An insurgency in the battle of the sexes has emerged in the form of sexual dominance (for most women, this is nothing new—no eyebrow raises from us.) Every headline on every news site and media outlet lists men in power thwarting yet another female subordinate in the workplace. As a result, a spill over into the dating scene is concluded as another form of sexual deviance against women, but is it?
I know while tackling this subject, I run the risk of being branded as anti-feminist, and my credibility questioned because I’ve been married forever and am out of the dating scene, but hear me out.
Recently, the comedian, Aziz Ansari (Parks and Rec, Master of None) was accused of sexual assault and misconduct while on a date last year. In reading about it on CNN.com, The Washington Post, and his date’s account on babe.net, I started to wonder if perhaps rape, specifically date rape, isn’t about power, but about something as simple as a miscommunication?
I’ve been aware of some sinister sounding statements going around about men, rape, and women. One goes something like this; It’s not if a woman will be raped, it’s when. The other gem is that parents need to teach their sons not to rape. Both statements leave me steaming because, A) both infer that every male in every part of the world is one giant, uncontrollable gland on the prowl. B) It assumes that rape is inevitable.
If either one of these ridiculous statements is true, then wouldn’t rape and being raped become just a right-of-passage, like getting your driver’s license and being old enough to vote?
In the past, rape was defined as a power trip; having control over another human being. However, this description has changed with the increase of date or acquaintance rape specifically across College campuses.
Now, date rape is seen as one-sided sexual gratification—and guess whose side it favors—but I think there’s more to it. I think it’s an issue of misunderstanding.
Most of us are familiar with a formula, that’s been thrown around for decades, “Communication is 93% nonverbal.”
A study at the University of Pennsylvania breaks it down to communication is 70% body language, 23% voice tone and inflection, and a mere 7% of actual words said”—which means there’s a lot of room for interpretation and here’s the rub.
With this principle in mind, let’s explore what this might look like from a couple of College Co-ed’s. Keep in mind, that I’m a married, forty-two-year-old woman, and also that I don’t condone everything that happens in this scenario, but for the sake of argument and a perspective change, bear with me!
Let’s take 70% body language: You, as a woman, show up for the date, or let him lead you to a back room at a party, or go with him to his apartment. You look sexy to him—it’s your hair, your makeup, what you’re wearing—you know you look good, you’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy ensuring that you do!
He offers you a drink for each of you to relax. You take it. He downs one, too. You start to kiss. You perhaps participate in going a bit further. To him, the two of you seem to be on the same page.
There may have been some shrugs he’s noticed—a couple of mumbles or a pull away, but there have been more clues as to your agreement, than to your disagreement, so far.
23% voice tone and inflection: To him, you are speaking differently now than you were in a crowd—and so is he. You’re quieter, speaking softer, and close, which may come across as added intimacy.
While kissing, sighs and moans transpire between the two of you. Perhaps, to him, you two are definitely on the same page. Maybe, at this point, you think you are, too.
7% spoken words: Neither of you is saying much. You are in the moment on the fast track to gratification for each of you.
But are you? Have you told him otherwise? Has he asked? How does a fun date night turn into a terrible rape night? What happened?
To further prove my point that date rape isn’t about a scary aggressive guy overtaking a weak and lost female, in most cases of acquaintance rape on campus, the perpetrator is seen as a “good kid.” He is working on his education. He doesn’t have priors or criminal records and is for the most part, not a repeat offender. He comes from a nice and secure family background and retains good grades.
His victim is also in the same boat. She has a good background, strong family ties, good grades, and a bright future. What went wrong? For starters, not enough verbal communication and secondly, allowing one person to call all the shots.
There seems to be a high expectation put on guys in the dating scene and very little liability put on the gal—I’m not saying that depending on how she’s dressed or acts, she’s asking for it—I’m saying the problem is she isn’t saying anything at all!
When it comes to dating, guys have to morph into Semiotic spies and master interpreters, speaking fluent body language, deciphering every blink of an eye, and nod of her head.
He has to be a human breath-o-lizer, too. He must know how much his love interest had to drink before she arrived. He must measure how much she should drink and judge whether or not it was too much for her to give consent (by the way, if he thinks she’s had too much and says anything, he risks being labeled as a weirdo-control freak).
Also, why is it that if a man has the equivalent amount of alcohol per body mass as the female has the assumption is he has full control over his faculties, but she doesn’t. How does that make sense? When it comes to sex, guys are opportunist, but rapists?
Why are we, brilliant, capable, modern women, giving up control to someone who smiles at us? Why, with how far we’ve come, how hard we’ve fought to climb the patriarch ladder when it comes to sex, we throw it all away? Isn’t that anti-feministic?
I don’t think it’s a matter of teaching our sons not to rape and teaching our daughters to have higher self-esteem. I believe it comes down to teaching respect for one another and being willing to express our desires, knowing that the other can handle it.
Our sons must learn that women are not gratification devices and our daughters need to learn they shouldn’t act like tools!
He needs to ask and wait for verbal confirmation and then be okay if he’s turned down. She needs to know what she’s comfortable with, give either verbal confirmation or very clear, verbal non-confirmation and then be okay her decision. It’s only then, with open dialogue and with firm and known expectations on both sides—where there is absolutely no worry of miscommunication—that women and men can be equals. Otherwise, what’s the point to any of it?