How many times have you heard the story of a drunk girl getting raped and everyone said it wasn’t her fault? Yeah, me neither. It’s always her clothes or her behavior. What it never is is the result of a predatory man who targets a woman regardless of what she looks or acts like, only on if he can get away with it or not.
There’s a lot of problems with this idea. The first and most basic is that it assumes that all men are predators just waiting for the right flash of leg to unleash their uncontrollable lust on their victim. I don’t know about you, but the men I hang out with are capable of adult self-control.
In fact, I’m going to tell you a couple of stories, but leave out the ending. See if you can guess which ones ended in rape.
I had been dating a guy for a few months. We were getting hot and heavy, and I paused to tell him, “I don’t want to have sex today.” He responded…
I went out on a boat trip with a friend of a friend (our mutual friend had bailed on the trip, but I still went because why not?). I was out with the owner of the boat, who I met once before, and his brother (both men were much larger and stronger than me). While on the boat, they gave me a few beers. When a storm hit, we anchored and visited a riverside restaurant where they bought me some very strong drinks. The last thing I remember is trying to make out with one of the men. I don’t remember getting back on the boat and to the dock. I woke up on the dock alone at around 1:30 am and…
I was at a large SCA event and my friends and I split ways. I ended up playing flip cup with one acquaintance and his friends, who I didn’t know. We went to another camp for some wild partying. Late in the night, it was just him (fairly sober) and me (fairly drunk) on a deserted road as he walked me home…
Now, the inevitable question: What did I expect would happen? In story #1, I led my boyfriend on, getting him all excited. In Story #2 I got black out drunk and tried to be sexual with a man I had met twice. In story #3 I let a relative stranger escort me back to camp. In all three stories, I did not want to have sex. So what did I expect?
I expected that regardless of what they wanted, my bodily autonomy and integrity would be completely and totally respected.
And it was.
In story #1, my boyfriend’s answer was, “Okay,” and we went back to making out.
In story #2, the other two guys had fallen asleep in the boat (I’m not really sure why I was on the dock next to the boat… but that’s alcohol for you). We had all slept off the drink and they drove me home. At my house, I invited them in for some water. They helped me open my dog’s canned food.
In story #3, the guy gave me a tour of the area we were at, filling me in on all the gossip and made sure I got back to my tent safely.
Some will argue that my expectations are unrealistic. After all, plenty of women in similar situations have been raped. But for my expectations to be unrealistic, I would have to assume that all men are rapists. In fact only around 6% of men commit rape. Furthermore, I refuse to ever accept or act as if my bodily integrity is something that I should compromise so that I can exist in a “man’s world.” It’s my world too. I have the right to get blind drunk and still be respected (that’s why it’s still illegal to rape a drunk woman and is finally illegal to rape your wife). My bodily integrity is something that should never be questioned or doubted.
It doesn’t matter how drunk or how slutty I look or act. It doesn’t matter if someone pays me for sex. If I don’t want an action done to my body, no one has the right to do that action, regardless of their sense of entitlement. I operate from the expectation that this is the baseline of civility. That respecting another person’s body is the most basic way to participate in civilized culture. Anyone who violates my bodily integrity is acting in an unacceptable and uncivilized manner and I generally call them out on it.
The problem is, socially I am often not supported when I get angry at a boundary violation. I’m considered a “bitch” for telling someone not to hug me. What needs to become unacceptable is for someone to hug me without my consent. This extends to more serious bodily violations, such as rape. The question should always be, “Why were you having sex with someone who didn’t want to?” and not, “What did you expect would happen if you did (blank)?”