Friday, July 15, 2011

Did you know that rape is a form of casual sex? News to me, too.

Good old Man Boobz has done it again, and lead me to a post I can write about by Susan Walsh of Hooking Up Smart.

*Trigger warning for sexual assault apologia, and sexual assault stories

She made a “flow-chart” (in scare quotes because it’s…not really a flow-chart at all so much as, I don’t know, vomit with a bunch of arrows? I’m being generous here) in which she tries to show how casual sex leads to “ECONOMIC STAGNATION!!!!!!!!!!” Yes, that is an exact quotation from her chart. And you know, I could detail, as others already have, how problematic it is to assume that something untested and unproven is “common sense”, but that’s not what pissed me off or inspired me to write about it. Rather, it’s that sexual assault is included under “casual sex”.

What is her justification for presenting it as such? That sexual assault is “sex without commitment”, which she insists is “factually true.” Naturally, someone had to point out the flaws in that, which NoxiousNan did:
You categorized rape as casual sex on your flowchart. Even if you only intended it as a risk of casual sex, there was no monogamy pie chart that also included rape as a risk. It seems you might be asserting that casual sex is more likely to expose one to being raped then monogamy when dating.
This would be the perfect timing for Walsh to clarify her remarks, or even, you know, admit that it was a bad idea to include sexual assault as casual sex. Instead, she reveals a startling amount of sexual assault apologia in her response to NoxiousNan in which she says, and I quote:
"It seems you might be asserting that casual sex is more likely to expose one to being raped then monogamy when dating.

I certainly am asserting that. Note the question “Were you drunk?” Much rape is avoidable. Climbing to the third floor of a frat house in a blackout state with your boobs hanging out at 3 am is more likely to lead to rape than going to the movies with your boyfriend.

 Unless your boyfriend is, you know, a sexual assailant himself ’cause, you know, that happens fairly frequently.

But she continues with, “A woman in a committed, monogamous relationship is much less likely to be date raped by a stranger at a frat party. Come on, you have to know that.”

Oh, gee, we do, do we? Too bad that flies in the face of the experience of most sexual assault survivors I know, including myself.

Let’s review, shall we?

I have been sexually assaulted multiple times in my life. First by my father’s friends when I was a baby, then by my stepfather when I was aged seven to twelve, next by a male friend in my final year of high school, followed by an acquaintance at my best friend’s birthday party at the beginning of my second year in college, and finally by some asshole who felt me up on the bus.
How “slutty” was I dressed? I really hope it doesn’t matter what I was wearing when I was a child, so moving on to high school: I was wearing my school uniform, which included three sweaters and loose pants. How about at my friend’s party? Well, I had cleavage showing if that counts. But then I was wearing my Canadian Tire uniform when the bus guy felt me up. So one out of four? Not looking good...
As for my sexual life, well I didn’t get my first boyfriend until I was sixteen, and we only did foreplay. Then at seventeen, my second boyfriend and I began dating, and our relationship lasted over six years, during which the latter two assaults occurred, and that was well before we started doing anything more than oral sex.
So in short: in the nearly twenty-four years I’ve been alive, I have only had consensual sexual contact with two men – both of whom I was partnered with monogamously – or I was single. No casual sex for me! And yet, I have been sexually assaulted multiple times! But I, of course, am only one person.

Let’s take my Nana, who only had sex with two men in her entire life. A teacher sexually assaulted her when she was nine.

How about my great aunt? Raped by her older brother when she was three, and then much later by her husband when she was leaving him.

My Nana’s good friend: sexually abused for years by her father and then raped by her boyfriend before they married. She didn’t even realize what had happened until he told her himself.

My mother: sexually-assaulted by her stepfather when she was twelve, gang-raped at fourteen by a group of strangers, all this well before she became sexually active (and yes, I dare say promiscuous), and then by my father (with whom she in a committed, monogamous relationship) shortly after my birth, when the doctor recommended they not have sex for a while and my father “didn’t care.”

My younger sister: sexually-assaulted by the son of our mother’s friend when she was eight, and then later by our mother’s boyfriend.

My best friend: sexually-abused by her uncle from when she was three until his death, coercively raped by her first boyfriend when she was twelve, molested by another uncle, raped by another, raped by another boyfriend, sexually-assaulted in her sleep by a friend, then raped by another boyfriend, and then sexually assaulted by an acquaintance.

My good friend: sexually-assaulted by a random stranger who hugged her first. She had a boyfriend she intended to marry at the time.

My stepgrandmother: sexually assaulted by an acquaintance in university. She was single.

My aunt: sexually assaulted when she was eleven.

My friend: inappropriately held by my great uncle.

My ex-friend: sexually-assaulted by a man she was talking to when she was in grade school.

This is all to say nothing of all the sexual harassment and attempted sexual assaults endured by these women and others.

“A woman in a committed, monogamous relationship is much less likely to be […] raped […]. Come on, you have to know that.”

I think you’re wrong.


  1. *big big big hugs* D:

    Also her response is SO GROSS >_<;;; And I always love when ppl just state things as if they're dead obvious, therefore they dun have to be proven. "Well WE ALL KNOW THAT..."

    What "We" all know is that her flowchart is ridic and she's an asshat for using rape myths/narratives in the way she did to advance her anti-casual sex ideology -_-

  2. I was amused that she admitted her chart is bogus, and needs repair, but still defends it as a valid model.

  3. @Ami,

    *big hugs back* :)

    "And I always love when ppl just state things as if they're dead obvious, therefore they dun have to be proven."

    Yeah, I was kind of tempted to quote the whole thing and then say [citation needed]. lol And yes, few things piss me off more than throwing people under a bus (in this case, sexual assault victims) to advance one's own agenda, even if it's an otherwise good agenda, and hers isn't.

  4. @Pecunium,

    Exactly. At the very least, she could have said she would consider what we were saying given that the chart needed to be fixed, but she couldn't decide whether she wanted to defend the whole thing by saying it was incomplete, or deflect any criticism that could help improve it by arguing as if it were flawless!

  5. I've never been assaulted by someone I had casual sex with, was dating casually, etc. I have been assaulted by someone I was in a committed monogamous relationship with. My "common sense" tells me that relationships are dangerous, because feelings of attachment can prevent you from leaving when you are in danger. During causal encounters on the other hand, people know you don't need to be there and will go out of their way to be nice/polite/respectful and show that they are trustworthy. Because they know you will leave if they don't.

  6. Exactly, Anon. Every person's experience with sexual assault is different, so it's ridiculous to say that casual sex causes sexual assault when so many people are sexually assaulted otherwise, and many people are not sexually assaulted by casual partners. It's not that no one is ever sexually assaulted by casual partners, but having casual sex does not make sexual assault more likely to happen.