When Is Rape Okay?
By Landon Funk
My hands were wrapped around a lipstick-stained mug of almond milk hot chocolate when he told me he had found personal information about me on the internet. My back straightened, and I stared at the froth in my cup for a few seconds before I answered, “Was it the article about my sexual assaults?” I already knew it was even though I waited for him to nod. “Yeah, I am very open about them clearly, but don’t worry, I am fine now.” It was a lie that I was saying just so he would ask me on a second date.
This scenario has become all too familiar for me in the past fifteen months. I wrote an article that went viral last January about being sexually assaulted twice at Princeton. It reached people from all over the world and made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself. I in no way regret writing that piece, but a knot does appear in my stomach every time I google my own name - two out of the first three links are about my sexual assaults. My Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, The League dates have also searched "Landon Funk" and unsurprisingly stumbled on a wealth of information about my biggest vulnerability, my largest and most traumatizing piece of baggage.
They know that anxiety, depression, and PTSD are active players in my life, and, at one point, I was suicidal. What they don’t know is that I am terrified that they will assault me too. I am constantly looking for signs of abusive behavior and debate whether it is okay to let them pay for my drinks. If I do, will they force me to give them a blow job as a favor? Will I be reduced to a vagina and a mouth you can buy for a ten dollar whiskey neat?
I know that I am not the only one who feels like this, and apparently, there are still people who believe that it is okay to sexually assault someone. According to a study done by Jacqueline Goodchilds, approximately half of the men surveyed believe that it is okay to rape someone after:
- He has spent money on her.
- He is so turned on he thinks he can’t stop.
- She has slept around.
- She is inebriated.
- She lets him touch her.
- She is game to have sex until the last second.
- She has led him on and gets him excited.
- They have been together for a long time.
There is a reason why so many women and girls marked themselves “#metoo” last year. We have all been sexually assaulted or harassed, some of us more than once, a dark rite-of-passage that almost all women go through. It is not optional but forced on us just like the kisses, the erections, and the wait for it to all be over. And yet, we come away believing that we are the reason why this horrible thing happened to us, repeating “what if” until our mind simply will not take anymore hypotheticals.
Victims are conditioned to hold themselves responsible for their assaults. We shame ourselves into thinking it was our fault because everyone else is telling us that it was, the only instance in which the victim is also the accused. There is no justice. There is no peace. Survivors and victims are told time and time again that they should let "boys be boys" and should have kept their legs closed if they didn't want to have sex.
Here is the thing: we did not ask for this to happen to us. Someone wrestled away our sense of self until we could - physically and emotionally - not hold on to it any longer. Instead of asking when is rape okay, we should be saying rape is never okay. Because it is never the victim’s fault. Because rape shatters a person and makes them glue the pieces back together. Because some women do not know the difference between rape and sex. Because I want to go on a date and not assume I will be disrespected. And most importantly, because we are all human beings.
My life changed forever the night of my first sexual assault. Again during my second. And again after I published my story. I will never be able to have a relationship that doesn't start with a first date conversation about my rapes, but I am grateful they are discussed. You learn a lot about a person based on how they interact with your vulnerabilities. Keep the ones who listen and see it as a dark freckle on your face, a part of you that does not define you.