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Male victim-blaming

14 May

I came across this post by James Landrith, Male Rape Survivors and Victim Blaming.

As much as everyone wants their daughters’ to be protected from rape, we also want our sons to be protected. And we want to educate our daughters in a similar way about boundaries, consent and compassion when they are in a sexual situation, or are being told about a sexual position. It goes without saying, as far as I’m concerned, that men can be raped, and they are often raped or sexually assault by women.

The media has portrayed men as these beings, controlled by a penis, who can never say “no” to sex – and there’s the regular mockery; if a man says no to sex with a woman, he’s clearly gay. Much like we have the perspective that all women are “after something” from a man – money, a baby or fame, for example – men come under scrutiny when they say they have been raped too. “What kind of a man must you be if you have been raped by a woman?”

I will raise my daughter to respect that consent works both ways, and that men can be raped too.

Sleep sex, sex while asleep… is it rape?

10 May

Again, this post is being written with thoughts which have been prompted by a thread on the Mumsnet forums. A woman said she was woken up in the night by her partner having sex with her, and felt very shocked and “didn’t know what was happening”.

Legally, having sex with someone who is sleeping is rape. Rape is the penetration of a person without their consent, or without good reason to believe consent would be given. A person may assume his or her partner would be willing for sex in the middle of the night, but this does not equate to consent, as consent is regularly withdrawn within relationships. The old-fashioned stereotype of a woman having a headache and saying, “No dear, not tonight.” No two people are always in the mood for sex, even if they’re in a relationship.

We can’t say the consent is implied just because of a pre-existing relationship between the two people involved, as we’re all aware that rape can happen within relationships and marriage.

But there are people in the world who say they enjoy being woken up with a sex act or penetration from their partner. They find it arousing, or erotic. One friend said to me once, “I woke up in the middle of the night and he was touching me. It was such a turn on to think that even though I was sleeping he couldn’t keep his hands off me.” Are these people encouraging the problem? Surely it’s within their rights to have whatever sexual interactions they want within their relationship?

The same could be said about porn. The porn industry is undeniably wrong in many ways, from the problem of vulnerable young women being “used” for sex to make money, to the issue of men being given an impression that is not true of females – that they are sexual beings to be objectified and used as necessary to create an orgasm. However, pornography is enjoyed by many, from young to old, male or female, in some cases to enhance a sexual relationship in a couple, and in others to assist with sexual discovery or, of course, self-pleasuring. Should each individual viewer of porn be penalised for being “part of the problem”? Or are they entitled to use a legally acceptable service in the privacy of their own homes if they enjoy it and feel their lives are in some way enhanced by it?

We have to accept that sex between two consenting adults is acceptable and that, if consent has been given or is definitely implied, that one of them may initiate the encounter whilst the other is asleep. However, to tackle the problem of whether or not an individual encounter is rape, we have to ask the following question:

Did you give the person reason to believe you would consent to having sex while you were asleep?

Even if you have had sex with the person before, or are in a relationship with them (be it a happy or unhappy relationship), that is not reason alone for a person to believe consent is implied. The only way you would have given someone the impression that you consented to sex being initiated while you slept would be if you explicitly told them so.

“I want you to wake me up with sex tonight/in the morning” would be consent.

Perhaps it’s not the most “obvious” kind of rape as it is not regularly mentioned in the media, and it doesn’t include any of the “clichés” regularly featured when rape or sexual assault is depicted on television or in the movies. Nontheless, it is rape – realistically, morally and legally. I would go so far as to say it is probably one of the most common types of rape and also the least documented and convicted rapes as, often, the person who was asleep when it occurred isn’t even aware that they were raped, or doesn’t feel people would agree that it was rape even if they’re aware of it themselves.

To sum things up:

Having sex with a sleeping person is definitely rape, unless they have explicitly given their full consent for that individual encounter.

 

I will raise my daughter to know that if someone has sex with another person while they are asleep, it is rape.

First Post, a small introduction

9 May

I don’t know where you begin with a blog which is about a topic like this.

As a “survivor”, it’s taken me 12 years to reach a point in my emotional health where I feel I can finally start moving forward, and looking at the problem of sexual assault objectively. Almost overnight, I began to feel I could be part of the solution, and not just a hidden statistic. I’ve felt thoroughly supported by the Mumsnet ‘We Believe You’ campaign and all of the informed, supportive women who are actively believing survivors of rape and sexual assault – thus tackling one of the first problems a survivor will face following an attack.

At first I hid away from the campaign and wished it wasn’t happening. The word rape has been a trigger for me for a long time, and I couldn’t read or write the word without feeling a “shock” pain across my chest. I still can’t handle hearing or speaking the word in conversation or on television.

But as a little time has passed, the campaign has really helped me. I have started to type the word rape with more ease, and I read it regularly. I donated some money to Rape Crisis (despite having never called them, their existence has always given me some comfort) and today I filled in a survey for AVA about my experiences – something I would never have felt strong enough to do before. I joined a few groups on Facebook, which are regularly posting blog links and other media about rape, and I click those links and read them with a mixture of sadness, interest and determination. Although the campaign was not designed to help me, but instead to address a widespread problem, it has greatly increased my quality of life. I haven’t told anyone new “my story”, and yet I feel more supported than ever before as though out there in the world, there are people who know about rape, and know it is wrong, and will fight for a future where women shouldn’t have to go through it.

And although I am as furious with the rape apologists, sexists, “victim” blamers and of course, rapists themselves, I feel content right now knowing that given time, more people could be educated with the help of campaigns like Mumsnet’s and the world could be a better place for my daughter, and my daughter’s daughters.

I don’t intend for all of my posts to have a “me me me” vibe about them, and in the future, I will hopefully be able to post something more productive, objective, or constructive.

So, I decided to make this blog. And I will VOW to make a blog post every single day, even if it is just a short “I’m having a good day!”, because this is an empowering experience for me – to finally be able to write about rape almost in an “activist” way – and I don’t want to lose sight of this positive feeling which has taken me so long to find.

 

I will raise my daughter to know you don’t need to suffer in silence.