Rape or Regretted Sex?

Wednesday, Oct. 5th 2011 11:14 PM

Rape is a serious issue, one which impacts far too many people in our society. Some people remember their violent experiences, and others are left with no memory of the event, only the feeling of helplessness after the fact. Either way, I shudder to think of it. Rape is not something to be taken lightly – or a word to be thrown around when we regret a sexual experience.

I recently read an “Ask Amy” column called “Girlfriend Knows Coercion is Unacceptable,” which left me baffled. Amy is syndicated all over the country and has clearly earned a respectable following. I appreciate her accomplishments and many of her ideas. But I vehemently disagreed with her advice in this particular situation. In the column of note, a woman (who signed her letter “Worried”) recounts:

Recently my boyfriend and I were getting intimate. I wasn’t really into it and I told him I wasn’t in the mood. He said, “It’s okay — you don’t have to enjoy it.”

Am I right in believing that this is not an okay thing to say? I told him that saying that to me is unacceptable, but I gave in and did what he wanted.

Amy’s advice? Leave him and consider calling the police, because the sex did not sound consensual. I was dumbfounded that anyone would categorize this as rape. I agree with Amy’s assessment that “no means no” when two people are negotiating sex. However, “Worried” did not say no. She simply told her partner that she was not in the mood – a phrase which, in some relationships, leaves room for negotiation. While I am not interested in sex if my mate is not also into it, I would not rule out employing my creativity to spark her interest. Admittedly, this woman’s partner made what could be construed as an insensitive remark, but depending on his personality and the nature of their relationship, this could have been a poor attempt at a joke. A more sensitive response would have been, “Is there something I can do to get you in the mood? Perhaps a back rub or a hot bath?” Instead, he made a tasteless comment. But is that rape?

Plenty of people have sex when they’re not in the mood. Couples often have different sexual schedules, chemistries and nuances. She may want it one day, and he might be tired. Or he might like it in the morning, while she doesn’t want to do anything strenuous before coffee. Or vice-versa. Sometimes we make sexual compromises and do it when we’d rather be doing something else. This could result in bad sex but is, in no way, rape.

As high schools and universities across the country work to educate young about sexual consent, they have given a name to Amy’s experience – “regretted sex.”  According to Furman University’s sexual misconduct policy, “Regretted sex stems from an act that was voluntary and consensual, but that in hindsight, a participant would have preferred hadn’t occurred.” And regretted sex is not the same thing as rape. To suggest that it is not only undermines the experiences of people who have been raped, but it also undermines your power. Unless you are being physically restrained, the decisions and the power are yours.

People will attempt to guilt or manipulate you into doing what they want you to do, but you are a smart, Powerful Person. When it comes to sex and consent, be willing to talk to and work with your partner. After all, a day may come when your mate is “not in the mood,” and you may try to strike a compromise. I don’t suggest this guy’s approach but I can also understand why he did not consider their conversation closed. And if you really mean it, and compromise is not on the table, just say no.

What do you think?

Keep Rising,

Frank Love
www.FrankLove.com

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How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

16 Comments on “Rape or Regretted Sex?”

  1. Massander Says:

    Well said. Allegations of “rape” should not be thrown around easily. It definitely detracts from the magnitude of what the word is intended to mean. I can’t believe that columnist even made such a suggestion. I find that to be highly problematic. I haven’t heard of the “regretted sex” terminology before reading this post, but it makes sense to me.

  2. Prof.Raymond Says:

    Frank, Its very like walking through a mine field not knowing where to place the next foot step. How many times during therapy sessions have I heard of sadness that has completely damaged a persons life, this is not from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but being in the right place at the right time. the sad memory manifests its ugly thoughts within the poor person who has been abuse from early age by parents,siblings,aunts,uncles, cousins and family socalled friends.

    Physical abuselike mentalabuse is bad enough, but sexual abuse from an age as young as 4/6, in early adolecence,and as a teenager, is tragic.

    Rape one client told me can even be within the mind,it as we know is not limited to one agenda but to both sexes. Violent experiences are even worse,when a loved one not just takes away their so called love ones right of saying NO, but has to add beatings and actions that it is hard to ever imagine.

    Left with no memoryof the event is in my understanding a personal shut down of the tragic event, but even those has stated they have done this experience night mares, vivid dreams so realistic that they could be worse or very similar to the experiences.

    Helplissness was was my topic for my dissertation, not on this subject but never the less it is a very sad situation, not only within old age but within the young as well.

    I hope we hear from those who work with this terrible problem regular and hear how they deal with this disgusting tragedy. What has been done using yalking therapies to help, as this was my method of assisting, where possible some form of recovery…
    Raymond..CABI

  3. beenthruit Says:

    I agree with your assessment of what can not be considered as rape. We all, at one point or another, regret something. A sexual experience can be no different. For Amy to suggest calling the police is, in a word, wrong. What she should have suggested is an in depth conversation with “Worrieds’s” partner explaining how this experience made her feel and not doing it again. This could very well be a case of a selfish partner which is not healthy for the longevity of the relationship as a whole.

    The term “regretted sex” is one in which should be utilized far more than it is. I am glad to hear that at least one college has put this term to use.

  4. Unmothered Says:

    It depends how the “giving in” looks like. She said “no im not in the mood.” She said “it is unacceptable” and still he did SOMETHING to her after she said “no”. If he tried to convince her to have sex with him with words and she gave in to his words than its not rape, but if he was physically trying to have sex with her after he had said no and “its unacceptable” then it IS rape. In my eyes. Not sure if the police would see it that way though… thy might do they might not.

    In any event, I would also advice to leave him. To reply “you dont have to enjoy it” shows how selfish he is and how very little he thinks of her. My partner would never say this, never ever. I would never say this to my partner. It is very disrespectful and degrading.

  5. Melissa Says:

    Maybe I need to read all of what she encountered because I can’t agree that this was anything more than an inconvenient encounter. At the risk of being completely insensitive to someone who is living with the pains of something tragic around rape – I feel like we have to stop with over diagnosing our circumstances. If I had a dime for every man or woman that has did it but wasn’t in the mood I’d be RICH! I don’t feel she was forced physically or mentally and seemingly made headlines by capitolizing on others real tragedies. At best – this man sounds insensitive about how he conveys his needs to his mate. If turned off by it – my question is why did she feel the need to sit thru something she knew she wasn’t up for? This coersion spin on a man with little woo’ing skills leaves me feeling bad about how women communicate as well. Getting IN the mood should be part of the FUN right?

  6. Age Smies Says:

    Considering the serious consequences of a sexual assult charge, I find this advice poor and dangerous. However, advising this person to evaulate the relationship or seek couple counseling would be the correct way to go.

  7. Former Rape Counselor Says:

    Rape is a loaded word. The dictionary defines it as below:

    1. The crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse.
    2. The act of seizing and carrying off by force; abduction.
    3. Abusive or improper treatment; violation: a rape of justice.

    After seeing that there is more than one definition and that many people believe that rape implies a legal term, there is a lot of misunderstanding about it. So, depending on whom you are talking to, you may get very different, yet also correct opinions.

    The scenario posted above here may fall under the third definition of rape. However, since the girl said she gave in, in her mind it was not rape. I believe there are exceptions to consensual sex not being rape i.e. sexual intercourse with a child, or someone who is of compromised status as in MR or inebriated with acohol or passed out. In those cases, it is automatically rape. This boyfriend in question has indicated to her that her needs are not important to him and that he may not be above violating her. It is sad that she gave in – for both him and her because it now makes him a rather creepy guy and it makes her an insecure, devalued girl.

  8. Aroop K. Sen Says:

    Proximity, Passion and commitment are three essentials in a conjugal relationship. Absence of any one of the three essentials will essentially tantamount to rape……

  9. Mollie Says:

    This is a very touchy topic. Having worked with sexual assault victims for several years I have only two questions for you to consider.

    1. Are you aware of what a victim of sexual assault goes through after “crying” rape? If not educate yourself of the reality of that experience

    2. Once you actually understand the reality of a victim’s experience, explain why anyone would voluntarily go through such invasive hell.

  10. Mary Says:

    I agree that there is a difference between ‘Rape’ and ‘Regretted Sex’. The difference is that, in ‘adult’ relationships, it is much easier to make this distinction than say, two juveniles or, a teenager with an adult (over 18) where they are coerced and ‘give in’ out of fear.

  11. Jeannine Says:

    You are right Mary for pointing out differences between adults and children. I see this more as an adult article but it is a good thing to distinguish – especially since many children are reading adult materials.

    Frank, thank you so much for writing this article. No accidents in life that you have your last name. As soon as I saw the title I had to read it because it hit the nail on the head. Until our society comes up with a term to “name” something, they lock it in to the buzzpsych word of the day. Rape has become all too common a term for women and I suspect in some cases, maybe even small incidences but still I suspect there are those that actually constituted to be regretted sex not rape.

    I totally agree with your opinion toward the advice columnist. She was jumping on an emotional bandwagon and she does not even know both parties. Too extreme a comment to make. This is a fault that advice columnists have. It is a fault that therapists have too when we only see one side of the coin.

    Anyway, I shared this title with my female client today because she was raised not learning how to say “No” and set boundaries. She has been married for decades and does not always enjoy sex but can’t say No either. I’ve been helping her communicate with her husband. She got it immediately. The light bulb went on and she said something like Oh…My…God…that is soooo right.

    Having been this woman also I can definitely say that how we are raped is by not being taught boundaries, self-respect, setting boundaries, and that we must be firm in setting our boundaries. You can’t say “this is what I’d like to have in a relationship.” Giggle giggle and then wimp out by going out with the guy anyway when he says, “I am just not sure what I want.” You have to say, “I want this out of a relationship.” When he says the sentence above, you have to have the maturity and security within yourself to say “Hey, I get where your at but it looks like we are going in two different directions and this is not going to work for me.” Go dutch at the end of the meal, thank him (or her) for the conversation and part shaking hands. It is like a business deal that you walk away professionally, not worrying about the no, because it is really a yes to opening you up for the right one.

    But we as women don’t know how to do this because our mom’s didn’t, and so on… A pattern we’ve been chasing for eons. This article is a winner! You are taking us forward. Thank you!

  12. Linda Says:

    This is your WORST post ever. You r not a Woman. You shouldn’t even try to talk about this. What is your educational background? I am curious. I bet most of your posts die a quick and tragic death!

  13. Sharon Karson Says:

    Frankly when I read the heading, I was ready to jump down your throat with both feet. Unfortunately I find that I must agree with you. This particular case did not rise to the level of rape. The gentleman (and I use the term very loosely) in question was both insensitive and abusive. He was basically telling her that he wanted what he wanted and he didn’t care whether she enjoyed it or not. That is unacceptable behavior in any relationship. The young woman in question needs to get out of that relationship before it becomes violent. But unless she gave him a clear no that was ignored, it did not rise to the level of rape and was not a police matter.

  14. Jessica Says:

    Sharon I was prepared to jump too but then read on. I think that one thing that gets lost so often is that we really DO have power. We do have the power to say no. We do have the power to say what we want. But sometimes people don’t really want to accept power because that also means accepting responsibility for their choices. But that is also part of being an adult. I know for me that was a hard thing to accept. To heal for me meant to learn how to be an adult who had the power to make choices in her own life and to take care of herself. And that in order to be an adult with choices and the power to make them, I accept the responsibility for those choices and the consequences.

  15. Viol ou remord? — Sex'ohlala! Says:

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