You know what’s super-funny? Rape!
What’s that? You say rape isn’t funny? It’s a horrible act of violence, one of the worst crimes a human can commit? Well, what if I told you a girl raped a guy? Have you busted a gut yet?
No? You don’t think it’s funny if a girl rapes a guy? Indeed, you think that patriarchal expectations of men’s sexual appetites would instead make it difficult for the guy to deal with the attack? And you think that while we shouldn’t get too far into the weeds (women are still more likely to be raped then men, and men are vastly more likely to commit sexual assaults than women), you think that the gender of both perpetrator and victim is not nearly as relevant as the need for society to condemn sexual assault unreservedly?
Well, you’re no fun. And you’re never going to be able to write for Jezebel, which Saturday launched a truly reprehensible article about a man being raped by a woman. Its title?
It’s funny because after being raped, he was exhausted — and rape is about sex! Evidently, I guess!
Doug Barry headlined the piece poorly, but perhaps the article will improve. Do you think so? No, I don’t either.
It’s your typical modern liaison — a man and a woman meet in a Munich bar, get a little drunk because they still have some vestigial social hang-ups about casual sex, head back to the woman’s apartment, and do it. When neither of them falls asleep after the first go-round, they do it again and again and again until the man predictably says that he’s tired and probably should, um, leave or whatever. Except that he wasn’t allowed to just leave.
So…that seems disturbing. And no less so because they did it “again and again and again.” Though it’s a nice bit of victim-blaming (he consented! More than once!), it’s not really relevant; once he wanted to leave, he should have been allowed to leave. If he wasn’t, he’d been unlawfully detained, and that in and of itself was a crime.
What followed was rape.
According to a report in The Province, the 47-year-old hostess refused to let her 43-year-old partner leave the apartment even after they had intercourse “several times,” insisting that he continue to have sex with her, which he did even after his first escape attempt. When the woman barred his second escape attempt, the man fled to the apartment’s balcony, where he succeeded in alerting the police. When the police showed up, the woman allegedly made similar (though unsuccessful) sex demands of them and now faces charges of sexual assault and illegal restraint.
Yup. He was detained and coerced into a sex act he did not want. That’s rape, and a pretty black-and-white case of it, at that.
Or it’s kind of funny, right Doug?
There’s an obvious Calypso reference to be made here…
Well, yes, insofar as the guy, like Odysseus, was trapped by someone he’d initially been besotted with. But it seems a bit too light-hearted, no?
…and though it’s tempting to read this episode of sexual aggression lightly because of the gender reversal of popularly accepted roles, sexual assault is a bad, bad thing, not made any more innocuous by the fact that a woman was the aggressor in this instance.
Well, okay. I mean, I guess I’ll just ignore the headline and the fact that you did make a reference to Calypso and did a bit of victim-blaming. As long as the article ends here.
By all accounts, however….
Oh, hell, it’s on now.
…the initial hook-up was consensual and, even after being stopped from leaving, the man had sex “several more times” with the woman who detained him.
Um, okay? So that proves…what, exactly? The guy is allowed to withdraw consent, you know. The fact that he had sex a couple times willingly doesn’t mean he’s going to be forever willing. And quite simply, the man didn’t “have sex several more times.” He was raped several times. Once he was stopped from leaving, once he was trapped there unwillingly, everything after that point is rape. That he chose to give in to his attacker in hopes of getting out of the situation is no reason to shame him; though the article is unclear how the perpetrator detained her victim, one can only speculate that he had reason to fear for his safety. If he acceded to the rape to buy him time to get free, it was a survival strategy — one that, not incidentally, worked.
It’d be interesting to see what becomes of these charges, and whether a German defense attorney chronicles this man’s entire sexual history in an effort to discredit his accusations and make him seem way too promiscuous in an effort to prove that it was his own fault in the first place for sleeping with a complete stranger. Can you picture a bunch of German talk radio hosts calling this guy a “slut” or suggesting that he was just asking to be held as a prisoner in this woman’s apartment?
Well, I don’t know about the Germans, but the American bloggers are certainly happy to do so. That Barry tosses in a half-hearted nod to the fact that he was raped is irrelevant; Barry spends the entire article declaiming the man for having casual sex more than once and, notably, giving in to demands for sex after he was detained. That certainly sounds like slut-shaming to me.
Now that would be quite the gender reversal.
A gender reversal? Yes, it is, at least given what we usually expect. But in one major respect, it’s not a reversal at all. We have yet another victim of sexual assault being blamed for their actions, having their motivations questioned, and having it insinuated that they really wanted it, no matter what they said. The genders are irrelevant; the pattern is the same. Doug Barry, like so many, is quite happy to blame and shame victims of sexual assault for failing to live up to an arbitrary level of purity. And that is both disappointing and enraging.