Let’s #talkaboutit

It’s been a busy few weeks – months, really – and there’s a gazillion things I haven’t updated, we’re releasing the pod version of our Christmas show early and I have a new book out next week – I’ll throw in some links when I get the chance. All of that’s just work though, and right now it’s just not important.

What is important is the overwhelmingly courageous, exhilarating and saddening response to a small idea I had on Tuesday night, zonked out on my sofa watching Friday Night Lights for work and talking to people on twitter about how difficult it is to even think about the Assange case in a rational manner. Even if we’re able to unthink the troubling consequences for Wikileaks if the allegations turn out to be true, and even if we’d by magical means find out the facts about what really happened in the contested situations, we probably still wouldn’t agree on how the facts should be interpreted.

It struck me that most of us just don’t have the language or the conceptual apparatus for completely honest sexual negotiations. The cultural ideas around acceptable sexual expression weigh too heavy upon us. We’re horny and sometimes drunk, we’re embarrassed, impressed, afraid, grateful, ashamed, in love… We don’t speak our minds, even to the people we love the most, and certainly very rarely to people we’d like to impress. And this is just us, just people, trying to love and get laid. Then there are the predators, and the people blinded by their power, and the people who are so needy or hurting that they don’t even notice that what they take for their comfort was not willingly offered.

It is often very clear what a rape is and what has happened, but even then we know it’s difficult for the parties to get a fair hearing in court. Then there are the situations in which acts have been performed which may or may not be illegal, depending on the parties’ negotiation of consent. This principle makes legal situations complicated, but it is of vital importance: we should not and cannot legislate acceptable sexual practice. But given how difficult it is sometimes to draw a line even in the best circumstances, given that we lack a language and fora to talk about these things, how can we be expected to have the strength to say “no” and “yes” and mean it when it really matters? How can judges and juries and the media be expected to speak honestly and think coolly about things we can’t even say to ourselves without shame?

I remembered, just then, that I’d been in a situation once that had made me unconfortable and disappointed, but that I had never thought about in terms of rape: I woke up in a sexual situation with a partner with whom I has just a few hours earlier had consensual sex on the condition that we use a condom. This, during the night, he had conveniently forgotten – or just selfishly ignored. I was embarrassed to speak out and didn’t draw a line, even if I probably could have: I had no reason to be afraid of this person who, all in all, was a pretty decent guy.

Under Swedish law, initiating sex with someone who isn’t in a position to express consent is illegal.*** It feels weird to call this a rape but I guess it technically was. What made me feel violated though was something else – that the penetration had happened without a condom. I don’t even know whether consent can be defined conditionally under Swedish law. I suspect it hasn’t been tried. But I could have just said something just then, I could have withdrawn consent at any moment. I didn’t, for all kinds of cultural and psychological reasons.

I’m not trying to diminish the importance of the situation. The dude was a being douche, obviously, and he broke the law. But I also betrayed myself, and to me that’s a bigger deal.

I talked about this on twitter for a few hours on Tuesday night, very casually, and it seems like mostly everyone who was reading me just then (a few hundred out of maybe a thousand followers) retweeted me or responded or sent me an email thanking me for talking. I was surprised, but fascinated that I wasn’t alone in finding it very difficult to even think about right and wrong in situations like these.

I suggested that I might write my story up in a newspaper: people said that I should, embarrassment be damned. I considered that embarrassment for about ten seconds, and came up with an easy fix. I will write, I suggested, if I’m not the only one. If twelve people write their personal stories in twelve different papers on the same day, then it won’t be embarrassing, and it can be nuanced, and it might open a little space for a few days where people in the blogosphere might feel safe to share their stories, and that might actually be the beginning of a real conversation.

I didn’t make any calls, I didn’t write any emails. I tweeted that, and writers and editors messaged me back. By next morning all who had responded (most of them normally competitors in one way or the other) were on a mailing list and sorting out in a very self-organised manner who should write what and where. This was Wednesday and we realized that it wouldn’t be practically possible to get everyone to publish on the same day. I tweeted, again very casually, that this thing in the papers was happening, and mentioned that obviously anyone who wanted to start on twitter was welcome to #talkaboutit – #prataomdet. I remember thinking that we would need a hash tag for the links to the articles. I remember thinking that maybe a few people will start sharing in the next few days. It might create a little buzz for the stories in the newspapers.

One of the writers in the #prataomdet movement, Mymlan (Sofia Mirjamsdotter), a very influential blogger, picked up the tag and started tweeting her experiences. Others tentatively started doing the same. Wow, I thought. And also: this is sad and terrifying (because a lot of the stories were). And then: this is exhilarating (because just reading about it felt liberating). Did I post something about this on Facebook? I don’t remember. I went into the studio and spent a few hours making radio, and when I emerged, a friend asked me, “are you reading #prataomdet? It’s been about a tweet a second all afternoon”.

I don’t have any metaphors for what happened that aren’t dead or trite. Imagine your own floodgates! Apparently, what we had needed to be able to speak was for someone, anyone, to said that we’re allowed. That night the #prataomdet movement put up a web page to link to blog posts where people #talkaboutit, to publish texts by people who don’t have their own blogs or prefer to write anonymously, and of course to link to the articles we are now publishing in conventional media.

Yesterday, I wrote in Dagens Nyheter. Today, Sonja Schwartzenberger writes in Svenska Dagbladet. The tabloids are publishing pieces (although, predictably, at least one couldn’t quite restrain itself from also running a counterproductive “celebrities share sex crime stories” article). The list of participating media keeps growing, but last I checked it covered most newspapers in Sweden, large and small, as well as cultural and political magazines and a great number of professional and semi-professional blogs. And that is important. But not as important, not by far, as the hundreds or thousands of people who share their stories on twitter and in the blogosphere right now. As I’m writing this, it’s trickling out, into Norway and Denmark, onto the English-speaking internet. I spotted a tweet in Hungarian in the #prataomdet feed last night.

Predictably, the trolls are out too. But not to the extent one would have expected. I don’t think I’ve ever followed an online conversation about an issue this difficult which was more loving or more respectful. Men write, women write. Victims of brutal rapes write and people who are embarrassed because they can’t sexually satisfy their spouses write. A word I hadn’t heard before this week – “tjatsex” (nagging sex = sex that you talked someone into having even when they didn’t feel like it) – is entering the mainstream. I’ve read descriptions here about feelings and situations I have never encountered in literature or the media before, yet recognize absolutely. Many of the stories make me cry, but I feel oddly elated. I’ve come to think the most powerful sentence in any language is “I have never told anyone about this before”.

I didn’t make this happen. Neither did the movement of writers, editors and other volunters who are putting in the hours running the web site, writing and getting competing media houses to run intimate stories on uncomfortable topics at the same time. The internet made this, because #talkaboutit was enabled by its two most fundamental principles: That people want to be connected, and information wants to be free.


Teresa Axner lucidly explains what #talkaboutit is all about. The official website increasingly has content in English, but since we’re not an organisation in any formal sense and we all have day jobs we’re spread a bit thin on stuff like translation resources.


***EDIT: I got a really good comment below which unfortunately I coudn’t publish for linking reasons, which stated that having sex with someone who is sleeping isn’t automatically illegal in Sweden if consent is already established. This seems to be correct! However, in opposition to what I have earlier believed, use of a condom seems to be a valid condition of consent, which could mean that consent is automatically withdrawn if the agreement is ignored by one of the parties. (I’d still be curious to know whether this has been tried in court).



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39 responses to “Let’s #talkaboutit

  1. Magnus

    “It struck me that most of us just don’t have the language or the conceptual apparatus for completely honest sexual negotiations. ” Framförallt ses det väl inte som särskilt sexigt eller ens välkommet att direkt ta ett steg ut ur situationen när man träffat någon under en kväll, vare sig det är en diiagre bekant eller en spännande ny bekantskap, och säga typ “Nej, det är dags att vi klarar iupp det här. Vill du bli knullad nu?” eller “Hörrudu, hur intima är vi egnetligen för ögonblicket?” Alla vet att den som ber om lov på det sättet, så explicit, avvisas och dessutom ses som töntig. Och omvänt att den tjej som direkt går omkring och verkligen ropar “knulla mig!” får problem, men rättsligt och socialt ser problemet annorlunda ut för män.

    Jag begränsar för enkelhetens skuill exemplet till heteromöten, men där är det ändå oftast killen som förväntas ta det mentala initiativet att “nu blir det snart ligga av”, vilket inte är samma sak som att han tvingar igenom något, det handlar ju om att bygga på, att läsa av en samstämdhet som finns där, halvuttalat.. Både män och kvinnor förväntar sig det, oavsett vad de annars tycker om jämställdhet i stort. Sedan finns det våldtäkter okay, men de flesta händelser som skulle kunna diskuteras som våldtäkt eller tvångssex ser inte ut som hagamannens bruala överfall, där tror jag vi är överens. Visst kan en våldtäkt ske i hemmet eller på ett hotellrum och utan nämnvärt synligt, fysiskt våld, men problemet är just att ofta kan exakt samma saker,. exakt samma händelseförlopp förekomma vid två tillfällen, och det ena är ett vanligt samstämt knull, det andra beskrivs senare av endera parten . oftast kvinnan – som en våldtäkt. Till och med samtalets gång kan vara samma, i alla fall de ord som de medverkande kommer ihåg, eftersom så mycket är outtalat – i sex och på andra håll i vardagen. Men svensk lag förutsätter mer uttalat än i många andra länder att människor är obereonde, att de kan fatta helt obereonde beslut som inte påverkas, drivs på av outtalade hänsyn till några andra, såvida det inte finns direkta avtal som skapar över- och undrordning eller förpliktelser mnellan dem (gäller inte bara brott i hemmet och privatlivet utan för de flesta svenska lagar). Kravet att man ska ingå ett direkt avtal om att nu blir det sex, för att det inte sak kunna klassas som våldtäkt, kan ses ssom ett försök att leva upp till att lagarna ser så ut, men det pekar också på ett problem i lagen.

    Våldtäkt är inte ett smokling-gun-brott, inte den sorts brott som definieras helt enkelt genom det som fysiskt har hänt, av ett visst händelseförlopp, som t ex rån, bärande av politisk uniform och kidnappning gör. När det gäller en rån eller inbrott behöver rätten normalt inte spilla många minuter på att ta reda på vilka avsikter den åtalade hade eller hur offret tog det, inte för att avgöra ifall det verkligen är ett rån eller ett inbrott man undersöker. Brottet ligger immanent i det fysiska förloppet. men så ser det inte riktigt ut med våldtäkt, eftersom samma händelseförlopp kan visa sig vara/uppfattas/framställas som både consensual fuck och våldtäkt.

    Jurister som Madeleien Leijonhufvud frsöker koma runt detta med att kräva att allt sex som inte föregicks av ett utallat (skrivet?) medgivande ska kunna åtalas som våldtäkt, även åratal efteråt. Det verkar också vara Schwarzenbergers linje, och många debattörer försöker fixa till det här med en enkel övertalnibngsdefinition: “våldtäkt är det när kvinnan anser att det här kändes som en våldtäkt”. Nej, tyvärr, det är en hopplös inställning. Den utgår dels från at kvinnan/det påstådda offret alltid har rätt, men den utgår också från att hennes *tolkning* av det som hände är den rätta och att den åtalade mannen måste försvara sig mot den tolkningen/hennes story, inte mot de fysiska fakta eller mot de fragmentariska vittnesmål och de vittenbsbörd om hur stämningen var före och under sexetsom läggs fram inför rätten. fast om man vill att rättssalen bara ska vara ett verktyg för genusrevanschism så är det här givetvis inget problem…

  2. I think it should be required for people to say “stop” in “gray area cases” like you described for something to be prosecuted as sex. If that were *not* the case, people would always be required to formally ask to initiate sex, or even kissing. Nobody would really like to live in a society like that.

    Another possibility would be that if a person initiates sex or kissing without asking, the other partner could decide at whim if that was a rape or sexual harrasment. And that would not be fair.

  3. newmutant

    Hej Magnus! Jag är inte helt hundra på vad du menar med “Schwarzenbergers linje”, men enligt svensk lag är det olagligt att initiera sex med nån som sover, oavsett vilket kön parterna har. Hur sex ska definieras är förstås en slippery slope, men jag tror att vi åtminstone är ense om att när kroppsdelar är inne i andra människors kroppar så har den gränsen korsats. Klart att partners kan ha en övergripande överenskommelse om att det är okej att initiera sex medan den andra sover. Det finns nog ganska många som tycker det är trevligt. Men om man inte har den överenskommelsen och den vakna parten väljer just ett sådant tillfälle att testa en sexuell praktik som den sovande i vaket tillstånd tackat nej till (som i mitt fall sex utan kondom), då tycker jag det är tydligt att nåt slags viktig gräns i relationen har korsats. IMHO. Plus då själva lagens.

    Panu, a bit #talkaboutit topic is the mechanisms that keep us from being able to say no – there all kinds of reasons why one might not feel entitled or able to. But we can’t legislate based on telepathy, obviously, nor should we try – so in Sweden the law seems to draw a line at being physically hindered from expressing or withdrawing consent. That is, sex with a person who is asleep (like I was) or passed out, for instance, is illegal. Not using a condom when you’ve agreed to, however, doesn’t seem to be regulated, even though a very clear verbal communication has taken place. (Unless one of the parties is aware of having an STD, in which case other laws are apparently activated). I’m not sure the #talkaboutit conversation should aim at changing the law, which seems pretty rational to me. But I would be very happy if we ended up hacking our culture to fix this glitch (= that the law protects us as soon as we’ve physically said no, except we often can’t, and that if we weree able to, then the law might actually never need to be involved, since the other person would normally be likely to stop).

    • “enligt svensk lag är det olagligt att initiera sex med nån som sover”

      Nej, i de allra flesta fall är det inte alls olagligt. Det är bara olagligt om det saknas samtycke. Så här står det i lagen:

      otillbörligt utnyttja en person på grund av medvetslöshet, sömn, berusning eller annan drogpåverkan, sjukdom, kroppsskada eller psykisk störning”.

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  5. Jha

    Thank you for this campaign and this post! How would one pronounce “tjatsex”? What a great term… it describes so many songs playing these days.

  6. Magnus

    Naturligtvis “Magnus” på ovanstående (f n moddande) replik. Vem har inte då och då uppträtt med mer än ett namn online? 😉

  7. Magnus

    Alltså den här (lika bra att reda upp med en gång: efter den första genomsläppta repliken i ett namn/adress går alla från samma igenom direkt, råkar namnet vara ett annatfuckar det upp)

    newmutant: nej, jag är inte i första hand ute efter att frågan “exakt när blir det sex?” (t ex hur mycket direkt penetration?) skulle vara ett problem föt rätten. men grejen är att frågan: var det våldtälkt? inte låter sig lösgöras från frågan vad deltagarna gav varandra för spelrum, vilken slags tillit eller uppmärksamhet de visade före och under akten. Att säga “våldtäkt är det som känns som våldtäkt /för offret/, punkt”, det är helt enkelt att kräva att rätten ska köpa den personens *tolkning* av det som hände till 100%, utan att fråga om det kanske poågick något annat när det hände. Media har varit väldigt dåliga på att få fram den här distinktionen när man skrivit om våldtäktsfall (och nej, jag är inte jurist själv).

    Och observera: människor, även kvinnor, kan säga eller signalera: var hård mot mig, behandla mig som en dålig flicka, bind mig, piska mig, ta mig i alla öppningar och tysta mina skrik! Det är inte självklart att det är våldtäkt bara för att det gåpr ruffigt till. Men om hon ändrar sig en tid efteråt, eller någon i närheten övertalar henne att anmäla för grov våldtäkt? Idag är s/m inte klassat som sjukdom längre och det har varit några fall på senare år, senast i Malmö, där domstolar har fått ta ställning till frågan: hur avgör man skillanden melölan våldssex som accepterades av “offret” och sådant som inte var acceptabelt? De här resonemangen om att “våldtäkt är våldtäkt är våld” springer helt förbi den frågan.

    Sonja Schwarzenbergers linje är i stort sett att alla våldtäkter, dvs det hon (och Madeleine Leijonhufvud m fl) vill se som våldtäkter, är jämförbara med den klasiska överfallsvåldtäkten. Det är samma slags manliga våld i alla lägen, oavsett vilken slags samspel det fanns när de två eller tre möttes, oavsett vad de var inne på att göra och varför. Schwarzenberger antyder att allt sex som inte uttryckligen föregåtts av samtycke ska kunna dömas som våldtäkt-. För att ett avtal om samtycke ska vara något värt inför rätta måste det i praktiken vara skrivet och tidfäst.och Assangefallet visar ju, i likhet med många andra fall på senare år, att det som händer ‘under* ett samlag som från början ska ha varit införstått och bra, kan förvandla det till någoit som ses som möjlig våldtäkt.

    Även om man skulle släppa tanken på skrivna medgivanden och begränsa sig till att folk plötsligt ska stanna upp och säga “är det okay att vi pippar nu?” så skulle ett sådant krav. förwnat med hot om flera års fängelse för den som inte följer det eller helt neklet glömmer det i stundens hetta, passa jäkligt illa ihop med det fria knullande som nu är en del av vår moderna kultur. Det är ett riktigt gammelpuritanskt krav, nästa steg vore att göra otrohet till ett brott, och det är tråkigt att m¨ånga som vill ha våldtäktsproceser som murbräcka för att driva igenom en viss syn på manligt och klvinnligt, på könsmaktsordningen (yes!) tycker att man gott kan betala priset av puritanism och förstörd rättssäkerhet.

    Jag håller f ö helt med om att det viktigste tecknet på sexuella övergrepp är bristen på uppmärksamhet och lyhördhet under tiden man är i säng och närmast före. men den sortens brist är ofta svår att påvisa utifrån teknisk bevisning och man kan inte bara köpa den utifrån att den ena parten berättar om vad som hände så att motparten framstår som brutal och egocentrisk.

    • newmutant

      Det verkar som att vi är relativt ense på så gott som alla punkter utom om vad Sonja Schwarzenberger ståndpunkt gentemot våldtäktslagstiftningen är. Jag har förstås inte läst allt hon skrivit men känner Sonja och uppfattar henne som en extremt rationell person med extremt nyanserade åsikter om hur lust och sex av alla de slag både sanktioneras och straffas kulturellt, socialt och juridiskt.

      Det känns lite som om du givit dig ut på jakt efter en meningsmotståndare, inte hittat någon och därför skapat dig en genom en illvillig läsning snarare än hennes faktiska uttalanden. Men vem vet? Nästa gång jag träffar Sonja ska jag komma ihåg att fråga om hennes möjliga hemliga agenda!

      Din oro verkar om jag förstår dig rätt vara baserad på det fundamentala missförståndet att samtal som #prataomdet skulle förstärka traditionella könsroller där män i egenskap av den sexuella “agressorn” – protagonisten, så att säga – riskerar utmålas som farliga. Rent numerärt dominerar i och för sig berättelser där män begår överrampen, detta inte minst i heterosexuella situationer där fysiskt våld är en faktor (och det beror så klart i första hand på biologiska faktorer som storlek och könsdelarnas beskaffenhet).

      Men min uppfattning är faktiskt att samtal som #prataomdet (varav din och min interaktion i de här kommentarerna självklart är en del) snarare utmanar och nyanserar de rollerna.

      De flesta berättelserna i #prataomdet handlar ju om just komplexiteten, om att samma person kan vara både offer och förövare, och om att det är orimligt att alltid kräva att lagen retroaktivt ska kunna skydda oss i situationer där den andra parten kanske inte ens insett att det som skett inte var okej.

      Sen att förövaren (oavsett om förövaren i tex en heterosexuell situation är mannen eller kvinnan) ofta BORDE ha fattat är en annan fråga – och felkommunikationerna beror ofta på förväntningar på könsrollerna, så där finns en lös koppling till könsmaktsordningen – men det är en kulturell snarare än en juridisk problematik. Ett kulturellt problem som #prataomdet är designat för att kanske så smått börja lösa.

  8. Magnus

    Om man går mera direkt på anklagelserna mot Assange – som har ändrats flera gånger i snabb följd, både ruibricveringen och vad som skall ha hänt: de ter sig rätt skakiga – så har jag svårt att se att någon av kvinnorna skulle kunna _bevisa_ att hon sov eller halvsov när Assange inledde försöket att tränga in i henne. Det måste vara näst intill omöjligt att visa, det blir ord mot ord genast. Schwarzenberger verkar mena på att kvinnans k’änsla efteråt skulle räcka för att backa upp sådana påståenden. Nix, det gär den inte.

    Men mitt resonemang handlade annars mer om våldtäkt allmänt, hur det hanteras inför rätta, därför att jag ser den här kampanjen inte bara som ett Assangedrev utan som ett av flera försök att cementera en ny, förenklad och förgrovad syn på sexualbrott. Det är därför jag t exd tog upp s/m. Ingen har hävdat att Assange är sadist men eftersom s/m blir allt mera öppet och overground ställer det svåra gränsdragningsfrågor om s/m vs våldtäkt. Inom BDSM är ju våld, stress och förnedring accepterade inslag i erotiken.

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  10. Carl

    Tjatsex upplever jag som en etablerad term. Jag tillhör inte det sexuellt aggressive spektrumet, men jag hånglade en gång med en tjej (under högst normala förhållanden) som nämnde att hon tände på tjat. Att tjatet bekräftade att killen åtminstone var intresserad nog för att bry sig om att tjata. Hur det egentligen förhöll sig med detta vet jag inte, jag lärde inte känna henne.

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  12. I just wanted to leave a quick note say: I love what you’re doing. We really need to talk about it even if it isn’t easy.

    I’ve actually been unconsciously thinking about this kind of things over the years, but never really had the words or the courage to say them out loud. I’m really thankful that someone else has started creating vocabulary and discourse in which these very personal issues can be discussed.

    Thank you so much!

  13. newmutant

    I got a really good comment just now which unfortunately I coudn’t publish for linking reasons, which stated that having sex with someone who is sleeping isn’t automatically illegal in Sweden if consent is already established. This seems to be correct! However, in opposition to what I have earlier believed, use of a condom seems to be a valid condition of consent, which could mean that consent is automatically withdrawn if the agreement is ignored by one of the parties. (I’d be curious to know whether this has been tried in court). I’ll edit this above too.

  14. having sex with someone who is sleeping isn’t automatically illegal in Sweden if consent is already established. This seems to be correct!

    I have no expertise whatsoever on Swedish law. But this does sound sensible to me on the face of it, bearing in mind “not _automatically_” and “if consent is already established”.

    E.g. maybe in an ongoing relationship there could be an ongoing context of mutual consent not directly associated with one specific event (though still retractable). And obviously there could be cases where one person has explicitly said to the other “If you ever want to have sex with me (on our usual sorts of terms) while I’m asleep, go ahead, fine by me.”

    Even then, if the person woke up and said “hang on a minute” then the other one should stop.

    I don’t think the law can mean “If you consented to some other sex some time, then you’ve definitely consented to sex now, when you’re asleep, which you never even talked about.”

    Well that’s what I am thinking at the moment anyway, and no doubt someone will tell me if they think I am wrong 🙂

    Also: thanks for your work on this, Johanna.

  15. Niclas Kuoppa

    Debatten om prata om det är lite märklig, som de flesta andra debatter, i och för sig. Har ni läst Johan Lundberg på Axessbloggen och Sakine Madon i Expressen?

  16. caza

    The saddest thing for me about the above debate on
    Whether sex with a partner who is sleeping is consensual
    Or not with or without a condom is why we are not discussing
    how wrong it is for one partner to think its ok to have their
    Sexual needs met without considering the sexual needs and experience
    Of the other person. You can’t can a less demanding lover than someone
    Who is sleeping..well maybe if they’re dead but we don’t wanna go there in this discussion.
    There is a taboo about talking about the selfishness and selflessness of partners during sex.
    The fact he didn’t use a condom is totally wrong johanna but that he thought it was ok to have
    his sexual needs met selfishly with no regard to the quality of the experience for you is also wrong.
    If people were open and truly honest their wld be less grey areas and less tjatsexm

  17. julia

    I really support what you’re doing. The laws in Sweden sound much better than they do here in the U.S., but rape is rape and I think the woman should always have more say in court because we certainly don’t have it anywhere else. If women are vulnerable to rape and sexual assault 24 hours a day, then our word should have lots of weight.

    Sex while sleeping. I would call it rape, especially with someone who just met you. It might be different with a longtime sweetheart if you told him
    a few times, ‘I have this fantasy that I’m asleep and I wake up and you’re
    inside of me’ – and still there has to be consent right then.

    Consent to do one thing is not consent to do everything.

    Cheers to all of you 🙂

    • Peter

      ‘but rape is rape and I think the woman should always have more say in court because we certainly don’t have it anywhere else.’ REALLY, people should have a fair say in court, it is irrational statements like that which make most of the rest of the world incapable of taking America seriously.
      Also I am a sexomniac, a fairly common sleep disorder, and occasionally I have platonic friends wanting to sleep in my bed, and I warn them of my condition and always offer to take the couch, i say if I initiate any thing please hit me or roll me off the bed, about 50 percent of the time this will lead to sex that I dont want to have, showing you every bodies intentions are as honest/dishonest as eachothers.

  18. ckj

    Varför skriver du din blogg på engelska, Johanna? Det får dig att framstå som en tönt.

  19. Viktoria

    Jag ville egentligen bara säga att jag är glad över vilken debatt du dragit igång och att jag blev extra stolt när jag läste att du är finlandssvensk! Kram på dig och hälsningar från Österbotten!

  20. anonimous T.

    Surprise sex. That´s a concept I didn´t know until 6-7 months ago. I read about it on Facebook…a “friend” had posted something about it, now it sounds ironic cause it seems, this person was only joking about it.
    If it´s non-consensual sex, then it´s rape…it´s just difficult to accept when it happens with someone you´ve trusted- a boyfriend or a lover.
    May be lots of women have had the experience. I did, my ex -boyfriend went crazy one day and I wasn´t prepared at all, and I felt horrible afterwards..
    I´m pretty sure that having sex with someone who´s not prepared for that is sign of a tremendous lack of empathy . Sex shouldn´t have anything to do with power – and if you have sex with someone who´s unable to express her accept, then it´s only a demonstration of power.

  21. Magnus

    @anonimous T: Well, the problem is that “getting prepared for sex” doesn’t necessarily equate being asked in so many words: do you want a fuck right now or don’t you? Most people take a more subtle approach, a great deal is left unspoken.

    People do not want to feel like machines which are plugged in by a question, even if the response to that question (“Yes, let’s go!”) might be a voluntary one. But with the cut-and-dried definition of sexual assault or rape implied by “rape is rape is when the woman thinks it felt like rape” we’d really be left with an overt, formal concession to sex as the key condition, the only way to make sure what follows couldn’t be claimed as rape afterwards.

  22. rosalie

    I have had an experience like that, too. It was my Ex-boyfriend who came to visit me, after we broke up. I felt horrible these days, since recovering from a very severe shock after an accident. I asked him to come over (we didn´t live in the same city) and stay some days with me, since we were still very close friends.
    In lack of space, we shared bed. When I was sleeping, he took advantage of the situation. I woke up and stopped what was going on, but I really felt abused and made him leave the appartment after that night. I think: penetrating a partner, who is asleep is very differnt to: softly wake up, caress and cuddle someone and try to persuade him/her to have sex TOGETHER.

  23. Wasasa

    Kind of weird huh…well i would very much like to know how the laws wud go in cases where a man gets raped?

  24. Pingback: Assange case: Has feminism gone too far? | World | All the latestnews from around the globe.

  25. Olivia

    So some guy decided that he wasn’t going to respect your request to use a condom and had sex with you WHILE YOU ARE ASLEEP!? Honestly I think the whole ‘one person being asleep’ thing is just a bit gross. Also, how can you consent when you are not awake – we can’t even smell things when we sleep hence fire alarms so wouldn’t it make sense for that circumstance to be non-consensual? That guy was such a dick! I would be absolutely livid. Rape can be within marriage and relationships so how is it that sex can be deemed consensual if you consent prior to you falling asleep? “sure honey, you can just hop on while I sleep and be all creepy”

  26. Olivia

    PS I agree with exactly what you wrote Rosalie, What an awful guy to take advantage of you and wake you up like that! I hope you smacked him.

  27. Olivia

    Surprise sex is so wrong – SO sorry that you went through that with your ex. I can imagine what it feels like and how awful it would be, not to mention degrading and disrespectful. I have heard of it before and I am a complete believer in full consent at all times! I get uncomfortable over all kinds of things and you cant consent to something if you are not actually wanting it.

  28. Pingback: Sex, rape and gray areas | Deconstruction site

  29. laetitia

    My friends and I are really shocked that some women can talk of rape so many years after without taking any responsability, without asking themselves “what did I do to be in such a situation ?”
    We just see all that as an enormous exageration… Are men monsters in Sweeden, are women dumb? Do they live in feodality though sexual education has been compulsary since 1955 ???
    Horrible things do happen, I know that.
    Are women so dominated in Sweden that they don’t dare saying what they would like or would’nt like ?
    We are in democratic countries, I’m sorry, if you don’t speak, if you don’t act, it means that you agree. So it’s impossible to claim the day after, “it’s a rape, I did not consent ” that’s not fair.
    To accuse somebody of rape can be dramatic, think of it too.

  30. Sinbad

    Would these forms of coerced sex apply to both sexes. I have had female partners who would nag and fondle until they could get sex. One used to go down on me whilst I was asleep to initiate sex. I am sure that I am not the only man this has happened to and I am sure that it would also occur to Swedish men. Why don’t these rapist women get prosecuted?

  31. newmutant

    Sinbad – 

    absolutely. And a significant part of the Swedish conversation has been about women – including me – realizing that we’ve lived by a gendered double standard when it comes to inappropriate touching.

    Why those cases don’t get prosecuted is pretty obvious. Because of the existing gendered expectations on sexual behaviour, there is a cultural idea that men want sex at all times and under all circumstances. While we all know with our brains that this is simply not correct, the cultural norm is pretty strongly internalized. So the female perpetrators think that the man should basically be grateful (and may even be offended if a man turns them down). The male victims don’t necessarily see themselves as such even when the behaviour makes them wildly uncomfortable. And if they do feel molested, they’ll be unlikely to report the crime because of the shame of being “less of a man” for having turned down sex. And even if they’d dare to, they’d probably be laughed out of the room by the police. Yes, probably (though not necessarily) even in Sweden.

    Unwanted sexual attention, such as sexual harassment, _should_ probably be reported more widely by male victims. And a more serious related problem is that the same structures (through a slightly different dynamic) make it very, very difficult for men to report even obvious, violent, outright sex crimes.

    Female victims of sexual violence obviously have shame issues related to gendered norms on sexual behaviour as well, and are also often mistrusted or dismissed when they try to report sex crimes. I really don’t see any way of changing this culture expect talking about it.

    That said, my goal isn’t for more people to report sex crimes, it’s for fewer people to need to. Forcing people to have sex against their will is and should always be a police matter, but the million dollar question is why your relationship with your girlfriend should ever involve either party having sex against their will. The idea of consensual sex shouldn’t be difficult to grasp whether you’re a man or a woman, and if we’re open about the cultural baggage that prevents us from speaking up we can probably work past the shame threshold and allow ourselves to admit that being allowed to say no is the only way to infuse the word “yes” with meaning.

    Oh, one more thing – in a committed relationship I see no reason not to have the rule that it’s OK to wake the other person up with sex, if both agree on that being a good idea.

  32. Surprised Reader

    The way the debate is moving in Sweden shocks the male wits out of me. By using terms like “surprise sex” and “sex by nagging”, the logic is being twisted to a point where the aim is not just equality between the genders, and a fair treatment of both (sometimes conflicting) interest, but treating the man as an animal (or criminal) who shouldn’t be trusted.

    In the late nineties, I visited Sweden on a short scholarship. My wife was pregnant then, and I greatly appreciated her gesture to encourage me to travel, despite it being our first baby due (and hence a tense situation).

    In class, one of the woman participants, whom I greatly admired (for her work) suddenly decided that a short-term relationship was what she needed. She made it abundantly clear that she fancied me (when I had showed no romantic interest at all) and in a subtle way but without leaving any doubts suggested an affair. She seemed a bit shocked with my declining, and once pointed to a sexy woman on the street asking if it didn’t arouse me.

    While travelling through Stockholm, a friend and I dropped in at his lady-neighbours flat. My intention was nothing more than a friendly chat. It started off on a tense note, but soon warmed up. After a pleasant evening, and interesting discussions, the lady-neighbour offered to walk me down to the railway station since “she needed a smoke”. The moment of wishing a goodbye almost ended in bed; had it, I’m sure I would have lived to regret it, because it was not my intention.

    I understand that, as a male, a young, attractive woman is hard to resist. I’m fighting millenia of evolution when I don’t seize the first available opportunity, to propagate my seed, even if logically ours is now a very overpopulated planet already.

    On the one hand, women want their right to claim the men they desire (even if only temporarily), and yet also cry rape when it suits them.

    As for myself, I went home without any regrets, or any sense of loss whatsoever. Even if I had not then realised about the laws in Sweden, I narrowly managed being true to myself.

    PS: Now, almost two decades into a long-term relationship, I have complaints of my own. When we first married, we had sex every night, at my partner’s request, even though it was a period of stress for me just then. Today, with a couple of kids, I’m lucky if I get it once a week or once a fortnight. Don’t people who commit themselves to a relationship, however long or short, also have a responsibility to understand one another’s sexual needs?

    Part of the problem, to my mind (from another culture) stems from the way in which Swedes are defining their relationships… in such fickle and temporary ways.

    If monogamy was not meant for the human race, as has been argued, then neither was a strange form of trade unionism in the bedroom, and emasculation of the man through concepts like “rights” and “equality”. We only seem to be moving on a road of mutual suspicion, distrust, and unworkable relationships.

  33. Lets talk about Australia too. Thankyou!

  34. Michael

    It is rather difficult negotiating terms and conditions during sex – it´s usually a case of going with the flow. More sensual than intellectual, but no means no.

    Having sex with a sleeping person is a bizarre concept to me, however people have been known to fall asleep whilst having sex – what´s the rule there? Keep the lights on at all times to make sure your partner has their eyes opened? Is she in a state of ecstasy when her eyes are closed or is she asleep? Cooeey, cooeey! Wakey, wakey!

    An ex woke me up one time in a most pleasant manner – I didn´t feel violated, but I´m a male, so we cannot be violated?

    Why is Assange being profiled for prosecution (rather than the many other people that act in exactly the same way every weekend in Sweden) because Assange is such a chauvinist or because he is enemy number one in the USA?

    In years to come there will surely be clear proof of a connection between Assange´s prosecution and his WikiLeaks activities. The court case can and will prove nothing – unless he admits he is guilty – that´s not a likely scenario is it?

    I am not saying the accusations are true or untrue, how could I know, but as the author states: “we should not and cannot legislate acceptable sexual practice.”

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