Thursday, June 28, 2007

Accidental Rape

I've spent the last 2 days at a conference put on by CALCASA and the US Dept of Justice on sexual assault programs on campuses. It was amazing, I can't rave about it enough and I've come away with lots of things to think about. For now, I'm preoccupied with this:

Can Rape be accidental?

The endnote interactive theater designed to demonstrate possible scenarios of acquaintance Rape on college campuses did a role play where

Two people meet in class, they see each other at parties, start to talk, hang out. They end up studying one night, order pizza, drink some, start fooling around. She starts kissing him, they're wrestling around, tickling. "Stop" is said several times in the context of tickling. The male says that almost every time she said "stop" in a sexual context he did, and she resumed the kissing/tickling/wrestling. He said at the point when they are on his bed, and she takes off his shirt, he assumes this is an affirmative to sexual intercourse. She whispers "stop" once while he's inside of her, then says nothing and he continues, they fall asleep, he calls her a few days later. Then finds out she's accusing him of Rape. It could happen to anyone right? It happens every weekend...

This situation is Rape. She says "stop" to sexual intercourse and he chose not to stop. The point is to show a grey area that may muddle the concept of consent. The fact that there can not be grey area in consent - that nothing besides an explicit affirmation to sexual intercourse constitutes consent is another post.

My conflict comes from this; the workshop I was at directly prior to this skit was on the mindset of a Rapist. The presenter (Sabrina Garcia, who was incredible) very specifically said "Rape is NOT an accident." She maintained that the mindset, justification and entitlement necessary for someone to perpetrate sexual assault needs to be fostered. Rapists know what they are doing, and they know how to use language, social constructs, and specifically Rape myths to minimize their action to anything other than Rape. The fact of the matter is that it is Rape and they are Rapists on purpose.

David Lisak also maintains that while only about 7% of men Rape, those that do are repeat offenders. The "nice guy, didn't know what he was doing" is a myth which allows these men to minimize and continue their behavior. He found that 63% of Rapists are repeat offenders.

I want to believe in the good in people, but at the same time, I believe in my soul that Rape is evil.

Are these mutually exclusive? Is there such a thing as accidental Rape? Does believing in accidental Rape allow us to focus on education (such as the skits) to clear away the confusion? Or does it just perpetuate a myth which allows Rape to continue?