Tag Archives: Rape

Bill Cosby’s Sexual Time Warp

Screen shot 2014-12-01 at 7.10.07 PMI have been hesitant to write about Bill Cosby. News of the aging comedian’s sudden infamy as an alledged serial rapist has been throbbing in me with the dissonance of a wisdom tooth extraction — a necessary loss with a real pain. My dissonance has less to do with merging Bill Cosby the comedian with Bill Cosby the drug wielding sexual predator, and more to do with with the viewing of historical sexual practices through today’s lens. What would have been a dark footnote in our country’s history, listed alongside witch-burning and White House slave-owning, has become a modern-day public lynching. The cultural shift happened so fast that the old man hadn’t even taken his last curtain call. There’s a kind of discomfort when a historical villain is alive today.

And that’s my problem with this story. Taken in the context of the 1970’s sexual revolution, where a yet undefined female sexual freedom met with alcohol in dark places, how did we draw the line between sex and sexual assault? Surely in a different way than today.

Don’t get me wrong. The sexual rules needed to change. Unconscious women cannot give consent. There are real victims here. These were real crimes with longterm consequences. A betrayal by a revered colleague pitches and jabs through a victim’s love life. Emotional wounds scar like that. Victims can walk around for years looking no worse for wear until, in a critical moment, they morph into what boyfriends like to call “a crazy bitch” duking it out with relationship ghosts, zeroing in on mistrust in the most trustworthy places. Or worse, choosing pain over security because that’s what they know.

With awareness growing quickly, lawmakers have been scrambling to keep up. An increasing number of whistle blowing women in the media and men and women in law and politics are working to rewrite the rules of sexual conduct and draw hard lines in the sand. We’ll figure this out. Already California has passed a law whereby anyone engaging in sex on the campus of a State funded school must first obtain verbal or written consent. (Good luck finding a single definition of “sex.”)

The silver lining in all of this is that we’re finally talking openly about consent. We’re talking about sexual conduct. The rules are being clarified in the media. And we’re helping a new generation of “hard-on impaired” men understand the enormous differences in male and female sexuality. Because of this, many rapes will be prevented. And if a spoiled celebrity of an old man is our sacrificial lamb, then so be it. I’ll sit with my discomfort.

FOR MEN: Can a Woman Rape a Man?

SilencedThe headline jumped out at me from CNN.com and I clicked through fast. Three women in Zimbabwe charged in series of sex attacks on men.

My impulse to click was exactly the reaction CNN’s web team had targeted. But I read the article for a reason other than a sexual charge. It was more a medical question. Can a woman really rape a man? What if he ejaculates? Is this rape?

The news story was this: Three women in their twenties are charged with raping 17 men in Zimbabwe and keeping their sperm in condoms for some sort of health related ritual. (That logic is reason only for the world to step up efforts to educate girls.) The young women apparently used drugs and raped the men at gunpoint. This is where the medical question popped into my head.

We all know that a woman can certainly be raped while drugged and full of terror, but a man, well, a man has to sort of function to complete the task. But can he function on drugs or at gunpoint? I know men who can’t even pee if someone is watching.

Not convinced that a Google search would yield my answer, I decided to go to a real authority — my predominantly male Facebook page. There is a nice cross section of the male body (pun intended) among my 5000 friends so I knew they would have the answers. Not surprisingly the comment stream was long. And at the beginning, my male friends were as confused as I. Some dismissed the whole notion that this was a rape.

“Unless you are a straight man with dudes forcing sex on you, you can’t be raped,” said one. “You can’t rape the willing,” said another. More than a couple told they couldn’t comment because they were busy booking a ticket to Africa.

So, I brought up the drug and gunpoint thing again. Was ejaculation possible under such circumstances? The answers were mixed.

“If you’re scared and drugged your not going to orgasm.”

“I don’t agree. If a man is stimulated, he would ejaculate regardless of “willing” or not.”

“It’s not uncommon, since men produce sperm intoxicated on regular basics.”

Then came a true voice of wisdom. Apparently, one of my Facebook friends teaches at a medical school and tells me this very question is sometimes on Medical Board exams. So here’s how the professor weighed in:

“Ejaculation is a spinal level reflex, it can happen. I have seen it happen in people having seizures or read documented evidence that it happens during hanging too. It’s even a question asked on med boards often enough whether a tetraplegic can ejaculate. It’s my understanding that as long as sympathetic nervous arc is intact one can come, for erection it’s parasympathetic one and it’s influenced by the higher centers, i.e. erotic thoughts etc.”

Thanks doc. In household language, he’s basically saying that an erection isn’t necessary to produce sperm. Got it.

Of course the much more important question here isn’t medical. It’s criminal. Can a woman rape a man?  Yes. If someone does not agree to have sex with another and a sexual act is forced upon them, that is called rape. And it is clearly illegal, hopefully as much in Africa as in North America.

Reposted from AskMen.com