I recently did a fun life formulas post.
This life formula isn’t as fun. In fact … it is a disturbing one.
Here is the formula I cannot make work in my head:
the number of women who admit to having been raped versus the number of men who have said they have raped.
Let’s call this date rape or acquaintance rape.
Acquaintance rape, or “date rape” or “hidden rape,” is being increasingly recognized as a real and relatively common problem. It refers to rape of a woman by a man with whom she is acquainted. The rapist is usually the woman’s “date” or partner. This is essentially a form of partner abuse, although the “partners” may be on their first date (or have been out together on multiple occasions). Although there are many possible date rape scenarios, in a common one, the man tries to weaken the resistance of the female by exerting undue psychological pressure upon her or by plying her with alcohol <or a drug without her knowledge> and then the man forces the woman to have sexual intercourse. Sometimes the woman has no memory of the rape because of the effects of the alcohol or the drug (or because of the traumatic nature of the event itself) . Victims of date rape (like all rape victims) are likely to suffer physical and/or mental trauma. Mental (emotional, psychological) trauma can include overwhelming feelings of humiliation, embarrassment and defilement.
All that said … I began with the formula I struggle to reconcile in my head.
Here is the basis of my struggle.
I tend to believe we all know of someone who has been raped.
I tend to believe very few of us know someone who has admitted to rape.
And with the numbers so high on the rape side either a few guys have been very naughty or a bunch of guys are avoiding the truth (I tend to believe it is the latter).
I am not writing this to judge anyone.
Just to ask guys to judge themselves.
Because I have certainly looked in the mirror on this issue to judge myself. Because of alcohol combined with the 20something years I do look. And I wonder/worry a little … even despite the fact I have a very well defined line on this topic.
I have always been clear on this. Very clear. No is no.
Bear with me here. A Story. I am rare and slow to anger. However the 2 most angry moments I can remember in my lifetime are associated with this topic.
First. As a 20 year old finding out a good friend was “taken advantage of” on a date. Some protective switch must have flipped because I beat the shit out of him in a bar. He may have made it out unscathed but he threw out the “She didn’t really mean no. She liked it.” As my buddy pulled me off him that is probably the first time I said “you stupid shit, no means no.”
The second time was when someone I was dating told me she had been raped years before.
As a guy, a man, I have never felt so helpless and angry (with nothing to do with the anger).
And I get steamed all over again as I look at the picture I used to open this post.
“my rapist doesn’t know he is a rapist.”
Because I believe that is the truest of true statements with regard to this issue.
I will get back to that.
But first, 2 things that I believe are major underlying issues. One is really difficult to resolve <realistically> and the second should be resolved.
The 2 things? Alcohol and “misguided expectations based on being in a relationship.”
Alcohol is obvious.
And speaking of formulas … when drinking and 20somethings are combined it is not typically an effective equation for good judgment.
Regardless. Alcohol or not … when alcohol is involved I still believe ultimately the guy needs to assume responsibility. That doesn’t mean it’s easy nor do I mean to suggest when both parties have been drinking that anything is truly clear in the actual decision making.
But. In the end. The guy can stop. At any point. Therefore responsibility ends with him.
Alcohol and 20somethings will always be there. It is silly to suggest ‘stop drinking <or some derivative of that>’. It is not silly to teach responsibility.
The relationship thing.
I call it ‘relationship entitlement.’ Okay. No. I call it stupid.
Whew. Some guys think as soon as he is “in” a relationship that he is entitled to sex, or sexual activity, when he wants. And, yes, I purposefully used the word ‘entitled.’
Not only is that ultimately a lack of respect it is stupid. I truly believe there are a shitload of guys out there who don’t believe “rape” (or inappropriate sexual advances) can occur when in a relationship. To them “relationship” equals “consent.” I don’t know what more to say about this other then it is sad (and misguided). Oh. And it can be resolved by getting guys to understand this.
Ultimately, in my own head, beyond respect for the woman and the actual activity, it comes down to a simple thought – no.
‘No’ can be spoken and it can be unspoken.
But no is no.
No ifs ands or buts.
And that bullshit of “they said no but they really meant yes” is mental masturbation. And, worse, it is a lie.
No is no.
I said it to some fraternity boy asshole as I broke a bone in my hand kicking the shit out of him at 20. I say it now as a mature bachelor. And maybe as I have become older I have become better as judging the unspoken no but no is no.
Back to the my rapist doesn’t know he is a rapist.
Acquaintance rape happens. And it happens a lot. Oh. But it doesn’t appear to ‘happen’ in a lot of people’s minds.
And we need to think about that.
Because the consequences of acquaintance rape are often pretty extensive.
Once the actual rape has occurred and has been identified as rape by the victim she is faced with the decision of whether to disclose to anyone what has happened.
Oh. And think about this.
Even if the act is understood as rape by the victim there is often ongoing guilt about not seeing the sexual assault coming before it was too late. This guilt is often directly or indirectly reinforced by the reactions of family or friends in the form of questioning the survivor’s decisions to drink during a date or to invite the ‘raper’ back to their apartment. Maybe questions about provocative behavior or previous sexual relations. What that means in the end is that all the people a victim would normally rely on for support … do things that subtly blame the victim.
Oh. And think about this.
Here are some other numbers just to insure you don’t think this is just a “Bruce rant”:
In a study of college students <so lets assume it gets worse with 20somethings out of college>:
• One in four women surveyed was victim of rape or attempted rape.
• An additional one in four women surveyed was touched sexually against her will or was victim of sexual coercion.
• 84 percent of those raped knew their attacker.
• 57 percent of those rapes happened while on dates.
• One in twelve male students surveyed had committed acts that met the legal definitions of rape or attempted rape.
• 84 percent of those men who committed rape said that what they did was definitely not rape.
• Sixteen percent of the male students who committed rape and ten percent of those who attempted a rape took part in episodes involving more than one attacker.
Responses of the Victim
• Only 27 percent of those women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape thought of themselves as rape victims.
• 42 percent of the rape victims did not tell anyone about their assaults.
• Only five percent of the rape victims reported the crime to the police.
• Only five percent of the rape victims sought help at rape-crisis centers.
• Whether they had acknowledged their experience as a rape or not, thirty percent of the women identified as rape victims contemplated suicide after the incident.
• 82 percent of the victims said that the experience had permanently changed them.
Why do I care?
82% said experience permanently changed them.
Oh. 3 ½ years after I beat the crap out of that guy … my friend, the victim, committed suicide.
And, to this day, I am 100% sure that guy doesn’t believe he did anything wrong. In fact … I bet I blame myself more for the suicide than that guy ever did … or would.
Regardless. We should all care.
I get concerned because I still believe the knee jerk reaction <from most of us> is “she shouldn’t have put herself in that situation.” This despite the fact a study was published all the way back in 1985 outlining the scope and severity of the issue. By publishing the study, which clearly outlined that the belief unwanted sexual advances and intercourse were not rape if they occurred with an acquaintance or while on a date is false, women reexamined their own experiences. By making the issue public many women were able to reframe what had happened to them as acquaintance rape and became better able to legitimize their perceptions that they were indeed victims of a crime <if you are interested the results of the research were the basis of a book called I Never Called it Rape>.
And recently some laws have been enacted to define “consent” … which may seem a little crazy on first blush but I personally agree that a line had to be drawn in the sand.
The definition of “consent” has been expanded to mean “positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. A person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved.” In addition, a prior or current relationship between the victim and the accused is not sufficient to imply consent. Most states also have provisions which prohibit the use of drugs and/or alcohol to incapacitate a victim, rendering the victim unable to deny consent.
Acquaintance rape remains a controversial topic because of lack of agreement upon the definition of consent. obtaining the other participant’s verbal consent as the level of sexual intimacy increases. This must occur with each new level. The rules also state that “If you have had a particular level of sexual intimacy before with someone, you must still ask each and every time.” (The Antioch College Sexual Offense Policy, in Francis, 1996).
I think every young man should have this memorized.
- “a prior or current relationship is not sufficient to imply consent.”
- “you must still ask each and every time.”
I am done for now on this topic. I saw the picture, I thought, I wrote.
I found the following “myths.” It seemed appropriate to end with this myth/reality guide.
Myths About Acquaintance Rape
There are a set of beliefs and misunderstandings about acquaintance rape that are held by a large portion of the population. These faulty beliefs serve to shape the way acquaintance rape is dealt with on both personal and societal levels. This set of assumptions often presents serious obstacles for victims as they attempt to cope with their experience and recovery.
|A woman who gets raped usually deserves it, especially if she has agreed to go to a man’s house or park with him.
||No one deserves to be raped. Being in a man’s house or car does not mean that a woman has agreed to have sex with him.
|If a woman agrees to allow a man to pay for dinner, drinks, etc., then it means she owes him sex.
||Sex is not an implied payback for dinner or other expense no matter how much money has been spent.
|Acquaintance rape is committed by men who are easy to identify as rapists.
||Women are often raped by “normal” acquaintances who resemble “regular guys.”
|Women who don’t fight back haven’t been raped.
||Rape occurs when one is forced to have sex against their will, whether they have decided to fight back or not.
|Intimate kissing or certain kinds of touching mean that intercourse is inevitable.
||Everyone’s right to say “no” should be honored, regardless of the activity which preceded it.
|Once a man reaches a certain point of arousal, sex is inevitable and they can’t help forcing themselves upon a woman.
||Men are capable of exercising restraint in acting upon sexual urges.
|Most women lie about acquaintance rape because they have regrets after consensual sex.
||Acquaintance rape really happens – to people you know, by people you know.
|Women who say “No” really mean “Yes.”
||This notion is based on rigid and outdated sexual stereotypes.
|Certain behaviors such as drinking or dressing in a sexually appealing way make rape a woman’s responsibility.
||Drinking or dressing in a sexually appealing way are not invitations for sex.