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

 

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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 a gym that she is not legally allowed to tell you the name of because it contains a trademarked word that she paid a lot of money to be affiliated with, but can't use without violating the trademark. She can also be found on her eponymous blog, where she pontificates about food, family, politics and the Seattle rain. Yes, she would love to speak at your event, host a workshop or write something for you. Just ask.

Comments

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

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


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

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

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

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

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • John Schtoll says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

            They’re VERY separate.

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

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

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

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

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

            See how that works.

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

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

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

        John Sctoll:

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

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


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

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

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

        • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

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

            • Many thanks for getting to this MediaHound.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      NOT NICE AT ALL…

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

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

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

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

          • If it’s unclear then ask for clarification.

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

            So in light of that Leia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        I don’t get it.

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

        Which is a cultural problem in a huge way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

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

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

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

      • Richard Aubrey says:

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

      • Richard Aubrey says:

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

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

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

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

          • Richard Aubrey says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

            • Richard Aubrey says:

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

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

            • Richard Aubrey says:

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

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

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      The title has “rape” in it.

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

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

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

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

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  17. This is a powerful, well-written article that strikes a little too close to home for me, and I’d like to actually add a different type of rape that we don’t talk about at all in society, either: the type where “consent” is given through coercion or wearing-down.

    I know only too well how insidious this is, because it happened to me. Or rather, because I was the one who did it.

    I was dating a woman in a long-distance relationship, and we saw each other in person for the first time in over half a year. Naturally, I had come to expect that the first night we’d have a wild night of passion liked we did every other time we saw each other. She, however, told me she didn’t want to, because she was tired from travel. And I promptly threw one hell of a temper tantrum, whining, pleading, and eventually expressing genuine anger like a child before turning over in a petulant huff and giving passive-aggressive sighs. At which point she said that okay, we could.

    It wasn’t until later that she told me how betrayed and violated she felt. That I’d ignored her “no” to wear her down with repeated whining and pressure. That she’d felt scared by my anger, and worried I’d hurt her if she didn’t say yes. (The fact that I never would have is irrelevant, as it was what she perceived that led to her decision). The fact that I thought entitled to her body because we were dating and because we’d slept together before, and she agreed, which led to her feeling like she’d compromised herself. And eventually, she said the word that neither of us wanted to bring up: she felt like she’d been raped.

    I always considered myself a good guy. I’ve always tried to fight for equality and for the rights of those who are marginalized. But this was years ago and I’m still not sure how to process it or how to deal with it as a man who identifies as feminist, or how to use it to maybe find a silver lining of purpose or redemption.

    Yes, she said yes. On the surface, consent was given. But it was consent given after pestering and, from her perspective, threats. So she has every right to feel how she did. And at the time I had no clue I’d even done anything wrong.

    Like the article discusses, we need as a society to talk about and be more aware of how (particularly) men wrongly interpret signals that (particularly) women send out. But we also need (particularly) boys to learn that a consent won through pestering isn’t much of a consent at all. I wish i’d learned that lesson before I had to.

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

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      ” Like the article discusses, we need as a society to talk about and be more aware of how (particularly) men wrongly interpret signals that (particularly) women send out. But we also need (particularly) boys to learn that a consent won through pestering isn’t much of a consent at all. I wish i’d learned that lesson before I had to. ”

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

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

      • Mr Supertypo says:

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

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

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

          • Mr Supertypo says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This story is sickening….

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

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

  19. JoAnne Dietrich says:

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

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

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

      • JoAnne Dietrich says:

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

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

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

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

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

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

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

              Some? Some one? One? Monolithic!

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Just be glad I aint being Pernickety ! P^)

              Some? Some one? One? Monolithic!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Then we wouldn’t be having this conversation….

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

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

  20. Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

    Again just asking.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Imagine the defence – Not Guilty, it was June!

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

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

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

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

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

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

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              MediaHound, I never got an email about that.

              Feel free to send me one joanna @ goodmenproject.com

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

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

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

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

            • Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  21. Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

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

      • John Anderson says:

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

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

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

  23. Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

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

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

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

      • Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

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

        REALLY?

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

        • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

          • Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Just my honest take on it.

            • Honest Questions says:

              Clarifying:

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

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

            • Honest Questions says:

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

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

            • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

            • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Julie, I agree with you 100%.

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

            • Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            • QuantumInc says:

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

            • “Implicit Consent”? “Explicit Consent”?

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

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

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

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

              It’s a bit of an unfair double standard.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

            • Thank you for the reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              It would be a huge issue for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            • Richard Aubrey says:

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

            • John Anderson says:

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

            • Amen. Spot on.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

      • Honest Questions says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

          • D.R. Bartlette says:

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

    • John Anderson says:

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

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

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

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

          And from your comment a few minutes earlier:

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

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

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

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

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

            Alcohol and sex sound like a very dangerous combo…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          • You hear wrong. You misinterpret.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  26. Christopher says:

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

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

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

    • Skull Bearer says:

      The first instance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        • Alyssa Royse says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I just read “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too” in my home-away-from-home, The Good Men [...]

  2. [...] it, explain it – or simply discuss it. There are a huge range of topics; one article, ‘Nice Guys Commit Rape Too’, looks at what constitutes rape and explodes the myth that ‘stranger attack women in dark [...]

  3. [...] week on the Good Men Project (and since reposted at xojane), Alyssa Royse wrote at length about her friend, who had raped a [...]

  4. [...] it has everything to do with Alyssa Royse’s article, Nice Guys Commit Rape, Too, where the author tells the story of a guy she knew well—a nice guy—who was accused of [...]

  5. [...] week, there has been a lot of discussion about nice guys, rape, and consent. So much of it has centered around what constitutes consent. For me, the conversation has been [...]

  6. [...] This is a comment by Alyssa Royse on the post “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too“. [...]

  7. [...] This piece didn’t sit well with me. At first I thought it was just because of my knee-jerk, “no-duh”, reaction. Penetrating someone who is sleeping is rape. I still can not fathom why the guy was struggling with the idea he raped the girl. She was sleeping for god’s sake! But I was also have a hard time with this “good guy/bad guy” dichotomy that was being pitched at me. Not that Alyssa Royse is alone in this conversation, and I don’t think it was her intent to start a good/bad labeling war. [...]

  8. [...] at the Good Men Project, Alyssa Royce wrote about a man, at the time a dear friend of hers, who took quite a different approach toward how to treat a sleeping woman. Faced with a woman who had been “aggressively [...]

  9. [...] been raped in a “party” environment. Alyssa Royse’s controversial piece, “Nice Guys Commit Rape, Too” is about a man and woman who were partying together, flirting, and passed out together.When [...]

  10. [...] Alyssa Royse wrote an article for Good Men Project, as well as XOJane asking those questions (she notes a friend of hers who raped a woman as she slept as he believed–or said he believed–that she would want him to have sex with her during a night in which drugs and drinking were occurring. Alyssa attempts to breaks down dynamics she wonders might have played a role in that rape) and the subsequent reaction to her piece has been extraordinary, with hundreds of comments per article and several follow up articles on other sites by other authors. [...]

  11. [...] thing. To be precise, they have raped. It began with Alyssa Royse’s now notorious piece entitled Nice Guys Commit Rape Too. I strongly criticised the piece here, as others did here and here, and in the face of criticism, [...]

  12. [...] Nice guys commit rape too. (GoodMenProject) [...]

  13. [...] of the 21st century, showcased the stories of two self-confessed rapists, one whose ‘mistake‘ involved raping a formerly flirtatious woman while she slept and another whose excessive [...]

  14. [...] physiological response to sexual violence, the Good Men Project posted an article called Nice Guys Commit Rape Too. (SIDENOTE: Some writers, when discussing this issue, choose not to link to the original article so [...]

  15. [...] article by Alyssa Rose on Good Men Project titled “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too” has caused a furor on various websites and a flurry of responses. You can read it and draw your own [...]

  16. [...] of this, this (trigger warning: this is from the point of view of an unrepentant rapist), and [...]

  17. [...] Too,” a tale in which the Royse’s friend had been accused of the crime. Royse says she “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 [...]

  18. [...] being generated by The Good Men Project’s decision to publish two recent pieces on rape: “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too” and “I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying.” The second piece is written by a ‘hard [...]

  19. [...] will discuss the other one and a story that had some [...]

  20. [...] looked at what happened after we ran two very controversial posts about rape, (here, and here). I looked at the comments. I looked the reactions of our community. I listened to what people [...]

  21. [...] the tale of her friend who was rightly accused of rape. The jaw-dropping title of her piece was “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too.” On Feministe Jill Filipovic described  it as “the worst thing I have read about rape all [...]

  22. [...] more than a week ago in order to respond to Alyssa Royse’s rife-with-rape-apology TGMP essay, “Nice Guys Com­mit Rape Too” and to Joanna Schroeder’s fol­low up piece, “Why It’s Dan­ger­ous to Say ‘Only Bad [...]

  23. [...] more than a week ago in order to respond to Alyssa Royse’s rife-with-rape-apology TGMP essay, “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too” and to Joanna Schroeder’s follow up piece, “Why It’s Dangerous to Say ‘Only Bad Guys [...]

  24. [...] a HEATED debate has emerged that started with an article posted on the Good Men Project titled, Nice Guys Commit Rape Too, written by Alyssa Royse.  This article tells the story of a ‘nice guy’ that commits [...]

  25. [...] a sandstorm has blown up surrounding a controversial article published on the Good Men Project. This article suggested that “nice guys” commit [...]

  26. [...] to the Jill/Feministe/The Good Men Project brouhaha over TGMP’s two recent articles on rape (here and here), which included a ‘rapist’s perspective’ on the issue of consent. Jill Filipovic [...]

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