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Reddit Rape Thread Points to Consent: How We Can Stop Accidental Assault

July 30, 2012

Maybe you’ve heard about this thread on reddit in which rapists tell their side of the story.

So we all know that reddit is not the friendliest place for women.  It is filled with the worst kind of trolls, and reading some of this stuff is probably the most depressing, earth-shattering thing I’ve experienced in a while.  But besides these threads having some really disturbing content (read with caution), there’s a couple of really good lessons for MEN and WOMEN to take away from this.

note: I by no means want to take the blame off of those committing sexual violence, and there are plenty of sociopathic recounts on this thread who deserve no sympathy. Yo- someone should trace that creep’s IP address.

But what struck me is that a lot of these accounts weren’t violent.  At the time, these boys didn’t know that what they were doing was sexual assault. My guess would be that a lot of boys who are posting on this thread are boys who had a too-close-to-rape-for-comfort situation which has been haunting them for some time, and they feel the need to clear their conscience.  My guess is that a lot of the men out there who know exactly what they are doing and feel little remorse- if any- aren’t necessarily the ones posting.

The thread shows that a lot of these boys were disgusted with themselves.  A lot of these boys, accidentally came pretty damn close to raping someone.

And this makes me think.  Maybe we need to start separating out two different problems here.  Maybe some people are sociopaths with something really wrong going on in their head- the kind of deviant people we think about when we think of rapists… the violent or forceful rapists who are committing a violent crime.  But maybe some of them are just immature boys trying to live up to being a man, and in doing so make a really bad mistake and traumatize someone forever.  These people feel they are sort of in the “gray zone” of rape, but I’m willing to bet their victims are not. We can see this from the number of “inexperienced guys,” or even virgins who recount stories in which they thought what they were doing was ok until they “saw her reaction.” Or the guys who were trying to score and hooked up with a drunk girl who was devastated the next day.  Maybe it’s not good enough to write off every person who is involved in sexual assault as a monster who is different from the rest of us; maybe we’re alienating a lot of boys who don’t understand what constitutes sexual assault from understanding the pain that is associated with being the victim of such a thing. Maybe he doesn’t see himself as a violent rapist because maybe he wasn’t violent.

That being said- I think we could get rid of a lot of the tension between men and women around the issue of rape and blaming.  We could literally eliminate a portion of sexual assault by teaching and doing the following things:

1. Start thinking about consent in terms of Yes means Yes.

“She had never said no I don’t want to have sex just maybes and I don’t knows. So I’m in this position on top of her and she says “okay I guess”.

So I put it in slow and start doing my thing, we’re kissing and stuff but then I look at her face and it doesn’t look right. She looks scared and confused so I ask “Are you okay?” She says “yeah are you almost done?” I said “No we just started.” At this point I’m like wtf? What the hell did I do, why is she so uncomfortable? So even my drunk ass knows somethings off, so I pull out and try to find out whats wrong.”

As one redditor so elqouently puts it:

“This is why they’ve finally started teaching Yes means Yes instead of No means No.

Don’t wait for a No, elicit a Yes. Don’t assume consent exists until you’re told otherwise.”

It’s a great piece of advice.  We all know that our society tells men that they should be having sex (lots of it), and that if they’re not, they are somehow less of a man.  Furthermore, boy’s are sort of taught- by friends, movies, television, etc.- that you should just sort of… try to see how far you can get… keep pushing until you get a no.  They are never taught to ask the question or make sure the way in which they are asking makes the girl feel comfortable and safe.  How many sex scenes in television or movies show any party verbally consenting? Not enough. Even if it doesn’t escalate to violence, a lot of girls (and some boys too) have felt pressured to do things they didn’t feel comfortable with. This can be damaging, people!  Even for the guy. As one redditor accounts- it’s better to look like a “noob” than a rapist. And I really think guys need to stop pulling the “she didn’t say no so it wasn’t rape,” line.

“She never said stop or anything but I could see how she could have froze up in fear. I don’t doubt she feels molested and I feel like an awful person but it wasn’t rape”

Maybe legally it wasn’t rape- but that’ll be on your conscience. Because the truth is, if she didn’t want to and you’re a halfway decent guy, you’ll know it was wrong and have to live with it.

One redditor states:

“To the people asking why women don’t say no, and the guy saying girls need to realise how much stronger guys are. They DO realise how strong men are, and this is why they don’t say no. They are scared to, because they think they will get hurt even more if they resist. Just don’t say no, it’s over faster, and you can even try to convince yourself it wasn’t rape because you didn’t say no! Women don’t let men get close because they believe they could fight them off if they want to. They get close because they trust them. And we all trust the wrong people sometimes.

I do believe there’s guys out there who have no intention of committing rape, and don’t realise they’re committing rape because the girl (or guy) doesn’t say no. But it’s still rape. Consent means yes, not silence.”

If we start teaching boys how to approach getting consent- we would have a lot less confused guys and a lot less scarred girls. Just remember we can’t read each other’s minds.

2. You can never have a “Yes” if one or more party is under the influence. Period.

In fact, it’s the law. Honestly, I know it’s glamorized in the media and in popular culture, but it’s just a bad idea. This law is to protect girls from being taken advantage of, as well as to protect girls from men using the date rape drug and pulling the whole “she was drunk (or blacked out) and is claiming rape now because she changed her mind,” bit. If you are afraid this will be the outcome of having sex with a drunk girl- THEN JUST DON’T DO IT. Just don’t. please? You don’t want to end up like this guy who upchucked from the guilt.

“We kissed a bit and me being a curious 20 year old virgin just wanted to know what ladies’ downstairs were like so I fingered her. I don’t remember what tipped me off but her behavior was weird so I realized what I was doing and stopped there (definitely would have raped her without that observation)

She kept telling me I could do whatever I wanted. But I knew she wasn’t able to consent and stopped.

I moved out the next day by coincidence and threw up from guilt when I moved into my new house. We talked it out a month later and she forgave me but that really doesn’t mean much.

TLDR: Fingered my drunk friend on her birthday, was definitely sexual assault”

I know this is a lot to ask, so at the very least, don’t use alcohol as a way to hook up and have drunk random sex. If you’re still interested in how drunk sex is a bad idea, watch this vid:


But most importantly:

‘Many of the posts responding to the spirit of the majority of the stories posted here seem to be along the lines of, “Why aren’t there more REAL rape stories?” or “Where all my REAL sex offenders at?” This indicates a failure of people to see this thread’s potential to be a pretty significant learning experience–that is, that these posts ARE representative of the majority of rape and sex offense incidents.’

Now I’m not sure I would go as far to say that they are representative in number- there are definitely a lot more people who don’t give a damn how the victim is feeling during the assault and feel no remorse- People who aren’t posting on this thread.  But I guess what we should all take away from this is that there is another issue going on: A lot of people really are just people who have learned certain non violent behaviors (socialized by movies, friends, porn) when it comes to sex that aren’t really helping anyone.  In dismissing all rapists as “deviant” we’re going to fail to realize that many incidents of sexual assault are stemming from the very values of mainstream masculinity.  Maybe we need to take a step back and realize that what we’re teaching our boys just isn’t cutting it in helping them navigate sexual encounters- and certainly isn’t helping our girls.  We could eliminate a portion of sexual assault so easily if we changed the way we are thinking about some of the people who end up committing it and then did the above steps.  Education about consent could save a lot of victims, because not only do some of these boys not want to be “rapists,” they don’t want to rape.

Peace and Love,


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