I need to talk about last week’s episode of The Mindy Project.
A quick recap for those who don’t watch: Mindy Kaling’s character has been dating her boyfriend, Danny, for a few months now. They’ve been colleagues and friends for years though, so they are very comfortable around each other. One night, which having sex, Danny “slips” and nearly penetrate’s Mindy’s anus. She reacts negatively, he apologizes and tries to play it off as an accident. Over the course of the episode Mindy pushes and pushes until she finds out that, no, it wasn’t an accident. Danny wanted to try anal - and thought she’d done it before, so he figured he’d just go for it.
In the midsts of all this Mindy roofies herself in an effort to unwind enough have anal, since that’s what Danny wants. Eventually, after Mindy winds up disoriented in the hospital, she finally tells Danny: “If you want to try something freaky, just run it by me first.” This new understanding lasts about four minutes, long enough for Danny to run something by her, her to say no, and the two of them to decide that “asking sucks” (yup, that’s a legit quote from the show) and just going for it is the way to go.
So basically… one trip to the eye doctor (to prove than Danny could, in fact, see where he was sticking it), one purposefully-administered sedative, and one trip to the hospital later… we’re right back where we started with this mess.
Okay, so Danny and Mindy don’t seem to have learned anything from this situation…. but what did we learn?
This episode was really upsetting for all of the above reasons. And the thing that bothers me the most is that these kinds of behaviors are so normalized in our culture that people don’t even recognize what he did as problematic at best and rape at worst. This blog and so many others like it get so many asks from people wondering if what happened to them counts as rape. Almost always the answer is yes but they’ve been raised in a culture where rape is normalized to such a degree it is the central theme of a sitcom.
Anon asked: I was brutally raped when I was 14 years old and was to afraid to tell anyone. About a year later I developed binge eating disorder — going from a low healthy weight to being almost overweight. I just turned 19 now, and I feel like I’m spiraling out of control even though I shouldn’t—the trauma is something that happened years ago. Are the trauma and eating disorder connected? What is happening? And thank you so so much for running this blog!
Answer: I’m so sorry to hear that you experienced such brutal trauma and that you are also coping with an eating disorder. I am by no means an expert on eating disorders but I have received some training on rape trauma and eating disorders from a survivor of both who used to work with me.
Eating disorders are understood as a way for someone to try to gain control and as such they often happen in the aftermath of a trauma like rape. When someone rapes you, your control over what happens to your body is taken from you. With eating disorders, you are intimately controlling everything that goes in and out of your body as well as what your body looks like thus it feels like a way of regaining control over your body. While not everyone who has an eating disorder has experienced trauma, some people who experience trauma develop eating disorders as a way to cope.
I’m not sure what kinds of help or support you received after you were raped but it sounds like if you were afraid to tell anyone that it might be something you’ve been holding for those five years since. If that’s the case it absolutely makes sense that you might be feeling out of control even though it happened years ago. A lot of times people are able to stuff their trauma down or feel in control through things like eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, and cutting (among other coping strategies) but if you have never been able to process it it generally stays with you and rears its ugly head at some point. It could be a year later, 5 years later, or 30 years later. Often time it’s as a result of experiencing something triggering which could be part of what’s going on for you right now.
Do you have a support network now who you might be able to talk about it with? Or even just one trusted friend or family member? Or do you feel like you might be able to reach out to a therapist or a rape crisis center near you for support? I’d be happy to talk with you more about next steps or options you have if you want to write back. In the meantime, try some self care strategies that feel good to you. Whether that’s journaling, creative expression, taking long baths, whatever it is. I hope this is somewhat helpful to help you understand what may be going on with you and I hope that you are able to find the healing you need <3
"(trigger warning: rape) A woman who says “No thanks, I’ll sleep on the floor”; a woman who freezes up and tenses at your touch; a woman who says “I really don’t want to” and “We really shouldn’t” and “We can’t” and “Please at least wear a condom” is not saying yes to you, and if you would like to pretend that that is unclear, you are a liar, you are being disingenuous, you are lying and you know it."
Mallory Ortberg, "What counts?" (via dolorimeter)
"I said No. Sophia Katz said No. Saying No was easy, making the man who wanted to hear Yes listen to me when I said No was the challenge. A man who wants to hear a Yes will find a way to drag it out of you.”
Anonymous said: I'm still confused as to whether or not I can call it rape. I said no several times before but he did anyway and afterwards told me that I wouldn't have done it if I didn't want to. He also said he'd liked me for a long time and kept speaking to me. I keep going back and forth on whether it was rape because I knew him and he liked me. Was it my fault? Did I do something to lead him to it? Can it be rape if the person likes you and keeps talking to you after?
Any time someone forces you into sexual activity that you don’t consent to, it’s sexual assault (or rape depending on what kinds of acts were committed). It doesn’t matter if they are nice to you after. It doesn’t matter if they like you. And it is never ever ever your fault nor did you lead them to it. He made a choice to assault you after you clearly said no multiple times. That is rape.
The fact that he said you wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t want to tells me that he’s a manipulative and dangerous person. You said no several times and that’s all the information he needed to know that you didn’t want to do it. The fact that he continued to pressure you or used verbal, emotional, or physical force to get what he wanted does not mean that you wanted it.
I’m so sorry that this happened, anon. I don’t know if this person is still in your life but I hope that you consider what it means that he not only ignored what you wanted prior to the assault, but he also disregarded your thoughts and feelings afterward by failing to be accountable for his behavior as a perpetrator of sexual violence when you confronted him with it. I also hope you have a support network who can help you as you cope with the trauma of this experience <3
Anonymous said: Okay so I've never been subject to rape or assault but I just wanted to say I think its digusting that I, a 15 year old girl, cannot walk around my block in a XL tshirt and running shorts without being wolf whistled at or have a man beep his car horn
I’m with you 100% and I’m sorry this is your experience and the experience of so many women and girls.