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Rape

Isyn: When you said "a friend" in that blog entry, was it Jack?
curi: *flat voice* I don't wanna answer that.
Isyn: So it *was* Jack?
curi: No. Shut up.
Isyn: Aha. So it was Bill then?
curi: *sounding distressed* Stop it. This is private.
Isyn: Private, eh? That means it must have been a girl. Was it Jill?
curi: No. Erm, I mean, that's none of your business.
Isyn: Not Jill. OK, that only leaves Karen.
curi: *blush* No!
Isyn: I see your face. It was totally Karen. You can't hide it.
curi: *sigh* Please don't tell anyone.

I watched a Dawson's Creek episode yesterday (1x06) with a Truth Or Dare game that was much worse. But this doesn't just happen on TV. It's quite common. Perhaps usually more subtle, but sometimes not even.

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99/100 rape cases don't involve physical force.

Rape is non-consentual sex where the rapist should reasonably have been aware that there wasn't consent. So if a girl says no weakly a few times ... well there's a fairly common things where girls say no and mean yes. But it's also fairly common to say no and mean no. All the later cases constitute rape (albeit not nearly so bad as the physical force variety).

How do these non-physical-force rapes happen?

Girl says no. guy says yes. girl says no again. guy says yes again. girl says no again. guy says yes again. and someone runs out of arguments, confidence, assertiveness, willpower, or whatever, and can't keep it up. (each "yes" or "no" isn't just literally the word, but rather something that means it, from a 3 paragraph argument to a look).

The form of this interaction is not specific to sex. Another situation it works with is telling a secret. Secret-holder says no. Secret-wanter says yes. etc Then someone gives in.

Forcing a secret out of someone like this is, out of the context of our society, morally equivalent to rape (the non-physical-force variety). (In the context of our society, people are better at coping with their secrets getting out than with sex, so the sex tends to be worse. But we could imagine a society where the are equally bad, or sex is less bad.)

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I've observed that something really ingrained in the TCS culture is when people say "nevermind" the subject tends to get dropped. Outside TCS culture, IME (in my experience), it rarely gets dropped at the first nevermind. Saying nevermind often seems to even make people *more* curious and insistent.

Does this nevermind thing matter? What does it mean?

I think we could reasonably say it's the difference between being a rapist or not.

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Rape is when you actually get the sex or secret or whatever out of the person. But also: the more times the person says no, and you ask again, the closer you get.

it's often quite subtle. i'm assertive. i could refuse sex easily. but sometimes i don't want to explain something or talk about something and i *don't* say "i don't wanna talk about that". it's not always so easy. usually i will say nevermind, or not answer. sometimes change subject. (saying "i don't wanna talk about that" has a pretty good success rate when you can say it, but isn't at all foolproof. you might just be asked "Why?" among other things.)

these are easy to do the first time. they tend to get a bit harder to do repeatedly though. it's awkward to say "nevermind" three times in a row, when you know perfectly well it's not answering the person's questions (which may keep varying a bit, or ask about meta issues, or all sorts of things).

you may feel unspoken pressure to be friendly or not be rude. or that might even be explicit. you may care about the other person, and want to make friends or be nice. it might be your boss who you can't offend. it might be your friend's friend, who your friend wants you to get along with. there are many sorts of pressures to make this difficult.

Anyway, this is a serious moral issue that our society doesn't really acknowledge even exists.

Oh, and to return to the start, the dialog is, as you've probably figured out, an example meant to be morally equivalent to rape sans context. (less harmful in our society, but still quite a big deal)


Elliot Temple on May 31, 2004

Comments (1)

i agree


Justin at 12:32 AM on June 6, 2004 | #944

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)