Apparently, some men don’t get no.
Apparently, some men don’t get no, even when a justification (that shouldn’t even be necessary) is given.
Apparently, some men feel so entitled to women that they will not accept no as an answer.
Some men feel that they can take what they want by force – and because of rape culture, it’s reinforced that it’s the victim’s fault.
It’s not really rape because you were wearing a revealing outfit.
It’s not really rape because you didn’t say no, even though you were too afraid to say anything at all.
It’s not really rape because you knew him.
(It’s like people think there are two types of rape when in actuality it’s rape or it’s sex, and there is no gray area.)
“Was it rape?” is a question too many rape victims ask themselves.
We’re met with the idea that “No means no”, and therefore, when presented with silence – one of the most common reactions people face in relation to fear – it’s the victim’s fault.
If you were afraid, confused, and harassed – your voice and rejections continually ignored – does your yes actually mean anything?
However, what if I apply the same logic to myself – in particular, my second ‘boyfriend’.
This man was someone I’d always had a crush on in high school. Just after I graduated, he seemed to show some interest in me (he was a few years older than I).
We reconnected via the internet and, after a few months, he told me he loved me.
When I came back on holidays to visit, we began our so-called ‘relationship’.
I was happy. I remember being cautious, but I was incredibly happy. He seemed to think my cautiousness was silly. “You’re the only girl I’ve committed to since my ex!” he told me.
He loved me, he told me. I was seventeen, and I wanted desperately to believe him. Looking back, I don’t think I ever did.
But I desperately wanted to.
I had a “sleep over” at his house.
We slept in the same bed – also a completely new experienced for me.
We did a lot of kissing – and he was the second man I’d ever kissed.
And then, without warning, without asking, he put his fingers inside me.
I remember being shocked and pulling back.
He mistook my recoil for enthusiasm, and he told me, “Don’t worry – we can do everything but sex.”
I didn’t know what to say, or even how to reply. I felt like my voice had been taken from me; for the first time in my life, words failed me.
I felt like I couldn’t say no – he’d already started. He seemed to think I liked it. He was older than me – maybe he was used to this type of behavior, had come to expect this reaction from other women.
Maybe this was how I was meant to respond. After all, I’d been late to the dating game.
I didn’t want him not to like me, so I stayed silent. I felt trapped – how does one say no when they didn’t realize the situation they were in was even going to happen? I’d discussed with him my virginity, its importance to me, and my lack of sexual history.
To me, I thought I’d clearly highlighted my concerns, and my wishes that our relationship would go “slow”.
Perhaps I hadn’t been clear enough.
Perhaps, I’d thought at the time, it was my fault because I wasn’t clear enough.
Regardless, he never gave me the chance to decide.
I do know, however, that while my words didn’t say no, apparently my body did.
After he “dumped” me without another word I ended up going to the hospital.
I hadn’t stopped bleeding for almost two weeks at this stage.
During an internal exam, it was revealed that I’d been scratched deeply inside and the wound had gotten infected and hadn’t healed properly (hence all the bleeding).
“Common during first time experiences if the woman is tense,” the doctor told me. “Nothing to worry about.”
I, personally, felt quite differently.
I felt violated.
Someone had taken my first real sexual experience from me, and I hadn’t stopped him – to me, it didn’t matter that we hadn’t had sex. To me, that had been an intimate moment; a moment I had wanted to save until I was ready.
I felt weak. I’d been physically and emotionally hurt.
Technically, my experience could be legally classified as rape under Queensland’s law code.
(2) A person rapes another if:
(a) the person has carnal knowledge with or of the other person without the other person’s consent, or;
(b) the person penetrates the vulva, vagina or anus of the other person to any extent with a thing or a part of the person’s body that is not a penis without the other person’s consent” (Queensland Criminal Code Section 349).
So, technically, legally, one could argue that yes, I was raped.
But was it rape?
If I didn’t say no, didn’t try to stop it (even if my body did), could I cry rape?
He felt entitled to my body. When he stuck his hand down my pants – I was clothed, not naked – he never stopped to consider that I might not want to go any further than kissing.
He never gave me a chance to say no. He never asked. He assumed that what he wanted, and I would want to.
And that’s a fundamental flaw in our society. That presumption. Follow by the judgment was I asking for it because I spent the night at my “boyfriend’s”?
Was I asking for it because I was kissing him?
Should I have said no?
But fear – fear of so many different things – took over. I didn’t know how to say no, which is actually an incredibly normal and common reaction.
I didn’t even know I could say no, which sounds stupid, but ask women how many times they’ve done something – anything – because a man made them feel too afraid to say no, and then tell me how it’s stupid.
Fear does crazy things to a person; even in “reasonable” and “safe” situations.
I think it’s up to the person to decide whether they feel they have been sexually assaulted or not.
If we all had more respect for each other, worked towards destroying rape culture and the myths that surround rape, perhaps fewer people will be in a situation like I was – and like so many women are faced with, but with far worse consequences.
Perhaps fewer people will feel afraid to stand up and say no.
Perhaps fewer people will be in a situation where they have to ask themselves:
“But was it rape?”