Nice Guys Commit Rape Too

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

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

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

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

“She said I raped her,” he answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

There are two simple truths here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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



Photo: Parody magazine cover courtesy of the author


About Alyssa Royse

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “…anything short of verbal consent is not an invitation to stick any part of your body on or in any part of anyone else’s body.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

  6. Maria Seager says:

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

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

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

  7. Saajan Patel says:

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


  8. “…the fault is not hers, it’s ours—all of ours—for not explaining what these signals DON’T mean, even if we don’t know exactly what they DO mean.”

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

    “In my mind, this was rape.”

    In your mind? Why the qualification?

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

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

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

  9. ‘she’s dressed in a way that I find sexy, and she’s flirting with me, so that means we’re going to have sex. That is not an illogical conclusion.’

    Actually, that is an illogical conclusion.

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

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

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

    “But we need to stop denying that we sell sex as the reason for everything—from what car to buy, to why to work out to what clothes will help us “get ahead”. In our world, sex is the end game…the question we ask when we get dressed is “how do I look,” not “how do I feel?” And “look” in this case is meant to mean, “will other people find me attractive?…We need to teach people that sex, as awesome as it is, is not the goal.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Robert,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Alyssa Royse says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        • outlawwolf says:

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

          • Alyssa Royse says:

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

    • Jack Stawb says:

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

      • *toro*

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

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

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

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

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

    • Suzana Alves says:

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

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

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

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

    • Corey Wrenn says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            • You make far too many assumptions about what I believe. Your logic makes very little sense to me, I’m sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          • Robert Paulson says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      End of freaking story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  17. Jack Strawb says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  30. painful memories says:

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


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