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The Rape Ballet

December 13, 2001

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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.

Euro Girl

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.

Fully Recovered

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.

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Comments (8) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
This column addresses the ambiguity of the definition of rape, and how folks socially define it by their own cultural references really well. It's interesting to me that fantasy power-exchange roleplay has become very popular. I sell a lot of dildos and harnesses to women whose men are even getting in on the powerlessness/penetration angle. I found Dan's treatment of this subject to be pretty sensitive.
Posted by I_Sell_Adult_Toys_no_really! on April 2, 2009 at 7:50 PM · Report this
Commenting on this is pointless, but I will anyway:

You're making me feel physically sick. STOP casting yourself as the victims! Rape victims are victims, yes. Women who complain that they've been raised to be intimidated by men are just a little pathetic. I'm a woman. I've yet to meet a man who could intimidate me.

Take charge of your own LIFE.
Posted by Sylvie on April 27, 2009 at 3:08 PM · Report this
I have to agree with the above comments, and with Dan's position in general. If rape is degraded to any kind of sex we weren't enthusiastic about getting, then it loses its meaning. And I agree with Sylvia above: women need to take charge of their lives rather than keep repeating over and over again how they've been programmed to be nice girls. Tsk-tsk-tsk... Hey, grow some independence already!
Posted by ankylosaur on August 19, 2009 at 6:21 PM · Report this
I know I am REALLY late on commenting on this, but I feel the need to add my two cents. I have been in similar situations to the one NYCG described. I have not been raped. I have been violated. As I know a survivor of date rape, I get a little annoyed when people compare NYCGs situation to a 14 year old girl being forced to have sex (he was around the same age). Words have power, and people should respect that.
Oh, and YNAW: I am passive and nice (and hey! nobody had to teach me - it's just the way I am) but nobody intimidates me. Nobody. Not even stupid idiots like you.
Posted by GR on October 12, 2009 at 10:53 PM · Report this
Rape is really grey. You can't tell a girl that because it isn't classic rape, she should "get over it" and be grateful that it wasn't worse. In the same manner, you can bring up examples of little girls who were raped to their deaths and tell FR that she should stop whining. The fact that it can be worse does not delegitimise the scenario. Last year I was date-raped. It is a similiar story to that above - alcohol was involved, it was late at night, and there was only one bed. The fact is that non-rapists, upon hearing the word NO, will stop. Rapists don't stop, but get a thrill from the non-consent and proceed to hold a girl down and stick their dick in her mouth/cum on her stomach etc. You might say that because it isn't textbook rape there was no harm done, but the fact is that these same men are aware of this, and take advantage of the grey zone to force sex on a woman who would have chosen, had she had control of the situation, not to do so. The violent textbook rape I went through a year later felt very much the same. It isn't just the physical touch that repulses you; it is the fact that you're erased as a human being, seen only as a vessel for the man's desires, and are completely without control. The man penetrates you and hits you, but he can just as well torture and murder you - you are at his mercy. That is what makes rape so terrible and that, and not the sex itself, is what makes rapists do what they do. You have to keep this in mind when you judge if something was rape or not. It isn't just the manner or the question of penetration, it isn't the manner of violence used (because intimidation, coercion and inability to consent are the same). Hearing someone say that date rape delegitimises real rape survivors is like hearing nails on a chalkboard. I hope you understand that now
Posted by dejour.belle on January 8, 2011 at 5:44 PM · Report this
@5 - We do and you are absolutely right. I hope more people read and understand it. Those who "argue" it are just doing it to dig their heels in and defend their own OPINIONS and not looking at the whole - the big picture.
Posted by Frederica Bimble on February 13, 2011 at 3:35 AM · Report this
#5, your scenario does not sound like what NYCG experienced. It doesn't sound as if anyone was preventing NYCG from getting up out of bed and putting her clothes back on the moment she decided she wasn't "ready". Regretting her own decision not to do so does not a violation make. We all make decisions we regret in hindsight regarding sex from time to time. In this sense, if any violation was going on, it was she who was violating herself.
Posted by cockyballsup on June 29, 2011 at 2:42 PM · Report this
I'd call the ambiguous cases (like NYGG) sexual violation, but reserve the term rape for the more unambiguous cases of nonconsensual sex--cases where either it was clear to you at the time that it was rape, or where it wasn't clear to you only because you were drunk or drugged.
Posted by Melissa Trible on April 2, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this

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