Oh boy, I might as well go spit on a feminist. Here we go.
OK, so stranger rape is typically a fairly straightforward topic. It also happens to be much less common, so I don’t know how helpful knowing about stranger rape is. Acquaintance rape is much more common though. But, acquaintance rape can also be a giant grey area. So let’s dive in shall we?
“Grey area” acquaintance rape
Before we figure out how to spot acquaintance rape, let’s go through some grey areas. I suspect this may prove politically incorrect. Trigger warnings ahead.
Fact: men, as a rule, are stronger than women. So much stronger that it’s possible for a drunk man to think a woman is being passionate, when she’s actually trying to push him off. (I say drunk because this kind of thing is more likely to happen when your higher-order thinking skills are fucked up.)
So let’s take a hypothetical situation: The man and woman are both drunk. What begins as consensual hanky-panky turns non-consensual. Riddle me this Batman – if the woman is raped, but the man doesn’t know he raped her, is it rape? If he was drunk enough, and she was timid enough that her “NO!” signals didn’t get through his alcohol levels, did he rape her? (BTW, freezing can be a perfectly legitimate danger response.)
Let’s take another hypothetical. What if the woman is intimidated into having sex and complying with what the guy says? Even going so far as trying to smile and be nice to him, in the hopes of placating him and not getting hurt (like this lady). But she completely misunderstood his actions/words and he was not trying to intimidate her, she read into things the wrong way. So, again, as far as she’s concerned she was raped. But as far as the guy’s concerned everything went great and was consensual. Was she raped? Yes. Did he rape her? Very possibly not.
Let’s flip it around. Let’s take one more (dysfunctional) hypothetical. Man is trying to rape woman (malicious intent and all), but woman is drunk, and maybe comes from a fucked up background so she doesn’t know what “normal” is. So while he’s trying to be rough and rape her, she thinks everything is consensual and is willing to sleep with the guy. So as far as the guy is concerned he raped her. As far as she’s concerned it wasn’t rape. Was it rape?
Common “rape” scenario
A common “rape” scenario happens all the time (according to feminists that is). Usually in marriages. The wife isn’t in the mood, but her hubby is trying hard to convince her otherwise. So she gives hubby the go-ahead and they have sex. But she really didn’t want to. Is it rape? (I’m sure I can hear a feminist down the road screaming right now. When feminists flip out about stuff like this, they’re forgetting that arousal and desire are two different stages in the process, and sometimes desire happens only after arousal.)
Flip the script. The husband really doesn’t feel like giving his wife a foot massage, but he does it anyway because he knows it’ll make her feel better, he wants to make her happy, and he doesn’t mind that much. Is it coercion? Yes and no. Maybe it’s emotional coercion. Which puts us firmly in grey area territory in my opinion. (Shut up feminists – your feelings are not the be all and end all of the whole universe.)
Remember, you are in charge of your own emotions (it’s called being an adult). But your emotions are also influenced by the people around you. So emotions are contagious, but we have the ability and responsibility to manage our own emotions anyway.
Have any of the examples above, from drunk guys to reluctant wives, been rape? That’s a very good question.
One of the problems – bad advice (a.k.a. unwelcome advice)
Marc MacYoung has a good page on just about everything acquaintance rape. He gives the signs that women need to watch out for. Especially young women. Double especially young women who enjoy high risk activities (i.e. the exact people most likely to ignore his sage advice). And this is where the main problem comes into it – it’s not a lack of good advice, it’s telling “modern” women not to do the things they want to do. They tend to find excuses to do them anyway. If you tell a teenage girl not to fall asleep on train-tracks, it’s considered good advice. Tell them not to drink so much near train-tracks in case they pass out on the tracks – aaaand they’ll find an emotional excuse to go drinking there anyway (but at least they understand you’re not victim blaming – mostly.)
Change the train tracks for a group of young men who have also been drinking (i.e. more likely to engage in “grey area” rape, if not outright malicious rape – see above) and they’ll accuse you of blaming the victim and insist that choo-choo trains piss-drunk young men must be mature enough that the young woman can safely continue drinking till they pass out on train-tracks having “fun”.
It’s not a lack of common sense. It’s not a lack of solid advice on rape prevention. It’s not even the desire for high risk behaviour. It’s the denial of consequences. Women have always had a thing for high risk behaviour (hence the love of horses, fast bikes and bad boys, but nowadays they are told to blame other people if ever they’re confronted with consequences of their actions.
Acquaintance rape danger sign #1 (straight up, no grey areas)
Marc MacYoung (who else) has the best checklist for knowing that an acquaintance is building up to rape you. It goes something like this:
A guy is basically obsessed with you (but you probably brush it off as a “crush” – i.e. you ignore the issue and find a way to avoid dealing with the emotions you’d have if you admitted it was way past being a healthy crush). He’s always around. He orbits you. He pesters you. He can get pushy. He acts entitled, like it’s his “turn” to go out with you. Remember, we’re not talking “normal” here. This goes beyond normal.
Acquaintance rape danger sign #2
The next sign is that you allow this to occur. Instead of cutting it off early and decisively, you’ve skirted around the issue, and now it’s too late. The problem here is that he’s got an entitlement complex. He “deserves” to go out with you. He’s waiting for his “turn”. Normal human behaviour is that the guy understands he’s being brushed off and accepts it. This guy finds ways to avoid noticing he’s getting the brush-off. So the usual tactics don’t work – he needs to be cut off firmly and decisively. This does not mean aggression: “You weirdo creep, leave me alone!” It means assertiveness: “I have said ‘no’ before. I am not going to change my mind. Now please keep away or I will seek legal action.”
(Aside: this is why I tell women to avoid using the “I can’t go out with you – I have a boyfriend” line, some guys don’t understand it’s a brush-off. They take it literally and orbit around you till the boyfriend’s gone and say “OK, he’s gone, now we can date like you wanted to.”)
Acquaintance rape danger sign #3 & #4
The third danger signal is that he tries to get alone time with you. He seeks it out. Happens to “run into you” on campus where he knows you wait for your lift, alone. (The opposite side of campus from where he catches his lift at the same time of day).
Next, when you “run into him” he’s been drinking (could be that he appears somewhere he never goes, or could be that he “happens” to work late the same night as you do). Maybe he “just wants to have a word with you”. Suuuure – he’s obsessed with you, has been drinking, and tries to get you isolated?
The other way drinking affects your chances of rape is that if you’ve been drinking, it makes you an easier target. In other words, the idea of raping you just got more attractive. A drunk girl won’t defend herself as competently. A drunk girl is less likely to see she’s being set up (“Come on. You need some fresh air. My car is the best place to get that fresh air.”). And the guy can always claim you were drunk so you got the details mixed up – it was a misunderstanding you see. Not to mention that your testimony as a victim can be viewed with skepticism if you were drinking at the time.
Here’s the equation:
obsessive + entitlement complex + isolation + drinking (you & him) = acquaintance rape
You don’t need all four factors every time, but the more factors you see developing, the bigger the danger. (And the last two factors also affect your chances of meeting stranger rape and serial rapists.)
Dealing with the situation
So how to you deal with a situation like this if it happens? There are a couple strategies. Look at the “equation of rape” above. Let’s assume there is a situation – your ability to decisively cut him out of your life is long gone. So the first 2 factors are out the window. That leaves 2 factors you can control or affect.
Drinking: If you’ve been drinking, and this guy turns up, now is the time to get sober. Even more so if he’s been drinking too (looking like an easy target because you’re tipsy is NOT a good idea when he has lowered inhibitions because HE’s been drinking).
Isolation: The most important factor you control is the isolation. And depending on how far into the situation you are, it might be the only factor you can affect. Break any isolation. Immediately.
The nice thing about this strategy is that it’s one of the better ones no matter what. If a bad situation is just developing, or if you’re deep into the shit, breaking the isolation is one of the best things you can do. How you do this will depend on the situation.
Breaking the isolation
If you’re on campus, start walking towards noise and lights (signs of other people).
If you’re at a party, get out of the room where you two are alone together.
If you’re alone together at work (and you can’t just walk into a group of other people) then invite another person into the situation. If there’s no one else at work with you, then Skype your husband who’s at home, say “Oh, you remember so-and-so” and point the camera at the potential rapist, ask him to chat to your husband while you quickly nip to the bathroom (and escape).
And don’t forget, you can always lie to him. Agreeing to a date, tomorrow, might take his mind from “she never appreciates me, why hasn’t she given me my turn” to “she does like me, I knew it!” and put you (mentally) on his side. Whether that will allow you to bullshit him into walking away now, and seeking you out tomorrow, I don’t know. It all depends.
Please internalise this: escaping is the safest option. Not being there is the best way to not get raped. Leave work early. Leave the party early. Skip classes to avoid him if you see the equation of rape developing.
Get away, the sooner the better.
If you can’t escape the situation
If you can’t escape the situation and it starts turning bad, then you’re mostly down to two final strategies: luck, and violence. Earlier I said, according to the equation of rape, you can only control the “isolation” factor. Well that’s not quite true. You can also affect the “obsessed” with you factor. At least temporarily.
“How do I do that,” you ask. “Can’t I just do that from the start?” Well, not really. You see, no matter how obsessed he is, he can (temporarily) be distracted from his obsession with things like a broken arm. Or a gaping knife wound that necessitates him holding his own guts in place.
If things turn bad (maybe you tried to leave and he grabbed you and won’t let you walk away), then your rape prevention strategy is down to violence.
Any violence you use MUST be effective
An unfortunate truth about rape is that many women “initiate” the violence. What that means is the guy was building up to rape her, and she started the punching part, then he overwhelmed her and raped her. He was probably going to rape her anyway, but she “started” the violence.
The problem is not the use of violence. The problem is using ineffective violence. For example, I like to tell women that a slap is only painful enough to piss someone off. The only effect a slap has is to make an already violence-prone person more prone to violence. Marc MacYoung puts it differently: “I don’t care that you hit him. I care that you didn’t break his fucking jaw!” (or something like that).
And this is where we discover the problem – lack of commitment. It’s my opinion that women tend to use a slap because it isn’t effective. They’re hedging their bets. They are willing to try violence, but unwilling to commit to overwhelming violence. So they try a half-measure. And it backfires. (OK, it’s one of several reasons why they choose a slap.)
This is another reason why it’s so important to knows the signs of an impending rape – it’s so you can convince yourself how serious the situation is. You need to know the signs so you can avoid the whole thing, or know when it’s time to escape. But if the guy physically won’t let you escape, then you can convince yourself it’s time for violence.
The importance of weapons
We started with the fact that men are stronger than women. Add in that men usually have more experience with violence (dishing out and taking it). What do you get? The fact that women need weapons. Sure, martial arts can help. But mostly against another woman. In your weight division. Don’t get me wrong, definitely go take some classes, just recognise the limitations.
Maybe the most important weapon a girl can have is the ability to stop bullshitting herself. Because having a knife doesn’t help if you’re so uncertain that you never use it.
Please, do NOT deny it is happening
Dealing with a drunk, obsessed asshole who wants to “talk” with you, alone, is dangerous. It is not the time to explain to him that he being an asshole. He’s drunk, obsessed with you, and maybe spent the last 2 hours watching violent porn while fantasizing it was you. Now is not the time to stay alone with him for longer than necessary because you “want him to understand how he’s made you feel”. He’s an entitled asshole who’s drunk – he won’t get it anyway! It is the time to find other people and not be isolated with him.
Forget your feeling and how much he’s pissed you off. Rather worry about your safety. Otherwise you’re actually prolonging the isolation. So you are increasing the odds of you getting raped.
This is what Marc MacYoung calls “tripping over your own dick”. When you get in your own way and fuck things up. Essentially what you’re doing is denying that it’s happening. You focus on your feelings so you don’t have to admit that you’re in danger. Your brain recognises that shit ain’t right, then diverts that fear to prop up your anger. Or your exasperation that he won’t leave you alone. Or something else,. Anything else it can use so you don’t have to deal with the fact that you’re actually afraid for your life.
The other way to deny it’s happening is to…
…be upset that he’s ruining your fun. Maybe you’re at a party and you’re having fun, when along comes the 4 indicators: obsession, drunk, isolation, entitlement. But the DJ just started your favourite song and your friends are telling you to come dance. So you choose the promise of fun over the nagging feeling that something isn’t right. And fun can help drown out that nagging feeling anyway, so it’s all good.
You know what else is good at drowning out any pesky feelings of impending doom? Booze! Great at helping you forget that you’re in danger. Also helps incapacitate you so you aren’t any good at trying to find help or fight back. Yay!
When you see the equation of rape building then you stop what you’re doing, kick into Oh ShitTM mode and start executing the plans you’ve run through may time beforehand.
You do this because you realised long ago, that there is no safety, and you’re the only person who’s going to look after you.
If you prioritise your “fun” over your safety, then congratulations, you might be a feminist.