Rape Culture?

I found an interesting article on Slate the other day. I’m curious to hear your thoughts


My bad sex wasn’t rape

The outcry over a recent “Girls” episode startled me. What happened to a woman’s sexual agency?


Defining regret over a consensual experience as rape conveys the message that women who experiment with something sexually and do not like it means that a traumatic crime has been committed. Nonsense. Has everyone who has ever consented to trying anal sex and hasn’t liked it been raped? I think not. The next time we see Natalia she is again in bed with Adam, being very clear about what she wants and what she doesn’t want – and getting it. Isn’t that what sexual autonomy is? When did we get confused and start to think that everyone was going to like every single thing they consented to? Isn’t it valid to sometimes do some things you “don’t like,” either to simply try them or to please a partner? And to negotiate with your partner whether to repeat them or limit them or continue to do them?

The idea that what happened in Steubenville, with Natalia on “Girls,” and with me in the park 30 years ago are all rape is ridiculous. Not giving, or being able to give, consent and regretting consent given are two different things. Women and girls should be told they can chart their own courses. If they don’t take control of their own erotic development early, they may never take control — like the women I knew in college who blamed alcohol or drugs for their own sexual adventures or misadventures, or the adult women I know who are still using sex to “get” and “keep” men.

Our culture needs to make space for young girls, as well as young boys, to safely explore their maturing bodies and initial erotic longings. It’s critical to allow for sex roles that are broader than the ones that we have been clinging to for generations. Women and girls need to be able to make mistakes. Emerging sexuality needs to be approached honestly and openly, and not as a pathology. Sex should not be seen as something that girls and women engage in merely to please or keep a man, nor as something that sneaks up and takes them unawares in the night.

The more we learn to claim our own sexual power, the more we will contribute to changing the landscape of sexual violence.  We can say yes and we can say no. As feminist writer Mary Gaitskill writes about her own experience, “Many years after being raped, I finally understood that in failing even to try to speak up on my own behalf, I had, in a sense, raped myself.”

* * *

Discussing these issues over the past week, I have been reminded of how fraught with divisiveness they can be. When I shared some of my opinions – in both real-life discussions with friends and Facebook conversations – I was told that I needed to “talk to some actual survivors,” that I didn’t understand what rape was, that I was distracting from the “real” point of convincing men to stop raping, that I had no right to say what was rape and what wasn’t. In fact, I worked at an urban rape crisis center and helped launch the U.S.’s only nationwide sexual assault hotline, RAINN. I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault and have written about that in assorted publications, including here in Salon, but for my various opinions, I was told that I was not a feminist.

We need to stop cannibalizing one another over our differences, and instead invite broad discussion.  Yes, we must teach men not to rape, but it’s not as simple as that. In order to end sexual violence, a number of strategies must be employed and to talk about them too often gets incorrectly dismissed as victim blaming.  Men should be encouraged to take more active roles in the fight against sexual violence. Sex should be discussed in terms that describe a shared perspective rather than as something that is done to a person by another person.  It’s a pretty short walk from trying to “talk a girl into” sex to taking the sex, from cajoling to coercing to forcing. Let’s rewrite the story by respecting women’s sexual choices — even when those choices lead to sex that makes us feel bad, pretending that we enjoy things we don’t.

Read more HERE: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/22/my_bad_sex_wasnt_rape/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *