Friday, March 23, 2007

Pestering A Girl For Rape

I read this on Persephone's Box and had to read it twice to be sure I wasn't misunderstanding her.

Apparently some women get pestered into sex they don't want and consider it rape. I consider it saying "yes." I've written this elsewhere, but we can't be equals and also play the victim card. Men have to take responsibility for their actions, but so do we. But when the guy and girl are both drunk it's trickier for me. I love the old Philadelphia Story when Jimmie Stewart turns down Katherine Hepburn because she's drunk and there's some things a guy just doesn't do. But fast forward to today, is it okay to take advantage of someone so wasted they don't know what they're doing? I don't think it's rape, but it's not nice either.
I disagree 100% with this assessment of what is and isn't rape and the assumption that some women say they were raped to play the victim card.

Whenever I have or will decide to have sex with someone I will take responsibility, but I no longer take responsibility for sex I didn't want and didn't consent to. I'm sure my boyfriend/rapist rationalized that he simply pestered me into sex rather than admitting he pushed physically and emotionally until he found a moment where I wasn't able to fend him off.

The problem with dismissing any report of a seemingly non-violent rape is that what you would think of as merely pestering (like you might pester a friend to go to the movies with you) is far different from what really happens in these situations.

[Addendum: actually friends who pester can shift from friendly pestering to coercion if they don't stop when their friend has clearly decided not to go to the movies. Real coercion doesn't have to sound or look ugly. The person doing the coercing doesn't have to intend harm to the other person. Depending on the movie, this sort of coercion may cause no obvious harm. But there is a deep level of disrespect involved when what your friend wants or doesn't want stops mattering to you. You wanted to go to the movies with this person and getting what you wanted was all that mattered. There is no respect for your friend in this interaction. That's the core problem, not your friend's buckling to your wishes.]

The situations that involve alcohol which are labeled as rape are different than that the scene from Philadelphia Story when Katherine Hepburn's character is willing. And the only difference is NOT that the man didn't stay.

The first key to understanding these types of rapes is to realize that they are carefully planned to exploit the gray areas. That means premeditation. There is nothing truly friendly or equal about this interaction.

The person doing the "pestering" likely has thought carefully about how far the pestering can go before the intended target realizes that he isn't simply trying to change her mind and that he doesn't care what she wants and what she will freely consent to.

Maybe he'll rationalize away her resistance by telling himself that he's such a great lover that she will be giddy with delight before he lets her go. Maybe he's remembering stories from his buddies that say all willing women say no at first and will admire a man who won't let them go because that shows how much the man wants her. Maybe he wants to believe that this pestering is merely a wonderful form of flattery.

Often people will ask, "Why didn't she leave when she could have?" and the answer is often "I would have if I had a clue that this man I liked (or even loved) could be a rapist." Sometimes the answer is, "I tried to leave, but he blocked all of my efforts."

These rapists will be considering how their actions will be communicated by the victim so that they will seem less threatening in the retelling. He will also anticipate the questions people will ask to determine whether this really was rape and make sure her answers fall into the "no rape" category.

Nothing he does will clearly match people's expected image of rape or attempted rape unless they already understand his MO.

What many people forget or miss entirely is that in these situations the girl or woman has clearly said no -- otherwise there would be no need for any pestering -- and that her answer is not truly respected or accepted.

We all say that if a "no" is ignored that it is rape, but many times people miss the fact that this standard applies in this situation. Just because he didn't immediately fall on her and violently rip her clothes off doesn't mean that he didn't ignore her "no" and that he isn't a rapist.

This attitude about "no" was highlighted in the NO MEANS have aNOther drink T-shirts.

Any surface acceptance of her "no" is merely a strategy to keep the intended target from escaping. Pestering in these situations includes a physical component that is not-overtly violent. Part of that physical component is isolation.

This is where a lot of victim blaming comes in. The problem is that all of us are in isolated situations with people we know and trust, but we don't think about the power of that isolation until it is used against us.

The other part may be physical intimidation up to and including physically restraining the other person (while in a loving embrace, of course) while continuing the "pestering."

This isn't simply pestering, this is a siege directed at someone who has said no.

If the siege works, it is rape.

We all need to call it what it is and be very specific about what "persuasion" is not rape. The label pestering can hide too many rapes and hurt too many innocent rape victims.

This is as true when a woman is the one doing the "pestering" and is likely seen most often in parent/child abuse or teacher/student abuse or professional/client or clergy abuse since those relationships give the rapist/abuser the most opportunities and rationalizations to lay siege to another human being.

Technorati tags:


Bookmark and Share
posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:15 PM   2 comments links to this post


At March 23, 2007 5:28 PM, Blogger Sage said...

I think some guys do use grey areas to strike their prey, but I also believe that isn't always the case with grey areas.

By "pester" I don't mean coerce or manipulate or force or (threat of force) physically or emotionally; I mean to ask repeatedly, like a kid asks for ice-cream. If I say yes to stop the pestering, then I really don't think I can say it's rape later. I've made a conscious choice to take sex I'm not entirely up for over listening to repetative requests. Not a great choice, but one freely made.

Drinking is trickier in my mind. What if both are drunk and one, of either sex, is upset the next day. I don't think that's rape either. But, as I imply in my post, it doesn't feel quite right. If one is drunk and the other isn't, that's clearly rape to me. But if they're both falling all over each other? I'm not convinced.

If I choose to drink so much that my ability to make good decisions is compromised, I think that's my responsibility. If I'm beyond reason, and I start breaking stuff, I won't think twice about offering to pay for it all the next day. But if I'm beyond reason, and I come on to a guy and make offers of all sorts of sex, then he shouldn't be charged if he accepts the offer. Even though, I think it'd be nicer if he declined.

At March 23, 2007 8:01 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Sage, the problem I have is that if in a particular situation you freely made a decision to have sex when you weren't eager, then you aren't likely to call it rape. So once someone calls their experience rape, refuting that label should never be based on generalities or assumptions about the innocence of the pestering.

The greatest responsibility must go to the person who is doing the pestering. If there was ever a no, the person who doesn't stop asking has the legal and moral obligation to ensure that the other person is truly and fully consenting and will never view the interaction as rape.

That means giving the other person ample ways to have their no respected such as having the other person show willingness by taking the initiative for the next step.

On drunkenness, the responsibility goes to the person taking the lead in an interaction. If there is any chance that what looks like consent isn't real consent, the other person must stop.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home