There is an audio clip that surfaced recently involving a man named Morris having sex with a woman. If you haven’t listened to it, count yourself lucky. I immediately regretted it. From the conversation at the beginning, the general flow is that she is the one who had called him to come over, presumably for sex. Something must have transpired since she called, because by the time the recording begins, she didn’t want to go on with it. She says at some point ‘unanirape’ during the conversation and is trying to get him to stop. Morris clearly decided to ignore that and mentions that she is the one who had called him. (That particular statement is what many are using to argue that it can’t be rape.) He said it as he then continues to have sex with her. The whole time, she sounds distressed and sedated (some would argue drunk…which is neither here nor there) as she keeps repeating that she is tired and that she surrenders.
The specifics of the tape lend themselves to some doubt depending on what your understanding of consent is. As a result, though the tape itself deeply upsets me, what I find even more disturbing is how people are treating this incident. A really large chunk of people who have responded seem to lack any compassion for this lady. I don’t understand, even if you do not believe it is rape, why anyone would make jokes about this situation, congratulate the man or act like if it IS rape, that she deserves it because she sounds drunk and had initially called him.
Let’s get one thing out of the way – sex without consent given freely is rape.
Again, sex without consent given freely is rape. Therefore sex occurring after use of force, coercion, manipulation, threat of financial, physical or other kind of harm IS RAPE. Sex when someone is sedated, drunk, unconscious, asleep, a minor or mentally impaired in any way is also rape as consent cannot be given adequately when one is in any of those states.
Let’s get another thing out of the way – consent given once is not a season ticket.
It does not cover any and all future events. Therefore, even within a relationship, people need to give each other that bit of respect. Whether male or female, don’t ever force each other. If consent is withdrawn at some point, you and your significant other should have your own ways of employing the sweet nothings you’re used to so as to get it back. Otherwise, respect the withdrawal. This has been the basis for a lot of the controversy behind accepting that marital rape exists. Thankfully we’ve moved away from the notion that rape cannot exist within a marriage.
In this particular case, it seems consent was withdrawn and he then chose to ignore that. There are any number of reasons this could have occurred but as soon as one party did not want to go on with it, it should have stopped. I am also disturbed by the fact that this was recorded AND shared online. Sigh…anyway
So this post I’m writing is about some reactions I have seen. The reactions disturb me even more because the attitudes expressed make it clear that women and men alike are going around perpetuating the kind of culture that makes rape and sexual assault normal. I know this is the pervasive culture. I know that. The extent to which we are entrenched in it however always shocks me when such incidents occur. Deeply.
As soon as something like this happens, common sense dictates that even if there is doubt about it being rape or not, all efforts at dealing with it must be tempered with compassion, a pursuit for justice and a lot of seriousness. To be facetious about something like sexual assault, rape or even the SUSPICION of it is…baffling. It’s WRONG.
There is a man who wrote an article the next day celebrating the different ways in which Morris is a stud. There may be doubt about whether Morris raped her or not (and I personally do believe it is rape), but what this man wrote about WAS actually rape. He was of the opinion that the woman’s pleas and cries of ‘I surrender’ were an indication of how much of a man Morris is. He was also of the opinion that real men do not take no for an answer, that Morris’s resolute stamina and resilience are admirable and that women love to be thrown around in the sack.
In a sexual encounter, not taking no for an answer is rape and that’s the simple truth. Fortunately, the company that he is a guest writer for felt the same way and the article was pulled down.
Someone’s post showed up on my timeline and I completely agreed with it. This man explained very clearly why consent withdrawn would still need to be respected and it filled me with a sense of relief to see that a number of people understood what he was saying. It was jarring therefore to see this posted as a comment on one of his posts about the issue;
“Okay…. Rape? No!!! If you are being raped you scream. You don’t surrender. Then if it’s rape would she be advising the guy on where he should cum? I don’t think so. But I do agree that she isn’t all about rough sex. Probably polite sex. Calling it rape and no one screams instead there’s moarning and consistent acknowledgement of how she has given up??? If You are getting hurt sweetheart you don’t surrender, you will push that guy away sobber up and tell it to his face. Period!!!!”
I have seen a lot of arguments as to why this was not rape but the above was the silliest one I’ve come across. (Hold up. I see you. Don’t get all worked up about an ad hominem situation here. It is the argument I find silly, not the person who made it. The person is also aware that I have made a note about it.) I thought I had misunderstood it and sought clarification and to my dismay, this person actually believes that if you do not scream, then it’s not rape. I like to understand things better even if they disgust me so I asked Professor Google about this belief and I was shocked to find that this is actually a deeply held one among a huge number of people.
One of the assertions that followed is that if it was rape, she would definitely have fought back, thrown something or screamed. The other was that she sounded drunk anyway so… *whoosaaaaah*
First off, being drunk is NOT a reason for rape. 100% of the causes of rape are rapists. Only rapists cause rape. Not alcohol, not nudity, not anger, not opportunity. Nothing else. Again, only rapists cause rape.
Secondly, rape, unlike what our movies and media would have us believe, is carried out usually by people known to the victim. Unfortunately, it is usually carried out by people whom the victim has some level of trust in.
Think of it this way – When a stranger in town or a work mate who is only an acquaintance offends you, it is easy to muster up anger and tell them you are upset. You are able to mount a response, whether by conversation, yelling or cold body language.
Now think of the times when someone you actually really like has offended you.
When our friends or loved ones offend us, it is sometimes difficult to point out our hurt. We don’t want to sour relations with them so we are left in a state of indecision about how to address the fact that we are angry, hurt, disappointed or sad about something they have done. We may even just keep quiet and let it go. That’s why it’s so much easier to make fun of or blast strangers online than it is to make fun of or blast our own friends on Facebook when they make the same online transgressions.
It is the same thing with rape. We have allowed ourselves to believe the lie from the media that rape is always this obvious thing done by a stranger and we shall scream and fight and react immediately.
The statistics are clear. Majority of rape cases are between people who know each other. Reacting to someone you trust doing that to you is not the same as reacting to a stranger doing the same thing to you. It is common sense. You’re more likely to be frozen to inaction because of the disbelief. You will likely question yourself, telling yourself that this can’t actually be happening. You panic in silence and run through your mind whether there may have been something you did to deserve this. It’s even more tragic if you are a minor and you don’t even know what’s happening. Screaming may never occur to you to do.
The idea that all rape victims scream also clearly shows a lack of understanding of human psychology. We do not ALWAYS react in the stereotypical way to the different situations we find ourselves in. Have you never found yourself able to deal with some unimaginable hurdle in your life in a manner so calm that you surprised even yourself? Or have you never just lost your mind about something so trivial as not getting your 10 bob change in a matatu that you wondered at your reaction?
People are different and reactions to different situations may be vastly different, even by the same person at any given time.
When I was younger I had a general idea of how I would react to certain imagined situations. In early 2004 I was in a car-jacking in a matatu. The man who was to collect the loot on my side of the matatu thought my friend and I were hiding things and he was poking my neck with his gun. There was a point he almost slapped me and was yanking things off of me. We were driven all around Nairobi for hours and finally left almost 20km from our original position.
All this time, my first reaction when the heist started was to laugh. Fortunately I managed to suppress the urge. I really really really wanted to just let go and laugh. I couldn’t believe this was happening and it seemed funny at the time. When he poked at me with his gun, I felt nothing. I wasn’t actually really there. It is as if I was watching a movie. Even as they drove us in to abandoned roads and various thickets, in and out, up and down Mombasa road, then to Jogoo road, all the way in to Kariobangi south and back out to Buruburu, I was never scared or freaking out about possible rape. I knew it was a possibility but I felt none of the fear. Even when they started a second sweep for loot and he almost hit me with his gun, I FELT NOTHING. Except…I still wanted to laugh. When we were finally released and I was telling my mum what happened, I remember that I was narrating it with so much excitement as I laughed about the whole thing. I gave the story to her in wild gestures and with a lot of smart statements, mimicking how hilariously angry the guy was at me, poking fun at the way they were handling us and so on.
It took about a week for what had happened to sink in. I felt so incredibly stupid for having initially wanted to laugh and I started having black outs lasting a few seconds when everything would go dark. I had these panic attacks for about 8 months. I couldn’t carry money in my pockets and there were a number of times I almost hit people, including children, for brushing up against me in town. I was a wreck.
By the above reasoning, because I didn’t react in the appropriate way, then I can’t really have been in a carjacking. By the above reasoning, because I hadn’t initially grasped the full gravity of what happened, then I was faking it. That it didn’t really happen. By the above reasoning, I would have to go through the trauma of people telling me I made it up and I should stop making such a big deal about it. If I was really in a carjacking, then I should have been fearful immediately.
This shows a lack of understanding of how human beings are. We are at the very base of things, animals. We are the product of instincts honed through many centuries. These instincts are the basis for protection in a lot of situations but because they are instinctual and not based on reasoning, they can also be a negative thing in a lot of situations. Examples of some of those instincts are how you will immediately snap your hand back if you touch something hot, or flay your hands out when you suddenly lose balance, or blink your eyes when something comes close to your eyes. You don’t control those responses consciously because your body has those fail-safe actions to protect you whether you like it or not.
The different things that happen in our bodies when we are freaked out are beyond our control. I am a doctor so this is something I can talk about for ages but the article posted here about the neurobiological reasons why not all victims scream explains it BRILLIANTLY.
I am upset by this way of thinking because these are human beings who must interact with other human beings. If they ever have to interact with someone who has been raped, the thought that they would express these sentiments to them is terrifying. Providing support to someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted is already fraught with so many well intentioned mistakes, pits, falls and tensions. The least we can do is make sure that our attitude is at least one of compassion. To act like they are likely faking it because they didn’t react in the stereotypical way would only serve to re-traumatise them. If someone had made me feel that I imagined the whole carjacking experience, it would have taken longer than 8 months for me to recover. God forbid I ever get raped, but I can’t even BEGIN to imagine if my friend, sister or cousin acted like I don’t know what I’m talking about when I tell her that I was raped, just because I didn’t scream.
I have been told that these are just their opinions and bla bla bla. ‘Everyone has their own opinion’ is irresponsible thinking. Opinions are a dime a dozen. They matter. They matter a lot and I will never fight that, but they are not the be-all-end-all. Human beings are made a certain way. Those are facts that are known. The law says certain things about rape. Those are also known facts. The statistics about rape are known facts. Opinions about known facts are neither here nor there.
A lot of people seem very bent on us not calling it a rape but what concerns me is that the way people are reacting even to a ‘possible’ or ‘alleged’ rape is WRONG. Some made jokes. Some even claimed that we should just let people have fun on social media. Some congratulated this ‘Mollis’. The writer of the article that got pulled down applauded him for making an audio recording because a video would have been more damning. (Which means there would presumably have been something incriminating in the first place. That writer has serious problems.) Some came up with justifications and then there are always the ones who blame the victim. Many laughed and shared memes on it and it was horrifying.
(Side note – I thank the Lord for my friends because unlike other people’s experiences, I never had even one person send that clip to me on whatsapp, and no one posted jokes or memes about it. Thank you Lord for my friends. From the bottom of my heart.)
Like I said earlier though, rape is only caused by rapists. You can be drunk or sober, scantily dressed, nude or fully covered, at home or out partying, attractive or unattractive, slim or fat, short or tall, a child, a woman or a geriatric, aggressive or easy going, a man or a woman (Yes, even men get raped. Educate yourself.) walking or in a car, having fun or working, with a stranger, friend, family member, boyfriend or husband, outgoing or introverted and so many other things, and someone could still rape you. The worst thing is that statistically, it is most likely someone you know and maybe even trust.
As soon as it was likely a rape, our obligation was to react with compassion and to pursue justice. Justice in this case also covers the likelihood that it may not have been rape. The simple truth is though, AS SOON AS IT IS POSSIBLY rape, we cannot make such statements and express such attitudes and if we do, then they must be addressed.
It is inhuman to require that our own doubts about a rape be satisfied before we can give it any kind of seriousness or hold a perpetrator to answer for it. It is inhuman that we can even think to demand to witness the suffering ourselves before we can stand with the victims. As the person who made the post I agreed with said “In cases of sexual assault and rape, there should be no memes or fun. It negates the gravity of it all.”
In the grand scheme of things, humanity is our biggest responsibility. We all have an obligation to continually improve ourselves and we should always have a willingness to interrogate our own beliefs. Opinions, changeable as they are, should also be interrogated and explored. I personally believe that it is a great mark of maturity to always question oneself when confronted with differing views and pursue higher, better and more compassionate ways of thinking.
I’m asking everyone to educate themselves on rape, consent, sexual assault and to ruthlessly interrogate the attitudes and beliefs we each have about these things. There are countless resources on the internet these days that anybody can use to educate themselves about darn near everything.