> Example: Lynn pushed one of our kids out once who experienced Carl having
> sex with us from behind as rape. Did that make it rape? Absolutely not.
> Carl had no idea. He is in no way a rapist. That does not negate that
> child's experience which was hugely emotionally real. But calling it rape
> is totally denigrating to Carl, to us as a system (because we had some say
> there, at least Lynn did), and to our _real_ rape experiences which _did_
> happen.

now i know this may not stand up in a court of law, but as far as i'm concerned, someone can experience something as rape without carl being a rapist.
Maybe it depends on what the purpose of the word is. to me, words like "rapist" and "abuser" are for describing things like ongoing or intentional actions - like, raping someone on purpose, or abusing someone not on purpose but through a complete disrespect and disregard for their physical/emotional/sexual boundaries. they're big deal words, obviously. they have a tremendous impact.
words like "rape" and "abuse," to me, are for describing what someone experiences, not for describing the person or people they were with. they're very specific words, to me. i can say that my mom was abusive to me without also saying that i was abused. for example, if i wanted to describe some situation where she was screaming violently at me about something stupid like losing a library card, but where i managed to get out or de-escalate the situation somehow - i might say she was definitely being abusive but that i managed to escape the abuse. something. i'm not saying i have this all worked out yet, but this is how i feel about those words.

> If someone tells you they won't care about you if you don't put out that is
> SHITTY and HORRIBLE and morally REPREHENSIBLE and it _should_ be fucking
> illegal, but it is not rape. It is coercion. And I am in no way saying that
> anyone can easily measure all the factors that go into that. But it is not
> rape. That is not saying that it's the victim's fault. It's simply saying
> that it does not fall into the definition of rape that has legal and
> political power.

for what it's worth, i think the way i would put it would be.... if someone knew that i had x and y major issues about how people won't love me if i don't fuck them, whatever, like maybe if i was sexually abused as a child and one of the things i learned was that that's the only way i will ever be loved and i need love to live, or something - and then they use that on me to get me in bed - then they're consciously, on purpose, taking away my ability to say no, and that makes it rape.

if they didn't know that, well first of all anyone who says "i won't love you if you don't put out" in any way is already a major asshole who is probably being emotionally abusive. not that that makes them a rapist, necessarily - i just wanted to articulate that. it's not like this is somehow an otherwise innocent action there with that message being put out to one's partner.
but ok - my first girlfriend used to punish me for things by denying me sex. (because we had so much sex anyway - i *don't* think.) and that really sucked and then when i dated scott (a million years ago when we were both young genderqueer women at a women's college) he *once* teased me by saying something about how if i didn't leave the computer lab now, i wouldn't get any. and he was *totally* not serious, like, i don't think it had ever occured to him that anyone would do or say that in seriousness. but i was totally freaked out by it, and i felt like he was just trying to make me his puppet and control my sexuality and my body and my actions all together and it was really fucked up and shit. and he was, like, totally horrified that that was my experience from him saying that. so he wasn't being abusive, but i experienced it as abuse until we processed it.

and i think it's important to be able to make that distinction - between experiencing something as rape and being raped by someone, perhaps. i think there needs to be *some* way of articulating the difference between "you're a rapist" and "you raped me."

b/c of the following:

> I really think that the literature on rape has done us all a disservice to
> make rape a FEELING. It is not. It is not subjective. It is a specific
> physical act for which people should and can be prosecuted. Otherwise we
> all lose. We cannot put these bastards behind bars without this kind of
> clarity.

if i were having sex with someone and i did some horribly fucked up thing without knowing it - if a little came out and i didn't know and i didn't stop and they'd been taught that they were scum and that they needed to get raped so they couldn't say anything, or if i were with the hypothetical person in the example way up there who couldn't say no if they thought it meant i wouldn't love them anymore, or whatever, *i would want them to say "you raped me."* i would want there to be room for a discussion that was like "you raped me, and i just want you to know that this was my experience of what we just did together or of what happened back there," and i would want to talk about it, and find out what i could do to make sure it didn't happen again, and help them deal with the experience of rape within our relationship. and i consider myself to be *very lucky* because i *think* that if something like that happened between me and anyone in the myriad, matt or someone else WOULD tell me and we WOULD have some conversation about it and process it.

and if rape can't be subjective, then the response to that has to be "you weren't raped because i didn't rape you, you weren't raped because you could *physically* have said no and i would have stopped, so you have no recourse here."

if rape can't be subjective then there is no room for - for example - a friend of mine who had drunk drunk sex with his girlfriend last year, and the consent wasn't very clear and they were both very drunk, and a day or two later - having sobered up and understood her physical and emotional experience - she told him that he had raped her - and he got support from his friends who did understand how rape was a subjective experience, and how he is not A Rapist but that her experience was also valid, and he got to have a lot of conversations with people about what this means for him and what he can do to help his girlfriend and his relationship with her. if rape really couldn't be subjective in that way, i think someone would have had to report and prosecute him for raping her, and that could have been really bad for both of them instead of allowing both of them to try to heal their relationship and heal other things too.

i know that there are many people who would not be able to say "oh, my partner says i raped hir, this is terrible, what can i do to help and prevent it from ever happening again" - who might say "fuck you, you lying bitch," or "that's bullshit," or go around telling everyone that their partner is a liar and a fiend and manipulative and god knows what all else. but i think that can be changed with more education - just as "she was asking for it" and "only women can be raped and only by men" have changed quite a bit and continue to be worked on - and i also think that it is caused partly by the fact that rape right now *is* by and large only considered to be a specific physical act for which people can be thrown behind bars. i mean, to some extent those "you lying asshole how dare you say that" reactions come from a fear of that prosecution and of being labeled as a rapist and what that would mean socially for them, how everyone would reject them and they would be a horrible person. and if people were educated more on the potential meanings and nuances of rape, that would hopefully open the door for actual communication instead of attack; at least that has been my experience.

i think we can retain all the conditions under which rape is a prosecutable horrible offense for which people get thrown in jail or otherwise get their asses kicked, and still open other meanings up through education. I think we can prosecute rapists without prosecuting every rape. In fact, i think the physical legal definition of rape really needs more discussion from any given society, because in many cases the courts and laws and support groups ignore rape against men because they go "well rape is just unwanted violent penetration and he doesn't have a vagina/she doesn't have a cock" - or simply because the laws are written to only cover women - just to cite one reason why i think the debates over rape are incomplete.