The “Reddit rape thread”: insights into the minds of perpetrators

Trigger warning: this post discusses rape and quotes rapists talking in detail about what they did and why they did it.

Reddit has set up a thread asking people who have committed rape what their motivations were and whether they felt regret. What followed were thousands of comments. Many of them met the brief. It’s a long thread, and triggering, but worth a look as the stories provide a lot of insight into the other side of rape. I have collated some of the most notable stories in this post.

It’s rare to see a first-hand accounts of rape from the perpetrator’s perspective. One of the interesting things about the thread is how many of the posters say they don’t think what they did was rape. This account from “threwawayshame” extends this idea:

I can’t make love to my wife if she’s not 100% into it. If she’s just going through the motions…which in a marriage happens somtimes…I have to stop. I feel guilty. My wife will tell me it;s no big thing. She’s probably making the shopping list in her head and has no problem whatsoever with the sex…but it makes me feel creepy.

But what am I gonna tell her? I feel that way cause I almost raped a teenage girl a few years before we met.

It’s weird reading some of these comments though. The prevailing message seems to be “she put out signals, you made a play, you realized your mistake, bravo”

I dunno. I don’t know if a moral superiority within made me stop..I’m pretty sure it did. I mean, I can’t see myself doing that. But thats a sober me thinking those thoughts. Thats a collected me thinking that.

I’m sure there’s a part of me that gutlessly thought…she WILL tell, and there’s no way a 22 yr old drunk guy’s going to be able to explain that it wasn’t rape.

I dunno. I just know that am I truely sorry to the girl. Looking back she was just a teenage girl that thought I was a nice guy. Harmless even. And I forced myself on her in her own bed. That’s skeezy.

It is interesting how from his description, he stopped because he wasn’t sure how to explain what he was doing wasn’t rape. This came after the point of using force. The boundary between not-rape and rape in this person’s mind was one he was not willing to cross: it was the label rather than sexual aggression which made him stop. However, it is the behaviour, not the label that is wrong. This is an area where consciousness needs to be raised.

Some of the posters blame urges, hormones, or just being horny. “thisisthrowaway2010” explains how he felt like the woman he coerced into sexual contact was not even human when he was in this state:

We went into her room and began to undress with what started as consensual, as we did she seemed preoccupied. We jumped into bed. Little of this, little of that. Slowly as things progressed I can’t recall what happened. I honestly can’t, it’s not that i’m scared or afraid, I really don’t remember. All I do remember is she was crying. She was having a flash back from her father raping her. I remember pulling off her and she kept crying. I then do remember doing something i’m probably most ashamed of is asking her to finish me off, more begging for it. My hormones were going insane, I didn’t have any empathy in my heart at that moment just my own concerns. She wasn’t a person anymore just a path, a tool, a means to an end. Then once again, I can’t remember. I don’t remember what happened, I never asked her. I almost don’t want to know. But I know I got off.

This “urge-based” justification is sometimes based on a “boys-will-be-boys” rationalisation, as with “throwingthisaway4”:

I was a freshman and hooking up with this girl who got naked in bed with me, then said no. I think she just wanted to do oral. I was extremely horny and already close to doing it, so I ignored her and did it. She realized what was happening and tried to clamp her legs shut, but it was too late and I was much stronger than her.

She kept whispering no, but I ignored it. lasted maybe a minute, two tops. no condom, that was stupid. When I finished, I fingered her until she came or faked it.

Hooked up with her a few more times. I rationalize the first time through the other times, but I know that’s a pretty shitty thing to do. The other times, I used a condom, and she didn’t say no, but she seemed uncomfortable, except with the fingering.

Now I feel terrible about it and wish I hadn’t done it. A while ago I saw a thread where someone said “An erect dick has no conscience.” Very true. When my daughter is old enough, I’m going to have a very frank conversation on male-female relations of the sort that I don’t think most girls get.

Most girls don’t really understand how horny guys are, how much stronger guys are, how guys will rationalize what they do. I see feminists and women on the Internet saying that no means no and women should be able to get as drunk as they want and not be sexually assaulted, and I couldn’t agree me. But the reality of the situation is that women have to be careful because guys are one way when they’re hanging out and another way when they’re horny or worse drunk and horny. That doesn’t make what happened okay, but it is what it is.

edit to add: the girl and I never really talked about what happened. It’s also sad that in our society a lot of women spend a lot of time when they’re adolescents or in theirs 20s sneaking around, because I think that’s when they’re most at risk and when they worry that they hvae soemthing to hide.

Rather gratifyingly, that poster was corrected on this feeble justification by other Redditors.

A clear recurring theme is a lack of appreciation for enthusiastic consent: some express surprise that the women felt like they had been raped because they had never said no, like “eatliftreddit”, who was receptive to an explanation from other Redditors about enthusiastic consent:

I got peer pressured in to hooking up with this girl. I kept saying I didn’t want to and my friends kept saying I had to lose my virginity. They say this for about a week and finally new years come so I figured might as well. We are both completely wasted and go to a room. I was to drunk to get it up so I fingered her and ate her out but she wasn’t really into it. So I stopped and then threw up all over her and I passed out. I guess she ran out and told them I raped her. She never said stop or anything but I could see how she could have froze up in fear. I don’t doubt she feels molested and I feel like an awful person but it wasn’t rape as SnugglesWithRuggles pointed out it was rape. Also my friends stopped talking to me and abandoned me after that

Many of the posters say they stopped upon seeing the expression of the woman, that it was this that made them realise that there wasn’t a state of consent that they had assumed, like this extract from “valenn10’s” story.

So I got up and asked if she wanted to have sex, she says “i don’t know”. I say “come on, you’re really hot blah blah blah” just spitting anything that might get me some pussy. Eventually I was on top of her with my tip rubbing against her pussy. She had never said no I don’t want to have sex just maybes and I don’t knows. So I’m in this position on top of her and she says “okay I guess”.

So I put it in slow and start doing my thing, we’re kissing and stuff but then I look at her face and it doesn’t look right. She looks scared and confused so I ask “Are you okay?” She says “yeah are you almost done?” I said “No we just started.” At this point I’m like wtf? What the hell did I do, why is she so uncomfortable? So even my drunk ass knows somethings off, so I pull out and try to find out whats wrong.

She keeps saying shes fine its nothing but I just feel weird about the whole situation so I leave and say I’ll see you tomorrow. I went back to my room and partied with the other 2 girls for the rest of the night.

It’s worth noting that in many stories both the perpetrator and survivor are drunk, and, a lot of the time, the perpetrators use alcohol as an excuse for not noticing a distinct lack of consent. It is precisely for this reason that we need to make the shift towards constructing consent as an active process of communication involving an enthusiastic “yes”, not something which is merely taken as a given until a “no”.

Unsurprisingly, alcohol also seems to be involved in stories where perpetrators had raped an unconscious woman. Sometimes the perpetrators are also drunk and therefore say they did not notice. Other times, like in “screwed-over’s” story, the perpetrator is completely sober:

I had just broken up with my girlfriend. She came to visit me at work right before we closed because she sad and missed me. She proceded to chug on the bottle of bourbon we were all passing around. Gets shit faced FAST. Passes out on the floor. I drag her to my car, load her into the backseat and drive her home. She then just magically woke up and bolted from the car and ran inside her apartment. I followed her to make sure she was ok. She was laying on her bed passed out. I knelt beside her and kissed her goodbye. That’s when she squirmed and rubbed her ass on me. Turned me on, a lot. I proceded to take her pants off and have sex with her right there; keep in mind she’s completely unconscience. That’s when her roomate walks in, sees her passed out and my pants around my ankles going to town. She screamed for me to get the fuck out.

Afterwards, I explained all of this to her and she barely remembers any of it. I apologized profusely. I still feel like a piece of shit for it.

A similar theme arises in a post from “DoNotReply2”:

This girl and her mom were visiting when I was about 14-15. She was about 16 with huge tits. I kept fantasizing about sneaking into the room next door and playing with her tits.

Then about 16-17 this girl falls asleep on the couch next to me. I felt I just had to touch her. I gently brushed my hand across her shirt. I immediately had to go to the bathroom and masterbate. I came back out to her with my dick out. Almost ejaculated on her. I have no idea what was going through my head. Just images and urges. I pulled it together though.

19-20 at a party, these two girls pass out and are dumped into an empty room. I’m already half asleep, I lay down next to them. I wake up with my hand down one of their pants.

At 24-25, I was really drunk and horny. She was asleep on the couch. I just needed to touch her and see her tits out of that tanktop. A friend of a friend saw me, told my friend. They never said anything. Wish they had.

Ended up happening again after a party. She was a good friend. I was drunk and super horny. I looked at her and knew I could never be with her. She had already hooked up with my friend. It was that feeling of never being able to do something, or have something. I looked at her and just saw something I would regret not trying for. So I thought if I could feel her I would know what it was to be with her. I grabbed her boob, over the shirt. I touched her lip and she moved her head. I stop dead thinking I woke her up, but she relaxed again. I started going upstairs but felt a sudden urge to lift her skirt. I ran my hand across her ass and between her legs. I was so drunk I turned on the light to get a better look, then quickly realized that it would wake her up and turned the light off.

But it did wake her and she got up and ran out. I woke up feeling the worst feelings about myself and my actions. I couldn’t believe I could let myself go as far as to molest a good friend. I have never had many friends. She told at least some of my friends and my roommate. He kicked me out, and I lost all my friends.

In both of these stories the “urges” defence is used, and the men claim they simply couldn’t help themselves from molesting unconscious women. What is interesting here is that while we feminists say that rape isn’t about sexual attraction, in the minds of these men who have raped, it is. This similarly appears at the beginning of “BestUseAThrowaway’s” story, and many others:

It was toward the end of my Sophomore year of high school, and this girl and I (we shall call her Sue) had been quite good friends for roughly four years or so. Anyways, Sue had always been quite flirty, she was a cop’s daughter and I feel that lead to her being a bit rebellious. I remember instances from years ago (possibly 8th grade or freshman year) where she would make jokes about different bras or thongs she was wearing, and was always freely talking about sexual desires and experiences. She just had this unusually sexual way of carrying herself, I don’t know if anyone knows what I’m talking about, but she’d kind of leave her mouth hanging open/bend over quite a bit/almost unreal-porn star like. The thing was she was quite attractive as well; short, blonde, well endowed, pretty eyes. Not necessarily a perfect 10, but very good looking.

I don’t believe for a minute that they can be so overwhelmed by attraction that they just can’t help themselves. It’s a way they justify crossing a line to themselves. Throughout the thread, many of the stories are incredibly long, obsessively laying out in minute detail factors which the perpetrators believe to be salient. What is curious is that these details map on to rape culture beliefs: the way the woman dressed, the fact she consented to something, the fact she had had sex with others and so on.

It is impossible to determine whether these perpetrators are using an already-present set of beliefs as a shorthand way of justifying their behaviour, or whether they have internalised these beliefs to the point where they truly believe they are just dicks on legs with no self-control. Either way, it’s another reason to kill rape culture.

Not all of the perpetrators in the thread feel remorse or regret. Some say they feel anger at being treated like they had done something wrong when they believed they did not. Some believe their lives were unjustly ruined by the rapes they had committed. On the whole, though, I left the thread feeling surprisingly positive. Many had accepted what they had done was wrong and had changed their behaviour towards respect and consent. Many of the other commenters were ready to explain to perpetrators why what they had done was not right, and many perpetrators were willing to listen.

It suggested to me that possibly, one day in the far-off future, we can build that world without rape and overturn rape culture. It will be a huge task, but it’s possible.


27 responses to “The “Reddit rape thread”: insights into the minds of perpetrators

  • nikky c (@gherkinette)

    It’s a tough read that thread, but like you I came away oddly positive. The original poster (highlighted in yellow) describes a rape so similar to my first that I had to keep checking it wasn’t the same person. Reading that has broken the bizarre intimacy I’ve had with the man who raped me and made the assault seem less personal in a way (as in not about me specifically).

    I’ve always felt there was something about me that meant I was raped (because it’s happened more than once) and I’ve internalised that and been fearful it will happen again, but hearing a rapist speak like that, makes me realise, it’s something about them, not me. My field of vision has switched suddenly. I can’t really explain it, but I feel a dragon has been slayed somehow.

  • neverdefiled

    I’m surprised you didn’t see this one – http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/x6yef/reddits_had_a_few_threads_about_sexual_assault/c5jtt3p

    WARNING – don’t click the link if you’re likely to be triggered by predation, rape, and rape apologism.

    Check out all the “Yay, good for you man, you changed!” comments.

    Sick. So glad I’ll never have kids, with creatures like that out there. Reddit is a paedo and scripts wet dream, because they’re seen as rebels by the libertarian idiots who believe consent at any. age is not particularly necessary. Freedom and all that, y’know?

    Off to puke.

    • stavvers

      The higher-rated comments, though, rightly call him out on being such a predator.

      I think that’s where some of my hope comes from–agree that Reddit is stuffed with people with thoroughly objectionable views and while there’s some awful comments, there’s so many more ones understanding why it’s so thoroughly wrong.

      And I agree, he doesn’t sound particularly remorseful, but at least he recognises it for what it was: serial rape.

    • 3am Wisdom

      That post chilled me to the core.

    • bigdaddykeltik

      I can’t help but think, this guy is looking to play out a scenario, that’s what gets him off. It’s entirely possible to meet like minded people who will safely and consensually play out edgy scenarios. But then there’s still a stigma about BDSM…

  • neverdefiled

    Bloody phone autocorrected ‘rapists’ to ‘scripts”

  • bigdaddykeltik

    I think there is something to the ‘urges’ excuse, in that the person does feel an overwhelming need to act on the urge and feel relief from it, couple that with the rape culture and the onus of resisting and controlling that urge being the perpetrator’s dissipates. I think the focus of any anti-rape campaign really needs to be ‘this all constitutes rape’, ‘only yes means yes’ and ‘learn to control your urges’, a more education based approach than shaming.

    • 3am Wisdom

      There is a huge difference between an excuse and an explanation.

    • sameolsht

      It sounds like you’re saying that shaming rapists is not the way to go. I think we should work together to make them feel more shame, for what they do is quite shameful indeed. And I don’t buy into any of their excuses…and I wish others wouldn’t either as it only serves to validate their vile behavior. Bigdaddykeltic: I’m hoping and assuming you’ve never raped anyone. I’ll also assume, that like most of us, you can have some pretty strong sexual urges. You and I can control them (or sate them) without hurting anyone, so why should we accept any “excuses” from others?

      • stavvers

        I think shaming the behaviour rather than people is a better way of dealing with it, if we’re driving for a societal-level behaviour change.

      • bigdaddykeltik

        I’m not a rapist, and I am not excusing rapists, I’m suggesting that to defeat something, it helps to try understand it. If we can understand the motivation behind these acts then we can tailor the response. These guys talk about acting on urges when the opportunity arises as opposed to creating the situation. The response to that needs to be that you cannot just let your hormones take charge, you are capable of understanding the outcome of your actions & have a concept of right & wrong. You’re not just an animal acting on instinct & that the responsibility is yours, not your victims. Shame shuts that person down. I think a peer driven preventative educational offensive would be more effective. I think there is a clear difference between a horny guy taking advantage of a situation & a predator on the hunt for a victim. The approach needs to be different to be effective.

        I guess I should also add this, before someone questions what the fuck my opinions matters for, I am not a rapist, I have however been assaulted.

    • sameolsht

      Thanks for the clarification, and I appreciate what you’re saying. I think your opinion matters and that you certainly have the right to express it here, regardless of your gender (that’s what we feminists are fighting for, certainly wouldn’t want to deny that to anyone else!).

  • sameolsht

    I really want to understand this concept. A behavior can’t feel shame and I think that people who do shitty things to other people should feel shame. I’m sure you’ve got some great resources you can point me to so that I can better understand this (and if you’re so inclined, I appreciate it). Thanks in advance😉

    • sameolsht

      I have a tendency to over-analyze…I hope I didn’t come off as snarky in my comment. I think you’re wonderful and I love your blog. I’ve thought about it some more, and I’m coming to understand the concept of shaming the behavior, and how important that is. And of course, I would love to see things change on a societal level. However, I still think shaming the rapist is justified and necessary in order for things to change.

  • throughthetrees

    we absolutely should shame men who rape. If people do damaging horrible things to other people they should be shamed for it. That’s pretty much exactly the right use for shame

  • bigdaddykeltik

    Maybe this should be included in sex ed in schools? Teach boys awareness of consent, how it works, if someone can’t consent, then they’re not still fair game. Likewise for girls, this is how to say no, this is how to consent.

    • nikky c (@gherkinette)

      I actually think we need to teach what you describe above anyway, not just in sex ed. So much of the boundary setting happens before sex ever enters the equation. If you can’t say ‘no I don’t want to’ when fully clad and in company, you aren’t going to find the ability to do it when sex some into it. We can’t everyone to totally reverse their social conditioning when a rape happens, but without the concept of consent and respect being taught from when children are very small, you can end up with boys who feel entitled to whatever they want and girls who don’t know how to say no and be heard.

      These are useful life skills generally and I agree with you on the need for teaching.

    • neverdefiled

      There’s just one problem though – they already know what “No I don’t want to” means. They understand it when it’s expressed verbally, or physically via body language, or through facial expressions. They just don’t care.

      http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mythcommunication-its-not-that-they-dont-understand-they-just-dont-like-the-answer/

      • bigdaddykeltik

        Did you read the accounts? A bullheaded approach isn’t working. Education works.

        • neverdefiled

          Ah yes, here’s the condescension.

          Listen, I worked with sex offenders for five years. With the exception of a tiny minority (who had serious learning disabilities) they just don’t give a fuck, they get off on knowing.

          The reddit stories (reports? haha, no!) that contain phrases along the lines of “Halfway through I looked at her face and realised she was crying”, does that not tell you something?

          First – they’ve started having sex with her without making sure she wants to.

          Second – they haven’t. looked at her, made eye contact, or related to her.

          This means that they do not care about what she wants, because she’s just a walking receptacle to them.

          It came up over and over again on reddit and in my former job. Either they know for sure via screams and struggling, but that’s what gets them off, or they don’t know because they didn’t ask. They don’t ask because they don’t care. Their victims aren’t girls or women, they’re mobile cunts.

          There’s one last category, much less common, win hears the crying, sees the fear and struggling, and interprets it like this – “She’s saying NO, acting like she’s fighting me, but I know she wants it, she’s just scared someone will find out” or “She’s been told sex is dirty, that’s why she’s pretending not to want it”.

          Hearing that about four year olds gets old really quickly.

          Teaching boys “No means no” happens at home, in school, everywhere. They understand it in every other context, so they don’t get to pretend their hard-on destroys their language comprehension skills.

          Nobody likes to hear this, but there will ALWAYS be sexual predators out there, and they use the same excuses and rationalisations the World over. And again, not good to hear, but a great deal of sex offenders just cannot be rehabilitated. Oh they know the words to say to convince people they’re reformed characters, but stick a plethysmograph on them, let their cock do the talking, and it’s clear nothing has changed. Back they go. onto the wing of the Secure Psych Hospital, where they’ll probably end up dying.

          The rapists, child molesters*, and paedophiles who’ve also molested kids will say and do things, together and separately, that would make you puke yourself inside out. They really don’t give two shits about anything but themselves.

          At least the secure hospitals study them as much as they can, in order to detect them earlier. That’s one advantage over a busy, chaotic prison.

          *The media bandy ‘Paedo’ around when they mean “child molester”. However, most paedophiles never act, so they’re out there in the wild. There are ‘exclusive paedophiles’ who are not attracted to sexually mature people, and do not form relationships with them. There are also paedophiles than can ‘pass’ as normal people, and get married to, or cohabit with, an adult partner.

          There are also offenders that rape and molest kids, but they’re not paedophiles, they’re not attracted to kids, they just want to have a victim that’s easy to manipulate, or it’s someone they haun easy and unquestioned access to, like their child, a pupil, or a neighbour. They’ve usually raped or assaulted adults too.

          reddit has a vocal group of paedophiles, and they have a fairly large support base. The problem with unmoderated threads about rape and paedophilia is that it can serve to normalise it. Most people (the normal ones) recoil in horror at the rape/paedo stuff, but there’ll always be a group of people who think “Wow, I’m not the only one who’s done that! Guess I’m not so bad after all, it’s time to forgive myself!”

          It happened to two clients of mine who’d been devastated after what they’d done (one raped a girl he met in a bar, the other molested his niece), until they joined discussions on a BBS and Usenet, filled with other offenders. Hearing that “Loads of people do it” and “It’s the law that’s messed up, there’s no real problem with [crime committed], we’re just too uptight about sex”. Those echo chambers, like the ones on reddit, can cause an offender/potential offender to lose sight of how heinous that crime really is.

          God, I need a scalding hot shower after reliving that job.

  • Cadno

    It’s not often one gets to see such a fine example of cherry picking. When it’s done properly, it really is a thing of beauty.

    Nice.

  • People I will never have sex with ever: those who don’t “get” enthusiastic consent « Another angry woman

    […] wrong. At worst, they might be rapists–the “Reddit rape thread” is riddled with stories in the vein of “I saw her face and realised she was crying so […]

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