We spoke to Bristol girls about ‘grey rape’ and why it needs to stop

Consent is consent, grey rape is not a thing


Have you ever woken up in bed the morning after a night out and been suddenly filled with regret? Perhaps there is a stranger lying next to you, perhaps they left during the night. The question plays on your mind, did we have consensual sex?

In 1994, Katie Roiphe published a book called 'The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campus', in which she writes "there is a gray area in which one person’s rape may be another’s bad night." Grey rape, defined here, is the term for sex when consent is unclear.

Grey rape is a common incident. A lot of people at university have probably been in a position where they have had sex with someone, or continued to have sex with someone, because it seems like the easier option. But no-one should ever feel obliged to have sex with someone and there is no point at which it is too late to say no.

Once someone has said no, no matter how quietly or even if they were laughing at the time, it is not okay to then continue to try and have sex with them – it's no different from date rape.

One Bristol student told The Tab how she saw a guy at a sports night, and after she had brought him back to her house, they were in bed kissing. She said: "I kept saying I didn't want to have sex with him, but we were still kissing and then he just pinned me down and shoved it in – so like we were in that kind of situation where it could have been implied that I wanted to but the whole time I was saying no, so not great".

Another Bristol University student told The Tab she was on a girls holiday to Barcelona, and she "hadn’t had much experience with guys". She ended up kissing "a really nice guy" when he suggested they go back to his.

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She continued: "I told him I had no experience really and he said it didn’t matter. He told me he wouldn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do, told me he would cook me breakfast and bring me back the next day in time for my flight. I got to his and freaked out because I realised I didn’t want to do anything.

"I felt guilty and thought by that time it was too late to back out… so I went on with it, I kept telling him it hurt, I kept telling him I wasn’t comfortable. He ended up finishing on my chest and then asking me if I knew my own way home".

In 2013, one in five women aged 16 to 59 had experienced some form of sexual violence, with 90 per cent of those who are raped knowing the perpetrator prior to the offence.

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The fact that an individual has consented to certain sexual acts does not mean they are committing to others.

Consent is consent, grey rape is not a thing. We need to stop using this term as an excuse for another form of date rape.

For more information or any details following any form of sexual assault please visit: www.rapecrisis.org.uk