Lena Dunham Wasn't Raped, She Had "Mistake Sex"

On Tuesday, Lena Dunham shared an essay on Buzzfeed about her decision to open up in her book about an experience with sexual assault in college. It was a powerful move on her part, after receiving months of criticism for her handling of this topic, and one received with resounding gratitude by the survivor community. "Speaking out about the realities and complexities of sexual assault is how we begin to protect each other," she wrote. But, Susan Patton — a.k.a. The Princeton Mom — has something to say, as well.
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In a CNN interview with Carol Costello yesterday, Patton said the primary issue with cases like Dunham's is that we've lost the definition of rape.
"It no longer is when a woman is violated at the point of a gun or knife," Patton said. "We're now identifying as rape what really is a clumsy hookup melodrama or a fumbled attempt at a kiss or caress."
When asked if she'd ever talked to a rape survivor herself, Patton replied that yes, she's spoken with a woman who told her about being raped while drunk, in a scenario similar to the one Dunham recounts in her book.
"I thought, there's rape and then there's rape," said Patton. "I believe that she experienced something that she regretted." That regrettable experience isn't assault, though, "it's a learning experience about making choices and taking responsibility for the choices you make."
Patton's sympathy lies with the suspects in these cases. "If a young man is accused of rape, he is labeled a rapist without even due process," she argued — all thanks to "the antagonistic feminists."
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Shortly thereafter, the conversation ground to a halt, as they tend to when blanket statements and boogeymen are introduced as evidence. Patton's not the only one to point fingers at Big Feminism when it comes to the issue of rape culture. As long as there are victims, there will be victim-blamers like her who choose to believe that, "in most cases," sexual assault isn't actually a crime, and it isn't rape, but "mistake sex."
What has changed is the number of women who choose to come forward and prove her deeply, outrageously wrong. In doing so this week, Lena Dunham became an example and an affirmation for survivors — men and women — who have long been shamed into silence by people like The Princeton Mom. She also serves as a reminder of how vital it is that we keep telling these stories and listening to them. As long as women like Susan Patton still have a voice in this conversation, we are grateful for anyone who chooses to speak up.