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.