“Which one is the St. Paul Rape Case?” you might be wondering. You’d be forgiven for not remembering exactly which school-related rape case this is, since there seem to have been a few recently. This isn’t the Stanford rape case where the rapist’s future was given more consideration than the “mistake” he made against his victim. Nor is this the 19-year-old Penn State rape case where now acclaimed writer/actor/director Nate Parker avoided a conviction because he’d gotten a beej from the victim previously (which, regardless of the veracity of the rape claim, doesn’t mean a rape didn’t happen). No, this is the rape case from a year ago where a 15-year-old student charged that senior Owen Lebrie raped her as part of the Senior Salute, essentially the American Pie sex oath on steroids. Seniors competed to see how many freshman conquests they could make in the weeks before graduation, because everyone knows the best sex is that which is seen as a contest.
But the underage rape survivor Chessy Prout, who was previously shielded by anonymity laws, is now speaking out.
Basically everything she says is some combination of inspiring and heartbreaking. But there are a couple of important pieces that need to be highlighted:
I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been.
This should always go without saying, but it also always bears repeating. The shame surrounding being raped is one of the stupidest, most destructive, shittiest things we do. Stop it.
We had been prepared to just receive an apology letter. We had been prepared to finish this and just move forward with our lives and let them move forward with their lives, but, you know what, in the pursuit of justice I would’ve done anything.
This is another thing that seems inconceivably wrong. Pretending for a moment that Labrie actually didn’t know that he didn’t have Prout’s consent (which I don’t believe, and will deal with in a second), the lack of intent to harm doesn’t mean harm wasn’t done. If you accidentally step on someone’s foot, you still apologize. Because you still inadvertently hurt them.
They said that they didn’t believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly. And the fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people’s eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way.
“He was too drunk to know she was unconscious.” “He didn’t realize she wasn’t into it.” “He just made a mistake.” Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.
Oh, Labrie didn’t mean to rape that girl, he just made the mistake of accidentally forgetting that he’d neglected to get her consent? Great, he’s still a rapist. Much in the same way that we need to stop thinking of rapists only as strange men attacking women in alleys, we need to stop thinking of rapists as only those people who intend to force sex on someone against their will. If you show a blatant disregard for obtaining consent and then it turns out you didn’t have it, you are a rapist. That means all of these bullshit excuses about how he didn’t “mean” to rape her are also bullshit. In most states, the law now dictates that partners get active consent before engaging in sexual activity. That means no more of this “she didn’t say no” nonsense. Did you make sure she said yes? Then that’s on you, buddy.
I’m sure that seems scary to a lot of people. Or like an overblown PC reaction to an act which should occur “naturally.” Here are a few other things that we’ve incorporated into our sex lives which don’t occur naturally: condoms, birth control, Viagra, sex toys, artificial lubricant, food (although that seems messy and like a waste of a perfectly good meal), and whatever is going on here:
Humans have been able to overcome a whole lot in the name of getting laid. If open communication and patience are really inhibiting your sex life, then you’ve got to work on your game.
And most importantly, too many people will read Prout’s story and identify with her attacker. Because they too have been in positions where not everything was perfectly clear. Where they might have been overcome with emotions/desire, and not been as careful about their partner’s needs as they should have been. They worry that in a similar situation, they too could make a “mistake” and “accidentally go too far.” But avoiding that “mistake” is actually very easy: If you don’t want to accidentally rape somebody, ask if you have their permission. It’s really that simple.