The Alpha Blonde

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This article was written on 29 May 2014, and is filled under Check In, relationships, self image.

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Is it *really* rape?

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To be honest, all of the focus on rape culture has been really uncomfortable for me because it reminds me of wounds I haven’t yet allowed to heal. I’m glad the conversation is finally happening and pissed that it’s only happening because people are finally cluing in to the reality that women are people, too.

Like so many of the women I know, I also have a rape story. I don’t tell mine often. My husband doesn’t even know the details. I didn’t tell my family, I didn’t tell my friends and it took years before I started letting it come out, piece by piece. When, a few years ago, I finally did tell it in it’s entirety to someone I was dating, he sat back and uttered the words I was scared the most of hearing;

“That doesn’t sound like rape to me.”

Because it was a friend. Because I wasn’t pinned down by a stranger with a knife and whiskey on his breath in an alleyway. It happened in my home, I’d invited him into my home.

I’d invited him into my home to make out, but he knew I was just weeks fresh from a failed marriage and sex was off the menu. We’d talked at length about how unready I was for that next level and he gave me the supportive, friendly “I’m just glad to be around you” line.

So I felt that making out was a safe place to start, after all, he was the guy who’d suggested that we read books out loud to each other while we hung out- to me, that felt like a safe person to be around. However, because I’d invited him to make out, he was entitled to have me.

It was late and I hadn’t slept for more than 3 or 4 hours total in the previous few days. The world was upside down and I’d invited him to stay the night because we’d been drinking and I didn’t want him heading out drunk, even if it was just on his bike.

I can still hear him saying in a low, gravelly voice “Don’t worry, I’ve had a vasectomy so I’m shooting blanks.” as he pushed on. I had been asleep when he’d started.

I remember myself being unable to fight against it. “No” wasn’t suitable and I spent the whole experience feeling like I was in one of those dreams where I couldn’t scream or make a sound.

And he fell asleep and I felt horrible. Worse than I have in my whole life. I’ve been sexually active since I was a teenager, but even in the dorky “wrong hole, doofus” days I was still in control of when I would be breached. Sex was fun, sex was a safe place.

You can’t just “take a rape shower” and move on. And if the person is someone you know it comes back to you every time you see them. Where he had once praised me and cheered me on, once I put distance between us after the attack the words became “You dirty little bitch” and he’d say these things in front of my friends.

I was so embarrassed. I’m a feminist, I had dutifully read Bitch and Bust since I was 18 and I had Inga Muscio’s Cunt memorized. Le Tigre hadn’t left my playlist since I first heard them in college. I played roller derby and quoted Simone de Beauvoir, certainly I transcended being raped! How was I so unable to stop him? Why was I unable to form words- the right words, to make him stop. To make him respect me. Was I actually raped at all if I wasn’t conscious when when it started to happen?

For years I’ve held this story close to me. When I’ve told it, it’s never been to reveal his identity. I mean, everyone knows him. I’ve acted like nothing happened when I’ve seen him around town- and he’s someone who always seems to be around. I’ve even taken his hugs when they’ve been offered, probably his way of saying “See, we can still be friends.” any my way of saying “Just don’t tell anyone about what happened.”

But what gets me about it is why, 10 years later, am I still hesitant to vilify my attacker? Why do I worry about protecting his identity? What am I afraid of that might happen to him, upon possibly seeing this, that might be worse than what he did to me?

It all funnels neatly down to the same old fear, that he didn’t see what he did to me as rape.

So I’m sharing the story now. It probably seems like a poor choice to talk about on the internet, in a blog that anyone can read. I could have made a zine and limited my audience and hand picked who I wanted to read about it. Because, hey- you could even be a future employer reading this (or, heck, my present one) and decide that this is a red flag. You might be my parents, who don’t know any of this happened.

If you’re my husband, I’m sorry I’ve only alluded to this. The fear of rejection that it wasn’t actually rape and the nullification of my experience and the shame have kept me quiet when it comes to talking about it with men.

But this is exactly why it needs to be shared. If a woman, after being assaulted, has to question whether it was rape is actually a thing it needs to be talked about. Our stories need to be out there. Not just as a way for other women to know their experiences are valid too, but for men to start taking our sexual consent seriously.

A rape doesn’t look like any single scenario. It can be between strangers, friends, lovers, spouses. It can be men to women, women to men, men to men, women to women- cis, trans, anyone, anywhere, with any background. You can have had sex with someone previously and consensually, and it can still be rape if one time it isn’t.

We have to ask ourselves if it is rape because jokes like this are funny:

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And we have to ask ourselves if it’s rape because we might have unknowingly invited it in by our dress or flirtation.

Or we might think “maybe it wasn’t rape” because we’d been called a cocktease or put it off for so long that it’s what was coming to us.

Maybe it was someone we’d been interested in for a long time, but things got out of hand and moved at a pace we weren’t comfortable with. “At least I finally got what I’d wanted, I guess.”

Or because we were too drunk to stop it and had we been in control of ourselves better we could have stopped it.

It boils down to this- if you have to ask whether it’s really rape or not, chances are it was. And it wasn’t your fault.

 

3 Comments

  1. karma
    May 29, 2014

    thank you so much for writing about this. you are absolutely right it was rape and it was not your fault. i know how it feels to hide something that you are incredibly ashamed of, and i’m so sorry you had to go though that.

  2. Jessica Crow
    May 29, 2014

    Thank you so much Kim for sharing this. It made me cry, it made me angry, and it made me proud of you for being brave enough to share it.

  3. Candace
    June 14, 2014

    Oh Kim! I’m so glad that you’ve written about it! As soon as I saw this post my brain zeroed in and wouldn’t let me do anything other than click and read! This topic is so near and dear to my heart. I’ve been trying to fathom a lroject to make this issue more real and BOY does this post sum it all up. I don’t buy that 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime, I think it’s more like 4 in 5, because everyone women I talk to tells me theyve been raped… Whether they want to call it rape or not. And reporting them? Psh.

    Thank you thank you for sharing. I feel that it IS SOOO important for us to tell it like it is, if we’re ever going to change this. It is scary to know people might read it and judge, and I’m so proud to know you did it anyway. You always inspire me to push through no matter how scary it may be (whatever it is).

    I wish I had more eloquent words to say, but bottom line is: your story has touched me. You have changed the world you know.

    ** love you ** – Asai

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