‘Look at that dress; you’re asking for it’
‘Don’t blame him, you tempted him’
‘He’s your boyfriend, he doesn’t need your consent’
‘You were probably giving him the wrong signals’
‘Don’t act the victim when you were out dressed like that’
‘It doesn’t matter…it’s only sex’
‘It wasn’t sex. It was rape. He was my boyfriend and I trusted him with all my heart. He came home after work and began undressing me. I told him to stop, I didn’t want to, I wasn’t in the mood. But he didn’t. Tears started rolling down my face. He didn’t stop. I yelled at him. His response: ‘You’re mine and I don’t need your permission’. He carried on until he was done. I lay awake that night, shaking, sick to my stomach and not knowing who to turn to. Who would understand? Who would believe that my own partner raped me without blaming me first…’
Thankfully, this is fictional to me. But unfortunately it’s the cruel reality to many women, in fact approximately 1 woman every minute in America, and although less common, many men are also rape victims. But only 16% of these rapes are actually reported to the police. Of course there’s a variety of reasons for this, for one, reporting such an event must be terrifying, but with the existence of rape culture in our society, so many women must feel that reporting rape is pointless; they’ll get the blame, they’ll be told to stop playing the victim, to stop being a slut.
But whether it’s a partner, stranger or acquaintance: no means no. Anything less than a yes and it’s rape. And it’s only ever the perpetrators fault.
One of the most common arguments used against the victim is that they encouraged the rapist; saying their skirt was too short, they flirted with the rapist, and therefore it’s ‘hardly surprising that he was tempted’. In fact, around 1 in 4 people think the woman is partly to blame for her rape if she’s wearing revealing clothing. I can’t even decide where to begin with this argument. Everyone deserves the freedom to dress whatever way they choose, and if a female chooses to flaunt her sexuality then I support her, and personally I find it empowering and think that we have every right to feel beautiful. Wearing revealing clothing is an expression of sexuality and confidence, not a device to attract a partner, so saying a woman is encouraging rape by wearing a short skirt is absurd. Not to mention the fact that the rapists certainly do not deserve the freedom to have sex with anyone they like just because they’re physically attracted to them. Sexual attraction is natural, but that doesn’t mean women can be used as objects to fulfill a man’s desire; if a man does this, he is nothing less than a predator. And the ‘prey’ has no reason to be blamed for this.
Although many rapes are committed by predators, around 30% of cases were committed by husbands or boyfriends, and sadly there is a common perception that rape cannot exist in a relationship. However the definition of rape is simply forced sexual intercourse- there is no exception for partners, a no means no. If your wife says she doesn’t want sex, your wedding ring does not give you permission to disregard her feelings and just ‘take what you want’. A healthy relationship is built on a mutual respect, and this doesn’t exclude your sex life. If your partner doesn’t want to do something, you have no right to make them. And if your partner doesn’t want sex and you do it anyway, it’s rape. There is no excuse, no grey area, and victim is never to blame for someone else’s unjustified actions. If your boyfriend or husband ignores you and continues without your consent then you have every right to report him and to be supported, instead of blamed.
Considering the amount of rape survivors there are out there who have spoken out against their rapists, it’s shocking that rape culture still exists in our society. And because of this, so many victims are afraid to come forward due to the fear of being blamed for something that they did not want to happen.
Whoever it is, if you don’t give consent, it’s rape. And no matter what, it’s never the victim’s fault.