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“Ask Erin” Tackles the Question: Can a Woman Rape a Woman?

Months before the #MeToo movement began as a hashtag on social media in October 2017, I received a private message on Facebook from a former high school peer that answered a lifelong question re: the night I was raped.

As a survivor, I understand the confusion, shame and self-doubt that can prevent victims from stepping into their truth. But I can also attest to the necessity of this ownership in order to begin to heal.

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Ravishly‘s Managing Editor and “Ask Erin” advice columnist, Erin Khar, tackled an imperative and complex question regarding rape. And confirmed in no uncertain terms the exact definition of the crime.

“I want to make something very clear with my answer — yes, a woman can rape another woman. A woman can also rape a man. Rape is nonconsensual sex. The legal definition of rape, as defined by The United States Department of Justice is “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” 

Read the compelling story of one survivor trying to make sense of a nonconsensual experience with another woman.

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There’s a troubling pattern amongst the advice questions that make their way into @erinkhar’s #AskErin inbox each week. We regularly get emails that vary in story and circumstance but all boil down to one question: Was it rape? All too often, the unfortunate answer is yes.⁣ ⁣ Rape culture gives everyone in it a messed up understanding of consent. We are taught that consent is essentially the absence of someone saying “no,” when the opposite is actually true. Consent must be given with an enthusiastic, resounding “YES!” ⁣ ⁣ There are lots of ways to communicate enthusiastic consent, but “Well, they didn’t say no!” is not one of them. ⁣ ⁣ It’s the responsibility of anyone initiating sex to make sure the person they’re about to bang is as into it as they are, regardless of what kind of sex that might be. ⁣ ⁣ Sex without enthusiastic consent is rape. We’ve been socialized to view consent in much murkier terms than that, and to associate the act of rape only with monstrous, predatory men who deliberately seek out women to victimize and violate. The truth is that while men like that certainly do thrive within rape culture, they’re not the only people who commit rape. ⁣ ⁣ Lots of people commit rape because they don’t understand how consent works. They’re drunk and horny and careless. They don’t take the time to check in with their sexual partner. They were never taught to make consent the number one priority in sexual situations. They are normal people who simply mess up, deeply harming other people in the process. Talking about consent often and extensively can prevent so many rapes like this from ever happening.⁣ ⁣ This week we’re tackling a question from a reader about a woman raping another woman. It’s so crucial that we are clear and consistent when talking about consent, regardless of gender. Yes, men are socialized to feel entitled to sex, but we're all living in rape culture.⁣ ⁣ Consent isn’t just sexy; consent is mandatory. Check the link in our bio to read more advice from @erinkhar about the importance of prioritizing consent. Please note that this article discusses the details of rape, so be gentle with yourself.

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If you or someone you know have questions re: sexual assault find out more at Safe Horizon and RAINN.

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Jessica Hoppe

Jessica Hoppe is a New York-based writer and social media strategist who founded her blog, Nueva Yorka, in 2015. She has been featured in Vogue, Yahoo, HuffPost, PopSugar, Who What Wear, Ravishly and worked as Lifestyle Editor for StyleCaster. Jessica has been passionate about writing, diversity and Latin American culture from an early age. Having grown up in a Spanish speaking home, her father is Ecuadorian and her mother is from Honduras. She is now based in New York City.

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