Our next three readers grapple with what their girlfriends did to them; they all use the word “rape” but are uncertain—to varying degrees—if that’s the right word to characterize what happened. The first reader was a virgin when his girlfriend forced sex on him—and he had been planning to wait till marriage:
I was surprised when browsing your site today to notice Conor’s article [“The Understudied Female Sexual Predator”] and thrilled to learn that there is research ongoing into this understudied phenomenon. In 2013, as a freshman in college, I was sexually assaulted by my then-girlfriend, and it was months before I even considered the possibility that what happened to me could have been accurately termed “rape.”
About six months afterwards, I was reading a personal story online by a female college student about her own assault when I paused and realized how similar the event that she described was to my own experience. I felt confident based on the details that she provided that what had happened to her was definitely rape, and yet a simple reversal of the genders of the characters threw that fact into question.
The story I read online described an incident of date rape. Here are the details as best as I can recall them: A female college student returned to her dorm room with a male friend after a night out together. She described the guy as a close friend with whom she’d spent a lot of time throughout college, but with whom she had never been physically intimate and to whom she had never previously indicated romantic interest. As they were sitting together on her bed talking, he began touching her (unsolicited). She described how surprised she felt because both were completely sober and he had never indicated an interest in sex with her.
She verbally objected to the physical contact, but he persisted. She described saying some variation of “no, not right now, I’m not in the mood, etc.” with no impact on his persistence. Finally, she stopped vocally objecting at all. She described lying on the bed stiff like a board in hopes that would indicate her disinterest, but it didn’t deter him; she contemplated some more violent form of physical resistance but worried about harming someone that she considered a friend. She never reported it as rape or told any of her friends about it, but wrote the blog post that I later read because the experience left her deeply rattled because she was convinced that it was nonconsensual sex.
Reverse the genders of the characters in her story, and you’ve basically got mine.
I returned to my dorm room after a dinner date with my girlfriend of several months (neither of us were under the influence of any substance). We began talking on my bed and then kissing, but I objected when she began to undress me.