Savage Love Podcast
Got a question for Dan Savage?
Call the Savage Love Podcast at 206-201-2720
or email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Savage Love Archives
Thrills and Spills
Centenary College of Louisiana
More from Dan Savage
Organic Chemistry Is Hard!
SL Letter of the Day: Go Somewhere
SL Letter of the Day: Open Up
Colbert to Succeed Letterman
Fox News Blows Lid Off Spring Break Blow
Books by Dan Savage
- American Savage
- It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living
- The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family
- Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me
- Skipping Towards Gomorrah
- The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant
Want a Second Opinion?
Contact Dan Savage
The Rape Ballet
December 13, 2001
Your response to New York City Girl was INSENSITIVE. There is no longer any question that you are a MAN! I was raped (with a dildo) by a female lover. I was hurt and angry, but I gave in and forgave her. Needless to say, the abuse continued throughout our time together. While NYCG wasn't penetrated, I'm sure she was scared and confused. She definitely should see a shrink and maybe join a support group.
A Woman Who Knows
Was there some question about my gender before my response to NYCG appeared in the column? And didn't I tell NYCG--the girl who got naked and crawled into bed with an ex-boyfriend who proceeded to ignore her growing discomfort, ignore the word "no," and come all over her stomach--to see a shrink?
As for the charge of insensitivity, AWWK, there's at least one person out there who disagrees with you: "Thanks, Dan, you were very sensitive," NYCG wrote me after reading my response. "What you said made sense and is helpful. I will get help. Sorry the letter was so serious, but I needed an outside opinion. I'll keep on reading."
In NYCG's case, I don't see why you needed to discuss rape at all; she didn't ask you that question. She said she was "23 and confused" and asked, "What am I to think?" She didn't ask if she was raped.
No One Thinks She Was Raped
I brought up the subject of rape because it seemed to me that NYCG was dancing around the word. I also knew that many readers would consider what happened to NYCG rape, and that these readers would attempt to hand me my ass if I didn't tell NYCG that she was raped. And so they are:
A man who ejaculates on a woman after she asks him to stop is a rapist. A man who touches another man at a sex club is a rapist. Pornographers are proxy rapists. Corporations are economic rapists. Advertisers are mental rapists. Your narrow definition of rape heaps condemnation on certain types of rape while excusing others.
I'm tempted to point out that your expansive definition of rape dilutes the horror of real rape--but I'm not gonna bother. You see, I've been locked in a hotel room for three weeks, trying to finish a book (writing, not reading), and consequently I've been watching a lot of Judge Judy. When some idiot goes off in her courtroom, Judge Judy waves him away. Since this is my courtroom, Zena, and since you're an idiot, I'm just gonna wave your idiotic ass away.
Hey, what kind of rapist does that make me?
SHUT THE FUCK UP, DAN! Rape can be rape in hindsight because rapists can drug, manipulate, and confuse the women they are assailing. What happened to that girl was classic date rape--and you tried to make her feel like an opportunistic whore, you son of a bitch! If you have any balls, Dan, you will print the following message:
I'm so sorry this happened to you, NYCG. Now let me break some things down for you: (1) What happened with Ron was date rape. (2) The only thing that big-Dan-the-ASSHOLE was right about is seeing a therapist. (3) What Ron did is criminal. (4) You are not to blame.
Print that Dan, you stupid asshole fuck.
Detests Idiot Shithead Savage
It's been established that I'm male, DISS, and now to prove it I have to run
your letter? Lord, I feel like my gender identity is under siege. Anyway, there's
your letter, DISS. Now where are your meds?
Why are Americans so quick to apply the words "sexual assault" and "rape" to any unpleasant sexual experience? In Europe we use these words when a man forces himself on a woman or penetrates her against her will. It diminishes these words to use them for misunderstandings and unwanted sexual advances. As much as I feel sorry for NYCG (I've been through that kind of heartbreak), sperm on her belly is not the reason she's hurt. She's hurt because she was hoping to reunite. She needs to address the issue that is actually bothering her.
Thanks for sharing, EG.
When I was 15, a cool boy invited me to his house. We smoked a poorly rolled joint. Then he asked if I wanted a massage. I had some idea what was coming. Five minutes later, I wasn't a virgin anymore. He didn't kiss me or touch me beyond the crappy massage, and I wasn't physically ready. I felt like shit, I felt violated, and for a long time I felt like I had been raped. Then when I was 19 two strangers beat the shit out of me and really raped me. Let me tell you, when it happens, you know it. It was violent, ugly, and completely unambiguous.
Like NYCG, I'm 23 years old now. I'm also doing well in the sex and self-respect departments, thanks. But when I read her letter, I thought, "BOO-FUCKING-HOO!" If that's her sad story, she's pretty lucky.
Thanks for sharing, FR.
You have no idea what it feels like to be a woman. You weren't taught to be passive and nice and intimidated by men. That's why rape is not black and white. It can happen without a woman knowing it happened, and it can happen because a woman is incapable of withholding her consent. It can happen to a guy who thinks he's going to get a blowjob but ends up getting fucked (by a girl) when that wasn't what he wanted. A guy can rape without knowing it if the girl isn't "clear enough" or is too scared to say no.
You're Not A Woman
Yes, yes, yes: I am not a woman. That's been established. But as a gay man I do have some idea what it's like to be in sexual situations with bigger, stronger men. One of my first boyfriends was 6'5", 240 pounds, all muscle, and a complete psycho. He was quick to anger and I found him very intimidating. But I reject the idea that succumbing to his pressure (and his charms, which were intertwined) means I was raped.
Call me insensitive, YNAW, but I agree with FR: Rape, when it happens, is pretty unambiguous. (Unless the victim has been drugged.) What's more, ridiculous claims like yours don't help anyone take rape--date or stranger--more seriously. Your rape scenarios are absurd. If regret or getting swept up in the moment and giving verbal or non-verbal consent to something you didn't plan on (or didn't enjoy) is rape, well, then we're all rape victims and rapists.
I don't know about you, YNAW, but I couldn't look FR in the eye and tell her that I'm a rape victim too, because I gave a few blowjobs to my big and scary ex-boyfriend when I didn't feel like it. And if I did say something that stupid and insensitive to FR, a woman who was really and truly and unambiguously raped, I hope she would do me the favor of slapping my face so hard my cheek came off in her hand.