Growing up, I thought of "rape" as something that happened when you were walking through a park alone at night and some scary man popped out of a bush and forced you to have sex with him while he pointed a gun to your head.
That's obviously rape. I wasn't wrong. But rape isn't always so "obvious." Sometimes it's not a matter of saying "no." It's a matter of not saying "yes." But that leaves girls like me, girls who have accepted the story of the man in the bushes as our dominant narrative, in kind of a tough spot.
Sometimes rape happens with someone you know. Sometimes it happens and you don't even really realize it happened until after it's over. Even then, you're not sure. You don't know if you were just being dramatic, if maybe you weren't clear that you didn't want to, if maybe he was so drunk he didn't realize what he was doing or if he was actually your friend he would never do that to you.
So sometimes rape happens and you try to convince yourself that it didn't.
Kind of like what happened to this girl in Sunday's "Humans of New York" post. One that teaches us all a poignant lesson about consent.
The girl told a story of assault that probably sounded all too familiar to other women reading along. Her "make-out buddy" the summer going into ninth grade had had it with her "maybe" responses when he would ask if she was ready to take things to the next level. Finally he told her, "No more maybes. Let's flip a coin." Then they did it, and he made her leave.
She felt like it was her fault for being hurt. She felt like she was just being overly sensitive. She concludes by saying, "It took five years for me to realize that consent is not a coin flip." And she's right.