Thoughts

#9. When Penis Meets Vagina

The Difference Between Sex and Rape

A few nights ago on his show The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert did a hilarious review of a number of Republican candidates who have made very public faux-pas when talking about rape. Over the past few months a number of men in important, influential positions in the US have said a whole bunch of stupidand, as Stephen mentioned, career-ending things to do with rape. It is actually pretty funny to watch because the things they say are so outrageously offensive that most of us don’t take them seriously, and Obama gets to score easy points by confirming his view that there is no such thing as “legitimate rape”.

One big point that I think is missing, though, is that these men (and millions of people all over the world, including a scary number here in South Africa), seem to feel like there are grey areas around sex and rape and THAT is a pretty disturbing thing. Some think that it is okay to suggest that a woman could be “asking for it” by dressing or behaving in a particular way, some people seem to think that it is justified to rape someone because of their sexual orientation.  Sex and rape are two completely different concepts, and should be treated as such.

http://torontoist.com/2011/04/at_slutwalkto_sisters_are_doin_it_for_themselves/

That’s right, bitches!

SEX

Sex is a consensual activity that is, essentially, about pleasure. You can have all sorts of differing views about sex; whether or not to have it before marriage, if you should only have it with someone you love, what contraceptives are best or whether you should use contraceptives at all. Whatever your view, when it comes down to it sex is something you do WITH (not to) someone, and it is best when both people involved are enjoying it. Sure, you get the “lie back and think of England” approach which seemed to have a revival during the 1950s (and one suspects is pretty popular with Republican’s wives), but that should not be confused with actively saying “No.” And that two-letter word is the precise difference between enjoyment and force. Even right in the middle of a good, consensual shagging, if one person feels the need to stop for any reason (unfortunately minimalist design wasn’t around to inform the evolution of the vagina, okay!), that should be the end of it. As soon as one person makes it clear that they are no longer comfortable with the situation (and given that sex noises can sound really ambiguous, you might want to err on the side of bluntness), sex is over. If the other person insists on continuing, that is rape.

RAPE

Rape is about asserting power. There is no ambiguity here: it is never right or moral or justified. It is never an accident or a misunderstanding. Although some stories of rape are more horrifying to outsiders than others, there are no “levels” of rape. The idea that you can qualify rape as “violent” or “forceful” is entirely incorrect because by its very nature rape is a violation of someone else’s private space, dignity and safety. No one EVER (EVER EVER) asks to be raped, and to suggest that that could happen is insulting and humiliating for people who have been raped. Dressing provocatively may be used to indicate and attract sexual desire, but it is not an invitation for rape. As the awesome guys from The Factuary so rightly observed, “No one ever tells Matthew McConaughey he’s begging to get raped, and he hasn’t worn a shirt since 1993.”

Yes please, I would like to stroke your abs, but only if you’re cool with it.

The horrifying reality is that rape is not treated as an exceptional crime, especially in South Africa where one in three women is likely to be raped in their lifetime. (Some have suggested that a South African woman is more likely to be raped than learn to read, but I wasn’t sure about that particular statistic). What is necessary is not for politicians to beat around the bush, as it were, but rather to state publicly and unambiguously that rape can NOT be confused with sex.

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2 thoughts on “#9. When Penis Meets Vagina

  1. Wow, thank you for this excellent and much-needed article. I especially loved your quote “Dressing provocatively may be used to indicate and attract sexual desire, but it is not an invitation for rape.” THANK YOU, finally someone who has the sense to distinguish between the two!!!!!

    Liked, followed, and reblogged.

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