On Friday, I wrote about my rape. I can’t believe the response I got.
Thank you so much to everyone who has read, liked, and shared it. In just three days, it has had over 18,000 hits?—?not including those on sites which have republished it.
There are a few things I would like to clarify:
1) My case is in no way related to Ben Sullivan’s, in spite of the impressions of some readers.
2) To those who blamed my “upper class, Oxford-educated” background: I went to a state school in a deprived area.
3) Some people said if I was drunk, I couldn’t identify my attacker. The guy was a friend of a friend. I had previously been aware of his existence but had never had a conversation with him until hours before he raped me.
Although the majority of responses to the piece were very positive, many weren’t.
I have a few personal favorites.
“Rapists have a defective gene, [so] keep your wits about you” was definitely high up there; others I could make little sense of. I am still trying, to no avail, to understand one user’s recommendation I should sue myself because I was drunk when attacked.
Some commenters informed me I should expect no less at a mixed-sex university. “It’s so obvious what the outcome of going to a co-ed college [is] that I don’t even know why people are calling this rape,” said one. “She shouldn’t have gone to college with men if she didn’t want to get raped,” said another. Yes, that’s verbatim. These are as offensive to men as to me.
The rest focused on themes like my age, my university, and what I should be allowed to do as a woman. I have compiled a list of them below.
I’m not sure what “full of the upper crust” means, but I love it. Perhaps it could be Oxford University’s new motto.
1) “You’re just a stupid little girl!”
- “What were these stupid girls thinking?”
- “This is typical inflammatory nonsense put about by a young lady who cannot even use her real name.”
- “These young ladies should learn to watch what they say as they will face defamation actions.”
I notice a lot of these comments stress my youth: I’m a “girl” or “young lady,” but not a “woman.” The implication: If I’m young I’m also foolish, and if I’m foolish I’m not worth listening to.
2) “You’re at Oxford!”
- “These so called bright Oxford students need to wise up and act responsibly.”
- “Oxford students are supposed to be intelligent. What this girl did was stupid.”
- “Try staying sober or [at] least learn how much one can drink and still remain in control. Or is that too much for the Oxford set?”
- “Is it a requirement of reading a subject at Oxford that one has to have no common sense, no knowledge of the world?”
- “I imagine she was not so gormless as to be unaware that drunkenness means loss of control. Oxford University might not be quite as selective as we once thought.”
- “OMG! These are the people who will be looking after us when they graduate.”
Rape isn’t exclusive to Oxford. I wrote about Oxford because that’s where I am, but it happens everywhere.
Nonetheless, rape happens at Oxford. I’ve heard lots of stories similar to mine from people assaulted there. Despite how the Sullivan case was covered, being Oxford-educated, gifted, or a public school alumnus does not in itself mean you cannot rape.
3) “He was very drunk, too!”
- “If she can’t remember, perhaps he can’t either.”
- “Everyone’s going on about a drunk victim, what about a drunk perpetrator?”
- “If she is too drunk to know what she is doing, he too is too drunk to know what he is doing.”
- “As for being drunk, so was he.”
Firstly, it does not logically follow that if I was drunk, he was equally drunk. I provided absolutely no reason to conclude he was as inebriated as I was.
Secondly, even if he had been, it’s not an excuse for rape. As blogger James Croft said, “If you are the sort of person who might, when they drink, get so drunk that you are unsure as to whether you have been given consent to have sex with someone…don’t drink.”
At most, we may have drunk the same amount. But even if we did, I was unconscious; he was fully capable of walking, talking, and raping.
4) “You have no evidence sex happened!”
- “I would ask this lady: ‘Just what does she know about the event?’”
- “If you’re drunk and passed out, then who knows what happened? She could have dreamed the whole thing!”
- “Unfortunately, though it seems the police were insensitive in this case, they are right in that there would be little to no evidence to bring a successful prosecution in this case. No DNA, no witnesses, no other evidence apart from a statement from someone who was so drunk they were passed out at the time with only a dim memory as their evidence.”
- “How do you know you were raped if you don’t remember the night? In the period between being put to sleep and waking up with a man next to you, consensual sex could have been initiated, due to the heavy state of intoxication.”
On top of. Not next to. On top of. And I saw him?—?was my description not graphic enough?
I remember waking up during the night and seeing him on top of me, my trousers around my ankles and my shirt still on. I pulled away and heard him mutter, ‘Oh no, it fell out’ to himself, at which point I blacked out again. I assume he continued to rape me.
I know he had sex with me because of the two used condoms on the floor, because of my one memory during the night, and because I wasn’t capable of walking without being in pain for a week. It hurt.
Had the police cared enough they could have acquired DNA, but the woman told them to return the clothes, bedsheets and used condoms I had given them. These all provided incontrovertible evidence that the guy had sex with me.
Also: the fact he bragged about it.
5) “Maybe you consented and forgot?”
- “If you are so drunk that you have lost your memory or passed out; how can you remember if you consented or not?”
- “What evidence can she provide that she said ‘no’ to the man she claims raped her?”
- “The photos were taken while she was unconscious. This doesn’t prove that she didn’t consent to sex.”
Read my article and you’ll see that there was plenty of evidence to show how drunk I was: photos and videos, half a dozen witnesses, and potential medical evidence if police doctors had examined me.
If you’re unconscious or extremely inebriated, you cannot consent to sex. The CPS says as much, as does the Sexual Offences Act. Why is this so hard for some people to understand?
Personally, I like having sex when I’m conscious.
6) “You learned your lesson.”
- “Maybe she should put it all down as ‘lesson learned’ and move over wiser.”
- “If I ever voluntarily got myself so intoxicated and subsequently got raped, I would partly blame myself.”
- “Women absolutely have the right to go out and get drunk and take the same risks as blokes who do, with the added risk of rape. You pay your money and take your choice on this issue, and sadly you may have to live with the consequences.”
The implication women should be encouraged to behave a certain way and that rape is a form of teaching them how is disgusting. Being raped is not a mistake the victim makes, and it is not something they need to learn from. That suggests whatever they were doing previously was the wrong way to behave and that the rapist has taught them the right way.
Nor is rape a natural hazard women should be wary of. Rapists are responsible for their actions and capable of changing them.
Women in this situation should not blame themselves. They should blame the rapist.
7) “If you hadn’t been drunk, you wouldn’t have been raped!”
- “I don’t think it’s a human right to get as drunk as you like?—?or even drunk at all.”
- “The object of a good night out seems to be to get blind drunk and then they wonder how they get in these situations.”
- “The young woman needs to take some responsibility for what happened. She drank so much she passed out?—?that is not a responsible thing to do.”
- “Being drunk is the ‘green light’ for bad stuff or REALLY bad stuff to follow, especially if alone with one or more males. If you don’t know that by the time you’re in uni, you’re headed for BIG trouble.”
- “I can’t quite see why this woman should not have been more careful about the amount she had to drink.”
- “She was silly to get so drunk.”
- “Stop drinking so much!”
- “The culture of heavy drinking at Universities is to blame.”
A large amount of heavy drinking at universities is done by men. How often are they sexually assaulted when they’re as drunk as I was, and why should I expect less?
I shouldn’t have to justify why I got drunk that night, so I’m not going to. What I will say is this: I was not on the street, nor a bar, nor a nightclub. I was in my house. In fact, I was in my bedroom. And when I was raped, I was in my bed. Surely your own bedroom should be a safe place to get drunk without being raped?
It’s true: if I hadn’t been drunk, I wouldn’t have been raped. If I hadn’t gone to university at all, I wouldn’t have been raped. If I stayed in my room my entire life, with my door locked and no direct contact with other people, I wouldn’t be raped.
That doesn’t mean telling me to do so is reasonable.
8) “Women shouldn’t be allowed to drink!”
- “All very well for the the idealists saying that a woman should be able to dress as she wants [and] get hopelessly drunk without fear…”
- “I always say that alcohol is a disaster for women.”
- “Chastity underwear? I’m being serious?—?though, of course, that only stops penetration, not assault.”
Yes, let’s all wear chastity belts, genuine vagina dentata, and while we’re at it, some anti-rape nail polish to match.
Of course, women shouldn’t be allowed to drink—in the same way that women shouldn’t be allowed to leave their houses at night, walk home alone, walk home with a group of men, walk home with a group of women, walk through isolated areas, walk through busy areas, get taxis on their own, have long hair, have their phones out, leave their phones at home, wear short skirts, wear low cut tops, or wear tight trousers. Or even go to the bathroom on their own, apparently.
9) “I’m going to compare you to a car. Or a house. Or a £20 note.”
- “Let’s take a person walking down a ‘bad’ area of town in the dark with £20 notes clearly sticking out of his bulging pockets. He gets mugged. Should the mugger be prosecuted??—?yes, of course?—?wasn’t the person robbed just asking for it??—?yes, of course.”
- “We can’t wander down the road with our wallets hanging out without fear of them being stolen.”
- “Women should be able to get drunk as they like without fear of abuse, but then people should be able to live their lives without fear of war and famine but it still happens.”
- “[N]o sensible person leaves their doors and windows open and goes out because they know there are people who will take advantage, [so] women should just accept that in the real world there are always going to be men who will take advantage”
- “If you leave your house or car unlocked and it is broken into the insurance company will not pay up”
- “If we all said ‘but it’s my right to leave my house unlocked and all my valuables on display,’ we’d be thought an idiot”
- “I can moan that I should be able to leave my front door wide open and not be burgled, but I wouldn’t put myself in that position.”
So, my being female and drinking is the same as walking around with £20 notes sticking out of my pockets?
Asking somebody to lock their house when they go out does not stop them going about their lives. Telling women that the only way to avoid rape is also to avoid drinking and socialising?—?even in their own bedrooms?—?is misogyny, especially since the same is not expected of men.
10) “Feminists are evil!”
- “Misandry is alive and kicking it seems.”
- “I find wound up feminists preaching at other women because all the behaving men have been lynched out rather moot.”
- “Feminists in full uniform saying ‘educate men.’ It’s not just men who do this, and it most certainly isn’t all men.”
I saw this earlier. I think it sums my response up perfectly.
This article was originally featured on Medium and reposted with permission.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons