But don’t get Royse wrong. This isn’t the woman’s fault.
This is not a “some girls, they rape so easy”¯ story. I promise. This is a “some signals, they read so wrong”¯ story.
Well, that makes it better. If the lady hadn’t protested too much, I might have thought that previous paragraph, in which the writer lovingly described how this harlot had been leading her innocent rapist friend on, was classic and obvious victim blaming. But there’s a two-sentence disclaimer here, so it’s all better.
Besides, it’s not like the guy rape-raped this former sex worker and slut, right?
On the night in question, there was drinking. A lot of it. I wasn’t there, but there was probably some drugging. There was music and dancing. At some point, people started clustering off into smaller groups, some of which turned sexual. My friend and this woman fell asleep together. And by all accounts, when she woke up, he was penetrating her.
Well. To hell with that guy.
Even if Royse’s friend got a clear go sign, and even if he and his victim went back to bed willingly and happily, at some point he crossed the line, clearly and unquestionably: when he decided to have sex with her while she was unconscious.
Incidentally, this is where I stop believing that this rapist was ever in doubt that he was a rapist. Most people who want to have sex want their partner to be responsive. A big part of sex is that it involves more than just you, after all; it’s really better if all parties are enjoying themselves.
That doesn’t mean you can’t wake up your partner for sex. It happens all the time. But waking your partner up for sex requires waking your partner up.
There are only two reasons to have sex with someone who is asleep. The first is that your partner has told you that he or she would like to be woken up that way, and gives you free consent to do so. The second is that you want to get sex going before your partner can stop you. In other words, you want to rape them.
To Royse’s credit, she acknowledges that yes, this was rape. But then she spends the rest of the column wringing her hands about mixed messages, and how it’s just so hard for men to know if they’re raping their unconscious partners.
To a large degree, my friend thought he was doing what was expected. And while he was wrong, weeks of flirting, provocative dancing and intimate innuendo led him to believe that sex was the logical conclusion of their social intercourse. Many people watching it unfold would have thought that, too.
Of course they would all be wrong. But if something walks like a fuck and talks like fuck, at what point are we supposed to understand that it’s not a fuck? Our binary language of “yes means yes” and “no means no”¯ doesn’t address the entire spectrum of both spoken language and body language, which mean different things to different people.
I would love for “no means no”¯ to work, but it doesn’t.
How do I know it doesn’t work? I know because my friend raped someone and didn’t even know it.
First off, I doubt that he didn’t know it. I think he knew damn well what he was doing.
But let’s say he didn’t, for argument’s sake. Whose fault is that? Yes, society is very good at sending mixed messages about sex. Men are pushed to be aggressive in wooing a mate. This is an unquestionably bad thing.
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