Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sexual assault does not make a humorous anecdote

Trigger warning, if you click on the links, for a description of sexual assault.

I read about this and watched the video a few days ago, and I cannot shake it. This is called "borderline rape" in many articles about it, but there is nothing "borderline" about it. This man raped a woman and thought it was a funny anecdote fit to share publicly.  He doesn't seem to feel he did anything wrong.  Does a lack of violence make this "borderline," because I hear nothing but coercion and probably fear in his telling of this story.

I debated whether and where to write something about this, but feel I am no better than the laughing audience members or the comics on stage trying to cut the awkwardness with more humor if I do not speak up in some way.

The guy has since been identified and the authorities may or may not be involved (I would think his victim would need to surface and press charges, but I don't know the law when you confess to rape on video...).  I'm not out for a witch hunt - I won't post his name or the links to articles identifying him (you can Google and find it pretty easily) - but the language about rape and sexual assault and whether this situation is either of those things (it's both, no question) is a larger issue.

I know too many women who have been victims of non-violent sexual assault.  Violence is not what defines rape; lack of consent defines rape.  And consent obtained by coercion or any threat doesn't count.

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