On Consensual Rape
By Brian Bwesigye:
Disclaimer: The following piece/story is fictional and is not in any way linked to actual persons, even though readers may relate to the events described.
These days I see so many things about gender based violence in my Facebook newsfeed, violence against women to be specific. It is the tie of the year for the campaign against violence against women. So we have been seeing horrifying pictures and stories that have spoiled many a day of ours as we slip into a space of sympathy, rage and confusion. But there is something else that has been gnawing at me for a while now. It is not the shocking image of violence against women; it is a subtle, hidden and disguised face to the same thing. It is even physically pleasurable I hear. I am thinking about it as 'consensual rape', too oxymoronic maybe but let us work with it through this story;
“When he started kissing me, I did not know what to think, how to respond. I knew that he had always been interested in me; I knew that he had always wanted me as his girlfriend. He had treated me as a queen the whole week, he had made sacrifices, great sacrifices to make sure I was comfortable; to him this must have been a climax; the climax to his labor. And so, one thing led to another. I did not say No at any point. I cooperated. I told myself that this would be our secret, me and him, that my boyfriend would not know about it at all, that this would be a prize I was giving him for all his effort but nothing more. Throughout the ordeal, it was physically pleasurable. Sex is biologically enjoyable and sex with a man with a deep voice and well-built muscles we have been culturalised to believe is the best. So it was, and I came.
Days later, my mind returned to the incident. Why had he thought he was entitled to having access to my body? Why did he think that my body was something he could enter and enjoy merely because I was not resisting? Even if I may have said Yes in the circumstances, why would he not question the Yes? Why would he not ask me if I would be comfortable with it, knowing that I had a boyfriend who was not him? Why did this not come to him? My mind was not at ease anymore with what had happened, with the little secret.
I did not feel I owed anything to my boyfriend, he does not control my body, so there was no guilt, I did not feel I had cheated. But I felt it should not have happened, for other reasons. My body is worth more than a man sweating for a few days on errands I did not send him on.
It became obvious this man had thought the incident meant an earth-shattering beginning to a relationship with him when my boyfriend called me and asked about an sms he had received from the rapist. The rapist in the sms warned my boyfriend to keep his hands off me. So, the dude now thought I was his because he had sex with me. That is what it meant to him.
I did not know what to tell my boyfriend because he was already gearing up for a fight with this man, defending me, as if I can't defend myself, as if am property! I did not want all this shit, but before long, the two men had exchanged bitter messages and the rapist had told my boyfriend that he was sure his penis had been in me latest. That completed the objectification process. In sleeping with me, this man was conquering my body. Boyfriend of course asked for clarification from me, wondering whether it was true. I told him it was and added that it was a rape, a subtle rape, a hidden rape, acquaintance rape, date rape and all those euphemisms that make it sound like it is less gruesome than violent rape.
He (boyfriend) sounded like he understood but then he went on and on about rape being criminal and about sending the rapist to the coolers. And that is where the problem between us came from. Who was he to speak about my experience in this way? Was he really concerned about the disrespect of my body or about establishing his place as my boyfriend? So, the more pressure he put on me to report to police, the more I felt violated. And in the end, he said I was protecting the rapist, that I maybe liked the rapist, that he could not see why I was accusing him of objectifying me while I was not reporting the rapist to the police. And we broke up and I still feel raped, and doubly victimized by the rapist and my boyfriend.”
“Consensual” rape is rape without violence, without coercion, you can say it is unwanted sex, but it is still rape, I think! As long as sex is not wanted, it is rape and brings the same consequences!