In the aftermath of the recent six month sentence given to a man who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, it seems like a good time to go over what does, and does not, cause rape. Many people are confused about rape; they don’t understand what it is, or what causes it. As someone who survived rape, allow me to share a list of things that do, and do not, cause rape. First, what causes rape?
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s take a look at five things that do not cause rape.
Alcohol does not cause rape. If a person is too inebriated to either give or not give consent, you should not rape them. And if you are inebriated, you also should not rape anyone. Unfortunately, the way a drunk victim is treated versus how a drunk rapist is treated can make it difficult to believe alcohol does not cause rape. A perfect example of this is the statement Brock Turner’s high school friend gave, blaming the victim for her alcohol consumption, while excusing Brock Turner for his:
I think he went to a party and was drinking, like most every student at a university does, and was flirting with this girl, like he said. The woman recalls how much alcohol she drank, which was a lot. She was no doubt about to black out if not already. I’m sure she and Brock had been flirting at this party and decided to leave together. Just as they did she passes out, which after that many drinks, anyone would. At the same time, Brock, having a few too many drinks himself, is not completely in control of his emotions. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol increases emotions and feelings. I think the bikers who found him did the right thing by keeping him there in case he was attempting rape, but that after the investigation, it should have found Brock to be innocent.
See how that works? The victim was “black out” drunk, while Brock Turner had a “few too many drinks.” which heightened his “emotions and feelings” and forced him to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Sorry, Leslie Rasmussen, alcohol does not cause rape.
Men and women are raped. Men are raped by other men, and by women. Sadly, male rape victims rarely tell anyone about their trauma, and they almost never go to the police. Resource groups, like RAINN, do have counselors and resources available for men who are survivors of rape, and more and more research is being done to help men who have been raped. The statistics are sobering:
46.4% lesbians, 74.9% bisexual women and 43.3% heterosexual women reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes, while 40.2% gay men, 47.4% bisexual men and 20.8% heterosexual men reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes.
Nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration or alcohol/drug-facilitated completed penetration. Approximately one in 45 men has been made to penetrate an intimate partner during his lifetime.
27.8% of men were age 10 or younger at the time of their first rape/victimization.
3. Wardrobe choice.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt and high heels, that does not cause rape. How do I know that? Because last year, a male nursing assistant was found guilty of raping an 83-year-old dementia patient. Rapists really don’t care what you’re wearing. And wearing something tight, or low-cut, or skinny jeans, or pumps, or a tank top, or whatever you want to wear, does not give someone permission to rape you, anymore than being an 83-year-old dementia patient does.
Dancing with friends at a club? At a party on campus? Tailgating after the big game? Walking to your car after work? Waiting for the bus or train? Wherever you are, your location does not cause rape. You should be safe from rapists in a bar, at work, at school, in the park, at home, everywhere.
This is a tough one for some folks. Rape and sex are different. Sex is two (or more, if you’re so inclined) people consenting to have intimate, physical contact. Rape is a violent act that ignores consent. Sex is about attraction, lust, love, affection, passion. Rape is about power, domination, and the ruination of another human being. If two people choose to engage in rape fantasy, that’s also not rape, because both parties have expressed consent. Brock Turner’s victim did not have the capacity to either give or not give consent, which is why he is a rapist.
There are a couple of things that help promote rape culture, but may not actually cause rape. The media is guilty of this, especially when it comes to white rapists versus black rapists. For 18 months, we did not see Brock Turner’s actual mugshot, and almost every article written about the sentence over the past week has refused to use the word rape. Even The Washington Post had to point out his athletic prowess, and called what he did to that woman “sexual assault.” The Post calls Turner “baby-faced,” and the rape, a “stunning fall from grace.” In contrast, three black men who were arrested for rape had their mugshots immediately published by The Post, accompanied by articles that included the word rape multiple times. No mention of their “baby faces,” or their athletic prowess, or their “stunning fall from grace.”
Society is another place rape is not necessarily condoned, but it most definitely must be qualified. As Ms. Rasmussen also wrote in her statement defending Brock Turner:
This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists.
I’ve often said many people don’t think rape is rape unless a woman crawls into an emergency room, covered in blood, bruised and battered, with a tale of horror about a mysterious stranger who grabbed her in an alley, held a knife to her throat, and violently raped her. Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, fathers, mothers, priests, coaches, and yes, even swimmers, rape. Saying that never happens, or if it does, it doesn’t qualify as rape, sends a very dangerous message.
So there you have it-things that do, and do not, cause rape. I want to end on a positive note, because this a dark subject, and we need a little hope. Two men, two strangers riding bicycles, saw Brock Turner raping that woman. And rather than just ride by, they stopped, they confronted a rapist, they caught him when he ran, and they saved a woman from more harm. Heroes, who knew something very wrong was happening, and stepped in to help.
The world needs more people like those men, and less people like Brock Turner.