Trigger Warning. This post involves sexual assualt, and explicit sexual descriptions.
I’m going to share with you two very different stories. On the surface they will appear very similar, but the devil is in the details. The devil in this case being sexual assault, but unlike the devil, these are both true stories.
Scenario A: It’s Tuesday night. They’re at a local bar where they’ve both been drinking with some friends. They spend several hours together, before they walk back to his place. She invites herself in, and he suggests she sit down for a few minutes before walking home. He then offers to let her crash at his place for the night. She knows he has other commitments, and that she may never see him again. She crawls into his bed. He turns off the lights and then he begins to kiss her lips, then moves down to her neck, and then starts using his teeth, leaving marks on her delicate skin. Shortly after, his mouth finds its way down to her nipples, and then he’s putting his fingers on her clit and then up into her pussy. He continues fucking her, and he has her change positions. Afterwards he drives her home. He hugs her and gives her a kiss on the cheek before he leaves.
Scenario B: It’s Tuesday night. They meet at a kink party, where they’ve both been drinking. They’ve spent several hours together. Their erotic likes and dislikes have come up through discussion within the group. She notices that he has taken a particular interest in listening to hers. She has been eagerly making friends with a group she feels at home with. They go to the after party together. He asks her if she will give him a ride home at the end of the evening, and she says yes. They are likely to see more of each other at future events. They are relaxing on the couch together. He begins to kiss her lips, then he moves down to her neck and starts using his teeth, leaving marks on her delicate skin. Shortly after, his mouth finds its way down to her nipples, he’s putting his fingers on her clit, and then up and into her pussy. She drives him home, and kisses him before he gets out of her car.
Now lets fill in the gaps with those pesky little details.
Scenario A: It’s Tuesday night. They’re at a local bar where they’ve both been drinking with some friends. They spend several hours together exchanging ideas, laughing about the same British comedies, and the terrible choice of 90’s music that’s been playing in the background. They are sitting across from one another, but he eventually stands up to move closer to her. They continue to find excuses to put their hands on each other. She can’t stop thinking about running her hands through his hair and wanting his hands all over her. His eyes suggest he’d like to get her out of that dress. He puts his arm around her as they walk back to his place. She invites herself in, and he suggests she sit down for a few minutes before she walks home. Once seated, he slowly begins rubbing his toes against her feet. She rubs his feet with her toes, that are covered by sparkly black tights that cling to her skin. Each gesture he’s made has been a careful escalation testing her boundaries, and each time she has has responded enthusiastically to his advances. He then offers to let her crash at his place for the night. She knows he has other commitments and that she may never see him again. She wants to stay with him, so she crawls into his bed with him fully clothed, knowing he would be ok if she just wanted to sleep. They’re friends, and she feels safe enough to say no to him at anytime. They share a look of anticipation, but not of expectation. He puts his arm around her and she burrows next to him. He turns off the lights, and then he begins to kiss her lips softly, she returns his kisses eagerly. He moves down to kiss her neck and then starts using his teeth, leaving marks on her delicate skin. She brings him in closer and begins exploring his body. Shortly after, his mouth finds its way down to her nipples, he kisses, sucks, and bites them. The room is dark but she can feel her body flush all over. Then he’s putting his fingers on her clit, and then up into her pussy. Her whole body shivers from the motion of his fingers inside her. She is caressing his cock, trying to hold on as she is continually incapacitated by pleasure. He is very generous, and seems content to just continually satisfy her, but she eventually stops him, takes a breath, and then puts his cock into her mouth. She continues to suck, but he stops her before he cums. She asks him if he wants a condom. While she has learned not to depend on the other person for safety, this is also her way of asking him to penetrate her. He says he has his own and leaves the bed for a moment to retrieve it. He returns and enters her and continues fucking her. She feels good, and she feels safe. He gently moves her hips, guiding her with his hands to change positions. She’s on top of him now, and finally his head and hips quiver. She locks eyes with him and they smile. They have both been gratified, and then they nestle together and fall asleep with some gentle caresses throughout the night. The morning afterwards he drives her home. He gets out of the car and they embrace and kiss each other on the cheek.
Scenario B: It’s Tuesday night. They meet at a kink munch party; a potluck where people within the community can get to know each other through conversation. They’ve both been drinking. She has had two glasses of wine over a five hour period. They’ve spent several hours together in the company of others. Their erotic likes and dislikes have come up through discussion within the group. She notices that he has taken a particular interest in listening to hers. She has spoken of her health issues, and how she always negotiates before playing. She has explicitly mentioned how she has nerve damage and doesn’t like anyone touching her clit or nipples because of how much it hurts. She has been eagerly making friends within a group she feels at home with. They go to the after party together, because he has no car. He asks if she will give him a ride home at the end of the evening and she says yes. They are likely to see more of each other at future events. They are relaxing on the couch together, watching YouTube videos he insisted upon. The host says he’s ready to go to sleep and people begin to leave. She goes to the bathroom expecting to leave when she’s done, but he is making other plans for them. He asks the host if the two of them can stick around after he goes to bed and the host consents. He tells her he wants to stay longer so she sits back down thinking he wants to continue their conversation, but instead he begins to kiss her lips. She goes along with it, unenthusiastically. Then he moves down to her neck and starts using his teeth, tearing at, and leaving marks she doesn’t want on her delicate skin. She tells him she doesn’t do this without pre negotiation. Shortly after, his mouth finds its way to her off limit nipples. She tells him she doesn’t go this fast, and that she needs to take things slower. Then he’s putting his fingers on her clit and then shoving them up and into her pussy. She tells him, no, not that. She grabs his face and tells him to stop. Now he’s slamming her down and dislocating one of her hips trying to shove his mouth into her pussy. She tells him no, not that either. He asks to see her ass. She agrees to this because this will mean he has to get off of her, to let her stand up. She tells him he can look, but not touch. He still can’t keep his hands to himself even after she has repeatedly said no. Finally standing, she starts gathering her bags, saying she needs to go home. Because she is afraid to be “rude,” she still drives him home. He says he wants to do this again. She says she doesn’t know. He won’t get out of the car before she agrees to see him again, and so she kisses him instead, pressing her weight against him to get him out of her car.
Both women had similar things happen to them, but only one of them walked away feeling blissful. The other was left traumatized. Much of the sexual contact in these scenarios is the same. What makes them so drastically different is consent. In Scenario A, the woman was an active participant. She gave enthusiastic, non-verbal consent. In Scenario B, he was all over her and never asked if she wanted him there. He knew to ask for a ride home, yet he didn’t feel the need to ask before accessing her body. While it’s clear that had she been asked, she would not have given her consent, that’s not the point. The point is that he never asked. That is the missing detail.
Frequently details are left out, and that somehow translates into making it easier to blame the victim. People hear they were friendly with each other. They hear alcohol was involved. They ask what she was wearing. They hear that she didn’t knee him in the groin and run. They hear she didn’t report it to the police. What they don’t hear is that he never asked for her consent.
Next time you’re feeling judgemental, remember the devil is in the details.
If you have somehow managed to get to the end of this post and think the woman in Scenario B wasn’t sexually assaulted, then please do me a favor and remove yourself from my life.