Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Feministing on Gray Rape, Equality, and Potency

August 28, 2007
"Gray rape," cont'd...

Over at Jezebel, Moe responds to my post:
Gray rape, if you think about it, is an ideal term to describe a topic about which I am so conflicted. it evokes the notion of "shades of gray," which is to say, the nuance without which empathy would not be possible. I forgave my gray rapist or date rapist or whatever a long time ago, much longer ago than I would have if I had felt myself that night to be in the presence of the OMG PURE EVIL that would be required to commit the sorts of things I'd been used to calling rape in the past. It is a loaded and powerful term, after all, and I derive no empowerment from using it to characterize his offense.

Ok, I'll repeat myself and say that the definition of rape does not change depending on its empowering/disempowering effect on the people involved, or whether they choose to use the word "rape." And rape isn't something that's committed only by guys who are OMG PURE EVIL. Even if 99% of the time he's an upstanding citizen and all-around awesome dude, but he still wouldn't listen that one time when you said "no," he's still a rapist -- and it's still rape.

A Jezebel commenter writes,
Just like we have manslaughter, vs. 2nd or 1st degree murder, there are many different forms and levels of sexual assault.

I concede that there are different kinds of rapes (in that the circumstances vary), but I don't believe that "worse" or "better" rapes. Sure, we have degrees of murder. But there has never been any question in modern society that it is a crime to kill another person. However, feminists had to work damn hard to get courts and society to recognize that rape is a crime. (Clearly, that battle is still being fought.) So introducing "degrees" of rape has the effect of diminishing the idea that it's a crime. Period.

I do feel slightly more conflicted about the appropriate legal response to situations in which women (drunk or not) may not want to have sexual contact with someone, but also do not say "no," push back, or make any other outward indication that they are opposed. (This doesn't apply to the situation Moe described, in which she said "NO" several times and he continued anyway.) But in the end, I keep coming back to the idea that we need to strongly advocate for the idea of enthusiastic consent, and make that the standard.

Putting our differences on "gray rape" aside, Moe and I can totally agree that "emosogynist" is an incredibly useful term. And I echo her call for more conversation about your personal experiences with rape -- no matter what you choose to call it.Posted by Ann at 05:45 PM in
A blast from the Laura Sessions Stepp past
Thanks to Scott for reminding me that gray-rape enthusiast Laura Sessions Stepp is the same person who argued in The Washington Post last year that girls who like sex make dudes limp.

So a little retro Feministing for you:

Apparently women who like sex too much are responsible for a scourge of impotence among college men.

The Washington Post reports on the problem of younger men experiencing erectile dysfunction, which is supposedly caused in part by young women initiating sex.

According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase.

"I know lots of girls for whom nothing is off limits," says Helen Czapary, a junior at the University of Maryland. "The pressure on the guys is a huge deal."

But it’s not just women’s horniness that’s a huge turnoff, it’s our damned opinions too:

One can argue that a young woman speaking her mind is a sign of equality. "That's a good thing," says [teacher Robin] Sawyer, father of four daughters. "But for some guys, it has come at a price. It's turned into ED in men you normally wouldn't think would have ED."

Equality is the enemy of boners. Now I get it. Traister also did a great piece tearing Stepp down, "Do loose chicks sink dicks?" Heh.

So according to Stepp, women who like sex not only are responsible for their "gray rapes," but are also causing a scourge of limp dicks. Jeez, she gets better every day!

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