Another reader provides yet another angle:
I’ve been reading this thread with fascination, thinking back to events from my own college time. This fits into the category of “men supposedly can’t get raped, plus there’s that grey zone…” We were dorm buddies. She was coming on to me. I didn’t want sex. She did. I said no. She persisted. I got hard – at that age, nothing much stopped me from getting hard (“oh, she’s wet, that must mean she wants it” – ummmm). The details honestly aren’t important. She ended up fucking me. I just lay there and waited for it to be over.
I told her a few days later that she hadn’t listened to me saying no, and she suddenly looked at me in horror.
She was a pretty radical feminist at the time. I never had another conversation with her, even though we lived in the same dorm. I have no idea who she is now.
But non-consensual sex is what it is. I recognize how easy it is to end up in that position. I wasn’t going to push her aside, like some might suggest. I was ridiculously larger than her, but use force? Um, no, not in a sexual situation when two people are naked. Plus, I didn’t trust her to not turn the tables and accuse me of forcing her. So I kept quiet. I just let it happen, passively. Lots of bad sex happens at that age. Mine came attached to the words, “Look, I don’t want to do this, stop, okay?” and then it happening anyway.
People end up in situations they don’t want. Then they just act to end the situation as best possible. I think it’s human nature. I have told a few people, but reporting it otherwise didn’t make sense. What was there to report? Sure, saying No and getting fucked anyway, but she wanted to get laid – whatever, it wasn’t the end of the world.
It’s interesting that the event never really bothered me that much. I had non-consensual sex. I will do better next time. My wife and close friends know, and they agree that I don’t seem traumatized, and I trust them. I have friends (male and female) who experienced something similar, and we all agree that it’s not rape, and also not consensual, and we aren’t too bothered by our past. (Hell, plenty of us married folks admit to plenty of times of having sex when we kind really don’t want to and do anyway – and 95% of the time it ends up fine, and the other 5% is because your spouse really needed that moment, and none of that is rape, when we talk about it, either.)
In no way am I minimizing rape, nor the reactions to non-consensual moments that others have experienced. Not at all. A close family member was brutally gang raped and beaten and left for dead in a forest and survived. (Notably, she doesn’t carry her trauma with her, having chosen to carry her life, based on the miracle of still having it.) A close close friend was raped by her (former) best friend and is still totally freaked out by it. There are spectra of events, spectra of reactions.
I realize that in writing, you might end up publishing, but I doubt you will. Kind of a boring story. But there’s a link to a tumblr I want to share, because it might help those whose reactions are different from mine. It’s a really rough read, but reading there has helped me as I’ve stood by people who have gone through trauma. By reading and learning, I can embrace and help them, bring compassion to my interactions with them, listen to voices saying what they aren’t ready to say yet. If you could share the link, maybe it would help some folks. Thanks.