How can we be sure she was raped if she doesn’t understand the difference between ‘consent’ and ‘rape’?
Victim feminists. They’re so cute when they play at being grownups, less so when they’re infantilizing women. CC0 image from Pxhere
Have you seen the movie where George Clooney’s character gets raped by a woman?
Up In The Air (2009) is the story of a corporate ‘downsizer’ (Clooney) hired to fire people by companies too wussy to do it themselves. His character begins an affair with a fellow uber-traveler and later learns she’s married. She rejects him, calling what they had merely ‘an escape’.
Some feminist intellectuals now argue that if a man lies to a woman to get sex, he’s committing ‘sexual fraud’ and that it may constitute rape; can she truly consent if he lies to her?
That means Clooney’s character, and his real-world counterparts, were raped, since women also lie about marital status and other ‘sexual fraud’ details to get what they want out of men. Do we agree these women are, therefore, rapists?
How badly do we want these ‘rapists’ punished?
“It’s not really rape!”
I read an article here by a woman considering the opinions of these feminist intellectuals, musing that perhaps she’d been ‘raped’ by a guy who lied about not having a girlfriend. She gave sexual consent believing he was fully single. She fell for him, and got hurt.
In the olden days we recognized you had to be careful because sometimes men lie to get laid. In certain legal eagle minds, I guess, it now constitutes ‘rape’.
To be fair, the writer wrote from the perspective of not having made up her mind, and she considered alternative views offered in some of the comments she received. I was gratified to see a woman willing to consider challenges to her opinion without getting defensive, by agreeing that this or that response was food for thought. Yay for rational feminism!
But the idea that ‘rape by deception’ (a genuine legal issue) can now include minor lies is troubling. The justice system handles ‘rape by deception’ where real lasting damage occurs — an STD, an unwanted pregnancy, or what happened to a very close friend of mine — death by AIDS, when his partner ‘stealthed’ him by removing the condom.
But ‘rape by deception’ because s/he lied about their singlehood status? I find it deeply troubling. The damage was she got hurt. Not her fault but part of growing up romantically and equal risk for all.
I thought, “Every incel, MRA, Trumper, and sexual predator can point to this and say, “See? Women don’t even know the difference between consent and rape! How many women are calling what’s nothing more than a bad sexual experience rape?”
That’s exactly how it looks. To me, too.
Why it’s still so hard to ‘believe the woman’
I must wonder where all those high ‘rape statistics’ come from. I’m serious. This is how feminist intellectual abrogation of female responsibility casts doubt on rape claims.
We make almost glacial progress attempting to treat rape and sexual assault as seriously as they merit, and certain feminists aren’t helping. In fact, they’re hurting the effort. Holding it back.
Historically, women subjected to rape or sexual assault haven’t been believed, or worse, blamed. Twentieth-century feminism challenged this, beginning with Susan Brownmiller’s seminal work Against Our Will, which dragged rape out of the back alley and into our dinner party conversations.
At some point in the late ’80s and early ’90s, overeager feminists, working to remove the ‘blame the victim’ stigma, began treating women as though they had little agency and were never responsible for their decisions.
Some explicitly said activist efforts needed to keep the focus completely on men, the gender overwhelmingly responsible for rape. The unfortunate consequence has been to ignore the woman’s role, assuming near-helplessness, and work toward a feminist fantasy utopia where somehow, magically, men stop raping.
Some good came out of it: We debate consent, and how it’s given, and whether it’s given. An unconscious woman didn’t consent just because she didn’t struggle or say no. Even if fully conscious, she didn’t necessarily consent if a man was pushing himself on her, and she feared what would happen if she did say no (‘grey rape’). Consent debate resulted in a more fine-tuned legal environment and clearer restrictions for loophole-seeking sexual predators.
Women’s perceived helplessness accelerated when some suggested there should be regular ‘check-ins’ even throughout whatever act participants engage in. Although the conversation regularly framed around ‘partners’, without specifying who should be asking who, one wonders for whom these sexual Best Practices were for. It’s hard to imagine they were meant for men who might change their mind in the middle of a blowjob, afraid to tell the woman to stop.
It suggested women were so prone to changing their mind, so easily intimidated while a man is pumping above them in an originally 100% consensual act, that she can’t speak up and say stop if she’s really feeling uncomfortable.
Which kind of makes you wonder whether a man can suddenly turn into a ‘rapist’ because the woman changed her mind and didn’t say so. Or explicitly.
That said, men have abused the consent concept, without question. A friend once told me his brother bragged he’d anally raped two separate women and gotten away with it. It started out with consensual vaginal sex and turned into something else. He did it knowing how it would sound in court.
Arguing a new level of consent, where the woman can claim she was ‘raped’ because the guy lied about something, may discourage women from becoming sexually responsible adults. If women have ‘agency’, they also have responsibility, including being quite clear before the clothes come off what they want, who they want, when they want, and how they want it.
Denying this infantilizes women and their choices far more effectively than any ‘patriarchy’.
Muddying the consent waters with frivolous ever-broadened rape definitions make it more difficult to ‘believe women’ when they ‘tell their truths’.
Rape is about real force or threat, not a woman who got played by a guy, or who made a simple mistake. Instead of beating herself up over it, she can learn from it. She can date more wisely.
Did he force her or did she just get played?
We pay a lot of lip service to ‘female agency’ but don’t like it so much when it backfires.
A woman’s agency is sacred when she decides what to do about her accidental pregnancy, but flies from certain feminist minds when she exhibits poor judgment in sexual partners, perhaps due understandably to youth and inexperience.
We’ve come to a point in our First World privileged lives where we believe every wrong done to us must be legally addressed. The legal definition of consent broadens as victim feminists, perhaps in denial of their own fear of female power, self-determination, and sexual responsibility, not to mention that much vaunted personal agency, play directly into traditional patriarchal notions that women are just silly little dears who don’t know their own heads. It plays right into misogynist legislators’ hands who seek to return control of female sexuality back to men, like it was back in the good old days.
‘Sexual fraud’ by lying paints women as somehow mentally deficient, incapable of making conscious, informed decisions about their sexuality. Both sexes make plenty of mistakes and bad decisions early in their romantic experience: Discovering you can’t always trust others, particularly when hormones are bubbling like a shaken can of beer.
It’s harder to ‘believe women’ when REAL rape is diluted by denying women’s inconvenient choices. Did he force her or did she just get played? The law is NOT there to address hurt feelings, which is the real consequence. You can argue about the many shades of legal consent, but what it comes down to is this: You got played. You got hurt. You learn your lesson and move on, hopefully wiser and better-armed against the next player.
Women afraid of their agency
It’s easier to tell yourself you got raped than that you got duped.
We beat ourselves up over our decisions and victimhood-centered feminism rides to the rescue, encouraging us to point fingers at the man, or men, or ‘patriarchy’. They tell us it’s not our fault and anyone who says otherwise is ‘blaming the victim’. It’s not in their interests to note that big girls old enough to have sex are old enough to learn from their mistakes and not blame only others.
When it comes to sex, victim feminists don’t do self-actualization. They don’t do self-awareness. They don’t spend nearly as much time examining themselves and women’s psychological and emotional weaknesses as they do ‘the patriarchy’s’.
They don’t, on some level, want other women to claim their agency and power either. It raises too many doubts about their own complicity in past mistakes. Too many questions about what they might have learned earlier if only. They’d rather not consider women’s psychological vulnerabilities because then they might have to address their own. And take ownership. And change.
When we examine ourselves, when we honestly question our contributions, we often have to face personal truths we don’t like. Like that we ignored warning flags or an underlying feeling something wasn’t right with his story. But we went ahead and shagged him anyway because we listened to our vagina rather than our brain.
And we got hurt.
It’s his fault he lied, and yes, I can see how it’s ‘sexual fraud’, but it’s a buzzword, not a legal definition unless a real crime has occurred, and more importantly a real rape.
If you fear the words ‘real rape’ (versus, say, ‘false rape’), you should. Because victim feminism encourages the distinction. Not outright rape lies, which occur far less than men think, but ‘false rape’ when she thinks she was raped even though she fully consented, even if without all the data.
‘I’m on something’
Just imagine what the notion of ‘sexual fraud as rape’ will do to the most time-honored words for the following:
‘I love you’.
Or, ‘I want to marry you.’
Or, ‘I’m a very rich man.’
Now let’s turn around what ‘sexual fraud’ looks when the man is the recipient:
She said, ‘I love you/want to marry you.’
Or, ‘I’m still a virgin.’
Or, ‘You’re the only man I’m sleeping with.’
Once again — hurt feelings, and sexual fraud, but how is it the justice system’s responsibility to avenge someone’s poorly-considered consent?
So, she believed him when he said he intended to marry her. And he believed her when she said there was only one other man before him and that was her ex-fiance.
Throw them both in jail!
Now, consider this, legal eagles:
Does a man now have a legal right to charge a woman with ‘sexual fraud’ if she claims (not he assumes) she’s using birth control, and gets pregnant?
Lots and lots of women have done this. I’ve watched it unfold. I’ve watched a friend walk blithely into a pregnancy trap with a girlfriend who’d heavily pressured him to marry her.
It was so predictable.
The world’s most common sexual fraud whine: “She said she was oooonnnnn something!”
I didn’t feel the slightest bit sorry for him, he got down on his knees and begged for it. How stupid could he have been?
(Nicole! Don’t blame the victim!)
Lucky for him she miscarried shortly after.
She might have said she was on something when she wasn’t. Who knew women could lie?
Some ‘men’s rights’ activists argue they shouldn’t have to pay for abortions or support babies ‘fraudulently’ conceived.
‘Sexual fraud’ as a legal defense just got a helluva lot less attractive, I’m guessing.
‘Patriarchy’ is real and has infantilized women for millennia. Feminists obsessed with women’s victimhood, who can’t let go of historical grievances, ignore the very real power and agency women have today we didn’t have even fifty years ago. They aid and abet the very ‘patriarchy’ they rail against.
How can we be trusted with the right to vote when we can’t even be trusted to know what we want sexually? When we’re so easily duped by sweet-talkin’ lyin’
cheaters and scam artists? When we go running, ironically, to the ‘patriarchal government and justice system’ to salve our hurt feelings and avenge us like men were expected to do in days of yore?
“Roger delivering Angelica”, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Note the hairless little-girl pubic area. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons
Some feminists are afraid of female power and genuine empowerment, but the rest of us don’t have to be.
We can choose to be grownups, to self-actualize, to take responsibility for our role in the romantic/sexual dance. Sometimes, even, we should blame ourselves for really stupid decisions. Like my male buddy who blithely allowed a woman to ‘play him’.
Women still face real obstacles and challenges to ‘being believed’ and it’s to many men’s benefit to cast doubt on rape and sexual assault claims. The baby-girl feminist set doesn’t help when they make women sound like easily-played little featherbrains.
How supremely patriarchal, mesdames.
This story first appeared on Medium in May 2021.