Is It Possible To Orgasm While Being Raped? Is It Still Rape If You Do?

Short answer: Yes, you can and yes, it is unequivocally still rape.

Here’s the long answer:

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In Japan, there’s a subset of anime (cartoons) called “hentai” that I’ve watched a fair amount of over the years. Hentai is simply animated porn and a constantly recurring theme is women being forced to have sex and enjoying it. If you’re not aware of it, Japan has a bit of a misogyny problem, and it’s clearly reflected in the sexual fantasies the adult industry creates.

The premise is that it’s not rape if the woman “enjoys” the sex by either lubricating, achieving orgasm or both. I’ll admit that I bought into that myth, not because I have issues with women or fantasize about rape but because I believed that female arousal wasn’t just a matter of physical stimulation. I had simply never heard of a woman climaxing or lubricating during rape. For good reason, it turns out, but we’ll get to that in a minute. My ignorance allowed me to watch rape porn without understanding that’s exactly what it was.

Popular Science has since popped my bubble of unreality and corrected my misconceptions:

Quite simply, our bodies respond to sex. And our bodies respond to fear. Our bodies respond. They do so uniquely and often entirely without our permission or intention. Orgasm during rape isn’t an example of an expression of pleasure. It’s an example of a physical response whether the mind’s on board or not, like breathing, sweating, or an adrenaline rush. Therapists commonly use the analogy of tickling. While tickling can be pleasurable, when it is done against someone’s wishes it can be very unpleasant experience. And during that unpleasant experience, amid calls to stop, the one being tickled will continue laughing. They just can’t help it.

You would think that such a fact would be more widely known but we here in America have attached such a stigma to rape that no one wants to talk about it, especially the victims:

Matthew Atkinson, a domestic and sexual violence–response professional and author of “Resurrection After Rape,” wrote to me that, “Of the 500–600 clients I ever saw, only a couple of dozen disclosed [it] to me. However, when the topic is brought up on internet discussion forums, there seems to be a great deal of interest in it. That suggests to me that it’s more common than we may be aware…”

The voices of the internet suggest he’s right. Read through the Reddit thread or blogsor comments to articles that discuss orgasm during rape and you find story after story: “I was sexually abused at a young age and had an orgasm.” “…although I never stopped resisting I was horrified to find myself having a series of multiple orgasms…” “I thought I would never be able to tell – except here.” “Reading your post made me feel like maybe I am not such a freak.” One woman describes a violent and painful gang rape and recalls, “One of the most disturbing things that happened that night is that I had an orgasm. Despite years of marriage, it was my first orgasm ever.”

Keep in mind, in America, when a woman is raped, we overwhelmingly tend to blame the victim. You were drinking? You deserved it. You were dressed sexy? You were asking for it.

Yeah, if I was a rape victim that reached climax, I’d keep it to myself as well.

Too many rape victims already feel crushing guilt over their assault. I can’t imagine how much worse it must be to feel like they “enjoyed it” without knowing that it was a purely physical reaction.

I can, unfortunately, imagine how misogynists and rape apologists would react if they knew:

But how can this be? How can a victim’s experience of rape, especially violent rape, include an orgasm? If you are a blogger on one website (which I refuse to honor with a link) the explanation is simple: “You’ve suddenly realized that actually, in spite of what you thought before it happened, in reality you wanted to be raped and you’re… loving every minute of it… that fact alone makes ‘rape’ an act of consensual sex.”

Which, again, is the false premise of far far too much of the Japanese porn I’ve watched over the years.

No one likes to be confronted with their own ignorance, especially on such a sensitive subject and I’m no exception. But my discomfort pales in comparison to what rape victims have to deal with so there it is. In an ideal world, rape victims would never feel shame at all but our rape culture almost demands it. It also perpetuates myths like “rape is not rape if they ‘enjoy’ it” by shaming the victims into silence.

But only as long as we allow it to.