Was this what I think it was?
August 31, 2011 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Was this what I think it was?

This has been bouncing around in my head for awhile and I need some help figuring it out. This is possibly a repost of a common theme but I need to get this out. 

My fiancé and I were staying at her parents house and as we were getting ready to head out in the morning she went down on me. I was afraid of discovery by her parents and said no twice as well as pushing her shoulder. Her parents were in the next room so I couldn't do anything without potentially causing discovery so I shut up and focused on finishing. The kicker is that this was her means of grinding an axe with her parents!

This has never sat well with me and recalling it causes me discomfort and embarrassment. Calling it what I think it was is even more embarrasing. I mean, I'm six inches taller and a good 100 lbs. heavier so to characterize it as what I suspect it is seems ludicrous. 

Would anyone share their opinion in how I should interpret this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (62 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Are you worried you were sexually assaulted? It has nothing to do with size or gender. This is about power. Or lack thereof.

I would hesitate to call it sexual assault, but I do think what she did was unacceptable and needs to be addressed in the strongest possible language. Immediately. And seriously.

I"m really sorry this happened to you. I hope you find a comfortable resolution.
posted by taff at 5:15 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

Your weight and size relative to hers is irrelevant.

What she did was WRONG, because you asked her to stop and she didn't. How would she feel if the situation had been reversed, and she was trapped in a sexual act with you that she didn't want in an uncomfortable situation? This is bad because you should trust your partner to listen and react when you say you don't want or like something that they are doing, and she took advantage of your trust and intimacy.

Have you talked to her about this? Did she seem contrite afterwards? That seems like the first order of business. She needs to know that this was not okay for any reason, that she damaged your relationship, and that it (and its ilk) can not happen ever again IF you guys are going to stay together. Her reaction will tell you what you are facing if you continue in this relationship.

FWIW, I am soon going to be staying at my partner's family home and I would be livid and humiliated--and ready to DMFTA--if he did this to me. I can't even imagine.
posted by swingbraid at 5:21 AM on August 31, 2011 [14 favorites]

You're beating around the bush. We don't what you think it may have been but here's some possibilities inferred from your description:

non consensual sex?
sexual behaviour causing embarressment/humiliation/discomfort?
feeling used afterwards?

These are not comfortable descriptions, regardless of your gender.

Interpret it in light of how it made you feel.
posted by infini at 5:22 AM on August 31, 2011

You can call it what you want, but whatever it is, it's 100% wrong and it's not at all your fault. Please talk to someone about this.
posted by inturnaround at 5:27 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

At the very least she used you. You're entitled to feel upset about it and to communicate this with her, and to seriously evaluate whether you want to keep seeing her.
posted by mleigh at 5:29 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm very sorry this happened to you. No means no, whether you are male or female and even between partners. Everyone has the right to have their boundaries respected.

That said, women are not taught this as thoroughly as I think most men are. In fact the general assumption is that it's impossible for a woman to take advantage of a man. My suggestion would be to tell her how you feel and see how she responds. That should give you an idea of how to proceed. I'd have second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts about getting married unless and until the two of you can work beyond this and she can prove to you that she understands how inappropriate and violating that was and earn your trust again.
posted by bunderful at 5:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [23 favorites]

I don't think it was rape, if that's what you're asking. But it was clearly an experience that bothered you.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's another point of view. How about your girlfriend just wanted to blow you because she got excited over the risk of being "caught" and you are way over-thinking this. Squashing your partner's sexual spontaneity isn't really cool either.
posted by three blind mice at 5:38 AM on August 31, 2011 [16 favorites]

bunderful: I'd have second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts about getting married...

I agree. We don't know very much about your relationship, but it shouldn't in any way be a "means of grinding an axe with her parents."
posted by jon1270 at 5:40 AM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]

Was she not just having fun? Like Naughty is nicer?
posted by the noob at 5:42 AM on August 31, 2011

threeblindmice, anonymous said no in the strongest possible language s/he had. This isn't about killing spontaneity. It's about CONSENT.
posted by taff at 5:42 AM on August 31, 2011 [87 favorites]

Frankly, I'm surprised at the answers here. Sex you don't consent to is rape, it's as simple as that. I mean what else would it be?

That doesn't neccesarily say anything about your relationship, and it doesn't mean she's a horrible abuser out to hurt you.

I would suggest defining what happened in words is less important than figuring out your feelings aboout it, and how you feel about communicating them to your girlfriend, and what that says about your relationship.

I would also suggest that you wanting/ or wondering whether you should define what happened in words, particularly wanting to define it as sexual assault or rape suggests that you're not ok with what happened and are looking for some kind of objective affirmation that it wasn't ok.
posted by ninjablob at 6:00 AM on August 31, 2011 [18 favorites]

The point at which you said "no" the first time was the point at which she was aware this was non-consensual for you. After that point, she cannot reasonably argue that she wasn't aware of that fact.

Your gender, weight, height, etc are irrelevant. Your partner's gender, weight, height, etc are irrelevant, too. You don't need to be taller or heavier than someone to sexually assault or even rape them.

Interpret this through the lens of "my partner will ignore my explicit wishes about my own body, to annoy her parents". Because that's what she did.

Since you don't say what you're identifying what she did as, we can't really say whether it is what you think it is. I just have this thought in my head of a man forcing cunnilingus on a woman, and while I wouldn't definitely call that rape, I'm having a hard time thinking of what else to call it. I should imagine that it's a horrendous thing to have someone forcibly insert parts of their body into/onto your own, no matter which body parts are involved or what it's called.

In case it's not clear, her behaviour was completely wrong and unacceptable, and I hope you're no longer in a relationship with her.
posted by Solomon at 6:13 AM on August 31, 2011 [12 favorites]

Calling it what I think it was is even more embarrasing.

You're don't have to put a name on it to confront your fiancee and say "hey, you know that thing you did? Please don't ever do that again because..." and you can make up the rest.

A person who loves you will understand how awful and used this made you feel and not do it again and find other ways of having that sort of spontaneous fun with you without making you feel bad. A person who you should not be marrying under any circumstance will get defensive or brush it off as you being overly sensitive. Of course, she might get defensive anyway, but if you really use your Special Couple Communication Methods -- I don't know what they are but I know y'all have some, every couple that isn't in a permanent fighty-state does -- you'll either get through to her or get a wake-up call regarding your engagement.

P.S.: The whole "squashing her spontaneity" thing is horseshit. You said "no" and assuming there aren't any prior safe-word deals floating about, a loving and respectful partner cuts out whatever the hell they are doing when you say "no."
posted by griphus at 6:15 AM on August 31, 2011 [38 favorites]

It doesn't matter that you're bigger or stronger or have a black belt in kung fu, you said no, twice. You pushed her off. And she did it anyway. No means no, and rape is rape. This is exactly the reason that we had to fight to get marital rape laws put on the books.

It's still bothering you, and you have a right to be upset. Please talk to someone. I'd consider DTMFA. But, if you're determined to stay in this relationship, insist that your fiance understand your point of view, show remorse for it, and guarantee it will never happen again.

This is not the advice I'd be giving you as a woman, because I do think that there's still a prevailing and incorrect belief that women physically cannot rape men, which is both stupid and wrong, plainly. But she needs to understand how serious this is, and how it's affected you.

But first and foremost, take care of you. I'm sorry this happened to you.
posted by headspace at 6:28 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

Mod note: few comments removed - please back it up, assist the OP, do not fight with other people in the thread. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:34 AM on August 31, 2011

If you're asking if this was sexual assault, then yes.

You refused unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms. The only reason you submitted because you were under threat - not under threat of being physically overpowered by her, but under threat of being publicly humiliated.

I'm surprised by anyone who thinks there are any gray areas here.
posted by tel3path at 6:46 AM on August 31, 2011 [16 favorites]

She forced you to 'consent' to a sex act by using the threat of discovery to keep you from leaving. And that's not real consent. Just because she didn't have a gun to your head only makes it a difference in degree and not kind.

I don't know how you should move on from this, but if you try talking to her and it doesn't help insist that you see a couple's therapist. Maybe a disinterested 3rd party can tell her why what she did shouldn't be acceptable by either person.

Good luck.
posted by Green With You at 6:47 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I mean not by you thinking there are gray areas, OP, because you're the one this happened to... you're bound to be confused.
posted by tel3path at 6:47 AM on August 31, 2011

I really feel she was being spontaneous considering as women we are taught that guys hardly ever mind but considering how it affected you, honestly, it's rare to find a guy who feels bad about such an encounter (unless they're cheating). There's nothing wrong with that! You felt disrespected. Best thing to do is talk to her about it. She may feel super embarassed and will probably let you do the initiation from now on but these are feelings you should address. Best wishes to both of you!
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 6:52 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Would I personally characterize it as that? No, to be honest I probably wouldn't, but I can respect the point of view that would.

It doesn't matter "what it was" other than it's something that bothered you. To talk to her about it, maybe it would help to narrow down why it made you feel embarrassed and uncomfortable - do you want to tell her you felt disrespected or insulted, or something else entirely?

There's no way you should or shouldn't feel, I think it's legit to feel exactly however you feel and then take some steps towards talking it through with her.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:58 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Building on three blind mice's suggestion: it may be that she got the kicks out of doing it in that situation for a combination of reasons including your own guesses, so much so, that she overrode or mis-interpreted the fact that you weren't giving your consent. There's no way knowing which was the case without asking her. You want to address this particular experience in a serious discussion, and make it clear to her that you found what happened not okay, but you should definitely hear her out about her motifs before getting, you know, fundamentally upset. On preview, InterestedInknowing has a point, too.
posted by Namlit at 6:59 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Can't favorite griphus's comment enough.

It is worth remembering, as Interested points out, that the prevaling notion is that men alwaysalwaysalways want sex, and for a woman to initiate is always welcome and delightful. Even though this is obviously not true, its' part of our culture and definitely colors the situation. It's possible she did think she was being spontaneous and fun.

The important thing is how she responds when you have this conversation. If you are comfortable with doing so, I hope you check back in and let us know how it goes.
posted by bunderful at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

There isn't much room for interpretation here: you were raped. If by interpretation you mean how you should proceed violence is pretty well the only time I'm going to recommend DTMFA. She's your fiancé which means it is going to be crazy messy. The only upside is you can take this action before you get married.
posted by Mitheral at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


posted by bunderful at 7:13 AM on August 31, 2011

OP, why does it matter to you whether this was Officially Rape or not? We could spend days trying to apply legal definitions of rape, or college-orientation definitions of rape as have surfaced upthread*, or individual answerers' own idiosyncratic definitions of rape, but I'm not sure what the point would be.

What really matters here is this. It is completely understandable that you would feel angry and/or betrayed and/or astonished and/or dismayed that your fiance ignored your disinterest in having sex. Depending on context about your relationship history, about your fiance, and about the scenario as it played out -- context that you may or may not have, but that answerers in this thread definitely do not have -- appropriate responses on your part could include (i) calling the police, (ii) breaking up, (iii) confronting her and expressing your anger, (iv) gently confronting her and making it clear that you did not find this to be sexy and transgressive and forbidden as she might have found it, (v) letting the whole thing go and ceasing to dwell on it, etc.

I suspect you don't feel your fiance should go to prison, and it sounds like you also shouldn't let this go altogether. Your job now is (a) to dwell on exactly what you suspect her mindstate was, (b) to decide how angry you are and how you want her to feel about her choices, and (c) to choose a response accordingly. We can't answer those questions for you on the information provided.

*The problem with applying the most broadly-inclusive definitions of rape is that it doesn't sound like your experience should be equated with the experience of most rape victims. Your question is not asked in a way that suggests you have experienced shock or PTSD or trauma or physical pain or serious fear, etc. Maybe I'm wrong; there would be nothing to be ashamed of if in fact you do feel these ways; I simply don't get the sense that you do from your question (and to be frank, an unwanted blowjob seems less likely to produce these responses than other unwanted sex). To the extent that you need to put a label on this experience, this is why I would strongly hesitate to use the label "rape", and I suspect it is why you are hesitating as well.
posted by foursentences at 7:14 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

I'd say the label matters but is less important than the effect it had on you. This might sound a little crazy but there are relationships where this would be of a piece with their dynamic and it wouldn't bother either person. What matters is that it bothered you, and you're upset about it. It'd be a good idea to sit down with her and have a nonconfrontational discussion about what happened and how you feel about it.

So how should you interpret this? You should interpret this as the thing that bothered you, and as a violation of your boundaries. If we define rape as unwanted sexual contact, then yes this would be rape, but I would maybe avoid using the word while discussing this with your fiancee - not to spare her feelings or to belittle yours, but because the word has a huge emotional cache to it and once it's on the table - once she feels like she's just been told she has committed rape - it might be harder to have a calm and nonconfrontational discussion.

Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:24 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

You don't need to call it "rape," and in fact I think that term, strictly speaking, really refers to forced sexual intercourse, anyway.

The language around these issues is extremely loaded. Using it here may make you feel like a victim, which you may not want for a variety of reasons (emasculating, the other party was your fiancee who you love, etc.). I think that's fine.

Assuming this relationship is not otherwise abusive, and that this was a one-time thing, I would not too quickly discount the misunderstanding element of this. As others have pointed out, women, particularly younger or less experienced women (don't know how that maps onto your situation), sometimes tend to believe the hype that men are "always ready to go," and I might give her the benefit of the doubt since the act in question would ostensibly be for your pleasure. Sure, no means no, but not everyone is conditioned to hear or process "no." That does not excuse your fiancee's behavior. It does mean you should be optimistic about what will happen if you address this issue openly and honestly; though you may feel you were as clear as day about your "no," she may not have received it that way.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:26 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also, a clarification: Re-reading what I wrote, when I said "This might sound a little crazy," that maybe came off as sarcastic; it wasn't. I said it because it sounds a little crazy to me that there are relationships where this wouldn't be a big deal to either party, but in practice it is less crazy than it sounds. And once again, I'd say that the fact that there are relationships where this wouldn't really be an issue does not mean it shouldn't be an issue for you if you feel that way. But it also might help to explain the variety of opinion in the responses.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:30 AM on August 31, 2011

This is kind of heartbreaking. We have come a long way in discussions about sexual assault, but unfortunately you seem to be stuck in the confluence of two supposed "grey areas" - assault by a close sexual partner (sometimes called "marital rape") and assault of a man by a woman. There may be explanations for your girlfriend's behavior, but there's no excuse.

That being said, just because you identify this act as nonconsensual doesn't mean that there's some particular course of action that you have to follow. You don't have to dump her if you don't want to. What do YOU want to happen? Do you want an apology? Do you want an acknowledgment that this won't happen again? What do you need to feel safe and respected?

Do you know anything about the idea of enthusiastic consent? Maybe that's something you could look into as a requirement for all future sexual encounters.
posted by muddgirl at 7:31 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

You don't need to call it "rape," and in fact I think that term, strictly speaking, really refers to forced sexual intercourse, anyway.

I wonder if the exact right terminology is adding to your uncertainty. I agree that I wouldn't use the word "rape" but the term "sexual assault" definitely applies.
posted by tel3path at 7:36 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

If this happened to me, I would be rather pissed off, but I it would not even occur to me to consider it to be "rape" or "sexual assault". Others obviously disagree. If I talked to her about it and she was appropriately mortified and apologetic and willing to discuss boundaries in a productive way, I suspect I could move on in short order. Obviously your preferences may differ from mine.

Agree with others who argue that the terminology is relatively unimportant, particularly when the relevant terms are not well-defined.
posted by deadweightloss at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

You said no. She persisted.

If you were the woman in this case, I don't doubt anyone would hesitate in considerin it an instance of marital sexual assault.

That you are a man and she is a woman doesn't matter.

What matters, strictly and only, is she continued after you said NO. NO means NO, regardless of who says it.

How you handle this from here is really dependent on what you think you need. You may wish to speak to someone, in which case, there are numerous helplines for men who are victims of sexual assault. You may see it as a one-time incident, which I urge you to treat cautiously as your relationship continues, and which I would urge you to treat cautiously if you were a woman. You may see it as a sign that your relationship can't continue, which again, if you were a woman, I have no doubt people here would support your ending of the relationship after an episode like this. That you are a man shouldn't matter.

What happened WAS sexual assault. It is okay that you feel confused, and it is okay that you don't know what to call it -- many victims don't at first. What's important now is that you move in a direction you feel will help you.
posted by zizzle at 7:42 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

What happened sounds sad and unpleasant; I am sorry you had to experience it.

However, I think that people might be being a bit fast on the dtmfa thing. Yes, break up with her if that feels like the right thing to do.

But also remember that sometimes people do hurtful and bad things not because they are evil, but out of ignorance, confusion, miscommunication, etc. I am not going to list them here, but I've done things in relationships that make me cringe to remember. Sometimes you learn by making mistakes, even terrible mistakes.

So I would want to see how she reacts to you telling her that what happened hurt you. Does she learn from that, or deny that there was a problem and insist that she had the right to do it again?
posted by Forktine at 7:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]

Frankly, I'm surprised at the answers here. Sex you don't consent to is rape, it's as simple as that. I mean what else would it be?

That doesn't neccesarily say anything about your relationship, and it doesn't mean she's a horrible abuser out to hurt you.

I don't see how one follows from the other. If it's rape, then she's a rapist, and you can't have an ongoing relationship with a rapist.
posted by empath at 8:03 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

On using the 'rape'/ sexual assault word:

People might think they're protecting the sanctity of words like sexual assualt or rape by only ascribing them to circumstances they think are bad enough. Really, I think this plays into stereotypes about what rape looks like, which basically comes down to a sexually innocent woman being attacked by a scary, undesirable, unknown man using some kind of obvious symbol of force like a gun.
In general, I'm suspcious of people who seem to think rape/ sexual assualt is this rare, really awful thing, that we must be very careful of accusing people of. If I were to be raped I wouldn't expect them to be on my side, because there'd always be something to make it not-rape.

The only reason I can see for the reluctance to call this sexual assault is (1) that the person who did it is the OP's girlfriend, which is frankly a terrible reason, (2) that she didn't know what she was doing (when a lot of men who rape wouldn't describe their actions of rape) (3) that the op is assumed to be a man and blowjobs are great, right, what are you making such a fuss about?! (4)doesn't seem particularly traumatised by the situation, which I think is a dangerous path to go down- people react to these things in different ways, i know women are often accused of not reacting 'properly' to their experiences of rape/ sexual assault (5) that the op hasn't given any other indication this relationship is abusive. This is the only one which I think has any weight.

Sure, rape and sexual assualt are just words, but I see a strong link between people saying what happened doesn't count as sexaul assault and people suggesting it's not a particularly bad experience and the OP should just think about how bad their girlfriend must be feeling and get over themselves.

To answer empath, from my pov, rape is nonconsensual sex. As other posters have hinted, it's possible the girlfriend is not at all abusive and will be open to learning from her mistake; in that case it's perfectly possible to have a relationship. You seem to be suggesting rapists are this terrible, other class of people. The trouble with that view is that when someone who is well liked is accused of rape, often people will discount the possibility because the person is not a terrible person. It's more helpful to talk about what people have done; not what they are.
posted by ninjablob at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2011 [39 favorites]

The rape --> rapist --> DTMFA logic is precisely why I would avoid applying labels to what happened. There is no moral imperative for the OP to break off his relationship or to categorize his fiance or her actions with such intensely loaded and negative terms. This is a really uncomfortable, unacceptable thing that happened to the OP. If he cannot discuss it with his fiance in a way that allows them both to understand and come to terms with what happened, then perhaps it's time to start thinking about whether this relationship is a healthy one. We only know one person's side of the story here, and the first thing to do is make sure that the other party knows how he felt about it. Until that happens, I would assume this is a really unfortunate, uncomfortable miscommunication, and one that gives the OP every right to feel violated, but one that may or may not have lasting effects on their relationship.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:16 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

There is no moral imperative for the OP to break off his relationship

There may be no moral imperative here, but there is something to be said for being and feeling violated to a degree that a relationship just cannot continue, even if everything else has been great until the violation occurred.

What the OP decides to do about the relationship as a whole is the OP's decision, but I for one do not the least bit fault him for this being the Deal Breaker that Breaks All Deals. And I want the OP to know that that is okay if that is what the OP comes to decide is best for him.

I don't think people should be encouraging that he stay in this relationship because the violation wasn't significant enough.

And again, no means no means no means no means no means no means no MEANS no. I can't get behind how this was in any way a miscommunication. And again, if the OP were a woman, I don't think posters here would even consider miscommunication of the word "no" being what happened in this situation. You can't get any clearer than saying, "No. Stop." And if a grown person cannot understand what that means, then that is a pretty big problem, not only in a relationship, but in a lot of other areas of life as well.
posted by zizzle at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think trying to define this as 'rape' is unhelpful and leaves little room for the OP to do anything other than break up with his girlfriend, because hey, who would willingly date a known rapist?

COrrect me if I'm wrong, but the context is 1) an otherwise healthy and happy relationship in which 2) oral sex is regularly given and received with pleasure and 3) in which the girlfriend gets turned on by idea of having sex in situation where she might get caught (hardly an unimaginable fetish) but 4) the boyfriend in fact doesn't find such situations exciting and would be mortified beyond belief his partner's parents caught him having sex with her in their own home (again, hardly an unimaginable feeling).

It seems as simple as this being a conversation between the two that goes "look, that thing you did yesterday really made me uncomfortable -- I wasn't joking, please don't do it again" with the response "I'm really sorry, I got carried away with the excitement and it won't happen again."

Sex in an ongoing, happy, mutually satisfying relationships is not always "do you explicitly consent to what is about to happen?" and it's silly to pretend that any sexual contact that occurs outside that narrow conversation within the relationship is "rape", particularly that we all are regularly reminded that rape is not about sex but about power. Unless the gf did this explicitly to humiliate her boyfriend (and I see no evidence for that), I think you have to chalk this up to a mistake worthy of talking about and establishing clear boundaries about what kinds fo things the boyfriend is comfortable with for the future.

Now, of course there are limits and this is not to be interpreted as me saying "you can't rape your partner", because that's patently false. All I am calling for is a little nuance and a little context.
posted by modernnomad at 8:30 AM on August 31, 2011 [15 favorites]

In my experience, this kind of thing tends to fester and anytime there is another relationship issue, this will come up in your brain as evidence that "she doesn't respect me" or "she doesn't care about my feelings" or "she's using me". If the relationship goes smoothly you'll feel like it's maybe not such a big deal for a while, but it will resurface with a vengeance when times are tense or something reminds you of that helpless feeling.

I'm really sorry. I wish I knew how to fix this kind of thing, but I don't.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think zizzle and tel3path have it.

You said no. She didn't stop. Legally, that means you were sexually assaulted. However, that does not define what you choose to do going forward.

You may choose to end the relationship immediately, or you may choose to talk it over and see if the relationship is salvageable. The latter conversation could certainly be helped by the participation of a neutral third party. You could also choose to pretend it didn't happen, though that's probably not a good idea.

My point is, you have the power to decide what you want to do from here -- and there is no choice that is wrong, as long as you respect yourself.
posted by freshwater at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

She used you to get back at her parents. That would bother me regardless of what the particular act was. Is your entire relationship a big "fuck you mom and dad!" as well? I would want to know exactly where I stood in all of this. And I would not wish to be an unwilling participant in any future acts of defiance. She needs to resolve her issues with her parents without dragging you into the fight. If she can't do that, you need to do what it takes to keep yourself out.
posted by tommasz at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2011 [12 favorites]

What I'm about to link to is embedded in a huge trigger for sexual assault--

although it's gendered differently, I'd like to share this comment about "overrreacting" which always comes to mind in situations like this. The rest of the thread is on metatalk so continue scrolling at your own risk.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I should also say that the fact that you're bigger and male makes it harder in some ways for you to use physical force to resist because you are socialized not to be physically forceful with women. Plus, if someone had walked in on you with your pants down, having a physical struggle with your fiancee, they would have quickly gotten the impression that you were the aggressor.

You really were put in a bad place, OP, and I'm really sorry that you have to deal with this. Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:04 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

We can't tell you whether it was what you thought it was, just what terminology we might use to describe it. The word doesn't change the meaning or power of the experience, and would by definition be a broad generic signifier meant only as a means to communicate something about the thing-in-itself. You know what happened better than we do. You were there, and you know how you feel about it. That's the reality, and giving it a name doesn't change it.

So, yeah, whatever you want to call it, you have every right to be however upset you are. Your partner didn't respect the clearly stated boundaries of your comfort level, and that was shitty of her. You're clearly still bothered, and definitely shouldn't just give her a pass.

There are a few questions you should probably ask yourself before you talk to her about it and certainly before you listen to our fellow mefites doomsaying about your relationship. Do you feel like this was a part of a pattern of your fiancee not listening to your or taking your thoughts or feelings seriously? Does this feel like part of a pattern of behavior in which your partner tries to control you? Have you had problems with her being jealous or possessive in the past?

Basically, you want to decide for yourself whether this was symptomatic of a deeper lack of consideration, respect or empathy, or whether it was an aberrant misreading of social cues on her part, and she mistook personal discomfort for simple nervous caution.
posted by patnasty at 9:11 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

Mod note: folks, this is a really touchy subject, can we not play the "if the genders were reversed ...." thing here and direct answers towards the OP and not fight with other commenters?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
I had an experience that made me similarly question what actually happened. Because a friend was involved and the circumstances were murky, I was not comfortable with using the word rape.

My therapist at the time helpfully walked me through other ways of thinking about it. She told me I didn't have to call it rape if that didn't feel right to me, but at the very least, what happened was uncomfortable and violating and felt NOT OK. That discussion was very freeing. "Rape" felt wrong to me, too damning, too heavy. And this was your experience. Don't let others define it for you.

If it felt NOT OK to you—or any variation of NOT OK—that's where I'd start when discussing this with your fiancee.
posted by jessamyn at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

Squashing your partner's sexual spontaneity isn't really cool either.

Your partner's desire/sexual spontaneity/willingness to have sex should never, ever, ever cross your boundaries of the same. If you don't want to do something, then you don't want to, and that's the end of that discussion.

You have to discuss it with her, and explain that it didn't feel right. I'm not going to (and I don't think anyone should) say whether or not it was rape, sexual assault or her ignoring your feelings. I'm not going to say whether or not you should stay in the relationship. You have to figure out for yourself how you need to frame it in your discussion and what you'll do after the discussion. And I'm so, so sorry that you have to.

Regardless of gender, size, age, or any other differences you can think of, I don't think she should have done this. But maybe, if you tell her clearly and calmly how you feel, she'll understand why it was wrong and never do it again.

I don't pray, exactly, but I am sending all of my good thoughts your way, wherever you may be. Good luck, and feel better.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

Would anyone share their opinion in how I should interpret this?

You should interpret this as you fiancé has issues and wants to make you a player in them in a way you don't like. This should be addressed toot sweet otherwise it's going to grow into a problem. Forever is a mighty long time and this has the potential to completely mess up your sex life with the one person you're pledging all future sexual activity to. So you need to fix this before it becomes something larger. Do you really want to be dreading blow jobs?

Break it down for her: "Look bab, I'm loving the oral action, no question, except when your parents are in the next room. Don't like it, don't want it and I need you to understand and respect that, ok? Now come over here and let me show you how much fun things can be when the 'rents aren't in the house". But first make sure they aren't in the house, you know?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

This question has been kind of weirdly triggering for me, I had a similar experience with an ex in her parents house a few years ago. I could bench press her weight and a half and she was really fragile and uncoordinated, but her parents (who I still adore) were right upstairs, we were surrounded by fragile stuff, and she wasn't taking no or our safe word for an answer for way way to long.

At the time I felt used and like my trust had been violated, but mostly just shock. There really wasn't a cultural framework for understanding or processing it, I just knew that it was really really not cool with me and a serious violation of a lot of things. What I ended up doing to define, and at least partially address, what happened was to maintain a what you did conversation rather than a what you are conversation* with her, defining what happened as sexual assault without necessarily defining her as a sexual assaulter. She understood pretty quickly how not cool it was with me and was profoundly embarrassed, but was also about as defensive and dickish as a lot of the posters here are for your fiance. We lasted more than another year or so, but shouldn't have.

With the what she did conversation, it was incontrovertibly sexual assault. You said no, she continued, thats what sexual assault is. It is also not ok, that is: not ok in general, plainly not ok with you, and shouldn't be ok with anyone. Sexual assault can be a mistake, it can be a misunderstanding, it can certainly be spontaneous, and I'm sure also most of the other rationalizations in this thread, but none of that makes it an ok thing to experience. Whatever else you do, PLEASE communicate to her that what she did was a lot of big kinds of not ok and needs to never happen again ever.

With the what she is conversation, thats up to you. She could be amazing for all I know and one of those rationalizations may fit well enough that you'd be foolish to end the relationship and a strongly worded and focused what you did and shouldn't ever do again conversation is perfectly appropriate. I'm not sure I have much meaningful input on the what she is conversation besides mentioning that using sex, much less non-consensual sex, as a tool to grind an axe with ones parents is A REALLY BIG SIGN to the cluefull that someone is not marriageable materiel. Is that the kind of relationship you want between you and your new parents?

I'd also bet dollars to cortex doughnuts that you've noticed other REALLY BIG SIGNS, I know I did, but was too wrapped up in my own combination of these to acknowledge them. Please read that link, and figure out how you feel about it. The what she is conversation is not one you need to have with her, but is definitely one I would recommend having with yourself before continuing.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:32 AM on August 31, 2011 [38 favorites]

If this is a grand illustration of her history of not taking your feelings into consideration, then it's time to re-evaluate the relationship.

If this is out of character for her, it's time for a serious talk.

Lots of good thoughts to you. This has to be as confusing as heck.
posted by luckynerd at 11:32 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I also forgot to mention, thank you anonymous. It was, just, good to be able to talk about this.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:34 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]

Blasdelb, absolutely brilliant post, but the second link is kinda NSFW.
posted by tel3path at 12:12 PM on August 31, 2011

I've got adblock and didn't see the tasteful-ish sex toy adds, but the title of the blog is Pervocracy, here is the popular meta post where I came across it.

Please also don't hesitate to MeMail me anything.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:02 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

It doesn't matter whether it's your casual pick-up, partner, date, newly-wedded or long-time spouse: if you say "no" and it gets ignored it is - assuming you're not both knowingly playing BDSM games - inexcusable, and an assault.

It's sad, but unfortunately this becomes much more obvious to people if you reverse the sexes of those involved in the incident. We'll know we're no longer a sexist species when that isn't the case. I expect this to happen about fifty generations after I'm dead. By which I mean never.
posted by Decani at 1:25 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

OP, I am so sorry this happened to you! You are in a really uncomfortable place right now, and I don't blame you for feeling confused and upset by what happened.

No offense to the commenter below, but I have a completely different perspective on this:

Your question is not asked in a way that suggests you have experienced shock or PTSD or trauma or physical pain or serious fear, etc. Maybe I'm wrong; there would be nothing to be ashamed of if in fact you do feel these ways; I simply don't get the sense that you do from your question (and to be frank, an unwanted blowjob seems less likely to produce these responses than other unwanted sex).

You could very well be experiencing PTSD; you're still playing this episode in your mind. Up until this happened, you probably thought you were a perfect match for each other, and then your fiancee completely disrespected your wishes and forced you into something sexually that you were NOT cool with. I know women in similar situations who end up avoiding sex. They'll be in bed with their partner and pretend to be asleep just so that this stuff doesn't happen again. This kind of stuff can mess with your mind.

When I was date-raped, I know I didn't trust my own judgment for a long time. I figured there was something wrong with me, because I had originally been attracted to the guy enough to go out with him. You may be dealing with perceptions you didn't even know you had: "What's wrong with me, that this is even bothering me? It's not like I'm not attracted to my fiancee. I can't talk about this with my friends, I bet this has never happened to them. They'd tell me I was lucky I was getting regular blow jobs! They would totally not understand how I feel. I don't even understand how I feel... "

So, OP, all I want to say, and I hope you really take this to heart, is that your feelings are valid. And please remember and believe that you are NOT less in any way because this happened to you.

I think you'll want to talk to your fiancee, because it helps to talk about it, like blasdelb said. Whether you continue the relationship or not, that's up to you. Don't let anyone else tell you what you should do. They don't know you better than you know yourself.

Whatever you decide to do is the right decision because it is right for you, and you're the one that counts here.
posted by misha at 2:41 PM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

The issue of sexual assault and consent is a real minefield, as you can see. You may find it helpful to talk to the good people at RAINN. They have trained counselors who specialize in discussing these issues and situations, and confidentiality is their top priority.

You can talk to them by calling 1-800-656-HOPE, or click here to use their online (chat room) hotline.
posted by ErikaB at 2:44 PM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

Would anyone share their opinion in how I should interpret this?

I guess this is going to be an unpopular view, but assuming everything else is pretty good in my relationship with my girlfriend (I'm a guy) I would never call what happened to you "rape" or "sexual assault" ... that, for me, would feel dumb and silly even if the whole thing made me uncomfortable and embarrassed. I wouldn't make a big deal about it. Unless there was something else that was weird and wrong with the relationship, I would shrug off the unwanted/embarrassing blow job as no big deal. My girlfriend doesn't hsve to worry about me calling her a rapist or a sex offender. But that's just me.
posted by jayder at 4:27 PM on August 31, 2011

Mod note: we don't call each other assholes, please try again.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:39 PM on August 31, 2011

Hey there OP, I think you're both worried about what happened to you, and worried that if the R-word gets pulled out, that means it's officially a BIG DEAL, and big deal-type things should happen. I was once in a similar position to you, in regards to a different - but equally loaded - term and event.

I think, because of the way we tend to see BIG DEAL things portrayed in films, television and in the news, there is a tendency to think that if it's not the way it's portrayed on Law and Order,or whatever, it's either a) probably not that BIG DEAL thing that we kinda think we want to call it, and b) if we acknowledge that it is BIG DEAL thing, then popular portrayals of it outline a [pretty full-on] script or template we should follow (go to the police, nervous breakdown, stop all interaction with "perpetrator" etc), and that not following, or not wanting to follow, that script means that what happened to us was not BIG DEAL, or that we are shameful, powerless victims perpetuating BIG DEAL for the sake of equanimity etc (Battered Wife portrayals).

Buddy, the good news is that those portrayals we see are horseshit, and in no way reflect the diversity of how BIG DEAL things happen to people, or the way people _successfully and fruitfully_ respond and deal with them. Throw that script out the window, along with any suggestions that there is a "right thing" to do in this situation. There is only a right thing, for you. It may follow that script you see on tv, it may only follow part of it, or it may follow none of it at all and that is A-okay.

You are entitled to feel whatever and however you want to feel about what happened to you - and you're entitled to feel that way no matter how seriously or unseriously your girlfriend takes it. Her reaction, other's reaction, none of it has any bearing on how you should feel about it.

You can call it a clam-bake if you think it will be helpful in clarifying your feelings and reactions about what happened to you. For me, a legal definition was unhelpful with my BIG DEAL thing - though I initially thought it would be good - because the people I really wanted to understand the gravity and seriousness of what happened, not to me, but in me, were still - for a variety of reasons - largely incapable of doing so. I thought bringing out the big guns and calling it BIG DEAL would be enough to demonstrate the damage - even though it didn't follow the tv script. But it wasn't.

For a long time that incapability of people I wanted to understand hurt me, made me feel ashamed and weak, made my feelings feel invalid. Made the fact I was upset about something for years seem... unhealthy, hysterical, melodramatic. Ultimately, though, it was helpful for me, because in spite of that indifference I was still upset, was still hurt, still - to a degree scarred and damaged about it. Eventually, this made me realise that, even if what happened wasn't BIG DEAL to my family, or BIG DEAL to my friends, BIG DEAL to the person who did it, and maybe even wasn't BIG DEAL if - god help me - it had ended up in a court of law, it was BIG DEAL to me. 100%, no doubt about it.

And that meant that I was allowed to feel upset and hurt etc about it, and allowed to try and work through my reactions just like other people on tv, or in more serious instances try to. But also, it meant I was allowed to deviate from that script, too. It made me realise that: a) other people go through this thing, too, and the heterogeneity of the experience is not widely reflected in our culture, and b) other people deal with it without ending up giving tearful testimony in court with the other party led away in handcuffs - and that's fine. There isn't a rulebook to follow.

This was a bit scary at first, because I felt a little bit more alone and at sea. In the end though, this independence was good, and while - for me - the thing that happened has never totally and will never totally go away and I'll never be 100% okay with it - it has helped me get more peace and more acceptance of both what happened, and my and others reactions to it.

Best of luck.
posted by smoke at 5:38 PM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]

"*The problem with applying the most broadly-inclusive definitions of rape is that it doesn't sound like your experience should be equated with the experience of most rape victims. Your question is not asked in a way that suggests you have experienced shock or PTSD or trauma or physical pain or serious fear, etc. Maybe I'm wrong; there would be nothing to be ashamed of if in fact you do feel these ways; I simply don't get the sense that you do from your question (and to be frank, an unwanted blowjob seems less likely to produce these responses than other unwanted sex). To the extent that you need to put a label on this experience, this is why I would strongly hesitate to use the label "rape", and I suspect it is why you are hesitating as well."

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder, characterized by aversive anxiety-related experiences, behaviors, and physiological responses that develop after exposure to a psychologically traumatic event (sometimes months after). Its features persist for longer than 30 days, which distinguishes it from the briefer acute stress disorder. These persisting post-traumatic stress symptoms cause significant disruptions of one or more important areas of life function. It has three sub-forms: acute, chronic, and delayed-onset.

If this issue continuing to bounce around your head, as you briefly described it, causes a significant disruption in one or more important areas of important life function then that may be acute stress disorder, and if that has persisted for more than those 30 days, then it may be PTSD. A licensed professional could tell you and the internet cannot. Please don't let someone projecting their warped masculinity on the internet define what affects you, and if this does cause issues for you there is help available for you. The folks at RAINN, linked by ErikaB just above, are trained to help address all sorts of situations including
yours if you need it.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:18 PM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

You get to call it what you want to call it, and you get to deal with the situation the way you want to. Marital rape is a moral minefield, and the best response I have to it is "You Decide." That's a deeply murky place to go to, but it's the best I've got.

If it happened to me: I'd categorise it as technically-but-not-actually rape, and I wouldn't make a big deal about it. Telling her "Don't ever do that to me again." would probably suffice. That would be my decision, and it's given as example only. My relationship is not your relationship.
posted by seanyboy at 5:11 AM on September 7, 2011

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