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.


  1. If the man–the rapist–in question (as he in fact had realized he had raped her) was a good man (forget “nice”) not only would he have not put his penis into an unconscious woman (this wasn’t even drink or drunken sex with the two of them getting it on), he would have been so disgusted with himself and his actions having realized his crime he would have turned turned himself in to the police. He moved away? Being ashamed at being a criminal and being unable to face it do not make him any nicer. He is a criminal and coward. There are no messages in society that are telling us all that it is OK and right to do anything you want to an unconscious woman unless one is trying hard to believe rape sequences in pornography are the reality we all should live and abide by.
    If you were truly a friend, you would have told him to turn himself in. He was and is a criminal and a rapist. You full well know that husbands have raped wives (This doesn’t mean that men aren’t brutalized, too). And you know that no matter how much flirting was going on, there was nothing preventing him from waiting for her to wake up. Who knows? They both could have made love to each other then–“To each other” is the main point. How could he not know or realize this? He was selfish. He was indeed dominating and controlling the situation. It was about him. He didn’t want to wait and see her reaction. If she said “No,” then no. He took something from her. Then he ran away. Who cares about whether he was nice. He was not a good person. And he further proved this by moving away instead of turning himself in to face justice. Society didn’t tell him, make him, or OK him to do this.

  2. Kay McDonald says:

    What kind of “nice” guy puts his penis in an unconscious woman? The author needs to revisit what “nice” means, ’cause honey, that ain’t a “nice” guy.

  3. So do nice girls, I guess.

    “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”

    If anyone truly believes this, they must also believe the vast majority of both men and women are rapists. Personally, I have never explicitly verbalized to my now wife, “yes wife, it is okay for you to envelop my penis with your vagina”. Neither has she ever verbalized her consent to me. I guess we’re just a couple of rapists who enjoy being raped by each other, living happily ever after.

    Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous. but so is the assertion that non-verbal communication counts for nothing when it comes to sex. I would contend that most people, men and women, operate mostly on a non-verbal basis during each and every sexual encounter they have. It’s natural and reasonable. It only makes sense to explicitly verbalize non-consent, especially if all non-verbal signals suggest otherwise.

  4. painful memories says:

    I am a male and I was gangraped when I was 14 for over three days and I can’t count how many guys had their way with me. I don’t believe there wasn’t a good guy among them. They were monsters that nightmares are made of and nightmares R all I have.

  5. It’s ridiculous to say that the ONLY valid way of expressing consent is the word “yes” combined with an appropriate sentence. For example, if both partners (in a condition where they’re capable of consent) actively participate in the process of obtaining and applying a condom, positioning themselves accordingly, and facilitating penetration, while showing enthusiasm by means of facial expressions and non-verbal sounds, combined with appropriate sentences not involving the word “yes” (such as “so do I” or “that’s exactly what I had in mind”), then consent has been expressed.

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  8. Your friend does not sound like a “nice guy” at all. He sounds like an idiot and a complete asshole. You do not put your dick in a sleeping person’s anything. You don’t do it. I read this thinking I may understand his side of the story, but I don’t. Not at all. Everything that happened up to that point is irrelevant. He put his dick in a sleeping woman without permission. That automatically disqualifies him from the “nice guy” category. This article is disgusting. Don’t excuse that shit (I know you say like 18 times in the article that you don’t, but you do and it’s gross).

  9. How can you be sure the woman in this story was drinking or doing drugs? Almost this EXACT story happened to a friend of mine in San Francisco and the girl was definitely NOT drunk. And she told the guy, who was a nice guy, that she was NOT interested in him sexually. He was locked out of his apartment, which is the ONLY reason she let him go home with her. She was definitely a flirt, but she was a nice girl. And because he was such a nice guy, she was made to feel like she should just keep her mouth shut. After this, things went south for her very fast. Personally, I don’t think he was such a nice guy. Really not feeling this apologetic perspective.

  10. The problem is everywhere. It doesn’t matter how you dress or if you flirt. The lack of education and empathy are what need to be addressed worldwide.

    We need to change the hearts/minds of people who would rape, “good”, bad, or indifferent, it doesn’t matter what YOU want to label them, they all need to be educated. Check out this article.

    These people aren’t steeped in a culture where they are bombarded by sexual messages in advertising, media, etc. from the moment they are born. They aren’t obeying the messages sent out by fashion companies that it’s “stylish and cool” for a 10 year old to wear “Juicy” “booty-shorts” with a skimpy tank top.

    They aren’t “barflies” or “club kids” who are just oozing so strongly with sexual pheromones that they might confuse some “good person”. These aren’t lonely, bored or easily manipulated people being told by TV, movies, billboards and glamour mags (like Cosmopolitan or Maxim) what to wear to “snag your man” or “get her into your bed”. So we can’t JUST blame those institutions. (Although they sure as hell aren’t helping, which does make them a big part of the problem)

    We also can’t blame what some refer to as “savage” countries that aren’t as much a part of the fashion/media machine as others, because they are “backwards” or because they generally have different religious beliefs than what we may be used to. None of their women are in high heels and g-strings from age 10, yet child brides are a given, abuse in a myriad of forms is rampant. Which proves, you can dress like a saint or a sinner, it doesn’t stop rape or rape culture.

    We need to stop pointing fingers at specifics and minutiae, (“Don’t want to be raped, don’t travel to this or that country!” “Don’t want to be raped? Put some clothes on!” “Don’t want to be raped? Don’t hang out in bars!” etc. etc.) and educate.

    We now have the internet and the message can be received by many who it may have missed up until now. We just need more people to speak up. If you see someone “joking” about giving a girl a roofie, SAY something. Let them know it isn’t funny. If your friends say “What’s up my bitches?” ask them why not just use a different word, since that word isn’t the only one available and it demeans women, no matter how “funny” or “innocent” the intent was when using it. etc. etc.

    Speak up. Don’t tolerate the madness anymore. Anywhere. For any reason. Help people to understand that degrading people of any sex, race, religion etc. just harms us as a whole. Teach empathy. It is the only way we will survive as a species.

  11. I am not sure it is fair to call this rape. Was he wrong? Absolutely. How anyone can think its ok to have sex while a partner is sleeping even if they said yes! is beyond me. Isnt it supposed to be so both can enjoy it? However, he had no intent to harm. We have in most jurisdictions at least four types of homicide (five if you include justifiable): two types of murder, and two types of manslaughter. Murder requires intent to kill. Manslaughter does not. Murder is then divided into planned homicide vs spur of the moment homicide. Manslaughter is divided into whether you intended to harm, but not kill; or whether you are acting foolish (drunk driving). Why cant we do this with rape? There even is an archaic synonym of rape we could use: ravish. But if not that term, then some other term. We do in fact need to delineate this because there are simply many different types of sexual assault. A stranger rape is different than an acquaintance rape. The latter is often far more psychologically damaging.

    • Rape doesn’t need a guilty mind. You don’t need to have someone actively try rape you to feel raped or abused, you can feel violated and be too nervous to speak up. Technically they committed rape even if they didn’t mean to, or didn’t realize but those cares would be extremely rare.

  12. We need to teach people that sex, as awesome as it is, is not the goal.

    Except it is! Sex is the fundamental goal of all life on Earth. From pollen to semen. And ignoring this fact, or skirting it means you can never understand why rape occurs.

  13. I wonder if you’ve considered the possibility that he KNEW he had committed rape and was deliberately posturing to get you on his side. If your definition of “nice guy” includes someone who’s prepared to put his penis into a sleeping woman he’s never had sex with before then you are a lot more forgiving (or a lot less critical) than most people, certainly than me.

    While I am prepared to accept that sometimes bad people do good things, there does come a point at which people have to be answerable for their actions. It’s no use blaming it on “mixed messages.” Surely you need a clear message from your partner that penetration is OK and, absent that, penetration is rape. “Society” and “advertising” have no role in those interactions.

    It’s possible you were taken in by a knowing rapist who found a sympathetic friend. Spending a week in “painful and beautiful” conversations gave him the perfect opportunity to practice his defense pitch. If a woman dances naked before a man she’s still entitled to the opportunity to say no. To excuse behavior on the grounds of belief is to invite criminals to lie about what they believed. Belief alone is not a good basis on which to proceed with sex. As we say in the Python programming world “Explicit is better than implicit.”

  14. Sorry, it’s rape, and it’s not part of a nice person’s logic. Even if the girl had flirted outrageously all night, said “Yes, I consent to sex with you,” and then promptly passed out. Still a very weird decision. He needs help, not just a new address.

    Omg, he was accused (to a group, I’m guessing). He goes to you, a member of the group, talks it all out with you in such a “painful and beautiful” way that you’re now blaming society for the fact that he thought it was okay to put his penis inside of an unconscious person. He needs help, help that comes from having him take on the full responsibility of his problem, not shifting it onto society. Look, your friend might be a “nice” guy, but any con artist could pull off what he did. Even if they’re conning themselves.

  15. Call me crazy but I think that putting your penis inside someone who is asleep pretty much disqualifies you from being considered a ‘nice guy’. Like with the football team in Ohio there seems to a bit of a perception here that it’s worse to be accused of rape than it is to experience it, – poor nice guy! he’s been lured into accidentally thinking it was ok to have sex with someone whilst they were asleep and now the scheming bitch who did it has made him into a rapist and ruined his life. Same happens with child abuse, it’s seen as worse to be accused of it (poor teacher/ priest/ coach – their life is ruined) than it is to experience it. Rape, abuse, neglect, racism, misogyny, homophobia etc etc etc have the power to ruin the lives of those who experience them, if you’re a victim exercises in semantics and nuance mean very little.

  16. HOOOOLD UP. You say that your friend expected sex, yes? Well, from what I read, who’s to say she wasn’t also expecting sex at some point? Seems plausible to me, but the fact of the matter is he waited until she was asleep.

    Why did he do that? Why didn’t he have sex with her while she was awake? Or else why didn’t he wait until she woke up? You insist that he didn’t know what he was doing, but why did he wait until she was ASLEEP?

    You bring up an old, tired trope. That some rapes are about sex after all! But even if that were true, it doesn’t fly here. He raped a sleeping woman. He may not have known it legally counted as rape, but he waited until she was in a state where she couldn’t protest before fucking her. He’s not a nice guy. He isn’t sweet. He’s a rapist! You lose all claim to “nice” and “sweet” when you do something like that, and I hope he went to jail.

  17. Jack Strawb says:


  18. This wasn’t a case of “mixed signals.” Her behavior did NOT lead to the rape, and any discussion of her behavior in the context of WHETHER it led to the rape is inappropriate at best.

    I say this because the victim was not conscious. I’m sorry, but few cases are as black-and-white as this. The only conversation to be had is, “Don’t have sexual contact with someone who is not conscious unless he or she has given you explicit prior consent.” That’s it! It’s so uncomplicated it’s almost stunning.

    Alyssa, you are correct to bring up the mixed messages our culture sends us about sex and consent. The mixed messages are from the culture, though, not between the participants. Even if everything a person says and does indicates, as you said, “We’re going to have sex,” there’s no mixed message if the other person is asleep. There’s nothing to be confused about. There’s no crisis over how to interpret her very confusing signals. No, it’s all pretty clear. You don’t have sex with someone who’s asleep without clear, explicit prior permission.

    I’m sure your friend is a “nice guy” but he has some issues with women. Being a nice guy doesn’t make you a good person either.

    • “Don’t have sexual contact with someone who is not conscious unless he or she has given you explicit prior consent.”

      Um… Wait, what? I must be misunderstanding you here.

      Are you saying that if I have given someone consent to sex in the past then they can rape me while I am asleep?

      You don’t have sex with someone who is unconscious, ever. There is no such thing as “prior permission”, once someone is asleep they are not consenting.

      I think that the problem of confusion over “grey areas” is easily solved: UNLESS SOMEONE IS ACTIVELY AND WITHOUT A SINGLE DOUBT WANTING TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU DON’T HAVE SEX WITH THEM.

      It’s really SUPER SIMPLE, and very black and white. If you are in doubt, ask. If the person either doesn’t answer, or doesn’t answer clearly, or answers clearly but still seems unsure, DON’T HAVE SEX WITH THEM.

      It would never, ever even cross my mind to have sex with someone who was unconscious, unresponsive, OR WHO EVEN SEEMED LIKE THEY WEREN’T REALLY INTO IT.

      Have some decency and have some pride. Only have sex with people who totally and really want to. BOOM, NO MORE CONFUSION!!!

      End of freaking story.

      • @Mimi, I think she may be referring to couples that wake each other up with sex. I’d maybe let my partner wake me up with a blowjob for instance, I’d have to give prior consent. It would be technically rape since I can’t consent when asleep but I would overlook it if I had told her the night before to wake me up with sex.

      • I think there’s a distinction here between partners who are in established relationships, even purely sexual relationships, and those that encounter each other sexually for the first time. I have most definitely woken up after a night of drinking and initiated sex with my boyfriend even though he was not entirely awake. I suppose maybe the technical definition of this could be rape. However, neither of us viewed this as inappropriate or violent.

        • You realize you just admitted raping him right? So if someone were to defend you, they’d be called a rape apologist. Where are all THOSE feminists commenting about how evil this woman is for raping a man? Those that say there is no such thing as grey rape, those whom if Jen was John he’d be hounded for it but I doubt I’ll see people make a fuss because it’s a female admitting raping a man.

          • It’s hard to know if what this person is talking about. “Initiating” and then the other person presumably responded and continued to have sex? Waking up to being touched in a way that you then respond to is not exactly the same as waking up to already being penetrated, pr waking up penetrating someone. Whatever it consisted of, this person should probably get their partner’s permission.

            But your instantly making this into a “where are all THOSE feminists” thing is knocking down straw feminists. I mean, do you think every feminist in the world saw this blog thread?? I guess we shouldn’t listen to any of them anymore about anything.

            • I’m not knocking down straw feminists, by THOSE I mean particular kinds of feminists. I am specifically referring to certain feminists who have daggers at the ready for all talk of rape, not all feminists do this. So how about not strawmanning me whilst claiming I am attacking straw feminists when I can easily point to the type of feminist I am talking about (Amanda Marcotte for instance).

              And yes a HELL of a lot of feminists read this thread, I’ve seen it discussed at many feminist websites, or did you not take notice of the major backlash against the GMP for it? Btw, still haven’t seen ANY feminist address it let alone the ones I was referring to.

  19. I absolutely agree with the author about definitions of rape and consent.

    But what do we do when alcohol (or other mind-altering substances) are involved? What if someone says “yes” while drunk but would have said “no” while sober? On the other side, what about the person who would be sure to have consent while sober, but who doesn’t check (or ignores, or isn’t capable of hearing, or…) while inebriated?

    The only solution I can think of is, “don’t have sex while intoxicated.” But then again, you might lose control if sufficiently inebriated. So what do we tell people? “Don’t get drunk, because if you’re drunk you might rape someone?” While I might agree with that logic and apply it to my own life, I doubt that would fly on a larger scale.

    • Corey Wrenn says:

      Sex with an intoxicated individual is considered rape….and a felony.

      • Understanding that definitions have to be agreed upon, initiating or having sex with a simply “intoxicated” person as the term is commonly understood (meaning someone drunk but still lucid) is not a felony or a crime at all. Intoxicated people engage in sex constantly- they are still legally competent to consent to sex despite being under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicant. Sexually penetrating or otherwise acting upon a person does not become a crime- in just about every jurisdiction I can think of, and I know most of them- until the person being acted on is intoxicated TO THE POINT of no longer being lucid, no longer understanding the nature of the act, no longer able to give or withhold consent, etc. It’s not a bright line in most cases- which is the reason there is so much controversy around the issue- but there is a line. Simply becoming drunk- again, assuming the person is still lucid and navigating their environment, even if they are acting less inhibited and a little more silly- does not mean that a person cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Axiomatic to say it happens all the time.

        • @Roger Canaff
          Is it possible for those who are too intoxicated to consent to both be initiating sex with each other, if so does it make them both rapists? Or is it only used when one person is more lucid and is having sex with someone who isn’t as lucid? I understand the latter pretty easy since having sex with someone who is really drunk and you’re much more sober is clearly rape, but what about when both are similar levels of drunk to the point they can’t even walk but still have sex?

          • This is a fair question and one that is asked all the time. Technically, the answer is “yes.” Both parties who engage in sexual activity when both are legally (to whatever factual extent is generally required in that jurisdiction) unable to consent, could both be charged with raping each other.

            It isn’t (again- technically) correct to say that a rape charge can “only” be used against the person more lucid who acted against the person was less lucid. The issue isn’t really a difference in lucidity between the two parties. The issue is whether one (or both, theoretically) of the parties is unable to consent b/c of extreme intoxication. So not to be repetitive, but conceivably you could have two parties both legally unable to give consent, and a potential cross-warrant rape charge viable for both of them. But as a practical matter, that isn’t going to happen.

            The criminal law is both theoretical and practical. Law students and/or law professors and scholars can and do argue all day about what charges could, theoretically, lie given X or Y situation. That’s fine- it’s a good intellectual exercise and it helps to give context to what happens in the real world of reported crime and the criminal justice response to crime.

            As a practical matter, though, the individuals we see (either as criminal justice practitioners or rape crisis counselors) who are complaining of rape where intoxicants are involved are women (and some men) who have almost always been raped by someone far more lucid who planned the attack on them using the intoxicant- whether self-administered or not- on them, period. In most cases the alleged perpetrator is male. It seems clear that a major point of this entire, long thread of comments (as well as the original piece) is an examination of how often men might “accidentally” commit rape because of being themselves supposedly unable to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Ms Royse and I seem to part ways to some degree on this point- I believe that most rape is a planned and premeditated act and that alcohol or other intoxicants are usually tools of rapists- not catalysts they found themselves helpless to control. Without claiming to speak for her, she sees the issue as more nuanced. I cannot say she is completely wrong- to the extent I have appeared to do so, I was wrong. But still- I think rape is far, far more the product of the desire to rape than the product of an otherwise decent guy “misreading” signals in a drunken state. And I know very well that rapists depend on the “fog” of alcohol and its credibility-costing effect on entire situations to assist them before, during and after their crimes are committed.

            For me, it comes down to an appreciation for the theoretical but a focus on the practical. Are men raped in various ways (depending, as always, on the applicable definition) by women? Absolutely. Is it common? No, I don’t think so. Given the typical nature of most profound sexual activity (the usual penetration of some orifice by the male and every anthropological factor that goes with that basic, biological fact) I believe that women and men experience victimization through sexual violence far more from men than from other women. Women absolutely can and do sexually abuse other women. They also sexually abuse boys and girls, but that is usually the result of another pathology. To the extent that women sexually abuse men, I would never downplay it or suggest it didn’t happen or wasn’t important. I just don’t think men perceive sexual victimization from women in nearly the rates that women do from men, or that men do from men.

            Sorry- lots to that answer. I hope it didn’t ramble too much. And believe me, there are points I made or attempted to make that many on this thread will not agree with. Just my take.

            • “Technically, the answer is “yes.” Both parties who engage in sexual activity when both are legally (to whatever factual extent is generally required in that jurisdiction) unable to consent, could both be charged with raping each other.”
              and while this may be a silly thought experiment that would be thrown out of court if it ever happened, it does demonstrate that problems with using any standard of “unable to consent” other than being semi- or un-conscious.

              “As a practical matter, though, the individuals we see (either as criminal justice practitioners or rape crisis counselors) who are complaining of rape where intoxicants are involved are women (and some men) who have almost always been raped by someone far more lucid who planned the attack ”
              Do you have any evidence for this? Consider that in them vast majority (90-98%) of cases of individuals being checked up at a hospital who believe they have been drugged, nothing is found in their system other than alcohol. And that is just from people who suspected it strongly enough to seek medical attention. This demonstrates that the perception of the victim is not a remotely reliable indicator of the actual situation. Unless the male “perpetrators” end up admitting they planned it, or if a person has a repeated history of violations, I see now valid way of confirming your assertion.

              Why would you believe that alcohol can make women incapable of saying no, but not that it has the same effect on men? Do men never get drunk, or never have sex while drunk? Do you believe that all drunk men want to have sex (whether they say so or not) and all drunk women do not (whether they say so or not)? Is it that all men secretly want to be rapists, and alcohol lowers the ‘don’t be a rapist’ inhibitions?

              Or is it that you only define it as rape IF the perpetrator consciously and deliberately intended to victimize the other person? In that case, obviously, it would be true that most rape occurs deliberately, but with that definition a great many cases currently called rape (like this one, even as clearly wrong as it was) would be reclassified as negligence.

              “Given the typical nature of most profound sexual activity (the usual penetration of some orifice by the male and every anthropological factor that goes with that basic, biological fact) I believe that women and men experience victimization through sexual violence far more from men than from other women.”
              It is true that in reality, men commit more acts of sexual abuse and rape than women, and this likely has a biological component (specifically, it may be a per-programmed reproductive strategy), however, to say that the physical act of sex – penis goes into vagina – as I wrote in my comment just before yours, suggests that ANY time a female has sex, even consensually, she must be a victim. And in fact this is the reasoning behind outlawing prostitution (to “protect” women), labeling promiscuous women as “sluts” and/or claiming they must lack self-respect, and of course that if two people are both equally drunk, and regret their actions the next morning, it is automatically assumed that the female was raped by the male. In other words, having a vagina make you a helpless victim – even if you use it by choice.

              “I just don’t think men perceive sexual victimization from women in nearly the rates that women do from men”
              Absolutely correct. But the key word is “PERCEIVE”! Your point in this comment was that men almost always DELIBERATELY rape women. But the perception of the victim does not define the intent of the perpetrator. If your definition of rape includes the intent of the perpetrator (and the majority of crimes do include intent as a standard) then whether the victim feels victimized is irrelevant. Consider domestic abuse cases (of either gender) – it doesn’t matter if the victim wishes to press charges, the alleged must be charged once the act has been reported.

              What this double standard really speaks to perhaps is societies views on sex, and how that affects individual experience. Men are taught they are supposed to want a much sex as possible, from as many women as possible, therefore if they end up having sex when they didn’t want to, they don’t perceive it as rape. Women are taught to want sex only in loving relationships, to protect their virginity and purity, to have as few sex partners in a lifetime as possible, so if she ever has sex when she isn’t 100% sure she wants to, she perceives the situation as one in which she was taken advantage of.
              The song “Baby its Cold Outside” comes to mind. The reluctant partner (and in the original movie that partner was male in one scene, female in another) clearly WANTS to spend the night. But they are afraid of what the parents and neighbors will think. To some people, the person asking the other to stay, because of being persistent, is pressuring them, and therefore a rapist-to-be. But in this case the easy way to prevent the night from ending in “rape” is for the “victim” to clearly and unabmiguously say “yes”.

              Both assumptions – that all men want (or should want) sex all the time from everyone, and that women by default do not (or should not) want sex except for rare special circumstances – need to change if we as a society are going to move forward; and reduce the number of cases of premeditated rape that do occur. That mind set itself sets up women to be victims, and so it is impossible to separate how much rape of men against women occurs because of men who fail to repress some instinctual reproductive strategy (similar to how men commit more violent crimes than women, the fact that there may be a genetic root in no way excuses or forgives individual behavior – everyone has control over their actions) and how much occurs due to our sexually repressed and neurotic society.

              Pointing out the theoretical should be seen as a way to make us question our assumptions and their roots, and challenge them, not just be written off as an intellectual exercise.

            • Thanks for the reply, I had a feeling that it was theoretically illegal but near impossible to take to court.

              As for women raping men, not sure if you saw the stats but the majority of sexual abuse men face is perpetrated by women, in a one year period equal numbers of men n women were raped (the men mostly by women), 40% of the rapists were female. For lifetime stats the number is 20% rapists are female, and a female 4:1 male ratio of victims as per the CDC stats, rape in this case is including forced to penetrate in my definition.

              • I assume you’re referring to the NISVS from 2010. I think these numbers, such as they are, very being incorrectly used and conflated. Women do commit sexual violence against males, but mostly male children or adolescents, not adult men. I know there are MRA types out there who want to somehow make it seem as if adult women are just as sexually violent as men, and are raping men all over the place and getting away with it somehow, but that is fantasy. I have no doubt that women can and do act sexually violently against men, but I’m sorry- this doesn’t happen often, and not NEARLY as often as adult males acting sexually violently against women or other men (or children for that matter). This does not make men ‘bad.’ It does not shame the male gender. It just is. Men are more sexually aggressive, and more often engage in sexual crime. Women also engage in sexual crime, but again- at lesser rates, less violently, and very rarely violently against other adult males. Women do other bad things at higher rates than men do. They are more likely to torture or starve their children than men are, in general, when it comes to child abuse. But where sexual violence is concerned, men commit most of it. They always have. They probably always will. Sorry if this seems offensive. It’s true.

                • Considering how many organizations against rape have clearly ignored these stats I am under the belief that there are a lot of people that don’t want to see women as sexually violent. The stats don’t show women are as sexually violent as men, but they do show it seems to happen about 1 in 5 rapes for adults for lifetime stats (women forcing men to penetrate them). The stats only include victims over 18.

                  “Women also engage in sexual crime, but again- at lesser rates, less violently, and very rarely violently against other adult males”
                  I call bullshit on this. Unless you mean very rarely to be 1 in 5 rapes overall, but I wouldn’t say very rarely but simply the minority. 4 in 5 rapes are females being raped by males, or males raping males, but 1 in 5 are females raping males.

                  Considering that only over 18’s were surveyed and in the last 12 months 1.1% of them reported being forced to penetrate, 79.2% of those by females then unless they only interviewed 18 and 19 year old men your statement will most likely be wrong. 8000 or so men were interviewed so about 60 or so of those adult males were forced to penetrate a female in the last 12 months, all victims were over 18.

                  To me the study apparently shows women commit the vast majority of sexual abuse against adult men, this survey says only over 18’s were included so I’d like to know what you base your theory on. If it’s based on criminal statistics then severe bias in society towards male victims of sexual abuse will mask the true number of victims, I myself didn’t report the sexual harassment I faced to the police, and male victims of rape I know didn’t report any of it to the police. Keep that in mind.

                  As for the conflating stats, I’ve seen some MRA’s do it but it’s far far more common to see some feminists skew the rape stats asserting 99% of rapes are committed by men, which I guess could be considered true since misandrist laws don’t include forced to penetrate as rape. But the way they use the stats severely under-estimates the amount of female perpetrated abuse against males, hell I’m still yet to see any major anti-rape campaign or major feminist organization actually state the truth of findings in this CDC report.

                  Question, why wouldn’t anti-rape campaigns show that 20% of forced sexual intercourse was perpetrated by women on men when the stats clearly show it?

          • Robert Paulson says:

            Most people might be too PC to really admit this, and its implications, but the assumption tends to be in the case you described that the male automatically raped the female, even if she initiated it, and both people were equally intoxicated.
            What does it say about even the most progressive person’s internal view of a woman’s agency if we still hold on the insane unspoken belief that the very physical act of penetration itself inherently makes a female a victim in any sort of sexual experience?

          • @ Archy – Oh the old Logical Conundrum that leads to the fallacy watering hole for those who have limited views of the big subject and who wear the gender blinders.

        • It’s not a bright line in most cases- which is the reason there is so much controversy around the issue- but there is a line.

          Line implies a readily defined division – here it”s more of a DMZ – or even a whole region that has horizons you can’t see. As with all such issues you get the land grab with people demanding control and even taxation. I’ve even seen those who are attempting to take this debate and make it all about Alcohol and they want control of men such that if they have been a blood alcohol above- bit Zero they want it to be evidence of rape – but oddly when asked What about teh Galz they become apoplectic.

          I do understand how so many prefer lines becasue that allows barrier building – and it’s odd because previously you have been of the view that only a very simple ans High Vis Line applied “’s either and enthusiastic “yes” or it’s an absolute, get off her, put your pants back on “no.””.

          I do understand that as a lawyer – prosecutor – advisor etc you do like lines – battle lines, offensive, defensive and one’s that blind Jurors are unable to miss and be corralled with … but it’s hard to tale what you say seriously when you keep flip flopping from Lazar straight line to The Great Wall of China as a line that everyone is supposed to grasp, understand and agree with you about!

          One congratulatory point would be the correct gender neutrality is maintained, so comment applies equally to male victims of sexual assault and rape ( many of them here ) and so they are not thrown under the bus by supposed expert comment which ends falling into the chasm of the overwhelming trope. It is refreshing to see the walking wounded left to simply suffer as opposed to the eradication and extermination polices some have.

          At least you is avoiding falling foul of that line! It is so very easy to define and grasp.

  20. I do understand all those talks about the girl enticing the man and trying to “catch” him, and this is truly a form of harassment if the intention is not to start a true affair and to commit oneself to something that is different or if the “playing around” is not including the “logical conclusion” of a behaviour that is clearly “sexual”. What I’m saying is that, on both parts, there is a lack of respect for the person in front of you and this lack of respect, this form of dealing with other people as mere bodies being present in the same physical space, is a form of violence that has become inherent to all social relationships.

    As for the case at hand, starting sexual intercourse while the partner is asleep is not right. This is not a question of asking permission: of course, two adults wanting sex don’t ask permission but the signals are unambiguous when they are fully awake. This does not solve the problem that may arise in some forms of sexual bullying or when one is dealing with a person that has been victim of rape as a child or even as an adult. Certain victims are so traumatized that, when they find themselves in a situation reminding them of former rapes, they become totally defenseless. For people that do not know that sort of absence of response, they may take this as consent and they unknowingly find themselves in the position of rapists.
    This said, and maybe I’m just old-fashioned or too idealistic, I still think that in most cases taking sexual intercourse as another form of relationship between two persons respecting each other would clarify things. And I mean not just on the part of the male partner who is often considered as the guilty one. When human persons are considered as some sort of sexual toys, as the woman did in the case at hand, then something is wrong and the question of the limit to respect is hard to answer. This said, and I’m talking here as a man, I can’t understand how a man can be sexually aroused after drinking so much as not being responsible for his acts or how he can be sexually aroused by a body that does not respond to his gestures. I need the physical responsiveness of my partner to feel at ease. At the slightest sign of her not agreeing to anything, I just can’t help but receive this signal, in whatever form, of absence of consent. And this I call respect, the opposite of exploitation.
    Again, maybe I’m old-fashioned, but a big deal of what I think stems from my own experience of sexual exploitation and I do think that the experience of a person having been through rape should be taken into consideration by all those that have not been through such situations. This said, my experience is absolutely personal and other victims may think of it in a different way: I’m not saying I’m talking the absolute truth. I’m just speaking my mind.
    Lastly, considering your friend, I think, like you, that he’s been the victim of something bigger than him and, if he found himself in the shoes of a rapist, this is not due to some sort of personal condemnable quality or defect of his, but to the way human intercourse, and in particular sexual intercourse, is interpreted in the present world – and I think this is not just today’s world, unfortunately, as history shows sexual exploitation and the exploitation of some human beings by other being the rule rather than the exception.

    • Suzana Alves says:

      “I do understand all those talks about the girl enticing the man and trying to “catch” him, and this is truly a form of harassment if the intention is not to start a true affair and to commit oneself to something that is different or if the “playing around” is not including the “logical conclusion” of a behaviour that is clearly “sexual”.”
      Harassment is any type of unwanted attention. Not the wanted attention that may mislead… at least nor necessarily. I can tell sexual jokes and be flirty (and you may agree and like it) – but that does not mean I am harassing you when I do not want to take it any further.

  21. “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””- If that were true 99% of human encounters would be classed as rape. You’d have to double check every time with your own wife to be sure you’re not about to rape her. You’d be like Will from ‘The Inbetweeners’ everytime saying something like; “So just to be sure, we are about to have consensual intercourse now are we? May I have that in writing please?” Bit of a mood killer. Never seen it happen- ironically the woman would complain about that too. Yes rape of any kind is very very wrong. Obviously it doesn’t as much babble as this to know that. But also the example of what this girl did (and what many others do too) is very wrong- you don’t dangle yourself playfully in front of a lion or crocodile to tease it because it WILL get the wrong idea- ironically the EXACT IDEA that the woman INTENDED to give out. Then she has plausible deniability by saying but that’s not consent: Which is true- however this means it is very wrong on BOTH parties accounts and it could be argued that she insinuated it. I mean the guy could have technically accused her of sexual harassment due to the fact she played with his hair (violated his person) sexually.

    • Yeah, asking consent isn’t usually as simple as “would you like to have sex?”, even if many wish it were that simple. That question, asked plainly, is often a mood killer.

      That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to ask though, just that finding a way of asking what is clear, respectful and non-pressuring – but manages to be sexy as well requires a bit more effort than some are willing to give credit for. I do think that’s the direction we should be heading, and it would be good to see more examples of consent done right to lead the way forward.

      And related to this, the culture of shame around sexuality needs to be addressed – it creates an environment which inhibits everyone from being their true selves and it stifles clear communication and even clear thinking as people struggle to reconcile who they really are with the expectations they feel society is pushing on them. Women get taught that sex somehow diminishes their worth, and that likely makes them reluctant to own their own desires. Asking if someone wants sex does carry the implication that you think it’s something they could want, an implication that can become an insult because of this tangled web of shame.

      If we could unwind that tangled web, we’d make consent a lot simpler.

      • What I keep finding fascinating is how so many people keep expressing the view that everything has to be black and white and in such a hurry. Every time I see it I have these flashbacks to a surly owner in a Chinese takeaway demanding your order – “You want Number 06, 45, 69. You want Fried Rice? Yes? No?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      • “Yeah, asking consent isn’t usually as simple as “would you like to have sex?”, even if many wish it were that simple. That question, asked plainly, is often a mood killer.”

        never understood why so many people have probelms with this. the model of consent leads to amazing dirty talk, and a lot of honesty and communication, all of which are awesome for sex. and people think consent means asking yes or no, but what it’s was more than that. saying “does it feel good when i…..?/ do you want me to keep going?/ do you want more?/ do you like what i amdoing?” that is a form of consent too, and it isn’t a mood killer.

        • outlawwolf says:

          WARNING: sailor mouth
          consent can be incredibly sexy! asking someone “do you want to fuck me?” has never been a mood killer in any sexual relationship of mine. marie is totally right that consent leads to amazing dirty cock. in this one regard, porn is actually a good model. think about how often you hear things like “does yr cock feel good in my pussy?” “do you want my dick in yr ass?” “tell me how much you want to fuck me.”

          • Alyssa Royse says:

            Could not agree more! Perhaps I ought to write an x-rated guide to how to ask for consent. And I love the point that porn may be a positive model for this, that hadn’t occurred to me at all, but I think i agree. (I’ll go do some more research before whole-heartedly jumping into agreement.)

    • Jack Stawb says:

      Test. Sorry if this is repetitious, but before engaging some of the interesting ideas on this site, I want to make sure new comments don’t simply evaporate. So far, nothing has appeared.

      • *toro*

        You talk about the foolishness and wrongness of this woman acting flirtatiously with the guy –
        “But also the example of what this girl did (and what many others do too) is very wrong- you don’t dangle yourself playfully in front of a lion or crocodile to tease it because it WILL get the wrong idea- ironically the EXACT IDEA that the woman INTENDED to give out.”
        Although this is just a metaphor you are using, does it not seem ridiculous to you to compare a thinking, aware – in this case “good” – man to an animal? Men should and generally do know that rape is wrong, certainly the one in question here seemed to, whereas animals are not aware that to us, being eaten is a negative. I feel you give men an incredible lack of credit by comparing their control and impulses to that of a wild animal. Even if this woman was trying to give out the idea that she wanted to have sex with this guy, which by this account it certainly seems she was, that doesn’t mean that because the guy knows she is probably up for sex he can decide where and when, whether she is conscious or not. There is nothing wrong with using body language to inform a person that you would – at some point – like to have sex with them, the only fault comes with that person assuming it is therefore their right whenever they choose. In this case, it seems very likely that this woman and man could have had consensual sex at some future point, but just because the woman probably would have consented to sex doesn’t mean she didn’t feel horribly violated when he penetrated her while she was unconscious, or that it was wrong for her to flirt with him.

    • We aren’t seeing this being as much of a problem with good men with their girlfriends and wives, but moreso with “regular” men with new partners, and yes, girlfriends and wives. Go and ask 50 women you know – have you ever given in to having some kind of sex (hand, oral, p/v) with a new partner, boyfriend or husband when you didn’t really want it? DId you ever go further than you wanted to? What was the guy doing that had you feel like you needed to go further than you were comfortable? And what was going on inside of you, what feelings and conversations were you having with yourself as you tried to navigate this situation? Was there anything in your past – like living in this society or growing up with the parents you had, the social groups you belong to, that influenced the way you felt about the situation, about him, about yourself, about the way you tried to navigate this in your head?

      Of course, dont ask it like you are challenging her, you have to be open and be open to learning. To understanding her experience. Only then will she really open up to you as a man about this. And of course, choose your own way to word those questions, you dont need to use my words. But get curious, and do some “real life research.” It will change the way you think about asking for consent – you will likely learn you only want to have sexual experiences when it is 100%consent. And you will also become much more vigilant about making sure it is 100% consent every step of the way.

  22. Although I do agree with you on the way you try to put things, I do not agree with you on the following statement : “In order to get to that answer we need to first abolish the idea that all rape is about power and violence”. I think this statement is very misleading as it undervalue an aspect which you rightly underline for all that regards sex. According to me, there is no rape without violence – violence understood as the assertion of a will at the expense of another will, and not simply as a physical act.

    The problem is that all our social relations are based on violence and the very examples you give on the sex game in social settings bear evidence to that. In a way, rape is a “logical conclusion” of sex as a type of social intercourse based on the use (and abuse) of bodies. The fact that men represent statistically the overpowering majority of rapist only reflects the fact that men are taught into a violent form of behaviour while women are taught into a more protective and “mothering” role. Now, that doesn’t mean that women are biologically unable of being violent. I was raped as a child by men and women (starting wit my mother). I was abused late in my life just because I could not imagine the relations my mother imposed on me were abuse. I was taught into passivity and submission until I found I could say “no”, but even now, this is not as easy and as simple as for the “normal men”. I loved my mother and took her attachment to me as love until I realised this was not even sexual: I was made into an object at the service of my mother and of the persons my mother wanted me to serve. Tehre was no actual physical violence, just empowerment of a person over another one.
    In the same way, your friend did not realise this potential for violence within himself : nevertheless, when he tried to penetrate that body, this was just an actual piece of meat whose consent is not required. I would never do what your friend did with my partner with hom I lived for over twenty years. I would never try and make love to her as she is asleep because the way I envisage that act of making love requires the active participation of my “partner”. I am not an animal and I love sex too much to jump on my partner as if I was jumping on a piece of meat.

  23. “the ONLY thing that counts as consent to have sex is the word “YES”

    In this case there is no ambiguity, because she was asleep. Its good that you broached this subject, opened up the complexities that are normally un-PC to even consider. But even so, much more grey area situations than this exist. Of course, she *didn’t* say no, so the rule “no means no” doesn’t work. On the other hand, how often do two people skip the literal, verbal words “would you like to have sexual intercourse?” “yes, I would like to have sexual intercourse” and just consent with body language and participation? By the standard of “she [or they] has to explicitly verbally say yes” then thousands of acts of sex that both partners wanted have to be considered rape.
    And that really does complicate things more. If both people are (voluntarily) intoxicated – but both conscious – and they progress from making out to sex, and neither partner explicitly says “yes” but neither explicitly says “no” either, nor makes any effort towards any form of resistance – but one or both of them regrets it after the fact – was it rape? That was a situation a friend of mine was in once. She initially reported her experience as drunk party sexy. After talking to an older female friend, she decided it had been rape.

    “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…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?…We need to teach people that sex, as awesome as it is, is not the goal.”

    I don’t think trying to actively downplay sexuality (in media, in advertising, in clothing and daily life) would really accomplish anything, because we aren’t obsessed with sex as a result of societal pressure. We are obsessed with sex because of biology. People were just as interested in it before there was media, before there was a fashion industry, they are just as interested in it in different cultures, and people will continue to be interested in it s long as the primary way to bring about a new generation of creatures with our own DNA is through sex. Everyone wants to be attractive. My cat was neutered years ago, and he still spends half his waking hours preening and grooming himself. If anything, we need to accept this reality, and figure out how best to work with it, rather than pretend it isn’t true. Instead of trying to stop sexualizing people, (an effort doomed from the start), the focus should be on dispelling the idea that “sexualizing” is interchangeable with “objectifying”. The very idea that in order to avoid objectifying it is necessary to see someone as not sexual is dehumanizing – because humans are sexual.

    However, the suggestion of taking the mystery and taboo out of it, of making it as normal to talk about as food, that indeed would make an enormous difference. It wouldn’t end all rape. There would still be some people who really are the equivalent of the trenchcoated guy in the dark alley who know they are doing wrong and don’t care, and there will always be ambiguous situations involving alcohol and regret, but it would certainly go along way to eliminating all the in-between, like the one in this article.

    • In France, count as rape only being penetrated, whayever be the orifice. So, it is technically impossible for women to juridically rape a man unless using an object for this. Forcing to penetrate does not count as rape, but putting your finger in the vagina or the anus could count as rape.

      So, when I was abused by women as a child, most of the time this did not count as actual rape and would have been judged before a correctional court and not a court of assize, which means the sentence would have been much lighter that it would have been if a man had raped me or a girl. Add to this that a huge majority of cases are simply not reported at all, more for men than for women.

      This does not mean that traditionnally, most rapes are not committed by men: most rapists are men, but this is partly a cultural fact that might change as modern culture evolve and some of the power and freedoms men have enjoyed for centuries become available to women too. Rape is a question of human violence, not only male violence.

      • Actually, you might want to re-examine those statistics.
        If you look at the entire umbrella of sexual assault, women are actually much more prolific offenders in cases of pedophilia than men.
        There are a lot of reasons for that, but it’s something people somehow miss.

        • Where in the world are you getting that? I have studied this extensively, and men beat women in all sex crimes by orders of magnitude. Women commit more instances of physical abuse and neglect, but when you look at the LIKELIHOOD men are actually much more likely to commit ALL types of child abuse, women just happen to do 90+% of the childcare.

          FBI stats, DOJ stats, and stats from self reporting psych surveys come up with the same answers. Women are highly unlikely to sexually offend in any way. I am not saying that MOST men do (they do not) but sex crime stats are readily available.

    • Robert,

      Actually, The distinction that is important here is 100% consent.

      All the things that we take as a “yes” as men, well, we need to remember that our judgement is often clouded by our desire for a “yes” answer. I have witnessed myself and other men taking signs as a yes when they were not. I’ve also been guilty of and seen other men take a yes to something smaller and think that it is a yes to the whole thing. So for example – she is a 100% yes to taking her shirt off. She was not a 100% yes to having intercourse.

      As a therapist, I’ve learned that women are raised, in general, to put other people’s feeling first, above theirs. That means when something isn’t going further than they want in the bedroom, they are trained by so many years of social training and female norms and scripts to take the burden of the pain and the discomfort at the expense of themselves. So long as they dont cause harm or embarrassment or bad feelings in another. It means that they can feel bad about saying no. They don’t want to bruise a guys ego. So when things start progressing further than they want, they have a hard time stopping it. They dont wan guys to feel rejected, or bad, or ugly, or sad, or mad. They have fears that since they started to say yes to some sexual encounter, they need to “complete” or else the guys gonna get mad, and perhaps even violent. (And these fears are warranted – the amount of violence that women face behind closed doors when they are alone with men is astounding. Go volunteer at a rape crisis hotline or at a women’s shelter, or just open the conversation very politely and openly, without defensiveness, with at least 50 women in your life. Just ask them if they have ever felt scared in sexual situations – felt they had to go further than they wanted to for fear of some kind of retaliation, consequence, or violence, even more mild forms of violence like verbal violence. Ask 50 women friends if they have ever been raped, sexually assaulted, or molested in their life. Ask if they have ever had a guy pressure them, push them into sexual things).

      Things that our society don’t yet understand: “pressured into sex” or “coerced into sex” or “guilted into sex” or “bugged into sex” are not 100% consent. And when something isn’t 100% consent, it’s partially rape. We need to stop thinking of rape as stranger rape, or violent rape. Those are the least common kind. The most common are the types I listed in parenthesis, plus inebriated sex. When a woman has had any drug in her, including alcohol, you can’t get 100% consent. So you better know that person well and have had clear communication while sober, about consent when drinking, for example, before you put yourself in that situation where you could be harming a woman and therefor harming yourself. There are laws now that stipulate that inebriated consent is not consent because the person isnt in a fully clear state of mind to give consent. The best thing to do is wait. Whats the rush? Dont push it, for her sake or for yours. In many places, anyone can press charges if they were brought into a sexual situation while they were under the influence.

      The best way to know if you have 100% consent is to be very direct about it, and get an actual “Yes.” And not just a yes at the beginning of the night when you were kissing her breasts or using your hands under her panties. One of the most evolved ways is to get verbal yeses all along the way.

      Dana Garrison, who teaches how to get 100% consent while being so damn sexy you make her wanna rip your clothes off, is masterful at teaching this to men. By sexily asking for permission at each new step along the way, you show her deep respect – respect for her body, for her sexuality, for her mind, for her choices, for who she is. And that can be such a turn on to women (they so rarely get this amount of deep respect) that they want you even more. All said in a sexy bedroom voice, while you remain in your sexual energy and virility: “Is this ok? …….. How about this? Would you like it if I………May I take your shirt off?………”

      • So there are women who are afraid to lose a new partner, who have sex when they don’t want to out of fear of losing that man, or fear that he may be a bad guy even if he doesn’t show violence. Basically women are guessing his threat level and doing something they don’t want to in some cases, to avoid a threat that may not exist based on their subjective feelings on the matter and in doing so they only indicate consent to the guy who is probably thinking she actually wants to have sex because she said yes. It basically means these women are purposely harming themselves by doing something they don’t want to do because they actively failed at communicating their desires, yes, actively, they lied about it, they have coerced THEMSELVES into having sex they don’t want from internal fears of men. That is a HUGEEEEE problem, and enthusiastic consent should work but what if the woman is faking the enthuasiasm? If she thinks that by not pleasing him that she will lose him, and so keeps doing it and the only messages she’s sending are that she is into it (and remember men are not mind-readers, body language can be faked hence the idea of poker face).

        How the hell does a man prevent that? Tell her that he won’t harm her? It’s effectively setting up a way where these women are hurting themselves because of their own actions, and not his. If he is badgering her then he should have a clue to her not wanting to do it but does this shit happen on the first time he asks? I hope to hell this scenario is rare as hell because the idea that a woman will fake consent because of fears she has based on guesswork without ever consulting me about it disgusts the hell out of me, and quite frankly the deception is sickening. I don’t want someone to fake consent, nor do I want to be in bed with someone that is afraid of me without telling me (so I can actually understand what it is that is making her afraid, I am a large tall guy which can be intimidating even though my intentions are to be safe). We need to be teaching both men and especially women to speak up on their feelings, if you feel scared then say it, you can’t expect him to be a mind-reader and read body language perfectly unless you are visibly displaying body language that says you don’t want it, even then shy people send signals that are similar, I sent them myself last time I had sex even though I was into it.

        Humans do not have a perfect grasp of each others body language, hell I had people think I was a confident person when the reality was I was someone with social anxiety disorder and a pitifully low self-esteem, I can fake confidence at times and I can stare down people if I need to and hide my fear, actively sending messages that are completely wrong to how I feel, I have put on a happy face when I’ve been miserable, and I’m sure most humans have some ability to do this. It’s not easy at all to spot this shit unless you’re actively looking for deception AND have plenty of time with the person in their normal happy moods to get a base reading of what they are like.

        • When I was younger and had more insecurity and lower self-esteem, I used to give consent without really wanting to — and I did this a lot. I don’t blame the guys for it because as far as they could tell I was consenting. My advice is to tell her something like, “Just so you know, I’m going to like you and want to be with you, even if you aren’t into having sex tonight. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have sex with you, but it’s more important to me that we wait until you’re totally into it.” That will hopefully deal with her insecurities.

      • Alyssa Royse says:


  24. This is not complicated like you are trying to make it. Yes she probably wanted sex… an AWAKE participating partner. If he wanted sex right that minute he should have woke her up first. Sex is not a thing guys do to women; it’s an action people do together. An enthusiastic yes is a yes, and everything else, most especially a snore is a no.

  25. ‘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.’

    Actually, that is an illogical conclusion.

  26. “…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.”

    No, it’s not my fault that your dim-witted and sleazy friend thought it was OK to put his penis in a sleeping woman. “We” are supposed to explain that it’s not? To whom? How, why and when?

    “In my mind, this was rape.”

    In your mind? Why the qualification?

    “We spent a week or so exploring how this could have happened.”

    If this were true (and frankly, I don’t believe it is) I’m sorry to say this but that makes both of you pretty out of touch with reality and/or quite unintelligent. How it could have happened? He became physically aroused enough despite any mental or emotional connection with the object of his desire and decided to insert his penis into her while she was highly intoxicated and unconscious. There’s only one way “that could have happened” and it precludes him being a “really sweet guy”

    One of my most fervently held and central beliefes are that it is exceedingly rare that someone is all good or all bad and that good people do bad things, and bad people do good things. I also am huge fan of telling unpleasant turhts and people who are willing to look at things in a new way no matter how unpopular. But your article is not only downright offensive to me in the blatantly obvious way that it – despite your repeated but to me formulaic and less than sincere avowals to the contrary – is about making excuses for your friend the rapist, but it also really quite illogical and…well… stupid.

  27. Saajan Patel says:

    This seems like an attempt to rationalize why the rapist was not really a rapist. Referring to a woman as a “thing” is also pretty suspect.


  28. Maria Seager says:

    I came to this article from a response posted on another page. I came here expecting to want to tell the author “Fuck you!” Instead I read the article, really read it. She doesn’t say anyone is to be blamed for rape but the rapist. She does say that as a society we need to re-examine the messages that we are sending and receiving about sex and what it means or doesn’t mean.

    Smart men don’t rape. Smart men know that consent, especially the first time, can only occur in a sober and conscious situation. Unfortunately, our mixed signals to women and men, girls and boys, may lead to “nice” people raping and lives of both the victim and the perpetrator being destroyed.

    • Good to see that some people come to visit and read with open minds. It would help set the record straight if you let your friends know so they too can make up their own minds, rather than being bleated at like sheep. I am sure that Alyssa with be grateful for your open mind and eyes.

  29. It’s not nuanced or complicated, she was SLEEPING.

    • I’m the only one who’s woken up from sleep and found myself having sex with a willing partner–one who’d actually jumped me but I didn’t care because I was happy she was there?

      Again the question goes to nonverbal consent. I assume from this article that this question was asked, I merely note that the issue of nonverbal consent should also be part of the discussion.

  30. While I’m pleased to see acknowledgement here that women can rape drunk men who are passed out–which happens more often I think than most people are willing to acknowledge– a question that I didn’t see asked: “was she, while drunk, cooperating without remembering she was cooperating later because she was drunk?”

    I will assume in good faith that question was asked and the answer was “no.” Still, while it’s a tough question, it should be asked.

    “…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.”

    While that is absolutely true, there is such a thing as non-verbal consent, of the “ripping off your own underwear and starting to hump” variety. One of the other areas where we as a society seem afraid to discuss this issue is to the issue of what constitutes non-verbal consent and what does not. It matters; the assertion that a person who’s drunk is completely incapable of any form of consent is a tough sell, and if we’re going to be non-sexist we must therefore assume it goes the same for men and women no?

    But I would not be the first person to get so drunk I woke up in the middle of doing something I didn’t remember starting. And we should talk about that too. These are tough cases.

    Having been a victim of nonconsensual sex and other abuse, I don’t exactly enjoy these discussions but I agree they should be had, without condemning people who ask these questions.

  31. Actually, it IS that simple. Anyone and everyone knows by now that sticking something into someone else without his/her consent is rape. Your friend didn’t get consent. Therefore it was rape. It is that simple. Your attempt to make it more than that is disgusting and diminishes the fact that he is, in fact, NOT a nice guy if he can’t accord someone this most basic right.

    • Anne – you missed “being made to penetrate from your world view and absolute position of rape. It’s terrible seeing people blinded by their own biases and ideas about rape and sexual assault that are so old they are last Millennium! You talk about disgusting and diminishing and yet your ignorance gets in the way!

      • how is it so last millennium to acknowledge that being asleep is definitely not consent, and claiming anything else is absurd?

        • Well it was last Millennium that the definitions of rape got changed in so many countries – following on from the Rwandan Genocide and The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda which were obliged to redefine rape under International law – to address how the rape of men and women by men and Women had been used as a genocidal weapon. It got the Geneva Conventions Changed, Governments all over the globe got on with the legal changes and even had them built into renegotiated extradition treaties. Oh and last year the FBI got round to redefining rape (And Missing rape by envelopment) and playing catch up form the 1930’s and the rest of US federal and state legislation is still waiting to play catch up with the rest of the world … that’s what I mean by Last Millennium – it’s not just laws it’s Mindets! It’s so hare and tortoise some times, and some aint even aware when the race is over and they have been left behind.

  32. Can someone please answer, did the guy in question realize she was asleep at the time of penetration?
    All I see is “Which is to say that she was asleep when he started to penetrate her.” but no mention of if he realized she was asleep? It’s still rape either way but I am curious if he realized she was asleep and made a mistake, or knew she was asleep and continued anyway.


    This is a link to a reddit thread thread asking people who have committed rape what their motivations were and whether they felt regret. If you are interested in what goes on in these people’s minds then this is one place you could look, but there is a lot of rape apologism there

    I came across the thread on this blog, here is a link to the blogger’s own comments on it

  34. This is an extremely troubling and problematic piece. It is a crime, it is a violent act, it is RAPE. It is not “nice guy rape.” I’d suggest the author think about the triggering potential for her choice of words next time. Also, I hold Good Men Project responsible for this piece and the other recent post of a man saying he would rather run the risk of raping than stop partying. You all have a responsibility, as an organization and communications network, to think very carefully about all of the messaging you put out and the context that comes with it. As someone who is both a survivor and a long-time activist and advocate, I am saddened and appalled. I hope you all issue some sort of statement or retraction, and think about the works you publish moving forward. I’d also recommend Take Back the And the Dart Center for Trauma and Journalism.
    And the thing is – when someone is sleeping, they aren’t sending a damn signal in the world. They are incapcitated and unable to give consent. And actual nice guys? They know that. They learn that. They live that.

    • Amen

    • John Anderson says:

      @ Katy Otto

      “This is an extremely troubling and problematic piece. It is a crime, it is a violent act, it is RAPE”

      Agreed, but it is an important conversation that needs to happen. If it’s happening, staying silent doesn’t fix it. The next step is to empower people to watch out for each other. I’d welcome some conversation about that.

      As far as “nice guys” go. I think we should have a conversation concerning that. What constitutes a nice guy? Is it the totality of their lives or can a person be forever defined by a moment, either good or ill? If criminals are never worthy of redemption, why do we have any sentences other than death or life in prison?

      • Agreed, but it is an important conversation that needs to happen.

        Aint that the truth – and it’s funny that it is possible to have the conversation here, but if you attempt similar conversation on other sites such as Feminsite of Jezebel you are abused (Very Literally Abused), attacked and the behaviour is Disgusting and Juvenile!

        I’m glad it;s possible to have rational conversation here, even of the most hard and difficult topics. I would also make it clear that anyone being abused on or off this site should make it public and show the reality that some wish to keep hidden.

        I’ve been dealing with Three open attacks in the three days – and it’s not some lone wolf it;s a well known blogger (Or As I Prefer BLAGGER) who fears truth and wants to make sure that it is kept away from as many people as possible!

        I’m sure that there will be lots of discussion round here – and it will be nice when some characters are back in their armour plated boxes and put back up on the shelf where they really do need to stay!

  35. Apologies for misinterpreting what you said. I think the thinking is pretty simple – it is to do with a sense of entitlement, that some men feel they are entitled to sex. The root of much evil behaviour is simply selfishness and lack of empathy. And then there are the justifications that allow ordinary men to behave like this, and women to excuse it (because many women do seek to justify rape, when it is a popular or famous man) ; the cultural assumption that men want sex and women don’t, and that therefore women are viewed as (and are culturally trained to see themselves as) passively giving up sex as a reward to men for good behaviour or their amazing masculine prowess. Women are not seen as sexual agents in this culture; if they are then they are whores or sluts, while men are players or whatever. There are a shedload of rapey justifications for “date” rape, that men just lose control in certain situations (when they have been drinking, when they have been led on, when women wear short skirts blah blah). That’s my POV, but I agree it’s an important question, and there are no simple answers to it all. A UK blogger I read often who I think is very interesting on this subject is stavvers,

    • John Anderson says:

      “I think the thinking is pretty simple – it is to do with a sense of entitlement, that some men feel they are entitled to sex.”

      I disagree. I think the root of the problem is that society teaches men to equate masculinity with the amount of sex you have. That’s the opposite of entitlement. That’s saying that you’re a failure as a man if you can’t get sex.

      • Agreed.

        There is this tendency to try to stop at “Guys think that there is this magical formula where if they complete, women owe them sex.”

        That’s not the entire story. Why do those guys look for that formula in the first place?

        Because as you say John Anderson we are taught that sex with women is a defining pillar of masculinity.

        • John Anderson says:

          “Why do those guys look for that formula in the first place?”

          It is kind of strange. If men are entitled to sex, why do they need to earn it?

          • The thing is it’s set up as some sort of agreement.

            As in guys are told, “If you do _____ for her, she will owe you sex.” (and women are told “If he does _____ for you, you will owe him sex.”)

            With that in mind guys go looking for what that ____ is. So in conclusion the Magical Formula that guys are looking for is:

            “Okay what is it that I need to do for her in order to have sex with her?”

            Now with that in mind the entitlement that john was talking about above is when guys go around, with that Magical Formula, thinking “I’m doing ___, why aren’t I getting sex?”

            I think the problem, as I said above, is that it’s all just called a sense of entitlement that men have. I’m not sure why people try to leave it at that (although I think it’s because by just saying it’s a sense of entitlement allows for all the blame to be placed on men) though.

  36. We need to be able to rephrase the popular understanding of consent from “no means no” to “yes means yes” ie enthusiastic consent required. I sympathise with your distress that your friend is a rapist, but I don’t sympathise with him at all. The idea that someone has consented because they haven’t said no, or that previous behaviour can be interpreted as consent, is shocking; it is the sign of someone who doesn’t give a shit about the feelings of the person he is penetrating. Consent should be enthusiastic consent, or it is no consent at all

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      I don’t sympathize with him either. Didn’t anywhere in here. But I do want to figure out WHY his brain thought this made sense. Because he is not alone. This happens all the time.

      • Why his brain thought it made sense to have sex with an unconscious woman? Yes, I would like to understand that too. I don’t see how her “mixed signals”, or the interpretation which society puts on flirting and sexy clothes, could have led to this rape. What signals could she have been putting out if she was unconscious?

        If your friend is such a “nice guy”, why wouldn’t he want his sexual partner to enjoy the experience as well? Which she, of course, cannot do if she’s unconscious.

        • AnonymousCoward says:

          Short answer: Stupid drunk guy shit.

          Drunk guys aren’t the best at interpreting signals. Or consent. Or in making good decisions.

          This is not to say this isn’t a problem. After all, people end up DEAD from stupid drunk guy shit. But this seems more like a problem of binge drinking culture than rape culture.

    • John Anderson says:

      Can we use the term affirmative consent? Enthusiastic consent implies that a person wants to have sex. It’s not always the case. Sometimes a person agrees to have sex to please the other partner. That doesn’t mean they were raped.

  37. Mixed signals? That’s your entire case for him, mixed signals? On what planet does does flirting mean “oh yeah, you’re gonna use my body as a sex doll and I won’t even know it”? Just how does the expectation of sex mean that he can’t even wait long enough for her to wake up although it was just fine doing nothing the previous night?

  38. I was thinking about this today, and I find myself wondering if one of the things that confuses this issue is that there are so many different kinds of people in this whole wide world.

    There are plenty of guys out there who approach a womans boundaries as something to be pushed past, and I can 100% see why feminists are angry about those guys, and angry about the social culture that encourages them. They exist and they’re a problem, but they’re not the only kind of guys out there.

    Not every guy out there wants to ignore or override womens boundaries, and the culture we live in creates other challenges for guys who are trying to respect those boundaries. Some women do actually say no when they mean yes, as a way of trying to defuse the shaming that society puts on them. Here’s a blog post that puts the stats at 39% – .
    “In one survey of women’s undergraduates, 39 percent reported that they had said no when they meant yes, and 61 percent of the sexually experienced women in the survey said that they had done so. Ninety percent of these women said that fear of appearing promiscuous was an important reason for their behavior.”

    This sort of thing creates an environment where men feel like we’re being asked to play guessing games with other peoples boundaries and consent, and having to guess about someone else’s consent creates heart-breaking stories like this: . How can a man be asked to respect boundaries, when he can’t expect to be told where they are or when he’s crossing them. Wouldn’t life be so much simpler if people could be honest with each other, say Yes when they mean Yes, No when they mean No and simply tell us when they don’t like something we’re doing instead of suffering it in silence and resenting us for it.

    Instead, we make things harder on ourselves. I’ve had an ex of mine who would berate me for wanting to care about her boundaries. I’ve had a woman I was having sex with suddenly start screaming “F#$%K OFF!!” half way through with serious venom and yet be surprised and dismayed that I rushed to get off of her as quickly as I could. Consent could be simple, should be simple. But unfortunately, people are messed up.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      That’s one of the reasons why when many sex educators approach this problem we approach it from a place of eliminating shame and honest communication on both sides. Your frustration has been echoed in many comments here, and mirrored as a double standard for how men and women are expected to behave sexually. (A double standard that cuts both ways, for sure.)

      I think that we are probably years away from a solution here, but that it does lie in accepting that there are many kinds of people, many reasons why people cross boundaries, many reasons why people don’t communicate effectively and many reasons why we feel and behave the way we do sexually.

      I wish it were black and white also, but it’s not.

    • This is ridiculous.

      Ok so some girls say no when they mean yes because they are afraid of of saying yes, are afraid of wanting to say yes and afraid to the stigma attached to saying yes.

      The solution is still simple. If a girl says no to you. STOP! Don’t second guess her boundaries, she has said no, so stop!

      If she has said no and really she wanted to say yes she is more then capable of initiating sexual contact again, you are more then capable of stopping her and to ask her if she is sure this is what she wants and she is more then capable of saying yes this time around.

      There is no need for second guessing.

      • There’s a thing to understand here, some of us men aren’t used to thinking we have the power to define how sex will or won’t happen. It’s easy to feel like your only option is to work within the existing paradigm, no matter how broken it is. It’s easy to see a world where playing those guessing games is the only option available, because we as men don’t realize we get a say in how things are going to go down.

        That’s not a good corner to back people into. If you make them believe their only chance for love and affection is to play that guessing game then bad things are going to happen that everyone involved will regret. I’ve been there, and the only other option (and the one I took) is to have faith that there are other options, even if you may not know what those options actually are. I’m still taking that on faith, and I certainly haven’t got it all figured out yet.

        I’m actually very interested to see more examples of consent done right, and of seeing more good consent in popular media (instead of the usual forceful male trope that we see now). If we as men can figure out how to ask for sex in a way that is clear and sexy, but also respectful and non-pressuring then it would address that whole problem head on.

        I also find it telling that in the statistics I cited, of the 31% who did say no when they meant yes, 90% of them did so in part because they didn’t want to be seen as promiscuous. I can understand not being willing to be open with your desires if the response you expect is to be shamed for having them. It’d be good to dismantle that shame, but I don’t have much of an idea where to start with that problem.

  39. John Anderson says:

    “OK. Let me reduce the grey to zero for you.
    If I am unconscious, I am NOT giving consent of any kind.”

    Do you really think that’s a grey area? That would place you in the minority in this conversation.

    “Even if I happen to be riding you when I pass out, the sexy time is OVER!!!”

    Unless you can continue to ride someone while unconscious, I would assume that would be true, but if you were able to, how would he know? If you were actively riding me, I would assume that you were still consenting. If you stopped, I’d certainly be worried that something was wrong. You’d need to explain this one a little better.

    As far as coercive sex is concerned, I don’t know. On the one hand, I no one should be pressured into doing something they are uncomfortable with. On the other hand, no one should be trapped in a relationship where their needs aren’t being met. I don’t think that anyone should be pestered for sex (or anything else for that matter), but if a man tells a woman that he’s going to find someone else unless she agrees to have sex with him, she can either let him go or have sex with him. Either way she shouldn’t blame him for her choice.

    • This comment makes me sad, horrified and terrified that you may indeed consider yourself “one of the good/nice guys”.
      To clarify for you, “if a man tells a woman that he’s going to find someone else unless she agrees to have sex with him”, THAT is coersive sex. That man is not “trapped in a relationship where (his) needs aren’t being met”, his partner is trapped in a relationship where she/he must have sex with him when he wants, how he wants, lest they lose him. Sounds fun, right? That’s called coersion. Or you can call it just plain old abuse. Take your pick.

      • Umm, if you’re needs aren’t met, WHAT right does she have in assuming he should stay around? If his needs are regular sex than so be it, she needs to have regular sex with him otherwise why should he stay? Withholding intimacy is also considered abuse. If she doesn’t want to have sex with him, and they can’t work it out then she should leave and so should he. Why stay around if there is no intimacy? A relationship without intimacy is called a friendship. Everyone has the right to walk away if there is no sex, and how exactly do you tell your partner you’ll leave if there’s no sex without it being considered abuse? You could just leave because there is no sex but then if she starts begging for him to stay and he does, she has sex with him then that too could be considering coercive. What is the right way to go about it? There is a lotttt of pain to be had in a sexless relationship when you want sex and they don’t, both have an obligation to at least TRY meet the needs of their partner n work shit out otherwise they shouldn’t be together.

        If he isn’t trapped in a relationship then how can you say she is being coerced? She can make a choice all by herself as an adult and leave if she wants to, he can make a choice too. Telling someone you’ll leave if there is no sex whilst you have freedom to leave is not coercive. It sucks sure to lose a partner but if they pull that shit then tell em cya later, or realize that you’re relationship is nearly fucked and you both need to work at fixing it. It’s an asshole move to do yeah but so is withholding sex and not attempting to meet your partners needs unless health/busy life interferes. For it to be abusive and coercive than automatically her withholding sex is abusive. Shaming him for wanting to leave is also abusive and coercive.

      • John Anderson says:

        “where she/he must have sex with him when he wants, how he wants, lest they lose him. Sounds fun, right?”

        It’s the same when it comes to withholding sex also. Everything in a relationship is negotiation unless you just happen to have that 1 in a million relationship where everything is in sync. That means that there will be times when some sex is unwanted whether it is frequency or type, but should never get to the point where sex is non-consensual. Of course the partner with the greater sex drive should also experience times when they need to do without.

  40. The problem is that the term “rape” has devolved into a metaphysical category. The real question is whether this guy should be punished by the police powers of the state and, if so, what that punishment should look like.

    I say create a category of crime for this sort of situation, call it 20th degree rape and provide sentencing guidelines of ten to sixty days in county.

    • Create a category of crime for “this sort of situation” and you’ll make serial predators (which is most of them) very happy indeed. Thanks anyway, I’ll prosecute cases to the fullest extent of the current law when a guy sexually penetrates an unconscious person.

  41. I’m not involved in any “movement” about rape, and I’m not a blogger or an active feminist like the people she is insulting for attacking her. I’m just a person who has been in numerous situations growing up as a troubled youth in a big city where guys have repeated tried to get me to engage in sexual acts that I didn’t want to commit. (Some succeeded,
    others didn’t.) I vocally protested, said “no,” attempted to hold my clothes on my body, pushed them away, and attempted to leave. These things have happened drunk and sober. I’ve woken up with an ex-boyfriend who I hadn’t been with in years anally (and painfully) penetrating me even though he knew that was something that I didn’t do, awake or asleep.

    I’ve never once called anyone a rapist– for exactly the reasons this author outlines here. They probably got the wrong message from me; I like to dance, I can be flirtatious, I may have been drinking, I probably sent “mixed messages.” Articles like this are just more reason that I, and many of my friends, wouldn’t even try to confide in rape crisis people or report these guys for abuse.

    It makes me really upset that this author could potentially be answering a call that I could make in a rape crisis. Yes, she does call him a rapist, but she also keeps talking about what the woman wore, what she said, and how sexual she was being, “all while looking my friend straight in the eye.” Even though she keeps backtracking to say rape is never ok, she is more-or-less giving him an excuse by blaming society.

    If I were raped while drinking, while sleeping, or by someone that I could have liked in the past, would that mean she would be thinking this in the back of her mind while consoling me? Her poor “sweet” friend ended up having to “leave town,” and the vindictive women that give “mixed signals,” –even if she so kindly tells us that she doesn’t like to call them sluts.

    “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?”
    I would say the point is when I (or anyone else) says “no” (most times repeatedly), tries to leave, refuses to undress, or is not conscious. Why does she think that’s not clear? Maybe I am flirting because I may want to “fuck” at some point in the future, but are tired/unhappy/uninterested today? Maybe when I got alone with him I realized that this was all happening too fast, that I wasn’t ready, that I wasn’t sure, that he wanted things that I didn’t want, or that I was turned off by something he was doing?

    The author also talks in the comments about drinking being “a decision that makes them more vulnerable to harm and should be reconsidered,” then points out that she was “raped, at gunpoint, dressed and stone cold sober, sound asleep in my own bed by a stranger who broke in.” Clearly she has sympathy for people who couldn’t possibly be accused of sending mixed signals, but maybe she should limit her rape-crisis advocacy to only victims of stranger-rape, then. Would she feel just as horrible as I do if I had written an article about how victims should think about living in better neighborhoods, having better locks, and how pajamas are obviously a potential aphrodisiac so it might not have been the “sweet” guy’s fault? How far should we take her reasoning on this one?

    • John Anderson says:

      I’m sorry that happened to you and that’s why the conversation is important. Just look in the comments. I remember some exchanges where some one asked who’s responsibility is it to get consent., I said the initiator. I should have and could have been more clear that consent should be sought for every change or escalation of a sex act. So the guy in this post should have sought consent for intercourse because it hadn’t been given for that act. Someone else mentioned that I was wrong because consent can be revoked. I pointed out that a revocation of consent then is the responsibility of the revoker to communicate. You did that and it’s not right what happened to you.

      I’ve been reading the controversy over this on other feminist websites. I intend to post a similar comment on some of the other articles on GMP questioning why we’re having this conversation. The mistakes that feminists make concerning this are:

      1. Men already believe many of the misconceptions that you and the feminists are complaining about. Not having the discussion doesn’t change that and is ultimately placing additional women at risk.

      2. Silencing men’s voices is not going to get them to listen to yours.

      3. None of the men here (at least I don’t remember any) have defended rape. Ultimately we all share the same goals. Where feminists make their mistake is that they say that not only do men have to share the same goals as us, but they have to come to the same realizations through the same methods that they have, but we don’t have the same life experiences.

      Add your voice it’s important. Men need to know that signals can be mixed proceed with caution. Men need to know that a woman might be sending these signals because she might want to have sex in the future, but not necessarily now. We need to know that and we need to know how woman communicate the revocation of consent, but also listen to what the men are saying. We need to change society so that masculinity is not measured by the number of sex partners that one has. When some men say that these signals confuse us, help us. Send is a signal that we can understand (I know you did. It’s not your fault.).

      No one should ever be raped and the point of the conversation is to prevent rapes by at least reducing the grey areas in which they could occur.

      • missingmuse says:

        OK. Let me reduce the grey to zero for you.
        If I am unconscious, I am NOT giving consent of any kind. Even if I happen to be riding you when I pass out, the sexy time is OVER!!! Instantly. Consent revoked. Got it? Good. This is not grey. AT ALL. If the mind is not in gear, the body is off limits.

        If I said “no,” or “that’s’ uncomfortable,” or “maybe later,” or simply try to move away from you AT ALL, it means no. GET AWAY FROM ME! DO NOT CONTINUE TO PUSH ME!!!

        If you needed to pester me for more than thirty seconds or ask more than once, I DON’T WANT TO FUCK YOU. This is not “pity sex,” it’s coercion. Coercion makes you a rapist. Got it? Good.

        See? Easy. And clear. “YES, OH YES, Just like THAT!!” is consent. “ZZZZZZZZZzzzzz” is not.

        • Missingmuse, I kind of love you. Thank you so much. Coercion IS rape. If you make me say no more than once, you are trying to force me to have sex with you which is rape. Period. Again, thank you.

    • For walks like a fuck I’d say if they’re in bed naked together making out, he grabs her breast for instance but she doesn’t like it than I could say that’s a miscommunication especially if she’s been flirting for weeks before. He needs to stop immediately of course and stick to whatever they’re both ok with. If she’s passed out and he is aware of that, do not start, do not do anything, if you want sex then maybe wake her up or just both sleep it off till the morning. If they were having sex and then she passes out, pull out, ensure she is ok (breathing, etc), sleep it off or jerk off somewhere else if it’s blueballing you.

      Basically don’t rape anyone, and hopefully people aren’t so drunk they can’t tell when someone has fallen asleep? The only possibility of not knowing someone is asleep for a few seconds is if you’re on top, they’re face down and you’re having sex in that manner where you can’t see their eyes but you should be able to notice signs of someone awake vs asleep to some degree at least (is this accidental rape?). If they’ve passed out, you stop. But this only says he started when she was asleep so it’s most definitely rape.

      It’d be best for people to not have sex when they’re too far drunk. Things like blackouts make it really scary though as people have described their friends who are blackout drunk as simply appearing drunk, and the possibility that 1 drunk + 1 blackout drunk have sex and the blackout can’t remember is freaky. If they can’t remember that they consented (to the same degree the other drunk did) then were they raped?

      Still looking for answers to this question regarding blackout drunk. I don’t see how or why the nonblackout should be prosecuted IF the blackout drunk acted in the same manner, as in they both had enthusiastic sex without either indicating they were extremely messed up. As I haven’t seen someone blacked out drunk I can only go by other comments in these threads, and a few have said they appear to be just drunk and not visibly different. If blackout is clearly different and visible then yeah prosecute.

  42. seminaranalyse says:

    I have a big problem with the article blaming society for him not knowing that he should penetrate a sleeping women. He should have known himself.
    Having said that you named him a rapist and helped him realise that he is.

    • John Anderson says:

      “have a big problem with the article blaming society for him not knowing that he should penetrate a sleeping women.”

      The article doesn’t blame society, but recognizes that there are certain societal expectations like gender norms that need to be examined and corrected.

      “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.”

      There are several men who have mentioned that society pressures men into sexual activity by equating their masculinity with the number of women they have had sex with. A wise person would examine this and figure out how we can change this and support men so they don’t feel pressured to believe that if this social interaction doesn’t end with sex it will be a failure. If it reduces the incidence of rape, why not have the conversation?

      Others would say why blame society? My question is how far should we take it? Should we eliminate public assistance? People should know that if you don’t have a job you can’t buy food or have a place to live. Should we modify the media images of women to make them more realistic? Women should already know that these images are unattainable and unhealthy. Why should we encourage women to enter the STEM fields? They should realize that there is a salary discrepancy in favor of STEM fields and if they don’t realize that their math skills surpass boy’s math skills on average (confidence gap identified by Dr. Linda Sax) it’s not society’s fault. It’s their fault.

  43. John Anderson says:

    If masculinity is measured in the number of women you bed and the goal is simply the act, could it also reduce women to an object as someone noted a prize or a notch on a bedpost? If a man doesn’t see a woman as a person, could that be why he feels that it is OK to penetrate her while she slept?

  44. The entire logic of this article is incredibly offensive to women, men AND men.

    Your friend raped a woman, so now after all these years as a sex educator decide to defend the rapist? Really? 

    There are so many disgusting parts to this article, but I’ll just highlight a few:

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

    Uhm, yes, that is the problem. You want to hold society accountable for sexist misogyny, that’s fine. I’m a sociologist, i get that. However, millions of men around the globe are exposed to these messages on a daily basis and most of them choose to be Good Men and don’t rape. Society is not responsible for rape. You’ve taken the “society made me do it” argument way too far. 

    “The rapist is just a person who may genuinely not realize that what he’s doing is rape.”

    Do you really believe that this happens “every night, somewhere”??? Yes, good men can and do rape, but to insinuate that most rapes are “accidental” is grossly misleading. You have the data, you know better. 

    “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.”

    At the point they don’t consent to sex. PERIOD. 

    If you want to create a dialogue about the sexualization of culture, I’m all for it. But your analysis here is the exact opposite, it reads as an explain and defense of rape. 

    • John Anderson says:

      Here is something that I find interesting. Maybe someone will be kind enough to explain it.

      “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.”

      So basically she’s saying that if you don’t want sex don’t act like you do. Feminists always ridicule MRAs for harping on false rape claims. Their favorite line is something like being accused of rape isn’t as bad as you know actually being raped. In some cases, I would definitely disagree, but it seems that the other message feminists are saying is that there is only one thing worse than getting raped and that is not being able to drink, not being able to dress “slutty”, nit being able to sit on a man’s lap or whisper in his ear, etc. It seems that the only thing worse than rape is not being able to send the signal that you want sex when you don’t really mean it.

      I accepted a drink from two women at a bar and have been dealing with the results for the past 20 years or so. Guess what, I don’t accept open drinks from strangers at a bar anymore. I’ve never used a particular four or five letter word to describe what happened to me because if I don’t part of me can reject that it occurred. I won’t use that word today, but losing out on a free drink every now and again isn’t worth what could happen again.

      • “So basically she’s saying that if you don’t want sex don’t act like you do.”

        I find this troubling.

        This is not at all the message I took from this piece. My interpretation was that we need to consider the victim’s behavior in the context of understanding how the perpetrator could misread consent. That this understanding will allow us to reach the subset of men who could potentially commit rape due to an inadequate understanding of issues related to consent. (I would include the me of 25-30 years ago in this set.)

        The detractors have been criticizing this discussion as amounting to victim-blaming. If John’s interpretation is at all common, then I would have to give more weight to such critiques.

        What do other people think?

        • John Anderson says:

          Look at the newest page of comments. Ann makes a good point. Women may be sending these signals because they might want sex or still be determining whether they want sex sometime in the future. It’s important for men to know that what they think is yes could very well be maybe in the future or still thinking about it.

          My position is that the responsibility for obtaining consent falls on the initiator. That’s for each individual act or escalation. There could be different initiators in a sexual encounter. I’ve not always been clear on that point. It’s the responsibility of the person who revokes consent to signal the revocation in a manner that the other person should recognize.

          “The detractors have been criticizing this discussion as amounting to victim-blaming.”

          This is true, but I’ve had discussions with many of these detractor before. Many of them claim to gave been victims of sexual assault / abuse. We have one that has commented on this very discussion. I’ve also frequented survivors sites and there are some very disturbing differences between the behaviors of each.

          People on survivor sites don’t minimize male victimization. The second thing is that survivors understand that rape is terrible. People react to this differently. Some survivors have become more promiscuous or done things to endanger themselves. I feel great sadness for these people and don’t know how to help them. They’re likely to send signals they don’t mean because they’re trying to hurt themselves. Some people can’t even use the term to describe their experience. The detractors are individuals who feel comfortable enough to label what happened as what it is (for those who claim to have been victims and as for the others who just try and speak for them. Don’t try and co opt another person’s terrible experience to further some political agenda of yours. It shows you the type of person you’re dealing with.) and to discuss their experiences in a public forum. These are not the individuals of who I speak. I’m not going to say that the detractors didn’t experience what they experienced, but It’s not something easily “gotten over” and it’s difficult for me to see how it doesn’t influence your behavior.

          “(I would include the me of 25-30 years ago in this set.)”

          The me of 20 years ago would accept an open drink from 2 strange women at a club. The me of today would not so what subset of men would I belong to. Not one who would blame a victim, but one who understand that rape is so terrible an experience that modifying your behavior to avoid it is preferable.

        • John Anderson says:

          Hopefully the previous comment gets approved or this will sound a little strange. In the survivor community there is also the feeling that rape doesn’t end your life and that may be the position from which the detractors operate. I’ve heard men say that they could feel that their partner would tense up and they knew something was wrong. Guys need to know to look for these signals because someone might flashback and not have the ability to articulate it. I know that I freak out if I’m restrained or pinned down.

          I fully believe that survivors have the same right to live their lives as anyone else. No one should be raped and no one is entitled to rape someone else. I think there are ways to modify your behavior to reduce your chance of being raped. The difference between the detractors and I is that I believe that modifying your behavior to avoid rape is worth it. I know that I’ve modified my behavior.

  45. John Anderson says:

    I having really thought it through. I’m just trying to work it out in my mind. If society views a woman’s worth by her sexual attractiveness to men and a man’s worth by the number of women he has slept with, doesn’t that create an inter related conflict? A woman who is super hot can keep a man faithful because she more beautiful and physically desirable than the other women, but it also reduces his masculinity if he only sleeps with her. Any thoughts?

    • A woman who is super hot can keep a man faithful because she more beautiful and physically desirable than the other women, but it also reduces his masculinity if he only sleeps with her. Any thoughts?
      But, if the women that he is with is more desireable than other women that means he is with the most desireable woman. As a result his manhood cred goes up (it goes up with other men because they want to be with the most desireable woman and it goes up with women because they want in on whatever it is he is doing to “keep” that most desireable woman).

      • John Anderson says:

        “it goes up with women because they want in on whatever it is he is doing to “keep” that most desireable woman).”

        Some of my friends have wondered why a man with a girlfriend / wife seems more attractive to women. It seems to be split between those who believe that predatory woman believes that there must be something valuable or desirable there because another woman wants him and those that believe that having a girlfriend boosts his confidence so he appears more desirable to women.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        My initial thought is that if we don’t move past the physical, we’re proverbially fucked. 😉 One of my “best” lovers (by which I mean that I was the most satisfied with) was someone that I was not even remotely attracted to when I first met him, but his personality just set me on fire. I think that in all cases, we need to use broader metrics to judge the quality of a mate…… I am actually working on a piece for GMP about that “je ne sais quoi” that makes people attractive…. And I think it has something to do with confidence, trust, creativity….. We’ll see what comes out. I’m just hoping it languishes in obscurity rather than starting an international crisis. 😉

        • We’ll see what comes out. I’m just hoping it languishes in obscurity rather than starting an international crisis.
          I don’t know I think I kinda like the international crisis mode. Even for all the chaos that has erupted from all the recent posts on this subject I think there has been some real communication. Sure there has been the usual fussing, whinning, chest beating, grandstanding, and doubling down. But I think that in all these comments there are some real glimmers of hope.

          Keep it up (you too Joanna).

          • Alyssa Royse says:

            Thanks, Danny. I am trying to ignore everything except this site. I haven’t been on Twitter in ages, canceled the Google Alert for my name, shut down my Facebook, etc….. It has been excruciating on me and Joanna and everyone who cares about us and out work.

            That said, I’m still here, on GMP, because I agree with you. I have never seen so open and frank a dialog, especially now that most of the Yellers have left and people seem to be having an actual conversation. Hopefully this will filter into a series of articles, talks, conferences, who knows what, in which real change can be discussed and created.

            To all of you who are openly sharing ideas and thoughts, THANK YOU. You’ve kept me off the bottle, during the day. I appreciate it.

            • @ Alyssa – I’m sorry to see that you have been obliged to protect yourself so heavily – it seems that some will do anything to silence others. I’ve seen comments about how nasty it has been and I know enough to spot not only Nasty but massive understatement about the Nasty. I’d be happy to throw in vile and even a secular Evil and Demonic.

              You have not just been dealing with Trolls – you will have been dealing with The Cyber Enabled Networking Sociopaths – the Netopaths. I can only guess at what has been thrown at you in private, but having seen the public I am sure that you have been dealing with an open sewer of abuse.

              I’m going to make a few highly controversial points – so please Duck Out Of The Way Now – have a bunker and hunker down.

              1) It keeps being raised that research shows that the majority of rapes against women are committed by a minority of men.
              2) These men are identified as falling into the Sociopath category
              3) Research shows that there Sociopathic nature is sex neutral and there are equal numbers of male and frmale Sociopaths
              4) What role does female Sociopath play in Rape, either as perpetrator, enabler or even fraudulently claiming rape when it has not happened?
              5) If female sociopths – netopaths are willing to use rape as an excuse to carry out cyber abuse – harassment – cyber terror – is it reasonable and rational to keep focusing only upon the old tropes and lenses?

              I wonder if those with Bloggerrhea and Twitterrhea will be able to stop long enough to address those points and the implications?

              I would like to know what the views are of many – many bloggers – many branded websites – many individuals with their own little worlds where rape is a big money earner in dollars and self esteem through page views and friends(sic) on Farcebook and Twitville – what are their views as enablers and empowerers?

              That is not enablers of rape – that is as enablers of cyber abuse, cyber predation, cyber stalking. When you are fully aware that your site and ideas are being used to promote and empower cyber abuse – cyber harassment – cyber stalking – cyber terror – why are you allowing it, empowering it and even enjoying it?

              When you have a comments section and you allow threat, open abuse, when you allow individuals to incite hatred and encourage bullying – mobbing – and create the environment for abusers to thrive, why are you enabling and allowing that?

              There is a much misquoted phrase which is attributed to Voltaire:

              “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

              Evelyn Beatrice Hall

              So many treasure Freedom Of Speech, and I happen to be one of them, and they have great debates about it. Well, when some wish to defend the freedom to speak they can – and I’ll still hold you morally and socially responsible when you knowingly and even deliberately enable Netopaths to abuse without Criticism or Rebuke.

              I like The West Wing. It has so many well encapsulated and presented vignettes of life and politics. I remember the first ever episode, and the entry of President Josiah Bartlett. Some may wish to look at the Refresher on Youtube.

              President Bartlett was unhappy and very reserved. He was unhappy because his grand daughter had been threatened and abused – she said women should have a “Choice” – a precosciosu 12 year old. That made some believe they had the right to send her a raggedy anne doll with a knife through it’s throat. Not hard to see the abuse – threat – terror there, is it?

              Bratlett was simple in his response – He told the Church leaders, the Bishops The One’s who made themselves important that they would condem such self appointed abusers and do it publicly, Very publicly – and until then they could get their “fat asses” out of the White House.

              Well it’s simple to me. Until the people who are through silence and negligent complicity empowering such abuse as Cyber Harassment and Cyber Terror say “NO – Not In Our Name” … well those groups have not place to act Houlier than Though and they need to get their “fat asses” in order – and deal with the dysfunction that comes from their collected ranks.

              When any blogger – website – Twit Or Farcebook star is of the view that Threatening rape, people, their homes, children families is acceptable and their price of doing business via the net they are enablers. When those same people are all high and mighty over a Suicide caused by Bullying and yet do not condemn cyber terror all they do is reveal the Hypocrisy they thrive upon in with their two faced Farcebook mentality.

              I wonder if some will have the moral courage to speak out, or if they will just shrug and ignore matters because they welcome abuse and terror as a way to do business? Those who do that are of course acting just the way you would expect of a Sociopath.

              Well – at least one thing I do know about GMP, that is not the way business gets done round here.

              In so many ways I see a great deal of poetry in GMP and the way it does do business.

              I shall be telling this with a sigh
              Somewhere ages and ages hence:
              Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
              I took the one less traveled by,
              And that has made all the difference.

              Seems the GMP is willing to take the road less travelled, and not be afraid to amke a difference. No wonder some will do anything including acts of terror. They are Cowards and Frightened of what other roads may reveal – and most of all they fear what other roads may reveal about them.

              I’d stay in that bunker if I was you! P^)

              • How interesting – people linking to this comment are having social networking accounts taken of line and multiple complaints made about them. Some people are so predictable and caught in their own patterns and unable to think outside of their little boxes.

        • John Anderson says:

          ” I was not even remotely attracted to when I first met him, but his personality just set me on fire.”

          I’ve heard that from a few women. Each of them have told me that they actually viewed or saw the man differently. They way they perceived his physical appearance changed. There are men I know that have had similar experiences with one distinction. They’ve fallen in love with a woman’s inner self and her looks have become irrelevant.

          In the case of my friend who dated many conventionally attractive women, he only gave his wife a chance because she asked him out and paid for the date. No woman had done that before and he was curious. He wouldn’t have given her a second look otherwise, but he fell in love with her. I’ve rarely seen that level of commitment before. He loved to drink. One day while drunk he threatened to hit his wife. She threatened to leave him. He promised her that if she stayed he would stop drinking. I was like you love to drink why did you promise that. His answer I don’t want to lose her. She loves him too and after a few months started letting him drink in moderation. She didn’t want to see him suffering either. They’re good together.

          8 years into their relationship, we had a conversation about hot women. He mentioned his wife as not someone who was hot, but was the coolest person he knew. I remember when I was 20 years old. I had a crush on a woman in her 40s. She was extremely heavy and conventionally unattractive, but she was working on her doctorate and was the smartest person I knew. It was a joy to speak with her and she always treated me as her intellectual equal. Never condescending. Her looks didn’t matter to me either, but the age difference mattered to her so we remained just friends. I would not have desired sex with her, but to keep the relationship I would have.

          I think that’s one difference women become physically attracted to men they are emotionally attracted to. Men don’t have that connection, but it doesn’t matter to them.

    • Echoing what Danny said. But sexual attractiveness — and I’m assuming that we’re referring to a nice body, nice face, nice hair, stylish clothes, etc. — means nothing if one doesn’t not know how to use it. Or if one uses it incorrectly. Some of the most physically stunning men in my life had -0- sexual charisma because they didn’t know how to express it freely. Or because they had hang-ups about sex being “dirty,” something that one didn’t enjoy with a girlfriend or wife (madonna-whore complex). I suspect that some women have similar “issues” when it comes to sex. They might love their husbands, but are not attracted to them in “that” way. Recipe for disaster. And cheating. And eventually, leaving.

      • John Anderson says:

        Yes, presentation is a huge factor. I think men put more stock in a woman’s outward appearance (physical presentation) while women look for confidence and the ability to hold a conversation (kind of a sales presentation). I’ve known guys who aren’t very physically fit or handsome, but have a way of approaching women that just puts them at ease.

        Sometimes there is the shock value. I’ve been asked on dates by two former classmates in the last couple weeks since we graduated. I never really dressed up for class, but for our graduation get together had dressed up for the occasion. I got quite a few wows. Not that I’m particularly attractive, it was just the comparison.

  46. Alyssa ROyse says:

    Roger, not surprisingly, I disagree quite strongly with your take on Lisak, and the questions that you brought up are legitimate, though I see them in a different way. A lot of it, for me, is the phrasing of the questions. “When they did not want to…” So that leaves out men who didn’t know that the woman didn’t want it. Right there, that’s a huge problem, and probably a huge number of cases.

    In the story of my friend – and seriously, you are going to have to trust me on this because I have a trigger bullshit detector and knew this man well, something no one else on this thread can say – he didn’t know she didn’t want it. And THAT is the point. This happens all the time (again, I’m willing to bet that it’s happening right this minute) at the hands of people who genuinely do not know that she doesn’t want it, for whatever completely fucked-up reason.

    As I said in my story – he was wrong. Her prior experiences and prior behavior towards him directly did not mean that she wanted it. He genuinely believed that she did. He was very wrong. So the Lisak study does have serious shortcomings for me because it doesn’t allow for the possibility of someone not knowing. Of someone completely misreading social and contextual and nonverbal cues. THAT is key.

    How can any study truly be based on the idea that everyone perceives things the same way? That defies even the most basic understanding of human nature. Again, you can look through this thread and see countless examples of people saying that they didn’t know at the time – on both sides.

    But you do, and I’m not yelling, continually tell us that we were wrong about things that we experienced and you did not. You have told me that I am wrong about my understanding of my friend who I knew very well and you have never met. You told a woman she was raped when she told you she was not.

    Clinging to research and legal definitions is one of the primary reasons that confusion about rape and consent is not only misunderstood, but also under-reported. As is the need to label “good” and “bad” on people rather than acts. Sure, repeat offending, a pattern of this, and one becomes a “bad” person. But this things do exist in isolation sometimes. I haven’t spoken to him in a few years, but last I saw him, he had stopped drinking altogether, because for him it caused problems. He was genuinely mortified by the events of that night and I would bet that it never happens again.

    But what would the solution be? Lock up every guy who ever did this?

    And I FULLY agree that there is nothing – NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING – that surrenders one’s agency over their body. No prior behavior or flirtation, as I said, is permission or consent. Nothing. I have dear friends who are sex workers, I myself can be an incredible flirt, NOTHING that one does stands in as permission. Period. That said, many people think it does. THAT’S who we need to reach and figure out why. And you have to allow for the possibility that some people think that way. The DO think “she was asking for it,” or “she wanted it,” or “it was no big deal.” People think that, as wrong as it is. And if we dont’ ask WHY they think that, so that we can address it then we are never going to solve the problem.

    In this case, he believed that weeks of aggressive flirting, sitting on his lap talking about having sex with him, getting drunk and falling in to bed with him meant she wanted it. HE WAS WRONG, as I said in the piece. But he would not have been alone in thinking that. So WHY did he think that and how do we need to change the ways we teach consent?

    As for thinking that women should take more responsibility for their safety….. I suppose that is yet another reason to demonize me. But I do. I think men should to. I think society as a whole should too. I think we need to be damn clear that hormones and alcohol make it harder for ALL people to make good decisions and it increases the risk of things going terribly wrong. I think that both men and women cross boundaries – their own and others – in such situations, and in the absence of solid education about what could go wrong, we risk exacerbating the problem. I know that’s what i teach my daughter.

    • I’ll talk to Lisak and see if I can find some common ground with you.

      You’re correct- I am assuming that it’s possible that you don’t know your friend as well as you think you do. I say this not because I don’t respect your intuition, your BS detector, or whatever. But I know criminality and i know how well people can lie. I know how well they can put false faces forward in order to conceal a different nature. I can’t say anything further.

      I did not “tell a woman she was raped when she said she wasn’t.” I would never do that. I didn’t address her directly at all. In a comment, she stated “I don’t think so” with regard to whether she was raped. I read the facts she posted, and I stated a different opinion. That’s not demanding that she see herself as a victim. It’s not me attempting to hijack her characterization of her own experience. Demonize me, I guess, for rending an opinion on facts stated to me with less than everything to go on, but that’s all I did.

      I agree- we have to ask WHY. But I think you are beginning (or continuing) the WHY journey by making assumptions toward innocence and confusion that are not present nearly as much as you think they are. We’ll absolutely have to agree to disagree on this for now (although I’m happy to keep talking) but I think the way you are trying to get to WHY, and the way you are suggesting that women (and men) need to take more responsibility to somehow stave off what you consider basically blundering on the part of some otherwise decent guys (in many cases), is just misplaced.

      You state that, because of the actions the victim in your example took, your friend “genuinely believed” that she wanted him to penetrate her. While she was unconscious. I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. You’re assigning too much weight to the actions of victims in terms of his decision making process. I assume he’s of at least average intelligence. Please understand- I’m not trying to label you a victim-blamer, Alyssa. But in my mind, you are asking potential victims (male and female) to assist in preventing or thwarting actions that you think are often mistakes, and by men you consider in many cases to be basically decent. We part ways there, I’m afraid. I think there are far less mistakes and far more next day excuses.

      Asking people to take responsibility for their personal safety is wise. But a psychologist friend of mine (Nikki Valliere- she is brilliant) has a great quote on this: “There is no vulnerability without danger.” No matter how defenseless some objectively foolish choices a woman or man makes renders him or her, he or she is not vulnerable to anyone or anything unless danger is present- unless a woman or man (almost always a man) means her harm.

      I think our biggest divide right now is not how we view Lisak’s work. We can get to the bottom of that to some extent. I think our biggest disagreement is on the nature of offending and on the responsibility of potential victims to prevent being victimized.

      Again, thank you for engaging.

      • This is what I’m seeing, and I put this on my blog here.

        We live in a society where dominance is valued in many ways. Racism, classism, sexism, you name it. It’s part, in my opinion, of white and western supremacy. There are people, decent people, who have integrated these beliefs, stories, myths, and dynamics to a point where I believe they are unconscious of the dynamic.

        There are also people who have their eyes so wide open to the dynamics that they see it everywhere and it’s pretty painful to go through the day.

        These people seem to be having a very hard time communicating with each other right now. I’ve said it before but it’s like the Matrix. All this water we swim in seems healthy and normal and so you can and do see “good” people doing things that range from clumsy and unthoughtful to downright evil while being able to hold the justification of themselves as “normal” “good” “right.”

        When you or I or many of the other writers who see this point it out, we get accused of not wanting the conversation to happen and not wanting to “understand the rapists.” But when those other writers like you Alyssa, are making steps, babysmall as they may be, towards getting their eyes open (and in a perhaps different and frustrating way to us) I’m seeing accusations of rape apology and more. Which yes, that’s happening. AND I see people like you, Alyssa especially on the cusp of finally “getting it” about rape culture. Your friend? Has messages about consent and sex and entitlement and power deeply engrained in him to the point where it is possible he didn’t even know they were there. Possible, I say, not that I know that for sure. But penetrating a sleeping woman indicates to me something is and has gone very very wrong in this person. His justifications as well.

        Alyssa, he is your friend and you’ve experienced him for a long time as “good.” To make a complete switch to “bad” may be difficult, but I give you credit for taking part in a conversation that is clearly difficult, painful, emotional, and personally risky. I also give the writers who have been digging into rape, consent, theory, etc credit and understand why they are angry, though I don’t know what good it is doing to help shift your perceptions to theirs.

        A commenter on my blog named Cara said we need to find ways to shame bystanders into action. I said this to her, “You are absolutely right that we need people who don’t rape to stand up and out against it. I’m not sure shame is the tool, frankly, because I think most of us western people (who I believe have been living and breathing a culture of violence and shame for decades) need more shame. We need release from our own complicity in it, and we get there by talking to each other about it-what we’ve done that’s wrong, why we’ve done it, admitting our own collusion, pushing back on the systems that say sex is a commodity and women have a price. This is women doing that work, but also men, especially men. I don’t think the change comes without that personal work and that work in groups, groups of men admitting where they’ve been and how to stop it.”

        I’m not talking peace and love and rainbows, I”m talking hard work of dialogue. You’ve got some good questions, but I still think there are marks being missed. I don’t like that you’ve been slammed, but I understand the frustration and anger of the “other side.”

        I’m also aware a lot of people won’t agree with me about the dynamics of oppression, but hey, I guess that’s my particular stand. Anyone penetrating a sleeping woman, unless he himself was so drug altered he had no idea he was doing it, indicates someone who is willing (consciously or not) to be part of that oppressive system that says women’s bodies belong to them and that it’s the fault of mixed signals and alcohol rather than a culture that sets people up on one-up and one-down dynamics.

        That dynamic is violence in and unto itself.

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          Godammit Julie, I am finally going to have to watch the Matrix. I’ve made it this long without seeing it.

          I love the idea that we need people to stand up to it when they see it – especially in party culture. I know that at Burning Man this summer, my friend and I saw a guy obviously crossing boundaries with a woman who was trying to dance, and we all swooped in. (One of us was even in a Superhero costume.) But that’s part of the larger culture issue I’m talking about. Although we saw “woman at risk of being victimized” it’s very likely that other people saw, “guy about to score.”

          I agree with you 1000% that the culture of entitlement is the problem – on every level. That’s why I was trying – and I’m not sure if i failed miserably or succeeded terrifically – to get people to look beyond just “him and her.” I tried to state over and over that what he did was so very wrong. And that we need to look at the larger culture….. I believe that so strongly.

          • There is one scene in particular that does it for me, then the metaphor runs out…It’s been used in many other circles, but it’s the main character, Neo, who just knows something else is going on, and he finally meets a team of people who promise to open his eyes. They offer him a pill, red or blue. One will have him wake up cozy in his bed remembering nothing, free to go about his life and the other will take him down deep into the real reality. He chooses and things get really different for him. And then he needs to go back into the world that seems real do fight the evil/bad guys while realizing the real-real world is not what he sees there, but the cold, dark world of eyes wide open.

            It’s a great metaphor for finally seeing injustice, isms, privilege, as well as other things. I know that the MRA have a site about Taking The Red Pill. It’s a great symbol for eye opening, regardless.

            Plus, it’s got cool effects.

            • I hear blue pills are quite popular 😛
              The metaphor is great. AVfM did well to choose that. A few years ago I took a red pill so to speak (not the AVfM version, but generic egalitarianism ruby red pill 500mg) and it’s been great.

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          Also, as someone just sent to me in an email:

          “I’m terribly confused by the idea that some people can *both* talk about the existence of rape culture and then maintain that rape is exclusively the product of one particular of aberrant personality type.”

          That is what i struggle with. Damn, they summed it up in a single sentence. 🙂

          • In my view- and my view only- rape culture empowers, protects and conceals predators. It doesn’t create them.

            • Alyssa ROyse says:

              And therein lies our disagreement. I think it does both.

              • John Anderson says:

                So do I. I think to some extent men are measured by the number of women they’ve slept with or the amount of sex they’ve had. That increases pressure to score and might result in him not caring how that score comes about.

                • Agreed. If the expectation to have lots of sex with lots of women wasn’t weighing on men’s shoulders as if our very manhood depends on it I think the pressures to have sex would be nowhere near as intense.

                  Unless those expectations for men to have lots of sex with lots of women is being counted as a part of rape culture.

                  • So does that mean that the pressures to have sex with lots of women is so high (that one’s manhood is dependent upon it), that coercive sex is just the price men pay to not feel like they aren’t men? Meaning sex at nearly any cost? Does that mean manhood as defined by having lots of sex with lots of women is…related to coercive sex?

                    Am I misreading?

                    Because when I think of someone feeling pressure to have sex to prove manhood, so much so that they are willing to trick, cajole, imbibe, manipulate, and actually force and then use that pressure as an excuse….well, I can’t say I like that idea of manhood very much. Is it lots of sex if it’s actually rape, or at it’s heart non consensual?

                    Does the woman’s body then become a currency in the world of “proving manhood” instead of a mutually enjoyable relationship and activity?

                    Because that’s a manhood I don’t understand nor do I want to. My body isn’t a token to earn points with. Yours shouldn’t be either.

                    • If the expectations for men to have lots of sex with lots of women includes forcible and manipulative sex (emotional, physical etc) then yeah, that would seem like it’s part of a rape culture within which a woman’s sex (not even the woman) is a currency to earn manhood.

                      Manhood defined by sexual prowess, scoring and etc.

                      Or maybe I”m misunderstanding…but that’s what came to mind.

                      The sex I’d like to see people desire is sex between mutually eager equals, and not something that people use as currency to prove worth to others.

                    • So does that mean that the pressures to have sex with lots of women is so high (that one’s manhood is dependent upon it), that coercive sex is just the price men pay to not feel like they aren’t men? Meaning sex at nearly any cost? Does that mean manhood as defined by having lots of sex with lots of women is…related to coercive sex?
                      Not directly related. It’s not a matter of actively embracing coercive and forceful sex but more of if you should happen to have sex by those means there is a certain attitude of acceptance of it, if it should happen that way.

                      Does the woman’s body then become a currency in the world of “proving manhood” instead of a mutually enjoyable relationship and activity?
                      Just like attracting the richest/most powerful/highest status guy is a type of currency in the world of “proving womanhood”.

                      Because that’s a manhood I don’t understand nor do I want to. My body isn’t a token to earn points with. Yours shouldn’t be either.

                      (But here is something that I’ve seen happen in regards to defusing it. Remember what I said above about just judging someone bad and then casting them to the side for all eternity? Imagine being a man that has lived the manhood we’re talking about here. He gets branded as just bad and told that what he is thinking, feeling, and how he came to be the man that he is doesn’t have shit all to do with anything? As a man that is somewhat in such a spot this leads me to believe that people who engage in such judgement don’t really want to help men, they just want the credit for solving the problem)

                    • I am quite glad that I have never felt the need to prove that kind of womanhood, nor had mates that felt they needed to prove that kind of manhood. Quite lucky and glad. It’s a sick sad system, and I hope I do right by my boys as they grow to help them examine it without shaming them for their sexuality.

                    • (But here is something that I’ve seen happen in regards to defusing it. Remember what I said above about just judging someone bad and then casting them to the side for all eternity? Imagine being a man that has lived the manhood we’re talking about here. He gets branded as just bad and told that what he is thinking, feeling, and how he came to be the man that he is doesn’t have shit all to do with anything? As a man that is somewhat in such a spot this leads me to believe that people who engage in such judgement don’t really want to help men, they just want the credit for solving the problem)

                      And this is what I mean when I say shaming people doesn’t help. Some of those men probably feel some shame anyway. Shame that they have to prove themselves, shame that they’ve done questionable things, shame that they can’t talk about it. Men need to be talking this shit out with men. Women need to talk about how they collude just as men do.

                      Calling people out doesn’t have to mean shaming the individual, it can mean raising consciousness and lifting people up. If done right.

                    • John Anderson says:

                      “well, I can’t say I like that idea of manhood very much. Is it lots of sex if it’s actually rape, or at it’s heart non consensual?”

                      I think that it’s just the act. No guy ever asks another guy was it consensual. It’s just assumed although I have heard guys tell other guys that yeah, she wants it. It guess a guy gets bonus points for being desirable, a stud. That might contribute to why some guys want to believe that a rape wasn’t actually a rape especially in the circumstance described in the article. He wants to think of himself as a stud.

                      This is also the only way I can get my mind around gang rapes by dozens of men. When I hear of cases like the De Anza case or the 11 year old girl in Texas, I wonder how out of 20, 30 guys there wasn’t one guy with a conscience. I can only imagine that the peer pressure was so intense that at least a couple agreed to do something they otherwise would not have done. You know how depressing it would be if that wasn’t true?

                    • I don’t know how much more depressing it could be.

                    • I am quite glad that I have never felt the need to prove that kind of womanhood, nor had mates that felt they needed to prove that kind of manhood. Quite lucky and glad. It’s a sick sad system, and I hope I do right by my boys as they grow to help them examine it without shaming them for their sexuality.
                      Count your lucky stars on not knowing any guys that have felt that need (but no offense Julie but given that you’re a woman I wonder if in the case of some of the guys you talk about, did they not feel the need and the pressure or did they feel it and fight it off).

                      And this is what I mean when I say shaming people doesn’t help. Some of those men probably feel some shame anyway. Shame that they have to prove themselves, shame that they’ve done questionable things, shame that they can’t talk about it. Men need to be talking this shit out with men. Women need to talk about how they collude just as men do.
                      Oh men do try to talk this shit out with other men. That’s when we are told that we are harming women because we aren’t making it all about them. We just have to press on with talking about this stuff.

                      Calling people out doesn’t have to mean shaming the individual, it can mean raising consciousness and lifting people up. If done right.
                      Agreed. I’m pretty much done with that attitude of “its okay that I shame and insult you because you’re _____”. People like that don’t want to help they are just venting or trying to cover up their own problems.

                    • John Anderson says:

                      One of the things I witnessed when I was younger was sometimes one guy in a group would suggest that he could “steal” the girlfriend of another guy. It would become a competition to see who was the studlier. I guess it was to establish a pecking order. Wasn’t there also a case of high school boys creating a points system for having sexual relations with girls?

                      It also reduces women / girls to objects. Girls who wanted to join one local gang had to roll a pair of dice. Whatever she rolled was the number of guys she had to sleep with to join. I also remembered the first time I heard of a line up at my college. A group of guys would line up and a woman would provide each of them oral sex. I couldn’t believe it until a few years later when I read an article on it that girls were actually agreeing to do this.

                    • Rainbow parties? There is a lot of moral panic bullshit in the world so it can be hard to wade through to know what is real and what isn’t.

                    • Well, isn’t part of the purpose of this site to think carefully about what masculinity means to us, to examine it and consciously reshape it by choosing what to keep, what to change and what to throw away?

                      The “number of women slept with” as a proxy for male value often appears in various conceptions of what masculinity is. It shows up in the way guys are congratulated for getting laid, and it shows up in the virgin-shaming and the default assumption that a man who has no or little sex must be defective in some way.

                      It isn’t a very positive aspect, but it exists, stronger in some subcultures and weaker in others. It’s certainly something that’s worth changing or removing as binding mens self-esteem up in the volume of sexual partners they’ve had does no-one any good.

                      The virgin-shaming aspect is particularly troubling to me, because I can see how the message that something is wrong with you, combined with feeling unloved and unlovable could do nasty things to a persons psyche. The resentment, isolation, desperation and the sense that no-one cares would build up over time – and since desperation further drives women away that whole bundle of negative emotions would reinforce itself and intensify.

                      And I wonder what that kind of experience would do to a person, because I think it’s capable of destroying the good in someone if allowed to grow too strong – because why care about others when others don’t seem to care about you, and if there’s no way others will love or desire you maybe the only option is to take what you want…. Maybe then I can prove I’m a man….

                      It’s quite a chilling thought, but if it’s the case maybe we can try and break that cycle.

                      In my own experiences, I’ve seen the edges of a hole like that. But in my case I had the emotional intelligence to recognize that most of what had gone wrong for me was my own doing, and to recognize the resentment for what it was instead of blaming others for stupid things I had done. It’s lead to me thinking, and it’s lead to me growing as a man and as an individual.

                      But it would have been all to easy not to accept my role in my own problems, to blame women for my failings, and to fall deeper into the cycle I’ve described. And I know that there will be men out there that did exactly that.

                  • Alyssa Royse says:

                    THAT IS A HUGE PART OF RAPE CULTURE!!!!!!!! It is evil and vile and horrible and wrong and harms everyone. It harms women. It harms men. Sex is not a fucking prize (amusingly bad turn of phrase.) It is not a goal. It is not a way to prove something. And it sure as shit is not something that should be done for any reason other than pleasure of all involved parties in equal part.

                    • I think the problem that some have with rape culture is despite it being defined as something that affects and harms women it seems to only come up when talking about the affects and harms it has on women.

                      (Honestly I don’t see much talk of rape culture when talking about how adult women that rape boys are treated more leniently than adult men that rape girls.)

                      It might be defined as all inclusive but it looks like its not being used in an all inclusive manner.

                    • Brian O'Reilly says:


                      But that doesn’t make cultural pressure to “score” any less prevalent. As I said in an earlier post, I think this is one of those examples of masculinity being significantly less androgynized than femininity. I believe we’ve made more progress on it being acceptable for women to have the average lifetime amount of sexual partners (7, by my estimate) than for men to not attempt to exceed the same, even if that attempt involves causing others pain (not limited to sexual assault, by any stretch.) Men are supposed to be the more callous sex, no?

                      By the way, funny story about my estimate up there. I forget where I saw the data, but someone did a study on average lifetime number of sexual partners among heterosexuals in America. The average for women came in at 5. For men, it was 9.

                      See the problem? That’s literally impossible – the two averages, among heterosexuals, must be the same. So even in a confidential survey, women (by lying or by using different definitions or some other mental jump to make them less ‘slutty’) underplayed their sexual experiences. Men increased them, to make them more impressive.

                      Don’t worry, ladies, we’re oppressed by the patriarchy, too. But I’m sorry that it often hurts you more than I.

                    • John Anderson says:

                      @ Alyssa

                      “THAT IS A HUGE PART OF RAPE CULTURE!!!!!!!! It is evil and vile and horrible and wrong and harms everyone. It harms women. It harms men.”

                      100% agreed.

                    • “THAT IS A HUGE PART OF RAPE CULTURE!!!!!!!!

                      I think that there may be a talking point there … so someone had better write a follow on piece. Where’s a blogger when you need them? P^)

          • BINGO! Culture Vs Individual? It ends up you have to be in one camp or the other … or a whole load of dividing lines have to get Redrawn.

          • Our culture struggles with “both/and” all the time. The personality type may be organically aberrant (sociopath, let’s say) AND there are larger dynamics at work in the common culture that affect “good” people.

            Let’s look at race for example. There are people who are just flat out mean racist, white supremicist KKK rallying individuals. We’d like to say that there is an aberration that is causing that behavior.

            But there are small racisms happening all the time, even in good liberals, who have internalized the beliefs that whiteness is better, the “right” way, etc. Like…being afraid of a man at an ATM wearing a hoodie. Maybe that image flashes over your eyes as you walk down the street, and then you let it go, or justify it by saying “people that wear that kind of clothes are more likely to be in a gang.” So you cross the street. Is that a racism? Are you aberrant?

            Is the system aberrant? Are humans connected to the idea of groups and “other” so deeply that we do this all the time? Is dominance and subordination a part of the human experience, or is it a particularly western thing we have going on right now? Is it genetic and can we purposefully evolve out of it?

            Hey! Little questions on a Thursday!

            So it’s possible that a “knife in the alley” rapist is viewed as an aberrant personality type, but your friend is not. He’s a “good” person, right? So why did he do what he did? I know you have a theory, but mine is that he’s in an aberrant system of dominance and he may not even know it, but that it caused him to take action in a way he can’t understand (Or won’t) AND he may have good qualities. He needs to know it. He needs to know that his action was part of a system, that he can’t justify drink or her flirting, but his own complicity in all of it.

            And other things I can’t type out right now.

            We can have good qualities AND be part of a violent aberrant dynamic that affects us. So there can be true sociopaths and garden variety ones that are trained, let’s say, by a system that contains sociopathy within it.

            • alyssa royse says:

              yes, that. and i don’t have a solid theory as to why he did it. Just a lot of questions and maybes. I think it’s a complex recipe and we need to pick it all apart. both / and.

              as shitty as the last week has been, i’m gratified that this conversation is happening.

            • Precisely.

              I think there is a bit of a problem of trying to have exact hardline divisions between “good” and “bad”. Maybe it’s because people are afraid of having their own goodness questioned or what who knows. But I do know that one of the biggest points of contention in these recent rape posts has been people trying to argue to the fullest that if a guy, no matter how many good acts he done in the past, rapes someone that means he is a bad person. And I notice something else.

              They don’t just go as far and judging him a bad person but they actually retroactively judge him as bad from the get go (does “….wasn’t nice in the first place”).

              And even from there it gets into arguing if he’s a good guy that did something bad or if he’s a bad guy that did some good things. Attempts at definitively labeling and categorizing people. Precisely.

              I’ve also noticed a few people commenting on “why I’ve also noticed a few people commenting on “why should we care about his intentions” or “does it really matter what he did in the past” and so forth. To me it’s a matter of change, or possibility of change.

              Going back to the Matrix what would happen if Morpheous saw Neo living in the false world and instead of trying to show him what was really going on and offering him a chance to see the light and fight for it for everyone still trapped he just decided that since Neo believe the false world he’s not worth talking to. I mean if he’s blinded by the false world then that means he’s better left there right?

              But that would make for a really short movie. No instead Morpheus showed Neo what was going on and then let him decide which pill (path) to take. It’s entirely possible that Neo could have taken the pill that would have taken him back to the false world (again, short movie) just as he could have taken the pill that opened the path that he ultimately took.

              The thing to remember is that if Morpheus had not shown him the two worlds and offered him the choice, Neo would still be living the false world.. And I think that people that rush to judge who engage in bad behavior as irredeemably bad and thus not work working with are doing just that. They are looking at a person who is living the false world, deciding that they are not worth the effort of having someone try to open their eyes, and in some cases even going on to say that it is a waste for others to try to open their eyes.

              Why? What is really so bad about offering someone a glimpse and an explanation of the two worlds?

              (This is totally off the top of my head and I’m running on high because of a tweet I saw earlier so this may not make total sense. Feel free to question me on it.)

              • I don’t think there is anything wrong about offering someone a glimpse, but what’s going on is bigger than that in my opinion, because the glimpse I’m trying to keep seeing and show is that of a word a lot of people hate-privilege (or internalized dominance) and I think that if these men don’t know they are raping in the cases listed its because they’ve bought into a particular world where they can indeed believe that and this is what I think the other side is pointing out. Not that understanding why rapists rape is a bad idea, but that we have ample information on it and a lot of people don’t like that theory and answer-power, control, sexism, dominance, entitlement. And the survivors of rape are not being considered, just the perspective of humanizing the rapist. Which frankly, I’m for humanizing everyone and think that if we were actually doing more of that all over these conversations would be different from the get go.

                The title of this link is triggering for all concerned, but I think there are some really important things being said there, so feel free to take a look. It’s not positive towards GMP, but I found it valuable, especially this:

                ““All of which to say: ascertaining or affirming the deep down goodness of some rapists has shit all to do with prevention. If someone is not an intentional sexual predator, being educated about consent is sufficient to prevent them from raping people, whether they’re “good” or not.

                By the same token: education about consent? Won’t stop someone who doesn’t care whether someone consents to sexual contact or not. It certainly won’t stop someone who enjoys forcing themselves on people.

                Either you understand what consent means, or you don’t.
                Either you apply that knowledge, if you have it, or you don’t.””

                I feel pretty clear that humans use power over each other all the time. And sex is one area that is so fraught that all these conversations just blow the hell up. Shame. Guilt. Repression. Fear. Anger. Intimacy. Autonomy.

                Our very bodies are at stake.

                • …because the glimpse I’m trying to keep seeing and show is that of a word a lot of people hate-privilege (or internalized dominance) and I think that if these men don’t know they are raping in the cases listed its because they’ve bought into a particular world where they can indeed believe that and this is what I think the other side is pointing out.

                  While I think that explains why some men rape I think it nowhere near explains why rape overall happens. If for no other reason male against female is not the only form of rape that occurs as you know. But even among female against female rape I’m not so sure it’s some sort of internalized dominance but a matter of interalized script.

                  Not that understanding why rapists rape is a bad idea, but that we have ample information on it and a lot of people don’t like that theory and answer-power, control, sexism, dominance, entitlement.

                  I think a reason people don’t like those answers is because as I say above they are of a very limited scope. You can see this in the discourse on rape as it is now. Despite male against female rape being the common form the answers you list here are are mostly presented in the terms of male against female rape and as a result rapes that aren’t of that type are marginalized.

                  And I think this might be because those answers are applied in a distinctively gendered manner. Of course female against female rape will seem like a one off anomoly when the very laguage on rape denies it.

                  And the survivors of rape are not being considered, just the perspective of humanizing the rapist. Which frankly, I’m for humanizing everyone and think that if we were actually doing more of that all over these conversations would be different from the get go.

                  No it’s not just the perspective of humanizing the rapist. But like I said above it as of right now attempts at humanizing the rapist are seen as inherent attempts at ignoring the survivors (not too different where in the talking about men/women there are those who think that talking about one is an inherent attempt at silencing the other). If trying to humanize the rapist still illicits responses of “Fuck the rapist. He’s a rapist who cares?” Then I don’t think much progress is going on.

                  From the link you gave:

                  All of which to say: ascertaining or affirming the deep down goodness of some rapists has shit all to do with prevention. If someone is not an intentional sexual predator, being educated about consent is sufficient to prevent them from raping people, whether they’re “good” or not.

                  To me at least their goodness can speak to their capacity to change. And frankly if someone doesn’t care then they don’t have to pay attention to those affirmations. To some they matter to others they don’t.

                  Or to put it blankely, “If you don’t think they matter then why are you arguing so hard about them? Just ignore them and keep going.” (That’s a generic “you”, not specific.)

                  (And for the record a lot of the disgust over privielge is over the way it is used. Which to go back to to that for a bit. Those answers of yours. “power, control, sexism, dominance, entitlement”. In relation to privilege they are often used in a heavily gendered manner. Women don’t have power, women don’t have control, there is no such thing as female against male sexism, etc…. When you stack the deck like that and then try to apply it in places where it doesn’t properly fit, such as rape, people get disgusted over it.)

                  • And for the record a lot of the disgust over privielge is over the way it is used. Which to go back to to that for a bit. Those answers of yours. “power, control, sexism, dominance, entitlement”. In relation to privilege they are often used in a heavily gendered manner. Women don’t have power, women don’t have control, there is no such thing as female against male sexism, etc…. When you stack the deck like that and then try to apply it in places where it doesn’t properly fit, such as rape, people get disgusted over it.)

                    Yes, I understand that. In race work, I’ve seen it called like…whites hold internalized supremacy and people of color can hold internalized racism as well, buying into an idea of white superiority. And hostility between groups of color is called horizontal hostility. Perhaps there are horizontal hostilities in other intersections. I don’t know.

                    And I’ve seen models (I did not make these models up) where when I need power, I reach for my highest status and when I feel threatened I can drop to my lowest and defend). Using those intersections of isms, we all find ways to smack each other around in other words.

                    I’m a little burnt out on the conversing today, tired and have some things going on, but I’ll keep an eye out.

                    • Yes, I understand that. In race work, I’ve seen it called like…whites hold internalized supremacy and people of color can hold internalized racism as well, buying into an idea of white superiority. And hostility between groups of color is called horizontal hostility. Perhaps there are horizontal hostilities in other intersections. I don’t know.

                      Something like that. But unlike race, where here in the States in terms of black and white the imbalance is extremely one sided, in terms of male/female it’s not so clear cut. With way people are raised it’s entirely possible for men and women both to be raised with internalized sexism and buy into an idea of the other being the superior gender.

                      And I’ve seen models (I did not make these models up) where when I need power, I reach for my highest status and when I feel threatened I can drop to my lowest and defend). Using those intersections of isms, we all find ways to smack each other around in other words.

                      True. But what I was talking about above wasn’t the use of intersections to smack down others. I’m talking about using one specific characteristic to smack down others.

                      When a male is raped by a female that is given all but a free pass specifically because of the gender dynamic of the rape (up to and including telling him what happened to him wasn’t rape because a woman can’t rape a man) that’s not interesection that’s a single characteristic.

                      That’s taking a single characteristic, plugging it into a set of theories (sexism, power, privilege, etc….), and returning an answer (no such thing as female privilege) that is then applied to a situation in a way that is so grossly incorrect and anti-____ that the discourse on the issues itself gets warped.

                      Now with that said when it comes to rape specifically I’m sure a lot of people don’t want the conversation to become gendered (which probably translates into they don’t want it to be about something other than women) and want to keep the focus the denial of victims as gender neutral as possible (again, unless when talking about female victims then all the keywords start flying).

                      Well that’s going to be hard because gender is specifically a very large part of the reason why different groups of victims are denied when they are raped and abused. In short you can’t take one gender and say that their gender is part of why they are silenced but then actively deny that gender plays a role in the silencing of other victims. (Again that’s a generic you not specific Julie. I know that you don’t engage in such behavior. Hell I wish I could generalize and say that your gender neutral concern for victims was a representation of the overall discourse.)

                      (Feel free to respond to this in your own time, if at all. As I said above I’m riding a bit of a rush and I’m renewing my efforts to temper my blade so to speak. Take it easy.)

                • Julie,

                  I appreciate what you’ve written here. I’m one of the ones who disagrees inherently with a word like “privilege,” but it’s very difficult for me to explain my disagreement because I’m so far removed from Gender Studies discourse that I often feel like I am never understood. (and I use the term “Gender Studies” out of convenience to stand in for several distinct fields of academic inquiry)

                  My biggest concern about the kind of theory you are suggesting is that it’s very easy to get power dynamics wrong, especially when it comes to sexuality.

                  Because I’m often misunderstood, I’d like to try and give an example from my life.

                  When I was in high school I often watched a neighbor’s children for money. Their little boy (he was six when I was seventeen) seemed to like me quite a bit and often requested that I hang out with him. He was a great kid (probably still is, but I’ve long moved away, hence the past tense).

                  One time I was asked to take him to a little league game he was playing in. I was happy to do so. Getting to the field involved a short walk through a wooded area. When we were inside the wooded area, he said “He, look at this!” and when I turned he exposed himself to me. I’ll never know for certain why he did it, though I suspect he thought he was being funny. I have my own hazy memories of thinking that exposing myself might have been funny when I was about that age.

                  When he did it, I felt physically ill. All I could think was “Oh God, I’m going to go to jail. I literally did nothing wrong, and I’m going to go to jail.” There is no version of “Mike saw a six-year-old’s privates in the woods” that didn’t involve me going to jail.

                  I snapped at him. It was the only time I’d ever raised my voice in a three year long caretaker relationship. I told him I was angry that he’d done that, and that I was going to tell his parents. He got sullen then, apologized profusely, and we went to the game.

                  I never did tell his parents. Since nothing happened to me, it seems like he never said anything either.

                  But what’s important here is the power dynamic. He was literally able to bring on a panic attack in me without knowing it. He had an unbelievable amount of power over me which I am completely certain that he was totally unaware of. I literally lived in a panic for the next week or so, thinking that at any moment the doorbell would ring and it would be the Special Victims Unit coming to take me away.

                  It’s easy to look at a six year old and a seventeen year old and assign power. But the very real dynamic is far muddier and much less clear.

                  I am afraid that we are perilously close to making terrible mistakes when we begin by assuming that power relationships exist and that consent is inextricably tied to those relationships.

                  More importantly, and this is the part that really drives me nuts, in other fields, this is REALLY clear. I’m formally trained in economics, and what I’m describing here comes to me as second-nature as the definition of the term “privilege” comes to someone familiar with Gender Studies. But because the thinking is so apparently alien, I often feel like I’m just not heard, like I have the only the options of towing the Gender Studies line or being silenced.

                  I’d really like to have a conversation about this, but I feel like even starting by assuming the existence of power relationships is already too far along.

                  • Mike, Thanks for sharing this. Your panic is clear in the retelling and I absolutely believe your frustration with the conversation. I don’t think that we are too far along to have a conversation and I’d like to attempt it.
                    I wish (as always) there was a way to do this over coffee or beers in person because I think the depth is there, and frankly, I”m better verbally than in writing (that’s the way and speed my mind works).

                    Let me ask some questions- did the child have personal power over you (was he a physical threat to you) or was he capable of institutional power?

                    Will you tell me the mistakes you believe are inherent in the power relationships assumption and consent?

                    Will you outline how this is clear in other fields?

                    I’d like to try an experiment and utilize really open language and assume good intent on both ends of this conversation and I’d ask for additional patience from others. I may ask lots and lots of clarifying questions and do some perception checking to make sure I’m not creating a “story” where there isn’t one.

                  • Alyssa Royse says:

                    Mike – i cannot thank you profusely enough for sharing this. You have presented a fascinating situation that I don’t have a black and white answer to. Who are we kidding, I don’t see in black and white, anyway. In fact, I have no answer to it except to say can we please keep this dialog going. Because what you’ve said is fascinating, and very real. And a great example of what happens when we fill everything with blame, anger, fear, etc….

                    The truth is, a 6 year-old exposing himself that way is often a totally natural expression of his own burgeoning discovery of his body, and it is not sexual to him in any way. Although he very likely knows that he experiences pleasure by touching himself, at that age it is unlikely that he experiences anything that we would identify as “sexuality.” It’s just a body to him at that point.

                    That said, (and there is no reason that you would have known this as a 16 year-old boy) those of us who are trained as first responders have a ready list of questions at hand should this happen, because it can be an indicator of abuse. NOT always, by any stretch.

                    However, the larger question here is one of “who really has the power.” And if I lived anywhere near you and Julie, I would so want in on that beer, because herein lies the other major part of this conundrum. Who has the power is in constant flux, and it is more than just physical power.

                    In the case you outlined, the little boy had all the power.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        I guess we all make assumptions then. You won’t mind then if I assume that I know things about you, even though I’ve never met you, but have spent my adult life working with people who feel the need to always be right, only see things from their perspective, think it is their job to protect based on their own narrow belief systems of things. I am sure you will agree that my sense of you and your motivations will be unfailingly accurate then, right?

        Indeed, as much as I do want to engage in dialog with you, it is nearly impossible because it would necessitate your willingness to allow for the existence, and maybe validity, of a perspective other than your own. How many people in this thread have said, essentially, “I did something really stupid or bad that I never thought I would do because I was fucked up?” A lot. By your framework, they must be liars. They must have known they were going to do it and that it was wrong and did it anyway, using alcohol as an excuse.

        You are correct that I assume innocence in intent if not in deed. I believe that good and decent people to bad and fucked up things with no premeditation or intent to harm. It in NO WAY lessens the harm to the victim. But it is a vital distinction when trying to stop the behavior before it begins. And when trying to accurately quantify the size of the problem.

        I agree with your statement that there is a sick entitlement to someone thinking they can penetrate a sleeping woman without her consent. In this case, as I said, he was extremely fucked up, and I believe that clouded – but did NOT in any way excuse – his behavior. It is that underlying sense of entitlement that we need to get at. WHY? What is it in our society, our culture, or definition of manhood that enable such thinking? And what happens when that is mixed with alcohol.

        I agree with your friend’s saying, and I’ll probably use it. But what I’m saying is that the present threat is more than just a “bad man.” It could be an otherwise decent man with bad programming about sexuality who is really fucked up and for some reason thinks he has permission with some girl. It gets back to Joanna’s piece about why it’s dangerous to think that only bad men commit rape.

        As for your assertion that it’s hard for me to write off someone I know as a good person to being a bad person after one bad act…. Yes, it is. It also seems asinine to me. What he did was horrible. He did a really really bad thing. The worst thing, in my book. But does one bad act make someone a bad person? If so, there would be no good people in the world. And no point in trying to educate them because “bad” people are concretely so. I think that there are lots of otherwise decent guys who do this, and that’s it’s horrible, but it does not make them bad in entirety. In fact, some of them learn from it because much better harbingers for positive change than those who have never been to the dark side. I don’t buy the black and white.

        Although there is no difference on the survivor of the attack, it is imperative that we understand the different causes, motivations and contexts of sexual violence against people and not pretend that they are all the same. They are not.

        I understand how upsetting this article was for people, I do. I even understand why. But, to me, it points to how desperately we need the conversation that sexual violence is not a one size fits all thing. The impact may be, but the causes are not.

        And that’s why I said we need to look at society as an important player in this, by creating an atmosphere in which women’s bodies are the prize. I thought I said that so clearly……. Either I was wrong about that, or people just dont’ want to hear that it may be society that is partly to blame for creating a world in which men think they are entitled to women’s bodies. I said many times in my article, and since, that think the culture sets this up. And I do think that alcohol adds to it. And that an inability to handle cultural and nonverbal cues is a huge part of the problem. I believe out culture, at this point, is inherently violent against women. And that as a result, otherwise decent people are making horrible horrible horrible mistakes. And although they are responsible for their actions, we are responsible for changing the culture. That’s what the whole piece was about – right down to the satirical magazine cover.

        • I completely understand. I continue to disagree with much of what you’re saying, but not entirely and not blindly.

          I do believe, actually, that people who blame alcohol, or claim that they never would done ____ but for being drunk are often lying. Not every time- I can’t claim that. But more than you believe. We’re not going to likely agree on a percentage.

          I also believe that a single bad act does not make a person “bad” to the extent that we can even quantify and qualify such blunt things as words (a Sup Ct justice named Felix Frankfurter once famously said that “words are blunt instruments.” “Bad” is a particularly blunt one.

          And frankly, I’ll admit that I’m kind of a blunt instrument. A bad act doesn’t make someone bad, but some acts are bad enough to where I pretty much am willing to write the person off. Chris Brown was mentioned in this thread. Is he “bad” for beating a relatively tiny woman in a breathtakingly brutal manner? I mean really- does that ONE act make him bad? For me? Yep. It does. Chris Brown is a violent scumbag as far as I’m concerned, and that’s really just that (there’s more to go on than just the Rihanna beating and maybe that’s unfortunate for him because he’s a celebrity, but so be it). Ben Roethlisberger? Scum. Kobe? Scum. I sleep well at night believing these things.

          Despite being somewhat blunt in my thinking, in my role as a prosecutor I acted with the utmost ethics and professionalism and was highly regarded as fair and decent by judges, colleagues, defense attorneys, and most defendants. I treated everyone with fairness, grace and decency under the law. The only thing that makes me angrier in some ways than rape in society is rape of men and women (and especially children) in custody. I wouldn’t allow a hair on Sandusky’s head to be mussed in prison, could I control it. That’s not legal punishment, and I abhor non-legal punishment. But now that I’m in private life, I can relax my tongue and express more opinions that I personally hold. Admittedly, some of them are pretty blunt. Again, I can live with that.

          Is a guy who commits one rape bad? For me, in most cases, yes. Are there exceptions? Probably. Are there means of curing oneself and reforming? Probably, for some. Are the words “rape,” “bad,” etc, etc etc all blunt instruments themselves subject to all sorts of interpretation, etc? Of course.

          I’ll try- seriously- to see where you’re coming from, Alyssa, and approach this differently. This has been a great exercise for me, and I appreciate it. We have the same goal. Ultimately, that is what matters.

    • Jonathan G says:


      I’ve mostly stayed out of this discussion because it seems that so little good can come from it. I applaud you for having the courage to stand up try to talk about it, but you’ve seen every tool in the arsenal of political correctness-enforcement arrayed against you: shaming, disengagement, threats, ridicule, repudiation. As Asimov liked to say, “Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.”

      Also, I feel a volcano of anger around this topic, and it’s easier to keep it from erupting by simply refraining from talking about it. But there are enough people who show a willingness to stick around and try to discuss it, I should put in an effort, and since you’ve brought up a topic that I feel is key to the issue:

      In this case, he believed that weeks of aggressive flirting, sitting on his lap talking about having sex with him, getting drunk and falling in to bed with him meant she wanted it. HE WAS WRONG, as I said in the piece. But he would not have been alone in thinking that. So WHY did he think that and how do we need to change the ways we teach consent?

      WHY did he think that? (Said with clenched jaw and gritted teeth:) Perhaps because THAT’S. HOW. SO MANY. WOMEN. SAY. YES.

      Look, I don’t have direct experience because I can’t directly know any other person’s mind, and I’m a man, but we’re all human with human thoughts and emotions, so I can extrapolate what I would feel in somebody else’s position. (I think we even have a word in English for that ability.) I have developed a theory–using that word in the scientific sense of an explanation that’s held up to repeated cycles of observation-hypothesis-experiment–that women want and enjoy sex but cannot directly pursue or ask for it because we live in a culture that still shames female sexuality, so they have to maneuver themselves into situations in which “next thing I know” sex happens and it was “his fault.” (This latter quote from a friend who had a long run of satisfied and consenting sexual partners after he cracked the code and successfully conspired with these women to give them ‘plausible deniability’ about who actually initiated sex.)

      In actuality, women’s maneuvers tend to show up in far more subtle ways than weeks of aggressive flirting, sitting on a man’s lap and talking about sex, and passing out in bed drunk with him. In my past, there was the on-line chat friend who invited me over to her apartment on her last night in town after coming home alone from the bars. The woman who invited me over to watch some movies, but didn’t seem to actually have any on-hand when I got there. The young woman I hung out with for quite some who proclaimed her interest in her gay friend, but continually talked about sex, subtly flirted and kept finding ways for us to be alone together. And others. I did not understand that this is how the game is played back then, though, so I didn’t make any moves.

      So how do I know they wanted sex? Everything that I have observed and learned in the years since tells me that the totality of the circumstances and their behavior screamed, “Yes, yes, YES!” I still don’t know for sure, but that’s my point: As a man, you constantly find yourself in the position of having to GUESS. (I guessed wrong in those instances, and they all cut off contact with me after the moment I should’ve made a move, which is utterly bizarre behavior if it’d truly been a friendly visit.) If you ask for consent explicitly, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Sex applies: The answer may be yes or no, until such time as you ask, then it’s no…

      …because an explicit “yes” makes her, in her own mind and/or the minds of others, a slut. An explicit “yes” removes any plausible deniability that it was “his fault,” moving it from a “next thing I know” occurrence to a deliberately-planned action. In fact, the only woman in my past who directly expressed her desire to have sex–and the only one who bothered to get my explicit consent, by the way–is a woman who recognizes that her actions make her a slut in the eyes of many people. People do call her that, and it pains her, but she has accepted it and got on with her life.

      Now, I can’t answer for why the guy described in the article decided to lead with his penis while she was passed out. That’s pretty damn stupid. When I said that guys have to GUESS, that’s what I meant– the forward behavior this woman exhibited may not mean “yes” at all. (Although she acted like a total asshole if she meant “no” all along.) The way to go for it is a touch on the arm, a kiss, gazing into her eyes and leading her to the bed, or along those lines. Y’know, something easy to brush off without much drama. If I had to guess why he might have done it using some empathy–there’s that word!–I would speculate that he really thought she would consent, but wasn’t sure, and had to get messed up on alcohol and maybe other drugs to overcome the insecurity, thus making really, really bad decisions.

      As a society, we need to have this kind of discussion, angry Rape Fundamentalists be damned, because if our society had a way to let women seek sex without shame that didn’t have ambivalence built-in, then this situation would have had a happy ending. Thanks again for bring it up, Alyssa.

      • I applaud you for having the courage to stand up try to talk about it, but …

        I get the use of the word But – but, the word “try” is just so wrong. There is no trying here – there is doing. the Discussion is on! That word try implies defeat before starting. If some are self-defeating that should acknowledge that and not keep attempted to shift it onto other people and shift focus and blame to all the wrong places.

        I hate Try – it’s such a nasty word and people just miss the insults and denials that go with Only Trying!

        • Jonathan G says:

          Hahahaha, yeah, I hear you, but clearly you’ve put a lot more thought into the word “try” than I have. In the spirit of discussion, I’ll say that I meant it in the sense of “doing” something by initiating an action the ultimate outcome of which is influenced by factors beyond one’s control.

          • Glad you got the message. I have been pointing out the swearing with three letter words for some time – but folks just fall back into their cussing ways! At least the four (or more) letter words are in the open – but that Try is a sneaky little F###er.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        “WHY did he think that? (Said with clenched jaw and gritted teeth:) Perhaps because THAT’S. HOW. SO MANY. WOMEN. SAY. YES.”

        Well, yup. That’s what I asked in the original piece. If the reason he thought that he had permission is because that’s how so many people give permission. We send signals rather than using words. (Which I happen to think is a very big problem.) I believe that’s where this crossed over to my being called a rape apologist. But the entirety of the scenarios you have outlined get to the heart of why this matters. I am a consent hard-liner. Sex without consent is rape. Period. I don’t think I will ever waiver from that. HOWEVER, we do not yet have a cultural habit, for lack of a better word, of both asking for and affirmatively giving consent.

        I have said time and time again that I believe she was raped, because she was not able to give consent at the time of penetration. (And his being too fucked up to get it is not an excuse in my book.) But you have expressed what many men would express, which is that by all of her behavior leading up to it, he may have reasonably thought that it was expected. While some part of my brain screams “what a fucking idiot,” another part says, “goddam, we gotta untangle that messaging, because he’s not alone.”

        As I posted elsewhere, someone I don’t know just emailed me a perfect summary of my article in one sentence. “I’m terribly confused by the idea that some people can *both* talk about the existence of rape culture and then maintain that rape is exclusively the product of one particular of aberrant personality type.”

        I believe that there is cultural messaging at play here. Which is the same thing illustrated by your friend knowing that she gets called a slut because she affirmatively expresses consent. It’s all the same mess. And it’s a big mess. I don’t think that we can get to the bottom of it without wading through the dark and scary places. So as much as MediaHound hates the word try, that’s what I’m trying to do.

        I may live to regret trying, but I’m still trying. Because I think that’s the heart of the matter.

        • Jonathan G says:

          Yup, yup, yup! I know I re-stated a bunch of what you said in the article, but I guess I felt it needed to be said again, in the face of so many fundamentalist comments along the lines of, “he’s an evil rapist, and that’s all the further we need to look into it.” (And that is a brilliantly concise summary of the problem with that view.)

          Related to that, one very important question has not been posed: Hypothetically, if we could see into a parallel universe that branched off of ours just before the two individuals you describe went off to bed, and in that universe, she mumbled to him just before passing into unconsciousness, “no sex tonight,” would he still have gone for it?

          Do you feel you knew him well enough to speculate on what he would have done in the parallel universe in which she explicitly said no? Based on my experiences and your description of this man, my intuition says he would not have. That is, I find it plausible that a man who cares about consent as a general rule could make a grievous error in circumstances like this.

          I find it a more hopeful view, frankly, because we can discuss and address the circumstances, whereas if the guy is just irredeemably evil, then we just have to throw up our hands and declare that we just have to accept that such bad things will happen.

          • Alyssa Royse says:

            Hypotheticals are soooooooo dangerous. I want so badly to answer you but honestly fear the backlash. So let me say this:

            We MUST work to the world where such an utterance isn’t necessary. I think we are all very clear that this should not have happened.

            And some of the comments have given me hope that there are actually people willing to admit how murky this can seem – despite us all wishing it was crystal clear. Next step, figure out what to do to fix it.

            • I respect that thought. On reflection, I suppose it wouldn’t make any difference if you answered. If you think he would’ve done nothing, a lot of people simply wouldn’t believe it, and if you think he still would’ve done it, people who think like I do could still find it plausible that a different guy wouldn’t have in the same situation.

              It’s hard to know what would have changed this particular guy’s actions, but it’s good to see so many thoughtful comments on ways culture might have influenced him.

      • RE: “WHY did he think that? (Said with clenched jaw and gritted teeth:) Perhaps because THAT’S. HOW. SO MANY. WOMEN. SAY. YES.”

        Speaking as a woman who has and still does use those “yes” cues, you are spot on, Jonathan. But the difference between me and *some* (because I need to quantify this) women is that I make sure that I mean it. Other women truly do not. Just like men feel compelled to “prove” their masculinity by collecting bedpost notches, *some* women feel the need to sexually excite the very men they have no intention of sleeping with — ever. This suggests that both men and women have deeply seated issues in the self-esteem department.

        I used to have a roommate who dressed very suggestively — low cut blouses, Daisy Duke shorts, high heels. Even at work. She was all over men she had absolutely no interest in, flirting and coming on to them physically, taking them to her room and closing the door. Basically doing everything but say, “Hey, have sex with me NOW!” This behavior only intensified whenever she got drunk around them. A mutual (male) friend noticed this too, expressing concern that one day she was going to get herself in a very sticky situation if she didn’t turn it down several notches. And you know what? One sticky night, she did end up having sex with one of them. She said that she didn’t “consent,” but guess what? I was listening on the other side of the wall, and she sure as hell did. Pretty enthusiastically, if you ask me.

        We should be talking about this, too. I would never, EVER say that any women “deserves” to be raped. But seeing this type of highly suggestive behavior in action and the various outcomes, it worries me that we’re telling women, “Hey, this is perfectly OK. You bear NO BLAME. If you get sloppy drunk and agree to have sex with a man you’d never have sex with sober, it’s rape.”

        So wrong on so many levels.

  47. John Anderson says:

    The conversation has exploded and I’ve gotten kind of lost. A lot of the commentors, me included, are harping on this nice guys don’t commit rape thing so he’s not a nice guy. He may seem to be, but he’s not nice. I’m wondering if we even thought about what makes a person nice. Do people have to be perfect to be considered nice? How serious of a transgression can you make before you lose the nice label? Do good deeds balance out the bad and are there some transgressions that are unforgivable? Can we ever get back the nice label?

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      This made me smile. Thank you. I don’t have an answer, but I think I know what I need to write about next. What I do know, for sure, is you get more than one transgression. It’s an important question. Coming right up…..

      Now, everyone, feel free to read into my words that I just called rape a transgression, which is not even kind of what I said, but I think I’m learning how this works now. I’m going to make a drinking game out of it. 😉 (Except that I don’t really drink. I’ll make a fitness game out of it. One push-up every time someone reads something into my words that is either the opposite of what I said or totally not present.)

    • I’ve been wondering that too. As I’ve said in other comments I think there is something of a one drop rule in effect. But unlike the one drop rule when applied to race, time is a factor here when talking about niceness in guys.

      Take notice in discussions about nice guys. How many times have you seen someone say something to the effect of, “If he…..then he wasn’t such a nice guy in the first place.”

      Meaning that no matter how nice he was in the past, no matter how many good things he had done, as soon as he does that one bad thing he is not only declared a not nice guy from here on out but he is retroactively declared to have been bad the whole time.

      Can we ever get back the nice label?
      I think this touches on something I’ve said in the Chris Brown posts that have popped up here over time. Who decides whose designation of nice is the valid one in the first place and once something happens that renders a guy no longer nice who is the arbiter that decides if he can get his nice title back (and conditions he needs to fulfill to get it back).

      In the Brown case specifically I saw way too many people prop themselves up as the party that Brown had to please in order to be considered no longer a monster, as if he went around the world attacking thousands of people instead of just one (and don’t even get me started on how many people used his bad actions as a smoke screen to let others provoke him, and then cry foul when he responded in kind).

      At the base of it I think one problem that contributes to this entire mess is that people, for whatever reason, are in a hell bent rush to pass judgement on others.

  48. seriously? nice guys don’t rape. the two are not synonymous, ever. nice guys don’t rape people. good actors, well hidden sociopaths rape people, but not nice guys. nice guys have sex with conscious people. nice guys want their partner to be awake and aware, not passed out drunk or sleeping. nice guys do not have sex with unconscious people.

    the entire idea of having consensual sex with someone involves CONSENT. if there is no consent, it is rape. always, end of story. an unconscious person cannot reasonably be expected to give consent. it is impossible. and anyone who is willing to have sex with an unresponsive person is NOT a “nice guy”. because nice guys only have sex with people who clearly assent to the experience.

    it is ridiculous to try to blame the alcohol, the party, the environment. when you rape someone the only person who is to blame, ever, is the rapist. because if a girl isn’t saying yes – if a GUY isn’t saying yes, then why on earth would you think it’s ok to have sex with them? so what if she was drunk, wearing a low-cut trampy blouse, sat in your lap, and breathed in your ear. it still does not mean she wants to screw you.

    it is not dangerous to say only bad guys commit rape. it is dangerous to say that nice guys can be rapists too, as if their well-played outward demeanor should somehow make the fact that they have forced someone to have sex with them more acceptable. because after all – a nice guy would never rape someone on purpose, right? they just slipped and it went right in.

    why would anyone ever think, under any circumstances, that it is ok to have sex with an unconscious person? are there really that many people out there who are that plain stupid?

    • John Anderson says:

      “seriously? nice guys don’t rape. the two are not synonymous,”

      I don’t think anyone is arguing that they’re synonymous. There are some who believe that they are not mutually exclusive. That there could be an overlap. Personally, I think that this is possible, but the case cited in the article is not one of those. For me, it would be more likely in the case of revoked consent. I cited one such case out of England.

    • John Anderson says:

      I think that there is also an argument being made that essentially good or nice people will have a momentary lapse in character. This lapse can be motivated by personal gain or it’s to satisfy an immediate desire. It happens all the time. Most people would say that stealing is a character flaw that would be incompatible with being nice, but if you include the theft of time, how many of us would be able to live up to that standard? Most people have goofed off at work or used office equipment for personal use. Lying would be considered something that was incompatible with being nice. How many of us tell the truth in every situation? If someone dented a parked car, they’re more likely to drive off than leave their contact information, but taking responsibility for your actions is what a nice person would do. If a store made an error in your favor, how many people would return it?

      I remember hearing a speech where the speaker says that we can make it easy for someone to do the right thing or we can make it hard. Could the events leading up to the rape be making it hard for the person to do the right thing, which is not to excuse the crime or criminal? I don’t want to get the OP into any more trouble, but my feeling is that this article is making an argument like that. In the case of false rape accusations, many people argue that prosecuting an individual for making a false rape claim will make it harder for people to do the right thing and retracted the false claim.

      Where would you stand on the prosecution of false rape accusers and if you’re against it, how would you reconcile these two positions? I’ve been known to take a hard line with both rapists and false accusers. I hope to submit an article to GMP in the subject.

  49. B.S.

    You’d think such a nice guy who thought that sex was just the logical conclusion would’ve woken her up so she could enjoy it.

    Not DELIBERATELY wait until the person is passed out asleep.

    I have been in bed with sleeping persons. Some of whom I had flirting/sexual history, and with whom I was almost 100% certain would consent to sex with me, even if I woke him up at that very moment.

    Never once did it even occur to me to have sex with or sexually penetrate any of those sleeping people while they were still asleep. Nor did it ever occur to any of them to have sex with or sexually penetrate me while I was asleep.

    He waited for her to pass out and now want’s to play the Mythcommunication card.

  50. 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 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.

            • …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 !

              • I didn’t miss anything- I am aware that the CDC and the project were both federal. Your questions/accusations/insults are difficult to me to follow, frankly, which is why I’m apparently not answering any of them to your satisfaction. Perhaps it’s my fault, but whatever it is, it’s a waste of time for both of us to keep this up. Thanks anyway.

                I do appreciate what Archy offered and will check into it.

                • I didn’t miss anything- ….. I do appreciate what Archy offered and will check into it.

                  Hold On There Lone Ranger – all that Archy has done is offer the contents of the CDC Report which has been public since I believe 14 December 2011 – or basically I calendar year.

                  You say you didn’t miss anything – well you haven’t missed anything except the contents of the CDC report “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey”, and the facts that Archy had to give you. Page 14, and do look at page 17 too! Any tips on the oddities on the whole report would be interesting too… we have been debating and dissecting all 124 pages here for 12 months!

                  It has been interesting since 14 December 2011 to see who has been reading and who has been relying on factoids. You win some and you loose some – and others actually do the hard work… like Archy, one hell of a Good man and much admired for his sagacity and trooper ways.

                  I wonder if you would be willing to debate the whole of the report and it’s contents with Archy? Tickets could be sold as a fund raiser for charity.

                  I’m sure it would make Galdiator look like a Disney cartoon!

            • Basically for a one year period, equal numbers of male n female victims with 40% of rapists being female, for lifetime for every 4 rapes where a male raped a female, 1 female raped a male. The majority of rapes men were victim to had a female perp, and majority of rapes women were victim to had male perps. I think it works out to roughly 20% of rapists are female for lifetime numbers.

              • Archy you Spoil Sport! I was hoping that someone would do their own homework as a professional prosecutor and expert training so many in the field of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence. I’m sure you will agree that it’s best that people understand facts and not just regurgitate factoids as reality.

                I know it’s a cultural thing Down Under to keep everything the right way up, but It really is best to let some folks look up the facts for themselves! They can look up Federal at the same time and also look at methodology, bias, skewed, and some other words that are part of professional understanding and cultural in fields such as Social Science, Psychology and even Law.

                It is hard to get through to a jury If you can’t make the jargon transparent. P^)

              • John Anderson says:

                @ Archy

                Those are the non-prison rape numbers. About 50% of rapes in adult prisons are staff on prisoner rapes. 80% of the rapes of prisoners by staff are male prisoners raped by female staff for about 40% of the total number of prison rapes. 80% of prisoner on prisoner rapes in adult prison are male on male meaning that 80% of prison rapes have a male victim. In juvenile prison 80% of the rapes are staff on prisoner with 95% of those being female staff raping male prisoners.

                There has been a question as to whether rape is more common inside prison than outside and with male under reporting expected to be significantly higher than women’s under reporting, there is some question as to whether women are raped more often than men in the U.S.

    • Roger,

      What an eloquent and well-stated response. My colleagues and I sincerely hope that everyone makes their way over to your response!


    • John Anderson says:

      @ Roger Canaff

      “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.”

      First you blame Alyssa for confusing facts and suggest that this puts women (I won’t use the term victims as it’s obvious you’re only concerned with female victims). Then you make the following statement.

      “but when you attempt to make them more complicated you are putting more women (and some men) in danger”

      Why have you purposefully downplayed the CDC stats? Table 2.2 page 19 shows in the last 12 months an estimated 1,2670,000 men were forced to penetrate. That’s government fancy talk for they were raped. 80% of these rapes, over 1,000,000 were perpetrated by women and we know feminists don’t like associating rape with female perpetrators, which explains the fancy talk. You further state.

      “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’ve prosecuted sexual violence cases for over 10 years, it’s safe to assume about 10,000,000 rapes were perpetrated by women against men. How many were reported? How many were prosecuted? How many did you prosecute? Why is perpetrating the myth that male victimization is small by a former self identified prosecutor when 1,000,000 would be considered a large number by any rational person not putting rape victims in danger? Why would that not be creating an environment were male victims are dissuaded to report especially when it comes to female perpetrators when you suggest that they are an anomaly? How is 1,000,000 let alone 1,267,000 significantly less than 1,270,000?

      If you want credibility, you might want to start by answering the questions. For your convenience the CDC survey can be found here:

      • I am a male survivor of child sexual abuse, so please don’t assume that I am not concerned with male victimization. I worked as a civilian in the US Army for almost three years desperately trying to get them to take the idea of same-sex victimization (usually but not always male victimization) more seriously.

        I will absolutely look again at the CDC study. I do not claim to be an expert on it. I never have claimed such a thing; it’s just been thrown at me quite a bit in this discussion. My personal view from my professional experience is that many, many men are victimized, but mostly at the hands of other men. They absolutely under-report. Their cases are not handled correct. Much needs to change. I’ve spent a career trying to be a part of that change.

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          FWIW, we DESPERATELY need more talk about male victimization. At all ages, not just childhood. It is bot prevalent and even more filled with shame. Breaks my heart. Did you see the recent Louis clip, form Louis CKs show? (you can probably google Louis, rape, and get it.) Also, in the movie Super, with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page, a stunning scene in which she rapes him….. I don’t know why that didn’t generate more buzz. That is a conversation that desperately needs to be had. (And also that doesn’t fit into the current language that we use to discuss rape. Another reason we need broader conversation and better language.)

          • I don’t know why that didn’t generate more buzz.

            It doesn’t fit because male rape victims are something that even advocates of other forms of rape simply do not want to discuss. The reasons they don’t want to discuss it may vary (from truly not recognizing, to not caring, to an active refusal to acknowledge, etc….) but that’s what it is.

            Speaking of media portrayals of male rape I think I’m the only person that was actually bothered by the next to the last scene of “40 Days, 40 Nights” with Josh Hartnette. To sum it up after getting nearly to the end of the 40th night without sex Hartnette gets his girlfriend to tied him to his bed so he won’t give into masturbation. During the night he starts having a sex dream but when he wakes up his ex girlfriend is on top of him, having sex with him for the sake of ruining he current relationship.

            When his current girlfriend, who tied him to the bed in the first place and knew good and hell well he wouldn’t have been able to stop his ex from raping him, storms away all pissed off at HIM.

            There is one distinction that needs to come to light if we hope to have a broader conversation about rape. When it comes to men who are raped by men they are seen as deserving it or that they really are gay. When it comes to men who are raped by women it is still actively questioned whether or not it was actually rape or not because it was a female perp/male victim (I’ve had to explain how a woman can rape a man to a dyed in the wool feminist that’s been active since the 70s).

            And not just in personal coversation either. You can see it in law books where a male against female sex crime is called rape but a female against male sex crime is called something else (usually “sexual battery” or “sexual assault”). You can see it in media coverage (where male teachers rape female students but female teachers have sex with or have affairs with male students).

        • “My personal view from my professional experience is that many, many men are victimized, but mostly at the hands of other men. They absolutely under-report. Their cases are not handled correct. Much needs to change.”
          From the CDC stats men are actually most at risk from female perpetrators, the majority of people who rape men are female. Forced to penetrate is the most common form of rape for a male (outside of prison, not sure the numbers with prison stats included).

          • For Clarity – Archy the CDC excluded prison populations. The methodology of conducting interview by phone excluded prisoners – they don’t get random incoming calls to cells. Also the CDC were and are fully aware of Rape as a prison issue and understood that inclusion would skew both data and results. The CDC were most professional.

        • Boy – does someone need to read the CDC study that has been public domain for over a year – and the “Overwhelming Trope” could do with being dumped too! It really is so last season and off the boil. It is interesting to see just how untrendy the word “Overwhelming” has become in the last 12 months.

        • John Anderson says:

          “My personal view from my professional experience is that many, many men are victimized, but mostly at the hands of other men.”

          Step 1 is to disabuse yourself of this notion. The primary perpetrator of sexual violence against men is women. As you said “They absolutely under-report” so knowing this, you can’t go with personal experience. Page 24 of the CDC’s NISVS shows you the break down of perpetrators.

          “The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%).”

          Although rape has a high percentage of male perpetrators it is not a large segment of the violence. Go back to table 2.2 on page 19. It shows that there were too few to generate an accurate estimate.

          Here is the BJS stats for prison rape, which shouldn’t happen either.

          Page 5

          “About 5.4% of former state prisoners reported an incident that involved another inmate.”
          “About 5.3% of former state prisoners reported an incident that involved facility staff.”

          Page 6

          “Among victims of staff sexual misconduct, 79% were males reporting sexual activity with female staff.”

          So about half the sexual abuse was staff on inmate and 80% of that was female staff abusing male inmates.

          Here are the stats for Juvie

          Page 2

          “The BJS Juvenile Report found that of the estimated 26,551 adjudicated youth held in state
          facilities or large non-state facilities in 2008-09, about 12.1% (3,220) reported experiencing
          sexual violence.6 About 2.6% of these reported incidents involved other youths, whereas about 10.3% involved facility staff members.”

          Staff perpetrated about 80% of the sexual abuse in juvie.

          “males were more likely than females to experience sexual activity with staff; females were more likely than males to report forced sexual activity with other youth;”

          Page 3

          “For youth reporting staff-on-youth incidents of sexual victimization, 95% reported
          that the perpetrator involved a female staff member.16”

          I’ve provided you with the links, the page numbers, and the stats or quotes from the relevant sections. Please refrain from making comments like men are primarily raped by men. That is in fact not true unless you want to hide behind legal definition, but simply not counting them doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I understand your experience tells you something different. Your experience is wrong. Get informed.

          Women are as likely as a man to abuse individuals in positions of weakness as compared to them whether it’s prison guard authority or a drug laced drink. They are far more likely to select a male victim than a female one.

  51. 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…..

  52. 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?

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.’


    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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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?



      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!

  60. 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:


            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.

          • 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.

  61. 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.

  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?


    • 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 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).


        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 – As for the problems resulting from differing social value assignments, I’ve once written this - 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. 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.


    “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.”

    “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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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?

  67. 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^)

  68. 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.

  69. 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)

  70. Here is another article which more closely parallels the original story (but with the genders reversed):

    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.

  71. 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.)

  72. 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.

  73. “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.


  74. “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.

  75. 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!

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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…

  79. 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.

  80. 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 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!

  81. 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.

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

    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.

  83. “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.

  84. 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?

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

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

  88. 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!