I know advice columns are supposed to be insightful and fun, and an opportunity for readers to feel like they’re contributing to the world of journalism, but, going through some of them, I’ve found that some of these columns really do bring out the worst in journalism outlets and in people.
I stumbled across this post yesterday, where the site had asked its readers to assume the role of advice columnist and offer advice to a lady who had written in, asking what to do about her boyfriend who had raped her in her sleep.
Apparently, the lady had gotten drunk and, in a moment of poor judgment, proceeded to take a sleeping pill. She soon passed out and didn’t even hear her boyfriend come home that night. But when she woke up, she felt like she’d had sex and decided to ask her boyfriend about it since she didn’t remember a thing. “Did we have sex last night?” she asked him. “Well, one of us did,” was her boyfriend’s off-handed reply. Of course, the woman then wrote in saying she no longer trusts him and asks for advice on what to do.
The site, for reasons known only to them, chose to title this post, “Please Advice: My Boyfriend Had Sex With Me While I Was Asleep.” And I was honestly quite startled. Why? Because a person who is asleep — not to mention drunk and on a sleeping pill — cannot consent to sex. Therefore, it goes without saying that her boyfriend didn’t “have sex” with her. Her boyfriend raped her.
Many commenters have weighed in, rightfully informing this woman she was raped and should leave her rapist boyfriend immediately, but there are others who are dishing out myriad “but, but, but” excuses to condone the boyfriend’s behavior and some have even gone so far as to suggest that this is “mild rape” and not such a big deal, despite the fact the original letter writer repeatedly says her trust was violated and is clearly upset by what happened. Isn’t saying “mild rape” kind of like saying there are little sins?
But this post is actually the second of its kind I’ve come across in recent days. Over the weekend, the UK’s Daily Mail ran an article by a woman whose boyfriend raped her while she slept over the course of two years.
Naomi Hampson’s boyfriend actually used to sedate her and take pictures of her while he raped her. at least The Daily Mail had the good sense to use “raped” in the headline and throughout the piece and they did “explain” her rapist boyfriend had somnophilia, which apparently is a sexual attraction to sleeping people. Um, attraction to sleeping people is one thing; sedating someone and taking photographs while you rape them is an entirely different game altogether, in my opinion. But I guess there’s a medical term for everything we humans do now, no matter how weird or grossly inappropriate.
I think at this point we all could use a reminder of the concept of “enthusiastic consent,” which means a partner is enthusiastically willing to have sex and makes it clear through their language and/or behavior. Consent is not simply about the absence of a “no”; consent is about the presence of a “yes.” Just because someone does not physically prevent you from having sex with them — because they are drunk, on drugs, physically disabled, or asleep — does not mean you have the green light to do whatever you want. And just because the person that raped you is your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife does not mean their sexual violation of you is not sexual assault.
Undoubtedly, there are some people who are of the opinion that a longtime partner initiating sex while you are sleeping can be sexy, provided you have talked about it before, and several men have told me over the years that they think being woken up to a blowjob would be hot. I, on the other hand, simply cannot imagine being in a relationship with someone who would violate my trust like that.
But these are just my aspersions. “To each his own”, I like to say, so share your thoughts on the issue in the comments section if you please. Is Sleep Sex A Real Thing?