Yeah… “rape culture” exists. I’m finally willing to admit it.
As person after person after person comes forward to accuse various politicians or Hollywood celebrities of different types of sexual misconduct, it’s clear: there’s a problem in the culture.
George Takei may have groped a male model.
Richard Dreyfuss may have exposed himself to an actress.
Kevin Spacey may have touched an 18-year-old inappropriately.
This helpful New York Times article details 23 different men (omitting the women) who have been “accused of everything from inappropriate text messages to rape.”
So, if calling this problem “rape culture” gives us some common ground from which to build, then fine. Let’s start there.
Our country has a rape problem…but I don’t think that’s the root.
It seems obvious to me that our real issue is with “Casual Sex Culture.”
There is very, very little difference between a fun and crazy memory of a one-night stand–and a night filled with regret because the other person didn’t pick up the “fun” part of the craziness.
I mean, imagine this:
An attractive, young protagonist goes to get a massage after a long day. The hero is stressed and conflicted by something serious, and he wants to spend some time relaxing. Luckily, the man doing his massage knows exactly how to take his mind off his troubles…
If this is a movie scene, we know where this is going, right? Probably John Travolta has done a few scenes just like this, in front of the camera, for lots of money!
A few years ago, a massage therapist who claimed to specialize in “more than massage” said John Travolta was one of his customers. So…why are we surprised that Travolta is being accused by another masseur of “groping” and “exposing himself” and “making lewd suggestions?”
Why is Travolta in trouble this time, for trying to recreate what was perfectly acceptable in another case?
A wise young person will ask himself: when is it okay to live out movie fantasies, and when does it run the risk of becoming a night that I’ll regret?
The answer is: You run that risk every time. Every time.
Whenever you have some sort of sexual encounter with another person, you are taking a risk that you’ll be in a different frame of mind. (And, yes, that includes sexy text messages.)
You might be more eager…more enthusiastic…more interested than the person you’re propositioning.
And, if you’re even slightly more eager than the other person, it’s possible that a police officer or judge or jury might call what you did “rape.”
The more people you include in your living fantasies, the more you’re putting your reputation into their hands. Someday, it could be their word against yours.
Of course, this is the point where I have to clarify that not all cases of rape are complicated. Furthermore, not everybody who accuses someone of sexual misconduct is simply regretting what they consented to do at first.
I’m not saying that massage therapists should expect to have their butts touched by celebrities. Obviously.
What I AM saying is that we can’t have “casual, judgment-free” sex AND fight rape culture at the same time.
Sex can’t be both a recreational activity between ANY TWO ADULTS, and also something that can completely ruin your life if/when one of those adults remembers the details differently.
There’s nothing “casual” about that kind of relationship.
There’s nothing fun and judgment-free about government officials “investigating” what happened when you were naked.
It’s not fun and judgment-free when all of America debates whether you’ve crossed some arbitrary line between kinky and criminal.
“Well, they didn’t say no!”
“But they didn’t say ‘yes’ enthusiastically and repeatedly!”
“Yet…he didn’t touch the other person!”
“Right, but he was exposing his penis.”
“Okay, but he asked first!”
“No one in a ‘position of power’ should EVER ask a question like that…”
It’s very simple.
Sex isn’t casual.
It’s serious and deeply emotional and life-changing and complicated, and that’s why it shouldn’t ever involved strangers or near-strangers.
If you’re not married to the person in question, just assume they DON’T want to see your genitalia. And, even if they’re literally begging you to get naked, you still should walk away.
“So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor…
Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in the streets having sex with just anyone?
You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers.”
People shouldn’t be having conversations about whether an acquaintance wanted to see you naked or not.
Sex is for married couples. That’s it.
Until we stop trying to draw ridiculous, blurry lines between casual “hook-ups” and criminal “sexual misconduct,” our problems will only get worse… with more broken hearts sacrificed on the alter of physical gratification.