The Rape Double Standard

Oct 11, 2013 @ 5:44pm

Akiba Solomon is disturbed by a recent profile of Chris Brown, which notes in passing that the performer “lost his virginity” at age 8 to a teenaged girl:

The fact that Brown doesn’t seem to know that he was assaulted doesn’t come as a surprise. It took the FBI 85 years to change the exclusionary definition of forcible rape from “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” to a male-inclusive one. (“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”) … This culture whispers in our ears that men and boys can’t really be raped by women or girls. To admit to such a violation would suggest femaleness or weakness, which is the worst thing you can be in this sick ecosystem. The bottom line here is that Chris Brown was sexually assaulted as a child – legally and practically speaking. We wish that wasn’t the case. If Chris Brown had been a girl, it’s unlikely that the Guardian or we would publish this information without more comment about the admission.

Oct 12, 2013 @ 11:37am

Ctd …

A reader writes:

Your post about the rape of Chris Brown brought to mind the recent Dr. Phil brouhaha. He tweeted the question of whether it was ok to have sex with an intoxicated girl. The outrage was predictably immediate. But in all the ado, I never heard anyone ask whether, if a man was guilty of rape for having sex with a drunk woman, a woman is guilty of rape if she has sex with a drunk man. My guess is the question was never raised because the answer of “no” was so unquestionable to most people. There can be no doubt that there is a ridiculously sexist double standard based not only on the perceived weakness of the male rape victim, but also the assumed sexual aggression of men.

Oct 15, 2013 @ 10:24am

Ctd …

A reader writes:

Your efforts to explore this topic are part of what makes your blog so special.  I mean, really, is there anything you won’t discuss?

I really must agree that there is a double standard with male rape.  By all accounts, I have been a male victim of heterosexual rape within the context of a relationship. Many years ago, I was living with a woman who had a pretty strong sexual appetite, at least in terms of frequency. She wanted sex generally at least twice a day, and for at least one or two hours. And as a young twenty-something, I was happy to accommodate her most of the time (wasn’t it glorious to be 20!). But every now and then I would have to beg off – either I was busy, studying, or just worn out sexually.

One night after a few days of avoiding sex, she woke me up in the middle of the night by stroking me.

Then she held me down with all her strength and basically forced me to have sex with her.  I was really tired and really not wanting sex with her because of some tension in the relationship, so I wrestled against her.  Now, she was almost my size and actually pretty strong and very insistent, so it quickly became apparent that I would either have to seriously kick her ass, or just go along with it. I undoubtedly could have beaten her off, but I gave in and just went along with it as the course of least resistance.  I asked myself, was not having sex worth beating the crap out of my girlfriend?

So she satisfied herself and got off. It occurred to me that I had been raped. I don’t really know what else to call it.  I didn’t want to have sex. She forced me to. Isn’t that rape?

I guess I was technically raped, but I was not particularly traumatized by it. I was annoyed. I don’t equate that experience with anyone else’s in any other context.  I completely get why “real” rape must traumatize the hell out of people.  But we also must understand the incredibly complex panorama of human sexual experience and why I just put quotation marks around the word “real.”  If our genders were reversed, she could have gone to jail for years for what she did. But that wouldn’t have been right.  Whether we want to admit it or not as a society, there are shades of fucking grey all over this topic.

Update from a reader who, if nothing else, illustrates the mainstream attitude toward the subject:

I’m sorry.  If you’re a grown man and can be “forced” to have sex against your will by an unarmed woman, then you are simply an unbelievable pussy.  And, no, you do not “have to seriously kick her ass.” Frankly, I doubt that the candy-ass whose baloney you posted could have done that in any case.

Besides, how could he have penetrated her without an erection? This tale is bullshit in every level.

Oct 16, 2013 @ 10:23am

Ctd …

Several readers take issue with the reader in this post update:

While it seems clearly wrong to state that you’re an “unbelievable pussy” and it’s not technically “rape” if a woman forces you as a man to have sex without putting a gun to your head, there is a middle ground here.  It’s that while it may have been “against his will” in a technical sense for the story writer to say he was forced to have sex, he ultimately could have avoided it and chose not to.  So was he “forced” to have sex?  Clearly he thought he had to, but again he could have pushed her off and walked away and he ultimately chose not to.  It was not the perpetrator who controlled whether or not the victim was going to have sex.  This seems critically important.  So while the technical non-consent of “forced” rape is there, the complete helplessness and the extreme violation seems likely not.  Which is probably why he stated/questioned that he was “technically raped”? But not traumatized.  It seems to me that whatever the technical legal definition, it’s the helplessness and trauma that are the horrendous and lasting parts of it.

Another is much more critical:

OMG! Is this person in your update serious? Or is your reader Todd Akin? He (assuming this is a man writing) never had an erection when looking at an attractive woman even when he didn’t want to? Sometimes women have physiological responses to rape that are associated with sexual arousal (wetness, orgasm). This does not mean she hasn’t been raped. Ditto a man. Your reader needs to do some research. Here’s an easy-to-read start.

That linked-to article triggered a short thread this summer called “When Rape Triggers An Orgasm”. Another reader on this thread:

If your “update” reader knew anything about rape of any kind – including the most conventional male-against-female rape – he’d know that conflicted feelings about what’s going on are at the heart of any rape. Talking to my female friends who’ve been raped (I’m male, for what it’s worth), one of the worst things about rape is that because of the basics of physiology, there is some pleasure involved. If your girlfriend is stroking you in the middle of the night when you’re half-asleep, you’re going to get hard. That doesn’t mean you want to have sex with her.

Which leads us to the next point. Rape can be most traumatizing when the perpetrator effectively forces the victim’s own body to respond sexually when the rational and emotional mind are not in agreement. You know how many raped women experience self-loathing and turn to self-harm? Think it might have something to do with feeling betrayed by their own bodies?

To get back to the discussion that doesn’t involve troglodytic assholes, I am extremely glad this discussion is happening. We have made sexual assault and sexual abuse far too tidy when it only consists of a big bad man forcibly holding down a helpless woman and penetrating her. By anything close to conventional definition, I have neither been raped nor raped anyone, but I have been sexually manipulated to the point of causing me a moderate amount of emotional trauma, and I have in the past cajoled someone beyond their comfort level in sexual activity to the point that it destroyed our relationship and leaves me with guilt to this day. In the current context, it’s nearly impossible to talk about either of these things without hanging the “rapist” or “rape victim” sign over my head where it doesn’t really fit with anyones concept of those things, but they clearly belongs in the same larger conversation.

I discussed this extensively with a friend of mine who does extensive work with a rape crisis center. She of course can’t tell me more, but she said the number of men who’ve come to her saying, “this wasn’t really rape, but something happened years ago that I can’t get past” is far higher than anyone would believe.

Another something that happened years ago:

The reader who wrote to call a possible rape victim “simply an unbelievable pussy” is a pretty abhorrent specimen, but his anger seems to be directed at the victim’s claim of being “forced” by a mere girl. Well, let me throw the following story into the mix …

I was in a relationship of three years and it had hit a rough patch. I went out with a female friend for drinks and ended up back at her place. In my innocence, I had foreseen light snogging and then driving home – but she became surprisingly ambitious. Within minutes I was on my back, my pants were down, and (sorry to be so porny) fellatio was underway.

However, as I neared the finish, I was struck by sudden regret. I should not be here, I thought; this is wrong. I’m in a committed relationship and I should either work that out or end it honestly. So, summoning all the willpower I had, I told my friend to stop, it was a mistake, and I tried to lift her away. I was urgent and clear.

At this point, she locked her arms firmly around me and doubled down. (I’m being oblique – I’m sure you can picture what I mean.) Obviously, at some point you don’t stand a chance physiologically, and that point had been just seconds away when I said stop. So the choice I had made quickly became irrelevant. I finished, involuntarily. And then she let me go.

Now, when I attended college in the 1990s, we were taught in no uncertain terms that if the girl says “no” at any point – even if you are already in the midst of sex that she initially consented to – that’s it. She changed her mind. Show’s over. Past the point of “no”, a sex act becomes rape, end of story.

So was it rape in my case or not?

And your angry reader should keep in mind there was literally no way I could have fought my way out, not without punching my friend as hard as I could in the side of her head – and look where her teeth were. Would that really have been smart?

For the record, I was deeply annoyed at my friend, but probably not traumatized. I broke up with the girlfriend a few weeks later and ended up dating the friend for a year. It was the year of dating (with an incredible sex life, btw) that destroyed our friendship, not that night. And I’m not mad at her for that night; I’m mad at myself for staying with the girlfriend too long, for taking our monogamy so seriously when it had clearly become pointless, and at “society” for not having a realistic way to discuss these things.

I dunno, we’re people, and it’s all gray in ways the law and social justice have a hard time with.

Oct 22, 2013 @ 10:24am

Ctd …

A few male readers add the factor of unconsciousness to the thread:

I’m reminded of an incident that occurred while I was backpacking in South America in 1995. I was staying at a hostel in Chile with a friend, and went out for the night with a couple of local girls, one of whom lived/stayed at the hostel. We got real drunk. We danced and flirted. We went back to the hostel. I woke up with this girl on top of me, basically having sex with me. And to this day can’t remember what exactly happened – I just know it wasn’t consensual (on my part). I just shrugged it off, but it definitely wasn’t OK. If this was a guy (me?!) doing this to a girl, I think that it would be judged much more harshly. I don’t know what this says other than what you other contributors have said – there are a lot of shades of grey.


Well, here’s another similar story for the thread. First of all, this was years ago, when I was in college. And I was absolutely not traumatized by it at all.  In fact, it was pretty awesome.  But it could have been different … So, this girl and I were just sort of starting to see each other.  Not “dating” per se, but we had had sex once or twice before.  In other words, a new, not-yet-committed kind of relationship. (Ultimately, it never really went past this stage.)

We were at her parent’s house for her birthday party.  Her parents let her have the place to celebrate – which was actually pretty cool of them.  You know, a safe place to drink, etc.  And not a crazy-big party or anything.  A lot of her friends from high school, maybe one or two others from college.  So she was pretty much the only person I knew there, but I was her (informal) date for the party of course.

Anyway, later in the evening I got a pretty bad headache.  One of those (thank God) rare ones that makes you not care about anything.  So I bowed out and turned in, and assured her nothing was wrong – just a migraine from hell, gotta go to sleep.  Sometime later I woke up (no idea how much later) and we were having sex.  My headache was completely gone, so – as I mentioned – the sex was awesome.  And strange, to wake up in the middle of it like that.

So, it was implicit, I guess, that it was okay for her to have sex with me that night.  But really what happened was: she was drunk and horny, and just decided to fuck me.  Didn’t ask first, didn’t even wake me up; just moved my boxers out of the way, got me hard, and climbed on top.  And then I just happened to wake up.  (I mean come on, how could I not?  But ‘waking me up’ was way down on her priority list.)

Reverse the roles and that’s maybe-rape, and maybe just creepy as hell.  But your previous reader is right – there are all kinds of shades of grey on this topic.  And I think in a situation like this – the difference between “cool” and “creepy” – is also the difference between trauma and no trauma.  I mean, how society defines this particular act also influences how we, individually, would define it.

Another story, with a different angle:

I am a male. A large male. A strong male. A not “unbelievable pussy” male. I am a former bouncer in a bar, and have been in more brawls than anyone outside of security/bouncing would normally be in. I take martial arts. I can take pretty much anyone down.

I was in a marriage with an unstable woman who became more unstable as the marriage proceeded. For the record, we had two kids and I tried to make things work and get her to go to counseling – which she would go to and work on sometimes, but not enough. My wife would at times demand sex when I wasn’t interested. I knew that the pain that would follow if I refused. She would make the next month of my life a living hell.

I was coerced into having sex out of fear of a month of emotional pain and emotional abuse and screaming and yelling – and sometimes physical violence – from her to me. I never hit her ever, even if it was part of my personality to hit a woman (which it isn’t), my mom would have killed me if I’d ever even raised a hand.

I called myself “the hairy dildo” to my friends as I lamented the demands and threats my wife made. Is it marital rape? Or something in between rape and bad sex?

I know that I feel awful about being used and forced in that context – that sex had the love and connection part removed for her to get her rocks off – especially because if I ever wanted sex and she said no, that was the end of anything; I respect that boundary. The one time in our 18-year relationship that I “wheedled” my way into sex that she really didn’t want to have (but she explicitly said yes to) she took to calling “rape”. After our marriage ended, she told people I had maritally raped her in that instance. When I challenged her on her claim, she said, “but I really didn’t want to, so technically that’s rape.”

Oct 23, 2013 @ 7:31am

Ctd …

A reader writes:

I think one of the things that is being missed by most of the contributors to this thread is that male-on-female rape is rarely about sex.  Typically, it’s an assertion of power on the part of the male, not a desire to get off sexually without seeking the consent of the other.  But in most of the stories sent in by your male readers about non-consensual sex, the dynamic seems different.  In none of those stories does it seem like the female is trying to exert power over the male; it seems like the females just want to get off.  Maybe that’s why the guys respond so differently to being “violated.”

Another reader:

Interesting conversation you’ve been having about the many forms of rape and how we as a society perceive them. I actually think language is posing an obstacle here. Look at “killing”. All killings end with the same result: death. But look at how many legal names we have for it. There’s murder (and even murder one and murder two), manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. There’s also justifiable homocide, killing in self-defense, suicide, euthanasia, assassination, killing during war – all these distinctions and definitions to describe a variety of traumatic acts that end in the same exact result: death.

And yet we use the word rape to describe a widening range of actions with a vast range of outcomes. We use rape to describe a man hiding in the bushes, pouncing on a woman in the dark and penetrating her while holding a knife to her throat. And we now also use it to describe a man buying a woman too many drinks at a bar and having sex with her while she’s conscious but inebriated. Both acts are wrong, but do they really deserve to be described with the same word?

Yes, we do sometimes distinguish between rape and statutory rape, but even there, when a male authority figure coerces a young child into sex, is that the same thing as a high school senior smoking a joint with his sophomore girlfriend and engaging in sex that is seemingly consensual, even if the law doesn’t recognize it as such?

And now we bring in the variety of male-victim rapes, many of which are certainly as traumatic as those of the female variety. However, having a stronger man force himself upon you and penetrate you is not the same thing as waking up to find your girlfriend using your sleep-induced erection for her pleasure without your permission. I was once the “victim” of the latter, some 15 years ago. Prior to that, had you asked me, I would have said that waking up to such a scenario might be fun. But it wasn’t. It was annoying, disturbing and felt like a violation. I expressed my displeasure, she apologized and then I felt a little bad for making her feel bad about it. I forgot about it shortly after and never think about except at the rare times like now, when the topic is brought up.

Had it been reversed, had she woken up with me on top of and inside her, I’m pretty sure she would have been far more upset and far more traumatized. In the instance of my being violated, I think it would have been a gross overreaction for me to call the police and cry rape, but in the reverse scenario, that might be a reasonable reaction.

There is a double standard, or a multiple standard, and one of the key factors is penetration. I think I would have felt differently had there been a digit or object inside me than I felt waking up inside her. And I think the distinction is enough to give the two acts different names. One is rape and the other is… something else, maybe harassment?

As for the story that started this all, that of Chris Brown’s loss of virginity at 8 to a girl of 14, it seems there are so many distinctions that keep it from feeling like rape to my mind, and the fact that he is male is NOT one of them. First, he was underage, but so too was the girl. Second, according to his description, she did not in any way seduce him; rather the desire was mutual. And finally, while there was pressure put upon Brown, it did not seem so much to be from the girl as from his environment. You could blame those around him who applied the pressure, but then who would be the culprits … 11 and 12 year old neighborhood boys?

Did the incident in question shape Brown’s attitude toward sex and later actions? Possibly. Probably. But does that make it rape? I just don’t see it.

One more story:

Ok, you finally have provoked me to respond. I unfortunately have a lot of thoughts on this subject. For one thing, I have unequivocally been “taken advantage of” by a girl before. In my college days, back in the ’90s, I went to a friend’s apartment, and when I arrived, I was invited in by her roommate. Her roommate was extremely attractive, and in the process of waiting for my actual friend, somehow she talked me into taking a pill. Now, I liked pills back then, and this is not about my genuine lack of good judgment at a time when I was totally reckless. Besides, I think this girl could have talked me into just about anything.

Regardless, it was a Rohypnol, the infamous roofie of date rape fame. What ensued that night was a total blur. I remember bits and pieces, like ending up at a party with the girl, but not what happened at the party, or what happened when it was over. What I do remember, however, was waking up the next morning, naked in the bed with her, and then taking a shower with her (we were both late for class), as if it were perfectly normal, and wondering, “what the hell just happened?” I wasn’t upset over the thought of having been with her. I was upset that I couldn’t recall any of it. Not one bit. The most satisfaction I got out of it was seeing her naked, and wondering.

Now, I clearly was culpable in the sense that I freely popped a pill which I didn’t have any experience with. But as other readers have pointed out, had the gender roles been reversed, I would clearly have been the aggressor, and she the victim, and subject to prosecution had she desired it.

The bigger picture here is that we, as a society, are using one term, “rape,” in an overly broad fashion. Rape is a crime of sexual violation, with elements of aggression, violence and/or control. What happened to me, was not a crime of aggression, was not violent, and arguably was not about control, as I more than certainly would have had sex with the girl freely, if my consent had been solicited.

Therefore, it can not be rape. It was a non-violent exploitation, maybe even some violation of me (was the violation sexual? Or was it a violation of trust?), with a sexual component, and it didn’t live up generally accepted ethical standards, but it wasn’t rape. Unfortunately, we don’t have a criminal system that recognizes “ethical lapses” as very real, albeit misdemeanor, classes of sexual misconduct. The lack of such distinction, however, means that many people are wrongly accused and convicted over a minor ethical lapse for the same crime as legitimate menaces to society; conversely, many people are never brought to any kind of justice because (in my case) there is no way I would make an accusation of rape against that girl, even if what she did was “wrong,” and I am sure there are many examples of women who have been wronged that aren’t prepared to make a rape claim for similar reasons. And even worse, the contorted legal standard creates the terrifying reality that men in emotionally abusive relationships have to live in fear of being accused of rape, as at least one of your readers alluded to.

As usual, thank you for airing such a sensitive topic.

Oct 24, 2013 @ 5:09pm

Ctd …

A reader keeps the thread going:

All of your reader stories are very sad, especially so the men describing life inside abusive relationships. Our culture definitely has difficulty understanding male victims, not just of sexual assault. It’s one of the causes of damaging silence about child abuse, which helps make prevention and justice close to impossible in far too many lives.

But I really can’t let pass the notion that if the genders were reversed, the perpetrators would go to jail for a long time – which more than one reader mentioned. This just isn’t true, and people who say it is make me doubt their motives. Women have a difficult enough time reporting rapes that fall very far outside the gray areas of abusive relationships and bad sex – ones that fall very squarely in the black and white world of being raped while unconscious or physically assaulted by acquaintances. And if they do report, prosecutions are difficult and often end up being trials about victims instead of rapists – with few of them ending in convictions. What would happen if a woman who was raped in the more gray areas mentioned in your reader stories reported her experiences to law enforcement? I think we know: she would be dismissed, just as these men would be. There is no prosecutorial double-standard.

On that note, if you haven’t yet caught wind of the rape story out of Maryville, Michael Shaffer sketches out the main details:

Last Sunday, a New York Times reporter visited Maryville, Missouri to report on the existence of a grave threat to the town’s bucolic, Real-America essence: “Ever since The Kansas City Star ran a long article last Sunday raising new questions about the Nodaway County prosecutor’s decision to drop charges against a 17-year-old football player accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, the simplicity of small-town life here has been complicated by a storm of negative attention.” …  There are two ways the town could have lived up to the Times’ rose-colored description of its status quo ante:

1. Beforehand, by not sexually assaulting ninth-graders, videotaping the incident, and leaving a victim asleep on her front lawn in freezing weather.

2. After the fact, by not ostracizing the victim’s siblings, firing her mom from her job, dropping the case inexplicably, and burning the family’s house down.

A reader backs up the first one:

As a former prosecutor who has handled a fair share of sexual assault cases, I’d like to clear up a misconception that seems very widespread in this discussion. Several readers have described being sexually assaulted by a female, and many of them have said something like “If the situation were reversed, I would have been in jail.” That isn’t necessarily true.

The kind of case that is being discussed would be extremely difficult to prosecute regardless of the gender of those involved. Juries, in my experience, are very reluctant to convict people of sexual assaulting an adult unless they are absolutely certain that the sex wasn’t consensual. Basically, if a defense attorney can give them any remotely plausible reason to believe that the sex might have been consensual, then they are probably not going to convict.

In the cases your readers have described, there are many such reasons: the defendant and the victim are in a relationship together; they willingly sleep in the same bed; they begin a relationship after the sexual assault occurs. Any one of those facts would make a conviction unlikely and might even be enough for a prosecutor to decline the case. Sometimes even the fact that the defendant and victim have a history of flirting with each other can doom a case.

You might say that’s unfair: surely a young woman should be able to go to sleep with her college boyfriend without giving up her right to say no. Well, yes. But convicting the guy if he subsequently decides to have sex with her while she’s asleep in going to be very difficult.

I want to be clear that I am not saying that any of this is good or bad, or that female on male sexual assault is any less serious or traumatizing than the reverse.  I only want to make clear that the reason that the women in these stories were not convicted of rape is not necessarily because they are women, but rather because proving an adult rape charge is much more difficult than society in general seems to think.

Nov 6, 2013 @ 4:45pm

Ctd …

Readers continue one of our most popular threads of late:

While I agree that rape prevention is never the responsibility of those who might have been victimized, the same is true of those who might be victims of false accusations. And that is the all-important flip side of this question. It is difficult to subject the claims of rape and sexual harassment victims to close scrutiny, because if they have indeed been victimized, it only adds to their trauma. At the same time, plenty of people are falsely accused of rape, sexual harassment, etc, and their lives have been ruined thereby. This goes especially for people in positions of responsibility over young people, like public school teachers. An accusation of rape can end a carefully cultivated career for years, sometimes forever.

While we are teaching people, especially young men, not to rape, and to act as allies when women are threatened with rape (a role I’ve played, BTW, preventing what certainly would have been a rape if I hadn’t acted), we should also teach young people how lives are ruined by careless and misleading accusations. Sometimes we encourage young people to be open about how a situation makes them “uncomfortable,” when they are too young to judge the possible effects of an accusation. And sometimes the accuser is encouraged by well-meaning adults who are far too credulous and give adolescents too much credit for knowing things they don’t, in fact, know. A few leading questions, an easily-led adolescent with a grievance, and you’re in court, and your family has lost its sole support.


A reader stated about rape: “Typically, it’s an assertion of power on the part of the male, not a desire to get off sexually without seeking the consent of the other.” I know that you cannot extract power from sex at all (male potency or power may be men’s most erotic trait), but I cannot conceive of how lust can be taken out of the motivation behind most rapes. Statements about how “rape is about power, not sex” seem to want to keep sex as this all benevolent, all natural, all safe part of life … and not concede that sex is an animal instinct that can drive us towards extreme selfishness and harm unless we exert control over it.

Another adds:

One of your readers repeats the durable old feminist chestnut that “male-on-female rape is rarely about sex.” Sometimes this thesis is trotted out to explain male-on-male rape and child molestation as well.  But this notion – originated by activist Susan Brownmiller in the 1970s and never supported by any actual science – was essentially a political assertion arising from the zeitgeist of a bygone era.  And the notion was criticized early (by D. Symons in The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1979)) and late (by R. Thornhill and C. Palmer in A Natural History of Rape (2000)).

Nov 7, 2013 @ 2:40pm

Ctd …

The thread takes another turn:

I think one of your readers, when talking about all kinds of distinctions between different kinds of “rape” – inadvertently mentioned something that is a huge distinction between when a female is the aggressor and when the male is the aggressor. He wrote:

There is a double standard, or a multiple standard, and one of the key factors is penetration. I think I would have felt differently had there been a digit or object inside me than I felt waking up inside her.

Exactly.  I think rather than trying to draw an analogy between female-on-male rape and male-on-female rape – perhaps a closer analogy is male-on-male rape to male-on female rape. I don’t know if it makes sense or not, but having somebody insert a body part into your body it certainly seems different that someone using your body part to insert it into them.  (Even more so when something gets ejaculated into your body).

Ask a man how he feels about getting raped by a woman?  No: ask a man how he feels about getting raped (orally or anally) by a man.  That might be a better analogy.

Another reader:

Your thread on rape is fascinating, but let me add a gay perspective. We often define rape in rather surreal and erotic ways. As an older guy, I have taken on the “daddy role” (I’m now 50), and I can’t tell you how many men – younger and older – have told me about their “rape fantasy” involving a guy (or guys) forcing them into sex. Through the years, I have gladly made the fantasy come true for some of these men, but I also know that I may be putting myself at risk by unknowingly picking the wrong guy. Having a rape fantasy and getting it fulfilled can often elicit two conflicting emotions. I often warn guys of this when sober, but I’m not as coherent about it when both of us may be under the influence of alcohol. I had that happen a few years ago. I met a young guy (early twentysomething) at a bar, who wanted me to “make him my sex bitch.” He was hot and I was more than willing. We went back to his place, and I immediately immersed him into his fantasy by talking dirty and forcing him to his knees to blow me. He loved it.

As we got further into it, he began to push back more, but I thought that still was part of his fantasy. It wasn’t until he pushed me off and told me to leave that I realized his reality had crashed into his fantasy.

Did I “rape” him? No, of course not, but he could have easily told someone I did. Just as women get the default position of “victim” over a man, an older gay person automatically is assumed to be the aggressor over a poor, naïve younger guy – even when the latter initiates the encounter.

Maybe the lesson here is don’t act upon something when you are drunk, but such a thing goes by the wayside when you are kicking back beer. This is also why I understand the debate over the drunk-vs.-sober aspects of a man who picks up a woman at a bar. Alcohol certainly increases your sex drive and drops your inhibitions. But both men and women have to be aware that the perception of the encounter could feel different after the alcohol-fueled buzz leaves you.

(Thumbnail image by Casey David)