A few of us got in a heated discussion that stemmed from this article 17 Lies We Need to Stop Teaching Girls About Sex.
I say stemmed from, because the antagonist in this discussion/argument/soap box stroke out, may or may not have actually read the article prior to stating her opinions, however it did serve as the catalyst for this conversation.
I’m going to put the snippets most relevant to what I want to say here for you to read
Antagonist: You don’t want sex then stop opening your legs.
K: Oh dear dear dear dear! “You don’t want sex then stop opening your legs”????!!!! Rape, molestation, child pornography? Not opening your legs will prevent this???? EDUCATION will stop this. Dear dear dear dear….. I fear your above comments can be construed as extremely insensitive to all who have been victims of rape, molestation, sex trafficking, abuse, or pornography. Teaching respect for others, and that saying no is OK, and that it means NO, is essential for ALL people …
Antagonist: C’mon [K]. What is rape? When a girl says to a guy come and take me and then when he does and doesn’t pull out mid thrust he’s a rapist?
K: Technically, [Antagonist], it would indeed be rape. Just as it would, should the woman be initiating the sexual act, and the man desire to stop intercourse, but she continues, that too is rape. It does not require a degree, but it DOES require EDUCATION!
Tabitha: Oh. And for the record, yes, [Antagonist], what you described is rape. If one is having sex and says stop mid thrust and the other doesn’t stop, yep that’s rape. Don’t fucking forget it.
A: it doesn’t matter where in the thralls of sex you are, rape is nonconsenual sex, so after the word no is said, anything after that is rape.
K: And wives CAN be raped by their husbands, as well as husbands raped by their wives. Non-consensual intercourse is rape.
Tabitha: And females can rape females and males are raped too. The fact that we’re having to clarify these FACTS proves that we’re (as a society) lacking in sex education.
D: Want a personal story? I was married (not to my son’s dad, to clarify, to the first one) to someone who, when I said “I need to be done here” took that as screw me hard till he was done. Neither of us had the sex education and vocabulary definitions to call that what it was. It was rape. I was raped by my husband*. It is completely damaging to be left bleeding and hurt and soaked in the semen of a man who is supposed to love and protect … who took vows before God to do just that… and didn’t. I may not have known what to call it, but I sure felt the damage of it for years. It has taken years and two wonderful caring men who cherished me and listened to me to move me past it… as far as one ever gets.
If you want to read the thread in its entirety – click away – but this is where my part comes in.
My first exposure to the concept of rape was when a college girl from our tiny town was raped by a stranger in the parking lot of her university. This seems to be what most of us think of as rape – some masked bad guy in a dark place who uses violence for sex.
As I got older, there was my friend who was raped in her school bathroom by someone with a knife. There is my Tabitha who woke up to a man she trusted with his hand inside her. There were these stories of women, and there was no gray area, I felt for them, I wanted to … do something for them to help.
I don’t talk about my first marriage. It stays locked in a dirty corner, ignored and hopefully composting into something useful. When absolutely pressed about why it was so brief I might or might not say “because sex shouldn’t be like date rape”.
But even the way I phrase that, belittles what happened to me. Which I did not realize until Sunday night when those words flowed right off my fingers.
My friends had no idea what door they were opening for me …
Someone says stop and the partner doesn’t. It is rape.
No one stuttered. No one threw out any gray areas. No one said, well unless he didn’t really mean it, well if you didn’t scream and struggle, well unless you’d let it happen before …
Someone says stop and the partner doesn’t. It is rape.
I never really knew what to call the messed up situation I had found myself in. I was ashamed, I thought I was broken, sexually frigid, claimed the problems as all my fault. Acted out, shut down, numbed out, you name it, I did it, all the while blaming myself for being broken, broken, broken, and unworthy of anything good.
* I realized after writing “my husband” that that was not true. We were engaged but not yet married. On our wedding day, I downed most of a bottle of vodka and tried to look happy for the grandmothers. When my dad tried to tell me how proud he was of me as we were getting ready to walk down the aisle, I looked at him and savagely said, “Don’t you DARE do that to me right now!” That bottle of vodka kept me from having sex on my wedding night, some four months later I sloshed most of another bottle down my throat and around the bedroom, trying so hard to be normal. A year later, I was gone, escaped the physical surroundings of that relationship, but stuck with the remnants for years.
So what was it? You know. I know.
I was raped. The end. No stutter, no gray, no apologies. I didn’t have the vocabulary or the understanding of what to call it 15 years ago, but I sure do now. After the healing from the shame and broken and feeling worthless, I have the word to name what happened to me. It was rape.
I write this to scream from the mountaintop of this space of mine
NO MEANS NO! PREACH IT! MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN! PREACH IT, LEARN IT!
NO MEANS NO.
RESPECT THE NO.
(For that matter, respect the silence, respect the I’m not sure, respect the I need to be done, respect the possibility that not everyone in that room is on the same page. Pay attention to who you are with.)
I went through it without knowing what to call it or that I could ask for help. I am still sometimes triggered (Walter trying to force himself on his wife in the kitchen during an ep of Breaking Bad landed me in the bathroom sobbing and angry and triggered and feral for hours ….. Friends naming their new dog the same name as the ex …. I love the dog, but I call him Voldemort …), but I understand why now. Finally knowing what to call it … The word Rape had no sting to it, more of a relief of oh at last I know what it is.
Be gentle with each other today mmkay?
Band Back Together has some good information about helping you or someone else heal after a rape or sexual assault.
Your most important piece of writing to date. The purge of the unholy. Now all your amazing people can help you bear something you have struggled to carry alone. Can you feel the lighter-ness of your brain, of your heart and soul, just having typed the word?
Do you have any idea how brave and beautiful you are? Sending you tears of love and solidarity. Let the lightness come.
Well said and thank you for putting it out there. I had a similar experience in my first marriage. Crazy enough, after we divorced HE even realized it and apologized (“I think I was abusive to you in our marriage and I wanted to tell you I’m sorry.”). I was shocked but very much appreciated it. It helps to know that even those who rape can realize they were wrong and change. But in order for that to happen, people need to talk about it!!
Love you, your heart, and your bravery.
Thank You xoxo
Preach! I am so tired of the hairsplitting and nitpicking about the definition of rape. Once “no” or “stop” is spoken, any sexual behavior that is continued is assault. My daughter isn’t pubescent yet and hears this regularly so she will be better informed than I was at maturation.