Gray Area Rape Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2375 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

Gray Area of Rape

Rape used to be a concept that was fairly cut and dry.

An individual was forced to have sex against their will, that was considered rape.

Traditionally, rape was conducted by a man clearly forcing or coercing a woman, or another man, to have sex. Today, this is not always the case. There is now a gray area of rape. The consumption of alcohol and/or drugs often makes consent unclear. and, once sobered up, an individual may wonder if they've been raped. This is especially true on college campuses across the country, where a culture of alcohol-induced late night hook-ups is commonplace.

This is especially true for younger individuals who must recognize the dangers that await them not only in poorly lit back alleys, but also at parties and seemingly harmless first dates. Is waking up next to a person you may or may not know, wondering what happened, considered rape? or, is it simply the byproduct of an increasingly promiscuous culture that sees hooking up at random a part of normal social participation?

The Hook-Up Culture of Today's Youth:

Today's commitment-free, sexually promiscuous culture of "hooking up" is evidenced even by some of America's leaders. Former president Bill Clinton's encounter with White House intern Monica Lewinsky exemplifies what many consider to be a part of normal American culture - sex without emotion or commitment (Newsom).

Today, sex without forming an actual relationship is the norm (Vogel).

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Newsom cites Stepp's work regarding the hook up culture of today's youth, and her research that followed three groups of girls, two at college campuses and one group of D.C.-area high school students. Her work with these girls, along with interviews of dozens of others, including young men and parents, revealed that oral sex, no-strings attached sex, and friends-with-benefits sex abounded, while the more traditional notion of boyfriend-girlfriend courtship was few and far between.

Term Paper on Gray Area Rape Assignment

Casual sex appears to be part of today's youth culture. it's something that's expected and does not carry the negative connotations of 'sleeping around' as in previous generations. As Stepp explains, "It's different from the 'one night stand' of the past; few young people actually grew up having sex that way. But today, hooking up is common" (qtd. Newsom). Although the term 'hooking up' is sometimes used in a variety of senses, the underlying theme, according to Stepp, is the ability to easily 'unhook' from a partner, at any given time.

This freedom of a sexual relationship without a commitment can be very attractive to women. It gives them a sense of power over men. This is in sharp contrast to the more stereotypical portrayal of women as helpless victims in the game of love and sex. Besides, young men have been doing this for years (Vogel). Yet, it's a false sense of empowerment.

These young girls walk a very fine line between being sexually liberated and sexually used (Newsom).

Hooking Up and the Gray Area of Rape:

The hood up culture of today's younger generation comes with risks beyond the obvious of increased chances of sexually transmitted diseases, but of rape.

The term coined that describes what happens when hooking up becomes sexual assault is 'gray rape', according to Newsom. This gray area can involve drugs and/or alcohol or sexually explicit behavior that muddies the lines of true consent.

One incident regarding a Duke University sophomore illustrates the unclear lines of gray rape. The girl had had one drink at a bar and returned to her dorm room with a male. She had told him she didn't want to have sex, but began to make out with the young man. They removed their underwear, and she still said she didn't want to have sex, but they didn't stop, and did have sex.

The girl didn't report the incident or even consider it rape, yet some believe it to still be sexual assault (Newsom).

As often is the case, victims of gray rape see the incident as partly their fault (Vogel).

Alcohol often plays a large role in gray rape.

One recent study, in the United Kingdom, found that the primary factor in date rape sexual assault cases was alcohol, and not the tabloid favorite 'date rape drugs', such as Rohypnol or GBH. In the study of 120 cases of date rape; they found traces of GBH in only two cases. But of the 120 cases, 119 involved the victim having drunk alcohol enough to put her three times over the limit in 22 cases. Only traces of drink were found in 63 cases. Drugs were found in 57 cases, both prescription and recreational; of the latter, cannabis and cocaine were the most common. The 120 cases involved victims who believed themselves to have experienced, or suspected, a drug assisted rape in the previous 72 hours. But the drug in question was, more often than not, alcohol -and the victims had consumed it willingly (Knight).

And, in a Harvard campus study cited by Newson, three out of four women were too drunk to resist or give consent, when having sex. As such, sexual assault while drinking is one of the biggest risks to young women. This is a disturbing trend, as, "a Justice Department study found one in five college women will be raped on campus, and 85% to 90% of the time, the victim knows the assailant" (Newsom). This is further complicated by women who perceive hooking up as empowering and their associated reluctance to view themselves as victims.

It was easier for people to understand what constituted rape, merely a generation ago. The social rules were far clearer. Men were charged with coming on to women, as Stepp notes, and women were fixated on long-term relationship, not casual sex. However, those rules and the associated boundaries have blurred over the course of the last decade. It has now become socially acceptable for women to be the aggressor.

But, when things go farther than they anticipated the victim often feels like they should have been more in control of their bodies and desires.

This is even more difficult to understand when the woman has instigated some sort of sexual activity, such as coming on to a guy.

Gray Rape - Not Just for Women:

As mentioned earlier, the traditional notion of rape involves a man forcing or coercing a woman to perform some sort of sexual act. However, rape doesn't just have female victims, but male victims as well. This is true also for the grayer areas of rape as well.

Rape can involve a man raping another man or a woman raping a man, as well. Both genders can be guilty of coercing or forcing others have sex with them in a variety of ways. This happens amongst heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals ("Do Women Sometimes Rape").

Rape and sexual assault are often differently defined by state; however, in general, sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. This includes forced vaginal intercourse, but the term may also be used to refer to forced anal or oral sex, including any amount of penetration with a body part (like a penis or a hand) or an object (like a bottle or a stick). It can also mean forced touching or groping of sexual body parts, like a girl's breasts or vulva, or a guy's penis, anus, or scrotum ("Do Women Sometimes Rape").

Gender is of no consequence, for either victim or perpetrator.

Stepp recounts the story of a George Washington University student that woke up naked and drunk next to a girl he didn't know. Later, friends informed him that the girl had bought him drinks the night before and then volunteered to take him home. Upon awaking, he felt taken advantage of, knowing he wouldn't have had sex with the woman if he hadn't been plied with alcohol.

Are Gray Rape Victims Truly Victims?

Everyone can agree that rape is vile and inexcusable, and that is morally reprehensible to consider that a woman who wears pretty clothing or goes out to enjoy a drink with a male companion is somehow 'asking for it'. However, gray rape acknowledges that sometimes situations are not so absolute.

As a British journalist notes, "lying comatose on the pavement, alone, with your skirt rucked up and your knickers showing at the end of an alcohol-fueled night is not necessarily a terribly good idea" (Knight). but, are these women truly victims? or, are they - and their male counterparts - victims of their own stupidity and irresponsible actions?

As Knight notes, in a perfect world, people would be able to conduct themselves in an manner they wished, and others would know that they are not allowed to touch a hair on their heads. However, in the real world, in addition to predators out their looking to cause harm, there are other who simply don't understand the mixed messages that individuals sometimes give out inadvertently, especially when a person has spent all night flirting.

Are these then truly victims, or is the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Gray Area Rape" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Gray Area Rape.  (2007, December 12).  Retrieved April 5, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Gray Area Rape."  12 December 2007.  Web.  5 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Gray Area Rape."  December 12, 2007.  Accessed April 5, 2020.