Lately, it seems rape is always a topic of debate. Year after year, especially as elections come closer, politicians say the “darndest” things. Todd Akin told us all about “legitimate rape.” Texas Representative Jody Laubenberg said how rape kits “clean out” a woman after intercourse. Richard Mourdock proposed that rape is just “what God intended.” The list goes on, but the message is clear: a woman’s body – and her rights to ownership of it – are always under debate.
Going beyond ownership of body, now ownership of a woman’s experience with rape or traumatic sexual violence is coming under fire. Recently, an article published on The Washington Post deliberated one writer’s view on what constitutes rape. Basically, she drew a very hard line on what defined rape, citing anything else simply as “bad behavior.”
Let’s look at the definition of rape. According to Merriam-Webster, rape is “unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent.” A secondary definition cites rape as “an outrageous violation.”
RAINN, or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, gives us three questions to ask when discussing rape: Are the participants old enough to consent? Do both people have the capacity to consent? Did both participants agree to take part?
The answer to all of these questions should be a resounding yes.
The writer opens her article with a few examples of unwanted sexual interaction: “And the time I told a man, ‘Look, I’m not going to sleep with you,’ and it was taken as, ‘Try again in a couple of hours.’ He did, and it worked.” Not rape, she claims – just “despicable behavior.” But, shouldn’t that be one and the same? Isn’t that an outrageous violation – of trust, of control over a body that you don’t own?
To repeat: consensual sex (and good sex, I would say) should have a clear, definitive yes from all parties involved. No threats – physical, emotional or verbal. No persuasion. No cajoling. No trying again after a no was given.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments.