By Jack M. (An excerpt from the Manhattan Spirit)

I raped a woman. I do not believe that I am a pathological sex offender, but all the same, I raped. I don't think I am a bad guy. I have a college degree in the arts from a prestigious school and I get along well with my parents, who are still married. I do not hate women or the world, or myself, for that matter. My female friends, as well as many of my ex-girlfriends, think I am a bright, caring, understanding person. But all of that did not keep me from raping.

I did not understand that what I did was rape until about a year ago. What made me finally recognize my crime was the recent surge in media cover about date rape.

I went to a New York City bar, scamming‹ looking of someone to bed for the night‹ with some of my friends. We had already been drinking steadily and by the time we got there, we were still coherent but basically numb.

Through the entire night, even though I was drinking, I remained in control of my body. The booze made me feel invincible, immune to rejection. That night, whatever I wanted I was going to take, and nothing was going to stop me.

I met her at the bar. She was from England and had come to New York for a short time to tour with a musical revue. When I walked in I knew I wanted to bed this girl. I wanted to have sex that night, and she looked like an inviting prospect.

That was a period in my life when I was "slutting" heavily. I would pick a woman up at a bar and sleep with her the same night. I started to think I was entitled to sex. After talking a girl up and buying her a few drinks, I would do everything I could to make her go to bed with me. Usually she was willing. Sometimes it took a little more work to convince her.

She had only recently arrived and did not know much about the city. We talked for a while and a mild seduction took place. It was clear she'd been drinking before I arrived, and we had three or four drinks together. As the alcohol made her less guarded, I convinced her that I was interested in what she was saying and was beginning to really care about her. Our thighs rubbed together, my arm brushed against her breast.

I was getting to her. We drank some more and I grew confident that I was not going home alone that night. She was staying at a friend's place downtown, and I assumed that when we left together, it meant she was going over to my place.

I always had a secret agenda with women. I would do anything I could to seduce them. I would use empathy, understanding, humor, even my deepest secrets to get them on my side. I would show that I was a sensitive guy and use that for the sole purpose of bedding them.

This time I used a woman's drunkenness and unfamiliarity with the city for my purposes. Once I had her out of the bar, she had no friends to help her, no one to call, nowhere to go except where I wanted her to go.

We started walking and she asked, "Where are we going?" and I said, "Just walking," knowing that we were heading in the direction of my apartment. We would stop sporadically and make out. During one heavy session, I said to her, "Come back to my place," and she refused. I said, "What do you mean, no? This is New York City. You don't leave a bar with a guy and not sleep with him. C'mon, this isn't England, this is the big city! This is how we do things." She still refused, but I could tell I was influencing her with that ridiculous line. We walked some more, all the time getting closer to my apartment, and I used that line time and time again as I took her through unfamiliar streets. We reached my apartment and I asked her if she wanted to come up. She said no, and I said, "Just come up for a little bit and then I'll take you back." That sat better with her, and I congratulated myself for the brilliant sell.

We got up to my apartment and I began kissing her, but now she was not responding like she did on the street. I asked her, "What's the matter?" But she just stared blankly past me. I began to touch her more aggressively, squeezing her breasts, rubbing the inside of her thighs. Still no reaction. I felt like I was fondling a rag doll.

Not that I cared. I did not need any response to get what I wanted.

I eased her down on the bed. She did not resist me but moved like dead weight, staring straight ahead and grinding her teeth furiously. "Christ, what a repulsive sound," I said, and I thought maybe she was trying to turn me off enough so I would stop what I was doing.

I was not going to stop now. She was half naked on my bed with no one around. I was going to have this girl. I began removing her pantyhose and she firmly crossed her legs.

Grinding her teeth and tensing her body were the only ways she could safely express her fear. Here was a girl in a dark apartment with a man she had never met before who could have easily killed her, in a city that he had described to her as a moral vacuum. She did not cry, scream, or fight.

The sex lasted about a minute or two, and when it was over, I had the familiar aftertaste left by unsatisfying sex. My coercive power, which had been so relentless five minutes before, was spent. The manipulative force I'd used had left me empty.

I did not want this girl sleeping in my bed.

I also did not want to walk her home. She sat up in bed and said she wanted to leave. By now it was four AM and I could not let her go out alone, even if she did know how to get back.

"Just sleep over," I said reluctantly. "You can leave when it's light out." She did sleep over, and didn't stop grinding her teeth through the entire night.

My male friends say they have been in similar situations. One said, "I feel guilty, but what can you do? You try not to make the same mistake again."

Others do not see that what they did was wrong. Another friend told me, "I did something like that once, but I don't think it's rape. Come on, it's not like you forced her to have sex with you."

But didn't I force her? What constitutes force? Do I have to threaten her life? Do I have to physically hurt her as a way of making her submit?

If I were walking in a dangerous and unfamiliar neighborhood and a man twice my size walked up to me on a deserted street and said, "Give me your money," I would probably hand it over. I would think, "This guy could easily kill me. He did not threaten me, but merely demanded I give him something. I could run, but I would not know where to go for help. I may lose my money and feel violated, but it is better than having him kill me."

I feel now that the power to rape is still inside me. Now, when I meet a woman and see that she likes me, I am very cautious not to make the first move. I will talk to her, still possibly thinking about being intimate with her, but I will not seduce. I will not try to pull desire out of her, whether it is there or not.

Even after she makes the first move, and things progress to sex (now a matter of days or weeks later, instead of hours), I am far less aggressive and far more careful in my actions. Until I understand my own power, I will not use it. I never want to rape again.

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