This is not how rape takes place and it’s part of the cultural narrative that blames victims. Although I do agree that women need to keep being empowered to speak up about what is and is not OK, the other side of that societal dynamic and socialization coin is that men need to learn to not pursue women like prey and feel entitled to their bodies, which quite often they do — even if only subconsciously. The entire power dynamic needs to be upended.

When Nicole Bedera, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, interviewed male college students in 2015, each could articulate at least a rudimentary definition of the concept (of consent): the idea that both parties wanted to be doing what they were doing. Most also endorsed the current “yes means yes” standard, which requires active, conscious, continuous and freely given agreement by all parties engaging in sexual activity. Yet when asked to describe their own most recent encounters in both a hookup and in a relationship, even men who claimed to practice affirmative consent often had not.”

These young men weren’t monsters; they weren’t bad guys and certainly didn’t think of themselves as bad guys — and yet, they were self-reporting that they were sometimes engaged in behaviors that might well come under legal definitions of assault. “In my own interviews with high school and college students conducted over the past two years, young men that I like enormously — friendly, thoughtful, bright, engaging young men — have “sort of” raped girls, have pushed women’s heads down to get oral sex, have taken a Snapchat video of a prom date performing oral sex and sent it to the baseball team. They all described themselves as “good guys.” But the fact is, a “really good guy” can do a really bad thing.”

These guys who said they valued affirmative consent didn’t have intentions to be harmful or abusive. They weren’t consciously thinking, “This girl owes me something so I’m just going to take it.” None-the-less, their social programming around entitlement to female bodies undoubtedly contributed to them disregarding their own conscious beliefs about a woman’s full participation in deciding what kind of sexual experience they were going to have together.

Research has also demonstrated that men quite often believe that a woman whom they find attractive is also into them. Their belief in what they want (due to their socialization) overshadows a woman’s body language and facial expression to the contrary and even her words “I’m not sure I really want to do this.” It’s how guys like Aziz Ansari believe they are having a consensual encounter, in spite of all that going on. When men receive training on how to connect with her actual demeanor rather than the fact that she is pretty and has on a flattering outfit, male ability to actually read her true receptivity and interest goes way up. This kind of thing is where we need to be putting our societal focus — not on getting women whose brains are overloaded with fear hormones to learn how to overcome that.

Right now, victims are punished and blamed when they come forward, and that also needs to change if you expect women to speak up to say nothing of the fact that sometimes when a woman tells a man No, she gets killed. Right now in America, someone is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds, and the vast majority of them are women.

Tiarah Poyau was a 22-year-old graduate student and aspiring accountant when she told a man at a dance party to “get off” after he started to grind on her. His response was to shoot her in the face. Iowa college student Mollie Tibbets was killed by a man she told to leave her alone when he approached her while she was jogging. A Detroit mother of three was killed because she refused to give a stranger her phone number. A New York woman had her neck slashed when she declined her attacker’s offer for a date.

False accusations of rape are incredibly small and almost never result in a man having his life ruined. That’s another completely false cultural narrative. Most of them are welcomed back into their old lives fairly readily, even when they admit that they did something bad.

Men whose intentions are only loving never accidentally rape someone. Please stop saying shit like that. It’s incredibly offensive to the 1 in 6 women who have been actually raped and it perpetuates rape culture and victim-blaming. Rape is about power using sex as a weapon. Please continue to educate yourself around this.

Some 50% of women surveyed said the perpetrator was larger or older. More than 46% of the women were held down. In 56% of the instances, men used verbal pressure. Men used physical threats more than 26% of the time and caused physical harm in more than 25% of the instances. Some 22% of the women were drugged.”(emphasis mine) CNN Health

“Furthermore, in the most detailed study ever conducted of sexual assault reports to police, undertaken for the British Home Office in the early 2000s, out of 216 complaints that were classified as false, only 126 had even gotten to the stage where the accuser lodged a formal complaint. Only 39 complainants named a suspect. Only six cases led to an arrest, and only two led to charges being brought before they were ultimately deemed false. (Here, as elsewhere, it has to be assumed that some unknown percentage of the cases classified as false actually involved real rapes; what they don’t involve is countless innocent men’s lives being ruined.)

So the evidence suggests that even in the rare case where a man is the subject of a false rape complaint, chances are that the charges will be dropped without him ever learning about the allegations.”

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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