The Accidental Rapist

Just because your partner isn’t saying “no,” Hugo Schwyzer writes, it doesn’t mean it’s a “yes.”


Note: As with many articles about sexual violence, particularly those that include anecdotes, this may prove triggering for some.

“Sometimes I say ‘yes’ when I’d rather say ‘no.’”

It’s been nearly 25 years, but I can still remember the beautiful Berkeley fall afternoon when I heard those shattering words. Katie and I were sitting in a coffee shop just off campus. What had started as a “friends with benefits” situation had blossomed into a sophomore year romance with this dark-eyed dance-and-philosophy double-major. Katie and I had been sleeping together for more than two months—and saying “I love you” for about a week—when she summoned up the courage to bring up this one very painful truth.

At first, I didn’t know what she meant. She spoke so softly I had to lean across the table to hear her. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings,” she said, “but sometimes I really don’t want to have sex. Sometimes I do, but not as often as you want it. And sometimes I want to tell you ‘no,’ but I can’t bring myself to do it. So I try and send you signals, hoping you can just tell how I’m feeling. But that doesn’t work, so it’s… it’s just easier to say ‘yes’ or just say nothing at all.”

My face flushed. I felt nauseated. I thought instantly of the previous night, where we’d grabbed what I thought was a hot half-hour when my roommates were both gone. Katie had seemed so passionate when we’d been making out, but then gotten very quiet once all our clothes were off. I’d told myself she wanted to have one ear cocked for the sound of a key in the door. I hadn’t considered—or hadn’t wanted to consider—the more obvious possibility: she was trying to tell me that she didn’t want to have sex.

I looked out the window. I couldn’t meet Katie’s eyes. My gaze fixed in the distance, my voice trembling, I asked what seemed the only possible question: “Are you trying to tell me I raped you?”

I was in my first women’s studies course, and just the previous week we’d been reading about sexual violence and the law. In class, where I was one of only three men, I’d felt rage thinking about all of those cruel assholes who didn’t understand that “no means no.” But now a dark and unseen possibility was opening up: not every “no” could be spoken. Maybe, I realized, sometimes even a quiet “OK” could be a “no” in disguise.

Katie started to cry. “Oh God, Hugo. No. Not rape. It’s just… I wish you could tell the difference between when I really want you and when I’d just rather be held.” She began to cry harder. “Fuck. It’s all my fault,” she wept. “I can’t expect you to be a mindreader. I’m so sorry.”

I begged Katie not to apologize; the responsibility was all mine, I insisted. I came around to her side of the table and held her. But something had changed for both of us, and the relationship was never the same. The one time we tried to have sex after that conversation, we were both so tentative (and I had, not surprisingly, a difficult time getting hard) that we gave up halfway through. We broke up two weeks before Christmas.


Most “good guys” take a woman’s firm “No!” for an answer. (Those who don’t are best left to the ministrations of our criminal justice system.) But lots of men are like the guy I was at 19—assuming that while “no means no” anything short of a firm “no” is either a “yes” or a “keep at it, boy, because you just might get a ‘yes’ soon.” Call it male sexual legalism, the first rule of which is “All that is not expressly prohibited is assumed to be permitted.” That legalism can turn many men into accidental rapists.

While the legal standard of rape is increasingly well-defined (and what happened with Katie fell well short of that legal definition), common sense suggests that at its most basic, rape is nonconsensual sex. Too many of us, men and women alike, define consent as the absence of a clear “no,” rather than the presence of a clear, unmistakable, eager “yes.” The opposite of rape, in other words, is mutual enthusiasm.

The root of consent is the Latin consentire, which means “with feeling.” Consent is not just about words “no” or “yes”—it’s about the unambiguous presence of desire. That’s a very different and challenging standard. No, I didn’t legally rape Katie. But her reticence and my sexual legalism conspired to leave us having sex that at least some of the time fell well short of the standard of consent we should all want in our intimate lives.

I’m not putting all the blame on myself, or on men alone. It’s not fair to expect men to read minds, or even to perfectly intuit subtle body language. As I tell the teens with whom I work, a precondition for being ready for a sexual relationship is having the courage to say a firm “No” to the people you love. Overcoming the training to be an acquiescent people-pleaser is hard-but-necessary work, and because of the way we socialize girls, difficulty with saying “no” tends to be much more common among young women.

But guys have work to do also. Too many play what I call the stoplight game. Traffic signals, of course, have three colors: red for stop, yellow for caution, green for go. Good drivers are taught to stop on “red,” which functions as a “no.” But of course, even at the busiest urban intersections, no light stays red indefinitely. If you wait long enough at a stoplight, every red will become green. And when all we do is teach young men that “no means stop” when it comes to sexual boundaries, we often send them the message that if they just wait long enough (or pester, push, nag, beg, play passive-aggressive games) they’ll get the “green light” they’re so hungry for.

In both traffic and the bedroom, the most misunderstood light is yellow. Though driver’s ed classes teach that yellow means “slow down,” most of us see it as a warning to speed up to get through the intersection before the light turns red. Sexually speaking, the yellow means what it ought to mean on the road: “slow down, son.”


Most of us are good at saying “no” to something or someone we don’t like. Most (sadly, not all) find it easy to flash the red light at a creepy guy who doesn’t interest them at all. But it’s tougher to say “not yet, I’m not quite ready” or “slow down” or “maybe later” to someone to whom you’re genuinely attracted. Reflecting on the sex Katie and I had so often, I realized that she often felt rushed and pressured to go to intercourse every time. She knew how to tell me when she wasn’t in the mood to do anything sexual at all, which was when she could “flash the red light.” But on those not-infrequent occasions when she wanted to make out and “fool around” but nothing more—she had no vocabulary for that. And over and over again, I took her reticence as a sign to “try harder” rather than to slow down. The blame for that rested on both of us.

Determining what another person really wants isn’t as easy as it should be. It’s further complicated by the reality that many women (and more than a few men) want to make their partners feel good—even if they don’t desire sex itself. Distinguishing between the desire to be desired, the desire to please a partner, and the desire for sex itself isn’t easy for any of us. Sometimes we need to do more than talk about what we want—we also need to clarify for ourselves and our lovers why we want it. That’s not easy, but it’s essential. We deserve that clarity.

Katie and I lived on different sides of campus; we each walked home separately from that devastating conversation in the café. I remember the guilt and the sadness I felt on that walk, but I also remember the determination I felt. I liked sex—I loved sex—but I knew I’d rather never have it again than have it with someone who was only doing it to soothe me, to please me, or because she couldn’t find the words to say “no” or “not now.” To the best of my imperfect ability, even at my most promiscuous, I have sought to live up to that promise I made to myself on the long walk home through the Berkeley streets.

I knew I hadn’t committed any crime. But the sense of sadness—tinged with disgust—at what Katie and I had conspired to allow to happen made me feel very much like an accidental rapist. Years of working with other men around issues of consent and sexuality have taught me I’m not the only one to have felt those feelings.

We all deserve better.

—Photo kainr/Flickr

About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website


  1. I usually like Hugo’s articles, but this one is just painful. The term ‘rape’ being used in this context is really, truly awful.

    The only time that ‘yes’ is not acceptable as a form of consent is when a person, for whatever reason, is unable to consent. For example: mentally handicapped people, children, people who have been drugged, and people with guns at their heads. Aside from that, a freely given yes is the standard of consent. Whether or not a ‘yes’ has pep to it doesn’t have any impact on if a rape occurred.

    Yes, there are plenty of social reasons why a woman who is not enthusiastic about sex would consent. If a guy has any reason (body language, previous discussions, etc.) to think that these are coming into play, most decent men would stop and check to see what’s up before going forward. That’s just basic respect for someone.

    But unless there is some reason to think that there’s a problem with the situation, I don’t see why any guy should feel even partially responsible. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was pretty confused when Hugo took FULL responsibility for what happened. If you want to label situations like that as unpleasant or unfortunate, or say that you wish you had done something different, be my guest. But defining something like that as rape is just so many shades of wrong.

    • I’m sure I’m not the only one who was pretty confused when Hugo took FULL responsibility for what happened.

      Because hugo’s brand of feminism is very patriarchial and patronising. it infantilises women. you just finally seeing it.

      reread his articles through the lens of your post

    • There was no “yes”.

  2. Now that we have this expanded definition of rape to include the Accidental rapist category – we’ve officially reached the azimuth of rape prevalence. I’ve just computed that 12 out of every 10 men will commit a rape in their lifetime. I’m struggling with this statistic a bit, as mathematically, this means that men who will never be born are also to be counted as rapists – the unborn rapist.

    What a very sad and stupid article. The author does not represent anything I feel or think. I’ll deal with my regrets and failings as such. Thank you very much.

  3. Thanks for writing this. This truly speaks to my experience. Sometimes it is so difficult to say “no” – someones I’m not even sure what I want and when you’re already in the middle of hooking up with someone it’s impossible to bring up that emotional mess of uncertainty without completely killing the mood. And what happens next does feel rape-y. But it’s even more complex because you don’t want to blame the guy since you never really said anything. Guys are socialized to “keep trying” the same way girls are socialized to be pleasing. It is a shitty situation for everyone , but hopefully, if we start talking about it, things will improve.

    • Guys aren’t just “socialized to keep trying”. Guys go for sex because men, generally speaking, like to have sex with women they are sexually attracted to. Sure, a small part of this is socialization—but it is overwhelmingly biology. A lot of our culture—with regard to gender—just reinforces our biological dispositions.

      Why is this so hard to accept?

      • Women have as much a a biological drive to have sex as men. It’s the stigma that a woman who enjoys sex is a slut and a guy who is not getting any is less of a man that create the issues in the article. It’s society that has taught you women don’t want sex as much as men and men need to pursue and persuade women to get the sex they want. Most gender roles are not based in biology that’s why society needed to create and enforce strict rules to make people fall in line with gender norms. If it was just biology those rules and penalties that exist for breaking them wouldn’t exist.

        • have you ever masturbated 6 times in one day? have you ever masturbated in a wave pool? have you ever masturbated in your grandmother’s house? have you ever driven 6 hours just for the possibility that you might get to have sex? are you thinking about sex right now? have you ever bought something for someone hoping that they’ll have sex with you? have you ever taken someone on a date with the sole goal in mind of having sex with said date?

          • Yes. No. No. No. Yes. Yes. Yes.

            • Also, I’ve never been IN a wave pool, my grandma died before I hit puberty, and I live in a town that’s a 30 minute drive from one end to the other, so those “nos” don’t even count.

            • *one end to the other on the ONLY road.

              Sorry for the triple comment.

            • The Wet One says:

              For clarity’s sake Rabbit, are you male or female?

            • i gotta guess male. i don’t know many women who pay for dinner or a date with the express purpose of getting laid.

            • pillowinhell says:

              I have paid for dinners ect just to get laid. And I can answer yes to all but the wave pool.

            • Female. There wouldn’t be any point to answering his questions otherwise, since clearly those are situations that apply to ALL males, and to males ONLY. :p

              “i gotta guess male. i don’t know many women who pay for dinner or a date with the express purpose of getting laid.” FTFY.

            • Also, I didn’t actually realize it was possible for a man to have six orgasms in one day. The more you know!

        • “Women have as much a a biological drive to have sex as men.”

          Of course, women have a biological urge to have–and enjoy–sex. But it has been proven with study after study after study that men desire sex with greater frequency than women. It is this asymmetry that animates much of the goings-on in the sexual marketplace. No one is saying that women don’t want sex, only that they are generally satisfied having it less often than men are.

          Do you deny that this asymmetry exists? Are you telling me that having 11 times as much testosterone is meaningless? Are you sentient?

  4. Upon reading, I found myself disagreeing with the author on various points.
    Would you call a man in a FWB situation that misreads his partner’s body signals a rapist, and ask him to be sent to jail for committing an atrocious act of violence, and to be permanently branded amongst his peers? You say it’s not fair yourself, and I don’t think it’s reasonable nor responsible (as per above situation) to think as such. As such, the rhetoric of “rape” is drastically overblown to the point of sensationalism that undermines most of the important message.

    Second, mostly on substance, I disagree with your views on In my mind, this relates strongly to the task of household chores in a married couple. A guy may not want to clean the kitchen, but he can do it anyway if it makes his wife happy. The appropriate reaction is appreciative, not guilt. If someone wants to make you happy, it would only obfuscate joy by refusing what is done. I believe that the same applies to sex. If a woman doesn’t want sex, but wants to make the guy happy, I don’t think that creating guilt is the appropriate response. Ultimately this view adapted into modern view disempowers women, because men can do favors for women (like cleanliness that she values but he doesn’t) but it can’t be reciprocated. [While this example may play on certain stereotypes, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say men desire sex more often (as per the article) and saying women can’t provide favors is just an extent of one poor aspect behind chivalry.]

    Beyond those two (admittedly nitpicky) details, I think that the overall message that couples should open pathways of communication is important. If there’s a lack of communication, it can easily end up with both people uncomfortable, and is not healthy for the relationship nor for either person involved.

  5. They had women’s studies in 1984?

  6. Tom Matlack says:

    Thanks for this Hugo. I think it speaks not necessarily to rape as defined as a criminal act but to the lack of communication–or the difficulty of communicating–across gender lines about sex specially when youth and hormones are in full blossom. As usual there are plenty of comments here worth ignoring, but I thank you for bringing up a real topic and forcing us all to think more carefully about it. I was thinking what Leah was saying that it must be hard for women to say “No” when they don’t necessarily know what they want and equally hard for men to hear “No” when a women isn’t being particularly clear about it. I recall one particular date I had years ago with a woman who seemed to like me and I her. I was driving I asked her whether she wanted to come home to my house or would prefer to end the date and go home. Her answer was so unclear, I am sure because of the bluntness of my question, that I honestly didn’t know what to do. I think that is what is you are talking about. Giving women the right to say No whenever they want for whatever reason. And for men to hear that clearly. Frankly the worst kind of sex is when one party is going through he motions in my mind. So I for one would rather not have sex at all unless the person I am with is actually excited to be with me. Call me old fashioned that way.

    • all fine and good, Tom. but do you agree with the language Hugo used to get this point across?

    • Good Lord Tom…..
      You’re *thanking* Hugo for “Giving women the right to say No whenever they want for whatever reason.” ?!?!? He’s not giving anything…we already have it ffs. You want to talk about male entitlement, look at the pair of you!
      This article is so patronizing of women that Im amazed he didnt trigger warn himself while writing the damn thing. It totally STRIPS women of any sort of personal responsibility, stating that if a partner of his is ever unsure, in the present tense or in retrospect, that he will readily assume the label of rapist, because, well shucks you know how us women are, its so darned *hard* for us to know our own minds…..*barf*

      • Yeah, I have to agree with Natasha here. Yes, women have been socialized to not be as assertive and forthright about sex and “no” as they should have been, but honestly the tone is pretty patronizing. She had every right and opportunity to tell you know and not just put up with sex. She didn’t do that. She carries some weight. That lack of no could have been because she was inexperienced, naive or plain passive aggressive and wanted you to feel like cr@p.

      • The Wet One says:

        You tell him Natasha! I’m loving it!

  7. I like a lot of what you have written, Hugo, and it’s great you learned from this to look more carefully for active, enthusiastic consent. But I find the level of concern over-the-top, sexist and insulting. It reads to me like a denial of women’s adulthood, responsibility and resilience. Women are not children and – even in a patriarchal society – do not need to be shielded from all mistakes, inconveniences and discomforts in life. You learned to be more aware. She undoubtedly learned to honour her own desires more. And I very much doubt she was traumatised or unable to recover from having had some sex that she engaged in just because she liked you.

  8. For those of you who are concerned about Hugo’s willingness to label himself a rapist; please know that he doesn’t mean a word of it. A more transparent creep would be hard to find. If you buy his garbage please get in touch, I have two Brooklyn Bridges for sale…

  9. Squick said: “For those of you who are concerned about Hugo’s willingness to label himself a rapist; please know that he doesn’t mean a word of it. A more transparent creep would be hard to find. If you buy his garbage please get in touch, I have two Brooklyn Bridges for sale”
    I think we all know who this Troll is.
    He and his deputies never give up, do they ‘lol

  10. I feel bad for both Hugo and Katie. What happened wasn’t rape at all. I hope Katie got some counseling to uncover why she has no voice when it comes to saying “no.” I don’t believe this is some patriarchal thing. I think it’s personality driven. Plenty of women can say no and do.

  11. Trying again.

    And some of them might be accidental rapes where a girl is actively freakedout, says no, etc and the fellow doesn’t care. This examle, unless you are withholding information to prove otherwise, doesn’t seem like rape at all. It seems like clueless bad sex with two young people who aren’t really communicating. Women are not taught that they can and should communicate about sex.

    Good girls don’t, right? So women wind up in this really weird position, especially young women where on the one hand they are taught they have all this agency in the world (schools, college, jobs) and on the other they are still holding on to old old stories about what “good” girls do and don’t do.

    I imagine that 20 years ago or so, things were even more so.

    Yeah, you didn’t check in. Neither did she. She did open up and you apologized and both of you could have learned how to move on to much better sex. You didn’t at that time. But rape? I don’t think this seems like rape

  12. Kool D Raziell says:

    Nice Post.
    I have been in this position once before… I felt the exact same way: nauseated, peeved at myself, and unobservant. So I decided to try something: stop having sex. At first, I just stopped initiating sex… this led to a realization: If I didn’t initiate it, it almost never happened; contrary to what you may be thinking, this wasn’t actually so bad. I kept this mentality even after my girlfriend broke up with me. I began to see how, in this patriarchal world, my lack of initiative when it came to sex had immediate consequences: I stopped getting laid entirely. Once again, this wasn’t so bad; not nearly as bad as being a rapist. I am now middle aged, happily unmarried, and no girlfriend, no kids. I think most men don’t understand: it’s male sexuality per se that is the problem. Until the day comes when women are equal enough to feel comfortable initiating sex and sexual relationships, I beseech my fellow men. Give it up!

    • The Wet One says:

      While I agree with your point, it’s errr… A bit too extreme for me.

      Is it ok if I only consult with professionals and strippers until the non professional, non strippers (or when they’re off duty at least) make come ons to me? That’s a bit of a cop out I know, but life is too short to wait for that to happen (has only happened once in my existence and I wasn’t interested).

      Quite honestly this is still a bit of an issue in my relationship. My sweet sweet love rarely / never really initiates. We’ve talked about it and I’ve said that when she wants to initiate she needs to communicate clearly. Generally, I’m still missing most of the signs because if she’s indicating interest, I’m not really hearing it. Lord have mercy, imagine how it would be if we weren’t together? Crikey! It’d be pros for me for the rest of my days.

      Thank god I’ve avoided that bummer. I guess that makes me part of the “patriarchy” but I’ll be damned if I’m going to be celibate mope just because women are afraid to come up to me and say “Wanna have sex with me?” I’m responsible for my own life. That’s just how it is.

      • pillowinhell says:

        Who are you fellas dating??? My god, I know plenty of women who aren’t the least bit shy about sex and they aren’t pros either!


        • “Who are you fellas dating??? My god, I know plenty of women who aren’t the least bit shy about sex and they aren’t pros either!”

          Better question: What drugs are you taking. Because you are delusional. Women mostly do not initiate sex especially the first time and even in committed relationships.

          This does not necessarily imply they are shy about sex although plenty of women are also shy about sex. I had a women tell me she was hedonistic, she liked sex. She wasn’t shy. She invited me to her place. But ultimately at the end she expected me to initiate, to make the first physical move.

          Let me just explain something to you:

          Saying “I enjoy sex” is not initiating sex
          Looking at the guy directly to indicate you want to fuck him is not initiating sex
          Inviting the guy to your place for a “drink” in not initiating sex

          Initiating sex means that the woman kisses you. She jumps on you. She grabs you. Takes off your clothes. Tells you lets have sex. Women may be very unshy about sex but they rarely do any of these things.

          • ” Women may be very unshy about sex but they rarely do any of these things.”

            Except in Axe commercials and porn, which strangely enough feminists hate. Why do feminists hate the few mainstream media depictions where women are actually shown to be sexually assertive.

            Because feminists are anti-sex….that is why.

  13. While the legal standard of rape is increasingly well-defined (and what happened with Katie fell well short of that legal definition),.

    Thats what you think
    But I wonder how many of your fellow feminists, from the various churches, have read your article and now think you are a rapist?!?

  14. Ryan Williams says:

    Its apt that you use the misunderstanding of stoplights as a metaphor here. I use it a lot too. But you confuse it a bit when you later say that the only yes is an emphatic yes. In my state, for instance, the yellow light means “stop if it is safe to do so.” But most drivers will tell you it means “slow down,” and largely they will speed up when they see it. The same is true of ambiguity in sexual relationships. I would suggest that if young men or women think they see that yellow light, don’t speed up. Don’t just slow down. Stop.

  15. I think calling this “accidental rape” is too much.

    Yes, it’s important to be conscious of non-verbal cues from our partners.

    Yes, this is especially important as a male in a heterosexual relationship since women are socialized to be more passive than men.

    But having sex with someone in the context of a consensual relationship when they’d rather not and they don’t speak up is wrong on the level of being a jerk boyfriend, not rape.

    • But having sex with someone in the context of a consensual relationship when they’d rather not and they don’t speak up is wrong on the level of being a jerk boyfriend, not rape.

      actually im quite happy to accept the feminist argument that it is rape. i welcome its introduction into jurisprudence. the revealed hypocrisy when women arent prosecuted for the same crime, will help usher in true equality before the law

  16. Sometimes when I post comments, I don’t really want to. Hmmm, maybe the GMP is forcing me to submit these comments.

  17. Since I can’t recall the last time a man ever got my discomfort at his sexist statements, have never seen a man really get when women want him to shut up and stop dominating a discussion, I just assume when it comes to sex, men are as domineering and clueless as ever. NO, women don’t want to have sex with men all the time. Men don’t get this. If they can’t even stop with the sexist clueless conversational style, what makes anyone think that accidental rapists aren’t all over the map, and yes Hugo, you have raped women. In a women’s legal system you would be behind bars. Just fess up to it! Geex, you guys are dense, clueless and rapists. Yes you are.

    • pillowinhell says:



      • Interestingly Hugo’s girlfriend didn’t consider it rape. I guess she just doesn’t know when she being raped.

    • van Rooinek says:

      I can’t recall the last time a man ever got my discomfort at his sexist statements, have never seen a man really get when women want him to shut up and stop dominating a discussion…. If they can’t even stop with the sexist clueless conversational style,

      It’s called direct, linear thinking. It is INNATE in males, it is not a moral issue. If you want a man to “get” your discomfort, you have to TELL him, “That statment made me uncomfortable because..”. If you want him to stop “dominating” the conversation, you have to SPEAK UP and jump into the conversation yourself. Men are wired differently, we CANNOT read your minds or discern subtle emotional signals as your fellow women do. Since women are perfectly capable of speaking up, but men are NOT capable of reading your minds, the moral onus is on women to speak up. Period.

      You harp, “No means no!”, and men, assuming you to be honest, take you at your word…. and then you think you were raped because you initially went along with it (as happened in Hugo’s case), and FAILED to say NO …..!??!?!?!?! I have no use for the S&M realm but they have a concept called a “safeword” which, if spoken, immediately terminates any activity. Well, for regular sex, according to feminism, “No!” is the safe word. She didn’t say the safeword. It’s not rape.

      women don’t want to have sex with men all the time. Men don’t get this,

      Helloooo? Most men spend most of their lives in a state of unrelenting sexual frustration because, as we are all too painfully aware, women don’t want us as much as we want them. Much of human history is explainable by this one simple painful fact. And you think men don’t get it? Who is the cluelss one now?

      • what a goony argument. um for your information WOMEN CAN’T READ MINDS EITHER. if you want to go with the ‘innately different communication styles’ argument (which i agree, there might be something to that), the two choices are not Direct, Linear, Practical Communication or crazy voodoo mind reading. men are just as capable of learning the feminine style of communication as women are of the masculine, so there is no reason the ‘onus should be on women to speak up.’ why shouldn’t the onus be on men to be more sensitive? because it doesn’t come naturally? well guess what maybe direct speech doesn’t come naturally to women. yet women are expected to be the ones to adapt.

        typical privilege.

        • “well guess what maybe direct speech doesn’t come naturally to women.”

          Given the voluminous evidence you presented to prove this assertion I guess I have to accept it as a fact.

          In fact I have decided that you don’t believe anything you just said. I am so sensitive to your state of mind and your female method of communication that I have come to realize that whenever you say something you really mean the exact opposite but due to your female style of communication you are incapable of saying so directly.

          So I have adapted to your style of communication and concluded that I can safely assume that all your comments support my position but you are just too scared to say so directly. See we are making progress! I know your going to protest against my interpretation but I know that I am safe to ignore your protests because I am truly sensitive to what you really want.

          In fact based on this new indirect style of communication I have concluded that all women want to have sex all the time and that when they say NO the really mean Yes. See I am very good at reading women’s minds.

        • van Rooinek says:

          “…men are just as capable of learning the feminine style of communication as women are of the masculine, so there is no reason the ‘onus should be on women to speak up.’ why shouldn’t the onus be on men to be more sensitive..”

          Actually, NO, we are NOT. True story, one of many similar ones I could tell. When I asked a (then)girlfriend about a particular painful issue from her past — in the context of a discussion of both our family backgrounds — she said to me, “I don’t want to talk about that” — without any trace of irony or sarcasm in her tone. Because I am “sensitive” and “respectful”, I took her at her word, and left the issue alone. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished: weeks later she got all upset because I “didn’t care enough” to push her on the issue. Dredging that coversation up from memory..

          Me: “But…… you said, quite clearly, that you didn’t want to talk about it”
          Her: “But if you really cared about me, you would have pressed the issue…”
          Me: “But… you SAID, you didn’t want to talk about it. I respected your plainly stated wishes, because I DO care about you….”

          This, right here, is a classic example of what you call “feminine communication style”. After spending 10 miserable months with her, desperately trying to figure her out, I finally concluded that the correct term for it, is simply: “LYING”. I had encountered female lying of this type before but she had the worst case of it I’d ever encountered. BTW “accidental rape” was never an issue in this relationship, as we were both virgins. It’s ironic that a woman would have enough faith to stay a virgin til the altar, and yet disregard the Bible’s command not to tell lies, but there it is. For another irony, contemplate the fact that the feminists have been preaching at us for years, that women are to be taken at their word — “No means No!” — yet in conversation after conversation, relationship after relationship, women pull this, “yes means no, no means maybe, read my mind even though I say the exact opposite” game. Lying, in other words. And you have the gall to call it a “feminine communication style”… what an insult to honest women!

          Once again – the moral onus is and MUST BE on women to be honest. since men CANNOT read women’s minds. You can neither wriggle out of, nor refute, this truth, however desperately you may wish to resist it. I must pose the rhetorical question, WHAT THE HELL IS SO HARD about saying what you really mean, what you really think, anyway? Whether you end up going for Italian when you’d rather have sushi — or you end up having sex when you didn’t really want to — either way, afterwards, you wish you’d spoken up. Honest women are SOOOOO much happier. Why do you fight happiness so hard?

          Speaking of honest women — the day that relationship ended, I vowed that I would never again tolerate that feminine lying style, that if I ever faced it again I would INSTANTLY terminate the relationship. Guess what? Either women somehow saw they couldn’t play that game anymore, or, I stopped attracting that type of woman. Whatever the reason, nobody ever tried it again. And I got married — happily — to an honest woman — about a year and a half later.

          Heed the words of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”, wherein Gulliver finds himself in the midsts of the perfectly honest talking horses, Hhouyhnhnms — ”
          “… in frequent discourses with my master concerning the nature of manhood in other parts of the world, having occasion to talk of lying and false representation, it was with much difficulty that he comprehended what I meant, although he had otherwise a most acute judgment. For he argued thus: “that the use of speech was to make us understand one another, and to receive information of facts; now, if any one said the thing which was not, these ends were defeated, because I cannot properly be said to understand him; and I am so far from receiving information, that he leaves me worse than in ignorance; for I am led to believe a thing black, when it is white, and short, when it is long.” And these were all the notions he had concerning that faculty of lying, so perfectly well understood, and so universally practised, among human creatures….”

          “typical privilege”

          False accusations of privilege are a standard tactic of those who wickedly seek to illegitimately privilege themselves. Ho hum. “Privilege” has now found its place alongside “Racism” in the ranks of words that no longer mean anything because they are lies almost every time they are used.

  18. Womyn are God says:

    This article is totally correct. A notarized contract should be signed by both parties prior to the initiation of coitus. If parties are not sober the contract is null and void. Furthermore, during coitus both parties should stop AT MOST every 30 seconds to determine whether the sexual inclination continues to be mutual. Failure to agree that it is must result in immediate termination of the coital act. Post-coitus, the man must sign present a waiver to a woman which she must sign to declare that the prior sex was consensual. If she refuses to sign, the man MUST be assumed 100% guilty of rape.

    • van Rooinek says:

      A notarized contract should be signed by both parties prior to the initiation of coitus.

      Full circle. We have just reinvented the marriage license! Gotta wonder if these problems didn’t arise thousands of years ago, and if our ancient taboos were actually designed to prevent the problems we see today.

      If parties are not sober the contract is null and void

      What if one of the wedding guests turns water into wine?

  19. Yeah, this one’s pretty silly. Hugo’s making the “women are infants who can’t be accountable for what they say and do” argument; they should be believed when they say no, but doubted when they say yes. Huh?

    We’ve been hearing “no means no” for decades now, over and over… and I agree with it. So what’s the matter with “yes means yes”? Are women really so helpless and unable to speak their minds that we have to second-guess THEIR OWN STATEMENTS in order to find out if they’re really, really sure about what they’re saying? And should this doubt flow in only one direction?

    • pillowinhell says:

      Ack! The patriarchy! The patriarchy! How dare a man second guess what a woman says!
      Boy we gotcha coming and going don’t we?

  20. SuperUltraJulie says:

    Your girlfriend was an adult who was responsible for saying NO within the context of a romantic / intimate relationship.

    What your describing here is different than a RAPE. What you are describing is a different problem women and men have – synching up sexual desire & honestly communicating about it.

    Hugo…this one may be a bit over the top.

  21. This does put my mixed feelings of feeling really unhappy with some of my sexual encounters and borderline feeling like they weren’t consensual, in context with the fact that I never quite felt right to “report it to the police” or “describe it as rape” or anything like that.

    It’s never really been the case that I’ve said yes when these things happen; I’ve generally expressed feelings of discomfort with the atmosphere or the timing or various other things, and, in response, had a partner push back harder or tell me that the things I was worried about didn’t matter. And since it wasn’t the case that I would have refused to have sex with them in a different place/time/whatever, I didn’t know what to do.

    Also, I don’t think guys have the responsibility to be mindreaders, but to emphasize their interest in pleasing their partners and encourage their partners to speak up if something isn’t working for them at that particular moment.

    On a sort of related note, the most amazing sexual experience I’ve had was with my current partner who I basically needed to ASK to take every additional step; he just enjoyed and perfected every little thing along the way, so I never felt pressured to go further. At least, not externally pressured.

    I think people who make actual intercourse the “goal” end up missing out on how good a lot of the other stuff can be, and I just don’t understand why that’s desirable.

  22. Jesus, Hugo, you singlehandedly caused this site to jump the shark. Just rename the place to “the good apologist project”, finally get some truth in advertising.

  23. There is ‘wanting to be able to turn a no into a yes’ AND ‘wanting to be desired enough that someone will want to turn your no into a yes” and wanting these power trips is not the problem. The problem here is not even that people fear admitting this or fail to communicate it effectively. The problem HERE, and in sex discussions everywhere, is that we let the personal nature of our sexuality override our logical and empathetic nature as humans.

    We have to stop saying ‘there’s problems on both sides…BUT’ followed by reasons the other side should apologize more. There are not problems on both sides because there are no sides. There may be an amoeba human out there who can truly point fingers. The rest of us don’t get to if we want to get some well. And we all deserve to.

  24. Sometimes my girlfriend wakes me up with a blowjob. Afterwards, I feel so…so….violated.

    Anti-sex, anti-male feminism strikes again. This article is idiocy.

  25. J.G. te Molder says:


    No, rape is not non-consensual sex. Rape is sex coerced by force.

    And no, rape is not increasingly well-defined, it is increasingly expanded… for men, that is. A woman does the same things that would land a man in jail for rape, and society says, “You go, girl.” And if a man should claim rape as a woman would have; he gets kicked out the building he mad the claim in; that is after being laughed at and ridiculed.

    Alcohol, for example, which will probably soon be added to the legal definition, even if the woman imbibed it freely of her own will before even meeting the guy she choses to sleep with, even if he’s equally drunk. For as we all know, a man is not only responsible for his own actions and choices, but women’s actions and choices as well.

    And who can we thank for this ever increasing legislation: feminism. Congratulations girls, feminism treats you like little, pathetic, incompetent children, and men as competent, capable adults.

    • dumb. rape is more than sex coerced by force, or else all those women drugged into it, well, that must not be rape, right? what about those too frightened to say no? well, they probably wanted it because the guy didn’t like, HIT them.

      i find it funny and sad that men, when complaining (and rightfully) about the discrepancy between prosecution of women’s rape cases vs. men’s somehow blame the feminists for this?? tell me, WHO is doing the majority of raping of men (other men)? WHO comprises the majority of the legal system not taking these crimes seriously (other men)? And most importantly, WHY is male rape stigmatized and mocked (by other men)? Because the victim has been treated like a woman, and what could be more degrading than to be penetrated. Believe me, we’d be on the same team at de-stigmatizing male rape, because it would #1) help rape to be taken more seriously in general, and 2) help de-stigmatize the trope of sex-as-domination that is so often aimed at women and so often at the root of rape, both on men and women. but since men mistreat other men and men are too scared to talk about it, it must be women’s fault, right?

      • J.G. te Molder says:

        Tricking someone to take drugs would be force. And those to frightened to say no, should have said no. The entire article is about it: no human being is a mind-reader, men can’t be expected to be mind-readers.

        Women’s fault? Sweetheart, feminists does not constitute women. There are both women and men that are feminists, and there both women and men that are not.

        And it is feminists fault, because feminists spend their time ever increasing the definition of rape, constantly saying all kinds of things are rape that aren’t, constantly blaming men for women getting raped (which wasn’t rape) and women’s own choices. It’s gotten so far that men can’t face their accusers; because feminists said it was too traumatic for the “victims”. And how is he expected to prove his innocence if he can’t face his accuser, that so-called constitutional right that got torn to shreds for the men accused of rape. And yes, it is prove his innocence, not show merely reasonable doubt. When it comes to rape, even if officially it is still “innocent until proven guilty”, unofficially it is “guilty until proven innocent”. Hell, feminists around the world are clamoring for that to become official.

        And who is to blame for all the mocking of male-rape; not men (unless they’re feminists), but feminists! Feminists have spent the last 40-70 years hammering it into everyone with propaganda everywhere that only women get raped, and it’s always men that are the perpetrator’s, because that’s what nets them the money and the power, the massive privilege in biased legal sentences; always far less than men, if they even get punished at all. The moment feminists publicly announce, that no, men are raped more often than women, and no women do some of the raping of men and women as well, it isn’t just men that are perpetrators; their entire house of lies comes crumbling down around them.

        So onward, with the propaganda of women as the eternal victims, and men as the eternal demons. And if that is the way it is, and all of society views it that way; well, that man that is a victim, can’t possibly be a man, right? It’s feminists that are to blame for the stat of these affairs; for the continued and ever increasing reducing of men to disposable walking ATM-machine and beast of burden status. It’s their propaganda that has pushed this view of men to greatest height in human history within the western world; and it is done by no one else.

      • “tell me, WHO is doing the majority of raping of men (other men)?”

        WOMEN! Most sex according to feminist definitions is rape. There is only one type of sex that is not rape and that is where a women and a man obtain unambiguous, enthusiastic consent to every single sexual act. If a woman kisses a man without first asking that is sexual assault. If a man has sex with women EVEN IF HE IS TAKING AN ACTIVE ROLE, the woman has raped him if she did not obtain unambiguous and enthusiastic consent beforehand. He may be having sex with her because he doesn’t want to disappoint her (I have been raped many times this way). This is rape! It doesn’t matter whether he is thrusting his penis into her. Men are trained to always satisfy a women even when they don’t want to. If a woman doesn’t obtain unambiguous enthusiastic consent beforehand she has raped him. Notice it doesn’t matter if the man takes an active role because feminists have established that non-verbal indications of consent are INSUFFICIENT. Also a single yes is insufficient. Yeses must be obtained continually for every separate sexual act. Now it is possible that a man consents to a sexual act beforehand but later changes his mind. However he doesn’t stop because he doesn’t want to displease his woman. In this situation the woman has raped him. You have to keep asking for consent and make sure you get enthusiastic consent at every point of the sexual act. I propose one enthusiastic consent, every 30 seconds.

        Under the feminist definition almost all sex is rape. And often both people are raping each other at the same time. In other words for feminists SEX == RAPE.

  26. I agree with many aspects of this post, particularly how you assign responsibility to BOTH parties. Women really need to learn to be more assertive, and our society training girls to be people-pleasers is harmful to everybody. Men also need to be more sensitive to such issues.

    That said, I think that you are using the term “rape” too loosely here. I think what you are really referring to here is “pressure”. She felt pressured into having sex, whether actively by you or not, and that’s very different from “accidental rape”, which, frankly, is an oxymoron.

  27. Now, there’s a lot of booing and hissing from the audience, but I actually am glad that Hugo wrote this article. I have been the AFAB (assigned female at birth) individual on the other end of this equation more than once. I have gone through intense periods of low self-esteem that have led me to be UNABLE to verbally vocalise my “no!” I have had several occasions in which I really did feel raped, but couldn’t make my mouth go. I have had sex that I didn’t want, to soothe someone else, to placate them, to get them out of my hair, the list goes on. I have left sessions of supposedly consensual sex feeling… lesser. Violated. Dehumanized. To wit, raped. And COMPLETELY enraged with MYSELF, because *I* was the one with the responsibility to, as it were, “flash the red light!” I considered myself a relatively strong, empowered feminist… until suddenly I found myself under someone (who had no intention of hurting me, natch) unable to breathe with panic and unable to say “no.” Talk about self-esteem destroying moments! This is a very real and scary issue, for both sides of the equation! When I finally told one of my partners what had been happening, they were totally horrified, and it caused some serious consequences in our relationship. Thanks for trying to start a discussion about this issue, Hugo. I appreciate it.

  28. Yeaa……..

    Most guys would understand if she actually said no, they’d pull out. Accidental Rape? There is no such thing.

  29. Studies have shown that men have no trouble interpreting subtle non verbal signals coming from their boss or client.

    Why is that I wonder?

    • “men have no trouble interpreting subtle non verbal signals coming from their boss or client.”

      These studies are very wrong. And how the fuck would they even know?! The studies could only know if an interpretation is correct if they themselves form an interpretation. But how would they know their interpretation was correct?

      I work in a corporation and we have enormous difficulty interpreting non verbal signals from bosses or clients. Its also extremely frustrating, soul-destroying and annoying to work in corporations where this form of communication prevails. My boss spends maybe 50% of his time trying to interpret the non-verbal signals of his boss and none of us are sure whether we are right. We are always second-guessing.

      I would feel like I was stuck in a special hell if my communications with women were ever as ambiguous as what happens in a corporation.

  30. No. Uh-uh. All wrong, women can verbally state that they do not want to have sex with the man that they are with. Period. No we do not need to learn to pick up “cues” “signals” or “clues”. That is just game-playing which leads to crazy-making. I can assure you very few men are going to get forceful if the woman they are with says “No” . The ones that do ARE rapists which is a whole other department.

    Saying that men need to pick up these clues from women who are still having sex with their men is saying that women are incapable and or inept in some way. Saying that IS not being very feminist.

    Which I am not.


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