You know what I'm sick of? Articles, adverts and discussion posts that go on and on and on about what women can do to 'avoid being raped'.
I don't think the onus should be on me to not be raped. If somebody gets raped, I really don't think that it's because they 'weren't taught what to do' or 'weren't sensible' or 'did the wrong things' or 'got too drunk' or 'went down the wrong alley'. No, if someone gets raped, I think it's just because they got raped.
There are some terrifying statistics out there when it comes to rape. 1 in 6 men will admit to having raped a woman so long as the word 'rape' is not used. With that in mind, I think it's more important that we teach men (and women - rape does, as the internet will so often and helpfully remind us, cross all gender barriers) to not rape, rather than teach women to not be rape victims.
With that in mind, here is a handy 7 Step Guide to How Not To Be A Rapist.
1. Always make sure that you have your partner's consent
Even if all you're doing is going, 'Hey, you sure you wanna do this?' Whether you're about to have a one-night stand with a girl you just met, or it's your honeymoon with your new wife and you're in a really fancy hotel room and you're just about squeeing (except not because you're a guy and guys don't holy shit you're married squee) so long as you find some way, at some stage during the proceedings, to make sure that it's what she wants and that you have her consent, you're fine.
Because you don't want to be that guy. You don't want to be that guy who didn't say 'no' to but didn't exactly say 'yes' to either. You don't want to be that guy where it wasn't exactly 'rape' but if you did the mental calculation, it wasn't exactly consensual. You don't want to be that guy where she spends the rest of her life, looking back on that night, scratching at her arms, and feeling sick.
Trust me. You really, really don't.
2. Don't touch the pretty drunk girl
Seriously, this should just be common sense. Look, I don't care how hot she is, or how much breast that top is showing, if she is so plastered that she can barely stand, you don't fuck her. You don't fuck her, because she will wake up tomorrow, and while there is the possibility that she'll go, 'Hey, I banged that hot guy last night, score!', there is a far higher possibility that she'll go, 'Oh god, I had sex with this guy last night, but I really didn't want to, but I was drunk and oh god, I feel so sick and violated but I was drunk and said I wanted to, oh no, was I raped? I can't say anything, everybody will blame me and say I'm a slut oh jesus I think I'm gonna be sick, I'm not even on the pill or anything - did we use a condom? Oh fuck, what if I get pregnant, oh no, I'm scared, oh god, I can't tell anyone, oh no, oh no...'
When it comes to alcohol or drugs, her ability to consent is going to be compromised, and you cannot guarantee that she will be in her right mind. You cannot guarantee that what she says now is what she will want when she's sober, and what she wants when she's sober is what is important, because it's when she's sober that she'll feel sick and cracked and broken.
3. No Means No
I shouldn't even have to say this. But apparently I do.
It doesn't matter what the woman has been doing up to now. It doesn't matter if she's been flirting with you or not, it doesn't matter how she was or was not looking at you, how she was or was not dressed, who she is, who she's with, how she knows you. If she says No, it means 'No'. It means, 'All past actions are invalidated'. It means, 'I do not want this anymore'. It means, 'Back off and go away'. It means, 'Stop'. It means, 'I do not want to have sex with you'.
The instant the word No is said, forget everything that happened before. That is irrelevant. All that matters is that No has been said, and it is time to stop. It is the equivalent of being very politely but very firmly told that the store is closed now, I'm very sorry, but you'll have to go elsewhere, and being escorted to the door. Once No is said, your right to touch her is revoked. Your right to have sex with her is revoked. If she wants, your right even to be near her is revoked. It is her body, and she gets to decide who touches it and who doesn't, and she also gets to revoke those rights, and when she says No, that is what she is doing. No more, no less. It is not necessarily a reflection on you.
Simply put: When she says No, it's doesn't matter what else has happened, it's time to back off.
4. No means No regardless of when it is said
It can be said before you get into the bedroom. It can be said while you're taking your clothes off. It can be said when you're naked. It can be said when you're in the middle of foreplay. It can be said when you've just got down to the main event. It can be said when they're about to orgasm. It can be said when they've just orgasmed. It can be said when you're about to orgasm. It can be said when you've just orgasmed. It doesn't matter. The instant No is said, you back off, you put your clothes back on, you leave it.
And they do not owe you an explanation.
They don't owe you an explanation, and if they have an explanation, it doesn't even have to be a logical explanation. Their 'I just don't want to' trumps your, 'But we haven't for two months'. And their No trumps your Yes. Always.
5. No means No regardless of who they are
They can be a total stranger. They can be your best friend. They can be your fuck buddy who you've been having sex with on-and-off for the last two years or so. They can be that cute girl you've had a crush on since you met five months ago. They can be your long-term boyfriend. They can be your wife. It doesn't matter.
If they say No, you back off, you put your clothes back on, you leave it.
No matter how much they love you, and no matter how much you love them, they do not owe you sex. Sex is not an obligation; it is something that is shared. When it becomes an obligation, it becomes a chore, and the dynamic of your relationship goes from 'Happy Happy Fun Times' to 'What The Fuck Is Wrong Here'. Their No trumps your Yes. Always.
6. You do not try to change their mind
If they have said No, you leave it. You do not try to change that No to a Yes, whether through emotional manipulation, coercion, bribery, bullying, or physical intimidation. If they say No, it means No. It means No, and it means you leave it at that. Done, dusted, gone.
If you have broken any of the above rules, this means that you are the one in six. If you have changed a girls mind through manipulation or coercion, if you've convinced them that they should keep going because of who they are, or because of how far into the sex you are, or if you've had sex with them because they're too plastered to know better, you are the one in six.
I haven't written this to condemn. I have written this because I'm tired of being told that rape victims are at fault. I want the rapists to be at fault. And in order for the rapists to be at fault, we have to stop telling the victimized how not to be victims and start telling the rapists how not to rape.
Oh, wait, I promised a 7 step guide didn't I? Oh, well, the seventh step is pretty simple.
7. DON'T RAPE.
leaves me drowning in
in baltimore baby fifty
the shallow days way
miles east where you
ETA: I've had people asking me if they can link to this elsewhere. You're perfectly welcome to link to the post, but don't copy and paste this without my permission first, please. Otherwise, link away - you don't need my say-so.