The Sexist

Sexist Beatdown: “No” Means “Yes” Not Just For Frat Dudes Anymore

Not the kind of people you want sitting in on your rape trial.

"No means yes": It's not just for Yale frat guys, celebrity defense attorneys, and the citizens of opposite land. Nope, that line of reasoning is also a pretty common one among old, privileged ladies, and other groups you may expect to find sitting on the jury of your rape trial!

Last month, Dan Kahan of Yale University Law School released a study examining the cultural factors at play in popular reactions to rape cases. Kahan's research question was straightforward: If a person voices "repeated verbal objections" to a sex act, is it rape?

In other words, who among us thinks that "no" really means "no," and who thinks that "no" is just a handy excuse for loose women? As it turns out, knowing that "no" means "no" has little to do with your gender, and a lot to do with what you think about gender.

People Who Think "No" Means "No": Men and women with an "egalitarian" worldview which "judges the character of men and women by a largely unitary measure, and treats female sexuality as a legitimate expression of individual autonomy." Makes sense, right? Not to some:

People Who Think "No" Means "Maybe": As it turns out, people who can't tell the difference between "yes" and "no" are nevertheless very invested in maintaining differences between "men" and "women." The people most likely to believe that a rape victim actually consented, even though she said "no"? Those with a "conservative, traditional, and hierarchical" worldview, marked by "highly differentiated and stratified gender roles."

Among this group, older women were the most likely to pooh-pooh "no means no": "Overall, women were no more or less likely to favor conviction than were men. However, women who subscribed to the hierarchical cultural style—particularly older women who did—were more inclined to form a pro-defendant view of the facts." And Sady of the the brand-spankin' Tiger Beatdown and I think that requires a Sexist Beatdown.

BUT FIRST, some background: Kahan based his study on the Ironically Fucked-Up Rape Case of the Century, Commonwealth v. Berkowitz. The case surrounded a college sophomore girl and a college sophomore boy who got to know each other—platonically—through a "sexual-assault awareness lecture" entitled, I'm not fucking kidding, "Does ‘No’ Sometimes Mean ‘Yes’?"

Only weeks later, the content of that lecture would be tested when the girl entered the boy's dorm room, and they got to talking:

Before the victim could leave appellant’s room, however, appellant asked her to stay and “hang out for a while.” She complied because she “had time to kill” and because she didn’t really know appellant and wanted to give him “a fair chance.” Appellant asked her to give him a back rub but she declined, explaining that she did not “trust” him. Ap-pellant then asked her to have a seat on his bed. Instead, she found a seat on the floor, and conversed. . . . During this conversation she had explained she was having problems with her boyfriend. .

[After a few minutes, the defendant] moved off the bed and down on the floor, and “kind of pushed [the victim] back with his body. It wasn’t a shove, it was just kind of a leaning-type of thing.” Next appellant “straddled” and started kissing the victim. The victim responded by saying, “Look, I gotta go. I’m going to meet [my boyfriend].” Then ap-pellant lifted up her shirt and bra and began fondling her. The victim then said “no.”

After roughly thirty seconds of kissing and fondling, appellant “un-did his pants and he kind of moved his body up a little bit.” The victim was still saying “no” but “really couldn’t move because [appellant] was shifting at [her] body so he was over [her].” Appellant then tried to put his penis in her mouth. The victim did not physically resist, but rather continued to verbally protest, saying “No, I gotta go, let me go,” in a “scolding” manner.

Ten or fifteen more seconds passed before the two rose to their feet. Appellant disregarded the victim’s continual complaints that she “had to go,” and instead walked two feet away to the door and locked it so that no one from the outside could enter. . . . The victim testified that she realized at the time that the lock was not of a type that could lock people inside the room.

Then, in the victim’s words, “[appellant] put me down on the bed. It was kind of like—he didn’t throw me on the bed. It’s hard to explain. It was kind of like a push but no. . . .” She did not bounce off the bed. “It wasn’t slow like a romantic kind of thing, but it wasn’t a fast shove either. It was kind of in the middle.”

Once the victim was on the bed, appellant began “straddling” her again while he undid the knot in her sweatpants. He then removed her sweatpants and underwear from one of her legs. The victim did not physically resist in any way while on the bed because appellant was on top of her, and she “couldn’t like go anywhere.” She did not scream out at anytime because, “[i]t was like a dream was happening or some-thing.”

Appellant then used one of his hands to “guide” his penis into her vagina. At that point, after appellant was inside her, the victim began saying “no, no to him softly in a moaning kind of way ... because it was just so scary.” After about thirty seconds, appellant pulled out his penis and ejaculated onto the victim’s stomach.

Immediately thereafter, appellant got off the victim and said, “Wow, I guess we just got carried away.” To this the victim retorted, “No, we didn’t get carried away, you got carried away.” The victim then quickly dressed, grabbed her school books and raced downstairs to her boy-friend who was by then waiting for her in the lounge.

Once there, the victim began crying. Her boyfriend and she went up to his dorm room where, after watching the victim clean off appellant’s semen from her stomach, he called the police.

The defendant testified in his own behalf. He admitted that he initiate[d] the first physical contact, but added that the victim warmly responded to his advances by passionately returning his kisses. He conceded that she was continually “whispering ... no’s,” but claimed that she did so while “amorously . . . passionately” moaning. In effect, he took such protests to be thinly veiled acts of encouragement.

Kahan's study presented an almost identical account to study participants, and asked them to judge whether the incident constituted rape or not. 58 percent of people surveyed said they would have found the boy "guilty of rape." 42 percent would not have found him guilty.

AMANDA: Hey, would you like to chat now? Remember: In this chat, "no" means "maybe."

SADY: as it should! i, personally, like to SAY "no" so that my chat partner will not believe i am enthusiastic about the chat that i totally actually want to be chatting.

AMANDA: I generally restrict using "no" and variations on it, such as "stop," with undergraduate rapists whom I have never met before, in order to ensure that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court nows that I truly maybe wanted it.

SADY: right? so, this case. around which this study is based. is actually like some terrifying cartoon of sexist assumptions. girl goes into dude's room. girl has been friendly with dude. dude proceeds to initiate sex, to which girl says no. sex continues on apace. which is rape, right? but instead there are all these discussions of whether she tried to unlock the door or whether he shoved her onto the bed HARD enough to constitute "force" (did she bounce?) and the "no," although admitted to by both parties, actually DOES NOT COUNT AT ALL.

AMANDA: Did she bounce. That's the really, really weird thing about this case: All the assumptions about what makes a "real" rape are totally fucking insane! and the one sane assumption—that if she says no, it means she doesn't want to have sex—is discredited

SADY: right. and at one point, they mention that it was determined that the "no" meant lack of CONSENT, but did not thereby qualify the act as RAPE, since rape requires force and also that you not be married to your rape victim. so the question is, then: why isn't "no" enough? why is "no means no" a problem, and for whom? and the answer is... um, older ladies, apparently.

AMANDA: yeah: the answer is older, privileged ladies that i imagine to be stroking gigantic white cats while informing rape victims that they actually wanted it . . . in order to hold on to their social privilege, and the diamond-encrusted tiaras that go along with it, or whatever. these older ladies are really interesting to me, and i was trying to figure out what exactly about their cultural circumstances made them want to decide this case this way?

SADY: right. like, one SAYS no to the gentleman, dear, that he might not think you a harlot. whilst you have the sex that you said "no" to because you wanted it. oh, and also, if you say no AND MEAN IT there's no way for the dude to know that! because you SHOULD be saying no ALL THE TIME!

AMANDA: And also, implied, I think, is that if any women actually say NO and mean NO, then the women who say NO and mean YES will be considered sluttier than the rape victims. WHICH IS FUCKED UP.

SADY: UH HUH. and, like, if you want to play an incredibly hot erotic sexy game of saying "no" to sex every time you want sex, whatever. for me that is like playing a game of Let's See How Close I Can Stick My Face To This Chainsaw every weekend. but what are the odds that a woman who says no and means yes is going to then up and take her case to a rape court? for funsies? like, that is pretty time-consuming and awful, actually! i doubt anyone is THAT invested in maintaining her reputation as a non-sex-liker! so why should it affect the construction of the law? AT ALL?

AMANDA: beats me. the really scary thing is the assumption that because these jurors will decide based on their cultural attitudes and NOT the law, it doesn't matter WHAT the law says rape is

SADY: right, which is what the study seems to confirm.

AMANDA: however, in this particular case, the jury did decide to convict the dude of rape, and then the penn. supreme court decided 7-0 to reverse it ... based on the law. or ... based on their weird cultural assumptions? perhaps there were some hidden Privileged Older Ladies on the bench?

SADY: it really strikes me that the basic assumption here (in people who assume that "no means no" is a bad thing) is that dudes go around accidentally raping ladies ALL THE TIME and shouldn't be punished for it.

AMANDA: yeah. oops!

SADY: like, the idea is that dudes can't interpret the word "no" correctly, because they are less smart than your dog, and therefore should they accidentally rape someone who is saying "no" a lot you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. like, better luck next time, timmy!

AMANDA: even though, chillingly, the accused and the victim got to know each other in a sexual assault awareness lecture titled “Does ‘No’ Sometimes Mean ‘Yes’?” you really have to wonder how the lecture resolved that question

SADY: Oh, GOD. "in conclusion, no means no except when that is inconvenient for you personally! hope this helps!"

AMANDA: like, if the lecture concluded, "No, No Doesn't Sometimes Mean Yes," the attendees could have said, well yes, but what if No actually means Yes in your conclusion that No Doesn't Mean Yes?

SADY: ah, the timeless "but I WANT ice cream" logical maneuver.

AMANDA: it's terrible, because "no means yes" has always struck me as some sick dirty joke that people tell, but now i see that it has affected the actual reasoning of juries. the main point to take away from this is that jurors need to stop taking their jury duty vacation as an oppportunity to punish women that they think are sluts. if i were a lawyer, i would start asking that question in jury selection.

SADY: ray of light here, though? younger, more sexually active folks of both genders were more likely to grasp the meaning and validity of "no." like, apparently if you get that women CAN consent to sex, you're more likely to not have sex with them until they DO!

AMANDA: yeah. totally.

SADY: which, you know. the slut-punishing vigilante squad aside, makes me feel hope for this new generation, and their ability to understand words you learned when you were two years old.

AMANDA: this study was extremely depressing. i at least thought that the "she wanted it" defense would at least concede that admitting that she actually said "no" would be bad for their case. you'd assume the rapist wouldn't admit that! but when he does, the Old Privileged Ladies seems almost more likely to believe him

SADY: well, you know. he's a poor young man! led astray by that permissive harlot! and so on, and so forth.

AMANDA: no bouncing, so what can you do

SADY: right. NOT ENOUGH PREMARITAL FORCE-BOUNCING, that's what was wrong with this case. so, here's my advice to the world: however you feel about "no," can we hope, maybe, that you are MORE excited to get a "yes?" Because that, I think, is what you should be aiming for. "Yes, I would like to have sex with you." That, I would assume, is a statement that we can all agree is a positive.

AMANDA: . . . Maybe!

Photo by flickr user freeparking under Creative Commons

  • DB

    Thanks for sharing this.

    As someone who deals with dude rapists... "Dudes [do] go around [insert-word-here] raping ladies all the time."

    "Accidentally" isn't the right word, though. Rape isn't like dropping a plate. More like dudes don't bother to consider that what they're willing to do is rape. And don't respect women as beings (rather than things), so they pay little heed to indicators of an absence of enthusiastic consent.

    Y'all were probably just joking, but i think you hit the nail on the head with "no means no except when that is inconvenient for you personally”--that's the non-logic.

    The dudes in question ARE "less smart than your dog," but they don't deserve any benefits of doubt or of douche. There is a place for folks who rape, regardless of whether they're a hapless nice boy otherwise--it's called prison.

  • Ambiance

    Don't most women throw out token resistance anyway? If she says "No", you stop, and try again in 3 minutes, then she says "No" again, you pull away from what you were doing before, such as making out, and she misses it, and then make out again in a bit and go for the next advance, etc.

    Given that nothing physically forceful is used, is it still "rape" if she's already said "no" before, but didn't say it that specific time you made your advance?

  • jules

    I agree with you DB. These guys think to themselves "Well, in general I'm a good person, so I couldn't be capable of raping someone." They don't realize that once the woman says "no" it doesn't matter. If the word "no" is used, the subsequent incident is rape.

    Ambiance: if a woman has thrown out some so-called "token resistance" but then hooks up with you later...just ask her! "Hey, you said "no" earlier. Are you sure you want to do this?" Its that easy.

  • L

    Yeah, Ambiance, I'm with jules on this one: If you're not sure, communicate. Sex doesn't have to be about guesswork and hoping -- you can talk to the other human being in the situation with you.

    I think the important thing to take away from this Sexist Beatdown is that even if you think a lady's "no" is just "token resistance," it's essential that you take that "no" seriously and cease and desist. Because what happens if it's not "token resistance"? What happens if she really does mean it? Then it's rape.

    But it's so goddamn depressing that apparently it's not rape according to the PASC. :(

  • Ambiance

    By the same logic, if the child keeps asks the parent "can I have $5" and the parent says "no", and 3 minutes later, the child asks again, and the parent says no - and he keeps trying until the parent lets him have it. Since the parent already said "no", would he technically be stealing?

  • jules

    Please don't equate a child asking for allowance, to a someone forcing sex on someone else. The two are not related.

    I will say it again: if the woman you are with says "no", and then later, seems insterested in hooking up, say: "You said no earlier, are you sure?"

  • Amanda Hess

    Ambiance, that's a clever argument, but one that has very little to do with "consent" in the context of rape. Why don't we bring your argument back to reality?

    Let's say a stranger comes up to you and says "GIVE ME ALL OF YOUR MONEY." You don't know the guy---you don't know if he's armed, dangerous, crazy, or in the mood to have a little fun with you. Still, you take a chance and don't just surrender your wallet. You say "no." The stranger gets closer to you. "GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY," he says. Again, you say "no," but you don't try to run or fight back---what if the guy IS crazy? What if he has a gun? Could you overpower him in a fight? The stranger begins to get physical with you. He's touching you now. You are fucking SHITTING YOUR PANTS AT THIS POINT, and as many times as you've imagined yourself the victor in this scenario, you just CAN'T MOVE FOR SOME REASON. "GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY," he says. "No," you say, again, somehow, even though you are losing your mind. He takes your money.

    Personally, I don't like comparisons between rape and theft, and I find the business of creating analogies in order to make people understand that "no" means "no" extremely tiresome. Still, some people who cannot imagine---or in fact recall---themselves being raped sometimes find the comparisons helpful.

  • Amanda Hess

    One more thing: making the rapist into the innocent child and the rape victim into the scolding mother was a really classy touch.

  • Ambiance

    Jules: Totally agree that someone "forcing" sex and someone "asking for money" is totally different. I wouldn't advocate "forcing" anyone to do anything, neither sex nor giving money - but this is about the concept of keep making your gentle moves after hearing the word "no", as any guy would do on a date - just like a child keep gently trying to ask for money after hearing the word "no".

    Amanda: Those were just comparisons. So from your previous comment, would you say the biggest difference between the child hearing "no" and still ask for the money 2 minutes later, vs a guy hearing "no" and still make another move 2 minutes later, is the intimidation behind it? The whole "you're shitting in your pants by now" and "he has a gun" and everything else? As long as the woman understands that she can choose to walk away anytime and not physically scared, would it not be rape?

    Logical debate here, no need for personal attacks such as "was a really classy touch". But if attacking commenters that disagree with your point of view is your way of discouraging them from leaving comments on your blog, I can respect that.

  • Dave

    "keep making your gentle moves after hearing the word “no”, as any guy would do on a date"

    Ambience, let me help you out here. As long as you make your moves gentle enough that she doesn't bounce off the bed, it's not rape. That's right there in the article.

  • Mrs. D

    Ambiance, your analogy doesn't really fit the situation in the article. He didn't pull away and try again later, he kept coming after the nos. He pinned her down. He locked the door (even though she could get out, it was an intimidating tactic to do so).

    The situation you're describing reminds me of a situation I found myself in a few years ago. I was out with a guy, we went back to his place, we started making out. I was totally there. He pushed me down, harder than I expected, and I winced. He backed off a little (not completely, because we still had our tongues down each other's throats at this point). And then resumed. I wasn't saying or implying no, I was just a little surprised by the amount of force he used and had a reflexive response to that. I wasn't really opposed to the amount of force or the action, but my body INSTINCTIVELY reacted that way. How is this analogous to your story? You assume that there's a reflexive, instinctive (yes, instinctive, bred by society's training of women to act that way) to say no, even if they do want it. It's not that they don't want it, just that the “proper” thing to do is say no.

    In the case above, there was a repeated, clear, negative reaction to what was going on. She most likely didn't fight back because of another training of women: to be polite and non-confrontational. The fact that she was giving the dude a chance and was friendly with him probably enhanced this instinctive reaction not to violently fight back. *I* personally think that, if she had really wanted it to happen, and was just playing the rape card after being caught, she would have first tried to hide her act from her boyfriend and/or others and ONLY pulled the rape card when caught. Not run out of the room crying, immediately tell her boyfriend what happened, immediately report the rape, and follow through with the prosecution completely. While regret might be an immediate reaction, it strikes me that to come up with a devious plan to cover her actions would take at least a few minutes. While *some* women do use this tactic to explain away a sexual act they REGRET, the above analysis is a better standard, IMHO, to determine whether the rape charge is likely bogus than the standard applied: the amount of force used and how much she fought back/tried to prevent the situation. Rape may require force, but it shouldn't have to be a certain AMOUNT of PHYSICAL force. In a robbery, for instance, force can include simply grabbing something. If someone grabs my purse and I'm not quick enough or don't have the reflexive action to try and grab it back, that's STILL force. Just because all he did was pin her down doesn't mean he still didn't have sex with her by FORCE, i.e., rape her.

  • Mrs. D

    Jeez...wish there was an edit option. :)

    I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here, Ambiance, by assuming that the woman in your scenario DOES really want it. Persuading someone to have sex with you when they REALLY don't want to is very, very close to as bad as rape. Coercion is also a form of force, and in this situation is preying on the be nice and not confrontational tendency of MANY women, imposed by a lot of the societal influences women are still exposed to.

  • Amanda Hess

    Ambiance, The biggest difference between the two situations is that if it's not obvious whether the mother actually GAVE the child the money or whether the child TOOK it, it doesn't matter: She can just take it back. If it's not obvious whether a rapist TOOK something from a victim or whether they had consensual sex, it matters a LOT. The stakes and the standards are much higher in this situation, and that's why it's important to have methods in place to make sure that the sex is being freely given BEFORE it is "taken."

    A pretty good way to make sure is for both sex partners to say "yes," or at the very least not say "no." If one of the sex partners says "no," that means that her body is not to be violated. If a woman says "No! Don't!," it doesn't mean you need to stop pursuing her, but you gotta get an affirmative out of her before you do whatever action elicited the "no" again. Why? Because neither you nor I know what this mystery woman is thinking. Women, strangely enough, are not all thinking the same thing when you attempt to have sex with them. Perhaps she's scared shitless of you! Perhaps she just didn't like that one thing you did. And maaaaybe she's just offering up token resistance.

    Why not try checking instead of concocting arguments as to how you're not "actually" raping someone, because you "assume" that she likes it? This strategy has the benefit of a) preventing rape and b) preventing the pursuer from getting blindsided by a rape case.

    This particular case is cut and dry: She said no up to, during, and after the act. When she says no, and then later says NOTHING, some pursuers may assume that means her body is theirs for the taking. Do not ever, ever assume that someone's body is yours for the taking. Sure, sometimes the woman may actually want to have sex with you, and it all works out fine; the one time she doesn't want to have sex with you, you're a rapist.

    Sorry for being curt earlier, Ambiance. I do appreciate your voice in the comments. I can just get tired of having to explain again and again why rape victims don't have to "fight back" to be raped. Victims of all crimes use different strategies to respond to and cope with crimes committed against them. Rape victims shouldn't be held to a higher standard than the person who gets held up in their home and doesn't attempt resist when a criminal ties them up and gags them in the corner.

  • jen

    uh... i'm really surprised that more peeps aren't responding to this horrifying snippet of Ambiance's post:

    "but this is about the concept of keep making your gentle moves after hearing the word “no”, as any guy would do on a date"

    OH. MY. GOD. is that really what "any guy" would do on a date? cuz if so, then that's our fucking problem, right there: guys obviously seeing every date as a chance to get a piece of ass. how very sad for you. i'm sorry you just can't seem to control yourself. i'm sorry you view every date with a woman as a chance to fuck.

    get a life.

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  • Juliya

    Did anyone even bother to click for Ambiance's site? It's full of awesomely charming sexist assumptions. I would have given him credence for a "logical debate"... but not after seeing that.

    THERE'S your damn rapist.

  • Stan

    It would be nice if either of you actually -read- the rulings in the Commonwealth v. Berkowitz appeals.

    SADY: "dude proceeds to initiate sex, to which girl says no. sex continues on apace. which is rape, right?"
    - No, it's not. Definitions are central in law, which means that rape and assault have distinct and separate meanings. The former is a subset of the latter, and requires a determination of forcible compulsion. Non-consent alone is insufficient to find guilt, absent of unconsciousness or mental deficiency.

    The Supreme and Superior courts found that there was no forcible compulsion, and therefore no rape (in the legal sense). Does that mean Berkowitz did nothing wrong and that "no" is not enough? NO. He was convicted of indecent assault.

    AMANDA: "beats me. the really scary thing is the assumption that because these jurors will decide based on their cultural attitudes and NOT the law, it doesn’t matter WHAT the law says rape is"
    -How is that different from the both of you whom are convinced that Berkowitz was guilty of rape based on YOUR cultural attitudes and not what the law actually states?

  • Demosthenes XXI

    I always see the term "coercion" in context to unwanted sexual encounters. Here's the legal definition:

    Legal Dictionary

    Main Entry: co·er·cion
    Pronunciation: kO-'&r-zh&n, -sh&n
    Function: noun
    : the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal (as discharge from employment) or other intimidating behavior that puts a person in immediate fear of the consequences in order to compel that person to act against his or her will.

    Now, according to most normal people, if you are using force or the threat of force to get somebody to have sex with you, then that is rape.

    Now in the scenario that was related in the post, I am in agreement that the sexual contact was unwanted and this was a definite case of sexual assault. But there was no implication of threat if the girl tried to physically resist, therefore according to the definition, no coercion. What I am trying to say is that there needs to be a reset of language in regards to the term "coercion."

    We need to just call rape, rape and be clear of it's definitions in context to the situation required.

  • Mark

    Jules writes: "if the woman you are with says “no”, and then later, seems interested in hooking up, say: “You said no earlier, are you sure?”"

    That's the smart thing for a guy to do. Women, too, give in to their urges, and regret that decision in a way that guys rarely do. The best way to keep those next day regrets from turning into accusations of impropriety is to get her to own up to her interest in the act in question.

  • Anonymous

    Juliya, you sicken me.

    Calling a man a rapist because he asks a question is evil. EVIL.


    The main purpose of a relationship between a man and a woman is procreation. Why does this make sense? Oh, I don't know, maybe because the SURVIVAL OF OUR SPECIES depends on it? Hmm... I don't know, that seems like a sensible thought.

    Don't call me a "rapist" or "misogynist scumbag" (although I'm sure someone will, that's how feminists work nowadays). I'm not. I'm just a DISILLUSIONED anti-misandrist who wishes to enlighten people to their false assumptions of male HATRED.

  • Mojo Nono

    If I learned one lesson early in life it's this: Don't date women who read romance novels (doubly so if they're American). Fool me once-"No, not tonight, stop!"..."Where are you going?", shame on you. Fool me twice-"No, don't put your hands there. Stop it, stop it, no, STOP!!!"..."Hey, Mojo!? Why are you apologizing? Come back! What do you mean, 'No, thanks'? I see...You're a fucking faggot, Mojo, a fucking, cocksucking faggot! Go on, go out there and find some dick, ya fucking homo!", shame on me.

    I'm not saying that _all_ American women are like this. I just find if interesting that I've dated rural women (African, Arabic and Asian, and raised to fit the stereotypes of submissiveness) who've let their intentions be known with more force than my ill-met encounters with American women. "Yes" was a definite "Yes", and "No" meant "The sex wouldn't be worth the injuries and embarrassment, so 'No' " So, kudos to all of the women who are strong enough to let your true desires be known, because the ones who are too "afraid" or "ashamed" or "virtuous" (read: secretly libidinous, but worried about their reputations) can drive a guy (who, admittedly, tries his best to be 'nice' and 'respectful') out of his mind.

    P.S.-The guy in the case study? Rapist _and_ idiot. If I were in his position, the lack of visible interest _alone_ would have been enough to convince me to leave. As I was (also) lucky enough to learn before I would have been old enough to allow my hormones to get me in trouble-"It's better to be called a 'punk' than to be sent upstate and made into one. Prisoners have wives, mothers, sisters and daughters too."

  • Kelly

    As a woman, cases like this bother me. If she said no as often as she claims, then clearly the man was wrong, legally and morally, but from what I've read here, it sounds as though she was also kissing him back. There's nothing here to indicate she wasn't, and how difficult is it to tighten your lips as a sure sign you aren't interested, and how confusing is it if you say no but kiss the man you say you have no physical interest in?

    And I'm sorry, but how does a woman not physically resist a man trying to put his penis in her mouth if she doesn't want it there? She has to open her mouth or at least her teeth.

    I'm inclined to believe her, but her story is a bit suspect. And yes, I realize that women can consent to kissing and even to oral without consenting to sex.

    Yes, guys should practically get written consent for sleeping with any woman who isn't their girlfriend, but women also have an obligation to be clear in their responses.

    And there's no reason to be alone with a guy you've just met and don't trust, especially not in his room. This is just practical advise, not blaming the victim.

    As to those upset that men think about sex and see dating as a way to get laid, are you really serious?

  • missdk

    Anon aka Ambiance.


    Really? Men pushing themselves on women until they say yes has to do with "procreation" and the "survival of our species?" Right.

  • obnoxious sexist male

    Finally, we poor, weak, helpless men unable to defend ourselves against female depredations have a voice! Many a time I have been viciously attacked one of these creatures, all but helpless to fend her off as she dragged me to her lair, threw me onto the bed, ripped my clothes off and had her way with me, leaving me feeling used, shamed and dirtied!

    Seriously -- cummon.

    Sex gone bad and regretted in hindsight is not rape.

    Extremely effective seduction by an otherwise unattractive partner is not rape.

    Beer goggles that later clear up, revealing the awful truth -- not rape.

    Female boss says "Brock, I have a spot that badly needs filling and I've decided you're the man to fill it" -- and she's not talking about a job position -- then that would be harrassment or rape, depending how far it goes.

    A woman displaying a weapon and saying: "Get it out and get it up" would be rape.

    A 300# girl sitting on a 150# guy and refusing to get off until she gets off -- that's rape.

    Anything else is just lack of judgment self-control or initiative to just get up and walk the fuck out.

    Look. I've been in some semi-coercive/stalker situations not unlike what Mojo has described. In one such situation, we went a certain ways and I just wasn't feelin it. I truly do value customer satisfaction so I tried to soldier on. But if the little soldier refuses to follow orders, what do you do? So eventually I had to back out. She became irate, called me names, insulted my manhood, called me insane, called me gay, said I lacked testosterone, etc. You know what I did? I exited the premises. Not complicated.

    If I meet a girl who I think looks fun but also might be a little cuckoo for cocoa, I make sure not to disclose exactly where I live. That's just common sense -- there's stranger danger out there.

    Then there are those "so wrong but it feels so right" situations. Doubts get swept aside in the torrent of hormones, "what will she say," "what will the Homies say" ... Truth be told, it IS sometimes hard to stop that train once it gets started. Yet I understand this is no exemption from personal responsibility. It was my fault and I will admit it. It was also her fault.

    On "no [from a woman] ALWAYS means no" -- sure, and when I say I'll call you I ALWAYS mean I'll call you. Sorry to be un-PC but this is my empirical observation.

    SHE: I think we should stop.

    ME: I don't want to stop.

    SHE: [Long pause] Neither do I.

    FWIW. It need not be about women being "loose," just that they don't always know exactly what they want or -- imagine this -- sometimes change their minds. People of either sex are not always sure about what they want. That's a human reality. It's even more true of women.

    why is “no means no” a problem, and for whom? and the answer is… um, older ladies, apparently.

    That may be because being older, they have experienced more of the ambiguity of their own emotions and signals. Emotions are not black and white. Responsibility and communication are two-way streets, although it's absolutely true that the male, being generally the more powerful and dominant, does carry a greater responsibility no matter how powerful the urge. He should be judged by a higher standard according to the circumstances.

    But here's the rub. Often, the only evidence to be had is evidence of resistance or force. Absent such evidence, all you have is she said/he said. How many innocent men do you want to send to prison on that basis? Attributing blanket angelic purity to female motives and demonic motives to males doesn't carry the argument.

    SADY: UH HUH. and, like, if you want to play an incredibly hot erotic sexy game of saying “no” to sex every time you want sex, whatever. for me that is like playing a game of Let’s See How Close I Can Stick My Face To This Chainsaw every weekend.

    As I said, it happens. And this does set up the problem of "how do you tell the difference?" This looks like a case where some self-policing amongst the sisterhood might be in order. But that runs up against this attitude:

    SADY: which, you know. the slut-punishing vigilante squad aside,

    See, this is the problem you have. Insisting on blanket victimhood without responsibility does not solve anything. Switching moralities from relative, to absolute, and back to relative again at your whim, doesn't help. "How can we stop rape?" is a totally different project from "how can we as women be free to tease and/or fuck whoever, whenever, whereever, while accepting absolutely zero responsibility for mixed signals or ambiguous situations?" isn't a sincere effort either. There's an element here of having your cake and eating it too. If you want to avoid going over Niagara Falls, you can't help it if somebody pushes you in. You can help that you were in the boat together and you decided to try to get out at the last minute.

  • Fuchsia

    Wow, that is probably the most long-winded rape apology I have ever come across! Congrats, very aptly named Obnoxious Sexist Male!

    P.S. I do have to admit that I am generally of the opinion that pushing others over the Niagara Falls is behaviour people should try to avoid engaging in and that, if they do attempt it, responsibility should lie largely with the person doing the pushing, no matter what the victim was doing prior to being attacked. I guess I'm just weird that way.

  • Rita

    "One more thing: making the rapist into the innocent child and the rape victim into the scolding mother was a really classy touch."

    LOL, great comment Amanda. Seriously, the example of a mother with a nagging child to a rape case is just about the dumbest comparison. A mother can very well deal with a child who won't take no for an answer. Can you fathom putting a 25-year-old man on your knee to spank him? Or sending him to the corner for a timeout? Just because this wasn't a cut-and-dry case of a guy putting a gun to the victim's head and forcing himself on her while her screams for help are silenced with duct tape doesn't mean that it wasn't rape. The victim repeatedly told him no; he never backed off. He even locked the door. There weren't any "mixed messages", it's not as if he let her go and at the last moment she changed her mind and stayed. As for the victim not physically fighting him, that was a case of someone being in a state of shock. She said “[i]t was like a dream was happening or some-thing.” Perfect example of having an out-of-body experience. The kind of mechanism you employ when something traumatic is happening to you. I'm pretty sure there are tons of rape victims that could describe the experience of their assault as it was happening as a dream or an out-of-body experience. You can't quite grasp what really went on until after it's done.

  • Roblin McIntyre

    Is it really unfair to place a "burden" on people (note, I said people, not women), namely the requirement to resist someone if they are trying to have sex with you against your will? I find it amazing that, after the fact, you can go through the horrific process of reporting the crime, prepping for trial, dealing with the press, etc., but during the rape you can't get up and walk out of the room. Because this is such a charged subject, I'll use a man as an example: a man goes to a woman's room; she straddles him and unzips his pants. He says no. She gets up to dim the lights and close the blinds. He remains on the bed. She takes out his penis and performs oral sex. He says no.

    She's just sexually assaulted him. Frankly, I don't see how that's at all acceptable. Clearly, if a stranger knocks you down in an alley, there's not even a hint of consent. But to be so passive and dispassionate about the whole process is just wrong. The word No, in any context, is completely meaningless.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Roblin McIntyre, that's an extraordinarily offensive and dense mindset you've just expressed.

    When you're reporting the crime & going through the judicial process, you get to address challenges at your own pace & you have the support of your lawyers, medical professionals, etc., etc. Granted, that support is clearly not enough because so few victims actually do go through that process.

    To compare that with how a person can or should proceed when they are taken by surprise, intoxicated, alone with a hostile person, pinned down, terrified, and/or physically unable to defend themselves forcefully enough to be effective, is completely and totally ludicrous.

    What's more, to say that you should have a requirement to resist is not only victim-blaming, it's dangerous--in many cases a victim may very well have a legitimate fear of further physical harm if they resist. If you tell women (or men) that the only resistance that matters is force, you might put someone in the situation where they get beaten to a pulp as well as raped. Furthermore, you've just established a system where a man could rape any woman he wants as long as he offers a convincing enough threat to her physical well-being.

    What a shocking and disgusting sentiment.

  • Chris

    Roblin, what other kind of victims should be required to resist in order to have a case against their perpetrator? If someone steals a woman's purse on the street, is she required to run after him in order to prove that she has not consented to the theft?

    The fact is, when a crime is being committed against someone, most people (especially women, due to their being socially conditioned not to be aggressive) don't fight back; they freeze up. This is especially common during rape. Yet rape is the only crime in which women are expected to not only fight back, but not do a single thing that might possibly "encourage" a rapist, which can be anything from wearing too little to wearing too much to letting a guy in your house to walking down the street. It's a huge double standard, and it causes more women to be raped.

  • James

    I'll start off by saying that while I agree that this is definitely a rape case and what the guy did was wrong, I need to shed light some of the male psychology in regards to this topic which I believe many women to have little or no real understanding.

    Most men out there will agree that no means no. Its simple isn't it? Not exactly. Most men will also tell you that they have met at least one woman to which no has meant yes. Now, this is one of the most frustrating aspects of sexual encounters for men everywhere. We do not want this type of confusion, it does nothing but complicate an already delicate situation. So what do us normal men do? We hear No, we stop.

    Fair enough. However, it is my strong belief that body language offers much more communication than the verbal commands of 'yes' or 'no'.

    Now, I will be completely honest and will ask the same of the women reading this. I have been in situations where my partner has used the 'no' command and mentality (verbally) as a role-play scenario, all the while fully enjoying and initiating much of the sexual encounter. Not only with girlfriends in relationships, but with women I may have just met or not know that well.

    Now, can every woman here tell me that they have never engaged in this type of behavior?

    I've also been in situations where a woman said no, and I would find out after time had passed that it actually meant yes.

    All this to say, if a girl says no, I'll stop. But please understand why men can get confused at times. There is no blueprint for how a woman is going to behave, and if a man's advances are being met with soft 'no's' and absolutely no physical resistance, is he really a 'rapist' that deserves to be convicted and imprisoned?

    Consider natural physical reactions. If you are about to trip, you naturally try to regain balance. If you are about to be struck, you naturally attempt to block it with your arms. These are natural physical reactions.
    If a woman, such as in this situation, believes that she is going to be raped, her natural physical reaction would be to physically reject his advances. At the least, pushing him away. Personally, if I were getting raped I think I would go down with a fight to the death before anything else.

    Coming back to the main issue, no does mean no. The last thing any normal man wants to do is commit rape and hurt women. We are absolutely not going for that. But women need to understand where men are coming from and show a little bit of sympathy for the confusing escapades that we're constantly put through with regards to sex. Don't be naive and assume that every woman would agree that no always means no.

  • Beth

    It's becoming clear to me that as women we live in a kind of Twilight Zone where our words, our thoughts, our actions and our appearances are twisted via this Orwellian maneuvering. No means yes. The victim is the perpetrator. The legal system is not based on the law.

    People who have railed against using the term "the Patriarchy" take note: this is it. It's not men and it's not the government. It's this invisible, incorporeal Minitrue that tells us our lives have been terminally improved by feminism at the same time that feminism is blamed for all our ills, tells us that the perpetual war against women is in fact peace, whispers in women's ears that sexual repression is the only healthy sexuality. It's the voice that babbles all over campus newspapers and court rulings and Internet forums and the New York Times and everywhere else in this victim-blaming doublespeak.

  • Smoovie

    There is no way that you could mistake an unresponsive, disengaged, frightened partner with one who actually desires sex with you. If it's possible that you could, you have some fucked-up sexuality and communication issues. If you want sex with someone who disengaged and fearful, you are a rapist. To quote Harriet (of Fugitivus): "There is no way to “oops” your way into rape[...]You would notice if you were eating rusty nails; you wouldn’t mistake it for real food or enjoyable food."

    If you're having trouble figuring out how your partner feels, there's a simple remedy - ask! If you communicate, it's not terribly puzzling!