I was having a conversation with one of my gym buddies in respect to pastor Biodun of COZA and the accusation of rape brought towards him. My buddy was a member of COZA, so needless to say he was on his pastor’s side on the matter—giving the pastor the benefit of doubt, and assuming the worst from the alleged victim. At some point during the conversation he goes ‘mennn, let me tell you something, all men have had sex by force at some point... You mean to tell me that there has never been a time a girl came to your house and said she didn’t want to have sex, but you did it anyway? Sometimes they will even come back the next day.’ I told him I had never had that sort of experience. And that the experience he described was, quite simply, rape. Other gym members pitched in
‘Abeg, all men have done it at some point,’ someone said, and then others laughed and shared their experience. One person added, ‘why would she come to spend the night at your house in the first place if she didn’t want something.’
I counted, only me and one other person where in shock. All the rest sat around the gym and shared their stories of rape with fond nostalgia.
It is both shocking and true that many men still do not understand what rape actually is. Let’s think about that for a moment. On this day, many men, perhaps your heroes included, will sit around the table with their buddies and debate on what rape is and isn’t. They will refute, mock, agree, and beg to defer on the specificity of rape. This implies that to them, rape is subjective… and perhaps that is the problem.
My understanding of rape is genital penetration or sexual assault (yes I consider assault rape) through force, intimidation, violence, pressure, or trickery, or sex with a person who lacks the ability to give consent such as an underage, intoxicated or immobilized person, or with a person that gave consent but retracted said consent, or sex going outside the scope of the consent giving. Easy enough… Well, until you break it down.
Most times rape through intimidation include threat of violence, but this isn’t necessarily the case in countless scenarios. Intimidation also includes non-violent threats such as the promise of academic failure, the pulling of essential funding, eviction from shelter, etc. Many men will refute this, and mock it even. They will argue that so long as there is a choice, there can’t be rape. These men (and women) fall under the school of thought that violence or threat of violence must be involved for rape to occur. They will argue that the ‘non-victim’, more often than not, knowingly put themselves at the receiving end. They see the situation as a simple trade, no different from temporary prostitution. And I am not naïve either. I am aware that some women use their bodies to get what they want from men. Still, there is a stark difference that requires stupidity not to understand. But let me simplify. If a farmer’s child was bitten by a black mamba and the only man with the anti-venom wants the farmers land in exchange for healing his child, then the farmers land was taken, not given. It might be the farmers signature on the contract. The farmer might have even forced a smile while signing away his land. Still, his land was taking forcefully and unwillingly. In the same vein a man can take sex from a woman. And make no mistakes, to take sex is to rape. Period.
Trickery as it applies to rape is… well, tricky. Although many countries do not consider deceit to be rape, a handful of countries do. I personally am not sure how to feel about this one. As I am writing this piece, a multitude of scenarios are being painted in my mind. For example, should a person be considered a rapist if said person lied about their marital status? Or how about if a man refuses to pay for sexual services rendered… should that be considered rape? Or consider the real scenario of a lady that slept with a man who presented himself as his twin. In this case his twin being the ladies’ actual boyfriend. To many guys this is pure comedy. A situation made for Hollywood. Some men would be baffled this is even considered a violation. The politer amongst us might manage a giggle at the thought, not caring about the utter violation that occurred. It’s a tough call, and perhaps I am not the person to answer such a question. Please feel free to offer an opinion in the comments below.
The way the world is headed, at times I wonder if men should walk around with consent forms for women to sign before intercourse takes place. I too have struggled with what clear consent is. Should I ask and wait for verbal confirmation before leaning in to kiss a lady, or should I steal the moment and hope she kisses back. And should we start kissing, and she allows me to take her clothes off, has she consented, or should I still ask her if it is okay to do so? If we have had sex many times previously, and she says she doesn’t feel like having sex on a particular night, and I proceed regardless, is that rape? Now here is the big one… if a man was at the receiving end of all the aforementioned, would this even be a topic of debate?
I am a staunch proponent of consent. In fact, I take a little offence when a doctor doesn’t seek my daughter’s permission before taking her clothes off. I also try to be rational, and won’t pretend like I do not have common sense, a word the topic of consent really boils down to.
In truth, the reason why common sense is common is because it doesn’t require further comprehension. If two couples are kissing, passionately swallowing the corona from each other’s tongues and necks, it would be an odd thing to stop and ask for consent in the heat of the moment. In a situation like that, it is fair to say that the onus of non-consent falls on the non-consenting party, right? Right. Now, men, imagine if all that passion during the corona swapping was all in your head. What if you unknowingly intimidated her, and as she kissed you as hard as you kissed her, she silently prayed to God that it would go no further than the couch.
To clarify, as much as I understand how asking may appear unnecessary in some situations, we owe it to our partners to seek consent. Doing that simple act of seeking consent will go a long way in simplifying what rape is and is not. Because honestly it does get vague at times, and emotions do run high when suggestions or opinions put forward run contrary to that of the victims and their sympathizers… and understandably so. I for one will never argue, debate, or enlighten anyone (outside of my children) on ways to avoid rape. My firm belief is that rapists rape, regardless of dressing, law, society, culture, upbringing, or religious affiliations. For a woman to cry out for help, for her to slap and kick and beg, and for a man to still be aroused… for a man to not see his wife, daughter or sister in that desperate moment, is evidence of his sickness… his psychopathy. And I am not saying culture doesn’t play a role in encouraging rape. It does, particularly in victimizing and vilifying the victims. Rapists are predators, and they use the culture of the environment they live in to their advantage. A culture that suppresses, or faults women for the actions of men, is a culture rapists find very attractive. A culture that empowers and sympathizes with victims, prosecutes rapists, and shames rape apologists, is one rapists will shy away from. Still, I believe that regardless of safety nets a positive culture may provide, raping is inherent in some men, much like pedophilic tendencies are inherent in people.
… Not so fun fact: between 1 to 4 % of the population are pedophiles. This means that there are possibly about 8 million pedophiles walking around right now. This may also mean that 95% of pedophiles, thanks mainly to culture and society, do not engage in pedophilic sex. Still, it does not change the fact that 7.6million pedophiles pose a potential harm to children.
Much like pedophiles, rapists are influenced by both nature and nurture. Pretending as though nature doesn’t play a role is misleading, while blaming their actions solely on nurture creates a safe haven for culprits. Every guy kind of knows a guy with rapist tendencies. In fact, every guy knows a person in their extended family who has a propensity to rape. We know by the sort of things they say, the way they behave when drunk, and the sort of activities that preoccupy them. I remember when I was 14 and I went to see a friend. He told me he was on his way to see a girl in the neighborhood whose parents were away for the weekend. In his words, he was going to get some action by force, and nobody would hear because she lived all alone. I tried talking him out of it but that didn’t help. His argument was that she allowed some other bloke from outside the neighborhood to touch her, and so he must get his. Luckily she wasn’t around when he got to hers, and the rape or assault never occurred. I remember thinking to myself, yes, Mr. X is capable of rape. He was impressionable. Spoiled. Rash. Sensitive. He was desperate for attention, and this showed in the many white lies he told… lies about his parents’ wealth, and the girls he had been with. Lies to make up for his insecurities, and the many rejections he had probably received.
Studies suggest that there are two types of rapists. The generalist, like my friend above. People that fall under this category steal sex the way they would steal a car or snatch a handbag. To simplify, generalists rape because the opportunity presented itself. Much like the person that purposely cuts people off in traffic without regard for life (… ladies, be very wary of these kinds of men. People reveal who they really are behind the wheel). Much like politicians that say and do anything to get elected, or fraudsters that pop champagne on another human being’s life savings. Generalists are predators that seize opportunities with little to no regard for the consequences. To them, rape is just another crime.
There are also specialists. The serial rapists if you will. These types of people plan out rape in advance. They charm. They lie. They make their victims feel safe. And then they attack. It is believed that one major reason the specialist-type rape is because they seek to make up for the many rejections they felt entitled to in the past. They also rape to punish their victims for representing something they couldn’t have at some point in their life. This suggests that perhaps men with no rape propensity tend to fall within a goldilocks zone, a spectrum of a healthy amount of rejections and acceptance by both females and society, and an acceptance of his status in life. Or to put it plainly… they do not have entitlement issues.
I pray we get to a stage in this country where the government takes ALL kinds of rape seriously, and punish rapists severely for their crimes, but how can we get there when so many lawmakers and government officials participate in sex crimes on a daily basis. Men owe it to themselves, their wives, their sons and daughters, to fight alongside women. We need to check our friends when they step out of line. We need to defend women when we see them being abused, and empower them to be independent of men.
Obinna Ofor is a writer and businessman. His debut novel, The Sky Sage, with William Moore, will be released on September 2020.