Today, I was going through an old post on TNC and I took the pains to read all the comments on the story. It was a narrative of rape by a victim. One thought that stuck to me as I read through all the comments on the post is that we need to educate people more on what rape is and what the role of society is in curbing this trend.
In no particular order I will address some common thread in that post, which I think reflects the general mindset of a lot of people on the subject of rape
- Rape is not good but the victim has to bear some blame for her role
This position is the worst of all. Why? Because it comes from a sympathetic front, it seeks to demonstrate some form of support for the victim, seeks to be a voice of reason and outrage against the act while subtly shaming the victim. It is a sugar coated poison.
If we must remember one thing and one thing only, it is that the rape victim has no blame in rape. Let me paint a worst case scenario. You are lying down in your house, and a girl walks in naked, smiles at you and then sits across from you baring her privates. If you get aroused and proceed to initiate sex, and she flows along even responding to your advances, and suddenly tells you she is no longer interested, you have an obligation to stop. If you proceed you have raped her. And she will have no blame.
Rape is any sexual act including but not limited to penetration that occurs in the absence of consent. If and when she withdraws the consent, whatever the state of arousal of the man and the stage of the sexual act at which the consent is withdrawn, should the man continue, he has committed rape, and the woman is not to blame.
Voluntariness and the right to choose is one of the fundamental human rights and one of the things that define us as humans. Once taken, it dehumanizes and strips us of our sense of identity.
That is why rape is one of the worst crimes against humanity. It strips away the humanness and leaves a husk.
Every human has the right to purchase say a banana and take a bite and then decide to not eat the banana anymore. It is solely our right as humans.
So, when rape happens – because consent is not given or consent is given and withdrawn or consent does not cover a particular sexual act – the woman is not to blame.
So what happens when a woman puts herself in harm’s way? Does she not deserve to be blamed? The answer is no. Either by getting drunk, sleeping over in a stranger’s house, dressing skimpily or even flirting, it doesn’t give any man the right to forcefully engage in sexual acts with her.
Note the word ‘forcefully’. It is necessary to distinguish this from sexual acts done voluntarily but for which the woman regrets later. But as long as there is no consent, it becomes rape.
For those who shame women who engage in risky behaviors and blame them for having a role in their rape, I have an illustration. Imagine a well prepared dish of steamy jollof rice with assorted garnishing of meat, fish, shrimps, and fried plantain. Imagine you are about to put a spoonful in your mouth and then someone tells you the food has been contaminated by rat poison, would you still proceed to eat that delicious and sumptuous meal even if you were starving?
No matter how tempting a woman is, no matter how alluring, no matter how easy she has made it for the rapist, no matter her lifestyle choices, she is human, and not meat, and shouldn’t be taken against her will. She is a deliciously prepared dish with rat poison.
Unless and until she tells you to take a bite, and continues to tell you to go on, please stay back. Stop. Desist.
A man should be able to exercise restraint. Women do not deserved to be raped. Her body being flaunted before you isn’t an excuse. Her body is not an extension of your penis and therefore you have no right nor entitlement to force her against her will.
If she is too alluring or is constituting a distraction please walk away, run, flee. That is the appropriate response. Not rape, not “she wanted it, she was begging for it, she deserved it or she is a slut”. None of those, dear men.
A rape victim has no blame. Period.
- Sometimes “NO” means “YES”, it is just a game that women play. She really wanted it. She is a slut.
All these arguments are products of a narrow minded, egotistic and misogynistic minds. If I point a gun at you and ask you if you want to die, and your answer is no, should I assume that you really mean yes? Should I go ahead and shoot you?
What about the scenario of a husband and wife fighting, and the wife grabs hold of the man and says “kill me o, it is today that you will kill me” should the man go ahead and kill her? Does she deserve to die because she has provoked the man and even gone ahead to tell him to kill her?
There is no need belaboring this point. Men everywhere, NO MEANS NO.
Even if you are inside and having a swell time, even if you are a few thrusts away from reaching cloud 9, once you hear STOP, PLEASE STOP.
STOP MEANS STOP.
- She said YES before how can she say NO afterwards?
Of course she can say NO! It is her right. When it comes to sex, there is no blanket approval. She said yes to kissing doesn’t mean the yes extends to fondling her breasts. She allowed you to undress her doesn’t mean she will say yes to penetration. She said yes to penetration doesn’t mean she would allow you to finish. She can decide to say NO after a few thrusts.
Sex is a journey, and the woman needs to be with you every step of the journey. At any point in time, she can choose to disembark from the ride. You are obliged to let her disembark no matter how much you are enjoying the ride, and no matter how much you want to make her enjoy the ride!
She has a RIGHT TO SAY NO AT ANYTIME DURING SEXUAL INTERCOURSE.
- It is hard for men to just stop like that! Once aroused, they seem to lose control.
Men and brethren, even animals have control. Even if they don’t, we are not animals. If after she has gotten you all hot and needy she decides to pull the plug, here is what you should do: stand up, go into the shower, get a bottle of lube or soap and help yourself. Afterwards, take a cold shower, you will feel alright.
If after trying all this, you still don’t feel alright, there are people that offer these services for a fee and once the contract is established they won’t say no, and will give you your money’s worth.
Please always protect the dignity of women. It is selfish to think of your own pleasure alone and use that as an excuse to dehumanize another human being and scar her for life.
Be a real man. A real man is always in control. A real man always respects the wishes of the woman regarding matters affecting her body. A real man is selfless.
- After all I have done for her, how can she say no?
Men, women are not goods to be bought. Women are priceless. Your gifts and wooing are tokens of your profession of affection for her; they speak to her when you can’t find the words, they tell her that you care and that you want to spend your days giving her things that will make her happy; that you want to take care of her even if she is capable of taking care of herself; that you want to pamper her and make her feel every bit the special person that she is.
However, these gifts, monetary or otherwise do not buy her nor her love, nor does it make her your possession that you can possess at will and use as you choose. Sex is not the reward of gifts. No amount of money is worth the value and dignity of a woman.
The decision to have sex with you is totally hers, and it will be her way of sharing something special with you – her body is the window to her soul, and she won’t share with just anybody. So, your gifts aren’t what will make her take you into her being.
And when she says NO, please respect her. And do not for one second feel entitled to her, or of ravaging her.
Money and gifts DOES NOT give you the ticket to having your way with her.
NO means NO.
The list is not exhaustive and the discussion on rape should be an on-going one. Men and women need to be educated on what constitutes rape and denouncing the victim shaming and condemnation. Men should be more vocal against rape, women should provide a more open environment for victims to speak up and find succor from such dehumanizing treatment. The society should take a harder stance on perpetrators of this heinous and inhuman crime. The gavel of the law should bang harder and echo louder.
Last words. Rape is not limited to the women folk and men do get raped too. Now, because of our prejudicial minds, we tend to dismiss reports by men who claims to be rape victims. We bash them and call them hypocrites. Sometimes we tell them to grow some balls – how can a man be a rape victim, we gripe.
Rape is any sexual act that occurs without consent and be it a male or a female, the psychological effects are enormous.
Let the campaign be against rape in all forms, and among all genders.
For more conversations on rape and perspectives read more by Seun Odukoya here, here, here and here and Sally here.
Share your thoughts and opinion in the comment box.