My First Time

Female • 16 years old • Connecticut

The summer between my junior and senior years of high school was brutal. I was as insecure and lonely as they come, especially since my two ex-best friends had dumped me right before school ended over a false rumor. It seemed like I only had one friend left and it just so happened that I had been in love with him since freshman year. It was July and C's parents and brother were away on vacation, so he invited me over to hang out. I was excited to be getting out of the house, but my heart sank when I arrived and my ex-best friends, J and B, along with some other kids, were already there. My wounds were still fresh, and just being in their presence was humiliating. I had so many conflicting emotions — so many things I wanted to say, but couldn't. So I just stayed quiet until they left.

By nightfall I was depressed, but C and I were finally alone. He pulled a bottle out of his parents' liquor cabinet and we proceeded to drink it. I told him how horrible I felt about the J and B situation, about how much the rejection hurt. He told me that he loved me, and that I was beautiful. I had never heard these words spoken to me before and I had dreamed that they would come from his mouth. He leaned in and kissed me. This was my first kiss, and through my severely drunken haze I tried to savor it. It took all of my concentration to keep from passing out. He took off all of my clothes, and then all of his. He tried to teach me how to give a blowjob, but I was too fucked up for that, so he started going down on me. I was too ashamed of my body to let him do that, so I asked if he had any condoms.


Illustration by Thomas Pitilli


He helped me up the stairs to his room and laid me on the bed. I must have passed out because the next thing I remember is him hovering on top of me saying my name, saying, "Are you ready?"

I wasn't. I said, "No." I said, "I don't think I can do this..."

He said, "I'll go slow." He knew I was a virgin. I was blacking out, but was then brought back to consciousness when I felt his cock force itself inside me. Even through all the alcohol, the pain was intense. I was so drunk I could barely talk, but I remember repeating, "I can't do this." I floated in and out of consciousness until he was finished and carried me to his brother's room. He said, "I love you," he tucked me in, and then he went back to his room for the night.

I had always wanted him to be my first, but not like that. I was so delusional about what had happened that for months after that I was more hurt that he never returned my phone calls again than that he raped me (although I didn't accept that it was rape until well into college). Thankfully for me, C didn't come to school in the fall. He dropped out, I never saw him again, and college couldn't have come soon enough.

Writing this has been cathartic because I'm still struggling with the gray line between rape and consent. I loved him, and being raped by someone you love at such a young age is really confusing. I'm twenty-two now, and I think I'm only just starting to accept and understand what happened. Thanks for the therapeutic outlet.

We're looking for stories about the first time you had sex. Email firsttime@nerve.com with 500-1000 words. (Don't worry, we won't print your name — but please do make sure to include your gender, where you were, and how old you were.) Submissions may be edited.
FIRST TIMES
According to just about every pre-college advice manual, floorcest is a bad idea.
"So no, I didn't lose my virginity in the most traditional way."
"He looked like if Ian Somerhalder and Gerard Butler had somehow created a baby."

Commentarium (73 Comments)

Aug 11 09 - 12:40pm
af

thank you for sharing your story, i hope speaking out helps. you're really strong to write about this.

Aug 12 09 - 12:48am
lms

my first time was sober but a lot like that. i wanted to have sex with J but only if he used a condom. well, i was sleepy after having some late night food and started to take a nap when i felt him inside me. the worst part was--no condom. thanks, J, for giving me herpes after my first time. yeah, thanks for nothing.

Aug 11 09 - 1:08pm
mp

Thank you so much for sharing this. There is power in your voice.

Aug 11 09 - 1:18pm
jt

it's scary to read this as i just accepted that i was raped even though it happened a year ago. i totally understand.

Aug 11 09 - 1:42pm
ns

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I hope that as you've begun to accept that what happened to you was sexual assault, you have also accepted that it wasn't your fault. Just because both people have been drinking or you eventually want to have sex with someone doesn't excuse someone going ahead without your consent. The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (online) has resources for rape survivors that may be helpful to you. I strongly encourage all men and women to find a way to ask their partner if they want to have sex before going ahead and most definitely respect the other person's wishes when they say no. Not only will you avoid deeply hurting another person for years to come, the sex, when it's consensual, will be so much better.

Aug 11 09 - 7:33pm
S.S.

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are so brave; this was not your fault.

Aug 12 09 - 1:01am
whoa

Actually BC, per the legal definition of rape, any sexual contact with a person too drunk to give their consent IS RAPE.

Aug 12 09 - 3:39am
TD

BC, you read it as a story of a woman leading on and then confusing a drunken man. Maybe you should replace "woman" w/ "barely conscious, drunk girl."

Aug 12 09 - 7:40am
bc

Whoa- That is just my point. The definition is absurd. Based on that definition two people, both too drunk to consent, could have sex and end up raping each other. Besides she agrees that she was able to give consent, she asked for the condoms. The issue is whether consent was withdrawn since it was clearly given!

And I'm happy to make the alteration TD if we can also change 'man' to 'boy'.

Aug 12 09 - 11:34am
CJ

To me, this just wouldn't (or shouldn't) be something appropriate for the judicial system. The guy was clearly a piece of crap, but it should have been dealt with 'extra-judicially'. Like vandalizing his car, laying in wait behind a bush and smashing his shin with a baseball bat, etc.

Aug 12 09 - 11:51am
tlh

honey, it can suck, the guy can be a dick, you can feel violated, and it can still not be rape. you guys were 16 and wasted. a shitty first time? for sure. is the guy a rapist? well...

Aug 12 09 - 1:42pm
KAT

I would probably agree with the above comments myself, doubting the validity of "rape" in this scenario, if something similiar had not happened to me at a similar age. the fact is that she said, quote, "No. I don't think I can do this." after that point, legally and morally, it. is. rape. and it is damaging.

Aug 12 09 - 3:34pm
TD

BC, whoops, I neglected that replacement for "man." Well here's some more alterations I also neglected.

Was he really "confused" by a girl, or did he knowingly take advantage of a girl's emotional vulnerability to have sex w/ her?

Despite what she said previous to her withdrawal of consent, it was pretty clear to me that she wasn't ready. Now I'm guessing you think that the boy couldn't perceive that, but I do.

And no, I'm not arguing about the legal definition of rape, I was just griping w/ your view of the story. Sorry if I didn't clarify that earlier.

Aug 12 09 - 4:08pm
S.F.

I think that stories like this tend to reflect the biases of whomever is reading them, because of their inherent ambiguity. There are so many gaps in the narrative that we could theoretically project any number of scenarios onto what happened, ranging from "two confused teenagers in tragic misunderstanding", to "messed-up teenager rationalizes risky and indecisive behavior in order to absolve self of responsibility for consequences", to "sexual predator victimizes innocent girl in confirmation of institutionalized misogyny". But we DON'T KNOW, and can't know, what the real deal is. It's true that the boy's asshole behavior in the aftermath doesn't speak well of him, but there are plenty of "gentlemen" who intentionally commit rape, and plenty of assholes who don't. We don't really have a way of talking about the grey area that can open up between 100% willing consensual sex and 100% unwilling non-consensual sex, and I think this story resides in that grey area -- something which was once called "being taken advantage of". Painful and traumatic as it may have been, I'm reluctant to call this writer's experience by the same word used to describe the terrifying, excruciating, soul-destroying experiences of people who have been the victims of unambiguous sexual assault and rape, and who never REMOTELY consented to the things that were done to them.

Aug 12 09 - 4:15pm
CJ

No, seriously, a baseball bat to the shin really hurts.

Aug 12 09 - 4:16pm
glj

I completely agree with S.F. Like 100%. I'm less gifted of a communicator (obviously?) so I'm happy someone else said it.

Aug 12 09 - 9:23pm
DW

wow SF i couldn't have said it better. i'm sorry for how the narrator may have felt but also what about the other 2 sides of this story?

Aug 12 09 - 9:30pm
LT

While its clear that she was not held at gun point in an alley and brutally raped by a stranger, the fact is that most cases of rape are not that either. Brutal rapes by strangers comprise about 10% of rape cases in America. The other 90% are committed by someone the victim knows, and are very often under shady, uncertain circumstances like this one. In this country we have very black and white notions of what rape is, and the fact of the matter is that most rapes fall into some kind of gray area like this one obviously does. Its clear that both parties in this situation were too fucked up to think properly, but did they "rape each other" BC? No they absolutely did not. She didn't straddle his passed out body. She was not active in the sex act. She was unconscious and he fucked her. I believe that his actions afterward are pretty much an admission of guilt. He put her in his brother's room to sleep! He never called her again! This wasn't some random guy, this was her best friend. He never made contact with her again probably because he felt ashamed about what he had done. Just because she wasn't gang raped and left for dead some where does not make her suffering any less legitimate.

Aug 12 09 - 9:44pm
AS

What happened to BC's original comment? It should be up there so we can understand what that responses were to.

Aug 12 09 - 10:08pm
BC

Chalk it up to Nerve's "ardent commitment to free expression". It basically said that if this fits the legal definition of rape, then this just shows how absurd the legal definition is. I guess a critique of someone else's terminology is a 'blatant expression of bigotry"!

Aug 12 09 - 10:19pm
TT

I'm a girl - who luckily hasn't been in a situation like this - that said, I *do* feel there should be a distinction between forcible rape and "sexual coercion", for the sake of having a term better than "date rape."

There are so many people (often subject to intoxication, youthful/general stupidity and poor social upbringing) who will misread or misunderstand a sexually-loaded situation, and not understand when to stop.

These people wind up grievously harming someone with their behavior, I'm not denying that and I don't mean to minimize this girl's suffering in any way. And I definitely feel that they should be brought to account for what they did.

But by the same token, with proper counseling and behavioral therapy, the vast majority of these people can learn better. They're not hardened predators. Often, they're young, drunk kids.

They have just done a very stupid and very hurtful thing, but in my mind, that's not a reason to label them with a name that will forever limit their ability to be a respected and productive member of society.

I'm truly sorry for this girl, and also for the boy, who I agree probably realized he had done something terrible. I can only hope that seeing how badly he hurt and violated someone he said he cared for, he learned to never make the same mistake again.

Aug 12 09 - 10:23pm
BC

LT -

If you are correct (I don't know the stats) and 90% of rape is committed "under shady, uncertain circumstances like this one" then it seem that you are providing an argument that rape is not the kind of social problem that it is commonly thought of. As you note, her suffering may be no less legitimate but it is certainly less intense and less disruptive to one's life than being "gang raped and left for dead".

Let us also be clear, force is not the only way to lose control of your sexuality. Woman frequently cajole, belittle, intoxicate or otherwise compromise men who are reluctant to sleep with them. In so doing they essentially force an ultimatum; do this thing or some form of humiliation or shame will befall you. Frequently this takes the form of questioning a man's sexuality or a threat to expose his inadequacy to his social group. No doubt these things are not as traumatic as being raped by force, but they can be every bit as traumatic as the kind of thing that was reported here. And yet, no laws protect men, no legislator sees fit to reign in this powerful and very feminine form of force which is used with abandon, viciously, frequently. But a group of people here, who no doubt see themselves as enlightened and egalitarian, are quick to blame the man at what almost everyone acknowledges is, at best, an ambiguous situation and, at worst, looks like consent followed by mere reluctance.

Aug 12 09 - 10:28pm
BC

Finally, and I am sure this will go unanswered, can the mod who removed my original comment please repost it and explain how what I said constitutes a "blatant expression of bigotry, sexism or hatred".

Speech is free so that it can be debated, if Nerve claims to be committed to such a principle it seems only fair that they should be able to justify their actions.

Aug 12 09 - 11:04pm
mm

Hey LT I'm confused, I didn't think she passed out. "Blacking out" can look very much like "being completely coherent," and I get she was fucked up, and the line says "brought back to consciousness," but I'm just not sure what happened because she doesn't seem sure either? And she was a little active, if she suggested condoms. I'm with SF on this one. Also, as a girl who has gotten herself in some shitty shitty situations, for my two cents, I put this in the shitty shitty situation category. Let me be clear-just because something isn't "rape" doesn't mean it's not valid suffering or violation or that it didn't hurt. It's a confusing, painful gray area for many women. I just feel like explicitly calling it "rape" gives the "rapist" too much power and the "victim" too little. Like, in life, not just in this moment. It's still complete crap and not okay that this happened. And while it's nice to think that the guy "learned" from this, I highly doubt it. Guys can be idiots, assholes, and occasionally confused and human. I just hope that all the girls who have similar experiences to this (and there are far too many) learn from them-and not learn that sex is something horrible and scary and painful, but learn how to keep their wits about them when guys are being disgusting, idiot assholes. It's annoying bullshit that most men don't carry the same emotional burden attached to sex, but being mad and hurt about it isn't going to change anything. This was really hard for me to read, but I appreciate the discussion it's sparked. I hope the author feels a release from this, and I hope she has gone on to get the fun kind of fucked. Because while what happened was disgusting an shitty, it would be immeasurably worse if the little idiot boy took not only her virginity, but her ability to have a good time. Do guys get how that works? I wish I could know.

Aug 13 09 - 3:33am
SG

She said "No" and "I don't think I can do this." How is that AT ALL vague? I mean, even if you happen to think it's okay to "have sex" with someone who's not conscious...she still said NO! When someone says "no" and you put your junk in them anyway that is very clearly rape. The End.
And about the condom thing... if you're in a situation where someone is already raping you and you're scared shitless and confused (and BLACKING OUT) drunk...wouldn't you at least want to make sure you don't catch an STD or get impregnated by the dude raping you? Especially if you've already said "no" (repeatedly) and he still won't stop.
And to this whole "putting yourself in a shitty situation" thing? What does that have to do with whether you call something "rape" or not? If you put yourself in the "shitty situation" of crossing the street before looking both ways and then you get hit by a car...you still just got hit by a car! The definition of "hit by a car" does not change for people who did something stupid. And just so no one gets confused: someone accidentally hitting a person w/ their car IS NOT the same as rape. Raping someone is like seeing the stupid person trying to cross the street and then SPEEDING UP and AIMING toward them with your vehicle.

Aug 02 11 - 6:17am
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Aug 13 09 - 6:32am
NN

SG,

She asked for the condoms before she ever said "no" and in any case she gave that answer in response to the question "are you ready?". This is the reason everyone thinks the case is ambiguous.

If this was an SAT reading comp question, I'm afraid you would fail.

Aug 13 09 - 10:26am
just

i think that everyone saying it's more confusing than simple rape, is not interpreting this as her having been passed out. "blacked out" just means you don't remember. i don't remember every friday, yet i'm certainly out there running around and smiling. i think we can all agree, if she was passed out, the guy is not only an asshole, but a rapist asshole.

Aug 13 09 - 11:49am
16ct

Just to clarify for everyone "black out" was a poor choice of words. I didn't think my exact wording would be scrutinized as if this was a trial. By "black out" I actually meant "passed out." I was unconscious and he woke me up. I'm sorry for the confusion. Next time I will proof read better. I didn't want to comment, but with everyone commenting on the "black out" = conscious thing I felt the need to correct myself. Again sorry for the confusion, I was passed out.

Aug 13 09 - 3:37pm
SG

@NN Okay. That's fine. Let's assume that she asked him for condoms because she really, really wanted to have sex with him. Let's also assume she was not intoxicated (she was). Did not pass out (she did). And then he puts on a condom, penetrates her, she says "No" and "I can't do this" and then he DOES NOT STOP. That is rape.

Things that are Always Rape:
1. Penetrating someone while they are unconscious
2. Continuing to penetrate someone after they have BECOME unconscious
3. Penetrating someone after they have said "No" or "Stop" or "I can't do this" or "I don't want this" or they've tried to get away from you/push you off of them/etc etc

Things that Put One in Danger of Being a Rapist:
1. Penetrating someone who is extremely intoxicated
2. Penetrating someone who has not given you verbal consent

***To 16ct, you are incredibly brave for sharing your story here. Many, many girls have their first sexual experience through violence and exploitation. What happened to you was not your fault. Unfortunately, most people tend to excuse male sexual aggression as something natural and unavoidable like the weather. It is not anyone's job to stop someone from being a rapist. It is, however, everyone's moral/legal/human duty not to BE a rapist.

Aug 13 09 - 3:44pm
@SG

hey...a lot of people were not reading this as the lady passing out. i think all human beings that are not rapists can agree screwing someone while they are unconscious=no.

Aug 13 09 - 4:45pm
SG

I mean sure, but why did so many people jump onto "Maybe she wasn't passed out?" and completely ignore the parts where she said "No" and he continued anyway? It just doesn't make sense to me why so many people are willing to call this situation "ambiguous" when she said the actual word "No."

Aug 13 09 - 6:09pm
cm.

rape is rape is rape is rape. that's it.

Aug 13 09 - 10:51pm
gjl

i don't think people meant to discount her experience, passed out or not, but that detail changes the entire narrative. without unconsciousness, there's so much room for people to project their own experiences. to call a 16 year old boy who is drunk and genuinely confused a rapist, even if technically true, seems off. to call a 16 year old boy who is drunk but manipulated a vulnerable girl to his advantage and didn't care when she said no--rapist! and to whoever said you don't need to be gang-raped or stranger-raped to be raped--i really don't think anyone was saying that (THEY BETTER NOT BE).

Aug 13 09 - 10:58pm
tg

to 16ct, you termed it rape and you know better than any commenter here. i'm sorry if any of the comments made you upset, truly. i read your comment and felt awful because i had been about to dive into the somewhat theoretical debate forgetting that you're an actual person who might be reading these comments and, um, who was actually there.

Aug 14 09 - 12:05pm
cm.

rape is rape is rape is rape. that's it.

Aug 14 09 - 12:40pm
16ct

thanks TG, I know its hard to remember that behind each of these comments is an actual person. I think this debate that the commenters are having is important because these are the questions and issues I've been debating ever since this happened. Rape,
(or coercion, or shitty situation, or whatever it is that various commenters have spoken about) IS REALLY COMPLICATED. This is only my side of the story, and I know there is another version out there, he just refuses to talk to me, and I've stopped trying to talk to him. I don't know what his intentions were. I don't know if he was too drunk to register "no" or if he just didn't care to acknowledge it. I don't know and neither do any of you. This is still a painful subject for me, and reading some of the comments was very hard, but I am happy that because of what I've shared an important discussion is taking place.

I would also like to note that a comment made by BC was somehow deleted, and even though he called me a "woman leading on a drunk kid" and said it was my fault, its important that we all acknowledge that there are people out there who think like that.

To BC: He was over a year older than me. How can you call a 16 year old a woman and not call a 17 year old a man? Also, I don't know how drunk he was, but he wasn't the one passing out. You are entitled to your opinion, but just please be aware that we were both kids when this happened.

Aug 14 09 - 9:52am
BC

I vehemently deny that I ever said "woman leading on a drunk kid". In my original post I refer to you both as adults which is obvious from the reply I get from TD.

If your recall of this conversation is an indication of how unbiased your memory is, there would seem to be even more reason to doubt your version of events.

Aug 14 09 - 10:03am
@BC

you seem really invested in personally attacking the writer of this story. do get off on fucking passed out teenagers on the regular? why such a comment troll?

Aug 14 09 - 10:21am
BC

I'm responding in kind. When I'm misquoted and made out to be a monster, you can be sure that I will write back and defend myself.

Aug 14 09 - 10:31am
@BC

I think 16ct showed a class and maturity in her post to you, that you completely disregarded. Not only did you immediately go on the offensive, you didn't even actually address what she said. Which was that she wanted you to be aware that they were both kids. Be kind, she shared something incredibly personal with the internet, and has handled people doubting her interpretation of events really well, in my opinion.

Aug 14 09 - 10:37am
BC

I'm responding in kind. When I'm misquoted and made out to be a monster, you can be sure that I will write back and defend myself.

Aug 15 09 - 12:44am
S.F.

16ct, first let me say that I'm very sorry that you had to go through what was obviously a very painful experience. Independent of any arguing over semantics, the fact remains that your first time was terribly shitty and hurtful on a physical and emotional level, and you deserved better than that.

The thing that concerns me most about your story is what I would call a troubling lack of agency. Throughout, you portray yourself as fundamentally passive, buffeted by the desires and actions of those around you, but without any real will of your own. All your actions are described in terms of helplessness, victimization, and shame, even before this guy crossed the line. The part that especially bothered me was "he started going down on me. I was too ashamed of my body to let him do that, so I asked if he had any condoms." While I certainly recognize that a person can feel that way, there's a subtle abdication of agency here: you're saying that you didn't suggest sex because you wanted to, but merely because of shame and implied fear (of losing his affection). That may feel like the truth, especially after what happened. But it also reinforces your image of yourself as helpless and without agency, so much so that there's almost not even an "I" in this story: everything else is either someone else's idea, or something that Just Happened. You might have written "I wanted this guy so much, but I felt weird about oral, so even though I knew I probably wasn't ready I asked him for condoms." Do you see the difference? The "want" doesn't need to be sexual for it to be an act of will.

So I wonder whether your narrative is ultimately doing you harm in the long run, and making it more difficult for you to recover from what happened. You can have agency without being to blame; you can be autonomous -- and can acknowledge feeling the range of human emotions, including ambivalence of desire -- without having what happened be your fault. You had and have the right to withdraw consent, and the uncertainty in this story is in whether that withdrawal of consent was successfully communicated and intentionally ignored; if both of those things are true, you're unquestionably the victim of rape. But I think you might be better off seeing yourself as a victim in the sense of that specific, determinate moment, rather than seeing yourself as a victim in the larger sense.

Aug 14 09 - 5:20pm
@SF

So...telling the op how she should feel, describe, and label what happened to her gives her more agency?

Aug 14 09 - 5:29pm
S.F.

You're right, of course. Any questioning of her assumptions is inherently telling her what to do, and we can't have that. Instead, she should be encouraged to see herself as a blank slate whose defining characteristic is victimhood, helplessness, and shame. That'll heal things right up, Ellen Jamesian style.

Aug 14 09 - 6:50pm
@SF

"Blank slate whose defining characteristic is victimhood, helplessness, and shame." You feel comfortable judging her as being ALL of those things after reading a few paragraphs? Sorry, but I really don't think there's a "right" way to feel about being raped. You may think differently, in which case we'll agree to disagree. But, to me, your comment comes off as patronizing and judgmental. Rape is about a loss of power so I think the victim should be allowed to define their experience however they want to. Also you say this: "... the uncertainty in this story is in whether that withdrawal of consent was successfully communicated and intentionally ignored; if both of those things are true, you're unquestionably the victim of rape." First of all, this comment comes off as you positioning yourself as the final judge on whether the OP can call her experience rape. Furthermore, everything you said is just all kinds of wrong on both a legal and a moral level. The burden is *not* on the victim to prove they DON'T want to have sex-- it is on the other party to MAKE SURE that they have consent. An absence of a "no" is not a "yes." Also, intent has nothing to do with the definition of rape. And, lastly, when the guy asked her "Are you ready?" she said "No." Consent was not just withdrawn, it was never given.

Aug 14 09 - 9:17pm
S.F.

It is ABSOLUTELY NOT the sole responsibility of either party to secure explicit consent. Do I need to formally ask permission from my partner every time we have sex? Does every one-night stand that a person brings home have to sign a consent form before things get going? No, because the world isn't Antioch fucking College. Consent can be, and often is, implicit. One well-known example of this is "Do you have condoms?", a question no one will ask unless they're planning to have sex or make balloon animals. In fact many people will tell you that it's a major turn-off to ask permission, because it makes them self-conscious and second-guess themselves (among other things). It's the responsibility of BOTH PARTIES to assert their intentions and desires, full stop. It's a different issue when someone is extremely intoxicated or otherwise unable to give consent (mental illness/retardation, unconsciousness, under the statutory age limit, etc.), but reasonably full-grown human beings are expected to say what they want, especially in the absence of overt forcible coercion (I don't think anyone should be expected to say "no" when at knifepoint, or when surrounded by five horny prison inmates for that matter). If they don't say "no", it may be an ugly situation, but the possibility for misunderstanding and miscommunication is immense -- and the foundation of our legal system, and our sense of justice, demands that we take those possibilities into account even when they come into conflict with our desire to protect people from rape. That's true even when one person is more experienced, or when one person loves the other unrequitedly, or where there's any kind of power imbalance that isn't prohibited by law. Any reasonable person reading this story can see that the author gave implicit consent. I believe the author when she says that later, she withdrew that consent. I believe that the guy in question probably heard her, didn't take her seriously, and kept going -- not because he was consummately evil or a deep-seated misogynist, but probably because he read her reaction as wishy-washy and wanted to get laid -- and she was too out of it to protest much. There are in fact reasonably objective standards to determine what is or isn't rape -- something that, by the way, is defined by the law, and not by me, you, the victim, or the perpetrator, and thank God for that on all counts. My gut feeling that ct16's story qualifies, and that the dude's behavior crosses the line into rape. My problem with her essay is that at every juncture, she makes herself sound like a helpless little flower with no will or agency of her own. Being a teenager will make you feel that way, and so will rape. But continuing to feel that way, and interpreting past events solely as things that happened to you, makes the odds pretty damn good that you'll wind up victimized, embittered, or both. I'm not even talking about "responsibility" here, I'm just talking about acknowledging your own free will and the idea that you're an autonomous human being who's responsible for asserting your own desires, intentions, and decisions. If you don't do that, shitty things will happen to you, and they'll KEEP happening to you while you stare helplessly at the cosmos, waiting to be rescued. If you do assert yourself and take responsibility for your own destiny, and ownership of your wants and needs, shitty things may still happen to you -- but that is, always has been, and always will be life.

Aug 14 09 - 11:15pm
S.F.

For the record, if I'm understanding Connecticut law correctly (I'm not a lawyer), it appears that intoxication is NOT prima facie evidence of rape unless the intoxicant was given without the complainant's consent ("owing to the influence of a drug or intoxicating substance administered to such person without such person's consent"). CT law also doesn't seem to regard verbal refusal as grounds for rape charges, absent "the use of force...[or] the threat of use of force against such other person or against a third person which reasonably causes such person to fear physical injury to such person or a third person". This includes the withdrawal of consent after the fact: "Withdrawal of consent communicated to the other person followed by a compelling use of force to continue sexual intercourse would constitute sexual assault." However, if someone is "physically helpless", including intoxication to the point of unconsciousness, then engaging in sexual intercourse with them is second-degree sexual assault, unless it can be shown that the accused party didn't realize that person was unconscious ("it shall be an affirmative defense that the actor, at the time such actor engaged in the conduct constituting the offense, did not know of such condition of the victim"). Again, I am not a lawyer, so I welcome corrections from those with expertise if I'm reading the law incorrectly.

Aug 15 09 - 12:19pm
@SF

I don't understand why you disagree with what I said. I know that verbal consent isn't required. However, if you don't have verbal consent, it is the ACTIVE PARTY'S responsibility make sure they have permission to have sex. Everyone is legally responsible to not commit a crime. It is not our job to stop OTHER people from committing a crime. Failing to convince another person that you don't want to have sex is never a crime. Penetrating someone who has not clearly demonstrated consent puts you at risk of committing a crime.

But none of that matters in real life, outside of the courtroom. People have the right to define their experiences. The OP didn't give a name for her rapist. She didn't hand out his email address. So she has every right to tell her story the way she experienced it. And seeing as rape only has a 2% false accusation rate (U.S. Department of Justice stat) it makes sense for us to believe her story and offer nonjudgmental support. It would not be very supportive or logical to question whether or not she was really raped.

Aug 15 09 - 1:30am
S.F.

Actually, in the course of finding the above excerpts of Connecticut law, I saw a 8% false accusation rate quoted from the FBI, which as it turns out is also mentioned on the relevant Wikipedia article ("False accusation of rape"), and supported by British sources as well. In any event, I don't believe that any aspect of the OP's story is false, so that's not at issue here. I'm also not sure why you think I'm denying the author her right to define her experiences, or tell her story in the way she sees fit, unless you think that anything short of unquestioning, uncritical, Oprah-style support is an infringement on her rights and dignity. People may have the right to define their experiences, but other people also have the right to question those definitions, especially when they're published on a public forum: this isn't Livejournal. I don't think it's the responsibility of the "ACTIVE PARTY", whatever that means (and I'm going to guess you actually mean "penetrator", and by implication "penetrating male") to ascertain permission. In fact, it is OUR JOB, each and every one of us, to set and articulate our own boundaries and to tell other people "No!" if they're doing something we don't want them to do. That's what being an adult is, and that's what the law says too. It's not anyone's obligation to guess at other people's limits, and context is everything. Acts that are reasonable in one context are patently unreasonable in another. My partner and I don't ask each other's permission before we have intercourse, and sometimes the entire act is nonverbal. Many sexual encounters take place in silence, or without a word being exchanged. Does that mean that either party can call it rape if they see fit? Is everyone who ever stuck their penis through a glory hole a rape victim, or a rapist? Is every person who's ever stuck their finger in their partner's anus during oral sex, guilty of sexual assault if the other person recoiled and didn't like it? Of course not, and to claim anything of the sort is profoundly insulting to actual rape victims. But again, the issue you raise is not relevant here, because the OP gave what I consider a reasonable form of implicit consent (asking for condoms) in a context where it was reasonable to assume imminent penetration (making out and having oral sex with someone), before withdrawing that consent prior to the act itself. Even if you don't think force or the threat of force is necessary for it to be rape (I have mixed feelings on that issue), and even if you don't think her statements were clear enough to qualify as withdrawal of consent (my feeling is that they were), it was certainly rape as soon as she passed out. Though I sympathize with the OP, I don't see myself as obligated to endorse her every word, especially if I think the self-image she projects in this story is detrimental to her well-being. If you see that as "judgment", I'm not sure that we can have a useful conversation. The friends I value the most are the ones that tell me the truth, even when it's hard to hear or they know I won't like what they have to say. If I wanted unconditional support, I'd call my mom, or get a dog, but I sure as hell wouldn't look to the Internet for it.

Aug 15 09 - 2:57am
@SF

By active party I mean the person who is escalating the level of sexual contact. I used that phrase exactly because I didn't want to gender the perpetrator especially since 10% of rape survivors are men (I think the percentage is actually much higher for young boys, but I can't remember the stat). I think we're actually saying a lot of the same things here. I don't think it's anyone's job to guess at someone else's limits and boundaries either--which is why I think it's SO important to be sure you have enthusiastic consent before having sex. (Note, I did not say verbal. By enthusiastic consent I mean your partner is NOT lying there like a dead fish or a deer caught in headlights. Just like consent can be nonverbal so can NONconsent) I also have to disagree with you about the condom thing. SO many people who've felt that rape was imminent have asked the rapist to use a condom. It's actually a really common thing to come up in therapy. And, like I said in the beginning, I'm willing to agree to disagree about what is most appropriate to say to the OP in this forum. But I think it's great that you're looking up laws and such about rape. I think more people need to start thinking critically about it because far too many people think stopping rape = giving women whistles and telling them not to be "slutty." In what other crime do we place SO MUCH judgement on what potential *victims* should do and NOT on what potential perps should refrain from doing? To the point where, oftentimes, people won't even DEFINE the crime as rape if they feel the victim did not act "appropriately." Even if someone walks around a bad neighborhood flashing their iphone and gets mugged, people might say they acted stupidly, but they likely WON'T say "it wasn't a mugging." But many times if a woman (I'm gonna use gendered nouns here because I think the assumption is based in sexism) goes to a male friend's house very intoxicated and he penetrates her w/o consent A LOT of people would not just say she was acting stupidly, but that what happened *wasn't even rape.* All in all, I think it's great this conversation is happening. I just hope the OP has some good emotional support right now as I'm sure this whole thread would be very hard to take in. RAINN.org is a great place to find 24-hour support if you need it.

Aug 15 09 - 3:21am
S.F.

Briefly: I agree that rape victims sometimes ask their rapists to use condoms, but in the context of the OP's story, it's clear that wasn't the motivation. I agree that it's good to have enthusiastic consent at all stages of sexual activity, but sometimes people have sex when they don't really want to -- to please their partner, or as a quid pro quo, or for any other reason. There are even cultures where, in certain areas or social strata, cultural norms dictate that women are supposed to initially act uninterested or rebuff sexual advances (Brazil and Japan come to mind, as there are extensive studies on this with women from both countries), even if they really do want to have sex. That complicates matters tremendously, especially if you're dating someone from one of those countries, male or female. There's a point where that spectrum turns into rape, but there is also a range that falls into the grey area I mentioned above, and also a range that's unequivocally not rape, even if it's a dynamic that makes us uncomfortable, or seems pathological, from an American perspective. I know that some people go too far when talking about what rape victims "should have done", but I also think that we are all obligated to be aware, and to protect and defend ourselves, because no one's going to do it for us, and there will always be sociopaths and crazy people who want to do bad things to other people. We need to be able to talk about risk, ambiguity, and misunderstandings without being accused of "blaming the victim". Having said that, I don't think the OP did anything wrong in the least, though anytime two people get piss-drunk and start making out, the odds of something bad happening go way, way up. I can't rule out 100% the possibility that the guy didn't even realize she passed out. (I once gave my partner a long, relaxing massage at the end of a long day after we'd both had some wine, and started to get very frisky with my hands before suddenly realizing, much to my chagrin, that only one of us was conscious. Oops.) But if you hear a girl say "I'm not ready" and "I can't do this", you stop, period. If someone did that to my hypothetical future daughter, I'd beat the crap out of him. Thanks for your thoughtful post, and my best wishes to the OP. (I guess that wasn't very brief.)

Aug 15 09 - 3:27am
S.F.

One more thought: I think that "stopping rape" is a bit of a chimera, especially in terms of "what potential perps should refrain from doing". That may help with situations like the OP's situation. But in many cases, the perps don't care, and never will, because they don't care about anything at all. It's not sexism, it's sociopathy, and a lot of rapes are committed by people who just don't give a damn about anyone or anything, except power and gratification. They're often very charming and manipulative, and it could well be that the OP's rapist was a sociopath. Unless we plan to start detecting sociopaths at birth and euthanizing them, it's a problem we'll probably always have, sad it may be to say.

Aug 15 09 - 8:15pm
@SF

No, I think a lot of the anti-social behavior we see (especially in boys and men) is directly related to unhealthy cultural norms. I think if we stop verbally and physically abusing boys for showing emotion, stop teaching them "Not to take no for an answer" then we'd see a decrease in a LOT of crimes across the board. The way we teach boys to divorce themselves from their emotions and discourage them to feel empathy basically sets the stage for rampant sociopathic behavior. And with rape, specifically, we need to stop the cultural norm that positions women as "gate-keepers" of sex and men as "Penetrators."

Aug 15 09 - 9:06pm
S.F.

I don't disagree with what you're saying, and I agree that unhealthy cultural norms are often at work and that discouraging men from showing emotion is a profoundly damaging example of that. What I'm saying is that a biological basis for sociopathy has been clearly demonstrated -- in other words, that some of it is nature, rather than nurture. Recognizing that a certain amount of rape comes from sociopathy and evil, rather than sexism or cultural malfunction, is crucial (particularly when people on sites like Feministing say things like "I'll care about men's welfare and well-being when they stop raping women" -- in other words, holding men collectively accountable for the crimes of any single member of their ranks, as if rape is an original sin of which all are born guilty). Maybe the OP's rapist bought into sexist ideas about how "no doesn't mean no" or how "once she says yes, she can't say no"; maybe he's a heartless, charming sociopath to whom her well-being would be a matter of indifference in any context. It's impossible to know, really.

Aug 15 09 - 11:36pm
NN

-------My favorite quote of the thread--------------

"It is ABSOLUTELY NOT the sole responsibility of either party to secure explicit consent. Do I need to formally ask permission from my partner every time we have sex? Does every one-night stand that a person brings home have to sign a consent form before things get going? No, because the world isn't Antioch fucking College. Consent can be, and often is, implicit. One well-known example of this is "Do you have condoms?", a question no one will ask unless they're planning to have sex or make balloon animals. "

Aug 16 09 - 4:56pm
dn

I don't question the poster's sincerity or feelings. I do question her memory, given that she is reporting on an event that occurred when she was drunk, so long ago. Without meaning to, this young woman might be leaving out critical facts. Memory plays tricks, especially when the events are encoded in an enebriated brain and in regards to sexual experience. I do appreciate the poster's story, however, as a cautionary tale about sex and far too much alcohol.

Aug 24 09 - 2:00am
at

I know this will sound controversial in the US culture of victimhood and vindictiveness, but anyone who lets themselves get so drunk they are passing out should not be claiming "rape" whatever the law may or may not say (since when is the law the arbiter of morality?)

I know its hard for many, but put yourself into the boy's shoes. He also was pretty wasted. He got plenty of positive messages from her that she was in love with him and open to having sex. He wasn't very experienced himself and he might have been a virgin too. He lacked the judgement and experience (and sobriety) to know if her "no" messages were really no, or just virgin shyness (like her being uncomfortable about going down on him).He may have been so into it and excited that he was finally fucking the girl of his dreams, that he truly didn't hear what she was saying. Certainly what he did wasn't right or proper or thoughtful or good or kind, and was the opposite of all these. But do all of you really believe this young boy deserves to have his life destroyed because both he AND this girl lacked maturity and judgement?

It is sad that her first sexual experience was so physically and emotionally painful. But as SF points out, what she should be taking away from this experience (besides "avoid getting wasted, since when you do that you are likely to get yourself involved in stupid and painful experiences") is this: while no one can control the actions of any other human being, we can control our own actions. This means taking responsibility for our own mistakes and learning from them so that we don't repeat them. It also means that we need to understand that how we react to the bad things that happen to us is ultimately up to us. She has a choice now how to react to what happened: to follow a path of victimhood or follow a path of forgiveness. Instead of trying to assess blame, I would encourage her to forgive both herself and the boy for their youthful stupidity, and move on from there.

In this regard, I once had a gf who among the many other horrors she suffered in her life, was raped at 16 at her cousin's 18th birthday party. She asked one of her cousin's friends to bring her a pepsi and he slipped a "mickie" in her drink. He and another boy proceeded to rape her while she was drugged. That is rape, pure and simple. I won't go into all the details of her life, but this act was particularly devastating to her beyond the brutality of the violation, although in many ways it was not the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Nonetheless she did not want to press charges against the boys. This girl who had suffered so much in her own life, did not feel the need for vengeance. Having had so much of her own life destroyed by others, she did not want to destroy these boys lives, despite the great pain they caused her. So many people feel good about themselves by demanding "justice", without the least shred of understanding or compassion about the complexities of human beings and how we behave. By contrast, she who was truly a victim, chose forgiveness.

Aug 25 09 - 12:14am
ps

AT, i'm sure that charity was much appreciated by whomever those two unpunished rapists went on to rape next. and did it ever cross your mind that maybe your girlfriend's unwillingness to press charges came less from some saintly inclination to mercy and more from the feeling of shame and worthlessness and undeservingness of protection that people tend to feel after they've been brutalized? this is not the heartwarming story you seem to take it for.

Aug 24 09 - 3:40pm
IM

This thread brings up an issue I have noticed as I've aged and entered my 30s, which is that women close to my age seem to be increasingly disinterested and even contemptuous of men who aren't sexually aggressive enough. I remember hearing untold cautionary tales as a teenager and young adult male that were akin to this one, and having it hammered into my head that "no means NO" and that anything less than explicit consent could be construed as rape. I imagine that this safeguard against non-consensual sex for girls and young women contributes to the reticence many men have to being sexually aggressive, which in turn ends up making older and more sexually experienced and mature women increasingly frustrated by the lack of "real men" who will tear their clothes off and throw them down on the bed. I have had to essentially reprogram my sexual behavior in order to adjust to the expectations of my female peers as I've gotten older, but it wasn't easy, and I imagine plenty of guys either can't get past that early conditioning or don't even realize it exists.

Aug 24 09 - 4:52pm
NN

Whoa! IM just admitted to being a rapist! Or at least, someone on here is sure to accuse him of being one.

Aug 29 09 - 12:36am
S.F.

@AT: Yeah, much as I agree with some other things in your post, I have to say that anyone who slips someone a mickey and rapes them SHOULD have their life ruined, because they're probably the type to do it again. That's orders of magnitude beyond what we read in this story.

Aug 28 09 - 1:13pm
S.F.

@IM: Earlier this year, I read an article which featured a sexologist in the NYT ("What Do Women Want?", discussing her research into female sexuality and desire. In a nutshell, she found that one of the most widespread and consistent wellsprings of female heterosexual desire is the feeling of being wanted so much by a man that he can't control himself and just "takes her" -- in other words, that the ravishment fantasy is a foundational part of female desire. Somehow that reminds me of my Brazilian women friends, who openly admit that in Brazil they'll say "no" to a man's advances with the expectation that he'll ignore them -- and moreover, that they EXPECT the man to ignore their rebuffs, and will reject him as a lover/boyfriend if he doesn't. Of course, no one has the right to impose their own sexual will on another person, and some might say that Brazilian sexuality should be remade in a more traditionally feminist image. (Dworkin would certainly think so.) But reality doesn't necessarily conform, or want to conform, with anyone's ideological ambitions, and the same control that's compelling in the political arena can be anti-erotic in the sexual arena.

Oct 22 09 - 8:00pm
ZT

It's sad, but I think that the writer wouldn't think of it as rape to this day if he had returned her calls instead of ignoring her. Emotional betrayal affects how we think of past events. If they'd had a relationship and talked things out, they'd probably just look back and remember "how drunk we were our first time."

Dec 28 09 - 7:01pm
sp

Wouldn't have happened if she hadn't been intoxicated in the first place.

Dec 31 09 - 12:03am
JL

Jesus fucking Christ. Who are these people that think this wasn't rape? Look, there's a lot of cases where it's ambiguous whether it's really rape. This is is no way one of them. She said no. She clearly didn't want to. In most cases, consent is understood. A woman doesn't need to say, "yes, let's have sex, I want to" for it to not be rape. But if a woman says, "no" while slipping in and out of consciousness, that's it. It's rape. It's not "a shitty experience but not rape." It's rape. Let's not all rush to this dude's defense, ok?
At 16ct, this story is really good, and it's brave of you to share it. Like you, it took me forever to realize why I was so fucked up about getting raped, b/c I didn't get that it was rape. I thought that b/c we'd both been drinking, and he was a guy I knew and liked, it couldn't possibly be that, even though I couldn't have made it plainer that I didn't want to do it.

Dec 31 09 - 12:07am
JL

Jesus fucking Christ. Who are these people that think this wasn't rape? Look, there's a lot of cases where it's ambiguous whether it's really rape. This is is no way one of them. She said no. She clearly didn't want to. In most cases, consent is understood. A woman doesn't need to say, "yes, let's have sex, I want to" for it to not be rape. But if a woman says, "no" while slipping in and out of consciousness, that's it. It's rape. It's not "a shitty experience but not rape." It's rape. Let's not all rush to this dude's defense, ok?
At 16ct, this story is really good, and it's brave of you to share it. Like you, it took me forever to realize why I was so fucked up about getting raped, b/c I didn't get that it was rape. I thought that b/c we'd both been drinking, and he was a guy I knew and liked, it couldn't possibly be that, even though I couldn't have made it plainer that I didn't want to do it.

Jan 09 10 - 3:26am
KJ

I'm really sorry to hear this. This was very helpful and I'm glad you decided to write about it, a situations VERY similar like this happened to me a couple days ago. I thought I was going crazy cause I really barely remember, but after reading this I realized this also happens to other people. It was very helpful, thanks for sharing your story with us!

Jan 28 10 - 9:52pm
kd

As the mother of three sons, this scares the hell out of me. Somewhere along the way we have demonized our boys. Two dumb kids get way too drunk, things get out of hand,and suddenly the boy is a rapist and the girl a victim. I cannot second guess the writer's memories..perhaps the guy WAS an evil predatory asshole. And I am sorry for her pain. But please explain to me how a drunk female=completely helpless and not responsible for anything and drunk male=totally culpable??

Aug 30 10 - 1:20am
Itsa love hate thang

Damm i feel so bad for yhu yur first timee is suppose to be speacial nd for yhur best friend to have sex with yhu and den wen its sed nd done to jst wlk away thts wrong tht aint a real friend ..i hope yhu tride moven on ofta this issue happened cuz i wuddnt neva wanna see his face again and regardless if yhu was drunk or not yhu still said no yhur not ready tht dosent give no one tha right to take something tht is rifely yurs ..If tht happnudd be worried bout tha next dudee doin tht to meh or evn worse mi daughter ..see wen boiis do this crapp they dnt think how it will afect us till its over ..god bless yhu and thank yhu for sharen yhur story

Jan 22 11 - 8:22pm
chime

What do you think?like some will say rape is rape.what this person needs 4rm the mass is just an incouraging word so as to cotn with there life.she said both of them were drunk,i am always angry whenever if found out that a girl was bein raped by her own lov bcus she was drunk is not far oh'lets hav a re think boys i am beging oh.

Jan 22 11 - 8:45pm
chijioke chimezie

girls are found of goin out wit bastards,and call them boy friends.well i hav to drop a word of advise to all boys and girls bcus of wat is hapening now,boys rapes girls and somethimes u will find out that sometimes girls falses partner to fuck and fuck them so both of them are always at falt.so my baby girl be ur selfs and abstain frm sex.

Dec 03 11 - 1:23pm
yaseen shaikh

u r awesome fr i like ur way of taking