The grey area in rape, how it marginalises men and infantilises women.

Posted: September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

I tried not to, I tried to give it a rest, I tried to find something else to write about but I couldn’t do it. Yep, I’ve gone back to writing about rape! Why? Well, because rape is fucking everywhere. And I don’t mean ‘women are getting raped left, right and centre’, I mean that I can’t go a day without some article appearing on my timeline that tells us how bad rape culture is or how bad campus sexual assault is or how women can’t even leave their houses for fear of being raped. And guess whose fault it is? Yep, those horrible, overbearing, patriarchal bastards; men! It’s getting ridiculous.

Like, I get it, we want to reduce the amount of rape in the world, who wouldn’t? But the problem is that it’s bordering on hysteria, I’ve mentioned that so many times before. False statistics are destroying any credible, sane discussions about rape. Accusations of victim blaming immediately shut down any discussions on ‘what can women do to prevent rape’. Feminism will absolutely not allow any sort of discourse on what women can do, whether that’s learning a martial art for self-defence or congratulating some students for creating a nail polish that changes colour upon contact with certain drugs.

No, feminism wants women to be able to walk down the street naked without being raped. That’s how ridiculous their mindset is. It’ll never happen, and that’s not me victim blaming, that’s me being realistic. I should be able to leave my car unlocked all night, or my flat unlocked when I go to work. I can’t because I’m well aware that we don’t live in that sort of culture. Criminals are opportunist, if you make it easy for them then they will take the opportunity.

That’s not victim blaming, it’s just common sense. If you can protect yourself, any little thing you can do, it’s worth it. A criminal will try and find a way to do something if they want to, why is disadvantaging yourself by not doing the most you can to protect yourself the way feminism wants women to behave? It’s stupid and dangerous. It’s almost as if they want women to get raped in order to continue their ‘open discussion’ on sexual assault moving forward. Hang on, I don’t think that’s actually too insane of a theory.

Now there is one thing I would like to point out about the above few paragraphs, and I’m hoping some of you have picked up on it – where are the men? You should know me better than that by now!

That’s my point, this discourse on rape that I see constantly is always, always, focused on women. For all that feminism says about changing the definition of rape, for all it says about trying to end rape, the conversations always, always, always centres on what men can do to stop rape. That’s a major problem. We can’t stop rape if we dismiss and hide half the victims.

Yes, women get raped, and that’s a horrible thing, and it’s absolutely something we should try and stop, but demonising men, telling them they can stop it, appealing to every single man out there and implicating them in the crime simply for being a man is the most idiotic, stupidly offensive and patronising thing I’ve heard since, well, the last stupidly offensive and patronising feminist line, which probably wasn’t all that long ago.

Feminism does not care about men, I’ve said it time and time again, it truly doesn’t. If it did then it would acknowledge that women do rape men! To ignore that is criminal. We supposedly live in a rape culture, yet an accusation of rape can destroy a man’s career and often puts him in harms way and at the risk of vigilante justice:

Can we really be said to live in a culture that accepts and condones rape when a man can be severely beaten simply on an accusation? I don’t think so.

Anyway, the whole point of this is that, once again, I’ve run into an article that approaches the sensitivity of rape from a woman’s perspective and only a woman’s perspective. Not that that’s an issue, I have no qualms with women who want to write about rape. It’s just that, again, this is a situation that is applicable to both genders, and I can include myself in this one, yet the focus here is solely on the woman who’s writing the story. Again, not a problem, it’s a personal anecdote, of course it’s going to revolve around her. However, the point of the article could, and should, have been address to all people, not just women.

Here’s the article, and the headline in particular shows what I’m on about:

As with the website in the previous blog, I don’t really know this site. It published an article on the Women Against Feminism group that was pro-feminist but I’ve not really paid much attention to it since then. A quick look at other stories on this page and it’s very much a feminist site. So, a feminist site publishing an article that focuses solely on women and shows no awareness that ambiguous sexual encounters could happen to both sexes? Yeah, I’m not surprised either.

The headline:

Is it Possible That There Is Something In Between Consensual Sex And Rape…And That It Happens To Almost Every Girl Out There?

Two things with this headline, the first of which will be the main focus of this blog entry, the second of which refers to my previous point:

Is it Possible That There Is Something In Between Consensual Sex And Rape

I want to focus on this, particularly this woman’s story (I apologise if I sometimes use ‘girl’ to describe the author, force of habit), and how it’s got an undercurrent of victimhood that she tries desperately to hide.

However, this second bit:

And That It Happens To Almost Every Girl Out There?

Shows, in my opinion, where the focus is on the discourse on rape. It happens to almost every girl? I can guarantee you it’s happened to every single bloke I know, including me. Rape discussions always ask questions geared towards women, when men encounter or experience the same situation we don’t approach it with a cocked head and an understanding ‘are you sure it wasn’t rape’ mentality. When men shove their finger up a woman’s butt during sex it’s part of rape culture, when women shove their finger up a man’s butt during sex it’s just an ‘annoying thing women do in bed.’ (see this blog if you don’t know what the fuck I’m on about –

Maybe ‘shove’ was the wrong verb, perhaps coming across a lot more forcefully than I intended, just read the blog.

So, a situation that is pretty evenly applicable across the sexes is simply geared towards women. That’s fine, I’ll take it in the spirit it was written – it’s a woman writing an article geared towards other women about a sexual encounter she’s confused by, Let’s take it from that approach and see what happens.

Again, I’m not intending to do a paragraph by paragraph breakdown, but we’ll see what happens.

The author of this piece is listed as Hot Piece, which I’m assuming is not her real name. She’s given a Twitter handle at the bottom that says @VeronicaGrandex. Grandex appears to be the name of the company she works for and I’m not sure if that’s a company named after herself so, for the benefit of this piece I shall be referring to her either as Veronica or Piece, depending on which pops into my head first.

So, this article is a tale all about drunken regrets and whether or not there’s a grey area that falls between consensual sex and rape, a kind of ‘well, I’m not sure if I wanted it, but I did it anyway and now I’m not sure what to think.’ My immediate thought to that train of thought? Is there a grey area between rape and consensual sex? Nah, if it’s consensual it’s consensual, any feelings of worry or concern or regret are your own damn fault.

However, then I started thinking of coercion, threats and all manner of scummy things that people do to get people in to bed and it got me thinking. Maybe she has a point, maybe there is something, a certain grey area, where you had sex but weren’t fully into it. Like I’ve said, it’s something that I think has happened to both sexes, but it wasn’t something I initially considered a ‘grey area’. Now I’m not so sure.

She starts off by giving s some context, some important background:

‘I rolled out of bed around noon that day, in celebration of it being Saturday. After no fewer than 13 hours of drinking, I ended up at my friend Matt’s house. I had been flirting with him all night–and arguably all of my college career.’

So, first point to notice is that alcohol plays a huge part. Does that lessen my sympathy somewhat? Kind of. Let’s make this clear right now, because I know how this next paragraph will be used against me.

  1. A drunk woman who’s unconscious and is penetrated by a penis/finger/dildo/bottle, etc without knowing about it has been raped. Simple as that. No grey area, no moral ambiguities. She’s passed out, she’s off limits. Same goes for any guy, but this article is about women, so bear with me.
  2. A woman who is drunk and consents to sex with someone who is equally or more drunk and then regrets it has not been raped. I’m not of the opinion that increased alcohol consumption somehow nullifies the decisions you make. Choose to drink and drive, you can’t use the ‘oh, but I was too drunk to consent to driving’ argument.
  3. A woman who is drunk and has sex with someone who is not as drunk as she is…well this is where I think there is possibly a grey area. It depends how big the difference is. If she’s wasted and he’s only had a couple then I still don’t think it’s rape but I think he’s a bit of a douchcanoe for taking advantage. Again, switch the genders and I’d think the same, as I talked about in my blog on Amy Schumer.

So there, my, very brief, feelings on alcohol and rape. To put simply; we trust you to make the decision to drink at 18, if you don’t think you can handle that responsibility, don’t drink. Don’t get wasted, do something ou regret and then try blaming somebody else.

Anyway, Hot Piece is drunk and ends up with someone she’d been flirting with for, probably, a couple of years.

He wasn’t traditionally good-looking, but he was a notorious charmer with some serious bad boy in him that made him weirdly hot in a not-hot way. Even though we’d been strictly platonic since we met, I always felt a twinge of secret excitement when I had his attention, so when I found myself having a heart-to-heart with him in his bedroom, I felt a weird combination of emotions. Part of me felt as if I was 15 again. I was excited and nervous to be there. I was hyper aware of my body, and of his, wondering, maybe even hoping, he’d kiss me. Another part of me felt that this was wrong. Not in an “it’s wrong, but it’s hot and scandalous and I still want to do it” way–wrong as in not right, wrong as in uncomfortable. This was not a guy I wanted to get involved with. This was a guy who’d had anonymous girl after anonymous girl in and out of his bedroom since we were in the dorms. This was a guy with whom I’d had countless conversations about his inability to care about women, romantically. This was Matt. He interrupted my inner conflict with something that would have way more weight years later.

So not only had she been flirting with him for quite a while, he had a certain bad boy quality that made him appealing to her, though she didn’t know why.

This is why we need such an open, honest discourse on rape, not one that is influenced or shaped by feminist dogma. Yes, she secretly wanted him, wanted him to kiss her, she was excited to be there, he made her pussy twinge (sorry, had to put that there).

But there was a feeling there that this wasn’t what she wanted, that he was not the type of guy she wanted to have sex with, he wasn’t approaching this situation the same way she was, that, despite her previous feelings, this was not an experience she wanted.

Was the alcohol a playing factor in this, would she have been more clear-of-thought without the alcohol? Of course, that’s what alcohol does. But here’s where she begins to lose me, and it’s not because I hate her and want her to suffer, it’s simply because I’m going to treat her like an adult. She’d made the decision to spend 13 hours drinking. Yes there’s an inner conflict that had been there for some time, but this was the end result of her decision that morning to go out drinking.

So, what did he say that would ‘have way more weight’ years later:

“I feel like you want me to make a move, just so you can turn me down,” he said.

This is what alcohol does, it exacerbates things, amplifies the dormant parts of your personality. Without knowing it she was giving off signals to him, signals that suggested she wanted him to make a move but also that she just wanted to be able to be ‘the girl who turned down Matt’.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t drink alcohol, I haven’t for a few years now, but that’s doesn’t mean I didn’t at one point. I found that, when I was drunk, I was a prick. Normally I’m quite reserved, happier to watch than take part, but alcohol turns me into a loud, obnoxious, overbearing piece of shit who’s no fun to be around. I detest who I am when I’m drunk almost as much as I detest the taste of alcohol itself.

This is the thing about alcohol, it does fuzz your brain up, it changes who you are, it takes those suppressed bits of personality and puts them on loudspeaker. The funny thing is, no matter how drunk I was there were always, always moments of perfect clarity, moments where I would suddenly snap back and think ‘what the fuck am I doing, why am I being such a cunt?!’

Is this what happened to Hot Piece? Possibly, the alcohol bought forth that repressed part of her sexuality, the part that really, really wanted to fuck Matt, yet it couldn’t take over completely, and remnants of clarity remained. That’s the risk you run when you drink. Can’t handle it? Don’t drink,

Before I even had a chance to decide if he was right, we were making out. In my state of extreme intoxication, my mind was racing in search of a decision. This was exciting. This was fun. But this was also really, really weird, and ultimately, not a road I wanted to go down. I couldn’t decide if the excitement and lust in the air would win over the pit in my stomach. It wasn’t until he grabbed a condom that I really knew how I felt. I was not okay with this. I did not want to have sex with him.

And here’s where the article changes from fanciful, possible fantasies fulfilled to confused, but not raped, drunk woman.

It was exciting, it was fun but, ultimately not something she wanted to go through with. She says it herself, she did not want to have sex with him.

But I did.

And this is where, in my opinion, the articles makes its greatest shift. From empowered, drunk, fantasy-fulfilling strong woman to victim. She didn’t want to have sex, yet she did. Cut and dry case of rape, right? Well, not quite, and this is where the ‘gray area’ of the article’s headline comes in.

It’s also, unfortunately, where she starts to try and apportion blame to other people. More importantly, it’s where the sly undercurrent of anti-male bias comes in, where the undercurrent of victimhood comes in. This is why I say it’s so, so important that an open discourse on rape, or any grey areas in between, must be gender-neutral. This article is not a bad article and I genuinely believe it is not the intention of Hot Piece, or Veronica or anyone else who’s commented on their experiencing a similar situation, to shame all males and claim that, despite the fact she won’t say it, she was raped.

I don’t believe it’s her intention, but I do believe, in some way, that’s exactly what she’s doing. By directing this solely at women and not including men, by approaching this story from a gendered viewpoint she is assuming to speak for all women, and she is assuming to be talking about all men. It’s not overly apparent, it’s not direct and in your face but it’s there. I don’t believe it’s intentional, I believe it’s more a result of the hysteric way we approach, and have approached, rape over the last few years.

Constant talk of rape as only happening to women, especially in these grey areas, and constant refusal to accept anything other than the ‘woman = victim, man = rapist’ line of thinking is sidelining, marginalizing male victims.

Not only that, it removes female perpetrators from the equation. When ambiguous sexual encounters, these so-called grey areas, occur it becomes impossible for women to see how they can be seen as anything other than the victim. It becomes impossible for men to see themselves as anything other than perpetrators. Not only that but it completely removes female victims of female rapists as well. By not allowing women to see themselves as possible perpetrators, by not allowing anyone to see women as possible perpetrators it traps men and women into very, very rigid roles.

That, in my view, is what is happening here. Rather than accept what happened as a bad move on her part, rather than chalk it down to experience and a ‘fuck I’m not getting that drunk again’ mentality she tries to look for reasons. She doesn’t use the word rape but, it would appear, she is looking for someone to tell her what she wants to hear – that she was raped, that the fault for her bad decision was not her own.

Is that explicit? No, and I’m not suggesting that every woman has this kind of thought after a regrettable sexual encounter, but the fact that the headline actively states that ‘almost every girl’ out there has experienced this kind of morally ambiguous encounter suggests that, actually, she is not only trying to assuage her own sense of guilt, but appealing to others to help assuage it as well by sharing their stories.

That might seem harsh, but the rest of the article is where, personally, I felt the most cutting criticism of men comes in and where a feminist victim narrative takes over.

He slid inside me and I didn’t say a word. At the time, I didn’t know why. Maybe I didn’t want to feel like I’d led him on. Maybe I didn’t want to disappoint him. Maybe I just didn’t want to deal with the “let’s do it, but no, we shouldn’t” verbal tug-of-war that so often happens before sleeping with someone. It was easier to just do it. Besides, we were already in bed, and this is what people in bed do. I felt an obligation, a duty to go through with it. I felt guilty for not wanting to. I wasn’t a virgin. I’d done this before. It shouldn’t have been a big deal–it’s just sex–so I didn’t want to make it one.

So, after all the flirting, the chats, the excitement, the nerves, the kissing it finally happened. They were having sex. This despite the fact that she’d previously decided she didn’t want to.

Rape? Technically, yes, he raped her. But this is why feminism has distorted rape: she didn’t say anything, so how was he supposed to know? Now, some people in the comments have played the victim card and said ‘why should the onus be on the woman to give consent and not on the man to seek consent?’ Well, that’s pretty much what is happening over there in America, particularly with a new ‘enthusiastic consent’ law that’s been passed in California:

This is the idea that consent should be ‘enthusiastic and ongoing’. Not a problem for those who are into that kind of thing, but I’ve spoken to women who have had sex without speaking a word and think the whole ‘is it ok if I do this’ is positively weird when it comes to sexual encounters. Policing sex is a tough thing to do, especially when it comes to what is and isn’t consent. Considering that over 70% of human communication is non-verbal it seems almost unnatural to force people to communicate in a way that doesn’t necessarily resonate with them. That’s not to say the law is inherently bad, but it’s perhaps using a sledgehammer to crack a nut in terms of trying to ‘solve’ the problem of sex, teenagers and university.

Anyway, back to the article. Why do I think there’s an undercurrent of male shaming? Because of the language she uses. ‘Disappoint’, ‘easier’, ‘obligation’, ‘duty’, ‘guilty’, etc. These words imply that there was nothing she could do, nothing she could say that would stop him. Despite the fact she claims she doesn’t think she was raped, she’s describing a situation where, actually, she was raped. It shows her as a helpless victim, and him as an uncaring thug who was only after his own satisfaction.

I’m not going to paragraph by paragraph the rest of the article, just highlight some choice sections. The most telling is this:

I woke up with an “oh shit” feeling that quickly turned into an “oh well.” I didn’t really feel I’d been violated, though part of me knew I had.

Exactly, the situation, as she describes it, was rape, by the letter of the law. But at what point did she let the guy know? She didn’t. In this case, policing the way we consent to sex, particularly if consent must be ‘enthusiastic and ongoing’, seems like a good idea, the onus is now on both parties to make sure they both want to go through with the act.

However, how realistic is that as an option? If we’re really going to get into this ‘enthusiastic and ongoing’ debate then shouldn’t she be taking some responsibility for this event as well? The way it’s written, the tone of ‘well I didn’t feel raped even though I kinda was’ again implies nothing but victim status on her.

She goes on to clarify:

I certainly didn’t feel like I’d been raped. But what had happened the night prior was not consensual sex, and I didn’t like it. I wanted the flirting. I wanted the kissing. I wanted the sleepover. But I didn’t want to go all the way. And that’s very hard to explain to a man who is just as drunk as you are.

This is what feminism does when it closes the door on rape discussions. This is what happens when you have such a one sided discourse on what is and isn’t rape, this is what happens when you promote false statistics that filter through media, television, music, etc, etc. This is what happens when you promote a victim narrative that only includes one gender. Because you tell one section of society that they can only ever be victims, you make it impossible for them to think that they can be anything else, or that they could ever just ‘man up’ and get on with life.

Was Hot Piece raped? I’m inclined to say no. Even if we go by California’s new rape law, yes you can say he’s guilty for not seeking consent, but she didn’t either, nor did she verbalise any desire to stop what she was doing, then uses implicitly shaming language to suggest there was nothing she could to stop it. Not only does that show how the Californian rape law is not as good in practice as we would like it to be, it removes any sense of ‘strong, independent woman’ narrative that we are so often told about from and replaces it with victimhood.

There’s also the very important topic of drink. This is what happens when you insert alcohol into the whole sex debate. I don’t drink so I don’t feel really comfortable weighing in to the whole debate to be honest, but I will repeat something that I mentioned in my blog on Magalufgirl – if we deem people mature enough to drink alcohol at 18, then we must deem them mature enough to cope with any mistakes they make when drunk, regardless of whatever ideology, feminist or otherwise, thinks.

The rest of the article deals with the experience other girls have, and whether it matches hot Piece’s. Unsurprisingly,:

As it turns out, almost every woman I spoke to had been there at some point or another.

And that’s my major problem with this article: it only focuses on women. Put aside the ‘grey area’ that she talks about, put aside any debate of what does and doesn’t constitute rape, put aside any moral issues or thoughts of enthusiastic consent and let’s focus on why this article is so damaging to men.

It completely erases men from the discussion of ‘grey areas’ of sex and consent. Should women be allowed to discuss sexual encounters that they find uncomfortable but not rape? Absolutely, I don’t think anyone would deny that, especially not me, but this is not a gender-specific kind of thing. I went through it personally with a girlfriend in the past, the difference is that I don’t have society just waiting to label me a victim. Discussions like this, that focus on uncomfortable-but-not-rape sexual encounters not only dismiss the possibility of it happening to men as well as women, it constantly reinforces the idea that men are just not part of the rape discussion, reinforces the idea that men can’t be raped by women.

By giving more credence to, as Hot Piece later puts it, ‘rape-ish’ situations it drives the suffering of men who have been raped, truly raped, underground. It leaves these men with nowhere to go:

When we only involve women in the rape discourse, covering everything from what is rape to what could be rape, but possibly isn’t, even though it’s ‘rape-ish’ we tell men, subliminally, inadvertently, that their actual rape doesn’t really count, it’s not as important as women who have been not-quite-raped.

In one of my last few blogs on rape culture, particularly the tendency to ignore parallel situations between men and women and only focus on rape culture when it affects women, I linked to this website:

The first ‘annoying thing’ women do in the bedroom?

Don’t take “no” for an answer Women are not used to being rejected, so when a man makes it clear that he’s not interested, they’ll just insist until the man gives in to the mercy lay . Unfortunately, she’ll expect a relationship afterwards. If she’s a one-night stand, you should tell her to leave the premises without thieving anything or uttering the dreadful, “call me.”

Yeah, Hot Piece’s entire article condensed down to 4 lines on a list of ‘annoying’ things women do in the bedroom. So now, actual rape is ‘annoying’ when it happens to men, but ‘rape-ish’ situations are worthy of some greater discussions on why women feel so bad about it?

Hot Piece finishes her article by saying this:

We’re saying we don’t know what it was. We just didn’t like it. But by refusing to acknowledge the existence of these rape-ish situations, we’re continuing to subject ourselves to them indefinitely.

Victimhood. The only way you continually subject yourselves to them is because you’ve been taught you’re nothing but victims, that you can’t do anything about it, you must just submit or been seen as ‘whining or bitchy’. This is what one-sided rape discourse leads to.

When a website lists male rape as an ‘annoyance’ it completely eradicates any feelings we should be having for the men in the Thought Catolog link above, men who’s rape was real and brutal. Instead we get ponderings on whether or not that oh-so-awkward-but-not-completely-consensual act was in fact rape or just a bad mistake fuelled by alcohol.

I’m not trying to dismiss Hot Piece’s feelings or tell her how she felt about the situation, I’m simply saying that when rape discussions focus solely on women, and any attempt to broaden it is shut down amid cries of misogyny, it creates a society where women are not made to feel like they can be anything other than victims. When we say ‘women must be believed when they claim they’ve been raped’ it doesn’t leave any other avenue for thought or discussion. When men claim to have been raped we immediately start trying to deconstruct their stories: have they got any proof, did they get erect, was it with their girlfriend, they must have enjoyed it, what man doesn’t want sex?

It creates a society where men can’t be raped and women can’t be rapists. It reates a society where men are told to ‘man up’ over bad sexual encounters, get over it, chalk it up to experience, learn a lesson while women are told that bad sexual experiences are ‘rape-ish’ even when they made no efforts to vocalize their desire not to go through with it.

Women are not weak, they are more than capable of telling someone they don’t want to do something, they are more than capable of being responsible adults. So why do we, time and time again, tell them they aren’t, especially when it comes to sex? When we limit discussions, when we only ever approach a subject through the frame of one ideology, when we constantly tell women they can’t be anything other than a victim, why are we surprised when we get articles like Hot Piece’s that ask if ‘almost every woman’ has experienced a certain sexual desire while not opening up that same question to men?

I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s a difference between rape and bad decisions. Pretty much, this:

Who’s to blame: men, women, society, feminism? Possibly a mixture of all of them. But one thing is absolutely certain, rape transcends feminism. It is not a feminist issue, it is not a women’s issue, it is a human issue and, as such, humans should be able to discuss it freely, openly and without fear. Until that happens I don’t see how we can change anything.

EDIT: Not five minutes after publishing this blog I clicked onto the Facebook page I Don’t Need Feminism (which is an awesome page, if you haven’t liked it yet, go do it now) and saw they’d shared this picture:

I think that just backs up everything I’ve said in this blog. When it comes to women we are quick to label it ‘sexual assault’, but when it comes to men we just can’t find it in ourselves to label it as rape or sexual assault.

This highlights perfectly the victimhood I’ve talked about. Men are told to ‘man up’, get over it, shrug it off to a bad experience, women are coddled, babied, told that what they went through was a violation and that they shouldn’t stand for it.

Men can’t be anything other than perpetrators, women can’t be anything other than victims. It’s right there in black and white.


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