(As part of my ongoing self-torture,) I asked a bunch of guys to share their thoughts with me about "the Nate Parker fiasco". I didn't tell them what to talk about, just threw out a general, "What do you think about the Nate Parker fiasco?" and let them answer. (You might have caught the first post in that series here. And my response to that here.)
This was the first conversation I had. I originally posted it on my Facebook page last week.
I texted a close guy friend to get his POV about Nate Parker. He doesn't do social media, really. So he's out of the loop on a lot of the discussions. I asked him about it on Wednesday, and he needed a night to go catch up. He wasn't even sure who Nate Parker was.
He got back to me on Thursday. He had no commentary on Parker. But he did share a few stories with me.
In one, he detailed a time in college that he and two of his friends were in a hotel room drinking. His boy's girlfriend was there and she brought a female lfriend. The guy and his girl go for a walk, leaving my friend and another guy alone with the girl.
The girl seemed more interested in the second guy than my friend, so my friend rolls over on the bed and tries to go to sleep. He stirs at some point, and hears the girl saying, "no, no, no" just above a whisper. He looks over and sees the guy is on top of her and she's not pushing him off, but she is saying "no" again. Guy isn't stopping. He continues and they have sex.
I asked my friend what he did. He said "nothing.'
I asked, "Why not?"
He says because the girl was saying "no", but she didn't sound adamant and wasn't fighting him off, so he wasn't sure if she meant it or if she was trying to seem like she wasn't the type of girl to have sex with a man she just met, or something.
"Black girls would do that a lot in college," he says. "They don't want you to think of them as a wh---. They don't want to admit they want sex. My high school coach used to give us the "if she says no or stop, you stop..." speech. So if a girl said, "no" or "stop", and I stopped, she'd always be like, "What are you doing? Why did you stop?
"I learned pretty quickly that "no" or "stop" didn't mean "stop", he continued. "It was more like, "I want you talk me into it like it was your idea, not mine. It was like this way of absolving herself from responsibility or guilt for doing it."
He also didn't say anything because he didn't think of his boy as a rapist. He didn't fit the image in his head of what a rapist looked like.
I asked him, “what does a rapist look like?”
He responded with this:
And most important, "this is hard for a woman to understand," he says. "But it's like the number one code of guys is that you never block another man from getting ass. It just isn't done. I would have been ridiculed. If it happened now, I would say something. But then? I just didn't have the confidence."
Me: "So... you're saying you let a woman get raped in the same room you were sitting in because you didn't want your boy(s) to be mad at you for blocking?"
Him: "Yes. Also, not just the room. It was queen- sized bed. They were right next to me."
Because, it needs to be said apparently or else I'm condoning it, yes, (obviously) I think he was wrong and should have intervened.
I do think there’s a nugget of truth in what he said about some women saying “no” when they mean “yes” because they don’t want to carry the accountability of wanting sex. Every guy I talked to mentioned it without me bringing it up. NOTE: This does not excuse rape. It does allow for a vast and dangerous grey area that should not be entertained.
If she says "no", even softly, stop. Period. Do not rape. DO NOT RAPE. It's not up to you to interpret what she means. If you're not sure what she wants to do, ask (which is a subject we'll tackle later this week). Again, not saying "no", doesn't mean "yes".
And as for her, don’t say no, if you mean “yes”. Just say “yes”. It’s ok.
When I wrote about this initially on Facebook, the following responses stood out:
Woman 1: "Where I grew up in [redacted], the social circles I moved in, "church" and good girls who loved bad boys ALWAYS played this game. Their mouths sajd no but their bodies said yes to make the guy more aggressive to have rough sex. Too ashamed to admit they really wanted it or to look like a bad girl so their mouths said "no" but their bodies said "yes! please!"
Man 1: "That happens, your boy is 100% right. Growing up in [redacted] I have several similar stories...”
Man 2: "I had the same experience when I was in college. This girl (that I will not name,) kept on saying “no, no”, and started to giggle. So I took the initiative to stop making a move on her because she said “no” only one time and then I left. She followed me out the room calling me all sorts of vulgar things. Called me a weak n****, I'm a punk, your sh-- probably small, making a complete spectacle of herself. I was puzzled while walking away and from then on, I kept no type of communication with her despite that we had friends mutually. My mother always told me that if a woman says “no”, you respect her wishes like I did. But, I think the whole concept of that night was she wanted to be spoiled."
Woman 2: “Some of us grow up without the agency of expressing our sexuality freely because we are told by our elders not to do it, and then coerced into it by our peers…. It's often hard to consent to something we don't really feel we have dominion over in the first place.”
Man 3: “I will say that we often view the first “no” as a part of a seduction give and take. Especially if it is not said strongly and the physical actions don't match. It is often interpreted as "convince me some more", which we will do with words or kissing and touching. Her saying “no” while also not pushing him away could have read like that. At this age and maturity I see it very differently. Teenage or 20 something me, not so much.
Woman 3: This whole "let off the hook" reminds me of the date rape episode of A Different World. The dialogue in that episode still rings true 20+ years later.”
No one mentioned the "bros before h-s" code.