t raped, but I’m not going to call her a rapist either”

    It is easy for female feminists to say that all rape is the fault of the rapist, when they know that they will never be accused of rape because of their gender.

    The intent of the perpetrator matters, and you can rape by accident. What we need is graduations of rape, just as there are graduations of murder, 1st degree, 2nd degree and manslaughter. None of these deny that someone died, but they matter greatly when deciding what to do with the perpetrators.

    Killing someone by accident in a dojo is totally different to killing someone with a gun over a drug dispute.

    • It is odd how changing “pronouns” changes opinions. So much for equality! Some have a great deal to learn about and some just refuse to learn. It’s called bias and then prejudice.

    • I think that Feministe post illustrates one of the things that makes discussions about rape so difficult. The author says (in reference to an “accidental rape” question submitted to sex advice columnist Dan Savage), “That… doesn’t happen. Or, it surely has happened because we live in a wild world and weird unusual stuff happens, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as rape apologists would like you to believe.”

      The author seems to be torn between addressing the facts of the specific situation (which could possibly give rape apologists an excuse to dismiss rapes that occur in similar-but-different circumstances) or denying that such a thing could possibly happen.

      We need to recognize that every situation is to some extent different, and judge each case on its own merit. Rape apologists are going to apologize for rape whether they think they have a good excuse or not. We shouldn’t let what we fear they might say cloud our judgment.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        i did not deny that such a thing could happen. Quite the opposite. I said that it can and does happen. And that what we need to do is reconcile why and how, rather than just writing it off as “he’s an asshole and she’s a blameless victim.”

        • Oh no, I wasn’t attempting to imply that *you* meant that. I’ve seen that attitude in a couple of places in the comments here (although not nearly as frequently as is typical in these conversations – good job, other commenters!).

          No, I thought your post was a good model for how to examine the specifics of a particular situation.

          • Rereading my comment, I see where the confusion arose. I was referring to the author of the Feministe post, not Alyssa.

    • It isn’t the exact same situation. In the first situation, they are not a couple, they have not slept together, they have no history. In the second, he indicates she should do something during the night as he’s done (according the poster) many times before. In the first scenario, we have no indication she said that sleep sex was on the table and he began the action while she was asleep. In the second, it had been on the table (night time sleepy sex anyway) and he appeared awake and engaged in the action and he initiated it.

      So, apples to oranges, no matter the gender.

      Is it still a violation? Yes. He was asleep, felt like she’d done something without his permission. She and he should get some intervention like…a therapist, a doctor that specializes in sleep issues, and really let him take the time to heal from it cause it clearly was a violation to him.

      I think it’s seriously messed up that there is a belief that men can’t be raped by women. It’s clear that they can.

      • The feministe article is rape, it’s pretty fucking weird how much those feminists are tryign to explain it away and take the blame away. If the genders were swapped I HIGHLY DOUBT they would act the same way. In fact I’d bet 5bucks that they would crucify him if she got on him. If he was asleep, he can’t consent, if she maneuvered onto him or did anything then she has raped him, full-stop. Here in Australia I believe you need to be fully conscious to consent so even couples that say it’s ok to wake each other up with sex are committing rape.

        From that article “It doesn’t make her a bad person or a rapist (she was awake and reasonably believed he was awake and consenting),” Uh, it does make her a rapist whether she intended it or not. Chances are quite a few rapists probably don’t realize there’s no consent there but it doesn’t change the act. There are varying degrees of rape, intention plays a role but doesn’t change the hurt the victim feels although I do think those who make a genuine mistake shouldn’t be punished as hard as those who purposely do it.

        • I disagree Archy.

          The man may have felt rape, but I don’t think it would qualify as rape by the woman’s motives based on the observable evidence she had.

          What this is is a cluster fuck. I’m not saying the man is wrong to feel traumatized or violated.

          But, additionally I would say that the woman should not be prosecuted or put in jail. The legal (and I suppose moral) question is based on the observable evidence, would the average mature non-dysfunctional person have pursued the sex and not seen it as rape.

          I think anybody in the women’s shoes would have done so. Maybe if she knew the guy had a habit of sleep walking or something she would have had the red flag to investigate more.

      • In both cases the perpetrator reasonably thought that there was consent. That is the important thing, the reasons why the perpetrator thought this are irrelevant.

        (If the perpetrator thinks that short skirt = consent, then that would be an unreasonable belief. But neither of these cases involve that level of stupidity)

        • Nope. According to the Alyssa’s article, “Which is to say that she was asleep when he started to penetrate her. She did not consent prior.”

          In the Feminist article the writer (from the original Stranger column) said they had engaged in the behavior before and she believed him to be awake.

          Not to say that what happened in the feministe article wasn’t also a violation, but they aren’t the same thing.

          • Actually, in the Savage article, the woman only states that the man rubbed up against her, which woke her up, and she assumed he was awake. There does not appear to be any prior agreement to sleep sex, so the situation is comparable to the one from Royse’s article. In both instances, the sleeping person did not verbally consent to sex and later told their partner that they felt violated.

            The difference between the two cases is not only the sex reversal, but also the context. We have more information about what happened in the Dan Savage column both before and following the event. In Royse’s article, we do not know what happened before or following the event, so we do not know what exactly caused the man to think it would be okay to have sex with the woman while she was asleep. That context matters because if, for instance, the woman had initiated sexual contact to wake the man up out of his drink/drug-induced slumber, he may have thought she would not mind if he did the same to her, which is what happened in the Savage column.

            And I do find it interesting that your response to the Savage article is that the man, the one who “feels” violated, is the one who needs help, not the person who assumed he was awake and decided to have sex with him without bothering to check.

            • From the article “After a little while, he pulled my hand, motioning for me to get on top of him to have sex, as he has done many times before.”

              He pulled her hand motioning for her to get on top of him as he had done in the past.

              Which does not excuse the fact that he was having a sleep incident and did not want the sex (as he woke up he wanted her to stop). Thus he was violated.

              Thus if he has a sleep issue, I’d hope he goes to a specialist. I suggested they BOTH go to a therapist because she did something that she also needs to deal with and work with. Or fine they both need a separate therapist, or one together. Or if he doesn’t want a therapist, that’s AOK with me. I’d suggest they both get support since her action, even without ill intent, had a very negative impact on him and she needs to be a part of the process of healing it. If it even can be healed.

            • “She and he should get some intervention like…a therapist, a doctor that specializes in sleep issues, and really let him take the time to heal from it cause it clearly was a violation to him.

              If he wanted to press charges? I’d have no issue with that. He needs healing of whatever kind he desires.

            • Prior consent doesn’t male any difference if the genders were reversed.

              As Alyssa wrote, if the woman says she was raped, she probably was. The same is true in the other situation.

            • Jacobtk – I saw a dead horse over in the corner. It got flogged to death. I can’t tell if it was a mare or a stallion. Best not look too close, because the sex of the horse will change the view of the flogging and who should be flogged – and of course the dead horse will be flogged all over again in the hope of changing reality.

      • John Anderson says:

        He was forced to have intercourse against his will . He was raped, no doubt. Calling it anything short of rape is just an attempt to minimize the perception of the damage done to him. You may have a point about her not being a rapist, but it was certainly rape.

        • This is an interesting idea, that there can be rape without a rapist, that the rape exists based on the way the victim feels, regardless of whether the other party is at fault or not. I think that could be a very useful way of thinking about some situations (not necessarily this one, though). However, it is very much at odds with the way most people talk about rape. You said, “Calling it anything short of rape is just an attempt to minimize the perception of the damage done to him.” I don’t think that is the case. I think it more likely that most people attempting to label it something other than rape are doing so not out of a desire to minimize the victim’s pain, but as a way of protecting what they see as an innocent person from condemnation, and possibly prosecution. After all, I’m pretty sure most legal definitions of rape would be incompatible with the idea of “rape without rapists”. To the conventional way of thinking, if a rape occurred, then there must be a rapist, and society has a moral and legal obligation to find and punish that person. In that conceptual framework, if you don’t believe that there is someone who should be punished, your only recourse is to deny that a rape occurred. That may not be the most useful way of thinking about it, but I’d be willing to bet it’s the most common way.

          • This is an interesting idea, that there can be rape without a rapist, that the rape exists based on the way the victim feels, regardless of whether the other party is at fault or not.

            Sorry – but rape is defined by physical action – if physical action is absent there is no rape, and people can be as upset as they like but it’s just them not being happy!

            It also goes into the silly territory which we had recently – “It’s verbal rape”? Sorry Words Can’t Be Used To Commit Physical Acts – and besides when it’s written ( as in the Chris Brown debacle ) It can’t be called verbal because — well — It’s Written and not Verbal!

            It’s a great example of why feelings aint used to define rape – reality and physical action is! It’s also a great example of why media is bad and courts good – not perfect but far better at dealing with reality and truth!

            • Well, obviously it’s no good for legal definitions. The point I was attempting to make is that I think there is (in some small minority of situations) some value in separating the issue of how the victim feels from whether the other party is actually culpable and deserving of blame. The incident in this Feministe article seems like one of those rare situations. The man feels violated – raped, and it’s not appropriate to tell him that he’s wrong, that he shouldn’t feel that way. But at the same time, it doesn’t sound like what the woman did was unreasonable or deserving of punishment. It resulted in him feeling violated, but she had no reason to expect that outcome. In cases like this, we need to recognize that terrible things can happen between two people that can’t be blamed on either of the people involved. It wasn’t her fault, and it certainly wasn’t his fault, but it happened and we ought to take it seriously.

              That’s what I mean by “rape without rapists”: that we don’t have to find someone to blame to be able to take the pain caused to the victim seriously. Sometimes bad things happen and they’re nobody’s fault. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t bad.

              (Because someone will inevitably ask, I would feel the same way if the genders were reversed. I think there are some other details that others in this thread have pointed out that make the incident from the Feministe post different from the one in Alyssa’s post.)

            • While still agreeing with most of what you say, I’ll quibble with the closing sentence:

              I think there are some other details that others in this thread have pointed out that make the incident from the Feministe post different from the one in Alyssa’s post.

              Indeed, that has been pointed out, but I think people are misconstruing or mischaracterizing what is *known* to be different. The key details available in the Feministe account that differ from Alyssa’s are that in the other case, it’s described quite clearly that the woman (the violator) did not know the man (the violee) was asleep, and believed based on the totality of circumstances (relationship, prior sex signals, etc.) that she had his consent. The assumption by those saying it’s very different in Alyssa’s case is that the man (the violator) knew the woman (the violee) was asleep, and had no reasonable basis to assume any sexual consent on her part. However, that simply isn’t demonstrated in Alyssa’s account. It’s one possibility, but the description given allows for the possibility that like the violator in the Feministe story, this man did not realize she was asleep, and might have believed, based on the totality of the circumstances, that he had her consent. So, the difference isn’t in what we know about the violator’s state of mind, it’s that Alyssa’s story *does not* give enough detail to know how comparable these cases are. Assuming the worst (as I think many have done) would make them obviously different, but assuming the best would make them very similar. I see a greater willingness (but not unanimous) to believe the woman violator about what she believed the consent situation was, than I do to consider it as even possible that the man violator might have been honestly mistaken about the consent situation. Maybe it’s because one story involved an established couple and one was only a few dates in, or maybe there’s some other reason for why an honest mistake resulting in violation strikes people as possible in one of the cases, but not the other.

              I’m not arguing that this case (Alyssa’s) was definitely rape, or that it definitely wasn’t. I’m arguing that the details given are incomplete enough that either could be the case, and if this was a prosecutor’s case and I was on the jury, no way would this be enough for me to vote to convict. As for the woman’s feeling of being violated or raped, I don’t dispute that *at all*, but like you and many others in this discussion, I don’t believe harm and culpability always occur together.

            • John Anderson says:

              @ MediaHound

              “Sorry – but rape is defined by physical action – if physical action is absent there is no rape,”

              There is physical action. Someone is having sex against their will. What makes someone a rapist is not just physical action, but intent.

            • Intent? Sorry NO!

              It is possible to kill someone by accident, but through negligence so it’s manslaughter. If you do it with intent it’s murder.

              Rape is an oddity in legal terms. If you end up having been through a set of actions with or without intent you are seen as guilty. So, as an example, a couple are both asleep naked and spooning, they are both asleep, dreaming and having quite naughty and highly sexual dreams, he’s erect – she’s equally aroused – they both manoeuvre and it slips in – you have TWO rapists and no intent!

              It’s interesting, you can break a speed limit deliberately and be found innocent – rushing to the emergency room with a heart attack in the back seat is like that. You can break the speed limit by total accident and end up in prison – as has happened when a batch of speedometers for a particular car manufacturer were found t be faulty … and even though calibrated at the factory the accuracy drifted very badly to the point of criminality.

              Intent is a fascinating thing to prove because it’s possible to break the law with absolute intent and be100% innocent, or Guilty and the same goes for breaking the law with no intent. Rape and Intent should not be assumed to be bedfellows – because they are not!

      • We weren’t given enough details in the Alyssa’s story to KNOW how different the situation was.
        True, they hadn’t had intercourse before. They did have an established relationship, and they possibly got in bed together naked.
        We have no indication that she didn’t rub up against him in her sleep, or move an arm to touch him.
        We have no reason to think she did “lay there like a dead fish” against him when he started. And if any of those things did happen, we have no way to know whether she did them while half-conscious and later couldn’t remember, or if she was 100% unconscious and acting out a dream. I have had partners do both.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      I would say the same things regardless of whether it was male or a female. I would also still point to everything leading up to the moment in question. It is CLEAR to me that men can be raped by women. (Next post, I think.) It is also clear to me that in this case, the woman has some of the responsibility for the situation, without absolving him of any responsibility for the final fateful act. As I said, he shouldn’t have done it. But we need to ask why he did, without resorting to calling him a monster. Because there were some seriously mixed signals here, which he clearly read to mean something other than what she intended, but which many people would read the same way he did. So why did she send them? Why did he read them the way he did? Why don’t people want to share the blame?

      • So to be clear, in your opinion, the woman in the Feministe example is a rapist?

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          I think the example in the Feministe article is really different than this one. If the roles were reversed in the example in my story, then the woman would have committed rape. I admit I only read the Feministe piece briefly, but if I remember correctly, they had an existing relationship and she thought he wanted it, was signaled onto him, which would seem like consent. That whole situation is much less clear to me because of the existing sexual relationship. If my fiance did that to me, I would probably do the same thing. If he was someone I didn’t have a prior relationship with, no fucking way. But as I’ve said before, we’ve given each other explicit consent to at least try and wake us for sex if we’re in the mood…. I think those two cases are apples and oranges. I do not think the gender or either party is relevant.

          • Memetic defence and denial?

          • I’m sorry, but I really don’t think people would think that if the genders were reversed, even with prior examples of consent.

            If a woman insisted she was violated, there definitely wouldn’t be people accusing her of “gas lighting” her mate or telling him to “dump the manipulative b*tch.”

            • It’s one of those issues with “Gas-Lighting” that it has been genderised and gets used to control perceptions.

              It’s also nicely evocative of Victorian Heroins in Corsets with terrible Monsters in Top Hats, Capes and Twizzling the end of some bizzare form of moustache as he emits dark maniacal cackles of glee.

              And the male equivalent is? Maybe a pussy who needs to man up? It’s so hard getting out from under those heavy handed petticoat laden media tropes.

              Gas-Lighting = Term originates from stage melodrama of that name circa 1938. Psychological and social manipulation where a person is repeatedly told and required to accept that reality is not reality so that the abuser can exercise control – causes subject to doubt personal reality, perceptions and ultimately sanity. It can be deliberate or caused by the abusers personal views and innate views about reality. It can occur in any situation where an imbalance of power and opportunity occurs – be that in issues of sex/gender, race, sexuality, disability, age etc. Gas-Lighting behaviour and language has been linked to Sociopathic and Psychopathic behaviour. Monopolization of the term in gender politics is mass Gas-Lighting and even linked to global warming due to hot air created. Mass Gas-Lighting of gender has been described as the largest plumbing infrastructure exercises ever undertaken. Many are now ignorant of how to operate Gas-Lighting equipment safely, and do make silly mistakes which tend to blow up in their faces. Worse still ignorant use of Gas-Lighting and ignorant focus in only one area of the subject has and does cause abuse by Gas-Lighting to remain undetected, leading many to conclude Gas-Lighting is the worst form of illumination there is as it’s misuse causes more abuse than it’s actual usage.

  43. The idea should not be to equalize to the level of dumbness of others. A race to the bottom is not the way to go.

    The story as told on that Feministe is not one of rape. Rape has a moral cognitive component that ties closely to intent of those involved.

    • But Alyssa argues that this man committed rape, even though he thought that he had consent…

      In both cases the perpetrator “reasonably” thought that they had consent.

      • John Anderson says:

        I have to disagree. The man in the first instance claims that he thought he had consent, but we don’t need an admission of criminal intent to show criminal intent. Denials of criminal intent doesn’t immunize someone from the truth. You can’t reasonably assume that someone has consented when you know they are asleep and unable to consent. I think the legal term is known or should have known. It is what society believes is reasonable not the defendant.

        In the case of the woman, you can make an argument for reasonable doubt as she claims that she thought he was awake, but like I said there is insufficient information to assert that she was not negligent. The biggest piece being that he had to throw her off to stop the rape.

        • Well are we talking legally or ethically here? Because you seem to be using different standards in different comments. I don’t think most of the people here are making legal claims about what happened. I’m pretty sure most of us aren’t lawyers (let me know if I’m wrong here, people). This site is the Good Men Project, not the Law-Abiding Men Project. It seems to me that the relevant question is not whether these people’s actions were legal in a narrow interpretation of the law (and we don’t even know what the relevant laws would be, since we don’t know where these people are), but whether they were moral and ethical. And that may not be the same thing.

          • John Anderson says:

            From a moral standpoint if you know someone is asleep and you didn’t get permission for sleep sex, it’s rape. I would normally say that it would be rape regardless because the person is unable to revoke consent, but I remember a woman saying that she didn’t mind giving her boyfriend oral when she was busy because in 5 minutes he was happy and she was doing what she needed to do. She also said it was just something you did for the person you love. I can see how someone may care enough for their partner to want their partner to have sex, but not necessarily caring if they personally benefited.

            In the other case if she thought based on their prior sexual experiences that she had consent and he was awake, it would be moral. I don’t believe that we have enough to make that determination. Like I said, do they normally skip foreplay, does he normally wake her up for sex, what was he doing to make himself an active participant, etc.

            • I do wish that people would get down from the Moral High Ground – get off High Horses and deal with the flip sides of the coin and a bit of reality!

              Rape is when your doing without consent – and rape is pretty well defined (even if sexists in some places) – so the area that is still of HIGH importance is the big C word Consent. When is Consent Black – and When White and when is Consent Consent and when is Consent Not Consent.

              Rape is Rape is a silly slogan because it made everything rape. Only men can stop rape was equally stupid because it meant lesbians had to have a man handy just in case things got out of hand in the bed room – sort of summon the butler to stop rape in progress.

              Does anyone have any idea of a good slogan for consent? Rape is just not Sexy or an easy sell. How doe you make Consent sexy and easy to make the latest hottest thing everyone just has to have?

              Everyone is so bigged down in the mud of the Rape Tropes they are like an SUV in a swamp – engines can be revved up and smoke can come from exhaust and tires spinning on what ever… but it’s going no where!

            • I think that sleep sex could happen as a favor given by one partner to the other, as you describe. However, I’d like to introduce another possibility that you may not have considered: in some situations the sleeping partner might feel that they *had* benefited from their partner having sex with them while they slept. While they probably wouldn’t get much in the way of physical gratification from the experience, they might get quite a bit of psychological gratification from it. There are people that get turned on by far stranger things, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some sleep fetishists out there. I think it would be similar to people who get turned on by hearing their partners talk about their sexual experiences with other people – in both cases they’re getting off on a sexual encounter that their partner had that didn’t involve them (consciously, at least, in the case of sex while sleeping), but in the case of sleep sex there would be no risk of jealousy to contend with.

              It’s things like this that make talking about sexual ethics so tricky. Human sexual preferences are incredibly diverse, and it’s easy to forget that there are people who will enthusiastically engage in sex acts that someone else might find repulsive or pointless. The various battles over sex that have pitted feminists against each other for the last few decades are a great illustration of this dynamic in action – some people just cannot conceive of the idea that sex workers could enjoy their jobs or that BDSM can be consensual.

            • Robert Paulson says:

              “While they probably wouldn’t get much in the way of physical gratification from the experience”

              Why is everyone assuming that a person would continue to stay asleep for the entire duration for sex? Unless you are extremely intoxicated, that would be enough to very quickly wake up most normal people. If it was possible to sleep *through* sex, then alarms clock would be pointless, and there would be no possible way to wake up a person until they woke up on their own.
              This undermines the repeated refrain through this comment thread that being asleep makes it impossible to say “stop”. It is impossible to say “don’t start in the first place”, but it is entirely possible to withdraw consent (or withdraw what the other person mistakenly thought was implied consent)

    • John Anderson says:

      I understand criminal intent and you are correct. Where the questions come into play at least in my state there are three levels of criminal intent. The lowest level is negligent. Was what she did sufficient due diligence. I don’t know the details of their history so can’t say. Assuming that she’s telling the truth, Julie brings up so interesting points like he’s motioned for her to climb on top before. We don’t know under what circumstances that’s happened before though. Do they normally not have foreplay? Has he woken her in the night for sex before? How long were they asleep? How was he an active participant? Is she equating an erection with consent?

      She also never stopped having intercourse with him. He stopped her from continuing so there was a point where he was awake and didn’t wish to continue, but she failed to recognize or ignored it until he threw her off. Let’s be clear for those who say that she stopped when he wanted her to stop, it means that she didn’t try to climb back on top, but it more difficult to rape someone who is awake. That calls into question her intent.

      • What I’ve learned over the years and what I believe:

        Human beings assault each other. Sometimes they do it without realizing (though it seems hard to understand) that they are assaulting someone. Gender doesn’t matter, nor does age or experience. Humans hate realizing they’ve hurt people (or wish to escape justice) so they justify what they do/did often erasing the experience of the victim. Gender plays a role because we have mythologies in place that state one gender is unassaultable and one gender can’t assault (which is not true). Victims of assault need to be supported and offered resources for healing (including the criminal justice system). People who intentionally assault most certainly need some form of punishment, and in my opinion, counseling. People who unintentionally assault need deeper awareness of what it is they did and why it was assault (and potentially punishment) and yeah, I figure counseling couldn’t hurt there.

        Communication and education around consent, sex, shame, violence, aggression… that would probably be helpful.

        Also, what I’ve learned from watching online dialogue? It’s likely no matter what one says, if someone disagrees with you they’ll decide you are wrong without really dialoging. Also, that the more of an intellectual exercise this becomes (X and Y and wallets) vs this real human person, the worse the conversation becomes (in my opinion).

        Of course, I figure people are guilty of this (myself first among them) because it’s just such a terrifying conversation to have and as I’ve said before, it’s a crushing indictment of our culture that we can’t have real conversations about sex without this particular thing happening.

        No one should be raped. No one. And that’s all I’m gonna offer other than I feel very sad for all the players involved in both cases, and that I hope they’ve found resolution and understanding in themselves and have perhaps found a way to connect honestly with the partners discussed, if not for forgiveness then for the deep acknowledgement that things went very very badly.

        • I don’t agree with you Julie. I feel this has been one of the best conversations on the topic of rape I’ve seen on line in quite some time. People are integrating the concept of nuance without abandoning the notion of responsibility and degrees of culpability.

        • Also, what I’ve learned from watching online dialogue? It’s likely no matter what one says, if someone disagrees with you they’ll decide you are wrong without really dialoging. Also, that the more of an intellectual exercise this becomes (X and Y and wallets) vs this real human person, the worse the conversation becomes (in my opinion).

          Yeah, it’s really aggravating and depressing when jerks like tha– wait a sec. I brought up a scenario involving X and Y and wallets, so she’s talking about…? Well, shit.

          What I’ve learned, Julie, is that I can agree with 95% or more of what you say, but if I address the other 5%, because it’s more interesting and thought-provoking than saying “ditto” to all the parts I agree with, you are prone to thinking that I’m not really dialoguing. I’m not sure what really dialoguing sounds like, if not what we’ve been doing.

          My “intellectual exercise”, which you contrast with a more empathetic approach, was not only an extension of a scenario you brought up first (the wallet thing), but you of all people ought to relate to why I’d attempt to frame it in a gender-neutral way, given the proclivity of the GMP commentariat to cry foul every time a misdeed is presented as though only one gender is capable of committing it or being a victim of it. X and Y were clunky, but should I have written it out four ways with gendered names and pronouns, every possible mix of man and woman, and maybe a few more to cover people who think all gender is a performance and they are neither man nor woman? I don’t believe it’s more respectful or empathetic for you to assume that whatever intellectual picture you’ve constructed about these real human people is the right one, because given the absence of many potentially relevant details in the OP, your reaction to this story is as much an intellectual exercise for you as it is for me, even though we both care about real people. At least I recognize and present my hypotheticals as such.

          And for the record…I agreed with 95% of this comment of yours I’m replying to, but the indirect swipe at my unwillingness to engage in real dialogue because I’ve decided you’re wrong, and using my hypothetical (which was an extension of yours) as an example of replacing empathy with intellectualization…well, that struck a nerve. If I’ve somehow missed someone else in this thread having the kind of back and forth you describe and bringing up X’s and Y’s and wallets, then my apologies for thinking your comments were directed at me.

          • Marcus.

            I’ve already owned that I started the wallet thing. I did that and I pointed it out that I started it in another comment. So it’s not like I don’t know that. That was me and I shouldn’t have. Going down that academic rabbit hole is what has led to me thinking about this whole conversation missing the mark, due to intellectualizing. And I’m commenting about intellectualizing things for me, for my own fault in that as much as the MANY others that I’ve seen in the thread, comments I’m not even involved in but that I’ve read and reacted to. I’ve stated, in as many ways as I know how and in several places, that I agree that there are issues of high risk, poor communication, boundary violations (in this scenario and the Feministe one, that women can rape men, that this dude isn’t scum, that I’ve explored my own empathy about him, that there are issues around consent and not having levels of crime as you’ve stated…. etc etc etc, over the course of several comments which I’m even sure you’ve read. everything…I’m not gonna post it again because at this point I feel kind of physically ill, triggered.

            As for dialogue? One thing that I don’t necessarily see in the thread is questions back and forth, asking for clarity, perception checking, and including asking about emotional tone etc before moving on. I am not doing this. I’m just responding. We are having a dialogue, but it’s been hard for me to read the back and forth as anything more than scoring points off each other (and I’m saying I’m doing that too). Perhaps it’s because it’s online and I can’t see you, read you, or have a more intimate back and forth, and it’s just paragraphs trying to lay out “proofs” (my words not accusing you of that) of what I mean, why I mean it. This is what I mean when I say we aren’t “in dialogue.” And perhaps that’s mincing words, but I have a very different experience in real time with these conversations (with people who disagree with me and me them) than I do online.

            I will say that you’ve struck several nerves of mine, Marcus and I reacted badly, for some reason, to your point of view, which I perhaps I am misinterpreting, but I’m just not sure any more. I don’t feel understood. I’m sure you don’t either. I’m still reacting badly right this minute. I have no idea what you are agreeing with or not, or where we stand, and there are so many words and so little understanding (it seems) that I’d have to take a whole hour to piece the conversation together and figure out what the heck is going on. If we need to clear that up, we should do it offline.

  44. I have an idea. I’m gonna develop an app. When you go on a date with someone, you can check the app to see if she (or he) has given consent and then you can give consent as well. Then the app sends the dual consent registration off to a 256 bit encrypted server in Fort Knox. Don’t worry about the gold, we’ll move that somewhere else. Any sexual contact without dual consent registered on the server is a felony. And each consent registration is valid for 2 hours before consent has to be re-registered.

    Now if you will excuse me, I think its almost time for the two minutes of hate.

    In all seriousness though, by the same logic of the article and all the comments, I’d say the man was raped first. How else can you describe all the flirting, twirling of the hair, and sexual confessions with direct eye contact if not a coercive attempt to manipulate his decision making abilities? How is this different to a man emotionally coercing or wearing down a woman into having sex?

    Where do we draw the line?

    It’s articles like this, those coming from voices aiming to seemingly reconcile the “war of the sexes” that make me glad I chose to GMYOW. This wouldn’t happen to me because I demand sober, explicit, planned consent for any interaction with a woman. Clinical, and not very romantic, but at least I’m legally safe.

    • Well – in so many ways it’s a brilliant marketing opportunity. Bravo – do you need investors?

      I had a quick look at domains to see which may be available for brand identity. The obvious iConsent is a none starter – I think Mr Jobs&Co may already have been looking at cornering the market!

      Interestingly HeConsented – SheConsented – WeConsented – TheyConsented and Shockingly iConsented are all wide open for domain registration – which is interesting and also quite revealing.

      It would indicate that consent has not until recently been seen as marketable – and I can see the insurance industry wanting to get in there fast. Personal Insurance against Litigation – get free access for a year to The Consented website and service to protect yourself from false allegations where consent is the issue.

      Hell I can see fathers and mothers buying it like hot cakes for sons. It’s not often you spot a market like that and such a good fit with a demographic! Pity it’s too late to get it on the market in time for Christmas – but next summer for College intake 2013 is certainly achievable. It would be east to service on the Amazon cloud for minimal outlay, but massive capacity for global sales and expansion. You may have thought an app was a joke, but actually it has clear market possibilities.

      For advertising it even has the old “If You Loved me You Would ” game to play with. Imagine it – horny guy naked in bed — Nymphomanic all over him and begging – he pulls out his smart phone – shows her iConsent.com and says “If You Loved me You Would “. Comedy – Sex – Product – Safety … an it takes a well established social trope and uses it in a new and clever way!

      It has legs and meets all the tick boxes for investors – including a 100% untapped market . Where’s an angel investor and venture capitalist when you need one?

      It’s even more interesting to consider is anyone reading this is wondering if I’m seriosue or not? Is this a Joke – or do you think I believe it is a legitimate business opportunity? That will really sort the wheat from the chaff! … and do notice the lack of smilies.

      • Oh and Kink – BDSM is a wide open market sector too – and of course it could all be linked to social media for updates! Forget status updates – Consent Updates are better – new not known in the market place. 100% wide open again.

      • Been looking further – when you do a net trend search for pronouns and consent the patterns show males are expected to gain consent and it points at 100% – so it’s definitely a boy oriented market. The she should get consent stats are about 1% of boy – so not sure if the female market is of any value, there consent is an add on and accessory not communicated as a requirement. Age demographic for USA gives you around 50 million – globally it’s worth $billions.

        Sell App at $9.99 – you get three free consents – after that you charge at 50 cents – or have a mega bundle $25.00 per year all in. Estimate 200,000 students who will buy – or be bought (buy via website – get code – down load app – input code activated) – parents will overestimate and will young bad at maths males – that gives you $5 million in first year – quite possible in a virgin market no competition and a product driven by basic human need – sex.

        I’m sold this is a legit business – GMP should grab it quick – calling Lisa Hickey and Tom Matlack – have found a way to fund GMP for at least 10 years and make it a market leader … and I’m NOT JOKING!

        I’m deadly serious! Lisa and Tom know me emyther address.

        I wonder who were the wheat and who the chaff?

      • PS Forgot to mention the obvious spinoff into a pseudo dating site where your preferences are listed as I consent to…. Again the spin off in to just BDSM is massive.

        Possible unique apps – iSlave – iMaster – iTop iDominate – allows market segregation on the same basic platform. Nice – saves money but allows USP all over. Just change the graphics and it’s the same back end all the way. Scoring also a option – have a trust meter. iConsented – and scored them at 6 out of 10 when we started – after I would give them 9 for style – 6 for imagination and pain – 8 for trust!

  45. Here’s my opinion as a guy who thought hes a nice guy.

    I think saying hes a nice guy after all is not fair. Not fair to really nice guys out there. There are many many nice guys, who think they are nice, and wont have sex with a sleeping women because they know its a rape, and they only want to have sex with a willing women with consent. There are.

    Your friend, is a rapist, and hes not a nice guy. I’m a nice guy, and I wont rape, and I wont have sex with sleeping women.

    Unless you’re friend is really drunk that night and really don’t know shes asleep or not ( and reading from your article , its seems he didn’t really drunk ) , then shes really nice guy.

    BUT NO, nice guys do not rape ( if hes rape than hes not a nice guy ), and there are many many nice guys out there who don’t commit rape.

    If you saying hes a nice guy because hes nice in other part of his life, than a serial killer who live like a normal person and good to other people around him/her ( who is not his murder victims ) are nice people. No.

    • I think your post gets at one of the problems with the way we talk about a person’s moral character. Our language makes no real distinction between a person’s innate qualities and their actions. (Whether such a distinction actually exists is debatable, but many people would claim that it does.) We can use the phrase “nice guy” (or “good person” or any number of other equivalents) to mean somebody who goes through life with good intentions, trying to do good things, or we can use it to mean somebody who exclusively *does* good things.

      What the original post seems to be trying to say is that this guy thought of himself as a nice guy in the first sense – he believed that he generally tried to do the right thing, treat people with respect, etc. What I think you’re pointing out is that he failed to be a nice guy in the second sense – he failed to actually follow through on his intentions in this case. However, does that mean that he wasn’t a nice guy in the first sense? Not necessarily. I think you can debate whether he ought to be *called* a nice guy based on his actions, but there’s still a useful distinction to be made here.

      Maybe a better title would have been “People With Good Intentions Commit Rape Too”.

      • In the spirit of telling someone I agree instead of pointing out the parts I don’t…Morgan, I have consistently read your comments in this discussion and thought, “Yeah, that’s what I meant. I wish I’d managed to say it as good as that.” If there were thumbs up buttons on comments here, you’d be getting a lot from me.

        • Thanks, I appreciate the feedback!

          I should spend more time pointing out the comments I agree with as well. It’s so easy to fall into that trap of only commenting on the things I want to dispute.

          I’ve been pretty impressed with most of this conversation, actually. It’s been amazingly civil compared to most other conversations about rape that I’ve seen online. (I suspect that a good portion of the credit for that ought to go to whoever is doing the comment moderation.) I usually don’t bother to get involved in these kinds of conversations because it just seems so hopeless. But here, even some of the people that I initially thought were trolling have wound up contributing a lot to the conversation.

      • Maybe a better title would have been “People With Good Intentions Commit Rape Too”.

        yes, agree, maybe that’s a better title. The title said , nice guys commit rape too. If we believe that nice guys commit rape too, then all guys in the world are rapist. Why not choose the title, ” nice guys and girls commit rape too”? because clearly we know that women can rape too, they can having sex without consent from their male partners. But we know that not all nice girls are rapist, like not all guys are rapist.

        And it goes back again to the famous feminist theory, “nice guys syndrome”. There are no really nice guys in the world, only jerk and rapist. Guys who are jerk are jerk, and guys who thought they are nice guys are not really nice guys.

        That’s why I feel offended by this article. This whole nice guys syndrome theory by feminists makes me want to vomit.

        • John – one trick is to seek a title that is about the subject of the piece or the reason and stimulation for the piece and not the people/person.

          It could just as easily have been called Contradictions In Rape or Rethinking Rape – because the author has changed their views from All Rape IS Violence to stating that the Violence meme has to be removed. This piece is really about how the Author changed and not about rape per se – or that there is apparently a rapist out there on the lose and wearing a hoody saying “Trunst Me I’m A Nice Guy” .

          It is a nice way to re-brand the nice guy trope into false flag for rapist.

          It’s one of the memes around rape and it is tiresome – the word rape gets used – red mist descends – brains stop working even at an editorial level (They are editors not super human and immune to silliness, bias and worse) – it becomes about men a pair of scissors and a cookie jar. It becomes about control and putting people in their place- it gets very abusive.

          You could be a serial rapist – the nicest guy on the planet – a eunuch – even Jesus Christ come back to say Hi – but it won’t matter. For some the word rape means all men are bad and they express it in any way they can – directly – indirectly – passive aggressively – and of course it’s lose- lose because anyone male or female who says “Hold On there” gets shouted down, treated as bad and also Black Washed.

          Black Wash is the Same as White Wash, but the people doing it claim they have no colour prejudice as a false way of hiding their gender prejudice. I love people who say they are not prejudiced because they are the same as people who claim they lack imagination – it takes about 10 seconds to show the world they are wrong. Getting the person to see it can take a life time. P^)

          The most useful thing about this thread has been to see where the prejudices lie and how they get made manifest.

  46. This is really driving me nuts…..
    In my experience once we’ve done the deed, in any of it’s permutations, the rest of the relationship is foreplay in preparation to pleasing each other & myself again.
    Trust me; neither your dick or cunnie is so special that it being touched, by someone you have already gotten naked with , is that big a deal- if you are naked again.
    Permission for sleep sex indeed… Why the fuck would you be in bed with someone you don’t want to have sex with?
    For the record any woman who wants to play Pearl Harbor with me on December 7th & with whom I have slept in the past calandar year, has my implied & explicit consent to do so…

  47. Alyssa Royse says:

    There have been so many good and meaty comments that I can’t respond to all of them – partly because I can’t find them all.

    The biggest thing that I’m left with is the idea that any of us are defined by one action. I know that the title of the piece was controversial, and all the reasons for that controversy make perfect sense to me. But I did choose it for a reason. One of those reasons was the nuance of NOT calling him a rapist. While I admit freely that this was a rape, I do not think that this one act – especially given all the gray areas – needs to (or even can) define the entirety of him as a person.

    While not rape, or even close to it in any way, I am reminded of one of my “worst” public parenting moments. There was a lot of context, and although I stand by my decision, let’s just say that it left A LOT of people staring at me, shaking their heads and saying pejorative things about me as my young daughter was wailing inconsolably in a public outdoor space. (We were skiing, she was throwing a temper tantrum about not being able to go down a hill I knew she could, I didn’t indulge her drama, talked her through it and waited for her at the bottom of the hill while she screamed for half an hour. I asked passersby not to intervene. She took he skis off and walked down. A brilliant solution, that she made on her own, with a positive outcome.) Anyone judging me by that one action would declare me a bad mother. “I don’t care how great she thinks she is, if she can let a kid be that scared, she’s a bad mother.” You can hear the voices, right?

    There are a million ways that this analogy is “unfair” to victims etc, I know them, but if you step aside from those, it is an example of why judging someone for one instance is dangerous. And what happens if you take both the bast and the future out of it.

    I feel very much that same way about instances of rape that happen in this manner. I think they are real, terrifying for the victim and have the potential to teach a vital lesson to the person who commits the rape. I do not think that makes them a rapist. My actions on the ski slope that day did not make me a bad mother.

    Someone who causes a car accident while driving drunk may forever be “that guy who got a DUI” but will not be considered a murderer by most rational people.

    I think the whole of our character is judged and weighted by the sum of its parts, all it’s parts. And that good people to bad things sometimes. We have to admit that and deal with it in order to really unravel the WHY of that fact.

    WHY do so many people misread flirting as an invitation. Or even witty banter with eye contact as flirting? That scale is different for everyone. Why?

    I chose that title because I knew it was a big open question that would mess with our perception that good people do good things all the time and bad people do bad things all the time. Simply put, if we believe that “other” people do bad things, then we don’t think it’s “our” problem. And in this case, it clearly is. Also, if we believe that bad acts are the sign of an irredeemable character, we will write of the need and potential for change. We will burden the bad actors as “bad people” and that doesn’t inspire them to change either.

    Additionally, it obfuscates the need to REALLY address the predators, the people who’s pathologies make them a true and persistent danger. You cannot lump the guy in this story in with the Ted Bundys of the world. It’s foolish, wrong and totally counter productive.

    Lastly, because it’s come up a few times – he left because he found a better work / life opportunity. He was not run out of town, though I don’t think he was necessarily sad to leave. There are people who miss him, just none who have forgotten this incident.

    • Alyssa – Insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Some wonder why people have been driven to distraction and walked away calling others mad and insane?

    • Thanks for the additional clarification, Alyssa. I agree with your reasoning about why we need to get away from the notion that only “bad people” do bad things (and that if a person does a bad thing, then they must be a bad person). I’m of the opinion that it’s generally much more useful to label actions than to label people.

      I would add that separating people into “good people” and “bad people” is doubly unhelpful, because in addition to blinding us to the ways in which a good person can wind up doing bad things, it also blinds us to the possibility that people who have done bad things can reform. This attitude is particularly endemic in the United States, where we incarcerate record numbers of people in inhumane conditions, yet continue to have high rates of violent crime. If you want to stop evil, it is not enough merely to condemn it. You have to give consideration to how and why it happened, and try to address the root causes.

      • Mr Supertypo says:

        I agree Morgan, all kind of people, can do stupid or evil things. Take the feministe article, well a unfortunate situation like that can happen to everybody, me, you, Alyssa, Tom ect everybody. But people dont turn into monster like magic because of that. No matter how hard some people desire it so they have a excuse to lynch somebody. Its not how it work. If we really want to look from my POV, the real monsters of the society is the one who radically condemn people based on few or summary information. Yes they are monsters and YES good people can rape (male or female) and YES evil people can change. The only kind of humans who doesn’t change are the one who are dead.

        Anyhow, going back to the Alyssa article, well yes a good guy/girl can rape, and still be a good guy/girl. But you NEED to know the dynamics. What if the situation was like in the feministe article, were who tough he had consent, but she was sleeping? to seriously evaluate the situation, this kind of info need to be posted. But if the purpose behind this is to show the world, that humans can commit atrocities in extraordinary situations, and still be good people. Well yes ok. I already knew this but as I can read for to many is a out of this world concept.

  48. There are many, many excellent points made by the writer of this article, and by the responders to the article, but for me the crux of the matter here is this: the guy initiated sex with a sleeping woman. This choice demands further examination. Why would he even WANT to do this? Why would anyone want to have sex with a person who is not responding? It’s akin to necrophilia. Or preferring to have sex with a lifesize doll. It seems pathological. I think this man needs to be asked: Why did you even WANT to have sex with a sleeping woman? (Asking him why he thought it was OK is also a good question–but a better, more revealing question here would be: Why was it more attractive to him than initiating sex with a woman who was fully conscious?) And, granted, it’s weird that he wanted to do this with a woman he didn’t know very well, but it would also be just as weird, in my opinion, if a married person (man or woman) wanted to have sex with a spouse who was asleep.

    In some of the responses, I saw mention of the term “sleep sex.” What is this? Isn’t having sex an impossibility if BOTH parties are asleep? (Unless we’re talking about the very unlikely situation in which both parties suffer from somnambulism–the ability to perform activities while being in a sleep-like state of “low consciousness.” ) In “sleep sex,” does the party who’s awake initiate sex with the other party, who’s asleep? And soon enough, the sleeping party awakes, right? And at that point, he or she might be able to either give consent or to object. (And I say “might”–because maybe the person would not be fully awake until it was over. And, at that point, the person would either think, That was fun. Or: I’m angry. Or maybe a confused version of both responses.) I think initiating sex with a person who’s sleeping (even if the person is a spouse) is fundamentally a violation–and you’re risking having to deal with the rightful indignation of a spouse who might ask, What the hell do you think you’re doing?? I think consent by two (or three, or whatever) FULLY CONSCIOUS parties must be given before sexual activities begin. Without this, it’s, at best, very creepy–and, at worst, rape.

    So, yes, maybe the writer’s friend is a “nice guy” to talk to–but his judgment and his proclivities really need to be called into serious question. Essentially, he wanted to have sex with a sleeping woman. This, to me, as I said, points to a larger pathology. There is NO WAY I would set this guy up on a date with any woman (or man–if he swings that way, too). He likes (and perhaps prefers) to initiate sex with unresponsive people. Why?? This is what really needs to be looked at.

    • Sleep Sex – Where a couple agrees that they can wake each other up with a sexual act and they have sex. Like for me, if I really trust someone I may allow them to wake me up with a bj and overlook the fact it’s legally rape as long as I wakeup and they ensure it doesn’t go on too long without me being awake to enjoy it. It’s not meant to be about fucking a lifeless person, but waking them up into pleasure, the first thing they notice is pleasure. Call it kinky but I’ve always wanted to have it done to me to see what it’s like under my explicit “consent” beforehand.

    • I think this man needs to be asked: Why did you even WANT to have sex with a sleeping woman?

      Before he gets asked that, could someone please ask him if he knew she was sleeping? Many people seem to be assuming that, but it’s sure not clear from the article. It’s clear that “by all accounts” she awoke after being penetrated, but realizing something too late would not be the same as knowing and not caring. For comparison, consider the case discussed at Feministe (linked somewhere in this thread), where a woman thought her boyfriend was awake, initiated sex with him, and only discovered her error after he awoke and found himself being violated. She doesn’t dispute what she did, but didn’t intentionally do it. What is it in the author’s account (here, not the Feministe story) that makes you so certain about what the man knew and intended *as he did it*? Also, given that sleeping is not literally like being dead, and there are in fact varying degrees of responsiveness people have while sleeping (including full-on conversations they don’t remember, in some cases), how are you so certain that what he was after and got was sex with a corpse-like unresponsive person? If there was some response that he mistook for being awake and consenting, wouldn’t that need to be looked at, too? (I’m not saying there was, but I fail to see how you rule out the possibility based on the details described in the article.)

      Alyssa, if this isn’t lost in the deluge of comments…do you know whether your friend *knew* the woman was sleeping when he penetrated her? Did he mention whether he thought she’d consented and only later realized his mistake, else he never would have tried it? The answers don’t change whether or not she was violated, and obviously he’s the one who violated her, but they seem pretty relevant to judgments about the whole “nice guy” thing. Also, you seem to intentionally omit what-happened-next details that you appear to know, which is your call, but I’m curious whether you could say if they have any connection at all to his impression of consent or lack thereof. For example, if she said “No” as soon as she awoke and he just kept on going, that paints a pretty different consent picture than if she enthusiastically got into it, and only later (perhaps when they both sobered up) realized how terrible a violation it was the way it got started. I’m not asking for details to make it less of a violation, but the “nice guy” aspect seems to hinge a lot on his state of mind, and those details have been left to the readers’ imagination, which because the subject is rape, has a tendency to assume the worst as though it’s already fact. Thanks for sparking an interesting discussion.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        She did not say “no” and stop him once she was awake. She reported, and I have no reason not to believe her, that she was confused and afraid and it was already happening and she didn’t feel like she could. There were people in the room who saw it all happen, as well as everything leading up to it. She did not, by any reports, show any enthusiasm, though I’m afraid that feels like something of a red herring to me, as initial consent is really the primary concern here.

        He says, and again, no reason not to believe him, that had she said no, he would have stopped. He thought that’s where everything was heading.

        And you’re welcome. I have been fascinated by all of this response. (The only time I’ve gotten so much response to anything before was when i wrote about pubic hair, and the time Burning Man messed up their ticket sales.) But this is what I do. I talk about sex and relationships in any way I can. I have been gratified by the response, however heated. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen so civilized a dialog about so uncivilized a subject.

        Perhaps you all should tell me what you want me to write about next. As long as you guys are willing to engage, I’m willing to do what I can to provide grist for the mill. :)

        • Female perpetrator, male victim of adult rape to balance out the discussions around rape.

        • Alyssa – I’ll tell you the same as I would others – you are now getting in to and even gone into territory in revealing Privileged info that does not belong to you – Stop There Now! You work in rape crisis, you grasp privacy and confidentiality. The story is not yours it belongs to others.

        • So its her fault that she felt like she couldn’t say no? Its ok to rape her because she didn’t fight? You are a sex educator and as a sex educator you should know that there are a lot of rape victims that don’t say anything or fight because there is more to fear than “flight or fight”… there is also “freeze.” And because the woman who was raped froze (like a lot of people do when faced with a confusing and overpowering threat) that makes it ok for him. Stop blaming her for what he did.

          • Alyssa Royse says:

            Rosie, I said MANY times that he was responsible and that she was not. I stand by that. I said many times that he was wrong, and she was not. I also stand by that. I do not see how I could state that more emphatically. Or more frequently.

            What I am asking is what else went into the situation besides just those few moments. That is why I discussed rape culture, mixed signals about sexuality in our society, alcohol, and the very real possibility that we have created such a thoroughly messed up world when it comes to sexualized messages that we “allow” women to be violated and don’t even know that it’s rape. I also stand by that. If we just stick with the “he’s bad” line, then we will never fully analyze the situations that perpetuate sexual violence against women. We will never figure out why some men don’t know when they’re crossing the line, and some women don’t feel like they can speak up. And vice versa. It’s like saying “they died because they have cancer” without having the courage to look at what’s causing cancer, and take it one step further to say that your habit of smoking might cause your cancer…. and then as a society taking responsibility for educating people about the dangers of smoking.

            It is an imperfect analogy, I know that, but it’s the best that I could come up with right now.

            As I said MANY times in that piece, what he did was rape, it was wrong, and to do so was a choice that he made. She did not cause it. But I also said that we need to step back and take a real look at the world we have created and how we market and accept the sexualization of women’s bodies and create an environment in which this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME. I am not blaming her. I am blaming all the rest of us. She only bares the same responsibility as the rest of us in this one.

            • Every time you try to shift the blame from him to society at large you are excusing him. Every time you say she sent mixed messages, you are excusing him.

              Her last message was not mixed, by the way. Her last message was “I’m sleepy.” I don’t know how any person can misinterpret that one – unless it is a willful misinterpretation.

              I don’t believe for a second that he didn’t know he was raping her.
              Its not a reasonable ignorance – especially for someone who is friends with a sex educator and who attends events with group public sex.

      • I agree that the factors you mention would affect the ethics of the situation quite a bit. I’ve been acting under the assumption that if there were those kinds of extenuating circumstances that Alyssa would have mentioned them, but I could be wrong about that.

        I can vouch for the fact that a sleeping person can respond as if awake. I’ve never sleepwalked, but I have had conversations while sleeping that I didn’t remember when I awoke (or I woke up briefly and didn’t remember the conversation after falling back asleep; apparently my eyes were open in some of these cases). And of course drugs and alcohol can further complicate matters.

        It is entirely possible that someone could appear to be conscious and consent to something that they had no memory of on awakening, especially if they had had a lot to drink. If that is what happened in this case (which seems unlikely but theoretically possible), I think the guy in question would still bear some responsibility for engaging in such risky behavior with a relative stranger, but would not deserve to be called a rapist.

      • Marcus – gaps is gaps and people wanting then filled is just Prurience – I’ve already told Archy he can’t have extra details cos it’s none of his business.

    • Robert Paulson says:

      “And, granted, it’s weird that he wanted to do this with a woman he didn’t know very well”

      But surely you must realize that a LOT of people, of both genders, want to to have sex with people they don’t know very well. So often, in fact, that the term “one-night-stand” is actually a term. And if there is something that common which you can’t understand, you must realize that you personally do not have to be able to understand why any particular desire is desirable for someone else in order for it to be a normal part of the human experience.

      On a separate note, I can verify from personal experience that it is possible for a sleeping person to initiate sex with another sleeping person. My partner did this once to me, and I woke up before she did. It was really weird. And it also happened.

      Neither of these comments are in any way directed at the story in the blog post, they are directed specifically at your comment.

  49. Alyssa Royse says:

    Mediahound posted a comment that i got as an email, but cannot find here to respond to. Too many comments, my computer isn’t loading them all. But let me respond.
    He said:
    @Alyssa Royse – Hi there – I’ve been doing my usual thing of verifying content, and of course I’ve had to look at that speech you mentioned. I’m seen as an odd ball – and I’ve been been called an anally retentive scholar because to do things like checks facts and if there are references to external claims and materials I often go look and check. Some even call me MRA which I take as a compliment – me being a Meddling Rational Archivist to likes to keep reality straight and well ironed.

    You referred to “Rape is a Violent Crime” and you said this and reference this repeatedly. The “##### is a violent crime is significant. It means that it’ always true – it’s basic grammar and semantics.

    I know some get lost under the Big Rape Tent issue, but I’m one of those people who looks at the poles and ropes and pegs in the ground used to hold it all up. So I’m interested in why the change from one frame to another frame? From the 100% position to something that is clearly not as 100% and is definitely less than 100%.

    I’m struck by the fact that in this piece you state “In order to get to that answer we need to first abolish the idea that all rape is about power and violence.” – that is also a whole new frame. Hell – where is that coming from – 2 new frames – even 2 news frames.

    That is a pretty spectacular 180 – the same as in 2011 you were stating that you were raped because a rapist raped you and continued with the view that if someone calls it rape it automatically creates a rapist, but until someone does it’s well not rape and there is no rapist. It sort a goes into the realms of quantum mechanics. P^)

    It seems that in the last 18 months or so you have changed so many views and ideas that you were very vocal about in 2011. But I’m most intrigued by that shift in the Violence Issue.

    One time all rape is violent and then suddenly violence is gone – I’m also most intrigued as to who has been the biggest influence in changing your mind and the frames you keep using? Who have you been reading and listening to?

    I’m finding it fascinating watching this whole issue of rape in the USA play out across the net and modern media. I’m not sure if you can add to that analysis, but it does seem that the changes you have shown in the last 18 months are significant and linked to that.

    My response:
    I hope this posts, because there are so many comments they’re hard to find.

    I don’t see any incongruencies there. In this story, I said that what my friend did was rape. And that when you get right down to it, he is responsible for his actions, not her. We could go into definitions of violence of you want….. But in the instance that you are pointing out, the question, I think, is what started the rape. People like to think that rape STARTS as a quest for violence and control and power. What I said in this piece is that it doesn’t always start there, but that somewhere it turns into that.

    If we are going to prevent rape, we have to get over the idea that all rape is done by the hands of “bad men” who wear signs saying “I’m a bad man.” But that it can happen by men and women, who are not wholly bad people, but that situations go bad. That does not alleviate responsibility, nor does it make the sexually using of someone without their consent less “violent.” After all, not all violence involves weapons and bruises.

    Further, I said that she had every right to behave how she behaved and not expect to get rape. Also consistent with everything I’ve always said. However, as a society, we have to accept that sometimes things don’t work the way we think they should, and that often our signals are misunderstood.

    The reason that the woman in this article was raped was because someone raped her. I did not question that. What I did was ask why. Not excuse the why, but ask the why. Ask what was misunderstood, what lesson was not previously learned, what game was being played and supported, and by whom. Asking why something is so is not the same as suggesting it is not so.

    My stand on such things really hasn’t changed.

    Also, I would add that most people live a lot of life in 18 months. Although my opinions have not changed on this issue, it would be scary to me if people’s stand on things didn’t change as they had new experiences and got new information. If my stand changes, I will tell you how and why. It has not, in this case.

    • Have you looked at the work of “Loretta Ross, Yulanda Ward and Nkenge Toure”. I fear some may be re-inventing the wheel – again.

    • Oh – and if I take your response as valid, it has to mean that this rape was violent, because if you say all rape is violent, Period, it means this one has to be. See where the dissonance is coming in? Why the change? Tell us about it!

  50. “we have to get over the idea that all rape is done by the hands of “bad men” who wear signs saying “I’m a bad man”

    Just because a man doesn’t look like a bad guy doesn’t mean hes a nice guy. Hes not a really bad guy, but don’t put him in the same category as the other guys who don’t rape , a real nice guys. I’m a nice guy and I don’t and wont rape.

    Hes a rapist, and hes not a nice guy, why its so difficult to acknowledge that anyone who commit rape is not nice ?

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      Because I do not agree with that statement. Simple. 😉

      • That’s not a fair answer! People want to fight and probe and get down and dirty. You can’t do that – It’s not allowed.

        .. and it will also traumatise many who’s parents said “Because I Said So”! P^)

    • I guess it comes down to whether niceness is defined by what you try to do or by what you succeed at doing. The point of the article is good intentions aren’t enough to ensure good outcomes, that he’s a person who tries to be nice, but wound up doing a terrible thing anyway. Whether that really makes him a “nice guy” or not is semantics, and kind of beside the point.

      Any label like that is subject to interpretation. Niceness isn’t a badge that you get to wear as a symbol of what kind of person you are. It can mean multiple things, and just because someone doesn’t fit one definition of the label doesn’t mean that they can’t fit another definition of it. Obviously he’s not a “nice guy” in the same sense as Superman, Gallant, or Dudley Do-Right, but that doesn’t mean that the label can’t be meaningfully applied to him.

  51. “Of course they would all be wrong. But if something walks like a fuck and talks like fuck, at what point are we supposed to understand that it’s not a fuck?”

    Allow me to answer this question as it applies to this situation.

    AT THE POINT WHERE THE PERSON IS ASLEEP

  52. Hi there,
    It would be interesting to read some advice and tips for parents on how to teach our children about how to express themselves and their sexuality, and how to give sex education. My children are still very young, but I am trying to promote the message that how you feel is most important, not how you look.

  53. Alyssa Royse says:

    People keep asking for more details. I left them out for a reason, and at least part of those reasons is to protect the people involved. But the rest of it is far more theoretical – it is the UNDERLYING societal questions that I wanted to talk about. That you have all been so gracious in talking about. Each case really is fundamentally different, which is why we must understand the foundations of rape culture and sexually based aggression rather than focus on technicalities. (I think, ironically, that would actually lay the groundwork for revamping the legals system as well, something that I do think needs to happen.)

  54. Here is another article which more closely parallels the original story (but with the genders reversed):

    http://www.genderratic.com/p/1899/this-is-what-sexual-entitlement-looks-like/

    Read the entire genderratic story (which has the genders reversed to show how rapey it would sound coming form a man) then click on the original story.

    I haven’t seen any feminist reaction to this story, but I’m willing to be if it were jezebel or radfem hub, some excuse for the woman would be bandied about.

  55. I’m confused about what “mixed signals” the girl sent. Did she snore in a sexy way?

    You keep talking about how you thought she was into him, and how so many other people observing the two thought she wanted sex… and maybe you are right that sex would have been consensual if only your friend had bothered to ask. But he didn’t bother to ask. He just took what he wanted when she was incapacitated.

    Quite frankly, the fact that you are even bring up her prior behavior is reprehensible because the bottom line is that the girl was not capable of giving consent at the time sex began and that is very clearly rape. You are making excuses for him by saying “he didn’t know.” Ignorance is no excuse for speeding or murder – so why would it be acceptable for rape?

    • Being naked in bed with someone who has flirted with you sexually for weeks is a pretty clear sign that they probably wanna have sex with you at some point, or they are at least into you. The signs were there to show interest, but her being asleep means there is zero chance for consent.

      We do have manslaughter charges though…

      • That’s exactly what I mean…. there is no way to confuse “sleeping” with “flirting.”
        Fifty “yes” and one “no” is still a “no” – so no matter how many signals she sent that sex would be welcome, she still didn’t consent.

        This seems so black and white to me.

        I think you can be both “nice” and a rapist – but you can’t be “good” and a rapist. One of the men who raped me was extremely polite about it – but if a theft is a home invasion with shotguns in your face or a nimble fingered pickpocket it is still theft. A nice rapist is still a rapist.

        Maybe there should be different variation of crime acknowledged in the legal system…

        • there are person who are nice and person who act nice. They are different. There are still many many nice guys in the world that wont and don’t rape.

        • And a nice rapist is not a nice guy.

        • This is a whole new dimension – the etiquette of rape.

          So if the rapists is perceived as polite they remain nice and are just bad? Only rude rapists are not nice and bad? Does anyone have the statutes for those, or do I need to look it all up in Debrett’s? Medieval Edition?

          • I’m pretty sure Miss Manners never wrote about that one… it was one of the most bizarre and surreal events of my life.

            A lot of the problem I have with nice guys is the distance between “nice” and “good”.

            I’m even willing to accept the duality of people (ie: the purple heart winner who murders his wife is both good and bad because one event had nothing to do with the other).

            Maybe the question at hand becomes how much of the definition of “nice guy” is the assumption that they do not rape because they market respecting women as part of being nice?
            I really hate to bring religion into it, but I can’t think of another analogy – but if someone said they were Christian but didn’t believe in Jesus that would be very hard for a lot of people to swallow because Jesus is such a fundamental part of Christianity. This guy says he’s a ‘nice guy’ but he rapes people – isn’t that the same thing because not raping is such a fundamental part of being proclaimed a nice guy?

            • but if someone said they were Christian but didn’t believe in Jesus that would be very hard for a lot of people to swallow because Jesus is such a fundamental part of Christianity.

              The USA and most of supposed Western Culture is based upon Judeo Christian Religion, Philosophy, Language, Legal Systems — It’s sort of Endemic and like Blackpool Rock has it written all the way through.

              I have one friend is is extremely honest when asked about religion – he states he is an Atheistic Christian. That believing in God and Jesus thing covers-up so much, especially endemic cultural and social bias! Not believing does not take the garbage out – you have to do that yourself.

        • What I am curious about is what happened during those moments, were they fumbling about and she passed out without him realizing since they were both stupid drunk, or did they fall asleep together, he wakes up, he starts penetrating. Both are rape but I hold more anger for the latter vs the former. That’s the only acceptable reason I can see for someone not realizing someone is awake is when one passes out during an activity and a few moments pass but even then they should notice after those few moments. He’s still at fault but before she passed out he had messages and if they fooled around together, his idea was right. The key thing to work out is why he took those messages to mean he could have sex with her whilst she was ASLEEP. Did he not get taught that you can’t consent when asleep? How do we stop others making that mistake? (which is my entire curiosity over this, helping others to avoid the same mistake)

  56. All to often, it does feel like the victim-blaming / slut-shaming allegations are about rushing to judgment – he’s bad, she’s good, lets move away from this uncomfortable concept as soon as we can. It seems to be that way with a lot of uncomfortable topics, we have a myriad of ways to try and push away those happenings in the world that trouble us.

    But, there really is a place for stepping back and looking at the dynamics in play, without judging. To think carefully and clearly, and understand the forces that created this situation. Without doing so, we can only address the individual circumstances – but how can we break the patterns that create these circumstances without trying to understand them first.

    Sometimes judging gets in the way of solving the real problem.

  57. You make a lot of valid points here that I agree with… but they are all overshadowed by the fact that you are writing them in reference to a guy who had sex with someone while she was ASLEEP. Yes, our society has a problem with how to interpret “signals”. Yes, our society has a problem with how to clearly identify consent. Yes. This is true and these are all issues worth exploring in order to prevent rape.

    But none of these issues have anything to do with the fact that your friend raped a woman while she slept and that is why all of your valid points are LOST on the one big wrong point. This was not about signals or mixed messages. There are NO signals that can be interpreted (wrongly or rightly) as “it’s okay to fuck me without permission while I’m unconscious” other than HER EXPLICITLY saying that immediately beforehand.

    I don’t accept that he “didn’t even know” it was rape because SHE WAS ASLEEP. This was not “drunk party sex”. This does not exist in the “dark murky world of mixed signals, confusing messages and alcohol.” . SHE. WAS. ASLEEP. You do not send mixed signals or confusing messages when you are asleep. Any man that tries to have sex with someone who IS NOT CONSCIOUS is a rapist and HE KNOWS IT.

    I appreciate that you didn’t intend to make this about victim blaming or slut shaming (and I do believe you when you say you are against such things) but by continuing to claim that this was a situation where consent was easily confused, you are giving ALLmen who rape women another excuse for their behavior.

    • Yes!!!! I very much agree with this, Lillith. I think our culture does have a lot of confusion about what constitutes rape. I was expecting a much murkier situation to be used. And my fear as you mentioned is that moving backwards in what we believe is “confusing” accidentally creates an atmosphere of justifying rapes that are not currently seen as confusing, as then being seen as confusing.
      I’m not concerned about labeling the guy, or judging or whatever, but I am concerned with the message being sent out if/when our society chooses to deal with these issues.

    • Why limit to allmen and not just all people??

      • Why limit to allmen and not just all people?? Well I would give it 2 wild guesses:

        1) The person doing it is ignorant of how to use the English Language and does not grasp in any way how what they say/write shows their inner mental/philosophical/political/social landscape so they do it from ignorance. (Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius)

        2) The person doing it is completely aware of how to use the English Language and fully grasps just how what they say/write shows their inner mental/philosophical/political/social landscape so they do it deliberately and are even aware that many will not grasp the deficiencies in how language is being used. (Interpretatio Cessat in Claris Definition)

        I do love making wild guesses – and you never know, One day I may even be right! P^)

  58. If rape is defined based only on consent, then man in this story committed rape. If indeed he is (or was) a nice person, then it’s worth examining how he construed the women’s behavior as consent. Her flirtatious behavior could certainly have given him the idea that she was interested in him, and he could hardly have been faulted for developing the expectation that she would agree to have sex with him, if he had asked. I’d defend the guy for politely expressing some confusion or anger if he had asked and been told “no”. But he didn’t ask. In my opinion he had to make some pretty flawed assumptions to believe that he had a full green light. What she did may have been confusing, but it wasn’t consent.

    In the feministe story the context is different. The couple had a prior sexual relationship, and based on what we know she believed he was awake and that his behavior indicated consent, albeit non-verbal. Taking her at her word that he did in fact motion for her to start, isn’t that the way sex often happens in established couples? Maybe not exactly like that, but one reason that “consent” can be a tricky subject to discuss is that in practice it’s often non-verbal. Even if we’re really careful to be certain about consent early in a relationship, don’t we often relax that standard over time and with familiarity?

  59. I really don’t get why so many people keep making comments that the guy “thought it was okay to have sex with a sleeping woman.”

    Ellen, for example, says “Asking him why he thought it was OK is also a good question–but a better, more revealing question here would be: Why was it more attractive to him than initiating sex with a woman who was fully conscious?”

    Did it cross anyone’s mind that maybe, I dunno, after waking up midway through a night of HEAVY DRINKING AND DRUG USE, just maybe he wasn’t thinking clearly? That maybe he didn’t sit back and think to himself “Hm, this woman is asleep next to me. I could initiate sex with her, but, even though we were getting pretty intense before, she never actually consented to sex. If I have sex with her, it will be rape, since none of the things we did before now actually amount to consenting to sex, especially when she is unconscious. Hmmm… yeah, I think I’ll rape her now!”

    Do you equate every action an heavily intoxicated person does with the assumption the person thinks it’s okay? When a stone drunk person is pissing in a closet, does it cross your mind that they think pissing in closets is okay, and they planned to piss in the closet and we should ask them why they decided to piss in the closet instead of the bathroom? People do things all the time, when drunk, that they realize are wrong when they sober up.

    What this guy did was rape, yes. But to extrapolate that “he thought it was okay!”, especially considering the fact that he called the author to discuss the issue afterward.. is just ridiculous.

    • I really don’t get why so many people keep making comments that the guy “thought it was okay to have sex with a sleeping woman.”

      It’s called filling in the gaps to justify personal prejudice and dogma. It’s why you screen Jurors pre trial so that a number of the people here can be excluded. They can’t handle evidence and invent reality.

  60. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm

    “Blackouts are much more common among social drinkers than previously assumed and should be viewed as a potential consequence of acute intoxication regardless of age or whether the drinker is clinically dependent on alcohol (2). White and colleagues (3) surveyed 772 college undergraduates about their experiences with blackouts and asked, “Have you ever awoken after a night of drinking not able to remember things that you did or places that you went?” Of the students who had ever consumed alcohol, 51 percent reported blacking out at some point in their lives, and 40 percent reported experiencing a blackout in the year before the survey. Of those who reported drinking in the 2 weeks before the survey, 9.4 percent said they blacked out during that time. The students reported learning later that they had participated in a wide range of potentially dangerous events they could not remember, including vandalism, unprotected sex, and driving.”

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-are-the-effects-of-a

    “UNDER THE INFLUENCE of alcohol, the brain experiences impairments in the regions shown:
    Frontal Lobe (A) Loss of reason, caution, inhibitions, sociability, talkativeness and intelligence ”

    Its almost like, after consuming a chemical known to impair reasoning and intelligence, people are prone to doing pretty terrible things. Like rape.

    I’d bet pretty much anything that, had you asked this guy the day before, he would have said he would never rape a woman because he knows right from wrong and how dare you even ask!?

    But this is what happens when we, as a culture, subscribe to the Evil Rape Monster theory, where the only people capable of rape are Evil Rape Monsters Who Evilly Decide To Rape.

    Maybe people would be more careful (especially when it comes to alcohol) if they saw rape, or sexual assault, or sexual harassment, as something that everyone, under the wrong conditions, is capable of.

    • Robert Paulson says:

      These same references suggest the possibility that she could have actually been the one to initiate sexual contact, and neither of them remembered it. It is also possible that she, like the man in the feministe article, initiated it without waking up, in which case she also would not remember. In either of those cases, it is possible that, since he was also intoxicated and semi-conscious, he also has no memory of the actions she did to initiate it, or to make him think she was conscious when in fact she wasn’t. Nothing we have learned from the post or Alyssa’s comments suggest that this happened, but nothing suggests that they didn’t either – in fact, it is entirely possible, (unless there were some totally sober witnesses focused intently on the two of them), that neither of the people involved even know if something like that happened.
      None of us were there. Unless we hear from him “I was fully aware of the fact that she was unconscious” we don’t know whether or not he knew she was unconscious.
      In fact, we don’t even know if she actually was unconscious when he first penetrated her. We only know that she doesn’t remember it. Anyone who has spent time around anyone who drinks, or for that matter anyone with irregular sleep patterns, should know those are not the same thing.

      The really interesting question to me is, why, even after the same points I am raising have more or less been raised already in the comments, why do people continue to insist with absolute certainty that there is absolutely no other possibility other than he knew she was not consenting. And why are they not only so completely confident about something they have no way to know, but why are they so seemingly self-righteously angry? Yes, I know, its is because rape is such a emotionally charged subject – but why is that true in the first place? That is going to sound like a stupid question, I’m sure, but I think that itself reflects on something deeper in our collective beliefs about sexuality and gender.

  61. Sign of the times. How did we get to this evolution. hate to sound like an old fart but BLAME MTV. I am 42. i remember when those kooks came out back than and blamed them on the ills of society. Not being 20 yet, I laughed. NOW I believe. Now for the kicker. When I was 18, I moved to Atlanta and became a stripper. I was a tom boy, fresh off the farm and suddenly I was the pretty girl. I was waiting tables and watching all the other pretty girls leave to go work in this acceptable upscale industry, in that city. My family would not help me and I knew it could be a means to an end. (With a very successful ending, btw) I was not your stereotype. I didn’t mind being looked at but was NEVER promiscuous. I enjoyed the attention. I dressed sexy while out, but not stripper slutty. I think back on all the crushes and flirtations back then. I was the make out queen. My point, back then and in my business, not ONE single guy over-stepped his boundaries of being sexually pushy. By today’s standards, it seems it could easily be misconstrued. I would also go out dancing hip hop style on my nights off in thel ate 80’s early 90’s. Guys respected my space. Respected that I was there with my girlfriends. Fast Forward to 2006. Had been married. Living the normal life and I get a divorce. I decide to go out dancing with my girlfriends. WHOAH was I surprised by guys who thought it was ok to just walk up to me on the dance floor and start grinding on me. WTF. WHEN did it start being ok for a guy to just walk up and start rubbing his dick on you? At 42 I still like to go out dancing a few times a year. I don’t dress sexy and ya know what. I STILL always have my elbows ready!!! You have to consider. There was a time in this transition, where a lot of women ALLOWED these men to dance on them like that. I have seen this movement of women who feel like, if guys sleep around why can’t I. MY THEORY. To many loose women have messed it up for us that don’t do casual sex. Could it really have been Clinton making a blow job not really sex, that changed the boundaries to the younger generation?? Or the thug music that degrades women? Who knows. But I really miss the days where i could go out for a good time with my girlfriends and not have to be on guard about being fondled.

  62. Interesting article — but I see male insecurity at the root of what you are describing.

    Typical “nice guys” aren’t really nice. They try to guess what others want instead of a healthy attention to their own desires. As such, they may end up in a place, next to a drunken women, thinking (quite innocently) “here’s my one chance with her!”

    It’s unreasonable to ask women to say the sentence “yes I’d like to have sex now” before sexual encounters because that’s not how human sexuality works. It is reasonable — especially on “the good men project” — to ask how can we bring along more confidence, secure, socially intelligent men that don’t need to take that “one shot” because they are confident the woman in front of them wants them. Badly. All the time.

    I have a rule I pass along to clients — don’t sleep with a woman for the first time unless she is SOBER. You don’t want an intoxicated form of someone to want you, you want HER to want you. How many date rapes or accidental “nice guy” rapes would be eradicated if men followed this practice?

    BT

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      That is a GREAT bit of advice. SOBER sex is generally the best bet, until you know someone really well. I know that “beer goggles” are a time honored way of making sex happen, but sometimes that sex looks REALLY different when you remove the beer goggles.

      I know what you’re saying about the awkwardness of affirmative consent. But I think we can and should work on that. It’s going to take a lot more conversations like this one to make that happen. To figure out how we can make “asking for it” sexy.

      I also understand what you mean about more confident, socially secure and intelligent men.

      To both, I ask, “how?” And offer a hearty “let’s do THAT!”

      • Well there’s no quick-answer to that. The whole reason your article resonated with me is because I’m reading it thinking it “this is what I work on with men every day!” I guess the first simple self-test for guys would be to ask yourself if you really want/need to “get laid,” place women on some huge pedestal, guess at what they want to make them happy in hopes of sex, etc. If that’s your mindset at the outset, you’re probably headed operating from insecurity when you interact with women. You’re thinking “I hope she likes me!” instead of “I hope I like her!”

        I can talk about this endlessly (and do http://goo.gl/YlBWR) but have to cut it off with one more point: The stereotypical nice guy I’m referencing usually is clueless about what women want — many even find it impossible that women have understandable and predictable behavior. I recently did a seminar on this and heard the same line constantly from these men — “yeah, good luck figuring out women.” Well, it’s not exactly calculus…and having a better knowledge and understanding of their behavior and desires (ie education) is a huge help in getting away from this desperate guessing game. On top of that, they should focus on what they want beyond sex…move past being a servant of your penis and start being a servant to yourself. To your happiness. Not to a fleeting moment of non-mutually enjoyable lust (which isn’t even that enjoyable, as some may know).

        BT

        PS Speaking to the same idea of insecurity, my experience is that insecure women — I can think of a few personally — put themselves in position to be “accidentally” raped by friends. Conversely, women who know what they want FOR THEMSELVES are much clearer on their own boundaries and signals. And to women, I suggest replacing awkward affirmative consent with some good old-fashioned dirty talk.

        • With you 100%.

        • Gena Moskowitz says:

          I think the reply I was responding to got removed but here it is anyway…
          Look, I’m not saying that some women don’t lie about rape because some do and that is ATROCIOUS! However, stats say that for the 8% that are false accusations, there are at minimum 75% of rape crimes that are never reported. So when you say that you have experienced “that insecure women — I can think of a few personally — put themselves in position to be “accidentally” raped by friends”, I believe that this is a irresponsible statement to release, and only leads to the disbelief when someone says that they have been raped. This article asserts that she was unconscious when he penetrated her, which means that IT WAS RAPE. I don’t care about the excuses. Even if I told the guy “I want to F you tonight”, they should know that this means when I am conscious and have the voice to say what I want/like.

          And here’s the real problem, I’ve had friends that when insanely drunk, will hit on ANYONE. This is THE REAL PROBLEM; when they are…. going unconscious, walking without their shoes on, unable to put their shoes back on, or talking in incomplete sentences, they think it is okay to take them home. People offer them free shots (and I admit it is difficult to ever refuse a free shot), and (esp. if you weigh 120lbs.) after a few it doesn’t take long to become unresponsive. This is also rape. Setting them up to be unresponsive is setting them up to be raped. To avoid becoming the guinea pig of such a set-up, just make sure they are unresponsive. AND if you still have doubts, how hard is it to tell them you are paranoid and have them sign a paper/napkin/paper-towel, saying that they consent to sex on month/day/year. If they can’t do this, you have a problem.

          • What about guys who are equally drunk and doing the same, hitting on anyone, if they both have sex would you blame the guy or are both at fault? If she is that drunk but still allll over another guy who is pretty smashed himself and they both have sex, I can’t fault either of them. If they’re getting that plastered then SOMEONE needs to be looking out for them, there are those who will gladly take advantage of them and that is terrible but who will be looking out for them? If you’re that far gone then someone needs to take you home to your bed safely (not sexually) and not leave you walking the streets drunk as fuck hittign on everything that moves. Getting yourself so far wasted is a bad idea if you don’t have some form of safety net, it doesn’t make it your fault if you’re raped but it’s putting yourself at risk especially of being run over as I’ve seen my fair share of people passed out ON THE HIGHWAY. I am fucking thankful my car’s brakes were good, especially as it was a black person on the road in dark clothing where there was extremely low contrast between them and the bitumen making it extremely difficult to spot them at night.

            This is one of the problems with alcohol, people are drinking to excess and not only it’s it risky from your body’s point of view but it leaves you defenseless and easily led astray. They’re increasing their risk bigtime. And I’m sure someone will come along n say they deserve to do that without being at risk and I will say sure, but life isn’t a fairytale, on the street there are risks. There is traffic danger, muggings, rape, assault, etc. So someone needs to be a chaperone to get their friends home safely and make sure no rapists try to take advantage of them, male or female, to make sure they don’t get into fights, fall into gutters n break their foot or bust their face, lose their money, shoes, etc.

            I am 6’6 and large bodied, when I am SOBER I am afraid to walk the streets alone but being drunk would put me at greater risk, no one is safe from harm on streets especially when others are drunk and some of those are looking for a fight, or to take advantage of others. I don’t get plastered when I am out simply because I want to have a decent level of control n safety as I know what it’s like out there, I’ve been hit in clubs for no reason what so ever but least if I am fairly sober I can defend myself. I seriously don’t get why people are putting themselves at so much risk when they drink to the point they are passing out on the street, throwing up, etc. It’s not a very smart thing to do and is quite costly to your wallet and your health to drink yourself into a stupor and throw up the nights drinks n food, not to mention the risk of violence that occurs.

      • On the first part, about working on the awkwardness of affirmative consent, I think the “how” would have to be along the lines of what Joanna described in her companion piece, where there was a scene in a movie that actually showed how. That is, making such scenes common in mass-consumed entertainment would go a long way toward making it seem normal and expected. It’d be nice if everyone had the time and interest to have thoughtful discussions about consent, but that seems extremely unlikely. It’s normal in some places like comment threads on gender-centered web sites, but I think it’s just off the radar in most people’s lives.

      • Important article, Alyssa.

        As for confident men, I believe it’s about perceived levels of sexual scarcity, and the (largely socially assigned) relative value of female and male sexuality/touch – the best comment about the former aspect (and directly addressing the confidence aspect, I think, is this – http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2011/04/03/storytime-fear-loathing-and-sm-sluthood-in-san-francisco/#comment-40312. As for the problems resulting from differing social value assignments, I’ve once written this -http://www.realadultsex.com/archives/2009/01/shorter-no-sex-class-paradigm#comment-17675. Thing is, what remains is the question of actually differing patterns of desire between women and men, and a general tendency among people to avoid explicit communication, because implicit communication usually preserves a level of deniabiliy and being vague is a great way of keeping options open when people don’t really know what they want. Also, I’d say people don’t always know what they want prior to doing what they will ex-post describe as the thing they wanted. If asked before, they may not have been able to identify it discoursively, because at that point, they didn’t consciously know they wanted it. It’s a lot, and I believe too much, to expect everyone to verbalize all their desire in advance, simply because most people appear to often be at least discoursively unaware of their own desires. There will never be entirely clear communication about sexuality, because people, particularly heterosexual people, actually prefer it this way, I believe. But things could be a lot better, no doubt.

    • I have a rule I pass along to clients — don’t sleep with a woman for the first time unless she is SOBER. You don’t want an intoxicated form of someone to want you, you want HER to want you. How many date rapes or accidental “nice guy” rapes would be eradicated if men followed this practice?

      To me, THAT is the biggest, most important lesson to be learned from this story, but it’s practically lost in the analysis, as though all the actions and decisions made were of two sober people exercising their unimpaired judgment. It’s great to educate about how to give and receive consent, but without saying a word about consent or gender dynamics, I bet the frequency of rape and sexual assault would plunge if it became commonplace to abstain from new-partner sex unless both parties were stone cold sober. I’m not optimistic at the chances of making that happen, but educating the hell out of sober people still won’t stop many of them from fucking up their moral judgments when intoxicated and interacting with other people who are also intoxicated.

      • John Anderson says:

        You might want to make sure you’re sober too. I know one guy who got drunk and slept with his girlfriends friend. He also got her pregnant. He lost a girlfriend and gained a kid for a one night stand.

      • Robert Paulson says:

        according to stats on wikipedia, 71% of rapes involve alcohol

    • John Anderson says:

      @ Ben Taylor

      “socially intelligent men that don’t need to take that “one shot” because they are confident the woman in front of them wants them. Badly. All the time.”

      There used to be a saying there are plenty of fish in the sea. They may not even need to think that this woman wants them all the time (it might even be counter productive and lead to rape), but they need to feel desirable enough to believe that some woman they’d find attractive would want to sleep with them.

  63. Shamus Joy says:

    Body language is a form of communication which is more basic than spoken or written language. People can and do send misleading signals about their sexual availability. Women routinely indicate their wish to have sexual intercourse without spoken or written confirmation ,this is understandable since body language is ancient and eloquent. A slap or a glare or a passionate deep kiss speak volumes, alas without precision . The law requires precision as to whether permission was given to engage in intimate body contact . I think it is best for men to insist on written permission.

  64. Tarn Mower says:

    Nice men do NOT commit rape. That is why they are nice. I think your title should be “Nice Guys” Commit Rape, Too – the “” marks indicate that you are talking about “nice guys” who have a facade of accepted behavior and not about nice guys. I am a nice guy. This is highly offensive.

    • Brian O'Reilly says:

      I would like to consider myself a nice person, and a heterosexual male one, at that. And I never leave the house with the intent of “getting some” without first explicitly getting consent. But to say that bad things are never done by good people is as patently false as saying that bad things never happen to good people. Soldiers out to defend their countries take innocent lives accidentally, on purpose, and in moments of animalistic thinking. Responsible adults have two too many, decide to drive home, and kill someone. Repentant and recovering addicts relapse. And men who would never try to take advantage of anyone do. As an example, I’d like to share a story with you.

      A man I know once was invited over an old flame’s house for drinks before they went out. She asked him to bring liquor, and various mixers and garnishes. By the time he arrived it was an hour later, and, this being in college, and they being seniors, they decided to skip going out, and just drink together, while watching some TV. Her housemates left to party, and they were alone. And they flirted.

      It had been almost a year since they had been together physically, and only recently had they socially reacquainted themselves after that same hiatus. But he felt little reason to hide his admiration for her form in the lovely dress she was wearing, and she kept moving closer to him, touching him, and eventually sitting in his lap. The TV was turned off. She put down her gin and tonic, and he his whiskey. They kissed, and touched, and legs wrapped around him, she was carried to bed. (Then out to the car to pick up the condoms he didn’t think he’d need.) They were both drunk, but he thought she seemed sober enough – still conversing avidly, laughing and active. And, after they went back inside, they had sex – which, as far as he recalled later, she did, in fact, vocally and explicitly consent to, pre-coitally.

      When she woke up the next morning, he was already awake, 18 inches away, smiling at her. Her eyes widened in surprise, and she blinked at him a couple times. She bit her bottom lip.

      “Did we, uh, have sex last night?” She asked, evenly.

      Immediately, he was terrified. His thoughts raced – did she not remember? Was she that drunk? Oh my god, did I…? He could even finish that thought in his own head. Because, as she had confided in him, she was a survivor, herself. His palms sweat. His head throbbed. How do I know?

      Because he was me. And, after a dry gulp, I told the truth. “Um… yeah. Do you… I mean, you don’t remember?”

      And then, she laughed. “Oh,” she smiled. “Good. Or, at least, I hope it was.”

      We later discovered she had a juniper allergy, and though I had consumed a fair amount more alcohol than she did, she was, in fact, intoxicated substantially after her first (commonly, she could have 4 or 5 in a similar timespan, while remaining lucid). And while she was happy about what had transpired – we began to meet frequently in the months after – it still scared the crap out of me. I know she gave consent that night. Hell, she went outside with me to go get condoms. But I was that close to doing something that would’ve haunted both of us for our whole lives. All because she was drunker than I thought.

      Now, mind you, Mr. Taylor, above, probably would say that I could’ve know that had been her plan – or at least, her subconscious one – if I had been more confident, or whatever. And while he could also argue that one should only have sex for the first time sober (I agree), this was not our first time. Just our first in a while (to be fair, I would be sympathetic to the argument that the rule should’ve been followed, anyway, but I was not under the impression she was drunker than the two drinks she had consumed).

      But she could’ve had drinks before I came over. She could’ve had another lover that she would have not wanted to offend, even silently. And the next morning, she could’ve just said, “No. I don’t remember. You raped me.” And I would have had no real reply.

      Maybe I’m not a nice guy. Maybe I’m a terrible human being, a glib sociopath with Certainty and luck. But even if I am that, I could see how the same thing could happen to a nice guy, a little drunker and a little less experienced, and a lot less lucky. So let’s not be binary reductionists, ignorant of both shades of grey and the terrible things good people do ever day, whether that’s neat or clean or not. Nice Guy Commit Rape. I know, because I was almost one of them.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        Wow. And THANK YOU. This is the kind of conversation we need to be having.

        • Brian O'Reilly says:

          You’re very welcome, and that you for starting the discussion. But I’m sure a thousand people have the same story. And it’s not one that’s going to stop anytime soon. I hope that enthusiasm was genuine, though, because, I’m going to touch on a couple different things here, in terms of furthering that conversation. First, the reason why, as I see it, un-premeditated rape is a nigh-intractable issue.

          Let’s face it, society measures men, in large part, by the number of notches on our bedposts. Maybe I’m some kind of Neanderthal – I did go to an all-boy highschool – but I’ve had the conversation about “my number” more than once with other guys, and I’ve certainly initiated that discussion myself. In addition, the women with whom I have shared sexual congress have usually expected me to play the desirous, lust-driven, powerful and take-charge role during coitus, which I am expected to always be in the mood for. I’d like to say that, because I’m a fair actor, I have, at least recently, been able to fulfill that role as a role: someone’s sexual fantasy I act out for them because I want them to feel good and sexy and like me. But that’s only partially true. If one believes in sexual orientation, even on the Kinsey scale, one assumes that certain people react irrationally to certain body parts and situations. Objectification and non-logical thinking are necessary components for the basic animal drives that must be present for arousal responses to occur – I think. The social construction of consent – and it is a construction; there ain’t no church in the wild – is merely delaying the assumption of these drives until we know they are socially acceptable in this intimate setting. That’s not unromantic – I think there’s something quite poetic about restraining one’s base instincts out of love and shared humanity – but it is a truth often obscured by how pure and perfect we’d like to believe love and loving is.

          Until we accept that all men (all people, I’d like to think – men are just usually bigger) have a sexually aggressive brain state popping out of their amygdalas, and that society (women included) sends the message that loosing it is sexy, we can’t really have a talk about what everyone needs to do to avoid the horrifying consequences of loosing it inappropriately. No woman ever either asks for rape or deserves it. At the same time, demonizing rapists is just a way to avoid seeing the rapist lurking in all of us – and blinding oneself to the idea that “I could ever do that” is the first step in letting yourself become your nightmare.

          On a completely different note, I think the legal system needs to change to reflect these situations, much in the way taking a human life is arbitrated situationally. We have homicide and manslaughter, both: I think there’s a long way to go in developing a word disassociated from the legal crime “murder/rape” to the actual occurrence “killing/Unconsented intercourse.” There’s no more okay/less okay here: both manslaughter and homicide are horrible crimes. But there are degrees of culpability and malice, and “Sexual Assault/Harassment/Rape” don’t really cover the gamut. Please note, I’m not saying this because I do not understand, on some level, that all of these situations can be equally terrible and scarring for the survivors. I think I get that. But calling this above story by the same name as what happened to Trisha Meili is why men can so easily say “I would never do that, so I don’t have to read this.” Fair enough, maybe you wouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean that your seduction can’t cross the line into coercion – that her desire for you to take charge doesn’t extend as far as you think it does.

          Those two points are subordinate arguments in a piece I’m writing (likely never to see the light of day) called the “Disillusionment of a (Male) Feminist.” Most of the piece isn’t about intercourse, but the part that is fits into the overriding message of the thesis. In America, the feminist movement has been largely successful in androgynizing femininity, but masculinity is still stuck in the 19th century. Men are the problem – but the solution isn’t in either fixing women’s issues or condescending to and maligning those insubordinate Y chromosomes. I agree with Mr. Williams when he says that “if people commonly waited for sobriety for their first sexual experience with a new partner” sexual assault would fall dramatically. But I don’t want to miss out on making out with that hot girl at the bar because we’ve both had three beers. I think that sexual assault would fall precipitously, however, if men weren’t expected to always be ready for sex. Or to always seek those notches on the bedpost. Or that it’s not awkward to stop kissing fifteen minutes into crashing onto a bed with someone to ask, “Hey, is this okay? Are you sober? Will you tell me if I do anything you don’t like?”

          I’d like to think that most time someone who’s attracted to you gets into a bed with you, if you took it slow, had no expectations (hopes are okay, but different), asked them too many questions instead of too few, and recognized that intimacy is so much more enjoyable than masturbating with a real live vagina-brand (or penis-brand) sex toy, these situations would almost never happen. I actually do this, and while it makes me feel like a touchy-feely androgynist, I have a heck of a lot more fun than when I fumbled around like a confident-seeming (that is, arrogant) idiot at 18. (Spoiler, I’m a 22 year old baby.) I’d also like to think that in 30 years, my kids will do what I do now, and feel like men’s men or women’s women, because we will have culturally come that far. I don’t have that expectation, but I’m still hopeful.

          Anyway, sorry for ruining my original post with this monstrosity. I should’ve quit after the two typos in the final paragraph of that one. But for a couple reasons very close to my heart, I felt like I should at least shout a little into the void. Thanks for providing a forum for that exercise.

          • Alyssa Royse says:

            Brian, my enthusiasm for your comment has grown, not diminished. The fact that you are this thoughtful about such complex issues (without arrogance or assumption) at 22 is really quite astonishing to me. And gives me hope.

            You are right, in pretty much all the ways I was trying to get at in my original post. And we do need to have a dialog about it. Why are men judged by their sexual prowess, and what does it do to their decision making process? What role does it play when sexuality is used as a tool and a lure, but not talked about expressly? What happens when we, as a society, separate out the appearance do sexuality from the act of having sex from the emotions involved? What other factors go into extremely poor decision making for both men and women? There are a million such questions that are in play here, and they have to be talked about.

            We actually have to claim that any of us could be on any side of this situation, however unlikely or accidentally, in order to begin to understand the human behavior that allows it to happen.

            I know I’m not speaking as clearly as I’d like. (My toddler is asleep next to me, so I’m in mommy-mode, trying to be extra quiet, and most of my senses are listening to her sleep right now.)

            • Brian O'Reilly says:

              Ah, you’re too kind. You wrote the article and did the actual brave thing. I’ve just had the opportunity to screw up a lot, the left-handedness for it to bother me, and the memory to not be able to forget how easy it is to hurt and be hurt.

              I, in fact, don’t think men are judged by their sexual prowess – that might be safer. We’re judged by our sexual promiscuity, and I think evolutionary psychology explains why. But I believe it could be socialized out of us. We all like to feel attractive – and I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like to cuddle. Sex is the proverbial icing on the “Oh, wow! You think I’m attractive, trustworthy, and deserving of pleasure” cake, but holding and touching and talking and relaxing are the more nutritious and less guilty filling. I’d like to tell another, much less artistic story here, that I think builds evidence toward a point I’m making.

              A woman I met at a party in college once (a sophomore when I was a freshman, I believe) invited me back to her room after a couple hours of dancing. She was striking, and significantly more actually attractive than she was conventionally attractive, maybe recently out of a relationship, and/or maybe just found me charming. I don’t know, and as this was early on in my escape from All-Boy’s education, I’d be loathe to speculate further as to why me, why then. In any event, we got back to her suite, her suitemates went to bed, and we stayed up, outside, cuddling, and put on a movie.

              This being a liberal university in the Northeast, the movie was, of course, Donnie Darko.

              Now, I don’t know how many of the gentlemen out there have tried to maintain an erection after watching Donnie Darko. I don’t even want to hear what the success rate is. But I was in no mood to make an effort. She invited me to stay in her room that night, though, and being desirous of those bedpost notches (and it being late and me being much more inclined to sleep than walk) I accepted that idea.

              After she had stripped down to naught but some lacy thing that half-hardly covered her butt, I was beginning to lose my inhibitions. Then she turned to me and said,

              “I like you, and I want you to sleep here. And I want to sleep like this, and I hope that’s okay with you. But we’re not doing anything tonight.”

              I’d like to say I immediately understood that this was an amazing breakthrough moment, but I didn’t. I kinda shrugged, made some joke about “sex-after-that-movie-are-you-kidding?” and apologized in advance for any changes in my bloodflow during the night that belied my wholehearted agreement.

              I had breakfast with her, and to this day have no idea what she told her suitemates about what happened. We never really saw each other again, after. But when my friends asked me what happened, I sort of waggled my eyebrows suggestively, and implied that I had indeed broken out my notch-carving knife. I got everything I needed, if not everything I thought I wanted: the respect of a possible mate, and my peers; stress-relieving skin-on-skin contact; and another intellectual pretentious movie to add to my “have watched” list.

              The cultural thing that needs changing, of course, is that rather than feeling like I should speak truth, I lied (by omission) about what happened, to most of “the guys”. I felt like I’d be lauded more for “gettin’ some,” rather than the much more laudable “not only did she think I was hot, but she also thought I was smart/funny and therefore good to watch movies with, and she trusted me and I was responsible.” That’s what we (perhaps women especially) need to teach masculinity. Anybody can be a lesser version of Barney Stinson, really. Lying/manipulating one’s way into the sack is, if you’ll forgive the hipster-ism, like, totally derivative. The really superlative man goes to bed with a lot of girls, because there’s very little bad about consensually getting naked with people and engaging in that pillowtalk/sleep state during which we feel so present. (Holla at cha boy, non-coitally released oxytocin!) But he has sex with comparatively few of them, because STIs and consent issues are dangerous, and the constant gender-lines-crossing performance anxiety that goes with that expectation is insane to comtemplate.

              At least, we should probably create some kind of cultural myth that this is so.

          • What are your thoughts on women, alcohol and their sexuality? Do you think that in many cases women drink just to be comfortable with their own sexuality? In your original post you told the story of an ‘old flame’, from my interpretation of the story it seemed apparent that she wanted to have sex with you but also made drinking a big part of the reunion. Perhaps, that was easier for her to do then just saying explicitly what she wanted.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Jennifer, can I take a stab – and it will likely turn into it’s own post because I have a lot of feelings about this. (It’s one of the primary things I work on with women.)

              I think you are very astute in suggesting there is a link between people drinking and shame / fear about not only their own sexuality, but sex in general. We are presented with such shame around sex, and such disembodied (and disempowered) representations of it, that accessing it, for many people, is an activity filled with fear. Alcohol numbs fear, plain and simple.

              I think it’s doubly hard for women because although the way in which main are praised for their sexuality is narrow and impersonal, they are at least “allowed” to be sexual. Women, on the other hand are shamed for it. So yes, I frequently see behavior that looks to me like “taking the edge off” by drinking or doing drugs. Society and self won’t give me permission to have the kind of sex that I want, but Johnny Walker will.

              That’s sad, for a lot of very obvious reasons. But it’s also dangerous. Drinking does blur our judgement about what will be a physically and emotionally safe encounter. It does allow us to push our boundaries further than we may really want to. But it also often gets us the attention that we want, so we do it, and it snowballs.

              I am an advocate for sober sex, at least until a relationship is solidly established with respect, and non-verbal communication patterns.

              Do I think that a person who drinks too much is asking to and / or deserves to be raped? HELL NO TO THE NTH DEGREE. Do I think that it is a decision that makes them more vulnerable to harm and should be reconsidered? Yes. And that’s not victim blaming. That’s dealing with a mitigatable underlying safety flaw. Obviously, being sober isn’t a coat of armor. (I was raped, at gunpoint, dressed and stone cold sober, sound asleep in my own bed by a stranger who broke in. I know that there are bad people who do bad things.) But it is a safety factor that can be important.

              Obviously, what we really need to do is get more comfortable with the diverse ways that our sexuality expresses itself, own our sexuality, and learn to talk about it. Because yes, these simmering undercurrents of fear and shame are a huge factor in why people drink and fuck. And fucked up fucking can get really fucked up, really fast.

              Definitely played a huge part in the story I told.

            • Brian O'Reilly says:

              I agree with your interpretation, but I didn’t know that at the time (it was a period in my life where I did not feel very attractive, in the sense of being a futureless loser with no direction or salvation.) Hence my moment of utter terror the next morning.

              More importantly, I’m pretty sure her preference would have been to remember sleeping with me, even if she had intended to sleep with me. In addition, sex is usually conditional. You know, “I think I want to sleep with her – unless I find out tonight she’s a terrible kisser/has a urological fantasy her arousal is contingent upon.” That’s why verbal consent is so important, especially in relationships that haven’t gone on for decades. S/he can send you all the signals s/he wants – but if you turn someone off with the way you take off your underwear, s/he’s free to be turned off and stop the encounter. In my case, the fact that she was okay with my penetration of her even after waking up to realize that I (unwittingly, but how does she know that?) engaged her in intercourse when she was too drunk to remember. Hell, she could’ve accused me of slipping GHB in the mixers.

              But, on your larger point, I have no idea. I think some women are comfortable with their sexuality. Some aren’t. Some act a lot more comfortable with it when they’re drunk. I don’t know if getting drunk and horny is a goal or ancillary effect: I would guess it’s an ancillary goal.

              On the one hand, I think people drink to feel comfortable about themselves and the situations they’re in. On the other, I know that I have more than once gotten drunk with someone as an excuse for the moves we’re going to put on each other. “Sorry I came on strong last night; you’re hot, but I don’t want to ruin our friendship/am not like that/etc.” is a really good way to avoid condemnation from either the flirtee or one’s more judgmental friends.

              The difficult thing for me is, a lot of good things have happened to me when I hooked up with somebody after a night at the bar. We drink to let our guard down and be vulnerable – like going into shark-visited waters, it’s a calculated risk. More so for women than for I. I trust myself to get consent from girls I engage in any sexual contact with when I’ve been drinking – the scary thing is, I also trust them to be sober enough for that consent to be legal. The reverse is true in their case, and probably more frightening.

            • John Anderson says:

              @ Jennifer

              I’ve heard that women will see Naked Boys Singing as their bachelorette party. I know women who’ve admitted that they went to see The Full Monty partly for the nude scene at the end. I think women have been taught to suppress their sexuality to a large extent and need to trick themselves into sexualizing men. I’m here to watch a play were the actors just happen to also be naked. For women, I suspect that there is an element of liquid courage as there is for men. It may also serve as an excuse. I wouldn’t have slept with him, but my judgment was impaired.

              I have female friends who’ve complained about the lack of strip clubs that cater to straight females. There was one in my town, but it didn’t get much business so it went coed and mow only features female dancers. From time to time you’ll see a “boyie” magazine, but they don’t tend to survive at least not the ones targeted to CIS women. I feel bad that many women don’t feel that they have the right to enjoy sex for sex.

              Two friends of mine were getting married. After their bachelor and bachelorette parties, the women immediately told us what they did. They went to a place that wasn’t totally nude. They told us who their favorite stripper was, Jay Steele. They stressed that they spent much of the time drinking. They didn’t tip the strippers or approach the stage. It was like they wanted us to say OK, you’re still good girls. When they asked us, we said nothing or we had a prayer service or something stupid. We got together for a breakfast. One guy asked if anyone wanted whipped cream, err cream with their coffee. All the guys laughed. The women were like we won’t get mad just tell us what happened.

          • Brian, there are not 1000 stories like yours, assuming it is truthful (and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t). There almost no actual stories like yours. What there are are a million excuses made by rapists to mirror your story. Yours more than likely concerned a “blackout” (I commented on this below) and it was in my view a rare manifestation of one.

            I agree with you on one thing- there is NOTHING awkward, when falling into bed, to stop, get serious for a second, and ask your partner if she/he is okay with what is happening and understands what’s going on.

        • No, actually, this isn’t the conversation we need to be having. Because it’s grossly misleading. I prosecuted sexual assault cases for years and still train worldwide on how to investigate and prosecute them. Assuming this commenter is telling the truth, then it sounds like the woman he was with experienced what is known as a blackout (due perhaps to a juniper allergy regarding the gin, although I don’t know exactly how that might have played into it- I’m a lawyer not a forensic toxicologist). Blackouts occur when a part of the brain that allows memories to be created temporarily shuts down, creating a situation where a person (in this case, perhaps his partner) appears lucid but is actually making no memory of the events she is navigating. Blackouts are occasionally valid defenses in rape cases- it is not impossible for a woman to enthusiastically consent to sex, then not remember doing so, and then believe she was raped. But they are far more often used invalidly, with the rapist falsely claiming that consent was obtained when actually he penetrated and raped a woman who was passed out- meaning clearly unconscious- (as your ‘sweet guy’ friend apparently did, Ms. Royce).

          One thing that is realistic about this commenter’s scenario is that the woman in question did not reflexively “cry rape” in the morning but instead simply wanted to know what happened, and thankfully was okay with it. The fact is, the great majority of women who are clearly raped blame themselves and do not claim they were raped to anyone; let alone the “murky” situations this dangerously naive article and thread seem to be focused on.

          Bottom line: Assuming the truthfulness of his comment, then he found himself in a very rare situation with a lucid-appearing partner in a blackout (even in blackout stage, most people appear extremely intoxicated and not usually ready for sexual activity). But that is a rare situation, and it played out (unsurprisingly) as a thing to be concerned about on the part of both parties, but not to be thought of or dealt with as rape. What this situation does NOT prove, in any way, shape or form, is that this guy was somehow “almost an accidental rapist.” There is no such thing. His example is sympathetic but misleading. As is the article itself.

          • Brian O'Reilly says:

            Roger-

            Thank you for accepting my portrayal of the situation, as I can hear the doubt years of horror stories must have placed into your mind creep into the edge of your voice. I am delighted and proud to say that the lady in question and I are still friends, and that I have been as accurate as I can, insofar as I can never know the totality of her sobriety and feelings about that evening, despite my confidence that she has not mislead me.

            I would be a poor intellectual indeed to not allow your vast experience the credence you gave to my anecdote, and, in fact, largely agree with everything you said. Though my own training is not nearly as extensive, I have read about “undetected rapists” in the literature presented to me as a volunteer educator of college freshman on safety, awareness, consent, and knowledge in sexual relationships. I can assure you just as vehemently that those were never the persons nor the situations I was discussing here. As I said in a post below, “I wasn’t almost legally a rapist. But that wouldn’t have mattered to her.”

            The discussion I was trying to have regards those situations in which well-meaning people unintentionally coerce others into activities that will haunt them, without really knowing how threatening or manipulative they were. I think that this situation happens with some frequency, though “saying yes and regretting it and feeling dirty and used” is in no way legally rape. Not that this matters to the people who feel violated and hurt by sexual acts – not at all limited to coitus – that fall somewhere on the sexual harassment-sexual assault/rape spectrum. And I doubt it’s much solace to those who feel like their relationship with a significant other has been sullied by coercion, or a misuse of their sleeping/intoxicated/less-than-fully-conscious bodies.

            I wish to elaborate on this, but I am presently pressed for time. I hope you are willing to concede the notion that there are cases of sexual impropriety not nearly severe enough to reach your desk that still cause pain, both emotional and physical, and are committed by law-abiding and generally well-meaning people.

            • Thanks, Brian, for the candor. Of course, I agree with you- sexual situations play out every minute of every day that fall short of something criminal and are yet very painful and ill-intended on the part of the agressor (usually but not always the male).

              Based on the research (not just my experience, although I appreciate your deference), I will go a step farther and maintain that most women who are very clearly violated in a criminal manner do not report, blame themselves only, and go on. I’ll also say- again, based on research- that most acts of criminal sexual assault (assuming a more or less common definition in the US among the states) is perpetrated most by a relatively small number of men who are disordered sexually and who commit sexually violent acts, period. Millions of men have unhealthy sexual attitudes, of course. They can be labeled ‘dogs’ or ‘womanizers’ or whatever. But even those unscrupulous, unhealthy actors usually recognize either 1) fear or terror on the part of the person they’re with, or 2) the fact that they are no longer conscious. Those men- along with the relatively good ones, as you seem very much to be- stop when they encounter these things and do not commit a sex crime. What Ms. Royce described was to me fairly clearly a sex crime, and not one that would be in any difficult to avoid or easy to commit ‘accidentally.’ Another commenter (Drew) made a good point that, at some point, he decided to discuss it with Royce, who is a victim’s advocate. Fair enough, but I still think the man in question from her original post knew what he was doing when he did it and was not confused as to what it amounted to. What I do think happened is that he was greatly distressed when she reacted the way she did. So why did he reach out to a friend in the business of serving victims? Hard to say. It could be that he felt remorseful, which certainly is possible and not incompatible with having done a very bad thing. It’s also possible that he was looking for exactly what he received- support from a solid victim advocate who nevertheless, in my view, allowed her personal experience with the side of himself he has shown her (Royce) to override her common sense. Royce also appears to have been influenced by the actions of the victim in that case, which I also think is deeply unfair- regardless of the ‘signals’ she was sending. One signal- ONE- is relavant in a situation like that. It’s the signal a sexual aggressor receives when he is about to initiate sexual activity, and it’s either and enthusiastic “yes” or it’s an absolute, get off her, put your pants back on “no.”

            • John Anderson says:

              “Thank you for accepting my portrayal of the situation, as I can hear the doubt years of horror stories must have placed into your mind creep into the edge of your voice.”

              I’ve noticed that also, but what Mr. Canaff ignores and what is ignored by many prosecutors is that the job of the prosecutor is to serve justice. Far too many prosecutors feel that their purpose is to secure convictions. That’s why we have the Duke, Jonathan Montgomery, and Brian Banks cases. How many men have gone to prison for rape and been exonerated? These were the strongest cases. The cases that prosecutors chose to bring to trial. How many more are still in prison and If there wasn’t cell phone video to the contrary, would the four or five men at Hofstra be convicted of gang rape because women rarely cry rape so why would a woman accuse four or five guys? Obviously suggesting that she could have wanted sex with them would be slut shaming, right.

              This coupled by his down playing male victimization in rape cases especially at the hands of female perpetrators leads me to believe that Mr. Canaff simply is unconcerned with male victimization and therefore his opinions on this subject are highly suspect.

            • An most interesting and noteworthy set of points. Many professionals really should take note of them.

          • THANK YOU. First comment that I can take seriously.

        • Yeah, what we really need is a forum to tell rapists that they, too, are nice guys.

          Good reason to stop reading this site, though.

          • Did saying that make you feel better?

            No-one is indicating that there should be a Rapist are Nice Guy Forum, but of course why would that matter when it’s just easy to stay in a cocooned reality and misrepresent the rest of the universe.

      • Is it possible that someone has had enough to drink that they don’t remember it in the morning, but at the time they are still able to consent? I’m not quite sure on how alcohol affects people when they black out, does a certain amount simply mess up memory creation but they are still able to consent, walk normally, talk, etc? or does the blackout memory blank only happen if they drink so much they pass out?

        I don’t think what you did was wrong, you couldn’t know and it seems you were watching her physical state closely to try ensure there was consent. You also had a chance to blackout/not remember the night before so I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much about it but if it bothers you then avoid sex with alcohol. Was it rape? No idea, probably impossible to work out especially if she cannot remember her own state on whether she consented or not, but by what you said it sounds like she was consenting to the best of her ability at the time, as you were, and thus I can’t really fault you.

        This is the problem though, if you were both drinking and she seemed just as mentally aware as you yet the next day if she had said she can’t remember, you raped me, how the hell could she prove it? She feels violated but she could very well have forgotten that she wanted it at the time? alcohol makes sex way too tricky…

        • Brian O'Reilly says:

          I don’t think it really matters, Archy, and here’s why.

          This isn’t the “Legally Non-Culpable Men Project.” It’s the “Good Men Project.” I’m a little bit of a Buddhist, so I’m a big believer in the “don’t create negative energy/experiences” mantra. Would I have been eligible prosecution for prosecution? No, absolutely not. I could be my own lawyer in that case – there was no way for me to know that she was allergic to juniper, nor did she tell me that. I wore a condom, which someone in the neighborhood probably saw her go outside with me to get the box of. I have no criminal record, and while my ex-girlfriends might not like me, I find it hard to believe any of them would call me a rapist on the witness stand.

          But that’s really not the point, is it? I don’t feel like it’s controversial for me to say that anyone who is bigger, stronger, soberer, or more manipulative than their partners has an ethical imperative to use their power over the situation responsibly. Because the legal ramifications aren’t the point.

          Violation, betrayal, character-defining trust issues, physical pain, confusion, that I-can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head-when-I’m-trying-to-work stickiness, depression, anger, self-harm. That’s what we’re trying to avoid. And we can’t avoid it, totally. People hurt other people. Some of my more spectacular exes have torn my heart out through my groin and had it for breakfast. They’re not bad people; maybe immature lovers. But they scarred me. And I’m sure I’ve scarred others.

          Being “Good” is trying to build people up more than one breaks them down, and being open to learning what the effects of one’s actions are. I wasn’t almost legally a rapist.

          But that wouldn’t have mattered to her. And she is (and I am and you are) what’s important.

          • Amen to this.

          • See this is an issue that scares the fuck out of me, I’d feel terrible that she feels violated but I’m also terrified of the potential legal risk so it makes me not want to drink and have sex. Here in Australia the law is pretty murky and I think that it basically states alcohol removes ability to consent so any amount may trigger that. I’d like to believe that the chance is rare that someone will wake up the next day and not remember what happened and then be like Omg I was raped automatically which means the guy is up shit’s creek but the chance that it can happen is scary. How would you prove you both were into it at the time but the next day she’s unable to remember? It wouldn’t even really be a false accusation but more of an unknown to HER if she did consent or not. I’d like to believe in that case she would believe what I said but the whole idea of it has me so nervous about it that I think I will stick to sober sex unless I realllllllllly trust her and know she won’t black out from alcohol.

            Yeah it’s horrible knowing you’ve hurt someone, but it’s even more horrible to be in legal risk of it as you can be sent to jail or at least risk of being put on the sex offender registry which is basically goodbye any chance of a decent life. So whilst you may be confident that you weren’t at risk, I fear even that even mud sticks and it can have a detrimental impact on your life. It’s hard enough to deal with emotions of someone feeling violated but even more so when at the time they were fully into it and you had zero idea + having risk. If I wokeup with someone and she said she can’t remember anything and felt raped the first thing I’d do is probably break down crying n vomit from fear of what happens next and that would be after a night which I would have felt there was 100% consent (otherwise I wouldn’t be there). Paranoia? Probably but I’ve seen what happens to people accused of sex crimes in the media, the sheer hatred to them. You can beat someone up and not get the level of hate some rapists get. The topic is loaded emotionally.

            The other part of drinking of course is if I pass out, would I be raped? I may drink n have sex with a long-term partner I trust but it seems way too risky for anyone else. Even with zero risk of legal troubles the pain I would feel because they felt violated would tear me up, I could barely handle telling a woman who liked me more than I didn’t have the same feelings and felt like the world’s biggest jerk but that would crush me and I’d hate myself for so long even if at the time it was 100% consenting.

            • This maybe sound hypocritical, but I think that’s why some religion banned us from drink any alcohol at all and taught us its a sin. The whole casual sex scene involving bar and alcohol is very very very f*cked up in my opinion. Everyone drunk, not only women, but also men. Sometimes sober man have sex with drunk woman, sometimes sober woman have sex with drunk man. Its all grey area and in my opinion non consensual sex is so easy happen in a drunk environment between people with no bad intention, women and men.

              That’s why I stay away from alcohol and casual sex with stranger at all. I don’t drink alcohol at all. Its make me safe, from the chance of hurting someone and the guilt disgusting feeling that may come from sexually violated someone.

            • I’m sorry, but this wrong. Utterly, dangerously wrong. There isn’t nearly as much “grayness” as rapists would like people to believe where alcohol and rape are concerned. Alcohol facilitates rape, but it does not cause it.

            • Again – THANK YOU. Rape is the fault of the rapist. PERIOD. END OF STORY. Your character traits mean nothing if you rape. I don’t understand why this is so difficult to understand, I really don’t.

            • Why is it so hard for you to understand that not all rapists realize that what they are doing is rape? Don’t we owe it to their potential victims (if not to them as well) to try to reach them?

      • I told this story early on in the comments. I had an experience in college where I got really drunk one evening with a guy I was dating. We were getting fairly serious but had not had sex yet at that point in our relationship, just some heavy making out sesions. We were both 19, I believe. On this one night, I remember being in the living room with with, then the next thing I remember is being in bed and we were in the middle of sex. My head was spinning and I couldn’t do or say anything so I just let it happen. Later, I felt very weird about it. I honestly didn’t know what to call it. Was I raped? I don’t think so, but I was also too drunk to really consent to anything. I later asked my date what happened, and he said I went to the bedroom willingly. He thought I had passed out briefly after we started having sex. He said he didn’t know what to do when that happened, but that I woke up again. He had also been very drunk at the time. He was a very nice guy and the situation felt uncomfortable in retrospect to both of us. I blamed myself for drinking way too much. We tried having sex again a couple of times but he couldn’t get an erection, which I think indicates how awkward he was feeling. We broke up after that.

        • I had a similar experience while at university too, Sarah. Same situation. I had been flirting with a guy I liked who was in one of my classes, and one night we had a few drinks together. Because I have a lot tolerance for alcohol, I got drunk pretty quick, and next thing you know, clothes were off, and we were having sex. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t say yes, no or anything for that matter. Nature just took its course. I did NOT feel violated. He didn’t force himself on me. I didn’t make me do anything I wasn’t willing to do. However, I did feel a little embarrassed and awkward around him the next day. Had I been sober, I probably would not have slept with him so soon (or maybe not even at all). But I cannot and will not say that I was raped just because I made a “mistake” while my judgment. Regret and feeling/being violated are not one and the same, and it behooves us women to think about this before we point the finger in outrage.

          • John Anderson says:

            But I take it you weren’t passed out. It’s one thing to not say yes, no, or anything else. It’s entirely different to not be able to say yes, no or anything. I accepted a drink from a couple women at a bar and went from mostly somewhat sober to not remembering a thing. My friends thought I was getting lucky so they didn’t stop them from leaving with me. I was weight lifting and knew martial arts. They couldn’t force me to go anywhere was what they were thinking.

            In high school when I was 15, I had many sexual encounters with college women over a weekend (intercourse and other). We had a retreat in a college women’s dorm. The high school boys were the aggressors at least initially and I’m certain that at least some of the interactions would be considered rape / sexual abuse. I never felt violated although I probably legally was. I don’t and won’t condone what they did. It was sexually abusive, but I also don’t feel abused.

            • No, I wasn’t passed out. And, in fact, I was attracted to him and *wanted* to sleep with him at the time — the “well … ” factor came into play the next morning when I realized that the sex hadn’t been as fun as I thought it had been at the time. Or that I thought it would be. Also, we didn’t really know each other that well, and I wanted a deeper emotional connection. So it wasn’t really about the inability to consent; I simply didn’t *verbally* consent.

              We ended up dating for a long time and even getting engaged for a while. We used to joke between the two of us that our first sexual experience was pretty craptastic in the sense that both of us were too impaired to enjoy ourselves. Nope, definitely not raped …

            • I’m glad you were not raped, Lisa. Unfortunately, the commenter above you (Sarah) probably was raped based on what she described. The thing is, Lisa, the vast majority of women who ARE raped- let alone your situation or even Sarah’s- do not “point their finger in outrage.” Much as Sarah did, they blame themselves and simply move on.

              There is not, despite the innane or self-serving protestations of mostly men to the contrary, a problem with women unfairly or inaccurately “crying rape.”

            • Robert Paulson says:

              But Sarah does not say she didn’t consent – only that she was too drunk for that consent to be valid. It seems she likely DID consent. She just didn’t remember it after the fact.
              Sarah’s story is not like the one in the blog, or any of the others mentioned involving one person being unconscious (unless you assume that her partner was lying, even though she feels he most likely was not).

              If her mental state left her mentally incapable of consenting, and he was equally as intoxicated, then that means he must have been mentally incapable of consenting, which means that she must have raped him.
              You are putting different standards on men and women – men are always responsible for their actions, even when drunk, however women are not responsible for their actions if they are drunk.

      • Consent and communication is a complex topic, and while on paper it often seems like it should be a simple matter of a binary “No” or “Enthusiastic Yes”, reality often manages to find ways to make it more complicated / confusing.

        Let me share one story with you. I had a female friend, and in the past we had been sexual together (she was, in fact, the woman I lost my virginity to). We had lost contact over the years but wound up getting back in touch via Facebook. She was over at my place one afternoon, and we’d just had pancakes for lunch. While I was still sexually attracted to her, I didn’t really expect anything to happen and I was quite happy just enjoying her company.

        We were chatting / watching TV and she leans up against me. I respond by putting my arm around her and she exclaims “Oh wow, we’re going to have sex!” (my thoughts in response to this were along the lines of “We are? Awesome!”).

        So we go to my bedroom and start getting into things, and something seems wrong. She feels very rigid and distant, and I get a sense she’s not very comfortable. So I stop and ask: “Is everything alright?”. She responds by reassuring me that everything is fine and we continue.

        We have sex, but it’s repetitive, unrewarding sex. She feels very distant to me the whole time, there’s no eye contact and she just lies there looking away from me. I pump away, but I just can’t shake the sense of wrongness that was bothering me, despite her reassurances that everything is fine. Neither of us really end up getting anywhere and things end more from boredom than anything else. Afterwards, she quickly grabs her clothes, gets dressed and rushes out the door. She was clearly in a hurry to leave, although she tried to pretend she wasn’t.

        I’m left standing in my apartment wondering what the f#$# just happened.

        In this case, the consent itself is pretty clear (I even bothered to check when it seemed like she wasn’t enjoying herself), but at the same time, whether she actually wanted to have sex, or whether I, however unwittingly, pressured her into it, that I don’t know. Maybe she’s just naturally that distant, she’s had a harsh past and a few abusive ex-boyfriends – maybe the distance isn’t anything to do with me at all. Maybe it was all in my head and she was actually enjoying herself, she has always been a quiet lover.

        But the doubt troubles me, and I’m not quite sure where to begin unraveling what happened here.

        I did call her a few days later to say hi, but she got me off the phone as quickly as she could, so I didn’t bother to call again. We did wind up getting back in touch about 12 months later but I haven’t asked her how she felt about this whole affair.

        • This is how a lot of unhealed “proper” rape survivors have sex, with triggering and dissociation.

          We really need more words for rape, as the “rapes” described here are totally different to having someone force themselves on you, while you clearly don’t consent, verbally or otherwise. Then having to endure them enjoying themselves by hurting and degrading you, knowing that they are enjoying the feeling of power, and the fact that you don’t consent. While you try to distance yourself from what is happening, because you can’t stop it.

          It is totally different

          • I’d have to agree, reducing things to a matter of “Rape is Rape” puts everyone on the defensive, making it harder to have a meaningful dialogue about consent, enthusiasm and how we can try to ensure things are mutually pleasurable for everyone involved.

            I could stop my analysis of my story with “but I had consent”. But that would erase a lot of what happened there, it certainly didn’t feel like it was a good experience for either of us and that needs to be addressed. Even though I tried to do right by her, I messed that up, and the communication between us around sex could use some refinement.

            Brian O’Reilly’s point up-thread about being a good person going beyond legal culpability is spot on. A part of enabling going beyond that is having a more productive discussion around consent.

            But that’s not something we can have a productive discussion about if we rush to judge things, just because the subject matter makes us a bit uncomfortable.

      • SoapboxLovesong says:

        Yeah, except you didn’t think it was acceptable to being screwing a passed-out girl. If this article had been about you, the line would be a lot more blurred since she was awake and, as you describe it, clearly enjoying the experience at the time. Would you have penatrated her if she were passed out? I don’t know any nice guys who don’t know that’s a messed up thing to do, even if the girl may want to have sex with him sometime in the future when she’s awake.

    • Once fallen says:

      There are people that genuinely DON’T understand what they do, and it is incorrect to assume that people who have done something horrible are always rotten to the core, people get lost, confused, me at one point in time having an addiction to violence can attest to that.

      • Please explain to me how a male putting his penis into a woman’s vagina without explicit consent doesn’t understand what he’s doing. Because if he just goes around doing that unknowingly, he needs to be locked up.

        • Because it would be the difference between a person that recognizes what they did was wrong and making a genuine effort to change (and possibly actually changing) and a person that doesn’t care and keeps doing wrong things.

        • John Anderson says:

          “without explicit consent ”

          A lot depends on how you define explicit and I think that is the point of the article. In a committed relationship where the two people have known each other for years, they’re familiar with what each other likes, their limitations, etc.; often the consent is implicit. If you kissed a stranger without their consent in many jurisdictions that would be a type of sexual assault or sexual battery. If one spouse kisses a sleeping spouse or a parent kisses a sleeping child, they can’t consent. Is that also sexual battery?

          I think most people who say that the situation outlined in this article is rape without reservation would argue that kissing a sleeping spouse without explicit consent is not sexual assault / battery.. I suspect that the resistance to labeling it as such stems from the belief that it is something that women could / would be an equal initiator of and so would not qualify as a sex crime because women can’t rape.

  65. He is not a nice guy. He probably puts on a nice image to get what he wants and when he doesn’t get it that way he takes when he thinks he’ll probably get away with it. Many sociopaths appear charming and ‘nice’, but they don’t actually really care for you. Making it about subliminal signals is wrong. Just excuses. If he really was a nice guy there would be no doubt in his mind. If he’s only thinking of himself and his own pleasure he’s confused as there is a part of him that knows it’s wrong, but he want to do it anyway. Simple as. He’s not a nice guy, get over it already.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      How about Maria in my piece here?

      Is she possibly a nice woman, or is she a sociopath who appears nice?

      • Says a lot for abstinence, doesn’t it?

        @Joanna … I don’t see Maria as nice or not nice. I see her as having issues where she feels the need to do what she does. The “rape” is the end result, we really need to peel the onion layers and find out what’s going on with these ladies. “No” is “No” and there is nothing that can justify rape. The only thing that a guy can do is wait for a clear cut green light and that’s a “yes.” And even then, at any point during the act of sex she declines, the game is over.

        I feel bad for the guy but he did what he did and there is no justification. Sadly, he has to deal with the consequences. I say “sadly” because he appears to be a nice guy that did the wrong thing.

        • An example of classic chauvinism, women can’t be rapists or sociopaths, because they are nice, good, homely and nurturing by nature. Men on the other-hand, some of them are sub-human beasts. But most of us are knights in shining armour who build and protect our world (like me :-) )

          It’s amazing that most feminists say exactly the same things as classic chauvinists as soon as female perpetrators appear…. Unexamined internalized patriarchy anyone?

    • He is not a nice guy. He probably puts on a nice image ….

      Could we have the probability please?

      10%?

      50%?

      3254% which you worked out with your little magic, I invent reality thingy?

      Sociopaths can be filled with glib and superficial charm – and they invent reality too – it’s one of the identifying factors with a 100% probability, or as it’s better known Certainty!

  66. What am I missing in what guys are being taught that a man should EVER think it is okay to have sex with a sleeping woman? I believe sex should be a mutual act of love. How in the world is it anything other than self pleasure if the other person is asleep? I get that he thought she was “into him”.
    I don’t believe that the sentence must be said, “yes I want to have sex with you” every time. My husband & I have learned to communicate such things without all those words.
    But, don’t try to have sex with a sleeping person. That is rape, clear as day. And it is not nice or loving.

    • My last ltr involved a woman who explicitly told me on more than one occasion she would love waking up with me inside her. I’m quite certain she was serious,

    • I feel very conflicted about this article! I do agree we need some serious dialogue with men to explain what is and is not appropriate or what is or is not consent. I totally get that. But this particular instance of the freind… if the woman was sleeping, how could he not know what he did was wrong? That a sleeping person can’t give consent? This is a common sense thing, not a societal ignorance thing. and i don’t believe the man was “nice” (not convinced he is a sociopath either) because if he was nice and wanted to have great sex, he would have had fun with the sexy woman while she was awake! i remain unconvinced this case is murky. ask anyone who passed out at a frat party and woke up missing eyebrows, car keys, or with marker doodles on their face if they felt violated. now mulitply that feeling of anger and hurt times a million to imagine someone had the audacity to penetrate you while you were asleep. why does this need explaining? how can a man truly believe this? any man (or woman) with connected brain cells should be able to sort this out on their own without a societal intervention. imo, the friend was looking for an excuse, and knew blatantly saying “she led me on, she asked for it” was not going to go over.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        That’s why I chose this case. It’s not murky, at all. It’s rape, and that’s why I called it rape, from the get-go. But I also chose it because – having been witness to everything leading up to it and all the conversations in my community after it, as well as countless hours with him – there were so many people for whom it was murky. And that confusion, right there, is the point that needs discussing.

        I agree that it’s rape, clear as the nose on my face. Furhter, that there is nothing she could say or do to deserve or justify it. Period.

        But it was murky for him. And a lot of other people. And there were a lot of things leading up to it that would make lots of people question it, or even be sure that’s what she wanted. I chose this case because it’s interesting. What if she hadn’t been asleep, but just kind of wasted and not totally with it? What if they both were? Would all of her actions meant something different then?

        (In my mind, NO. I am very clear on the need for verbal and enthusiastic consent, annoyingly so.) But just becuase it is clear for you and I doesn’t mean it’s clear for everyone. And it is the people who DON’T GET it, that we need to try and figure out, to understand, to reach with better messaging. And it starts with trying to figure out why a basically decent guy can get this so tragically wrong. (Because they do. There have been lots of stories in this comment thread alone illustrating that.) We have to accept that not everyone thinks like we do, acts like we do (or want them to) and start unraveling the why.

        It is OBVIOUS to me that this was rape and that he is fully responsible for it. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to step back from that moment in time and figure out where the signals in his brain got so messed up that he could think this was okay to do. Why did he think that, no matter how much flirtation or seduction had led up to it, he was ENTITLED to do this?

        That’s what I’m asking. And “he’s an asshole” doesn’t provide us with any insight from which we can build better systems. So we have to ask.

        • i didn’t mean to suggest you didn’t see this incident as rape. i actually was very pleased you placed blame on him. i also know there is a lot of gray area and victim blaming when it comes to rape. however, i don’t think your friend (like most rapists) believed he was innocent. i think these men rely on society to give them a pass because sluts deserve it, because she sent mixed signals, insert favorite victim blaming statement, etc etc… but everyone knows sex without consent is rape. everyone also knows a sleeping/unconcious person cannot give consent. i think he did this because he wanted to, and he figured he could blame her behavior or she just wouldn’t remember any of it. i don’t understand why sex with a sleeping person is a murky area. i can see pretending to be confused/ victim blaming in an attempt to avoid consequences, but i believe he knew in his heart what he did was rape. but as you said he felt “entitled”, which usually means someone think they are allowed privileges nobody else has. his entitelement was no different than any other rapist, but for him to get what he ‘deserved’ someone had to sacrifice. and i remain unconvinced he is a nice guy, he sounds like he has the same entitelment complex as every other rapist. he gets to have sex at her expense because he allowed to. and if she complains he can blame her. this isnt anything murky about this, it’s the same excuse every other rapist uses. that being said, i really do think we should shed light on the gray areas, if she had been drunk that might be a gray area that needs explaining so people understand why it’s wrong.

          • Alyssa ROyse says:

            I appreciate your perspective. I even agree with it, much of the time. I don’t see a grey area here, which is why I called it rape. What I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that this was a good guy, who really fucked up really badly.

            I absolutely believe that there is a large degree of entitlement in this case and in most date rape cases, which is precisely what i was saying we need to talk about. Where does it come from? What feeds it? What triggers it? What signals triggered what reactions in his brain – or the brain of countless other men and women who do the same thing – to think that “it’s okay if I do this, they want it.” And how much do social settings confuse the situation. Does drinking / party culture cause all of us to make decisions that put us at risk this? Does media show us that this is okay. (That scene in Superbad, where they guys are talking about getting girls drunk at a party so they can be “that guy” the girls accidentally fuck while they’re drunk?)

            While I don’t want to add any new information than the very general stuff I already said, I did say there was heavy drinking and drugging. I think we need to look at that, from all sides.

            I understand that my continued assertion that he was a normal guy, even a nice one, is problematic for people. But he was. Probably is, I haven’t talked to him in a long time. But I do think it is vitally important that we understand that even though YOUR brain and MY brian and lots of other brains would NEVER do this. A lot of people don’t think like we do. And like it or not, THEY are the ones we have to figure out and re-program, if you will. And that isn’t possible if we start by writing them off. If you want to be all sneaky super-spy about it, think about it as understanding the enemy. Get inside their brains to figure out how to reprogram them, from the inside. The Trojan Horse of social change.

            I just don’t think in terms of enemies. I think in terms of possibility to engage in dialog to create change. And generally speaking, it’s hard to have an open and respectful dialog if one sees the other person as a pointless, vile irredeemable enemy.

            People are latching on to the idea that I excused him. I did no such thing. I started out by calling him a rapist and stuck with that to the bitter end. People are latching on to the idea that I blame her. Nope, Did the opposite, until the bitter end. Stated several times that she didn’t ask for it, not her fault.

            My fatal flaw seems to be in asking WHY he thought it was okay, (and as the only person here who knows him, you’re gonna have to trust me that he really thought that they’d been building up to this for weeks. He was wrong, as I said, but he believed it. And you have to understand someone’s belief system before you can work on changing it.) I’m still asking why. Big time.

  67. IMO, sex should only happen when both/all parties are aware and enthusiastic. If that is not the case, whether someone is asleep, drunk or just unsure, then things should stop right there. Every time! If someone doesn’t think that their partners enthusiasm is necessary, then maybe that aren’t as nice as they think they are.

    • John Anderson says:

      Although I think enthusiastic consent is ideal, I don’t think it’s the only valid sex. People in relationships compromise all the time. I heard women say they’ve had sex with men because they deserved it or they care about him and it makes him happy. You have to look at the totality of the relationship to determine the validity of unwanted consensual sex.

      • “You have to look at the totality of the relationship to determine the validity of unwanted consensual sex.”

        Exactly! And context can be everything. I told my better half very early into our relationship that as long as I’m not screaming “No! No!” and trying to claw his eyes out (or puking my guts out from the ‘flu or some dire thing), I’m fine with having sex whenever he wants to, and I do (enthusiastically) mean it.

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          Okay, so…. at the risk of inviting more threats of bodily harm and cancelled speaking engagements, let me double down on this one, because this is where it starts to get messy / interesting / scary / productive.

          “You have to look at the totality of the relationship to determine the validity of unwanted consensual sex.”

          I agree with you 100%. The question for many – and me too – is when does a “relationship” start? Is it the first hello? A few emails? Is it the totality of conversations that have been had, some of which may have been sexual? I know that for me, generally speaking, I’ve talked about sex a lot with someone before I get around to doing it. Does all of that feed into a persons perception of where they are in terms of “permission” to have sex in the absence of explicit verbal commands of yes or no?

          I think this is where the heart of the problem lies. That said, I agree with you, I just don’t know how to translate that into active communication lessons for people in the real world. In casual acquaintanceship or casual meetings, at parties etc…..

          This is a question from me – not a statement. And just to be perfectly clear, in the story I originally told, I believe it was rape because she was asleep and did not consent. But could the totality of their interactions prior impacted his perception of permission? He would still be wrong, but I think that possibility might be where the need for re-education lies.

          • Alyssa,

            You ask such characteristically American questions! :) And I don’t say this to be critical; merely observant. My better half is not American, and my own family is European. There’s a distinct cultural difference between me and some of the posters here. I was taught that a woman’s — scratch that, a person’s — tacit communication was just as powerful and poignant as express verbal communication when it comes to intent. Don’t want to have sex with someone? Don’t allude to it. Don’t engage in heavy petting that might lead to one or both people becoming unduly frustrated. And for god’s sake, don’t get *drunk* with him/her. If you go to someone’s bed, naked and willing, that is clear intent. I love my better half madly, truly and very deeply, as I have for some time now; *this* is his permission.

            And there’s some, but not all, of your context.

            My better half knew exactly how I felt about sex before the fact, and this was because we could both talk about it and express our expectations of each other freely. While this might seem like a wildly liberal (and somewhat unromantic) approach, it might help explain why other cultures do not examine this issue under such an intense microscope. I would ask your friend why he put himself in such an unfortunate position with this woman, not really knowing how she felt about sex. What she deemed permissible and what she did not.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              You made me smile. (That’s hard these days!) I asked that question not because I *really* needed it, but because I think it is something that many Americans simply don’t get. Our actions and non-verbal cues are a form of communication, a very powerful one. And we don’t give them the attention they deserve, or the caution.

              I’m a word girl. I believe in words, I have taught my daughters to use them ALL THE TIME. But I have also taught them to pay attention to their nonverbal communication, and to learn to try and read the impact their nonverbal communication is having on people. Because people read those meta-messages all the time.

              When it comes to sexuality, this is extra troubling because on the one hand we want to be free to sexually express whenever, wherever and however we want to. An idea that I support 1,000%. As I said in the article, I like to go out dressed in leather pants and a corset. But I am not oblivious to the energy that sends off. I have every right to do it, and I do, but I am then very aware of how that changes people’s interactions with me.

              I am equally aware when I am having a sexually charged conversation with someone, whether I meant it to be or not. And when that happens, I generally make damn good and clear that sex is not my intent and draw boundaries in terms of expectations. I have been known to ask – and be asked – if this is a comfortable tone or not…. Precisely because initiating a sexually charged conversation with someone can be seen as any number of things, including a prelude to sex. It is more than a matter of safety (yes, people, you may now rail on me for victim-blaming,) it is also a matter of manners. If this guy is spending his time chatting me up because he thinks he’s going to get laid, it’s just rude of me to let him continue to think that. If sex is his quest for the night (a quest I heartily endorse) then I am wasting his time by letting him chat me up.

              This is the problem with not giving non-verbal communication the weight it deserves. Acknowledging the power it has. It’s real.

              FWIW, I did ask my friends all those questions. And I was one angry woman. Also terribly shocked and confused that he could do this. How? But the answer was what started this line of questioning for me. He genuinely believed that after several weeks of intense flirting, talking about sex, rubbing and touching and then getting wasted and falling in to bed together, this was a foregone conclusion. He believed this was what she wanted. Expected. I am pretty sure the neighbors could have heard me yell, “she can’t consent if she’s asleep, idiot.” But, all that “stuff” before….. ya, all that isn’t really a hill of beans.

              Which is what gets me to my original question. Is it possible that we simply do not pay enough attention to nonverbal cues and context when teaching consent. That an otherwise decent person can be genuinely confused? There are plenty of examples on this thread (which has been the best discussion of these issues I have seen anywhere) of both men and women who have said “yes.” Who have been in just such a confused situation and crossed someone’s boundaries, had theirs crossed, or done something in the nether world of “WTF was I thinking, how could I have been so careless?”

              My contention remains that there is a lot of grey area here and that “yes” and “no” would be the easiest way to solve this in the ideal world. In the real world, it rarely happens and people rely, instead, on nonverbal meta-messaging that can be woefully incorrect and lead to a lot of damage.

            • Is it possible that we simply do not pay enough attention to nonverbal cues and context when teaching consent. That an otherwise decent person can be genuinely confused?
              Possibly not paying enough attention or the cues are not being sent clearly enough. I know that when it comes to flirting and dating it is said that nonverbal cues not given or received clearly (or received at least because it seems that if a cues is not received it is nearly always considered a failing on the recipient’s part). Surely flirting isn’t the only time where clarity is lacking.

            • I hope that you also teach your daughters, when they are old enough, the same things that you yourself have learned for yourself — and that my mother taught me. These are so valuable; you cannot know! Coming from a different background, I was also flummoxed by college friends who repeatedly got themselves into the same (or similar) situation your friend’s lady friend did and bitterly regretted it. Now we have reached a point where consent is tantamount between lovers, no matter how familiar they are to each other. How sad. Because I rather enjoy when my better half takes my hand and, without a word, leads me to the bedroom with that certain sparkle in his eyes.

              Another poster touched on the subject of alcohol removing one’s sexual inhibitions, and I think this is what I find profoundly disturbing. This should never be necessary when two people feel comfortable and secure with their own sexuality. There’s a fine line between feeling comfortably warm and free and being unable to process things logically, and it’s easily crossed with just one more sip, and here is where our trouble begins. If one needs alcohol to feel comfortable around a prospective lover, this in itself is very telling.

              (And very American, too.)

            • Alyssa ROyse says:

              I could not agree more strongly with you. I think that alcohol and sexual shame / fear / inexperience are a dangerous combination.

              When I’m not busy enraging people, that’s why I work on issues of sexual shame and autonomy. I believe that the path to safe sexuality is by eliminating shame and uncertainty. And we’ve come a long ways, but we have a ways to go. Fundamentally, however, consent is rooted in being able to comfortably discuss what we do and don’t want sexually. I know very few people who can do that. I think that is key. We can’t shame people about sexuality all the time, and then magically expect them to be able to communicate about it clearly when the time comes.

              My upbringing was very European. I was taught that sex is a beautiful and natural thing. I was taught that it’s okay to want it, enjoy it, like it, talk about it. So many of the problems I see in my work and in my social groups are rooted in not being comfortable enough with sex and sexuality to accept their own, much less communicate with a partner.

              The best advice I was ever given about sex was from my step-father, who told me, “if you are not comfortable enough with a man to put a condom on his cock yourself, you shouldn’t even think about having sex with him.” I have repeated that advice to many, my own daughter included, and added, “if you feel like you need a drink to take the edge off to do it, then don’t do it. That’s your body telling your brain that this is not right.”

            • I’ve been looking at this set of comments by Lisa for a few days and racking my brain over a reference. It’s quite refreshing to hear another None American expressing views about how there are cultural differences in rape outside of The USA. The reference I was looking for is from another None American who has been observing US Culture for a while. I had to delve all the way back into the Encyclopaedia Of Rape – Merril D. Smith – 2004.

              In the United States the belief that representations of violence reproduce real violence was reinforced in the 1980s and 1990s by an intensified debate of prominent cases of rape, date rape, and sexual harassment within the media. This prominence of rape and sexual violence in popular culture seemed to suggest that American culture is a “rape culture.” However, the term rape culture misleadingly hints that rape occurs more frequently in a culture that talks about rape intensively than in cultures that deny its existence. Instead of documenting the state of real rape, though, the deployment of rape in American popular culture bespeaks the status of rape as a central trope within the American cultural imagination.

              Sabine Sielke – Page 150.

  68. Honestly, I’ve been accused of rape, just for sending a PHONE CALL to a friend when she didn’t want it. All I asked was if she wanted to go see a movie, eat icecream, or play video games. She misinterperated it as an invitation of sex, and called the police on me. I didn’t even find her physically attractive, nor did she even wear revealing clothes.

    It spread around school. Every girl at college, ran away from me, afraid I was going to rape them. Nobody beleived my side of the story. Everybody just blamed me for misreading signals, when the GIRL was the one who was misreading signals. Every girl at school harassed me for it. I kept being called to the Principal’s office for stalking, when I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t allowed to even talk to anyone, or even be in the same hallway as anyone without a stalking complaint.

    I hope you understand all the shit I’ve gone through.

  69. Veruka Salty says:

    ‘Just because someone has a sexuality does not entitle you to use it any more than someone else having a car entitles you to drive it.’

    THIS!

    The cultural narrative cuts both ways and your article has given me a framework to understand and question some of my underlying assumptions – my experience includes times I’ve had sex when I didn’t really want to because “well I was dressed and acted like I wanted it so how can I say no now…” and also I am afraid I’ve pushed men to have sex when they may not have been entirely into it because of my (now-passed) thought that, ‘well all men want it’.

    Thank you for so clearly stating something that I definitely needed to hear and ponder on.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      You’re welcome. We’re so addicted to a black and white binary here that moving the discussion to one of a systemic issue is hard and uncomfortable. But you are right that it goes both ways. Although that final fateful decision to use someone as a sexual vehicle against their will is always the fault of the user, we MUST look at the underlying messages that start them down that path.

      • ….addicted to a black and white binary….

        It’s not just the addiction, it’s the mainlining.

        • At the risk of introducing a new binary to the binary – I feel the divide is between the problem solvers and the preachers. Problem solving is an iterative process much like washing your clothes. As an atheist, one of my process Gods is the iterative process. The beauty of this process is that it works even when those using have other beliefs-:)

          • It is an interesting way of looking at it – so how does one manage the binary and iterate out of the pit? Serious Question. Is it by weight of numbers or by number if iterations? Can 1 problem solver overcome 1 million preachers?

          • Alyssa Royse says:

            I totally agree. That’s why I never liked church. “Because I said so” just never seemed like a solution to really big problems.

  70. why is it a mans job to gain consent from a woman? how doe this not make her or her “sexuality” a prize to be won?

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      That’s a fair question, and one that needs to be discussed. I think that we can actually remove gender from it as a starting point and suggest that if you are unsure as to whether someone is interested in engaging in sexual activity with you, it is your responsibility to ask. Just like you can’t go into a store and start shopping just because you want to, if the store isn’t open. It is also up to both parties to make sure their intent / desire is known. If either party is clear that they do not want to engage in anything sexual with someone, they should say so the moment it starts to seem like that energy is being tapped. (Huge problem is that both sexual energy and awareness of it is different or everyone, so yes, we risk looking foolish if we ‘over communicate’ too soon. But, personally, I’d rather look foolish than the other options.) Intent and interest can also change, and as such probably needs to be revisited periodically – over the course of an evening or over the course of a longer acquaintance. That said, if one has communicated clearly that they are not interested in sexual activity, and another person tries to get some anyway, well, just like the store analogy that’s a crime. Going into a closed store to get the stuff you want is B&E and theft. Going after sex when you have been told “no” is rape.

      Of course, there is a whole lot of stuff in between an explicit yes or an explicit no, and that’s what we’re really talking about here.

      Regardless of your gender, if you want to initiate sexual activity with someone, you need to make sure they want it too. Regardless of your gender, it is your responsibility to clearly state your boundaries at all times.

    • Good Question!

    • John Anderson says:

      @ lolol

      “why is it a mans job to gain consent from a woman? how doe this not make her or her “sexuality” a prize to be won?”

      It’s the responsibility of the person who initiates to ensure they have consent. Why are men usually expected to initiate? It’s partly due to women’s sexuality being repressed and partly due to the perception that a man’s manliness is defined by the number of sexual partners and the amount of sex he has. It may have something to do with men wanting sex more. There could indeed be a biological difference and I wouldn’t rule that out.

      • It’s the responsibility of the person who initiates to ensure they have consent.

        Very Bad – It takes two to consent and either one can opt out at any time – else you just reversed most rape laws on the globe and the Oz Joke/Trope/Stereotype of “Brace Yourself Sheila” has a whole new life.

        • John Anderson says:

          “Very Bad – It takes two to consent and either one can opt out at any time”

          And when one does, it’s up to them to signal that to their partner.

  71. Alyssa Royse says:

    Amidst the storm this piece caused, and the threats to me being delivered by every means possible, I want to thank the commenters on this site for upholding a healthy debate that has been, for the most part, reasonable and thoughtful. I know that many people are upset with how I framed this, but I did it for a reason. That reason is that everyday, somewhere, a woman is harmed by a man who everyone says is “such a nice guy.” In some cases, it’s alcohol, hormones and stupidity that cause it. In some cases they are true sociopaths. There are as many reasons that sexual violence takes place as there are people impacted by it.

    Most of them are not irredeemably bad people – as much as we’d like them to be. Those, we like to think, are easy to pick out. (Ask anyone who married an abuser how untrue that is.) If they are just irredeemably bad, then we have no responsibility for it, no guilt, no need to change. But that also isn’t true, ask anyone who got wasted and just fucked up.

    To ask WHY this happens doesn’t lessen the pain for the people it happens to. Or the guilt for the people who do it. But it does start to allow us to break down the systems that support it. People have told me that I embody Rape Culture. I find that ironic. It’s those who want to pass the buck, make it somebody else’s problem, bury their head in the sand who not only embody, but enable, Rape Culture. As long as we believe it is someone else’s problem, we can avoid fixing it.

    I started asking WHY immediately after my own rape. (I was stalked and raped at gunpoint when I was 16 by someone who broke into my home when I was sleeping.) I began working as a victims advocate, and I began working with a group that worked with rapists. I sat with these men for hours and hours listening to their stories of why they did it, what happened to make them think they could, should.

    At the time, people called me brave. That seems ironic now.

    I am still asking WHY. Why does this happen. IF we don’t ask WHY, it will keep happening. I don’t regret asking. And I don’t regret bringing it home, to every “nice guy” every drunken party, every media image. Because it is in all of those crossing perceptions that I think the answer lies.

    I thank those of you here who have stayed engaged. We knew we were asking a hard question. And this is the only place where the dialog stayed even vaguely reasonable. I thank you.

    • “Second, and I think more importantly, you wanted to talk about how he misread the signals, but you left out the most important one. Did he think he had consent? Because if he thought he had consent, it is very important to discuss why he though that if we want to understand what he did and why. If he didn’t think he had consent, the question is why he thought it was acceptable to have sex with a woman without her consent.”

      You’ve narrowed it down to “he thought he had consent” or “he knew he didn’t have consent”. It’s entirely possible that neither is true, since he spent the night consuming a drug which affects the brains frontal lobes, where decision making takes place.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        And we’re getting ready to have that one too….. Like it or not, I’m all in on this one. It is going to take a lot of people, a lot of angles and a lot of shit storm to solve this. As soon as the personal attacks against me as a person, with very real and unsettling threats and stalking behavior with them stop.

        • John Anderson says:

          “As soon as the personal attacks against me as a person, with very real and unsettling threats and stalking behavior with them stop.”

          Don’t they realize that’s misogyny? The ironic thing is that most of that is probably coming from self identified feminists. I’ve had people wish I’d die a violent death, but never came across anyone who actually threatened to facilitate it at least when it came to on-line discussions.

          • No you see John it’s only misogyny when MRAs and non feminists do it. When a feminist attacks a woman that dares to speak her mind it’s “calling out”.

          • John Anderson says:

            “It’s not really that uncommon. Has precisely jack shit to do with misogyny..”

            When feminists like Anita Sarkeesian are attacked in this way, feminists universally condemn it as misogyny. I point out the hypocrisy in the movement.

      • If consuming drugs makes you unable to stop yourself from raping people, you should not consume drugs.

  72. While I can appreciate the candidness, sensitivity and sensibilities of this article, I thought it was a no- brainer NOT to have sex with someone who was ASLEEP! There is no chance for consent (or reciprocation – it takes two to have sex) with a person who is sleeping. It saddens me that it needs to be explained to men not to have sex with someone who is sleeping, but I’m glad you wrote the article because there is obviously the need for education on what I thought was the obvious, as well as common sense respect.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      I agree 100%. Seems obvious as the nose on my face (which is prodigious, I might add.) And doubly thank you for seeing that that is PRECISELY why we need to have this conversation. It should be obvious to everyone, and obviously isn’t.

      • I’m a man and I don’t ever remember learning from society that its okay to have sex with sleeping woman. I ask all of my friends and no one thought its okay to have sex with sleeping woman. So? Do you really think that majority of nice guys think its okay to have sex with sleeping woman? Is this some kind of new “nice guys syndrome” theory?

  73. anniebeesting says:

    To me, this is all pretty obvious. Even if it was her goal to get this man into bed and have sex, it’s the fact that he penetrated her while she was asleep that created the problem. If she’d been awake, there’s every chance she would have consented, so he was stupid! If he’d started some gentle cuddling to wake her up, everything may have been okay, but his choice to penetrate her while still asleep , no matter what else may or may not have happened, before or after, is simply rape and he is a fool if he didn’t realise that. Even if she really liked him and had hoped for a great night in bed, she had to be conscious to give her consent. I don’t care if he’s a “good guy”, what I think is he’s a pretty stupid guy…..

  74. Ms. Royce, while I appreciate what you have tried to accomplish both with this piece and by moderating this discussion, I believe you are terribly misinformed and being dangerously misleading. To the extent that readers are rushing to accept both your (or others’) inaccurate portrayals of the reality of sexual violence, there is potential harm being done. Briefly:

    -You have continued to insist, because of the “countless hours” you’ve apparently spent with him, that your friend (the original subject of this piece) is a “sweet” guy. A nice guy. And you know this because….? Nice is a behavior, Ms. Royce. It is not a trait. Nice is what this man does- apparently to you as well- but it is hardly what he is. Sexually penetrating an unconscious person is rape (as you fairly point out) but it is not the kind of thing that is in any way difficult to avoid or easy to fall into. One doesn’t mistake a lack of consciousness. It is often accompanied by urinating on oneself, vomiting, or at least closed eyes, somniferous breathing, and an utter lack of cooperation/participating in the act. My guess? He was horrified not by his “mistake” but by her accusation. Since the vast majority of women who are violated even more clearly than his victim do not report, he was acting rationally in believing that he could rape her and get away with it. He probably has before. He probably will again, despite your protestations regarding his character to the contrary.

    -I beg you to google one name: David Lisak. Dr. Lisak is a ground-breaking researcher in this area who has determined with far more scientific discipline how undetected rapists like your friend actually work.

    -I’m sorry, but the issues at work here are far less complicated than you are attempting to make them. And forgive me, but when you attempt to make them more complicated you are putting more women (and some men) in danger. That’s right- that’s my contention. What you’re doing here is creating an elaborate cocktail party conversation with many willing participants about a highly misunderstood and controversial issue. But instead of clearing the air, you’re darkening it. In so doing, you are in fact being an apologist for the relatively few but highly prolific rapists out there who depend on a well-intended but foolish obfuscation of their crystal-clear intent. Please refrain.

    Roger Canaff

    • Just what we needed: more accusations of apologism, histrionic cries of “You’re putting people in danger!”, and fact dreaming about the man in the primary example.

      Only this time, with a top hat and a monocle.

      • The “fact dreaming” is Royce’s (about this man), not mine. I prosecuted sexual assault for over a decade, continue to train nationally and internationally on the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence, and I train with the very top nationally recognized experts not only in prosecution, but also in investigation, psychology, criminology, and every other aspect of this type of offending. If you’d like to debate facts, research and very sober reality, please reach out to me by email. I’m happy to clue you in.

        • So you’ve mostly dealt with repeat offenders, then?

          • Yes, I have. Many, I knew through other evidence to be repeat offenders. And in any event, good, recent and replicated research reveals that undetected rapists (the kind who commit most of the offenses) victimize repeatedly. Another thing that Ms. Royce is wrong about- there are not 50% of men committing what she apparently believes are “accidental rapes” or some such thing. There is a far lower percentage repeatedly victimizing women and some men. And they’re immensely helped by the apologetics of people who seek to make the issue of sexual violence more complex and blameless (“it’s all of faults!”) than is accurate.

            • Is it the habit of undetected rapists to call rape hotline workers to discuss the circumstances of their rapes?

              I’m sorry, I just respectfully disagree that the circumstances around the incident in question point to a “crystal clear intent”. Honestly, it sounds to me that, since you’ve dealt mostly with repeat offenders, you’re trying to shoehorn in the conclusion that the person in question is a repeat offender.

              And, also, nope – still not apologetics.

            • Drew, you could certainly be right. I just don’t think so. As I said above in another comment, the reason he reached out to Royce (and I concede- that’s a fair point) may be because he genuinely felt terrible. Feeling bad for having done a bad thing is not an uncommon experience for a non-psychopathic person. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t make a choice to sexually penetrate an unconscious person when he did. If so, then his intent- to sexually penetrate an unconscious person and thus commit a rape- was, in fact, crystal clear. You seem to be arguing- as I think Ms. Royce so unfortunately does- that his intent to rape is somehow colored by her actions toward him (the ones Royce takes great pains to outline). But as I said above, those signals DO NOT MATTER at the time the penetration of an unconscious person occurs. Rather, there is only one signal that matters. One. When a sexual aggressor is ready to initiate a sexual act, he must have the “signal” of enthusiastic consent from a lucid person. S/he doesn’t need to be sober, but lucid and enthusiastically consenting. I said this before- there is nothing awkward, uncool or unrealistic in sexual activity for an agressor to stop, look at his partner, and say “you’re okay with this?” and then honestly gauge the response to make sure it’s okay to proceed. I’m 45, a heavy but still social drinker, yet unmarried, and I’ve done this quite a few times. It’s never difficult or mood-killing or anything else. It’s the right thing to do.

              The hand-wringing worries from men in response to this are always the same: “But what if I do that and still got it wrong, and then she ‘cries rape’ the next day?” That almost never happens. Despite the protestations of paranoid men (or worse) to the contrary, most women (and men) who are clearly violated do not report or complain to anyone. So-called close calls, fuzzy situations, too-drunk sex, whatever- those situations almost invariably end up with both parties going on at best unharmed and at worst regretful. It’s not hard to keep from raping somebody. It just isn’t. And it’s much harder and less attractive than people think to accuse someone falsely or mistakenly.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              I remain absolutely stunned at how impossible it seems to be for some people to remember that I called it RAPE and him a RAPIST about 14 times. I have not wavered from that, nor will I. By your own admission there, nonpsychotic men do this. THAT IS WHAT WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT AND STOP.

              I did not apologize for him. Ever. Nor would I. And did not show him a ton of compassion, not much of any actually. What I did then, and now, is try to figure out why men who do not realize at the time that what they are doing is rape (and therefore fall well outside the scope of the Lisak study) do this.

              I agree with you that for some people – myself included – asking for consent is easy and kinda sexy. But that is not the case for everyone. WHY? That’s what we need to work on.

              For people who are not like you and me – for whom consent is easy. And people who are outside the scope of the Lisak study – neither aware committing nor intending to commit rape in a predatory manner.

              Lisak interviewed a narrowly defined group of offenders. You and I also represent a discrete category of people. Why is is to impossible to think there may be other types of people that do not fit into either of those discrete categories? Yes, it challenges your narrative, and the popular narrative of many others, to think that this is black and white. But given the stories told in this comment thread alone, how can you still deny the existence of a spectrum of perspectives? That is insanity.

              And again, in my story, HE RAPED HER and as such I called him A RAPIST. That was never in debate. The question was WHY. And the answer is not in the Lisak study.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Further, Lisak and McWhorter are fine as far as they go. But you have to remember that they are looking at one small section of rape and rapists. THOSE WHO SELF IDENTIFY and knowingly, intentionally commit rape. For anti-rape activists to build their entire platform on that one, very focused study does a disservice to rape and rape survivors in general, it is flawed foundation because their methodology can only underreport rape in the aggregate. If we are to say that ALL rape is defined by this narrow study, then we codify the underreporting of rape, which is the EXACT opposite of what rape activists need to – and claim to – do. Can you defend the underreporting of rape, because that’s what you’d have to do to hang your hat on this study. What i believe, and consistently hear from other rape activists is that rape is MORE prevalent, MORE unexamined, than people think. I suspect that is BECAUSE of clinging to studies and narrow definitions such as Lisak and McWhorter. THAT is precisely the narrow-dogma that supports underreporting and the perpetuaiton of sexual violence against people who tehn suffer in silence because they don’t believe they were raped, or certainly don’t believe they are rapists.

              That is why the story I used is so vital. Lasik & McWhorter and the narrowly defined definition of rape is PRECISELY why rape is so underreported. Please, justify that for me. As we fight against how horrible the underreporting is, and cling to this narrow definition. It makes no logical sense.

              Yet as we seek to expand both the definition and the dialog, precisely to catch those undereported occurrences, we are called rape apologists. It’s illogical in every way. So please, explain that. They only address PART of the problem. We are looking at possible roots for the rest of the problem.

              You can EASILY back that idea up by reading the countless comments on this thread alone from people who say that they personally were in that painful and murky area that Lisak and McWhorter don’t even acknowledge the existence of. I truly do not get it.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Clarifying – the men in the Lisak & McWhorter study KNEW THEY DID NOT HAVE CONSENT and identified as such. They self-identify as knowing they did not have consent, not as “rapists.” In my enthusiasm I blurred that. Because in my mind, if you know you don’t have consent, and do it anyway, you’re a rapist.

              The men in the study KNEW THEY DID NOT HAVE CONSENT and did it anyway. That is a small subset. It does not catch the many cases, like the one I outlined, in which that is not the case. And is almost certainly a major cause of the underreporting of rape.

            • Mr Canff – you present yourself as a power house in the field of Law – Prosecution and Sexual offences. I am surprised by your repeated behaviour which for any professional in the field would raise concerns.

              I am sorry to have to raise a few issues with you yet again. I have made comment previously but you seemed to believe I was insulting you when I asked you questions. You did “Not” answer the questions.

              So will you please explain why as a self professed expert in the field of prosecution of sexual assault, and apparently training others in the subject globally, why do you have such low evidentiary standards?

              You take the reports from a person you have never met about a Third Party you have never met – take additional comments from a blog which you are fully aware and you admit is a hot bed of contention and in no way reliable – and then you synthesise these into 100% clear Expert opinion which you present with a level of certainty and authority which I personally have never seen in academia, law enforcement or the Judiciary of the UK and Europe!

              I just happen to be aware of a number of the studies, investigations and protocols you are making reference to, and I have never seen them presented in such an absolutist manner and placed upon a pedestal reconstructed from such a poor evidentiary source!

              Given that you state you are an expert prosecutor, I am bemused as to what you would use in court.

              If you are basing your stated training on an international basis upon your understanding of evidence and it’s standards, I wonder if your tone is not a little too strident and authoritative and even misleading. But It is odd because misleading others and even being dangerous is exactly what you keep accusing others of being. Could you please explain very clearly that root cause and nature of this disparity?

              I have to say that the way you use some evidence, and the way you use asides, would be subject to the most Strenuous of Objections if you were in court, and you know that. So I have to wonder – if you are aware that your language and conduct would not be suitable for a court of law, why would you dress in such language here and think it 1st) to be authoritative and people would even see it as such and 2nd) believe it remotely acceptable?

              I would also request that you consider moderating the tone of your language. You are fully aware ( or reasonably aught to be so aware ) that there has been an ongoing issue of cyber harassment, abuse, bullying concerning people you keep referring to in most negative tones! As A Self Professed Professional And Expert Prosecutor in The Filed of Sexual Assault and Abuse you SIR will be fully aware of how improper conduct and language can affect people subjected to matters such as cyber harassment, abuse, bullying – and so I have to wonder why as a SELF PROFESSED EXPERT you seem incapable of moderating your language and conduct so as to not cause further damage and distress.

              Is it SIR – that you are not as Professional and well trained as you claim, or is it that you don’t give a damn because you think yourself in court and getting a conviction is all that matters – or is it that you just have very bad manners and your parents failed to raise you with a sense of appropriate conduct?

              If you are such an expert and feel so strongly you can always write a detailed response and have it published here – and then other comment can be made. I am aware though of just how many are willing to make comment and never step up to the mark, so It will be no surprise if you do not do so.

              In any event, I would request that even if you should not answer my questions you consider altering your tone, language and conduct, because SIR – as a professional you should know that it is wrong and you need to self regulate, especially because of your claims of expertise in areas that you are presently transgressing and you can’t but be aware of how damaging they would be!

            • Seeing as you are a prosecutor, I have a question. 2 people are drunk, stumbling drunk, they both have sex enthusiasticly. Did they both rape each other or does it only count as rape if one feels raped? If they wakeup the next day and both go on with life as normal and enjoy the night before is it still rape since alcohol impaired their ability to consent or does that only really come into play for people who were given alcohol to get drunker than the other person or those who passed out?

              Yes I am a handwringer because I’m unclear of the law and never ever wanna rape someone, my understanding of the law is alcohol impairs judgment so you can’t consent, but it makes me believe many people who have drunken but enthusiastic sex are still raping each other because neither can consent to the best of their ability? Or is it only if they’ve passed out?

            • “But that doesn’t mean he didn’t make a choice to sexually penetrate an unconscious person when he did. If so, then his intent- to sexually penetrate an unconscious person and thus commit a rape- was, in fact, crystal clear.”

              This is another point we disagree on. I don’t believe, given that he was under the influence of both alcohol and other drugs (enough so to the point that he himself passed out during the night), that he “had the intent” to commit a rape.

              Much in the same way I wouldn’t say a drunk driver going 100 mph the wrong way on the highway had the intent to be reckless, or, in the likely event of a crash, had the intent of harming someone. When we say intent, we’re talking about a cognitive process which relies on specific brain functions (the ability to consider consequences, empathy, putting a situation into context, memory, etc) – which are inhibited by the effects of alcohol (and many other drugs as well).

              I’m not arguing that he didn’t rape, or that he didn’t make the choice to rape. I’m saying, given what we have heard of the situation, I don’t think he had the ability to understand the concept of consent.

              Which, of course, makes it no less of a rape, and him no less of a rapist. But if these types of “drunken fuck up” rapes are happening, we need to address them as they are (horrible things that people do when they’re too intoxicated to control themselves) and find ways to decrease the likelihood that they will occur (getting people away from the “I’m/He’s a good guy, he would never rape someone no matter how drunk he got!” thinking). Jumping to the conclusion that he had intent to rape, and “probably raped before and probably will again” pushes people, IMO, toward that kind of thinking — because, if I don’t intend to rape anyone, and I’ve never raped before, why should I consider the possibility that I could commit rape?

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              And that’s what I’d like to see us work to figure out, Drew. How do we figure out WHY these “drunken fuck ups” happen without, for a single moment, excusing them. Assuming it is without consent, they are not okay, ever. But they do happen. I’d be willing to bet it’s happening somewhere right now, by someone who didn’t ever think he (or she) would, by someone who is not a predator, by someone who is not likely to do it again IF they can be reached and their thought processes can be figured out and addressed.

              I know that I fall very far on the sober spectrum. In my perfect world sex would be sober, at least until people really really really understood each other in a relationship that had already explored and established boundaries. All early sex would involve explicit verbal consent at almost every step along the way. Prior history & behavior would never be confused for permission, much less consent. I’m actually a fan of using a formalized “yes, no, maybe” questionnaire about everything you can think of sexually – which can be a very fun conversation that is quite sexually stimulating. But we do not live in that world. Some of us do. But not most of us.

              As clearly as I, and many other people, understand that prior behavior is neither permission nor consent, not everybody does. It is the people who DON’T understand that we need to figure out. (And yes, there are clearly people who don’t understand.) As clearly as I, and many other people, that consent is about more than the absence of a “no,” not everybody does. It is the people who DON’T understand that that we need to figure out.

              I hear the frustration in the voices of people who are saying “how the fuck can anyone think that?” Well, that’s exactly what I am asking too. Only I don’t mean it as a statement, I mean it as a very real and urgent question. How can people think this and do this? And what do we need to do to change that?

            • “As clearly as I, and many other people, understand that prior behavior is neither permission nor consent, not everybody does. It is the people who DON’T understand that we need to figure out. (And yes, there are clearly people who don’t understand.)”

              I don’t think that was the case here, though. Again – I don’t think he “thought he had consent” (nor do I think he “knew he didn’t have consent”). I think, again, that he was too intoxicated to understand the concept of consent.

            • John Anderson says:

              “S/he doesn’t need to be sober, but lucid and enthusiastically consenting.”

              Is that some new legal standard? I thought only consent was required.

        • I train with the very top nationally recognized experts not only in prosecution, but also in investigation, psychology, criminology, and every other aspect of this type of offending. If you’d like to debate facts, research and very sober reality, please reach out to me by email. I’m happy to clue you in.

          Odd that – want to get it all out of the Public View!

          As an Expert and Trainer wouldn’t it be better to have it in public view so that it acts as an Educational Tool For the Public on the subject? Especially around Child Abuse … people want to know how to spot people, help kids prevent another Penn State or Church disaster.

          One wonders at the reticence of some experts to debate matters in public, but then again so many are unhappy that due to the net any person could gain access and Question “The Presented” reality. I do find it odd that after some 30 years of dealing with sexual abuse against children so many professionals are unwilling to discuss progress and lessons learned ….. in Public!

          That’s my 30 years of experience by the way and not anyone else’s. P^)

        • Ah, so you’ve spent ten years in the “everybody’s a rapist” mindset… and you don’t think this might have skewed your perceptions a bit?

          • Well that, and relying upon studies which rely upon that bias to formulate questions for people to answer. It’s easy to Build On Bias – It’s ever So hard to Break Virgin Ground and Build whole new levels of understanding.

            “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
            Albert Einstein

    • @ Roger Canaff – You used to prosecute cases and now you train people in the field? P^0

      Whoops – Bubble Existence.

      For a legal expert who’s stock-in trade is the use do language – precision of thought and getting to the bottom of matters …. you sure are using a lot of imprecise, emotionaly triggering and loaded language. But then again, after all these years you probably are so used to doing it you can’t see it. It’s common how behaviour gets controlled by The triad of information, Thinking/Cognition and Emotion.

      At least it’s clear there is a Conflict Of Interest – But the language you are using seems to be about promotion of your image and business interests and not a rational dialogue around a complex subject.

      You do seem to be addicted to the “Overwhelming Trope” – It was blasted out of the water by the CDC report of 12 Months ago.

      Odd that a Professional would not be up to speed with basic tools for a professional job. P^/

      Do you need any assistance with Training people in the subject. We have a wealth of people over here in Europe – and it’s amazing how some Equality Laws and Human Rights make language less loaded and reality clearer.

      • I’m quite familiar with the CDC report and I have no idea what you’re talking about. It might be cultural, but respectfully I am not getting a great deal out of your criticism of my comments other than your assumption that I am self-promoting and/or ignorant to some new way of European thinking regarding sexual violence. By all means, if there are studies or articles you’d suggest I read, please pass them on at [email protected] I would love to sample them.

        • Sorry, I only do private consults and training when the price is right. If you want data and professional interpretation I charge for the service, but presently I’m engaged with other groups and providing you with the information you request would, in my estimation, be a conflict of interest. It’s a nuisance, but I’d rather keep it honest and clear.

          I’m not surprised that you say “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”, It is also highly disturbing given your claims as to expert status.

          Could You explain why the CDC have chosen to impose a gender divide in definitions of rape/sexual assault? When people quote the CDC there is this terrible habit, and some people are of course illiterate in the filed, of the two relevant sets of data not being quoted together – side by side. Why is it so frequent amongst supposed experts too? Any ideas?

          Why would the same action against a person be referred to as rape if the person is female and sexual violence other than rape if the person was male? You are aware of how the definitions being used have skewed data and reporting – aren’t you?

          I also take it you are fully aware that when you compare the two the stats show parity or equality, which means that it’s disingenuous and even unprofessional, to keep on promoting ideas that there is an imbalance – because to do so would in fact amount to Scientific Fraud? You are aware of that, aren’t you?

          There is no need to exchange files or ideas in private and out of the public view. It’s just a case of understanding what is in the public view and wondering why some are ignoring it. I do wonder why so much is being ignored? Do You Know Why?

          I’d love to chat about so much – but it’s best to deal with some basics first – and then we can move on.

          • Alyssa Royse says:

            I will be offline all day. But, MediaHound, for reference, you are talking to someone who feels he has the right to tell a woman she was raped even as she says she wasn’t. This is the same kind of patriarchal and patronizing White Knighting that I think is not only harmful to women in such specific cases, but also hell-bent on keeping their agency down and keeping them dependent on men for their protection. Right down to “men are the only one’s who can keep you safe because nothing you do is your responsibility.” It’s a discussion that is impossible to have because people will immediately scream victim-blaming. Further, it suggests that men are incapable of suppressing their drive to fuck and will therefore morph into predatory monsters looking for weak girls to wield their unfortunate weapons against. Thank god for the myth of weak girls and monster men to perpetuate the need for such saviors in the world. Which, by the way, is also how I feel about Lisk’s work. It is the worst kind of patriarchal mansplainging disguised as protecting women, who are, of course, too weak to protect themselves. White Knights must ensure there are enough damsels in distress in order to keep up their image.

            And for Goddsake, he actually just told a woman that she was raped when she said she wasn’t. Seriously. What’s the term for that? Emotional rape? Intellectual rape?

            I tried not to respond, but was just so offended. Does anyone else see this?

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Further, although Lisak’s work is groundbreaking in many ways, it can also, in many ways, validate the need to understand exactly the questions that I asked. WHY? What do his 1 in 16 narcissistic psychpaths see as “vulnerable” behavior? That would mean understanding the underlying nonverbal cues that they use to pick their victims – which MIGHT mitigate how women behave. (His basic premise.) WHY do his 1 in 16 narcissistic men think that sex – even without consent – is a conquest worth bragging about? If we take all of his research 100%, we are still left with the questions I am asking!

              Why do they think this way? What signals are they picking up that allow them to pick their victims? What systems in society support this behavior and enable it? What behavior patterns in both men and women perpetuate this? Why do we accept it?

              Writing them off as “bad” is fine if that’s what you want to do. But understanding the underlying issues that feed it is even more important then. Maybe 1 in 16 men really are iredeemable monsters, I don’t buy that. I don’t, in general, buy the need to pathologize everything, (though obviously a clinical psychologist would. These, mind you, are the same people that made BDSM a pathology until recently, and homosexuality. Clinical psychologists make human behavior a pathology, that’s what they do.)

              We still need to figure out WHY they think this way, what triggers them, what supports it and work on ways to fix that. Even if we agree that they’re monsters.

            • Ah, finally- the conversation we should be having. And I hope we can have it, Ms. Royce, although I probably won’t respond well to personal attacks and characterizations of myself that are plainly unmerited. I’m fairly confident in what I believe, but honestly, it’s not easy to respond to someone who is calling me an intellectual rapist.

              With regard to that nonsensical charge, I assume you’re referring to a commenter who described a situation in which she felt too drunk to consent, had no memory of beginning or consenting to sexual intercourse, and had a partner who admitted that she became unconscious during his penetration of her. I commented afterward that she probably was raped, because I believe she probably was. Of course I would never challenge her on her characterization of her experience, but I would assert that her characterization was at best equivocal. I work with men and women every single day who offer their opinions to women and men who are unsure about whether they were victimized, and, depending on what is described, encourage a view of the speaker’s experience as a criminal victimization if it seems merited. Arriving at a reasoned judgment like that given a scenario is not in and of itself derogatory, hurtful, inappropriate, or “patriarchal.”

              You are conflating- with perhaps purposeful vindictiveness- the brief ideas I’ve put forth with something far more offensive, which you describe as “White Knighting” or generally trying to keep women viewing themselves as victims who can only be protected by men. That is absolutely not what I’m doing. What I’m doing is challenging your analysis- which is based on nothing I can detect except for your intuition- of how sexual violence plays out between people who know each other.

              Writing off the vast, vast majority of men who see sexual violence as normal, laudable and rewarding as “bad” is for the most part exactly what I will do. I don’t believe they are monsters. I believe they are criminals, unfortunately possessed of criminal/psychologically abnormal characteristics that create the urge within them to rape and rape repeatedly. Are they curable? I don’t know. Where does the urge to harm come from? I am extremely well informed on the state of the art with regard to psychology in this area and I am confident in saying that no one knows. I’m not giving up hope that we’ll ever know, but until we find out, I’m happy to seek to identify, punish and protect from others (men and women, boys and girls) harmful people.

              There is nothing wrong with asking the questions you’re asking, Ms. Royce. But in my opinion you are answering them with flawed premises, bad reasoning, and inept analysis. Since (as you know) what we’re talking about is serious business and not a game, I feel compelled to challenge you. Please- by all means- challenge me back. But I’d appreciate it if you’d refrain from referring to me as personally repugnant because of what I believe based on 15 years in this business.

            • WOW!

            • …you are talking to someone who feels he has the right to tell a woman she was raped even as she says she wasn’t.

              Sorry – but from where I come from in dealing with and counselling people who may or may not have been through that experience …. anyone who forces such views risks contaminating evidence, prejudicing legal proceedings, having cases thrown out or even resulting in miscarriages of justice … and that is just the Legal issue, let alone the personal and individual issues of the person.

              Sorry who was it that made comment about being a professional prosecutor in the field and training so many?

              Odd but when you put it that way …. anyone who did anything like that, whilst supposedly being expert in prosecuting and training … well …. uhmmm….. Nincompoop may be a polite way of raising issues, but maybe Blue Lights Sirens and a Hi-Vis Cordon Round highly questionable object may be a better approach. Treat as UXB.

              I do see your concerns … and there was me just looking at the obsequiously self promotional tone, and finding it slightly odd and creepy.

              Self promoting – Grandiose – White Knighting – Likes to get things into secret places (HMMM) – Glib – power over others…. says has knowledge and experience but conduct and expressed views simply don;t agree with known best practices (Is the subject religion based in which case deviations from best practice may be caused by religious views = NO) ….. Hmmm?

              My Antennae are Twitching and my skin is crawling. I may have to look closer with my Forensic Psychology Hat Tied On Tight.

              And for Goddsake, he actually just told a woman that she was raped when she said she wasn’t. Seriously. What’s the term for that? Emotional rape? Intellectual rape?

              Emotional rape? Intellectual rape? Well if it’s done in a supposed professional position – professional abuse and even Abuse of Profession could be used. It most definitely could and even would go into psychological abuse and even could meet the definitions of Torture.

              I’d have to answer it by degree – In error – mistaken – pushy – non-professional – unprofessional – highly unprofessional – creepy – controlling – highly controlling – abusive – highly abusive – freakishly Controlling – beyond dangerous.

              It is my own scale which came as I typed – so It does not represent a full spectrum of views across multiple professionals, standardised against a norm and a control group through indexing … but I’m sure many folks that know would agree with content, even if some may wish to change the order.

              I did think this was a nice touch “I’m happy to clue you in.” – in other words, I’m expert and you stupid.

              It’s odd how little words and phrases can show how people are being directed and even controlled, and the associated views of people – and the person saying it is so secure in their view of self and how they will be seen by others, it never crosses their mind who they are communicating with and that the person has met them face to face! What do you call a person who stares into a mirror all day and forms reality around what they see?

              Now what was the concern about who had done what to who?

          • MediaHound, I’m not asking you for free private consulting. Again, perhaps this is cultural, but in the US it’s not uncommon for experts to generously and simply suggest reading they believe to be beneficial. If you won’t, you won’t. But I don’t understand the hesitance.

            The gender separation with regard to CDC data might be because of how sex assault laws are framed within the different US states, but I will double check to make sure. Your other challenges still elude me, I’m sorry- I don’t know what you’re getting at. Is your claim that women and men are sexually assaulted at equal rates in the US? Or that perpetrators are equally male and female? Because if so, I don’t think you’re correct. At all. There are of course male victims and female perpetrators, but- particularly with regard to adult sexual assault- the majority of victims are female and the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are male.

            I’m happy to continue the conversation here as long as I am not inappropriately taking up space regarding Ms. Royce’s piece. I suppose it should be up to her.

            • I WILL ALWAYS STAND WITH DIALOG!!!!!!!!!

              As much as I disagree with you, in many ways, the extent to which we can have an intelligent discourse is the extent to which we can create change. ALWAYS!

              On that note, I apologize for my tone in the last one. I have been under attack for 2 weeks now, threats delivered to my personal email. Twitter, Facebook Blog. Not about ideas, threats to me, personally, for even daring have this conversation. I have had speaking engagements cancelled and my professional sites bombarded with hate. I am not thinking my best right now, and not choosing my words as carefully as i should have.

              I wish this debate to stay open – here is fine. A new forum is fine. I will never shut down dialog – despite what the incredible violence against me is seeking to do.

              With that caveat, please continue. And if it’s possible, please find the messages in my last comments and imagine they were written kindly, and intelligently and not by someone in a raw state of panic from bullying and harassing and coming out of a sleep that is only possible with Xanax.

              I’m still here. Still talking. Still value this dialog more, apparently, than anything else. It needs to happen or nothing will change.

              (But I am out the door and will be offline until late tonight. That said, I may also decide that I can’t even handle this and check out, if I do, know that it is to protect my mental and physical health and I will return to this important matter as soon as I am able.)

            • For what it’s worth I am terribly sorry that you’re receiving that kind of feedback- personal and threatening? That is as despicable as much of what we’re discussing here. Seriously- that’s not right and I hope it ends immediately. Take care of yourself.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Thank you. It has been brutal and unrelenting. Check Twitter for what’s being done to both me and Joanne, just for fun. I signed off days ago, when people started suggesting I should be raped and otherwise silenced and that they knew where I lived.

              This has turned into an attempt to outright silence anyone who doesn’t agree with the Yes Means Yes doctrine, the binary, or the evil rapist theory. None of which I believe in, all of which I believe are dangerous. The violence and vitrol against us is worse than any troll or bullying event I’ve ever seen.

              Because we dare to question things that people take as “givens.” Because we dare to suggest that the way we’re doing it isn’t working, at all. Because we dare to try and find new ways to end violence against women.

              Dialog is the answer.

              Right now, I am more interested in the attacks against people who dare to question the feministe hierarchy and mainlined messages that are not working. People are raped all the time, still, and we have to figure out why. I’m willing to turn over any rock to find an answer. I am stunned that we are, instead, attacking our allies.

              Civilized people say, “I disagree, can we talk about that” and allow for the possibility that black and white worlds with cleanly drawn lines only exist in comic books. What is happening to Joanne and I is inexcusable.

            • Hi, can you link any of the comments calling for you/Joanna to be raped? I find it difficult to find anything on twitter.

            • May I ask why you are asking for this?

            • Feminist version of manboobz? 😛 Just curiosity to see how they said it. I’ve had a feminist tell me they hoped I was raped so I’d know how hard their life was.

              I think it’s important to keep track of stuff like that to show others the kind of bullshit that people go through regardless of who they are and who the other is. I haven’t seen any of the calls for violence in the twitter but that’s because twitter confuses the hell out of me more than anything, it’d be easier to link to the individual tweets. Not saying I don’t believe her though, just I can’t find where it is.

            • Truthfully this is why I don’t bother much with the discourse on rape anymore (and why I specifically haven’t gotten too deep into this latest go around).

              I’m pretty much tired of being accused of being a misogynistic woman hating rape apologist just because I think there should be more to the discourse on rape that quoting some feminist text and then wishing eternal damnation on the rapist.

              I honestly wonder if people really want to do something about rape or do they just want something to talk about. Once its addressed and solutions are implimented then it would no longer be such a hot topic and they would have to go find something else to write posts and lists and clever tweets about.

            • Online has a lot of good discussion but dammmn there is a lot of bullshit to wade through at times. I’ve been called an MRA, misogynist, etc for trying to discuss various issues in a calm manner even. I ask questions yet often get pretty much told off, dismissed, etc.

              I find it so sad that someone would tell someone else they hope they were raped and threatened with violence. Telling someone to F off is one thing but hoping they are raped, beaten, whatever is pretty pathetic.

            • John Anderson says:

              “I’m pretty much tired of being accused of being a misogynistic woman hating rape apologist”

              Avoiding the discussion won’t always guaranty this won’t happen. To some, being male is sufficient. :)

            • Actually – I though the male bit was optional! P^0

            • Danny, you have to understand that to some feminists, rape is the same as terrorism. Any attempt to analyze it or even discuss it rationally is a crime because it “excuses” or “condones” the act.

            • Right now, I am more interested in the attacks against people who dare to question the feministe hierarchy and mainlined messages that are not working. People are raped all the time, still, and we have to figure out why. I’m willing to turn over any rock to find an answer. I am stunned that we are, instead, attacking our allies.

              Alyssa – do you understand how a cult works? Your comments and responses sound like a person recovering from cult immersion. I bet you would not feel out of place in Happy Valley right now.

            • @Archy – well there is a striking correlation in three areas – online abuse – interpersonal violence/stalking – attitudes and activities allied to rape.

              I’m not at all surprised by the reactions of some – the violence proposed and even the comments about people wanting to see another person get raped. It’s actually a big mistake to just see those as nasty, because for some it is actually what they want … even if female.

              There are similar mental processes – the modus operandi have similarities imposed by social norms – the other person is not seen as human just an object to be controlled.

              Study and research just keeps on coming back to the 1 to 5% of populations which fit these patterns. I was even chatting last night with one guy who is investigating the genome of prison populations to see if there emerging genetic markers likes to sociopathy and brain changes are higher – and with that you have a whole load of extra baggage around what is known as genetic cleaning – controlling the presence of a certain gene or genes in a given population.

              The human genome project is quite worrying when it’s findings are being turned to the ideas of Eugenics – Social Engineering through genetics – and a Technocracy built upon genetics.

              Some love the idea of finding a rape gene – and they even convince themselves that it will be a male recessive and all about being passed from father to son on the Y chromosome and some magical bit of the X chromosome can control these bad man genes.

              Sorry – but it turns out that the genetics for Socioapthic/Psychopathic behaviour is on the X Chromosome and it gets passed about most often by women to men. It used to be an old joke that My Mother Made me A Homosexual – and now it’s My Mother made me A Psychopath. … and from there it’s a very short step to My Mother made me a rapist.

              Get ready for the next big push – with genetics being used more and more to entrench certain mindsets because they are addicted to factoids and fail to grasp reality.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              I am going to resist pontificating on how scary some of that is to me (and I suspect you and I agree on a lot of that…) And point to countless examples of how cruel women are to other women. Books like Mean Girls / Queen Bees and Wannabees etc….. Those of us who have been teachers and parents can report anecdote after anecdote of how cruel girls are to each other. Boys may throw a few punches, but girls will go in for the kind of psychological torture that undermines emotional well-being of other girls.

              Read Tripping The Prom Queen and see how perfectly the current backlash against Joanne and I fits into that.

              Unfortunately, there is a lot of that in the current wave of feminist leaders, and it not only undermines other women, but everyone else trying to do work in the arena. If it is seen as threatening to them and their status, it goes immediately into take down. It is lunch-room Mean Girl bullying on a grand scale. I should have seen it coming. Really. I used to teach middle school, I know this. I just thought it was a big enough problem and that lots of people could work together from varying angles to solve it.

              Unsolicited metaphor. A few years ago, friends of mine made a giant Rubiks cube for Burning Man. It was operated by 6 computers, one at each side of the cube. It was so big that if you were at the computer, you could only see your side, not the rest of the cube. As such, the only way to solve it was to talk about what you see on your side, and what might work. Remembering that you had no idea what was going on anywhere else. You had to talk to not only the people at the other computers, but to the people who were off to the side a bit who could see more than one side at a time. In the course of the 8 days that it was down there, it was solved, ONCE.

              This strikes me as a very similar situation. And the people who insist on only seeing their side and solving it their way are, by definition, making it impossible to solve.

              (And please, gawd, if you exist in any form, do not let our understanding of the human genome turn into some megalomaniacal human engineering tool by which we officially codify our bigotry.)

            • Brian O'Reilly says:

              Mr. Canaff, Ms. Royse

              Or, if I may be so bold, Roger and Alyssa,

              I imagine that if the two of you had sat down and spoken about your beliefs on a third party anecdote similar to the original, you would find your views largely similar. Many of the miscommunications here in general, and between the two of you, especially I think, result from the ascription of beliefs to the other commentator based on what is said by the less reasoned souls that defend them and by the less eloquent posts they defend in part. I’m sure we can all agree that we are at least concerned citizens searching for ways of thinking that grant us insight into the challenging and troubling issue of sexual assault. That, right there, is a common ground worthy of much more praise than the differences in our perspectives are worth vitriol. And I do not believe that the differences in your positions are as big as they seem to the both of you, at the moment.

              I think I’d like to return to the controversial title of this piece. It’s certainly attention grabbing, and indeed the lure that originally, and in a bit of anger drew me to this thread.

              I am of the opinion that even good people do terrible things: that extreme circumstances, drugs, and willful misinterpretation lead people to actions that they honestly believe are in a “gray area,” even if they would immediately condemn the same action unmercifully if undertaken by someone else. We see this everywhere from the music of “Weeknd” to the battlefield atrocities documented the world over.

              That is, perhaps, an optimistic view – I would disagree with that characterization, as it keeps me from trusting anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the monster that exists within themselves – but it is certainly not the only valid one. Another simple way to read the title would be “Guys that were up to that point in their lives nice and perfectly normal also commit sexual assaults.” A third way to see it would be the idea that “A proliferation of total sociopaths with great acting skills that seem nice commit rape.” Another – the least flattering way to characterize my own story from above – would be that “Even well meaning people are capable of hurting others in sexual situations that fall short of legally prosecutable rape.”

              It is probable that one of these interpretations is more fitting to the story than the others. Only the unfettered consciousness of the male in the story has that truth, a truth that he probably no longer knows, himself, as his own defense mechanisms kick in to protect his self-image against the attacks of others. (Not saying those attacks aren’t justified: in large part, they are. But even Eichmann didn’t see himself as the villain. And if no one has yet noticed, yes, I possess an alarming propensity to agree with Hannah Arendt.)

              But arguing over the correct interpretation of this story – over whose perception deserves to be considered “reality” – overshadows the important point.

              Roger, Alyssa knows that a large segment of repeat offenders and maligned individuals commit a high percentage of sexual assaults. She is not really talking about those people here, but understanding why they find the loot in this most dehumanizing theft to be worth so much pain, and if nothing else, so much danger to their own freedom, would itself be useful.

              What she is talking about, I think, at the risk of being one of those white knights with word-in-mouth-putting and all, is that some sexual assaults, and a larger portion of regrettable incidents that don’t quite meet that definition, are committed by humans, more often male, who don’t really understand the level of trauma they are capable of inflicting while in search of what seems like a fairly harmless, mutually pleasurable activity. Correcting the behavior of these people requires nothing more than better understand to build better communication and education – they will moderate their own actions as soon as they understand the gravity of them. We have all hurt others without meaning to – or hurt them more than we meant to through a sort of mildly apathetic selfishness (of which the ad hominum attacks thrown around in this conversation are a good example.) It is not much of a stretch to believe that this analogy can extend to sexual conduct, especially when, as George Carlin once said, you remember “How stupid the average American is. And that half of us are stupider than that.”

              Alyssa, I cannot even begin to express how awful it makes me feel to hear what you are going through as a result of this article. I am simply at a loss for words, and all I can offer you is the firm belief that you are safe from the hoards of cowardly assholes the internet offers us all access to. That is all they are. But words of another from afar often seem small comfort when you feel alone. I hope friends and family surround you this Holiday season.

              But Roger is not one of those cowardly assholes, Alyssa, even if he was a little brusque. I realize you must want to shout at someone, anyone, for the abuse you’re taking – but calling him an “intellectual rapist” was beyond the pale. There are better ways to disagree with someone, and you’ve shown admirable restraint in using them thus far. I hope you will continue.

              The accusation of “white-knighting” in a pejorative sense, is something that interests me. I think most adult men have an instinct to protect women and children, as most women/mothers have an instinct to protect children (at least, I hope so – otherwise, I have literally no understanding of any positives that come out of evolutionary psychology.) Sometimes, this instinct is part of the problem: I myself have probably come to the defense of those that would’ve been better served to handle their own problems. Other times, it is evoked implicitly as a rationale for a certain line of misogyny that you were discussing. Many times, I’m sure it manifests as a positive force in the world. But I’m sure you yourself have often told a victim that, yes, what happened to her was rape. One may reasonably disagree with Roger’s decision to levy this information from a distance, but I think he only did something that you might’ve in person, in another situation. I can tell you for certain that, as both a physically and intellectually fit male, I find it _really_ hard to see where the line between “being a good guy” and “white-knighting” is, and where the line between “being marginally condescending in an argument where the other party is also being condescending” and “mansplaining” is. I hope you will let me know if/where I cross that line, with the knowledge that I endeavor, always, to be a proponent of real gender equality in both word and deed.

              I think all of us can acknowledge that most of the rape cases that make it to prosecution are very cut and dried. Indeed, the original story in this article _is_ rape, as Alyssa has made clear, even as very different perspectives on the thought-processes of the rapist can exist with well grounded claims to validity.

              I think we also have sort of stumbled upon the real conversation that we all deserve to be having. Rape is evil and bad. Other forms of coercion in sexual situations that fall short of rape are just as capable of causing pain (bad), but can be less overtly malintentioned and perversely fueled by the pain they are inflicting (evil). The question is, by exploring the motivations, self-justifications, and narcissism/misinterpretations/lack of education of the rapist/coercer, and the motivations, vulnerability cues/poor signaling, and low self-value/misinterpretations/lack of education of the survivor/coerced, can we learn anything valuable that will help us stop these same patterns from being repeated on the same scale in the lives of those who come after us?

              I think we can. But we all need to take a deep breath, keep calm, and thank Alyssa for trying to start that discussion (if she was – I might be words-in-mouth-putting again). Even, and perhaps especially, if you disagree with her.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Brian, I don’t know who raised you, but please tell whoever it is that I think they did a spectacular job. And whatever self-discovery you have done on your own after that has garnered commendable – admirable – results.

              You are spot on.

              That said, the larger use of Lisak et al to provide the end-all-be-all of rape understanding is something I will probably continue to yell about until people are willing to admit that there is a whole lot of sexual assault that happens in other ways. And some of it is from “regular folk,” who are not pathologically damaged. Clinging to that one study is a way to massively underreport and underrate the impact of sexual assault. And it allows us to ignore the much harder – and much needed – conversations that we are getting to in this thread.

              All of which is to say – THAT still pisses me off. But I should not not let it sound like it is Roger specifically. It is not.

              As horrible as the last couple weeks has been for me, I would do it all again. Because this conversation has never taken place on this level before. I would take all the bullying and beating I get on the Internet if it results in a conversation that allows us to look at the spectrum of sexual assault and figure out what’s really going on here.

              If it lessens the chances of this happening to one of my 3 daughters. Or ANYONE ELSE, then I’ll take it. I am, ultimately, very very proud of the conversation that is taking place here, and everyone who is actually engaging in it.

            • Brian, of course you can call me Roger. Thank you for attempting to mediate this discussion somewhat.

              Alyssa, first let me apologize for repeatedly misspelling your last name. Second, let me reiterate that I am very sorry that you’ve received such deeply personal and vituperative backlash from this piece, which you obviously wrote in a thoughtful manner. Third, to the extent that I have been brusque, and I have, I apologize. To a certain extent, my tone and penchant for grandstanding are due to the blog environment we’re in. I believe everything that I put forth and I think I have a decent basis for it, but I know that I have come off as overbearing at times and that’s not ideal.

              That being said, let me briefly describe 1) how I think you’re missing the point of the Lisak/McWhorter/Merrill work, and 2) why you inadvertently created so much anger with this piece.

              1. Lisak’s work: We can agree to disagree on this point, and that’s completely fine. But I think you are absolutely missing the point of Lisak’s work and the work of McWhorter/Merrill in 2009 that replicated it remarkably among Navy recruits. You note that the previously undetected rapists identified in Lisak’s study (and later McWhorter’s) were not men who identified as rapists. Correct. You then went further and suggested that the men in those studies who admitted to acts that constituted crimes KNEW THEY DIDN’T HAVE CONSENT (caps only for emphasis- I am not yelling). That is where I would disagree with you. The very essence of what Lisak demonstrated was that men who would never see themselves as rapists or believe they had committed rape (i.e., sex without consent) would nevertheless admit to acts that constituted rape if the questions were asked in a subtle enough manner. For instance, researchers asked things like “have you ever had to hold someone down during a sexual act.” Others were asked things like “have you had sex with someone when you weren’t sure if they were awake?” And then, depending on responses, there were follow up questions like “well were you sure she was asleep?” Etc, etc. The whole idea, to my knowledge, was not to challenge them on the issue of consent. No one, to my knowledge, was asked “did you have consent” or “did you know you didn’t have consent.” Perhaps some of the eventually identified rapists were more forthcoming about what they knew or didn’t know regarding this concept, but I believe the whole point was to focus only on behavior and reactions to behavior, not on the subjective beliefs of the men with regard to what their victims (in their mind, their partners) were thinking. I am friendly with Dr. Lisak and will absolutely discuss this with him at my earliest opportunity, because I think this is a very important point about which we should both be completely informed.

              From your belief, then (that the men in Lisak’s study were not ones who would admit to raping anyone, but who would admit to sexually engaging while knowing that consent was not obtained) you believe there is a whole other group of basically “accidental rapists” out there who don’t fit into Lisak’s group. You are not alone in believing that there are such people. I absolutely cannot say that there is no such animal- categorizing every person and every experience would be a ridiculous thing to attempt anyway. But assuming such accidental rapists (nice guy rapists, whatever) do exist, I do not believe they exist in nearly the numbers that you apparently do.

              I challenge this notion because of what I just wrote- I don’t think the studies reflect what you believe they reflect. I also challenge it because it frankly doesn’t mesh with common experience, in my view. I completely understand that I am not the “typical guy” (although MediaHound thinks I’m somewhere between creepy and indictable) but regardless: I believe that most men do recognize a) fear or terror, and b) a lack of consciousness on the part of the person they are about to engage with sexually. I know it’s not easy for me to think outside of my own personal perspective, but I don’t believe these things are difficult to recognize- even for more stupid, or less cultured, or more blunt, or more or less whatever guy we’re talking about. And intoxication only explains so much. At some point intoxication prohibits the ability for men to not only obtain and maintain an erection (understanding that this isn’t necessary for many acts/crimes) and also to engage sexually at all. Further, alcohol only lessens inhibitions. It does not create them.

              Again- we can disagree. But I do not believe there is a very large group of basically decent men who nevertheless blunder into rape, Alyssa. I just don’t, and I’m not aware of research that strongly suggests otherwise. What I do believe, knowing what I know about psychopathy and related, if lessor disorders like anti-social and narcissistic behavior, is that there a great many men (and some women) who will CLAIM all manner of confusion, fog of alcohol, stupidity, etc, etc, etc to snow the rest of us into forgiving them for something that they absolutely meant to do and knew they were doing. Which bleeds into my second point to you:

              2. Why the anger? I that know you clearly stated that what your friend did was rape. You absolutely did and you did not back down from it. But whether you fully realize it or not, your language did seem to mitigate what your friend did. And your language did so in two crucial ways that I think really put a lot of people off. First, you went into detail about all of the signals that she sent him, indicating that she was basically looking for sex to happen with him. That’s why I’ve been harping on the only signal that mattered, which was the one he admitted never receiving. And I know you also agree that he never received it (and therefore it was rape) but when you still basically take his victim to task for acting sexually aggressively toward him, you sound as if you’re victim-blaming.

              Here again, we may have to agree to disagree. But I do not believe that women or men ever do anything-ever, no matter how raunchy or suggestive or whatever- that renders their bodily integrity worth less at a crucial moment when they need to be present and enthusiastic about a bodily invasion. Perhaps you would basically agree, but your tone did not reflect that. And to the extent that you are among the women who believe that women to need to “take more responsibility” for their drinking, their choices, whatever, I just don’t follow you. If this makes me sound like I’m White Knighting so be it, but sexually violent people (mostly male) are really the only party that can prevent the instigation of sexual violence. Believe me, I struggled with this for a while. Shouldn’t women and girls “be more careful?” Doesn’t that “just make sense?” Actually, no. If a woman is warned from drinking or wearing a short skirt or flirting in order to keep from getting raped, then she will only prevent herself from getting raped under those types of circumstances. But women are raped in study groups. And in church. And in other completely innocent situations as you know. So when we decide to pick out the admittedly higher-risk categories of behavior for women (or men and boys) to avoid and “take responsibility for” then we are 1) only protecting them from one kind of predator and one type of predatory situation, and 2) more importantly we are creating “rules” that she or he had better not break. And if she or he does break them and dares to drink, or flirt, or climb all over a guy, then she or he….well, what? Deserved it? “Of course not!” the rule makers will cry. But, wow, if she or he only been smart enough to do what I told her (or him) not to do, then this wouldn’t have happened. Rules create rule makers and rule breakers. I have finally abandoned them, as I think they are ineffective and also create further, needless trauma.

              You get the point. I’m sorry, but I believe that is the tone you conveyed. Mood is what the reader gets, tone is what the author puts forth (if I remember from 8th grade lit). If I got your tone wrong, I’m sorry. But many others got it also, and were very surprised to hear it from you. Finally, you seemed to give much credence to the character of your friend. But the fact is, you may not know him as well as you think you do. On this, I can’t comment further- you know him. I don’t. But remember Jung’s “third persona.” Or remember Billy Joel from the Stranger. “Though we share so many secrets, there are some we never tell.” I don’t know what exactly lurks in the heart or character of this guy. You might. But you might not.

              And I’m not suggesting that he’s a monster, or that any rapist is a monster. It’s a silly word anyway in this context. But at bottom, I believe that rape is easy to avoid, difficult to commit “accidentally” and I believe these things even for people far less exposed to these issues than I am. And, I believe that those who commit rape are also often highly skillful at creating a wonderful veneer of confusion around it that far too often makes it all go away. Or worse, it leaves good people scratching their heads for answers that I believe we mostly know.

              That’s it- our disagreement. Again, thanks for your willingness to engage. I’m happy to continue to do so.

            • The gender separation with regard to CDC data might be because of how sex assault laws are framed within the different US states,….

              Maybe it’s a cultural thing – but I do read and check things – so Even I know the CDC is Federal and that report in question is not at or about state level. Odd that you missed that one!

              Do you often attempt to cover up by making spurious and silly claims in the hope that people will not notice and ask why you are doing it? Is that what professional is in your view?

              Of course – me not being in the right culture – how would I know that the issue came from the change in definition of rape by the FBI which was decided upon after the CDC report was ready but remained unpublished due to Politics and manoeuvring around some Congressional Hearings on DV – IPV etc. Of course as any well connected and high profile professional in the field …. you would know all that, wouldn’t you, given it’s basic stock-in-trade for the business.

              Again maybe it’s a Cultural thing – but do you often respond to people as if they are stupid and lack capacity?

              When you used the word “Might” it showed you either are so secure in your ideas and views that you can’t be bothered to read – else you don’t care. And then you are claiming you want dialogue?

              It’s not possible to have rational dialogue when people keep using the word “Might” to cover up the fact that they haven’t read and don’t know! The I want dialogue and I don’t need to read or even admit ignorance issues are rather pronounced.

              No wonder you keep asking for reading material to be sent to you – do you need to play catch up ? As I said I charge for that service and where you are concerned it’s not an option due to the Conflict of Interest you represent.

              I was shocked, due to Culture, that I had to use the word “Mansplaining” for real just a few days ago on this very thread! I had to lie down afterwards to cope with the cultural shock! I even told people I was having to lie down. Look It Up.

              I’m of the view that It is going to be correct to use “Mansplaining” again! It takes one hell of a lot to leave me shocked – but the way some are presenting themselves is not a cultural issue, but far deeper and far more worrying and ultimately far more shocking. Good Job I’m An expert !