I didn't include a link in the first paragraph because I don't want anyone clicking through to it without knowing what to expect, the way I did. You can read it here but be warned - the thread is massively, hugely triggering for anyone who's been the victim of any sort of sexual assault. I'd advise caution with the rest of this piece, too.
But I read more than I wanted to, because for years I've wondered what went through the mind of my 15-year-old best male friend when I was 15 and staying at his house. If I could ever face him again, would he even know that what he did was rape? Did he care? Was he upset? This thread is, finally, a chance to get a glimpse into what might have happened.
I might go back and read more of the thread at later times, when my stomach hasn't dropped to the floor and I'm not worried about an anxiety attack overwhelming me, but what I read was eye-opening.
There are some common themes, but a range of different excuses. Sorry, I mean reasons. There are men who talk about very deliberately targeting specific women; men who talk about not realising the woman they were with wasn't into it; men who decided in the heat of the moment to ignore their partner's wishes.
Some are sickening. But I found those who didn't realise their partner wasn't into it the most interesting. There was also a large subsection of men who said they didn't realise they were about to rape someone... until they looked into their eyes and realised (and here I quote) "she was petrified". That cuts me to the bone. If only he hadn't been pinning me down on my front, maybe the whole thing could have been avoided.
How are men still growing up oblivious to the idea of enthusiastic consensual sex? Remember I'm not tackling the subject of the predatory male here, but the men who are so blind to the feelings of the person they're in bed with, so wrapped up in their own feelings and wants, that it doesn't occur to them to look their sexual partners in the eyes, to ask if they're into it, to wonder why the stiff muscles, the turning away.
I really think there are a lot of men who rape don't know they do. Or don't believe it. That's what I took away from this.
Rape prevention should be part of sex education - an education that emphasises that sex can and should be fun. That consent is the sexiest word in the dictionary. When I was 15, I'd had a meagre sex education. Not one person had ever spoken to me about consent. Or even why you might or might not have sex. Nor him, I bet. Neither of us were virgins, but we didn't know a damn thing.
And you know what - I think this kind of thing should be part of sex education, too. Well-managed, an examination of the lies that men tell themselves - as well as the truths, when it comes to predators - could be really helpful in helping young men not take that path, and in helping young women spot them.
Anonymous - if you would like to submit an article anonymously to Squeamish Bikini you can do so here, we would love to read your work