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I am a regular viewer of the television program Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which as you may know deals in crimes involving sex, most often rapes and molestations. One episode involved a man being raped by a group of women. Some characters on the show thought this couldn’t happen but it was pointed out that arousal is not a form of consent. Does this really happen? Do women sometimes rape men?

Yes. Although the most common rape situations involve a man raping a woman or a man raping another man, both women and men can be survivors of rape and both women and men can perpetrate rape. And both women and men can be guilty of coercing others to have sex with them in other ways. It happens among heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals.

Although each state defines crimes like “rape” and “sexual assault” differently, generally speaking, 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.

It’s important to remember that sexual assault is not about sexual desire — it’s about violence and humiliation. Anyone — woman or man — has the right to say “no” to sexual contact that she or he doesn’t want. Remember:

  • Sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault.
  • Women and men may want sex sometimes and may not want sex sometimes.
  • Women and men get to change their minds and say “no” to sex, even if they’ve consented to some kind of sex play.
  • Women and men can be violent or aggressive.
  • Women and men can be pressured, coerced, or forced into sex, especially when alcohol or other drugs are used.

Tags: consent, rape, sexual assault, violence