5 rape prevention tips (for guys)

1. Every guy is a potential rapist – including you. This sounds like utter bullshit, right? I mean, you’re a good guy, you aren’t hiding in the bushes or lurking down some dark alley to jump out and force sex on a woman. Part of the problem is that most rapes aren’t the violent stranger-rape type. Many cases of sexual assault happen in cases where the perpetrator doesn’t think what he’s doing is rape. You may think you’re being daring and confident when you go in for a kiss – the girl on the other end may feel like you’re forcing yourself on her and be legitimately scared for her safety. You may think you’re being coy by putting your arm up in front of the door and saying, “how about a kiss?” – the girl may feel like you’re seriously blocking her from leaving. What you intend doesn’t matter in comparison to how she feels about it.

Moreover, you can’t take it personally if a girl is guarded or suspicious about you, especially when you first meet. She should regard you as a potential threat, and act accordingly. Don’t make it obvious how much she hurt a nice guy’s feelings because she wouldn’t get in your car or come up to your room to check out your Jurassic park action figure collection (even if you had the purest of intent) – be understanding and encourage her to put her safety over being nice. If you do guilt trip her about it, and it makes her feel bad, she might not do the same thing when someone with ill intent offers a ride.

2. Watch how much you drink. Quick riddle: what do you call sexual assault when you’re blackout drunk and don’t even realize what you’re doing? Give you a clue: it starts with an R and ends with you in jail. Seriously, if you’re going out with friends, or to a party, be smart about how many you throw back. Virtually every example of sexual assault I’ve personally heard of has been when a guy is shit faced drunk and not in control of himself. Alcohol shuts off the part of the brain responsible for considering consequences – you may get it in your head that the girl is totally into you, and you just need to get things started and she’ll be ready to go in no time, or you could literally forget that she said “No” two minutes ago. And it doesn’t matter how bad you feel the day after, or that you really didn’t intend to force yourself on a girl. Be smarter than that.

3. Be very, VERY careful about hooking up with drunk girls. Imagine a straight, horizontal line. On the left side, we’ll put the word “sober.” On the right, we’ll put the words “passed out drunk.” We can agree that having sex with a girl who is passed out drunk is rape, yeah? Because she’s unable to consent? Okay, good. But that’s not the whole story. In between those two extremes you have “tipsy” and “drunk” and “slurring” and “giggly,” and all other levels of intoxication. And somewhere in there, for every girl, there’s a line of “can consent” and “can’t consent.” And it’s different for every girl. And you could absolutely misjudge that line and be taking advantage of a girl who is too drunk to make the conscious decision to have sex with you – and that would be rape.

4. Get clear consent. Don’t be afraid to ask, and especially make sure if she looks hesitant or uncertain. A girl can say one of two things: “yes” and “not yes.” Now, it’s easy to understand that “no” falls under the category of “not yes.” But it’s also important to recognize that “maybe” falls under “not yes,” and “I don’t know” falls under “not yes” and “I guess” falls under “not yes” as well, and even silence falls under “not yes.” Women aren’t socialized to say “no” directly (see the second paragraph on point 1, about that). They’re also not always comfortable with saying “yes,” either. So, sometimes “maybe” means “yes”, and sometimes “maybe” means “no,” and sometimes “maybe” actually means maybe. As a guy, you should always assume that anything other than “yes” means you stop until you get a “yes” (no, you don’t keep pushing till you get a “yes,” jackass, you discuss it with her and listen to what she has to say). Besides, you need to be a smart gambler: if you back off, the worst that can happen is you miss a chance to get laid. If you decide to press the issue or move forward because “I gave her a chance and she didn’t say no,” well, that could be sexual assault.

5. Be ready, able, and willing to stop at any time. Second riddle: what do you call a hookup that starts out consensual but doesn’t stay that way? You guessed it – getting a yes at any point, no matter how clear and enthusiastic, is not a contract. She’s not obligated to have sex with you, do anything sexual with you, or continue to do anything sexual with you, at any point, ever. So, yes, if you notice she’s suddenly looking upset, and you stop and say “Listen, are you okay with this? We can stop if you want”…she just may take you up on that offer. Be ready to deal with some frustration – that’s okay. You’re all worked up with no release. But don’t take that out on her, don’t make her feel like it’s not okay to say no whenever she needs to. And understand that doing the right thing, there, and not having sex with a girl who is less than completely consenting, is far more important than getting laid one night.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/tamen/ T.A.O.

    Given the last 12 months prevalence numbers for rape and being “made to penetrate someone else” from National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 published by the CDC – can we expect a similar post aimed at women too?

  • honeybee

    #4 and #5 are good but wow, 1-3 are horrible.

    #1 – I absolutely don’t agree about that you shouldn’t be offended if a girl is suspicious of you, etc. What kind of stereotyping is this? How is assuming every guy is a rapist any different then assuming every black person is a criminal??? And by your admission, that boy who is just being coy isn’t actually intending to do anything wrong, he’s just being coy in a cute attempt to win you over. In this scenario it’s YOU who are perceiving it wrong – but in fact he has not, and has no intention of, doing anything wrong – how can that be wrong? (Ok some really over the top stuff I get, but some of your examples are pretty mundane and harmless)

    #2 – Doesn’t really make sense to me. If you get so drunk that you can’t even tell right from wrong that means, that by your own #3, that you can’t give consent either. So if a guy has sex with a girl under those circumstances, it either means he was raped or you both were. By your own #3.

    #3 – I agree about not hooking up with really drunk girls. But if the guy can’t tell that you are so drunk to not consent, how can that be his fault? Moreso there has to be at least some element of personal responsibility on the girl’s part. She has to give a signal she is not consenting somehow or demonstrate she is too drunk to consent or something, but especially if the guy is drunk himself, and the girl gives no indication she is unable to consent, I don’t understand what the guy is supposed to do.

    I’m not trying to tear you down. It’s important we talk about these things. But posts like this are not extremely one-sided and perpetuate massive stereotyping but they seem in many ways to be victim blaming – towards males. As if all rapes are males fault, and any misjudgement that is made is the male’s fault, and that women don’t need to worry about anything, they can do whatever they want and if anything bad happens it’s the guy’s fault. Sorry but I just can’t get behind these attitudes. In the same way many men don’t understand this issue and don’t understand the female point of view you’ve done the reverse and completed taken the male view out of the equation. That’s wrong.

    • http://feministing.com/members/drew/ Drew

      #1. When a woman is sexually assaulted, people are quick to point out what she could have done to avoid it. All the advice is geared toward her making choices which err on the side of her safety (“She shouldnt have gotten in that guys car” or “She shouldn’t have accepted so many drinks from that guy”). It’s twofaced to expect women to err on the side of caution, but then be upset when she errs on the side of caution with you. And, again, things with may seem harmless and mundane to you may not seem that way, at all, to her.

      #2. No. There is no issue of “The drunk guy consenting” if the drunk guy is forcing himself on a girl. If someone forces sex on him, against his will, when he is drunk, then, yes, that is rape.

      #3. No. There doesn’t have to be an element of responsibility on the girls part to say no. There is an element of responsibility on the guys part to make sure she says yes, and, lacking a yes, assuming her answer is no. The guy is supposed to stop and say “Do you want to do this?”

      All cases of men raping women are males faults. Rapists are not victims.

      I haven’t taken the male view out of the equation at all.

      • honeybee

        I feel your positions are extremely over simplified and somewhat naive about how the world really works. But as this discussion always turns into a big argument where neither side changes their viewpoint, I’ll just leave it at that.

    • http://feministing.com/members/huorn/ Richard

      #1 the idea as i understand it is that a woman wants to feel safe, and may not yet feel safe around you. If you’ve known one another for months and are finally trying to ask her out or to have sex that’s one thing but if your a complete stranger (I.E you only just met) you have no idea about her past. Perhaps she got into the wrong mans car before so now she won’t get into some mans car until she knows them. That shouldn’t be an insult it isn’t meant that way and if your insulted by her saying no now how safe is she to say no later.

      #2 should be looked at like #3 but not as the same thing. if a guy is to drunk to consent and the woman isn’t but she takes advantage of this thats rape on the part of the woman. if a man is to drunk to realize right from wrong and he forces himself upon a woman then he is still in the wrong for not realizing that he was past his limit. he is at fault for putting other peoples lives in danger. If he killed someone while that intoxicated he is still at fault.

      #3 First off one should alway err on the side of caution, so in this case that she isn’t able to consent. there are certain scenarios where it can be a fuzzy line, you’re expected to use the best judgement you have but should remember to err on the side of caution…

  • http://feministing.com/members/stickbeat/ andrea

    This has got to be one of the most offensive things I have ever seen in my life.

    #1: Yes, all men are potential rapists. They are also potential thieves, murderers, and etc. So are all women, and non-binary identified folk.

    #2: Honeybee is certainly right on this one, if a guy is so drunk that HE doesn’t know what he’s doing, and a woman is equally drunk, then who’s assaulting who? I’m just going to put it out there that I’ve never seen a stumblingly, black-out drunk man capable of forcing himself on anyone.

    #3: Suggesting that you know best when a woman is drunk is just patronizing. Usually, when a woman is too drunk to consent, it means that she’s also too drunk to verbalize much of anything. If I’m drunk and I want to get laid, you can bet your ass that I’ll be super offended if someone says ‘wait, you’re too drunk to consent to this.’ If I’m saying yes, it means YES.

    As with any anti-social, criminal, or otherwise harmful behavior, you’re really just practicing self-awareness and reading how the other party is acting. I’m sure that most people are not even tempted to commit this crime, as with other crimes. With sex, it’s usually pretty clear if someone is interested or not, and if it’s not clear then it’s probably not a good idea to pursue.

    More than anything, science shows us that sexual assault and rape are about power – not desire, and not sexual gratification. Even date rape is not often a case of ‘oh-I-didn’t-know-she-was-drunk’ and more often a case of predatory behavior.

    If you want to write a guide on how to prevent rape, it should read something more like ‘respect women, women’s choices, and women’s bodies.’ This article is just overly simplistic, insulting to all the men I know and love, and patronizing towards women. You should know better.

    • http://feministing.com/members/drew/ Drew

      #1. Yes. And when another person chooses to act in a way which prioritizes their safety over your feelings, you should encourage that choice instead of trying to make them feel bad about it. If you don’t want me in your home because you don’t know me, and I may steal from you, then good on you.

      #2. If a man is blackout drunk and he forces himself on a woman, he is a rapist. Yes, there are all other situations where a man can be drunk and not be a rapist, or be raped himself, but those were outside the scope of the article. The warning was: if you get too drunk, you may force yourself on someone. I’m just going to put it out there that I’ve seen blackout drunk people perfectly capable of trying to force themselves on someone.

      #3. Suggesting that *I* know best when a woman is drunk sure is patronizing – I’m sure glad I never said that. Suggesting that a man always knows best when a woman is drunk is also patronizing- I’m sure glad I didn’t say that either. And that’s great, that you’d get super offended. There are other girls out there who would be really glad the guy didn’t want to take the chance of taking advantage of her when she wasn’t in control of herself. Which should we encourage guys to do? Just go on with the drunk girl because she *might* be offended that you’re questioning her ability to consent, or pull back and say “wait a second, I’m a little uncomfortable here, this may be a bad idea”?

      Boo hoo, you get offended. The other girl doesn’t get raped.

      Now, hold the fuck up. Men should respect women’s choices… unless that choice indicates that she sees that man as a potential threat (in which case they have a right to be offended)? Men should respect womens bodies – unless she’ll be offended that they didn’t fuck her when they thought she may have had too much to drink ?

  • http://feministing.com/members/drew/ Drew

    Does anybody get that number two was NOT “Anytime a drunk man has sex he is a rapist”??

    Again, the warning was: If you drink too much you may end up forcing yourself on someone, so be careful how much you drink.

  • http://endtheusurpation.com/ End The Usurpation

    By this logic, every woman is also a potential rapist. Man or woman, you probably shouldn’t drink to avoid the consequences of impulsive behavior. (It’s also terrible for your health.)