I have just read something so horrifying that I almost couldn’t believe it. I thought that in modern society (I apologise for sounding like my mother) it was a commonly accepted fact that “no means no”, regardless of when it was said and the relationship that two people may be having. It doesn’t matter whether she’s your girlfriend, your wife, your best mate or your total stranger, no means no. Right?
So when I read comments like “girlfriends should give it up when asked. If not, I’m fine with taking it”, “rape is repugnant. the act of forcefully finishing sex with a recalcitrant wife/partner is *not rape*”, “women consent when they marry. If you marry, you agree to sex”, “it’s morrally impossible for a man to rape his wife as consent is assumed”… I was so appalled I thought I was going to be sick.
The person in question (on Twitter getting a truckload of well deserved abuse) believes that the current definition of rape in legal terms has been stretched too far, thus wives and girlfriends can’t claim rape as by getting into the relationship they had already consented to sex. He believes if someone isn’t screaming or shouting or in pain it isn’t rape. Now let me say it again: no means no. If you’re in a relationship with someone then surely you should love or at least like them enough to respect their views about what happens to their body.
Now maybe I’m being a bit naive thinking that everyone thinks like this. So if the men we love aren’t going to stand up for us then we have to stand up for ourselves. And I know that we shouldn’t have to. I can’t say I know reporting a rape is the hardest thing in the world because I don’t know. I haven’t had to make that decision. But I do know that some hideously small proportion of rapes are reported and something horrific like only 6% of these resulting in prosecution. And I know that date rape is difficult to prosecute because of the “he said, she said” issue which means that prosecuting a man for raping his wife or girlfriend will be even harder. But rape is rape. And unfortunately in order for the world to see rape within a relationship for the heinous crime it is, it needs to be reported and prosecuted.
And boys, for the love of God, remember, no means no. Consent cannot be assumed. Rape is rape. Never forget that.
Average Josephine x