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Sex + Relationships

It’s Not Rape, But It’s Not Okay

I recently read an article on Total Sorority Move that introduced the concept of an “uncomfortable sexual experience.” An uncomfortable sexual experience is an experience that wouldn’t necessarily be classified as rape by traditional standards, but wasn’t entirely consensual either. The article cites an example in which the author had sex with a guy because it was easier than saying no and stopping him. Personally, I think that the term is more encompassing than that.

My own uncomfortable sexual experience was a little different. It was my first year at Western, and after having a few hookups, I was confident that I knew was I was doing. I was wrong. I had met this guy and we went back to his room and were making out. Suddenly, he attempted to penetrate me. I stopped, and asked “What are you doing?” “Basically, you,” he replied, as he tried to penetrate me again. I told him to stop again, before explaining that I was not interested in having sex with him. I left the situation feeling ashamed and uncomfortable. It wasn’t until a year later, while learning about sexual assault in one of my classes, that I began to realize that what happened to me might have actually been sexual assault.

However, I hesitate to label my experience as sexual assault. We hear about major cases of sexual assault in the media, where girls are violated and taken advantage of. How can I compare myself to them if nothing really happened to me? However, I suspect that my experience is more common than what most of us think of when we think about sexual assault. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women in North America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, but 89% of assaulted women will not be physically injured. In addition, 94% of sexual assaults are never reported to police. Why is that? While I can’t speak for every woman, I know why I don’t speak about what happened to me: I fear that if I am open about my experience, I will be targeted by others who will turn the situation around on me, criticize me for making a big deal out of nothing, and blame my experience on my promiscuity. By consenting to kiss this guy, I should have known that he would expect to have sex with me.

I suspect that this is how many girls feel about their sexual assaults, their uncomfortable sexual experiences. We fear persecution by those who believe that “boys will be boys” and that we are to blame, because if we didn’t want to be sexually assaulted, we shouldn’t have put ourselves in those situations. The term sexual assault is all encompassing, ranging from catcalling on the street to rape. It can be scary to label your own experiences as sexual assault, especially if you don’t know the real meaning of the term. Perhaps by introducing the concept of the uncomfortable sexual experience, we could start a discourse about all types of sexual assault, allowing a place for victims to share their stores, and for others to become educated.


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