The discussion about the man who claims he can’t be a rapist because his penis is too large set me thinking about my own near-miss a couple of months ago. It feels odd to talk about rape in connection with an experience that was more irritating than traumatic, but technically I came close to being raped and escaped more through luck than through anything I did “right”.
I’d gone out looking for sex: a division of paratroopers were camping in the village for the weekend, and I knew one of them should be willing to give me sex with no strings attached. I met a couple of likely men in the pub – they’d been drinking all evening, while I stayed completely sober because of my pregnancy – and went with them back to their camp.
For a while, everything proceeded in a way that satisfied us all. In the darkness, I didn’t realise immediately that one of the men was no longer wearing a condom – whether accidentally or by design I had no way of knowing. I told him to stop, and offered him two options: he could find and put on another condom, or we could abandon the idea of having sex. For myself, I preferred the first option, but it did depend on the availability of another condom.
Neither of these possibilities suited him. He made several suggestions of his own, none of which adequately covered my objection to unprotected sex. I tried to reason with him, but I found that I had to keep my hand over my crotch throughout the conversation to prevent his attempts to penetrate me without wasting time on discussion.
At that point, I started to worry. He was physically stronger than me, and drunk enough to be deaf to reason. If he decided to force me physically, there was little I could do about it. I began to imagine the recriminations I would face if I had to report him for raping me. “You went in the pub looking for sex, you left with two soldiers and went back to their camp – what did you think would happen?” And although I believed my answer – I thought a grown man would be capable of using a condom properly – was a satisfactory one, I wasn’t sure it would satisfy others.
The fear killed my desire to have sex and I started to put my clothes back on. Luckily, he made no protest; perhaps he was too drunk. I left without incident, and the fear receded once I was away from the danger.
If he had persisted, if he had penetrated me despite my objections, that would have been rape. I had consented to sex, but I had made it clear that condoms were part of the deal. When the condom vanished, so did my consent.
It can still be rape even if she wants to have sex with you. It can still be rape even if she’s sexually aroused and apparently ready for sex. If she consents to this but not that and you make her do that, it’s rape. If she consents to any kind of safe sex and you make her have unsafe sex, it’s rape.
I know I’m mostly preaching to the choir here, but I hope that by telling my own story I can convince anyone who isn’t sure.