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No, Amy Schumer did not give a speech celebrating how she raped a guy

Any Schumer, not giving a speech
Amy Schumer, not celebrating rape.

Thought Catalog – which seems to be rapidly becoming the go-to site for terrible antifeminist posts – is making a bit of a stir on Reddit with a post bearing the deliberately provocative title “Wait A Second, Did Amy Schumer Rape a Guy?” Spoiler Alert: The anonymous author concludes that yes, she did. The anonymous author is full of shit.

In the Thought Catalog piece, Anonymous takes a look at a speech that Schumer – a comedian with some subversive feminist leanings — recently gave at the Gloria Awards and Gala, hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women. The centerpiece of Schumer’s speech, a bittersweet celebration of confidence regained, was a long and cringeworthy story about a regrettable sexual encounter she had in her Freshman year of college, when her self-esteem was at an all-time low.

The short version of the story: A guy named Matt, whom Schumer had a giant crush on, called her at 8 AM for a booty call, after he apparently had been turned down by every other woman in his little black book. Amy, thinking she was being invited for an all-day-date, only discovered his real intent when she got to his dorm room and he romantically drunkenly pushed her onto the bed and started fingering her.

After several failed attempts at intercourse, and what she describes as an “ambitious” attempt to go down on her, he finally gave up and fell asleep on top of her. Lying there listening to Sam Cooke, she decided she didn’t want to be “this girl” any more, “waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under him and out the door.”

Looking back on the incident, she thanks her failed lover for introducing her “to my new self, a girl who got her value from within her.”

But Thought Catalog’s anonymous author, noting the extreme drunkenness of Schumer’s stumbling lover, concludes that “Amy’s actions may have constituted as rape in the eyes of her college, Towson University.” (Or at least according to the school’s current policies.)

Anonymous quotes Towson’s current policy on sexual harassment, which states:

In order to give effective Consent, one must not be mentally or physical incapacitated (e.g., by alcohol or drugs, unconsciousness, mental disability).

And adds:

It’s hard to argue that Matt was not mentally incapacitated. In Amy’s words, he was “wasted.” 

Actually, the fact that Matt wasn’t too intoxicated to initiate an assortment of sexual acts with her — or to get up and change the music at her request — suggests that he wasn’t “mentally incapacitated,” at least by the standards used by colleges when investigating alleged sexual assaults. The Association of Title IX Administrators’ Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Model Policy (which sets an unofficial standard for college administrators) defines incapacitation as “a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the ‘who, what, when, where, why or how’ of their sexual interaction).”

In any case, it’s not clear why Anonymous is looking at Towson’s sexual harassment policy, which is designed to deal with “non-consensual Sexual Contact, Sexual Exploitation, or requests for sexual favors that affect educational or employment decisions,” and which clearly doesn’t apply to Schumer’s story.

As for sexual assault, the school’s official web site states:

Sexual assault is defined by Towson University as forcible sexual intercourse, sexual penetration–however slight–of another person’s genital or anal opening with any object, sodomy, or any unwanted touching of an unwilling person’s intimate parts or forcing an unwilling person to touch another’s intimate parts. Under this definition, these acts must be committed either by force, threat, intimidation, or through the use of the victim’s mental or physical helplessness, of which the accuser was or should have been aware. This includes, but is not limited to, victim helplessness resulting from intoxication or from the taking of a so-called “date-rape drug.”

This definition is drawn from the University of Maryland System Policy on Sexual Assault, which classifies sexual assault involving penetration — the traditional definition of rape — as a more serious type of sexual assault (Sexual Assault I) than those forms of sexual assault involving touching (Sexual Assault II). By this standard, assuming we equate Sexual Assault I with rape, Schumer clearly did not rape him.

Anonymous then looks at Maryland’s state laws and concludes:

In the eyes of Maryland state law, things get a bit more complicated. Amy could be guilty of rape or sexual assault depending on whether or not penetration was achieved. According to the state law, a person may not engage in vaginal intercourse with another “if the victim is a mentally defective individual, a mentally incapacitated individual, or a physically helpless individual, and the person performing the act knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a mentally defective individual, a mentally incapacitated individual, or a physically helpless individual.” Legally, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t rape, at least given the details in Amy’s speech.

Well, actually, yes it is. And not just legally, but by any reasonable definition of the word “rape.”

Because Schumer, at least by her account, wasn’t “the person performing the act.” He was. She was lying there wondering what had gone wrong with her life.

If you read the speech in its entirety, instead of depending on the selective quotations in the Thought Catalog post, this is abundantly clear. As she describes it, he:

Pushes her down on the bed; as she writes, he does “that sexy maneuver where the guy pushes you on the bed, you know, like, ‘I’m taking the wheel on this one. Now I’m going to blow your mind. …’”

Penetrates her with his fingers; as she writes, “[h]is fingers poked inside me like they had lost their keys in there.”

Tries to have intercourse, though his penis is only half-willing; she describes him as “pushing aggressively into my thigh, and during this failed penetration, I looked around the room to try and distract myself or God willing, disassociate.” Even using the “made to penetrate” standard, she’s not raping him, because she’s not making him do anything; he’s the active one.

Goes down on her.

Attempts intercourse again; this time, “[o]n his fourth thrust, he gave up and fell asleep on my breast.”

At no point in Schumer’s story does she describe herself as initiating anything. Indeed, she spends much of the time thinking to herself how much she wants to leave.

He started to go down on me. That’s ambitious, I think. Is it still considered getting head if the guy falls asleep every three seconds and moves his tongue like an elderly person eating their last oatmeal? … Is it? Yes? It is. I want to scream for myself, “Get out of here, Amy. You are beautiful, you are smart, and worth more than this. This is not where you stay.”

If a woman initiates sex with a man who is too drunk to consent, that’s rape. But a woman lying motionless trying to dissociate while a man tries to penetrate her is not a rapist. Even if he is drunk.

And that’s the case no matter how you switch the genders up.

Of course that’s not how they see things on Reddit, where most of those who’ve commented on the story have been quick to agree with the Thought Catalog author that Schumer raped her partner. Ironically, it’s been those outside the Men’s Rights subreddit who have been the most outspoken on this point. In TwoXChromosomes, a subreddit ostensibly devoted to women but in fact overrun with MRAs and other antifeminists, someone calling herself Shield_Maiden831 has gotten more than 200 net upvotes for a comment concluding that “[i]f you really believe in equality, then it seems to be a clear cut case from her own admission.”

Not everyone agrees. Elsewhere in TwoX , one commenter by the name of critropolitan argues, I think quite cogently, that

Unless the full transcript reveals something that the quotes in the article don’t, it doesn’t seem like Schumer exploited this guys mental state to do something to him that violated his will.

He was the one who called her.

He was the one who acted every step of the way and she went along with it.

Assuming that a person who is drunk is, automatically, in virtue of being drunk, without agency, is a mistake. It is moreover a mistake only made with regard to sex – no one thinks the same with regard to bar fights or the choice to drive. Drunken sex might not be the platonic ideal of sex, but it is not automatically rape in every case regardless of the actual state of minds, wishes, and feelings of the participants. …

There is no suggestion that Amy engaged in any sexual contact with this guy while he was passed out, or that she did something he didn’t want to do but he simply lacked the capacity to effectively resist or communicate non consent. Instead he was drunk enough to show significant signs of drunkeness, but not so drunk that he couldn’t not only communicate effectively but take a sexual initiative.

Rapists can exploit the vulnerability of drunk people, but we must walk back from the bizarre and agency-denying position that all drunk sex is rape. Rape is far too serious a matter for this bullshit.

It is.

But of course the MRAs and antifeminists on Reddit now accusing Schumer of rape aren’t interested in taking rape seriously. Indeed, if we look back on how they regularly talk about rape and issues of consent, it’s clearly they’re interested in taking rape less seriously. Their main interest in this case is as a supposed “gotcha” of a prominent female comedian with feminist leanings. In the process they are slandering her, and trivializing the real issue of rape.

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weirwoodtreehugger
8 years ago

It sounds like he was the one trying to sexually assault but he was too drunk to successfully complete the assault. Yikes.

titianblue
titianblue
8 years ago

@WWTH, yep, that was my take from her description of the incident. If anyone was being sexually assaulted, it was her.

So once again, the manosphere proves that they don’t want to understand either consent or rape. Yet another incident to raise, next time a MRA claims that men/boys don’t need to be educated about rape because everyone knows what rape is.

tinyorc
8 years ago

Once I was in a bar and a super drunk guy stumbled into me and made a grab for my tits.

But I was fairly sober, so I was clearly the one sexually harassing him.

titianblue
titianblue
8 years ago

I’m shocked at you, tinyorc. How could you have positioned your breasts infront of a stumbling man’s hands like that?

kittehserf
8 years ago

I doubt these losers give a damn whether she raped him or not; they just think they’ve found a great “gotcha!”

(NB, I’m with everyone else here; if there was any rape/assault, he was the one doing it.)

sparky
sparky
8 years ago

So, Amu Schumer raped him by just lying there? By just existing in his space?

tinyorc
8 years ago

Normally I would leave my breasts at home when I go to bars, because the risk of sexually harassing drunk dudes with them is just so high. But I was coming straight from work, it was still early, my friends were already a few beers in… I thought to myself, “C’mon, your top isn’t even low-cut, what’s the worst that could happen?”

And wow, did I ever learn my lesson.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

Thought Catalog may be the most ironic site name ever, given that there seems to be very little thought involved in anything they publish.

Sorry, misters, there was no rape here.

I think on some level they know this, but will take any opportunity to be awful people.

magnesium
8 years ago

Once again, MRA’s prove that the reason they think there are so many false rape allegations is because they are more than comfortable doing it themselves out of spite and abusiveness, and they believe the rest of the world is as depraved as they are.

titianblue
titianblue
8 years ago

And @magnesium hits the bullseye.

tinyorc
8 years ago

Actually, gotta give the misters some (extremely hard-won) consistency points on this one. This dovetails nicely with the “women oppress men by having bodies” theory. If they carry on like this, they might just disappear over the horizon into Opposite Land forever!

RandomPoster
RandomPoster
8 years ago

That’s the paradoxical problem with alcohol and intercourse, at least for men, it increases the arousal but ironically decreases the performance at the same time.

weirwoodtreehugger
8 years ago

One time I went to a bar for my friend’s birthday. There were maybe six of us. When we had just arrived and were on our first drinks and sober this party bus pulled up. A bunch of drunk guys stumbled out and two of them came over and tried to chat us up. We made it clear we weren’t interested, but one of them kept trying.

I would just like to apologize to the human race and especially men for ganging up on a drunk man and sexually harassing him.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

No 1 curr, RandomPest.

sparky
sparky
8 years ago

Way to miss the point of the post, RandomPoster.

LBT
LBT
8 years ago

Lord have mercy, another one of these already. *sigh* I don’t know why people insist on making drunk sex so complicated except I totally do. Here, I reiterate what I said in the other post:

If you’re feeding people drinks in the interest of turning an “I don’t wanna,” into “I WANNA,” then you’re a creep and a predator, regardless of how many drinks you’ve had.

If you’re feeding people drinks in the interest of making them physically incapable of even SAYING, “I don’t wanna,” or shoving you off, then you’re a creep and a predator, regardless of how many drinks you’ve had.

If you’re specifically seeking out really drunk people with the hopes of taking advantage of their boozed state, regardless of how many drinks they’ve had, then you’re a creep and a predator, regardless of how many drinks you’ve had.

If you become a predatory person when you drink, then for the love of god, DON’T DRINK WITH OTHER PEOPLE. Preferably don’t drink at all. If you keep finding yourself in situations where you HAVE to drink, then I side-eye you and your fucking rationalizations.

If you’re not comfortable having sex with drunk people, for whatever reason, then DON’T HAVE SEX WITH DRUNK PEOPLE. This is a totally acceptable thing! People who pressure you otherwise are creeps.

This really isn’t rocket science, guys. Dude seemed to be really, really consenting. He was just crap in the sack.

Lady Mondegreen
8 years ago

These idiotic “gotchas” are so fucking infuriating.

I realize there’s a bit of a semantic problem with the word “drunk.” Among my younger friends it seems to be used for much milder states of intoxication than in ye olden dayes when I was a pupkitten.

But, seriously, how hard is it to understand what David and LBT have expressed so well? Does anybody following this consent-and-alcohol argument in good faith really not get it?

Alex
8 years ago

Uh, I agree that a sexual assault took place…that is, his sexual assault of her.

JM
JM
8 years ago

So this is the new loophole? “If I get drunk, everything I do is not only fine, I am the victim. So there!”

Jeez, these guys don’t get it? The reason society needs to emphasise and be strict about consent is because currently there is a significant community of men who will try to use any loophole to perform sexual assault without feeling like assault. The reason people should be careful judging if a person is capable to give consent for sex is because this community will search for vaguely drunk person, or lead them to be intoxicated, in order to justify not asking for consent. The reason we need to be strict about asking for an enthusiastic “yes” is because there are entire books written about avoiding a “No” The reason we need to be strict about the age of consent, is because there are men who are grooming young women to not say no to them until they become legal.

and now we have guys having a drink to say “Well, whatever I do now, I don’t have to worry about consent”

Y’know what’s great? Having sex with someone who really wants to have sex with you. True, you don’t have the power play, you don’t get to hurt another person , and we all know that’s what you really want, but really, is the thrill you’re getting out of hurting someone, dominating them, more enjoyable than having a fun activity with an adult who actually wants you to be there?

kittehserf
8 years ago

Lady Mondegreen:

Does anybody following this consent-and-alcohol argument in good faith really not get it?

Good faith? MRAs and good faith? ::head explodes::

BTW I still smile every time I see your nym. I’ve always loved that joke.

JM:

Y’know what’s great? Having sex with someone who really wants to have sex with you. True, you don’t have the power play, you don’t get to hurt another person , and we all know that’s what you really want, but really, is the thrill you’re getting out of hurting someone, dominating them, more enjoyable than having a fun activity with an adult who actually wants you to be there?

And there we have it, because they don’t see women as humans whose feelings or thoughts (even when they acknowledge we have them) count for anything. It is all about controlling and hurting women, for them. There’s no pleasure in mutual pleasure as far as MRAs are concerned.

LBT
LBT
8 years ago

RE: Lady Mondegreen

Does anybody following this consent-and-alcohol argument in good faith really not get it?

I suspect that the people who want most to make it confusing are the ones who want license to have the actions of people they care about covered up.

RE: JM

is the thrill you’re getting out of hurting someone, dominating them, more enjoyable than having a fun activity with an adult who actually wants you to be there?

You act as though the two things are mutually exclusive. My husband may get to dominate me, but believe you me, I very much want to be there.

LBT
LBT
8 years ago

Also my husband and I have happy, CONSENSUAL domination. Which apparently is not what these guys are after. *eyeroll*

kittehserf
8 years ago

LBT – in the context of MRAs, JM’s comment made perfect sense. It wasn’t about mutually pleasurable domination, it was about forcible domination.

J.J
J.J
8 years ago

*stops reading ‘Why Does He Do That’ (thanks for the PDF, LBT)

….
This can’t be real. You know what this is? Really bad drunk sex where the woman realizes ‘wow, this is terrible, I’m going to stare at the wall and wait for him to pass out’. I just…pfffft.

Guys, I know you really want to be able to say ‘gotcha’, but this is just ridiculous. He wasn’t unconscious, he was the initiator. By this logic I’m sexually assaulting someone every time some drunk party boy grabs my breasts and gets his groin sweat on my butt. (Which, as a note to all guys out there? If you are dripping with sweat, pretend you’re at the gym and remember no one wants your sweat on them.)

*nods at kittehserf and LBT*

And yeah, apparently sex for them is not about anything mutual, which is why I hold to the idea that they’re lousy in bed and are sore that they can’t convince more women to lay on their backs and moan in the appropriate places. Or, of course, struggle against them because they like hurting women. That’s what I thought JM was talking about.

Speaking as someone who likes that kind of play, they are two totally different things. The consent and enjoyment of both parties is huge, as is the ability to come together afterwards in a gentle way. (At least for me and the BF.)

This reminds me of something someone said a while back about how a man posted an upskirt shot of his girlfriend that she allowed him to take, and other men complained about it because she knew he was taking the photo. It’s the violation that’s arousing.

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