Sunday, 3 November 2013

My close brush with date rape. 31/10/13.


Last summer I narrowly avoided becoming a rapist.  Before you start shouting, the whole horrid event wasn’t premeditated in any way, shape or form.  I was minding my own business dancing in a beer tent when this Sweet Young Thing rolled in and commenced to bounce.  Bounce, bounce, bounce – it wasn’t the best dancing I’d ever seen, but it did it for me.  I couldn’t stop gawping at it, and it only got better.  Bouncing is hot work, you see, so off came the jacket, and that was good.  Then off came the t-shirt too, at which point I felt compelled to manifest my appreciation.  I wasn’t up to reciting sonnets, what with my jaw being sore from having hit the ground, but apparently that wasn’t a problem.  A generic “oh, that’s NICE” accompanied by vague hand waving to qualify the areas I thought particularly noteworthy seemed to do the trick, as the Sweet Young Thing latched onto me like a limpet and proceeded to suck my face.

Things were getting a bit crowded, so we retired to a secluded dark corner where we could get to know each other better in peace.  It was there that I realised that, on close inspection, the Sweet Young Thing was even prettier than I’d thought, but very young indeed.  We weren’t talking illegal, but we were definitely in the realm of “if that condom had burst back in high school…”  It felt a bit, well, creepy.  Nice, don’t get me wrong, but creepy.  It got worse, as the Sweet Young Thing was also clearly very, very wasted.  I was drunk enough to think that I could dance, but I was by far the most sober person there.  In fact, I was sober enough for a rather unpleasant question to pop into my head: had the Fine Young Thing been less plastered, would I have found myself enjoying the same reception? 

The sad and humbling truth is that it was seriously unlikely.  In fact, the words “not on a bet” sprung to mind.  Having been involved in a number of discussions about date rape, I decided I was entering what was plainly a danger zone.  Had I carried on, knowing that the most likely reason I was able to was my partner’s alcoholic intake, I would have been committing a despicable act.  I hurriedly extricated myself, made my excuses, and bravely fled back to my lair.

You might think this is a resounding result on the part of the rape awareness campaigners.  Unfortunately, you’re wrong.  Apparently I got the whole drunken sex thing wrong.  And the reason I got it all wrong is that I failed to consider a key factor in the equation – he was a guy, I’m a girl, and different rules seem to apply.

I discovered the error of my ways when I got involved in a discussion about the “all rape is about Power&Control” dogma, which never fails to boggle me.  It may be the accepted wisdom of the age, it might be published in books, and people with a lot of letters after their name might hold it as truth.  However, it just doesn't tally with what I've seen.  For my sins, I have spent a large proportion of my formative years in the presence of people off their faces on alcohol and drugs.  I have seen a lot of regrettable sex resulting from a combination of raging hormones and people’s brain being out of order.  The motivation behind the sex was not to injure or exploit the victim in any way.  It was purely a case of people whose brains were temporarily turned into mush really wanting to get off.  It was the result of biology and chemistry clashing into a horrible train wreck, but there was no premeditation or malice to it.  This does not make that sort of behaviour any more acceptable, but it does make the Power&Control explanation not fit.  And yes, I know that "the plural of anecdote is not data", but when you have to discount evidence to make a theory work that, to me, raises some serious issues.  

Well, I tried to raise those issues and got shot down.  The conversation got bloodier as it went on (and it seemed to go on forever), but these are the main points I picked up:
  1.     How can rape NOT be about power and control? The weak don't rape the strong, do they?  If I can't overpower another person and/or control that other person, how could I rape them?
  2.     When someone's under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and another person can do things to them that, in a normal state of mind, would be against their will, that's control – even if both parties are under the influence, and even if the only motivation is sexual gratification.
  3.     The very act of getting off, taking advantage of another for sexual gratification is a manifestation of Power&Control (so, sex for sex’s sake could be classed as rape).
  4.     Female rapists are apparently an unknown species (“how many female rapists do you know, and where do they hold their meetings?” I was asked).  This is despite admitting to the existence of women happy to exploit the knowledge that if you go to a drinking establishment after a certain time of night you can pick up men who, sober and in the clear light of day, would run a mile from you (so, point 1, 2 and 3 don’t quite apply if you’re a chick).
  5.     Sooooo, if you carry out the activities described in point 4 and you are a man, you are definitely a rapist.  If you are a woman, not so much.  This is apparently kosher, though, because “comparing male and female rape is disingenuous”.  (No further explanation provided.  I am not sure if it’s about plumbing differences and/or penetration – but if it is, it does not make much sense to me as coercing people into giving oral sex is still considered rape.)
  6.      The bottom line was: Why would I, as a woman, want to muddle the issue?


Muddle the issue.  As a woman.  That was the statement that brought home to me what bugs me about what is going on here.  Firstly, we have reached a situation where trying to clarify the understanding of this issue by raising instances that do not fit the current zeitgeist is “muddling the issue”.  To me, that is a clear indication that we’re stopped dealing with theories and we’re firmly into dogma territory.  Secondly and more importantly, the “as a woman” bit is thoroughly correct.  The issue has become gender-specific, and not just because anecdotal experience and statistical evidence show that women get raped more.

As a woman, I have been given, quite literally, a “get out of jail free card”; I can freely engage in behaviour that could send my male associates to jail, because I’m a chick.  While the law does not support this in theory, it supports it in practice.  It is far easier for a woman to report a man after a night of drunken debauchery.  Her statement is likely to be taken far more seriously and gain her professional support, even if it does not lead to a conviction.  Men reporting a similar event are more likely to be met with very little support, veiled contempt or even ridicule[1].

I can only think of two possible explanations for this disparity.  In the sexual realm, either men are perceived as inherently predatory, borderline evil, or women are perceived as inherently defenceless.  Either belief seems grotesquely sexist.  Yes, men are, on average, stronger than women.  I am not discussing the sort of situation in which physical strength or any sort of coercion are a factor, though.  In fact, I'm not even talking of situations when a "no" is uttered.  I am purely talking of those situations in which one party benefits, whether by design or not, from the other party wearing “beer goggles”.

I thought one of the achievements over the last century was that women had gained the right to embrace their sexuality.  I thought we had moved on from the view that getting laid gave young men extra worth, whereas it brought young women shame.  Not so long ago, in my mother’s days, by engaging in the same activity men became studs, women became sluts.  I thought I was better off, but the current view of man-the-predator vs. woman-the-victim seems just as disempowering to women.  By giving men all the responsibility within a sexual interaction and all the guilt when things go wrong, we are also giving them all the control.  They are in the sexual driving seat and responsible for our welfare and happiness, seemingly because we can’t take steps to manage that ourselves.  How is this empowering us?  Yet, this line of thinking is supported by people who are, allegedly, fighting for women’s rights.

I don’t get that.  One of the key rights that the feminists of the past have won for us is that of EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW.  I am writing it in caps because IT IS A BIG DEAL.  If you don’t agree, look at the lives of women in those foreign countries where that equality has not yet being gained; where women can be arrested after a rape, because they are guilty of extramarital sex; where unmarried mothers do not have the right to register the birth of their children under their name; where divorced mothers can have their children taken away by their fathers; where women can’t vote, own property, go to university, drive cars – and the list goes on.  Equality under the law is such a crucial achievement – are we willing to give it up so readily?  And what are we giving it up for?  If you think we are getting some form of superiority, think again.  Yes, we are getting preferential treatment, but that is because we are being granted some form of diminished responsibility because of our gender.  Personally, I find that concept hugely offensive.

Human sexuality is an infinitely complicated subject.  I don’t know what the answer to this riddle is.  What I know is that, unless someone can conclusively explain to me why my mental faculties are less than that of the average male, I refuse to be treated as an inferior person on the basis of my gender.  I don’t care if this implied inferiority gives me extra freedom or it gets me out of trouble; I find it repugnant.  I can’t see how we can advance the cause of equality and fairness between the genders by embracing precisely the opposite – inequality and unfairness.  Until we agree that an action is equally objectionable regardless of the gender of the perpetrator, we are supporting a deeply sexist view of the world.





[1] Then again, if they recounted the event to their friends, it would most likely be treated as worth of jovial mocking at worst, added glory at best.  It would be seen as a mildly amusing slip, rather than a life-changing trauma.  When I told my male friends about my decision to not engage with the Sweet Young Thing, I was chided for “depriving him of an essential learning experience”.  The same would hardly have applied had I been an older man luring in a young girl.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ohh, you may want to clarify that the PYT is a guy, because "pretty" isn't normally and adjective used with straight dudes.

warhawkeishere said...

Thank you for saying it, I made the same point about "all rape is about power and control" in a book I wrote and all the agenda-feminists tore me a new one.

sandy said...

She does eventually clarify that PYT was a guy. She opened the article with a situation usually associated with males preying on females but when she introduced the way the genders were involved, the tone of the story changed because we're trained to think women wouldn't do such a thing. It gives you an insight on how this can happen to anyone no matter what gender you are. It shouldn't matter if she assigned genders to this situation, it's still wrong because it's intrudes upon someone's personal privacy.