Silence doesn't imply consent for sex

Rape victims need not feel ashamed, guilty after 1-night stands

 

For the past few weeks, people have told me to “sex it up.” So, now that it’s April, love is in the air and it’s sexual abuse awareness month, let’s talk sex. More specifically, let’s talk rape.

The word itself is harsh, dissonant and even a little cacophonous. When most people think about rape they picture something like a “Law & Order: SVU” episode: a pedophile or a testosterone-driven man attacking a woman in an alley. Most people wouldn’t say a friend taking advantage of a passed out drunk girl at a party would be rape and probably because most of us have been in that vulnerable position. We’re quick to say, “I didn’t rape anyone,” or “I didn’t get raped.” Anyone that has been there knows how terrifying it can be.

And soon it starts to feel like your fault. Maybe you said something. Maybe you wore something. If you came forward, that is what everyone would think. Every two and a half minutes someone, somewhere in America is sexually assaulted and most likely by someone they know. Of those, 80 percent are under 30 and only 42 percent of assaults are reported. That is a scary statistic. I never knew numbers could be so intimidating.

Why don’t victims report these crimes? Because people are quick to blame victims. But passing out drunk, slurring your words and stumbling across a party isn’t the same thing as a consensual one-night stand. Rape is defined as forcible sexual intercourse without consent. But newsflash, if someone is unable to give consent, i.e. legally intoxicated, she cannot have consented to sex.

When people get drunk, usually – or hopefully – they are with people they trust. Rape is the biggest violation of trust.

Why do we immediately blame the victim or say she’s lying? It is not because she was drinking or because she put herself in that situation. When she started drinking, I don’t think she wanted to have sex and completely forget it the next morning.

Guys, if she really wanted to have sex with you, she would do it when she’s sober. Don’t run the risk of putting her in the position of waking up in a daze of “what happened?” If you take care of her, put her in bed alone and give her coffee in the morning, she’ll be thinking about you when she’s coherent. Girls like to be cared for, not raped.

I’m not saying every girl that’s had a one-night stand thinks about it as rape. But do you really want to take that chance?

 

(Originally written 4.5.2006)

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