The Sexist

Writer to Rape Victims: Sometimes, It’s “Too Late to Say No”

As long as we're all airing our half-baked theories about why rape happens, Kathryn Holmquist has got an idea: Rape happens because girls think they can say "no" whenever they want. According to Holmquist, the date rape problem begins with girls who want to get physical—girls who deliberately drink, flirt, and engage in "deep kissing" in the club—and then don't want to have sex. She writes:

When the action moves to the uncontrolled environment of a car, a park or a private home, the rules blur. When a boy goes "too far", this is date rape. It can be devastating, with the girl feeling betrayed and no longer trusting her own instincts. She may live with the emotional pain of it for years. And all because she believed that it's never too late to say no.

Well, that's an interesting approach. Personally, I would think that telling boys and girls that they must respect their sex partners' stated boundaries, no matter what, would help us all avoid rapes. Remember: Rape is sex without a person's consent. A reasonable person would argue that the problem here is the person who forces a non-consenting person into sex. According to Holmquist, the real problem is the person who refuses to consent to the raping:

The worst advice you could possibly give would be to tell her that she can always say no, even when she is no longer in control. Girls, just like boys, need to be told about the likely consequences of their actions.

To Holmquist, telling girls that they can't say no after they've crossed an arbitrary purity line—after they've gotten into the car, kissed too deeply, wore too short of a skirt, had one too many drinks—will encourage girls to remain completely chaste until they're ready to go all the way. While this theory would do absolutely nothing to prevent rape, it would help reduce reported rapes: If we adopt Holmquist's logic, girls who are sexually violated will no longer recognize their experience as rape, because they've been told that even the most modest of sexual activities—kissing!!—implies consent to the kitchen sink.

Holmquist continues:

This is not to say that "ladies" don't get date-raped. Nor am I saying that girls who behave in a certain way deserve what they get. What I am saying is that girls, if they want to act like boys—getting drunk and being sexually predatory—have to understand that a boy, if he is that way inclined, may take advantage. And boys, for their own protection, need to understand that a drunk girl who he thinks wants sex, may turn around the next day and accuse him of rape. Both are responsible for this tragedy.

Actually, boys can get a valuable heads-up on that rape accusation a lot earlier if "drunk girls" are simply allowed to verbalize their lack of consent before the rape happens. And girls are a lot more likely to escape from an unwanted sexual situation if they're not robbed of the only recourse they've got. As LiveJournal user nacbrie points out, saying "no" is often the only way that victims can "opt out" of a given sexual scenario, on account of the physical and cultural power imbalances that are generally at play in rape. So as long as we're holding girls responsible for their own rapes, can Kathryn Holmquist be held accountable for some tragedy, as well? Because anyone who thinks that the best strategy for reducing rape statistics is to make young girls complicit in their own rapes is a tragic figure indeed.

  • kza

    If every woman never left the house there'd be less rape. Any time you leave the comfort of your home you're increasing your chances of a boy raping you. I dont get what women are thinking when they go out. It's also selfish because they are also putting men at risk when they come out with rape allegations. Please women, consider the consequences of your actions. It's gotten to the point where you're almost raping yourselves.

  • Jenny

    So someone should makea a definitive list of all the ways women forfeit their right to bodily autonomy. I'll start: dressing sexy, consuming alcohol, kissing, flirting, walking alone, walking at night, going on dates, being married... oh let's just cut to the chase and admit that a womant forfeits her right to bodily autonomy by virtue of being a woman.

  • Catharine

    So, really, by Holmquist's reasoning, if I am willingly walking down the street, as a man might do on any given day, carrying my wallet out in the open, where everyone can see it, and I'm approached by a mugger who is -- how does Holmquist put it? -- "that way inclined", then I'm just asking to be mugged, because I've had the gall to believe that, as a human, as a citizen, as an American, I might have the right to "act like" a person of the male persuasion, and go and do as I please, when I please. I had it coming, in her assessment, because I should have realized that, well, women are just different from men, and we have to accept that. And we have to be pretty darn sure to teach our boys and girls that from a young age -- pull the boys aside and teach them they can go and do anything they please, without restriction or handicap, under full protection of societal rules and regulation, and pull the girls aside and teach them that those same rules and regulation might apply to them, as long as they don't run into a boy who has been taught to overlook them.

    I see now. Yes. It's all so incredibly clear.


  • Emily

    Also, can everyone please stop using the term "taken advantage of"? This is a stupid, murky, confusing way of naming sexual assault (which is, of course, the intent of victim-blaming authors such as Holmquist).

    Love this gem as well: "This is not to say that “ladies” don’t get date-raped."

    Who are these mysterious "ladies"? And how did they "get" date-raped? Let's take the victim/survivor/whathaveyou out of the scare quotes and put the perp back in his place. Maybe, "this is not to say that men do not date rape women". Or, "Of course, we know that men do rape women. Rape exists. Surprise."

  • Nancy Schwartzman

    "When the action moves to the uncontrolled environment of a car, a park or a private home, the rules blur"

    I feel like I'm hallucinating or time traveling, or being re-educated in the sexual culture of the 1950's.

    I wonder if they'll ever come up with the theory that people "get" raped because people choose to cross the line and commit rape? Doesn't the solution lies in men taking up the issue of gender violence as their own problem to solve?

  • nick

    It's a highly political issue for sure, but as I've been following this ongoing topic on this blog, I have to ask: why is this about black-or-white? I mean, what ever is?

    Rape is horrible, and it's never okay. Neither is murder. Nor is child abduction. Some adult-to-adult analysis, commentary and advisement on the multiple dimensions of risk involved seem to be convoluted into blaming the victims. Why? Seems unproductive to the issue, and smacks of "can't give an inch" tactics that squelch constructive discussion.

  • Jenny

    Nick, women are sick and tired of hearing about all the things they need to do to prevent their own rapes. We are sick of a rape culture that goes out of its way to torture reason and excuse rapists for their actions in all but a select few rapes. Do you seriously think that "if you kiss him, he gets to rape you" is part of a constructive discussion?

  • nick

    But nobody wrote, "if you kiss him, he gets to rape you."

    In some (not all) ways, it reminds me of the abstinence-only education devotees. It's a pretty shitty analogy frankly, and obviously, "they're gonna have sex anyway" isn't even close to "there are things that women do that increase the chances of getting raped" (ugh, it sickens me to type those words), but I do think that that there's some truth and constructive discussion mixed in with the b.s., and to shut it all out is what seems unproductive.

    Rape is sickening. As a father of two young daughters, "sickening" doesn't even begin to articulate my feelings on the idea. I do however think that there's a discussion to be had, albeit a touchy one, to help decrease the instances.

  • Mrs. D

    Um, Nick, dear, the discussion that needs to be had about "decreasing the instances" of rape is being had here. What needs to be said is: men, control means no, no matter how or when it's said, and when it's said, you need to stop.

    The problem is, unlike a lot of crimes, normal activities that are part of a fulfilling life are the "circumstances" of most rapes. Walking down a dark alley alone and intoxicated is actually more likely to get you mugged/robbed than raped, while going out on a date is more likely to get you raped than pretty much so any other activity one might partake in.

    This is why we complain about "victim blaming" and a "rape culture" here. Dating, kissing, drinking, and wearing certain clothes (many of which aren't even all that sexy) can and do lead to rape, and we're not willing to proscribe that behavior. We want MEN'S behavior to change, because the only way for women to 100% protect themselves from rape in the current climate is to never leave the house. We're not willing to give up our social lives, wardrobes, and freedom, and, quite frankly, we shouldn't have to.

  • nick

    I hear you 100%.

    Every effort should be made to educate men, especially young men, about what's okay and what isn't. It just seems that, in the effort of combating the instances of these horrific crimes, you'd utilize every tool you can. We should all continue to work on changing men's behavior, but maybe there are other tools that we can use too... at least explore?

  • Jenny

    Nick, I find it really disingenuous that you are implying that this is a discussion that isn't happening. It's happening ALL THE TIME. From a very early age girls are warned and shamed and have their behavior policed by (sometimes) well-meaning people who think that women can avert their own rapes. Our parents, teachers, friends, magazines, newspapers, etc are just full of helpful tips. Don't wear your hair in a ponytail! Cover your drink with a napkin! Avoid parking garages! It's de rigeur for female college freshment to receive rape whistles at orientation. Any time a rape makes news the "helpful suggestions" flood the media: She shouldn't have been drinking! She shouldn't have gone to that party! She shouldn't have been a stripper! Don't pretend that this hasn't been "explored" ad nauseum.

  • Mrs. D

    Like what, Nick? Chastity belts? Burkas? Human lo-jacks?

    I can get behind not getting in a car with a stranger or traveling in groups. After all, I don't want to be robbed or murdered, either, and these activities are more likely to lead to murder or burglary than sexual assault. So, what is it then that women should be doing? Since most rapes are acquaintance rapes, should we not have male friends or go out on dates? If both of those are okay, what precautions should we take in these situations? Should I remain buttoned up to the chin around my husband lest he take my dress as an "invitation" when I'm not interested? Should I never spend time alone with my male friends? Should I not consume alcohol whenever men are present?

    Of course women should be able to have male friends, go out and go out on dates, and dress as they please. Therefore, it falls on men to be responsible for STOPPING whatever it is they're doing or planning to do as soon as they hear any version of "no." Given the prevalence of rape in all cultures, nothing that women do will be effective in preventing men from raping anyway. Therefore, the ONLY effective tool is to STOP blaming the victims, STOP excusing the rapes, and START holding any man, anywhere, who "takes advantage" of a woman responsible for the RAPE he just committed.

    Women have only one role in this: learn to say no forcefully and repeatedly. DO NOT do something you don't want to out of guilt, shame, or a "sense of responsibility." That is the only fault of females: going along with things when they don't want to.

  • L Dub

    While this topic and discussion is important, I have to wonder why this was even brought up.

    The article by Kathryn Holmquist was written in 2002 for The Irish Times. While it's a sexist, racist, and borderline insane piece, it's hardly current or mainstream. Did the blogger just scour Google until she found something to be pissed about??

  • Magnetic Crow

    @Mrs. D
    My personal feelings are that any person, male or female, should start a sexual interaction by looking for signs of consent (and enthusiasm!), long before it gets to the stage where 'no' has to be said.
    Otherwise, I agree with you completely. :)

  • Emily H.

    "The problem is, unlike a lot of crimes, normal activities that are part of a fulfilling life are the “circumstances” of most rapes." Exactly. Women and girls are barraged from a very young age with rape-prevention "tips" & warnings about high-risk behavior. But the "risky" acts are usually alleged to be things like drinking (even though a few drinks won't really render most people defenseless -- drunk guys get in barfights all the time), staying out late, socializing with people they've just met, "flirting," walking/being alone, etc. Many of these alleged "high-risk" activities are normal and routine parts of social life, especially for young people. Social events tend to take place at bars or parties where alcohol is served, they tend to involve staying out late and meeting new people. All those things are common because people like them. They don't usually lead to rape (if they did, women really would stop doing them); they usually lead to fun times and a hangover. We don't label drinking and socializing "foolish" or "bad judgment" when guys do it. Furthermore, some of the high-risk activities are an unavoidable part of a person's life -- if a woman can't afford a car, and her shift at work ends late, it's no use warning her "don't walk alone after dark."

    The 2nd problem is that people offering helpful rape-avoidance tips may not know very much about the topic. Nick, you comment on the "multiple dimensions of risk involved," but are you an expert on self-defense or rape statistics? Most of the people offering us ladies advice have no claim to expertise, except that they've seen the same e-mailed lists of tips ("don't walk alone!") that we've seen, and heard the same lurid crime stories we've heard. The reality of the situation is that most rapes are committed inside someone's home, by a person the victim thinks she can trust. So if we based our crime-prevention tips on real facts, we'd be telling women to avoid going inside, and not letting their guard down around people they trust. Sounds pretty unrealistic.

    I don't think there's nothing women can do to protect themselves -- one thing I'd recommend is taking a women's self defense class. Practicing verbal assertiveness and learning a few effective physical moves will do more to help you feel safe than memorizing some ever-lengthening list of prohibitions.

  • abyss2hope

    Nick, if you think what Kathryn Holmquist writes is "combating the instances of these horrific crimes" you are wrong. If that is what she is trying to do she is an utter failure who is unlikely to pay the price for her dangerous rhetoric. Instead it will be rape victims who will pay the price during and after their assault.

    Any boy or man who will not respect no at any time is a rapist or someone who is right on the edge, only needing some girl or woman to do something Holmquist considers unladylike. Those who will rape non-ladies are in no way trustworthy with those Holmquist views as ladies because once rape becomes logical and a natural consequence of a victim's actions then the door opens for rationalizations which would horrify Holmquist.

    The bottom line of Holmquist's argument is: by a lady or else.

  • FishEagle

    Nick, I have to agree with your views. Nothing is in black or white. A discussion is needed between the male collective and female collective. Men are going to get to a stage that will be a very familiar position for rape victims - then are they going to say, "BUT WE WERE NEVER HEARD"?

    Women do not have a monopoly on saying what does, or does not go, when it comes to sex. It's just too easy for us women to claim the moral high ground because some of us have experienced rapes. why don't we just stop all sex, for that matter? Then we will be guarenteed that no rapes will ever take place again.

    The fact that I was raped has absolutely NOTHING to do with Nick's intentions of contributing to a better society for his daughters to thrive in. Men need to be heard on this issue. "No means no" is not a discussion.

  • Amanda Hess

    @L Dub

    I came across it through this response, which was written a couple of days ago by a woman who volunteers in the club that Holmquist holds up as the place where our femininity is going to shit. Her response is really fucking good---I suggest you all read it!

    I admit I didn't know when this piece was written, but given that it's still being published on a parenting Web site---and still being defended by commenters---it is, unfortunately, still relevant.

  • Mrs. D

    Magnetic Crow, "no" should be said, clearly, when the first unwanted interaction occurs. A guy starts to get handsy, you push his hand away, and say "no, stop it." You're making out with a guy, and he wants more, you stop what you're doing and verbally make it clear you're not interested in more. Most women won't do this...they'll do a fully choreographed routine to get away from him without directly telling him no. That is social conditioning imposed on women that needs to change.

    Fish, everyone has a monopoly on saying what does and doesn't go when THEY'RE having sex. A man is just as free to say no to anything, at any time, for any reason as a woman. No means no might not be a "discussion" but it's what needs to be drilled into everyone's head. The discussion normally focuses on women raped by men because, well, rape is most likely to take the form of male-on-female violence, but the rule applies for all varieties of sexual encounters and assaults. There might be a little gray area currently in terms of people doing things they regret or feeling like they were persuaded to do something they weren't enthusiastic about doing, but there would be a whole lot less of that gray area if victim-blaming and slut-shaming were done away with, and women were taught that it's okay to stand up for yourself and dictate the terms you're going to live by.

  • abyss2hope

    @FishEagle, you wrote: " Men are going to get to a stage that will be a very familiar position for rape victims – then are they going to say, “BUT WE WERE NEVER HEARD”?"

    Are you really conflating individual men not having their opinions about rape accepted by women with a rape victim not having her or his sexual boundaries respected by a rapist?

    You agree with Nick who wrote: "Some adult-to-adult analysis, commentary and advisement on the multiple dimensions of risk involved seem to be convoluted into blaming the victims. Why?"

    The problem here is that Holmquist failed at all of these discussions of risk and flat out positioned date rape as a consequence of most victims actions. There is no need to convolute Holmquist's words to make what she says victim blaming.

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  • victor

    A significant problem here is that many of the individuals who read/post in this comments section are willing to generalize all men as "potential rapists". All men are "potential rapists" as much as every human being is a "potential bank robber", or "potential murderer". People are taught not to rape in the same way that people are taught not to kill, steal etc. The fact is that somehow, people still kill and steal. And guess what, they rape too.

    The "feminist" solution I'm hearing here (not a very strong feminist position from my point of view) is "teach men not to rape!", as if this isn't already being done. Rape, in pretty much every form you can think of, is currently a crime. You are reaching a point where "education" is going to be yielding diminishing returns, as those who do in fact rape aren't doing so because they just weren't educated. They're doing it for the same reasons that people steal, because they want to and they think they can get away with it.

    If we accept that some percentage of individuals out there will rape, regardless of how much education and admonishment you administer, then one has to consider other preventative measures.

    I mean, do you honestly think that there aren't guys out there who try get women into situations where they cannot or will not say no? They may be your friends, they may be that guy who you see at the same bar every weekend, who for some reason always stays pretty sober. These guys aren't going to be "educated" away. These are the guys who try to separate the girl who can barely walk from her friends, offer her a ride home, another drink, a couch to crash on. They are predators.

    To dismiss any advice other than "teach men not to rape" as being victim blaming is stupid and defeats your ultimate purpose (of reducing rape, I assume).

    I used to use a cash machine in a very sketchy neighborhood in Baltimore, at about 2-3am. Nothing ever happened to me, but if I were mugged and stabbed, people would likely say that I introduced a certain amount of risk by using that cash machine. That isn't victim blaming, its a risk/reward assessment. We make these decisions daily, and to do so properly, one should have a REALISTIC assessment of the risk inherent in your actions. This is SEPARATE from activities intended to reduce the risk ("education" as you like to put it).

  • K

    Of course "educating" rapists isn't a good strategy to prevent rape. For one thing, you can only be a rapist *after* you've raped someone. However, as has been pointed out several times before, girls who "get raped" while they were out drinking, or in their homes when they were drinking with a friend they trusted, for example, more often than not, plenty of people line up to say "She was drinking with men she didn't know! She invited him in wearing a low-cut sweater! What else did she expect?"

    It is this exact attitude that needs to be eradicated thru education. Women are constantly told to "be vigilant" and "have common sense," but no amount of vigilance is going to protect them from people they thought they could trust. If society continues to assume that women must have "done something" to encourage an acquaintance rape, it lessens the criminality of the act in the minds of the public and the rapist. "He said she said" cases are the hardest to prove, and plenty of women simply don't report them, since the rapist won't be convicted, and the rape already occurred.

    If more women felt more empowered to be clear about their intentions, and less afraid of being slut-shamed and told they deserved it, then fewer "potential rapists" would think they could coerce, bully, or force an acquaintance into a situation they couldn't control with limited or no consequences. This is the kind of "education" that is important, for both genders.

  • abyss2hope

    @victor, the problem with your premise: that many of the individuals who read/post in this comments section are willing to generalize all men as “potential rapists” is that Holmquist goes far beyond this assumption when she writes: "What I am saying is that girls, if they want to act like boys - getting drunk and being sexually predatory..."

    Being predatory means viewing others as prey which you can have if you can catch them. If this is what it means to act like a boy then boys have not in fact been taught not to rape. They have only been taught when and who not to rape.

    When feminists do talk about true risk assessment (don't trust a boy or man who disregards any of your personal boundaries, for example) many men who claim to support risk assessment start hating it.

  • abyss2hope

    @K I agree with some of what you say, but disagree with you when you write: "If more women felt more empowered to be clear about their intentions, ..." and then position it as the source of many boys and men believing they can get away with sexual violence against those they know.

    Many of us who have been date raped were absolutely clear about our intentions and about our boundaries and got responses which made it clear that these were understood and would be respected. Our rapes were not in any way caused by the date rapist's confusion. They were caused by someone who simply didn't care that consent was absent. Some rapists will wait to rape until their intended victim will face the most victim blaming or disbelief.

    Many date rapists will lie and claim confusion if they cannot convince people that their victim is a liar.

  • Chanda

    Amanda, thank you so much for writing such an important entry. I wish, regularly, that someone had sat me down and explained all of these things when I was 16. Hopefully we are moving in a direction where that will become the thing to do.

  • Chanda

    Damn! That comment was actually meant for this blog entry on the difficulty of saying no:

  • K

    Abyss - I should have been more clear in my phrasing. I know lots of women are raped despite expressing their resistance clearly and repeatedly. However, the image of women as teases who have to be convinced (or coerced) into sex gives credibility to the date rapists that lie and claim confusion as you say. These stereotypes provide an environment that rapists can exploit.

    Also, I was thinking of the mindset of adolescent girls, who are often much more reticent to resist a boy than adult women. They've been told all their lives that attracting male attention is a mystical art that will ensure their social status. I remember being hesitant to set boundaries as a teenager for fear that the boy in question would find someone "easier."

  • abyss2hope

    K, I didn't express resistance when I was raped at 15 because I didn't see the attack coming. My rapist/boyfriend believed that girls had to be coerced or trapped into beginning a sexual relationship and since he couldn't coerce me into all he wanted, he worked diligently to prove that he was trustworthy. After he raped me he explained that he knew the only reason I said no was because I was afraid of sex. So my lack of consent was perfectly clear and simply didn't matter to him.

    I don't believe the image of women as teases who have to be convinced into sex gives credibility to the date rapists who lie and claim confusion because if you have to convince or coerce someone, you know they are not consenting.

    The only confusion is about what is acceptable. For many rapists this is any rape where the rape victim isn't screaming and scratching.

  • A

    amanda is misunderstanding the article. the author isnt saying women SHOULD have less control of date rape situations than men. instead she is saying that the reality of the current state of affairs is that women do not have as much control in social dynamics as they think. therefore it is not wise for a woman act as if she was still in control once she enters an "uncontrolled environment". she isnt finding a solution to solve inequality between men and women. she is giving advice to help girls prevent date rape.

    also, i dont think the "purity line" or the point when a girl loses control of the situation is as "arbitrary" as amanda says. date rape can only happen somewhere the guy is willing to have sex. a crowded bar is usually not one of those places, so its ok to drink and flirt and dance and dress sexy in the bar. but then dont go back to his place drunk unless you want to sleep with him. in most guys' minds, going to his place equates to sex. therefore, you should expect the same. best case scenario if you go while not wanting sex, you play a fun game of scrabble. worst case, you get raped. its the same logic as seatbelts. no one deserves to be raped, but being a victim does not absolve you of your own choices and irresponsibility.

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  • missdk

    A, who gives a shit if he thinks she wants sex? Hell, maybe she does! That has nothing to do with rape. I mean, I've thought a guy wanted sex plenty of times and it didn't follow through. Sometimes we'd been flirty for a long while, he gave me all the messages, maybe he even came home with me after a night after the bar, started making out, clothes were removed, and it just didn't happen. AND I DIDN'T FORCE IT ON HIM. Even when we were in the thick of it. Even if I was all hot and didn't want to stop. Even when it meant "blue balls" for days. When a HUMAN BEING doesn't want to proceed with a sexual activity through a straight up "no" or implied through inactivity, you stop. You respect their boundaries. That's all there is to it. Why? Because that person owes nothing to you. Just because they've left you frustrated or confused doesn't mean those boundaries no longer apply and you can force yourself on them. Once that happens, the only person who is responsible is the person who did not respect that boundary, not the person who said "yaknow, I'm not into this. sorry."

  • Gregory A Butler

    Kathryn Holmquist makes a hell of a lot of sense! If a teenage girl provoke a teenage boy sexually and then turn around and says no, he's not necessarily going to stop.

    That may not be the Politically Correct thing to say, but, if you've ever been around teenagers (and I've worked in youth programs, so I know whereof I speak) it is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

    So yes, a willing drunken tongue kissing and handjob session can easily turn into a rape scenario - and girls need to know that, for their own protection.

    Just like boys need to know that women are fickle and if a boy pushes a makeout session too far, he could end up facing a rape indictment.

  • Gregory A Butler

    "So, really, by Holmquist’s reasoning, if I am willingly walking down the street, as a man might do on any given day, carrying my wallet out in the open, where everyone can see it, and I’m approached by a mugger who is — how does Holmquist put it? — “that way inclined”, then I’m just asking to be mugged,"


    If you walk around with money in your hand in a high crime area, YES, you ARE "asking to be mugged"

  • Marguerite

    "So yes, a willing drunken tongue kissing and handjob session can easily turn into a rape scenario – and girls need to know that, for their own protection.

    Just like boys need to know that women are fickle and if a boy pushes a makeout session too far, he could end up facing a rape indictment."

    I, probably unsurprisingly, don't entirely disagree with your first statement above. Anyone needs to be aware of their situation, and perform a genuine risk assessment.

    However, I have a very big problem with your second statement. It highlights the impression I'm getting from your posts, which is that the onus for preventing rape is still on the women/girls. Boys can't control themselves. Boys won't stop after a certain point. Therefore, girls shouldn't do such and such, and if they do, their rape is their own fault.

    Even the way you've written it -- that proceeding against his partners wishes is "pushing a makeout session too far", rather than "rape" -- is downplaying the fact that the boy really does have a choice here too. For the most part, though, he's not taught to use it. He's taught rape is bad, but rape is what strangers in alleys do. Having sex after she's gone home with you is simply expected, rather than something that's still open to change.

    I also dislike your use of the term "fickle", though it's technically correct. Sex isn't an all-or-nothing affair. People are not all-or-nothing creatures - we change our minds all of the time!

    I remember wanting to ride a tall slide at a waterpark. I was nervous, but waited in the queue and climbed all the way to the top. Once I got there, I looked down, decided I really didn't want to do this, and said "no." Everybody respected my decision, and let me go back down the stairs. If I can get that kind of respect of my personal autonomy for a simple waterpark ride, why on earth shouldn't an individual (of any gender) expect that kind of respect for their decisions when it comes to intimate physical contact?

  • abyss2hope

    Marguerite, I think too many boys are taught that when it comes to sex girls are like the waterpark ride rather than being like another human being. At some point they feel entitled to proceed without continuing consent without that non-consensual behavior counting as "real" rape.

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  • Martijn Dekker

    Hmm, to me it's all pretty simple: if you're the girl being a tease, you could've seen it coming. And if you're the guy being teased, you know you'll get in trouble if you force her. Both parties are in the wrong, in this scenario about the drunk people alone in a car.

    When seen that way, the solution seems clear in theory: teach kids (of either gender) to respect boundaries, and tell them of the risk in blindly expecting others to respect theirs.

    I think we'd get rid of a lot of nasty behaviour that way... of course, next up will be someone saying that we shouldn't have to teach kids to be careful since "men should just behave".

  • Beth

    Did Holmquist just call all men sexual predators? I can't even critique it past that, my head is just full of "Oh no she di'int!"