Count The One Shade of Black in Rape

Dear Niamh,

I am not one for writing open letters to journalists but here I am in reference to your piece “Count the shades of grey between seduction and violation.”

1. First, make sure you know the definitions of what you are talking about. It makes for a less rageful reading experience. You think that a law outlining that a person is unable to consent to sex if they are intoxicated should give pause for thought.

Pause for thought. Really. Okay.

Intoxicated: (of alcoholic drink or a drug) cause (someone) to lose control of their faculties or behaviour.

To lose control of their faculties.

This isn’t being merry or a little tipsy or your inhibitions beings lowered slightly or ‘normal’ night out drunk. This is black out drunk intoxication. To the point where you lose control of your faculties. Intoxicated people can’t get themselves home, let alone consent to sex. Now that we all know what intoxication actually means with the assistance of Google, onwards!

2. Radical feminism isn’t ‘new wave.’ It’s second wave. It grew to prominence in the 1960s and was the first form of feminism to be ‘intersectional.’ Perhaps by ‘new wave’ you meant ‘third wave.’ This wave is called ‘liberal feminism.’ Your reference to college campuses is also curious, as generally they encourage liberal feminism, and are mostly hostile to radical feminism. But I guess if you’re saying that the ‘recent’ (lol) rise of feminism is ‘troubling,’ why bother knowing what you’re talking about. Here are some links I conveniently searched for in a free search engine called Google. A famous radical feminist is Gloria Steinem, you might have heard of her? Onwards!

3. You say in reference to the ‘tea’ analogy of consent: “How many people reading this article have long relied on non-verbal cues during sexual encounters? A smile, a certain look, time spent kissing with hands slowly moving lower, is usually enough to let intimacy unfold naturally.”

Yes of course, sure. And then the non-verbal cue when I shove his hand off me and his non-verbal cue when it keeps coming back. And my non-verbal cue of turning away from him and his non-verbal cue of petting my back or my hair or sliding his hand around me. This happens all the time. People, especially young people, need a reminder that the other person has to be into the situation too. What of it, if it is a tea analogy? Who cares? It’s an educational cartoon. Get over it. Stop weakly moaning about something that is literally doing no harm whatsoever. Unlike your article.

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“A woman saying: “Yes! I want to have sex with you”? – especially on the first night – isn’t part of the age-old art of seduction.”

Why not? I’ve had plenty of sexual encounters in which one of us asked the other if they felt like having sex leading to perfectly good sex. Why is explicitly stating what you want a turn off? Why is being clear a turn off? And why do you get to say what it is or what it is not? Are you a sexual relations expert of some kind? What is your authority in stating this claim? Come on, you’re too old for this bullshit. You know how people make sure they have consent during sex. It doesn’t have to involve a verbal contract before anything starts for proceedings to be clearly fully consensual. Educational cartoons do not have to be taken literally. But you know this.

But we are still talking about intoxicated people right? It’s hard to know because your article swings all over the place and fails to finish a point coherently. Intoxicated people probably aren’t saying much of anything, verbal or non-verbal.

4. “And, whether we like it or not, we live in a world where women don’t like to appear as though they pursue sex.”

Women don’t like to ‘appear as though they pursue sex’ because they have been socially conditioned from birth to be sexually passive, pure, wanted, desired, sought after, won over, wooed, not to be desperate, sluts, whores, cum buckets, village bikes or appear ‘easy’, or whatever other slurs are thrown at women who lead a sexual life on their own terms.

“They want to be desired by men, to feel they are being slowly seduced.”

Do they? Well if you randomly plucked it out of your head, I guess it must be true. Women want to be desired by men in the same way men want to be desired by women, in the same way I want to be valued and loved by my friends and family. Because we are human beings and human beings thrive on connection.

“Don’t agree? Then ask yourself why more women don’t carry condoms.”

What? The only reason a woman doesn’t carry condoms is because she is passively waiting for a man to “slowly seduce her”? What?

Women don’t carry condoms for a multitude of reasons. Nowhere in my extensive research (I used your form of research – mulling over my opinion for a few minutes) could I find ‘I prefer to be slowly seduced by a man than provide my own condoms.’ Here are just a few:

  • They do not like using condoms
  • They think the man should look after his own penis needs
  • They are expensive
  • Their partner buys them
  • They do not have a current partner with whom to use a condom
  • They don’t have sex on the go so no need to carry them around at all times
  • They are on the pill
  • They don’t have sex
  • They don’t like sex
  • They keep condoms in their bedside drawer
  • They are not planning on having sex
  • They do not do one night stands
  • They are trying for a baby which condom usage would hamper


5. “For further evidence of female desire, just look at extreme examples of men leading the way in romantic literature. It is swamped with politically incorrect sexual fantasies of a woman being forcefully ‘taken’.”

I had to re-read this a few times. For further evidence of female desire (what is ‘further’ about this, what was your previous ‘evidence’?) just look at extreme examples of men leading the way in romantic literature.

Your evidence of “female desire” is literally extreme cases in fiction. Like. What.

WHO KNEW you could find such cliched examples of patriarchal tropes and stereotypes in ROMANTIC LITERATURE.


And what exactly is your point here? Bad fiction exists? Yes tropes about women and men ‘swamp’ romantic fiction. They certainly do. 50 Shades is particularly unhelpful for how it perpetuates myths about domestic abuse. There are massive problems in the world of popular culture when it comes to misreprespenting sex, consent and ‘passion,’ and for pushing unhelpful myths about male and female desire (sometimes journalists get involved there too though, ho ho). But you aren’t talking about that. You are saying that the existence of these stereotypes in fiction and film is ‘evidence’ that that is what women’s sexuality is really like, if only those pesky ‘radical feminists’ would piss off.

“There’s a reason the sequel will be packed out with giggling women when it opens in theatres next month.”

Yes plenty of people with zero taste exist in the world, female and male. Plenty of people don’t want to think critically about what they are watching. Plenty of people go along to the cinema to watch shite for a laugh. I went to see American Sniper for the love of God. You don’t get to say that women are going to see this film PURELY because they all have secret rape and abuse fantasies. Give me a fucking break. I can’t believe you wasted 218 words talking about fiction in an article supposedly about the new sexual consent law. No fiction needed. Over one person a day is raped in Ireland. But why talk actual statistics when you can just ramble about fiction, onwards!

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6. “Women want to feel they can enjoy sex often without feeling they are leading the way. In real life, they can have a breathless or coy approach when agreeing to sex. It is rarely: “Yes, let’s do it.”

Do they? Cool. I had no idea how I, a woman, felt about sex until you told me just there. Now I know I can have a ‘breathless or coy approach when agreeing to sex’, instead of what I have been doing, which has been bellowing LET’S DO IT GET YOUR CLOTHES OFF I’M IN CHARGE HERE without one ounce of the cute coy breathless feminine energy you have just reminded me I have. But Niamh, what if I breathlessly, coyly, whisper, as my breast heaves with desire; ‘yes let’s do it’? Can women do that too? Is that allowed? Please tell me how to be a woman Niamh. I am so confused.

7. “It used to be the case that men drank twice to 12 times the amount of the average woman but – partly as a result of the feminist movement – women now drink just as much as men.”

Yes, back in the good old days of the marriage bar, pre women’s aid or rape crisis centres, pre women having the vote and working outside the home and when your husband could legally rape you and you couldn’t divorce him and your only job was to cook, clean and have babies and women couldn’t order a glass of Guinness, let alone a pint. Those things used to be the case too but then I guess those feminists you hate so much came along to ruin everything.

8. “These days we are not even allowed to challenge the rise of the female drinking culture for fear of being labelled – at best sexist – or, worse still, a rape apologist. So instead we change the law – in a way that protects women and puts the onus on men.”

The only reason you have been labelled a rape apologist Niamh, is because you have used alcohol as a reason for women getting raped. There is no other reason for a person getting raped than the choice made by the rapist. Your views are gross because you refuse to listen to actual experts. And the law is not limited to heterosexual couples. Just FYI.

9. “In light of this law and our failure to tackle the issue of our binge drinking culture, women can now drink as much as they want, while men are expected to stay largely sober and on guard for fear they misread sexual signals. Is that realistic or even fair?”

It isn’t realistic because that isn’t what is being said by anyone except you.

10. “What happens if a woman initially seems to be a willing participant in a sexual encounter but can’t remember it the following day. Is that rape?”

Rape is the absence of sexual consent. If she can’t remember giving consent presumably because she was intoxicated (why else would you forget a sexual encounter?)yes, she was raped, as consent is sober, uncoerced, continual and active. None of those things apply for an intoxicated person.

11. “But what if the guy is drunk too and also has vague, patchy memories of the night before she regrets it and cries foul?”

Thank you, Niamh, for doing your very best, as per fucking usual, to delegitimise a woman’s voice and experience in the aftermath of rape. Women don’t regret sex and ‘cry foul’ whatever the fuck that means. Women regret sex and feel crappy about it for a few days, whatsapp their pals and get the fuck over it. But you know this.

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12. “As part of a radio documentary on sexual consent for my final year thesis I’ve sat with men who have experienced this kind of situation. They were shaken, confused and ashen-faced to think that someone could even consider them a rapist following a blurry encounter.”

I am amazed that your views haven’t developed since your final year thesis.

Without knowing the context or surrounding issues of your radio documentary it sounds like these men took a look at their unhelpful and potentially dangerous behaviour thanks to their involvement. Well done.

13. “The idea that ‘rape is rape’ fails to take into account that physical force is very different to two people who misunderstand a situation – especially when intoxicated.”

Intoxicated: (of alcoholic drink or a drug) cause (someone) to lose control of their faculties or behaviour.

You are failing to take into account the myriad of ways rape happens other than ‘physical force,’ but again, thanks for the nod to the 1950s.

14. “Just don’t be surprised if a case comes to court in the coming years and we are all forced to take a long hard look at sexual consent- in all its shades of grey.”

I will not be surprised Niamh because they already occur. Rapists use alcohol, as one tool among many, all the fucking time in order to rape.

That is why we need this ‘shades of grey’ eradiacting law. I look forward to us all being ‘forced’ to ‘take a long hard look at sexual consent’ – why would that be a negative thing?

But I am sure you won’t read this, you’re probably too busy getting pats on the back and a full on street carnival from the bottom half of the internet and men’s rights activists.

All the best,
(former intoxicated rape victim, alcohol enthusiast)

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