Six years ago a woman accused me of rape.
Here’s the story. I met a woman in Houston while on tour as a musician. We exchanged numbers and when I came back to town a few years later I looked her up. We met for food, then went back to her place and decided to have sex.
Actually, I assume we decided to have sex because clothes were coming off and body parts were being pushed together, but there was never any words exchanged, or verbal confirmation that we both wanted to have sex. I simply made a move, and she didn’t say no.
I leaned in for a kiss, she didn’t say no.
I put my hands on her breasts, she didn’t say no.
I reached down her pants, she didn’t say no.
I went through the motions, all the way up to and through intercourse, and she didn’t say no, so I assumed she was enjoying herself and everything was good. Then after sex was over (it didn’t take long), she turned to me and said the three words no decent man ever wants to hear.
You raped me.
I was stunned. It was like she told me “you have a carrot growing out of your forehead”. I was very clear I didn’t have a carrot growing out of my forehead, and I was equally as clear I didn’t rape her, at least according to my definition (we’ll talk about that later).
Thankfully, what I decided to do next was smarter than my previous decision to have sex. I stuck around and listened.
I didn’t defend myself, mostly because I was still in shock that I could even be capable of such a thing. I saw that she was upset and decided that whatever I did, I wasn’t going to leave her like this. I knew I screwed something up, but I also knew that I had no intention of hurting her, so I stayed and listened, desperately trying to demonstrate that I wasn’t the guy she thought I was.
Six hours later and me making a few runs to the local convenience store for cigarettes and snacks, she seemed to be at peace with everything. The sun was coming up and we parted ways. Although I still felt confused, I had communicated to her that I genuinely cared, which at that point was all I could hope for.
I wish I could say I immediately turned things around, but the truth was I had no idea what I did wrong. I thought that because she didn’t say no, that I did my job, but I was wrong.
I realized that to understand consent and permission I didn’t just need to get an unequivocal “yes” but I also needed to understand a woman’s experience, and when yes really means yes.
When Yes Doesn’t Mean Yes
The more I talked to women about their experience, the more I realized it wasn’t at all like mine. I rarely feel unsafe. When I leave a bar at two in the morning, I’m mostly thinking about where I can find an all-night taco shop, not “will I get assaulted on the way to my car”.
I’ve never said no to someone and been afraid they would become violent. I’ve never walked through a crowded bar and been afraid someone will grope me.
When I began to understand this, it changed the way I talked to women about sex. I needed them to understand that my standard of “yes” was no longer “I’m ok with this” as it was in the past, but nothing short of a 100% enthusiastic, full-body yes.
I was also clear that I would celebrate their “no”, if that was true for them.
I would explain to them that “no” was just as valuable to me as “yes”, because the goal wasn’t to move things forward sexually, it was to create an environment where we felt both the freedom to speak into what we wanted and the patience to discover what that is.
Using our voice was the foundation on which anything we did together was built, and if that wasn’t there, nothing was possible.
A funny thing started happening after I would give these speeches to women. I would hear things like:
I’ve never had anyone actually care about what I wanted.< So you mean I can tell you what I want and you’ll listen?!?
I wish more men communicated like this.
What a relief, thank you.
The more I talked to women about permission and consent, the more I saw how rare it was, even for “good” men or “conscious” men to show this kind of concern over a woman’s experience. Often I would talk to women for hours before we had sex, because I refused to move forward if there was even the slightest doubt about it being a true “yes”.
“But That’s Lame”
The more I stressed the importance of communication with women I was with, the better my experiences became. The more I slowed down our interaction and brought awareness to speaking our desires, the hotter we would get for each other.
It’s ignorant to believe that my experience as a man is the same as her experience as a woman. It’s ignorant to think that because I feel good with moving things forward that she would too.
I started having experiences that were incredibly fulfilling both sexually and emotionally. Women would tell their friends about me. One even joked about starting a yelp page and writing me a 5-star review.
And yet, when I would explain this to men and enroll them in the idea of allowing a woman’s desires to lead the interaction versus their agenda for sex, I would occasionally get the comment “but that sounds so lame”.
I used to think that too. In fact, I even know where it comes from.
It’s ignorant to believe that my experience as a man is the same as her experience as a woman. It’s ignorant to think that because I feel good with moving things forward that she would too.
When I slowed things down I also noticed that not only was I not checking in with her, I wasn’t checking in with myself. Am I really ready to move things forward sexually?
Once I started asking myself that question honestly, I found there were a lot of things I wanted to communicate, especially because I wanted to create something special, to not just check the boxes.
I wanted to know if there was anyone who would be upset if we were together. I wanted to know when the last time she got tested was, and I wanted to share my results. I wanted to know a few things that really turn her on and a few things that turn her off, and I wanted to share my own.
Most of all, I wanted to know that she had a clear mind, and I wanted to know what was in the way of her being a 100% yes, not because I had an agenda to get somewhere, but because it would help us feel safe with each other.
In Conclusion: Why It’s Never Lame to Ask a Woman for Consent
If I could insert myself into the brains of every man on earth and drop one piece of wisdom it would be this:
When women don’t have a voice, everyone loses.
That’s the thing I never got, until I did. Everything I wanted sexually, everything I worked so hard to get in my twenties was available all along, and it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough “game”, it was because I believed that on some level that I had to convince women to want sex.
Well my friends, this may not come as a big surprise, but it’s worth repeating.
In fact, I’ve found that women love sex even more than men, but they only love sex under the right conditions. Much like a garden won’t grow without the right soil, water and care, women won’t express themselves sexually unless they feel safe, and we as men have the brilliant opportunity to create that, and when we don’t we’re simply shooting ourselves in the foot.
When women don’t feel safe, they don’t want to have sex. Then because no one is having sex it becomes scarce, and men chase after it more, and women withhold it more, and we have to play games to coerce each other to get something we both already wanted in the first place.
Welcome to the insanity of today’s culture.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are places on earth where women feel safe and men take a stand for things like permission and true consent. I’ve been there, and you know what happens at these places? People have a lot of sex, and they feel great afterwards.
When women don’t have a voice, everyone loses.
But when women have a voice, everyone wins.
Which world are you helping create?
Too often, victim shaming occurs when the victim of a negative act is held at fault or responsible for the harm that has happened to them. This article is a fantastic example of taking responsibility and being accountable, but keep reading to learn more. When can we instill the idea that it’s not lame to ask a woman for consent? Probably earlier than you’d think. Here are some guidelines you might find interesting for kids aged 1 – 21.
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This article originally appeared on Boodaism
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Blimey, how many women actually say “yes” every time before they have sex? Why couldn’t she have said no? My understanding is that she wasn’t intoxicated or anything like that.
As a woman I know this article is false. He’s just making it up to draw attention to his site. “Clickbait” they call it. No woman who didn’t want to have sex but who felt as comfortable as this woman presumably felt would have the slightest problem saying “no, I’m not up for it right now.” Moreover no woman, after a sexual experience in which she partook and offered no resistance would ever say, right there, in bed, “you raped me”. She might FEEL it, contemplate it later and perhaps even communicate it to him (though that’s very doubtful too)… Read more »
Ok, this article is fucking bullshit. Ladies, this is why you all do what you all do. Out of fear. Ok, well how about this. Become the pursuers and let us men become the pursued. You ask us men on the dates, you initiate the sex and don’t expect us to pursue you whatsoever. Are you ladies willing to pursue what you want yourself instead of us men reading your minds and sending out mixed signals, for what, fear? Men, quit pursuing women. Demand they pursue us or it’s a no go. At least we men won’t have false rape… Read more »
If an animal fears you, it’s flight or fight. Get out of there fast.
I feel like you missed the point. Women do pursue men, when they want to. Not all women do, but some. You choose to pursue women, instead, you could wait until you become pursued.
Also, mixed signals is problematic because ‘signals’ mean something different to everyone. So your interpretation of signals being mixed is your subjective opinion.
Also, emotional insecurities may be valid, but I think you need to consider the physical danger women are always in in our society. Always.
Thank you so much for writing this.
Really appreciate this article , and the author’s sharing of his own journey with this. When I was a much younger woman and just becoming sexually active, my first experience felt like rape as well. Raised in a “Catholic, don’t talk about sex, sex is sinful, body shaming, women must be obedient, subservient and quiet…” culture, I was really unprepared my first time. My boyfriend continually pressured me over weeks saying he loved me, even though I repeatedly said I was not ready. When we finally did, afterwards he said he felt bad because he saw the look of fear… Read more »
One huge problem with this guilt laden article. Sometimes the woman is leading everything and the man can still be accused. You’re totally missing the point that there are so many mentally ill, psychotic or psychotropic addicted people out there that you have to be careful who you interact with. Pretending people aren’t crazy to appear sensitive is how we were in our 20s until the real world crept in. Be careful of strangers whatever their gender.
I think the cases that you refer to are pretty rare. Also really having the conversation as the author suggests might lead the man to realizing that he isn’t that into it if the woman is leading so heavily. Again, having the full conversation about consent could also lead to either party noticing that the other person is possibly mentally ill. So, I don’t see how anything you’re saying is a huge problem with the article, rather I think the points you’re making actually further support what the article is suggesting.
While this is an issue for men too, it’s far more of an issue for women simply because we’re usually not as physically strong. A woman is far, far more likely to be scared to outright say ‘no.’ If a man and woman are making out and a man’s boundaries are being crossed, it’s more likely he’ll be able to automatically stop it than a woman being able to – a woman could be being overpowered and be unsure if it’s worth fighting back (in some cases, she could be scared, in others she could’ve never been taught how to… Read more »
it’s called ‘courtship’
it’s called ‘courtship’
As someone who has actually been raped that’s bullshit, if she made no effort to say no, never pushed you away ect it’s not fucking rape.
I am so confused. NEITHER said yes or no, so why is only the man a rapist? The woman raped him too, then.
He wanted it and she didn’t. He lead it without making sure she was ok with it. She was scared he’d hurt her if she tried to stop him.
This isn’t something you could (or should) be prosecuted for, since it was a misunderstanding. But it was definitely harmful to her in a way it wasn’t to him.
she was afraid before hand to say she didn’t want to have sex out of fear he might hurt her because he’s a man…but after the deed was done she had no problem telling him to his face ” you just raped me” …how does that make any sense? what changed? he could’ve easily gotten angry and hurt her then too….i’m sorry but SHE should’ve spoke up, this was no way 100% on him just because he’s a guy…she has a voice too and chose to do nothing, i guarantee if she showed that she wasn’t enjoying it or had… Read more »
You have a single obligation now. You will go to law enforcement, confess to the rape of this woman, and you will surrender yourself for punishment in prison. You have committed a crime and, in the name of womyn everywhere, I demand you pay for it immediately. You will then register yourself as a sexual offender. I would also suggest that you consider chemical castration as an option as well. People like you deserve nothing more! You are disgusting! You are a pervert! And you deserve punishment!! Failure to comply… proves only how hypocritical you….and men in general… are about… Read more »
This is hilariously adorable.
Terrible article, terrible site.
The woman was at fault for not saying no. What is she, a toddler? There was no rape, not unless you want to tell me that women are infants who aren’t able to speak. A non-verbal yes is still a yes.
What we have in this story is a woman who wanted to feel that she has power over a man. Disgusting.
Women are sometimes KILLED for trying to stop themselves from being attacked. She was probably scared he’d get violent if she told him to stop. She also could’ve been in shock, because she thought he was going to do it no matter what she said.
‘A non-verbal yes is still a yes.’
There’s no evidence of a non-verbal yes.
This isn’t technically rape, because it was a misunderstanding. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel that way to her.
then why wasn’t she afraid after and told him to his face ” you just raped me” ? what changed? he could’ve easily gotten angry and attacked her after. She’s just as guilty for not saying anything as he is for not asking first…I’m sorry but this article is stupid and that woman’s a moron. It goes both ways, this could’ve too easily happened to anyone, and the opposite happens a lot too. Yes this clip is from stand up, but it’s true too.
BOTH people are responsible, he should’ve asked and she should’ve said something before hand too.
Patrick, I didn’t think of this but you’re right. Why say that to his face afterwards if she was afraid? It makes absolutely no sense.
Love. Love. Love.
I wrote an article for GMP, “The Startling Truth about Sexual Coercion” where I discussed the “enthusiastic YES”. I love to see someone who can put such a wonderful, personal story to such an important topic. Thank you for sharing.
I enjoy practicing the art of seduction. When I have been in a new relationship that is becoming intimate, I have usually whispered to the woman after we’ve kissed, and the setting is right for intimacy, “you can tell me to stop at any time”.
I have found that this actually has a very positive effect. She’s able to relax, and totally enjoy my exploration. It also makes her feel more free to follow her impulses.
Beautifully written. This article rings true for me on a very deep level. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is a poignant and relevant message. The example in this story was very rare though. Women are getting raped – a lot, and groped and disrespected. Too often. That’s why I think it is so wonderful that you wrote this. Women love love and sex. We dont like being disrespected and abused. Thank you for trying to change the world. I hope you do. I hope everyone reads this and listens to the message.
a) consent doesn’t have to be verbal.
b) The woman in the story is really cruel. It is really mean to wait to the end to say no and to force him to feel guilty.
c) Not all women have the same experience..
Consent must be verbal…. or it isn’t consent.. its rape. Pure and simple.
Okay, but the guy didn’t say no either. Nor did he say yes. So why wasn’t he raped too?
I would love to hear the answer to this?
he was the one initiating and ‘moving forward’ with it, making thr moves, etc.
sooo that means she has 0 responsibility? she couldn’t say no? im sorry this wasn’t rape, and she’s incredibly cruel for putting this on him after the fact…this could’ve easily happened to anyone. If he’s going to feel that shame and guilt for not saying anything then so should she if she’s the one who didn’t want it in the first place but went along with it anyways.
So are you trying to say all the consensual sex I’ve had is actually rape because YOU don’t think I consented because I didn’t stop and verbally say yes??? STFU.
from both parties, it’s not right to put the blame solely on the male…
Great article, thank you so much for shedding light on this. I feel it has helped me realise how I want to communicate to women when sex is involved!
Thank you for writing this. Often women do struggle with saying “no”, especially in their teens and twenties. Self-knowledge and confidence grow with time. There are some angry comments below from some women who claim that if the woman you wrote about didn’t say “no”, she’s somehow weak or doesn’t represent us. But, actually, I think it’s quite common. It might not be a fear of physical retribution, but a discomfort with disappointing the other person or confusion about one’s own feelings. In my case, I have wanted to have sex but then what someone was doing would turn me… Read more »
Yes! Thank you for expressing *exactly* what was on my heart, Jane. I felt such overwhelming emotion reading the article and the subsequent comments around “Why didn’t she just say no,” that I couldn’t quite put it into words my reactions to it. I resonate so deeply with this: “It might not be a fear of physical retribution, but a discomfort with disappointing the other person or confusion about one’s own feelings.” Exactly. Especially in a world where women are indoctrinated to follow a man’s sexual lead, it can be hard trust our own instincts to speak up, or to… Read more »
“gentleness” Are you a child or an adult? Seems to any sex with you might as well be rape because you can’t make your mind.
females are more verbally oriented, from infancy.
When discussing sensitive and intimate topics such as these, it is important to remain gender neutral. Both parties should 100% consent before acts of intimacy begin. It is important that the parties involved discuss the potential of intimacy and have their feelings heard before anything happens. When discussing this, both parties should make clear whether or not they consent. In a situation where neither party has made it clear whether or not they consent, neither party can accuse the other of rape. One of the issues i have with this article is that it does not bring up the idea… Read more »
Way to mansplain consent to women. I am sure they are grateful.
This article is pretty clearly targeted to men. It’s addressed to them, and it’s on a website called The Good Men Project. Don’t knock progress because it’s not perfect. Progress is never perfect.
– A Woman
I felt the same way at first until I realized this was written at the “Good Men Project” which I believe is a forum for men to have these kind of conversations with other men. I am deeply grateful for that because these are EXACTLY the types of conversations men need to be having with other men. I am DELIGHTED. (((I’m saying all of this as a woman.)))
Unless you mean this part “A funny thing started happening after I would give these speeches to women.”
Yes that sounds very mansplainy to me and was turned off by that sentence. I would have liked “After I communicated this with women…”
Ewwww Social Justice Cunt.
Did you say yes to her then?
Dave Booda, Thank you for this! I’m 65 and could care less if I ever have sex again. I don’t think a single man in my life, including my husband when I was married, ever cared about how I felt or what I wanted! That said, I appreciate your experience and what you learned from it and how you’ve taken this forward. My question is… If she had the presence of mind and could verbalized afterward ‘you raped me!’ Why didn’t she speak out and say No before hand? Seems to me it’s easier to get the word No out… Read more »
Because she didn’t feel safe.
from whom??? the guy she exchanged numbers with in the bar, then met up for an get together, went to a bar with him and then came home with him??? what did she think was going to happen after all this. they’d sing Christmas carols together??? jesus, if she didnt feel safe why the hell did she go to his place to begin with. clearly from his article, he didnt force herself on her. and from what hes narrated, if he had raped her i doubt she’d sit around and discuss her feeling with him. stop being so naive. you… Read more »
A lack of safety can be a lot more insidious than how you’re describing. Especially for inexperienced people, it can be very difficult to figure out exactly why we feel unsafe. We may not know what safe sex looks like, so instead we may simply be left with a vague but strong feeling that “this feels off. Why do I feel so weird?” And this lack the clarity or confidence to say anything about it leaves us to grapple with the conclusions and needs after the fact. I would summarize by saying that consent should never be assumed, especially with… Read more »
she may have had a history of trauma or she could be a timid sort of person. all women are different.
also, as he was expressing his desire non-verbally, she must have been expressing unease non-verbally, but he wasn”t reading it because he was so into himself and his own desires.
I am a woman n while I completely agree with the concept of ensuring you have complete consent, the incident you narrated is absolutely absurd n so demeaning to women everywhere. You are making women sound so weak. Unless you intimidated her, or she was afraid for her safety, or unconscious or unresponsive to your overtures or inebriated or brought up in a culture where women have been taught to be completely submissive n never voice dissent, there is no way that was rape. Women are not such ninnies that we are afraid to talk unless asked. Had a single… Read more »
you’re right. the author seems to be some kind of a dumb ass. if the lady didn’t object verbally or physically, it meant that they has sex and not rape.
That is a dangerous myth. Consent is about enthustiatically joining on the sex, the lack of response is a really bad sign, stop immediatly!
Latest research and witness accounts shows that it is sadly common for rape victims to freeze up. So according to your reasoning, did children consent to adult sex since they didn’t object verbally or physically?
And also, it is not weakness to admit fear, our fear is damn well justified.
Fine link you shared with us here !
Here is some facts :
“, NHCASDV reports “New Hampshire laws recognize this reality and specifically provide that a victim is not required to physically resist an assault to show that she didn’t consent.”
And I am sure the same happens to lots of men as well.
so wouldnt it serve your purpose better to not get into such situations rather than be submissive and not say anything. and as far as what i know about women, women are not such sissies that they would just sit and let a man rape her.
demanding or expecting that women express themselves, relate or convey their feelings in the same way is part of thr problem and is what’s ultimately demeaning. it is at the foundation of sexism. treating her as more than a generalized female body with generalized responses that mean yes or no, like she were some wind up doll, and trying to understand her as a particular kind of person through conversation is the lesson from this article.
Wow, I think people are really misreading this article entirely. I don’t think that Dave is actually commenting on whether he is legally guilty of rape, nor whether he would be if he didn’t get verbal consent at every step. I think the article is primarily about the increased quality of sex when the two participants express interest in each other’s individual identity, preferences, well-being and desires. Doesn’t that make for better interactions, better sex and extremely decreased likelihood of regrets/shame/etc?