Not all rapes are rape.

My legs shoved against his hips to stop him from raping me.

(That wasn’t rape.)

He shoved his penis in my mouth and hissed “Watch the teeth.” Then he told his friends I’d given him head before I knew what “giving head” was.

(This guy didn’t rape me, either.)

He used so much force I threw up then he kept pushing his penis into the back of my throat despite the puke.

(What this guy did also wasn’t rape.)

As reasonable people know, forcing sexual intercourse in any form without consent is a violent act called rape. That’s a simple fact. Rape, however, isn’t a simple subject.

In some important ways, there is such a thing as a rape that isn’t a rape. “Nearly rape” can be a violation comparable to actual rape. There are variations and shades and complications involved in many sexual violations that might cause reasonable people to disagree about whether or not something is rape.

When Marty tried to force his penis into my vagina (my feet on his hips, shoving him off) we were drunk and naked in bed together. My audible “no” and “no I won’t have sex with you” and “don’t do that” were very clear. My physically fighting him off of me was also very clear. But, his penis never did enter my vagina. Afterwards we sat near each other at the pool where the party was going on as if nothing had happened. A therapist once told me I should have expected him to think intercourse was okay—even though I said no—since I was naked and drunk in bed with him. My own thoughts told me I was a slut for being there with him.

I call these experience I’ve described, “nearly rapes.” The shame, self-blame, self-doubt, and trauma that followed felt like they had been “really rape.”

There’s no such thing as a rape that isn’t “legitimate.” It’s nauseating to even take a moment’s time to utter the phrase. But not all rapes are rapes. Some are only nearly.


Filed under my life story, politics

7 responses to “Not all rapes are rape.

  1. I am sorry for your horrible experience, from the asshole who doesn’t deserve to be named to your “therapist.”
    If I’m reading the above correctly, you experienced rape. Rape includes any unwanted sexual intrusion, whether in your vagina or your mouth.

    • Thank you. I think what I meant to convey was that even when something is clearly assault, clearly a violation, it’s still complicated for those of us who survive it. But, yes, the therapist was an asshole (a woman) idiot.

  2. Deb

    This is very nicely put. I was “nearly raped” my first week of college. At a frat party, drunk, ended up in bed, guy was all but ready to do the deed and I said no… and he stopped. And I rode my bike home alone realizing I had dodged a huge bullet. Mercifully, I got a good one that night. Many many women aren’t so lucky.

  3. Don

    Of the fair number of women who’ve come to trust me with their intimate stories, well over half experienced nonconsensual sex when they were young, many of them brutally. Bad enough knowing this to be more prevalent than a naive male could imagine, much worse to know so many men still regard “real” rape as so narrowly defined. What deeds, long since shrugged off, do you suppose people like Aikin can remember from their college days etc?

    • One of these guys friend-requested me on Facebook. So, I’m very sure there are men out there who have no idea the kind of harm they have done. (I didn’t accept the friend request, as you might imagine.)

      I hadn’t realized until writing this how less upsetting the “fought him off” experience was compared with the much murkier situations (and there were more than those three situations in my experience of “nearly rape”). I think it’s something like the impact of physical abuse being almost “easier” to survive than emotional abuse because at least you can *see* the violence. It’s risky saying that, of course, since there’s no “good” kind of abuse.

      Anyway, thanks, Don.

  4. fivereflections

    thanks for sharing…
    David in Maine USA

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