Kink has been part of the sexual menu for so long that it’s hard to pretend anyone is shocked anymore when it turns up on the table. The practice of male masochism, for example, has become almost idiomatic when one is discussing Wall Street workers, or the British aristocracy – despite Rousseau and De Sade, the French still refer to sadomasochism as ‘La Vice Anglais.’
At no point, however, has anyone implied that men who want to be sexually dominated by women also want to be dominated by them socially and economically. Quite the opposite, if the long history of powerful men paying poor women to beat them up in backrooms is anything to go by. Apparently, though, a few smutty books about naughty professors wielding handcuffs are meant to prove that modern ‘working women’ (sic.) aren’t really as into all this liberation schtick as we make out.
In a cover story for Newsweek, noted rape apologist Katie Roiphe argues that the recent success of pop-porn bestseller ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ proves that even feminists secretly want to be shagged into submission by great, big, whip-wielding brutes. Not just in spite of our feminism, but because of our feminism. Roiphe argues that modern “working women” – I’m sorry, was there ever a time when women actually did no work? – find “the pressure of economic participation… all that strength and independence and desire and going out into the world”…”exhausting.” Roiphe goes on to theorise, based on precisely one film, one tv show and one novel, that “for some, the more theatrical fantasies of sexual surrender offer a release, a vacation, an escape from the dreariness and hard work of equality.”
This is an article I found through a website called Pandora’s Aquarium (http://www.pandys.org/), which is kind of an online support group for survivors of sexual assault and their friends and family.
“Grey area rape”
It is a widely held belief that you get ‘real rapes’ and then those that fall into the ‘grey area’. The idea of grey area rape is bourn out of the way that society has constructed rape – as a violent act carried out by a stranger. This understanding of rape has been built around rape supportive myths and does not reflect the experiences of survivors.
If there can be a half-rape or a grey-rape then it follows that it must be possible to give half-consent. The idea that there is grey area consent however clearly makes no sense. Either someone has consented – willingly and actively without coercion– or they have not. If a person freely and willingly wants to have sex with someone then it is clear. If it is not clear, then that person does not have consent – there is no grey area.
There are many factors that people use to define a grey-area rape such as being drunk, flirting, being in a relationship with the perpetrator, not fighting enough or not fighting at all. However there is no such things as a ‘rapeable offence’ – being drunk/dressed in a certain way/doing a certain job/being intimate with a person/alone with a person/having slept with them before does not make rape inevitable or acceptable. Rape is not defined by the behaviour of the victim but by the actions of the perpetrator. A person either consented to sexual activity or they did not and if they did not then this is rape – there is no ‘grey’ about it.
Male or female, stranger or partner, date or acquaintance, child or adult, drunk or sober – it is all serious and it is all traumatic. If you have experienced any form of unwanted sexual contact then you have been sexually assaulted and you deserve to be here and you deserve to heal.
[NOTE TO ADMINS: If you feel it’s more appropriate to do so, you can just send this to whoever was responsible for organizing/moderating Speak Out. I see a potential for dialogue about the event, though, or I wouldn’t have written this here]
I am a senior, and last night’s Speak Out was the second one I’d ever attended, the first one being my freshman year. Do you know why I didn’t come back to Speak Out for three years? Because the same thing happened then that happened last night: it ended early. People were speaking very quickly, with hardly any time in between speakers, and it was obvious that they were speaking so that they would be heard before their time ran out. Seriously, who puts an hour and a half time limit on a pluralism style event? The point of these events is that you sit in the silence until you feel moved to speak. You don’t speak because your time is running out and so you feel forced into speaking or staying silent for a long time after the safe space has gone away.
So I don’t care if you’re the organizer and you have somewhere to be at 11. That’s fine, I get it, I really do, and you should be able to leave then. But for goodness’ sake, have someone there who can stay for as long as people need the event to go on. From my experiences at Out Talk, I can say it usually takes half an hour or so for the first person to speak, and there can be breaks of 10 minutes or so in between speakers, on average. That leaves room for only six people to speak in the paltry hour and a half that was set, and there were far more than six people who wanted to speak. Speak Out has the potential to be an amazing and powerful space (and it still was last night), but you need to give it the air it requires to be a truly pluralism style meeting. Don’t stifle people who have a hard enough time finding a voice with a time limit.
A great take on consent. It shows what ASC is all about.
Admin tl;dr/spoiler: Couple is about to kiss. Their lawyers show up and go through an exhaustive process of determining exactly what each of their clients do and do not consent to. So no, not exactly what ASC is all about.
I found this shocking article in an urban policy magazine. What do you think? Although I find the premise flawed, some of the points it brings up are worth considering.
When I heard the statistic that one in four women is raped in college, naturally I was shocked. Then I was skeptical. There has never been a crime rate that comes close to 25%. Take Philadelphia, for instance. The total annual violent crime rate is 12.3 instances of violent crime (this includes muggings, robbery, and the like) for every 1000 citizens. Assuming that all women in the survey go to college for four years, that means that the annual rape rate among college students is 62.5 instances of rape for every 1000 college students. The rape rate in college is 5 times that of the total violent crime rate in Philadelphia? So I did some research.
The statistic 1 in 4 comes from a shoddily conducted survey in 1989 where Mary Koss asked women several ambiguous questions and if they answered in the affirmative, she counted them as being raped, including, “Have you ever had sex when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?” She considered this sound with the legal argument, however, she left out the most important part of the law, which specifically states that the providing of drugs or drink must be for the purpose of causing the encounter by inhibiting the other person’s judgment. Neil Gilbert, a professor at the Berkeley school of law points out that: “positive response does not indicate whether duress, intoxication, force, or the threat of force were present; whether the woman’s judgment or control were substantially impaired; or whether the man purposefully got the woman drunk in order to prevent her resistance to sexual advances…. While the item could have been clearly worded to denote “intentional incapacitation of the victim,” as the question stands it would require a mind reader to detect whether any affirmative response corresponds to this legal definition of rape.” As many commentators in my sources point out, it could and for many people, does mean that sex that one comes to regret is rape. Koss later admitted that this question was poorly worded and is far too ambiguous to fit the legal definition of rape. When the affirmative answers to this were discounted (however, the questions of duress and force were asked in other parts of the survey), the statistic immediately drops to a more believable, but still horrible 1/9.
However, the most damning statistic in the survey is that by Koss’ own admission, 73% of women whom she labeled as rape survivors did not consider themselves raped. That means that when she asked the question, “Have you been raped?” the statistic is a much more believable 1/16 or 1/15. Although its important to educate people on the definition of rape, to sidestep someone’s own belief about themselves, to ignore their choice in self-determination of their body is just plain wrong.
Rape is a serious evil. To throw around these shocking numbers in a effort to wake people up only undermines efforts to combat it, as it normalizes something that should not be considered normal. One in four is a huge number, so unbelievable that it immediately casts doubt upon itself. Truth should always beat out shock value, but in this case, it appears it has not.