The Ambiguity of Consent

I constantly hear people dispute the 1 in 3, or 1 in 5 statistic. "If you look at the real data, there's no way 1 in 3 women are raped". People like this typically rely on "reported incidents" rather than actual experience. While I sympathize with this resistence - the alternative relies on non-existent "evidence" - I resent the implication. In most cases, I hear this argument repeated in an attempt to diminish the relevance of sexual assault and rape. This comes from a very particular understanding of rape: specifically, a woman getting drugged and raped or attacked and raped. The reality isn't this simple.

Even in these cases, rape goes unreported. This happens for a variety of reasons including fear of retaliation or damage to reputation. Many men don't consider themselves violent or aggressive. They don't consider themselves capable of such strong manipulation and abuse: drugging or attacking a woman. What is missing from the conversation is the subtle manipulations that lead to female abuse. Is yes really yes if someone begs first? Is yes really yes if the woman is conditioned to believe that she has to? Is yes really yes if the woman feels guilty for male disatisfaction while simultaneously the man feels nothing when he consistently fails to legitimately please her? Is yes really yes when women say yes to avoid guilt or begging and then systematically fake their enjoyment to relieve him of that same guilt?

Hint: It's not. 

If we consider this kind of abuse, the statistic might be more frequent than 1 in 3. It might be 1 in 2. It might be all women. These violations are damaging despite their subtleties. They infuse themselves into every fiber of our being. They become a barrier for real female satisfaction and growth. They result in repeated abusive relationships, unrecognizable to most. It may be important to add that every person I have heard dispute the 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 statistic were men. It is not something we should necessarily blame them for: how could they understand female sexuality, when we never ask them to do so? How can we ask them to understand female sexuality, when we are forbidden from understanding it ourselves?

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