Monday, May 08, 2006

sleeping with the rapist

I originally wrote this piece for an anthology. It was rejected, but it began to snowball the healing process. Please feel free to share. I'd like this one to be heard.

Sleeping with the Rapist
Jane Vincent

And she said don’t (don’t!)
Stop (stop)
Maybe you better go.
Yes she said don’t (don’t)
Stop (stop)
She kept on saying no.
Til she cried, “Don’t stop don’t stop loving, Dan.
You got fifty nine minutes to go.”

from “Don’t Stop Dan” by the Checkers

I lost my virginity to a rapist.

He didn’t rape me. I didn’t know he was a rapist at the time. Later I learned he had raped two acquaintances.

But I still feel guilty. I wonder if my actions that evening enabled the belief of “no means yes”.

At 18 I was sick of being a virgin. I found a guy that was reputed to put out (he was a playa' or whatever is the equivalent of a boy slut). We met with a group at a hookah bar about a week before graduation. He would come in to IHOP and drink coffee until I got off work. We'd drive around dark country roads with the windows down and Led Zepplin blaring. He would make awkward attempts at compliments and gave me a Pink Floyd t-shirt for my birthday. He would do.

An integral part of this decision was the fact that he was going in to the services. The coast guard. Reserves. (This was before the current war torn state, so it really was a joke). I was leaving on a ten day trip to Europe with my parents. By the time I returned, he would be at boot camp. He would not get out of camp until I had already left for college in New York. So, theoretically, I wouldn't have to worry about a relationship or any of that icky dumping-the-guy stuff.

The evening before his coast guard physical, he picked me up from a particularly long shift at IHOP. We got a room at the Comfort Inn. I was convinced everyone knew what we were doing. The only room available was a suite. This meant we got a bottle of cheap champagne and two plastic dixie cups and one of the regionally legendary jacuzzis.

He popped the champagne and drew me a bath. We sat across from each other in the jacuzzi, full of conditioning-shampoo bubbles, and he gave me a foot rub (waitresses of the world sigh in ecstasy). At this point I was ready to just go to sleep.

So we got out of the tub and toweled off. I then walked to the bed with my towel slung over the shower rod. He modestly tucked his towel around his waist and made some comment about me being "wild" and "bold". Um, I walked ten feet in the buff. Really wild, there.

He turned on the TV to some war movie set in Asia so there was karate, ninjas, and guns. We started making out. I went down on him. At the last minute I pulled up, bit his nipple, and asked him to get a condom."What? Oh, man, I don't have any. I didn't want to make any assumptions."

Hello! We are going to a hotel together. Translation: we will be having sex. You are the boy. The boy gets the condoms. (Thankfully, I am now liberated enough to carry around a dozen or so condoms for all my friends at any given time. And condoms do not assume anything. They are a responsible person’s way of preparing for the future, which could possibly include sex or the need for water balloons).

“Never mind,” I rolled over and huffed."In that case, I'm going to sleep." I said and closed my eyes. He spooned against me. After a few minutes he began kissing my neck. And then we were making out. And mutually jacking the other off. And he pulled up. "I'll pull out," he whispered as he pushed his way inside me. So romantic.

I never said yes. I even said no, although I acknowledge it was more the role of the good girl to deny sexual desire and especially sex without condoms then actual opposition. I wanted to have sex but couldn’t give myself permission to consent. I knew how to say no. What I didn’t know was how to say yes.

Later, I was raped. The scenario was strikingly similar to the loss of my virginity — the difference being my consent. At the end of my freshman year I was raped by a date that I trusted. It was actually a third date. I had been so proud of myself for not putting out immediately. I was going to do the three date standard. I really liked the guy and had plans for a relationship.

But I had been diagnosed with mono the day before. He wouldn't let me cancel the date so we went to a bar that didn't card. After one drink I was swinging and flushed. My hair caught on fire (no lie). I was so exhausted that I needed to go home.

He was too cheap for a cab so walked me the fourteen (okay, they were only street) blocks. Then he asked to come to my dorm room for a phone number. I agreed and signed him in. Soon after he was upstairs, I lay down because I was tired and sick. He lay down next to me. We were making out and getting hot and heavy.

I asked him to put on a condom. He didn't have one. Said he never used them. I didn't have one because I was still the girl. I hadn’t learned to carry my own condoms as I still wasn’t entirely comfortable with my sexual appetite. I didn't steal one from a roommate because I didn't want to have sex at that point, I just wanted to sleep. I told him I wouldn't fuck without a condom but he was welcome to stay the night.

I fell asleep after that. I woke up to him fucking me. I didn't really feel much of anything. I dissociated and watched. Couldn’t speak or scream or push or anything. Then I felt his fingers in my ass. He pulled back and pushed his dick inside me. I was in shock. I had never had any sort of anal sex before. I thought I was crying but I could see my face that was completely emotionless. After he came, he fell asleep in my bed beside me.

In the morning we took a shower together and I signed him out of my dorm. I was still in shock. I avoided his calls and emails that lasted the next six weeks.

It was the calls and emails that most shocked me. They now cause me to question whether he knew he had raped me? Did he know my no meant no? Or did he think I was just playing the part of the girl, resisting what she really wants but can’t ask for.

I am not accepting blame for my own rape or the rape of others. I am questioning the knowledge of the rapists. Did they understand the effect of their actions?

Sexologists refer to the use of “no” when sexual intimacy is desired as “token resistance.” Token resistance is a part of our sexual culture. As boys are taught to pursue and girls are taught to resist, each side is endowed with a simple term. We learn the rule early, boys always say “yes”, and girls always say “no”.

Our culture needs a two-pronged approach to sexual communication to prevent rape. First, we need to teach men (and women) to respect no. When either partner says no, sexual activity stops. In the BDSM scene there is the concept of “safe words”. Partners will predesignate a word to mean no or stop. This word is generally something not uttered during sex play, for example: apple. If the word apple is said during sex play, all activity stops immediately. Similarly, another word can be designated for slow down. Going with the fruit theme, we could say banana. When banana is said, the particular activity can be stopped while sex play continues. Armed with an understanding of the meaning of apples and bananas, a couple’s communication skills are miles above the general population that is still entrenched in “no means no except when it means yes”.

The second, and equally important step, is teaching women (and men) how to say yes to their desires and to sex in general. Because, in the current state of romantic scripts, “no” has multiple meanings. Only when we are provided with the tools to articulate our desires, will “no” be used strictly as refusal. No can’t mean just no until we have the ability to say yes.

8 Comments:

Blogger brainhell said...

He raped you. You told him no fucking and he raped you anyway. I assume this was in the era of HIV. So he couldn't even use the self-deception that in the ass was OK because no pregnancy.

Jerk.

Glad you survived.

5/09/2006 6:09 PM  
Blogger the Hat said...

Well this can be argued a few ways - but anyway you look at it the guy should've worn a condom, and not proceeded otherwise. He should've respected your wishes, and put himself at risk as well.

2 ways it might be looked at:
- it sounds as you did consent to sex, only with a condom. This doesn't mean I condone his actions, exactly the opposite.
- you didn't say anything when you discovered he was taking advantage of you - this is a problem - After you had some sex and I'm sure he noticed you woke up, and failed to stop him, in his mind it was go time.

As a man I completely disagree with what he did from a few perspectives. But rape is a bit strong when you didn't tell him to stop or make any motions to stop him when you realized what was going on - remembering that I still disagree with what he did.

I also like the fact you point out about societies double standard on men, women and the meaning of 'no'.

5/19/2006 1:41 AM  
Blogger the Hat said...

Well this can be argued a few ways - but anyway you look at it the guy should've worn a condom, and not proceeded otherwise. He should've respected your wishes, and put himself at risk as well.

2 ways it might be looked at:
- it sounds as you did consent to sex, only with a condom. This doesn't mean I condone his actions, exactly the opposite.
- you didn't say anything when you discovered he was taking advantage of you - this is a problem - After you had some sex and I'm sure he noticed you woke up, and failed to stop him, in his mind it was go time.

As a man I completely disagree with what he did from a few perspectives. But rape is a bit strong when you didn't tell him to stop or make any motions to stop him when you realized what was going on - remembering that I still disagree with what he did.

I also like the fact you point out about societies double standard on men, women and the meaning of 'no'.

5/19/2006 1:42 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

My name is Linda, and I have survived sexual violation, also. I know how painful it is. I'm grateful that I've resurrected my beautiful adult sexuality, and can enjoy men, women, BDSM, fantasies, masturbation, erotic blogging, and erotic photography (behind and in front of the lens). My "real-life" boyfriends have been anything but satisfying. None of them lasted long. I've "sorta" given-up on ever having real, partnered sex again. I practice lots of celestial sex, or sex with dream lovers, angels, pagan deities, and other such. The sexuality I do have, is amazing and mind-blowing. If I ever do find a good man or woman or any truly great lovers again, I promise to be grateful, to only bed people who treat me with the greatest of love and respect, and people who all respect my Inner Slut (yes I'm very sexually liberated and clear on what I want, but HOW to attract lovers? that's my big question.... it's been quite awhile for me....) All girls and women, and also men, should be taught how to say a clear NO and also a clear YES. WHY doesn't America realize that the ability to say a clear and healthy YES as well as a NO is important. There will come a time when I say YES again, and NOBODY is going to regret it, and all involved will be HAPPY I did.... even long after that first fuck or lovemaking....

5/23/2006 11:54 PM  
Blogger mainja said...

excellent piece of writing. thanks for sharing that.

5/24/2006 7:20 AM  
Anonymous barb said...

What an excellent point about being able to say yes! Eloquently made. I'll forward your blog URL to some friends.

6/02/2006 11:30 PM  
Blogger [lost] said...

I just want to let you know that although I found the graphic nature of your stories triggering to me, and to things that have happened in my life, I absolutely adore your site and your posts. The fact that they are graphic, makes them not only intense, but personal, which makes your writing amazing.

I am new to blogger. I dont know much about it. But I will be reading your site periodically.

7/09/2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger alimum said...

Regardless of whether "no" meant "no" in your case (or rather, whether you gave the impression that no meant no only if a condom was not used) this man had sex with you when you were asleep-that is, by its very definitin, having sex with someone without their consent (and, from what I can understand, did not use a condom, so cilated the terms of whatever implied consent you gave.) AND he had anal sex with you (which is pretty extreme behavior to just launch into without discussion.) This guy raped you and I think he knew it. He may not have wanted to admit it, which is why he kept sending you emails and calling you. Or he may have just wanted to futher demonstrate the power he wielded (i.e. "I can rape you and still pretend that it was normal date behavior and what are you gonna do about it?")

The fact that you couldn't speak and didn't fight him does not make what happened not rape (as the Hat implied)--sometimes, the horror at having one's body violated (or the complete disconnection with what is actually happening) causes one to just freeze.

8/18/2006 2:13 PM  

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