The Feeling Of Rape

I will concede that sometimes, rape can be unintentional.

Let me clarify. Various parasomnias for instance, which include sleep sex or sleep talking, are obvious cases in which either the sexsomniac is doing the unwitting raping, or the somniloquist is seemingly awake and consenting.

As someone who has been surprised by sex that happens as it rouses (and not “arouses”) me to wakefulness, I can also distinguish that being raped can sometimes be a plain statement, sans culpability. For all intents and purposes, it then becomes a passing experience, a “feeling,” if you will. The survivor is raped because they may experience being raped when they wake up to sex. That is to say, there is a sense of violation tantamount to rape. Meanwhile, the person having sex with the survivor is none the wiser because they gave verbal consent — while asleep — prior to the act. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

This happens from time to time in my current relationship that I would characterize as loving, trusting, and honest. From time to time, I wake up to sex, and never feel raped. Once, in the dawn of an aventure d’un soir with an old friend, I woke up to a mouth full of thrusting penis, and definitely felt raped.

The word “rape” itself presents a peculiar problem: there are many types of rape, it sounds like a women’s issue, and it is a politically charged subject. Certainly, there are many more types of rape other than the commonly imagined scenario of accosting strangers in the dark; a quick Wikipedia search turns up a page with a limited list of the various different types of rape (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_rape), and depending on the state, unwanted “fingering” and oral sex also fall within the domain of the word “rape.”

It is at least obvious that men can also be victims of rape, and it is true (and less obvious) that women can also be perpetrators. The crux of the problem of rape is CONSENT or the ABILITY to consent, after all. Arguably, the crux of any crime is consent.

A few of my male friends have been quick to irrationally point out fears of the mythical woman who cried rape – which, considering the numbers of reported rapes versus actual rapes, are mostly unfounded. It is statistically unnecessary for certain republican male politicians to protect men and potential male rapists from the full brunt of culpability. Dangerously, they add ornamental words, like “forcible,” use auto accident metaphors for rape that make for inept logical comparisons (http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/02/11/3275721/taranto-college-rape/), and talk about how the victim was responsible. There simply lacks consistency – ever wonder why victim blaming in the media is exclusively the problem of women and minorities? What is the difference between an intoxicated young woman, a young black man running around in a hooded sweater, and a movie theater full of eager, late-night filmgoers? Are department stores culpable for blatantly flaunting their products that are begging to be stolen? Are car owners culpable for blatantly driving fancy cars around and therefore are begging to be carjacked?

The weight of the word “rape” itself results in the lack of a safe space for survivors to heal and be treated for rape, without the deluge of doubt, guilt, victim-blaming, or well-meaning friends pressuring them to go to the authorities – the whole [rape] kit and kaboodle that accompanies sexual violation. And frankly, that is often worse than the rape itself. It feels like a continuous assault – it feels like we are experiencing a violation tantamount to rape – a violation of our rights to live freely. TC mark

Read Jessica’s story in The Day Began to Spring here.

The Day Began To Spring cover

image – WildinWoods

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