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No, Amy Schumer did not give a speech celebrating how she raped a guy

Any Schumer, not giving a speech
Amy Schumer, not celebrating rape.

Thought Catalog – which seems to be rapidly becoming the go-to site for terrible antifeminist posts – is making a bit of a stir on Reddit with a post bearing the deliberately provocative title “Wait A Second, Did Amy Schumer Rape a Guy?” Spoiler Alert: The anonymous author concludes that yes, she did. The anonymous author is full of shit.

In the Thought Catalog piece, Anonymous takes a look at a speech that Schumer – a comedian with some subversive feminist leanings — recently gave at the Gloria Awards and Gala, hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women. The centerpiece of Schumer’s speech, a bittersweet celebration of confidence regained, was a long and cringeworthy story about a regrettable sexual encounter she had in her Freshman year of college, when her self-esteem was at an all-time low.

The short version of the story: A guy named Matt, whom Schumer had a giant crush on, called her at 8 AM for a booty call, after he apparently had been turned down by every other woman in his little black book. Amy, thinking she was being invited for an all-day-date, only discovered his real intent when she got to his dorm room and he romantically drunkenly pushed her onto the bed and started fingering her.

After several failed attempts at intercourse, and what she describes as an “ambitious” attempt to go down on her, he finally gave up and fell asleep on top of her. Lying there listening to Sam Cooke, she decided she didn’t want to be “this girl” any more, “waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under him and out the door.”

Looking back on the incident, she thanks her failed lover for introducing her “to my new self, a girl who got her value from within her.”

But Thought Catalog’s anonymous author, noting the extreme drunkenness of Schumer’s stumbling lover, concludes that “Amy’s actions may have constituted as rape in the eyes of her college, Towson University.” (Or at least according to the school’s current policies.)

Anonymous quotes Towson’s current policy on sexual harassment, which states:

In order to give effective Consent, one must not be mentally or physical incapacitated (e.g., by alcohol or drugs, unconsciousness, mental disability).

And adds:

It’s hard to argue that Matt was not mentally incapacitated. In Amy’s words, he was “wasted.” 

Actually, the fact that Matt wasn’t too intoxicated to initiate an assortment of sexual acts with her — or to get up and change the music at her request — suggests that he wasn’t “mentally incapacitated,” at least by the standards used by colleges when investigating alleged sexual assaults. The Association of Title IX Administrators’ Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Model Policy (which sets an unofficial standard for college administrators) defines incapacitation as “a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the ‘who, what, when, where, why or how’ of their sexual interaction).”

In any case, it’s not clear why Anonymous is looking at Towson’s sexual harassment policy, which is designed to deal with “non-consensual Sexual Contact, Sexual Exploitation, or requests for sexual favors that affect educational or employment decisions,” and which clearly doesn’t apply to Schumer’s story.

As for sexual assault, the school’s official web site states:

Sexual assault is defined by Towson University as forcible sexual intercourse, sexual penetration–however slight–of another person’s genital or anal opening with any object, sodomy, or any unwanted touching of an unwilling person’s intimate parts or forcing an unwilling person to touch another’s intimate parts. Under this definition, these acts must be committed either by force, threat, intimidation, or through the use of the victim’s mental or physical helplessness, of which the accuser was or should have been aware. This includes, but is not limited to, victim helplessness resulting from intoxication or from the taking of a so-called “date-rape drug.”

This definition is drawn from the University of Maryland System Policy on Sexual Assault, which classifies sexual assault involving penetration — the traditional definition of rape — as a more serious type of sexual assault (Sexual Assault I) than those forms of sexual assault involving touching (Sexual Assault II). By this standard, assuming we equate Sexual Assault I with rape, Schumer clearly did not rape him.

Anonymous then looks at Maryland’s state laws and concludes:

In the eyes of Maryland state law, things get a bit more complicated. Amy could be guilty of rape or sexual assault depending on whether or not penetration was achieved. According to the state law, a person may not engage in vaginal intercourse with another “if the victim is a mentally defective individual, a mentally incapacitated individual, or a physically helpless individual, and the person performing the act knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a mentally defective individual, a mentally incapacitated individual, or a physically helpless individual.” Legally, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t rape, at least given the details in Amy’s speech.

Well, actually, yes it is. And not just legally, but by any reasonable definition of the word “rape.”

Because Schumer, at least by her account, wasn’t “the person performing the act.” He was. She was lying there wondering what had gone wrong with her life.

If you read the speech in its entirety, instead of depending on the selective quotations in the Thought Catalog post, this is abundantly clear. As she describes it, he:

Pushes her down on the bed; as she writes, he does “that sexy maneuver where the guy pushes you on the bed, you know, like, ‘I’m taking the wheel on this one. Now I’m going to blow your mind. …’”

Penetrates her with his fingers; as she writes, “[h]is fingers poked inside me like they had lost their keys in there.”

Tries to have intercourse, though his penis is only half-willing; she describes him as “pushing aggressively into my thigh, and during this failed penetration, I looked around the room to try and distract myself or God willing, disassociate.” Even using the “made to penetrate” standard, she’s not raping him, because she’s not making him do anything; he’s the active one.

Goes down on her.

Attempts intercourse again; this time, “[o]n his fourth thrust, he gave up and fell asleep on my breast.”

At no point in Schumer’s story does she describe herself as initiating anything. Indeed, she spends much of the time thinking to herself how much she wants to leave.

He started to go down on me. That’s ambitious, I think. Is it still considered getting head if the guy falls asleep every three seconds and moves his tongue like an elderly person eating their last oatmeal? … Is it? Yes? It is. I want to scream for myself, “Get out of here, Amy. You are beautiful, you are smart, and worth more than this. This is not where you stay.”

If a woman initiates sex with a man who is too drunk to consent, that’s rape. But a woman lying motionless trying to dissociate while a man tries to penetrate her is not a rapist. Even if he is drunk.

And that’s the case no matter how you switch the genders up.

Of course that’s not how they see things on Reddit, where most of those who’ve commented on the story have been quick to agree with the Thought Catalog author that Schumer raped her partner. Ironically, it’s been those outside the Men’s Rights subreddit who have been the most outspoken on this point. In TwoXChromosomes, a subreddit ostensibly devoted to women but in fact overrun with MRAs and other antifeminists, someone calling herself Shield_Maiden831 has gotten more than 200 net upvotes for a comment concluding that “[i]f you really believe in equality, then it seems to be a clear cut case from her own admission.”

Not everyone agrees. Elsewhere in TwoX , one commenter by the name of critropolitan argues, I think quite cogently, that

Unless the full transcript reveals something that the quotes in the article don’t, it doesn’t seem like Schumer exploited this guys mental state to do something to him that violated his will.

He was the one who called her.

He was the one who acted every step of the way and she went along with it.

Assuming that a person who is drunk is, automatically, in virtue of being drunk, without agency, is a mistake. It is moreover a mistake only made with regard to sex – no one thinks the same with regard to bar fights or the choice to drive. Drunken sex might not be the platonic ideal of sex, but it is not automatically rape in every case regardless of the actual state of minds, wishes, and feelings of the participants. …

There is no suggestion that Amy engaged in any sexual contact with this guy while he was passed out, or that she did something he didn’t want to do but he simply lacked the capacity to effectively resist or communicate non consent. Instead he was drunk enough to show significant signs of drunkeness, but not so drunk that he couldn’t not only communicate effectively but take a sexual initiative.

Rapists can exploit the vulnerability of drunk people, but we must walk back from the bizarre and agency-denying position that all drunk sex is rape. Rape is far too serious a matter for this bullshit.

It is.

But of course the MRAs and antifeminists on Reddit now accusing Schumer of rape aren’t interested in taking rape seriously. Indeed, if we look back on how they regularly talk about rape and issues of consent, it’s clearly they’re interested in taking rape less seriously. Their main interest in this case is as a supposed “gotcha” of a prominent female comedian with feminist leanings. In the process they are slandering her, and trivializing the real issue of rape.

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cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
5 years ago

What on earth is going on in this conversation? It’s getting Twilight Zone-ish. You appear to be trying to draw a line so fine that it’s going to be pretty much impossible to navigate, or rather asking the women who comment here to do so. For the sake of not making dudes like this one feel bad? If you were saying that you were worried about getting sued that would make some sort of sense, but this really isn’t.

contrapangloss
5 years ago

I think I get what David’s saying:

If someone out and out claims they’ve done something bad, or describes enough that we can say the things they’re saying are ridiculously wrong, than calling that out’s good.

… but when it’s vague, I don’t think David want’s this blog to be a place where MRAs and Trolls can point to and yell “FALSE ACCUSATIONS” or claim that we call anyone we disagree with criminals. Also, even if it might not be lawsuit worthy, not libeling people is probably good policy.

Even if they are creepy, creepy, creepy folks who would fit in well in Mos Eisley and have red flags of badness. Telling them they are creepy, creepy folks who would fit in well in Mos Eisley is still fine. Because it is truth.

Saying, “Hey everyone! See this glorious example of a red flag? It is associated with this and this and this, and is creepy and if you ever meet someone in 3D-space with this, RUN” is also still fair.

David, am I sort of right?

Did that actually disambiguate anything?

grumpyoldnurse
5 years ago

Meh, David’s blog, David’s rules.

Also, he’s the first one who’d get named in any law suits. And even a frivolous, unwinnable one filed purely for the annoyance factor can be a pain in the butt, and expensive. Since I like this blog too much to deliberately contribute to any aggravation for its owner, I think I can live with this addendum.

Finally, David’s blog, David’s rules. (and that really is my best argument)

kittehserf - MOD
5 years ago

contrapangloss, thank you, and yes, you did.

David, thank you for clarifying; I’ll just say it would have saved a lot of distress if you’d done so to begin with. It initially read as “man telling a bunch of women not to say someone came across as a likely rapist”.

marinerachel
marinerachel
5 years ago

Someone talking like a rapist, someone using the same arguments rapists use to absolve themselves of responsibility for rape – all you need to support that is a person’s words, which these fucking creeps dole out whether we wish them too or not.

I don’t know whether these guys are rapists or not – I certainly don’t have any evidence that they’re responsible for any occurrence of rape – but I do know that if a rapist overheard what they were saying they would think that person was their bro and took no issue with their actions.

Doogle
Doogle
5 years ago

I’ve only just heard about this debacle, and now that I’ve heard both sides, I’ve come to a personal conclusion. (Which I will share because it’s the internet fuck you buddy I didn’t make you read this shit.)

I think it’s pretty clear that she did not rape anybody, but that attempting to sleep with someone so wasted was still irresponsible. Irresponsibility isn’t a crime, nor should she be crucified for it. However, if I were in her shoes, I’d have been too damn terrified to even think too loudly about sex with someone so drunk. The idea of someone potentially waking up to remember the events with disdain is simply horrifying, and I would never want to be the person to ruin someone’s day/week/year/life(?).

coltov mocktail
coltov mocktail
5 years ago

Reverse genders and i’d love to hear how it isn’t rape. Schumer had sex with a guy who was completely out of it. doesn’t matter who did what to whom. if Schumer was a guy and Matt was a girl -no one would have a problem calling it rape.

sparky
sparky
5 years ago

Oh, FFS. How many fucking times did we go over this? No, Amy Schumer did not rape Matt.

But sure, let’s reverse the genders and see!

The original:

The short version of the story: A guy named Matt, whom Schumer had a giant crush on, called her at 8 AM for a booty call, after he apparently had been turned down by every other woman in his little black book. Amy, thinking she was being invited for an all-day-date, only discovered his real intent when she got to his dorm room and he romantically drunkenly pushed her onto the bed and started fingering her.

After several failed attempts at intercourse, and what she describes as an “ambitious” attempt to go down on her, he finally gave up and fell asleep on top of her. Lying there listening to Sam Cooke, she decided she didn’t want to be “this girl” any more, “waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under him and out the door.”

Now, with the genders reversed!

The short version of the story: A woman named Mary, whom Andy had a giant crush on, called him at 8 AM for a booty call, after she apparently had been turned down by every other man in her little black book. Andy, thinking he was being invited for an all-day-date, only discovered her real intent when he got to her dorm room and she romantically drunkenly pushed him onto the bed and started fingering him.

After several failed attempts at intercourse, and what he describes as an “ambitious” attempt to go down on him, she finally gave up and fell asleep on top of him. Lying there listening to Sam Cooke, he decided he didn’t want to be “this guy” any more, “waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under her and out the door.”

Now, did Andy rape Mary in that hypothetical, gender-reversed situation? No, no he did not. Hypothetical Andy, like real Amy, was the passive recipient of drunken groping and attempts at sex, not the initiator. You can not commit a crime by not commiting a crime. You can not rape someone while passively laying underneath them and not doing anything to them while they finger and hump you. This should be completely fucking obvious.

And it is to everyone but willfully ignorant trolls looking for a “gotcha.”

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

Mocktail,
If a drunk man tried to start a fight with you by pushing you and hitting you and you, who are sober push him to get him off of you, are you guilty of assault? After all, he was drunk. So even though he was the aggressor, he’s not responsible for his aggression. Because drunk. Therefore, you assaulted an innocent man who did not know what he’s doing!

Lea
Lea
5 years ago

doesn’t matter who did what to whom.

Yeah, kiddo. It does. Make context your friend.

If a drunk guy were to finger your butt, I think you’d understand that you weren’t raping him.
Now back! Back to the Reddit thread that spawned you!

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

Interestingly under English law she might have committed an offence.

We have a new offence of ‘causing a person to engage in a sexual act’. It’s aimed at people who passively get sexual gratification from someone who’s not capable of consenting.

Although the Act uses the word ’caused’ that has sometimes been held to include ‘permits ‘

The framers of the act probably had in mind someone who just left their bits in the way as it were when someone was half asleep, but it could apply here. In theory

I doubt if the CPS would consider it in the public interest to prosecute as Amy removed herself from the situation before he got too far.

Spindrift
Spindrift
5 years ago

Wow, they’re never going to stop necroing this one, are they?

emilygoddess - WHTM Mod
emilygoddess - WHTM Mod
5 years ago

i’d love to hear how it isn’t rape

Then feel free to scroll bsck and familiarize yourself with the 656447 other times this has been addressed.

Princess Star
Princess Star
5 years ago

Anti-feminists are douches.

Jessay (@jessay)
5 years ago

I know this is old news but I just read about this and google brought me here where I used to comment a lot so yeah.

Man, this is tough. This is why teaching consent is so important. Because I do think she had responsibility in this situation to say no, just like I would hold a sober man responsible for telling a drunk woman no who was coming onto her. Her description sounds like too drunk to consent. I’ve been capable of doing a lot of things when I was too drunk to consent. Being able to get up and change music doesn’t equal having the mental capacity to consent to sex. Even if they initiated it. The only time I really feel the initiation is key is if the person initiating is being told no/not given a yes/forcing himself/etc (her recollection is wanting to be with him), or when the other party is in the same level of drunkenness and just kind of passively accepting/not able to really stop it. It gets murky there.

My practice for years since finding feminism has been if a man is drunk, I’m not gonna have sex with him (unless we have an arrangement where we agree that drunk sex is wanted while sober and we’re both into it at the time). I have turned down multiple drunk men who have come onto me, men who I wanted to sleep with, but who I did not want to rape. And maybe they would’ve been cool with it the next day or whatever, but that wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. I told them to talk to me when they were sober or, in instances where we were together that long, waited until they had clearly sobered up to be like, “yeah, it’s cool.”

Now, when we talk about Amy Schumer, did she have the information to make an educated decision back then as I do now? Probably not. The discourse on rape and consent was probably pathetic when she was in college. But I do think she should be smart enough to realize that this story is not funny, not cute, and incredibly dangerous and irresponsible. She doesn’t really have an excuse to not realize that men can be raped and that men need informed consent in this day and age. And telling this story as a “quirky tale” really grosses me out. Regardless of the lack of penetration, it’s sexual assault. And while she eventually was like, “Fuck this” and got up and left, she at least began the encounter willingly despite his very obvious inability to make an informed decision. It would’ve been different had she reported something like, “I was scared but he grabbed me and pushed me down,” but instead she reported it as something she wanted, but that was so clumsy and weird that she changed her mind and left.

I dunno, I don’t think her behavior was defensible and she needs a lesson in informed consent and how the rape of men is not funny.

jessaymack
5 years ago

Bleh there were some typos there. Hers and he’s were accidentally switched. Hopefully that made sense.

But I also want to note that while I feel she had the responsibility to say no, he also has the ability to determine whether or not he considered that sexual assault, it’s not really up to us to determine. But the likelihood of a man, especially back then, acknowledging this as sexual assault would be low. Just because of the shame and pressure we put on men to want sex at all times, and to appreciate even unwanted sexual attention, due to that disgusting dichotomy that paints men as more valuable and women as less valuable the more sex they have.

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

Jessay,
The thing is, she was pinned under him and had to escape. Once she realized how drunk he was, she wanted to leave, not rape him.

If we call something like this rape, that opens the door to men getting to rape women with impunity because they can just say “I was drinking, she raped me!” Because being the aggressor is invalidated as long as he consumed alcohol. It doesn’t work that way.

Jessay (@jessay)
5 years ago

I just don’t see this as the slippery slope that you guys do. I think circumstance matters. She showed up to a situation she didn’t expect, but she recognized it for what it was, and became a willing participant in it, didn’t enjoy it, and left. Some of you have said she didn’t go over with the intent to sleep with him so she’s not responsible, but a lot of crimes of opportunity don’t start with the perpetrator intending to commit one. She described him as “wasted” which, to me, suggests a level of drunkenness that is beyond “I’m having fun with lower inhibitions” to “I’m not thinking rationally at all.” So, as I said before, when I’m in situations like that, ESPECIALLY when I’m sober, I would rather just not get laid than risk the person waking up and feeling like they had been taken advantage of. And I’d like for people to treat me the same way.

I don’t think drunkenness prevents you from raping, or committing any crime either. This was an interaction which, from her words, suggests she was willingly participating in. Had she shown up, seen he was drunk, and then said, “No, that’s not a good idea” but he pushed her on the bed and pinned her down anyways, THAT would be an act of rape which would make her the victim and him the perpetrator, regardless of his level of intoxication. You have the responsibility while drunk to not commit a crime, other people have the responsibility to not commit crimes against you, no matter how much say you want it, if your level of intoxication is past a certain point.

People discuss the car contract. You can go in hammered and demand someone sell you that car, they still have to recognize that you legally can’t sign anything in that state. But if you then steal that car because they won’t give it to you, you’ve committed a crime while drunk. People also discuss groping. Groping is an unwanted advance, different than two people touching each other willingly. I feel like we’re all capable of making that distinction that a drunk person grabbing you against your will is not the same as a drunk person grabbing you when you’re grabbing them back reciprocally.

I’m not saying that all drunk sex is rape. I have drunk sex with my boyfriend but we have the type of relationship in which we have the understanding that, so long as both of us are into it at the time, it’s ok. When I was single, I didn’t have that understanding with the guys who came onto me, so I didn’t want to risk it.

In one instance I was totally sober, liked the guy for a while, but he was wasted. He hadn’t come onto me prior to that, and I felt like it would be wrong of me to agree to have sex with him in that state regardless of the fact that I wanted to. I told him, “Sorry, you’re really drunk, that wouldn’t be right” and despite him being a bit confused, that was that. We’re still friends. He hasn’t come onto me sober since. I think I made the right decision.

Obviously, there are scenarios where women feel it’s not safe to say no, but in the story I read, none of that fear was present.

Another instance was another friend. We were both pretty drunk. He started hitting on me. But it’s so well-ingrained in me by now that people who are really drunk can’t consent, that it’s embedded itself into my brain, even when I’m drunk. I knew he had a girlfriend and I brought her up. He told me he was losing interest in her. I said , “Ok, but talk to me about this when you’re sober,” and shut it down based on his level of intoxication. Again, I think I made the right decision. I don’t want to be the person who violates someone’s lack of informed consent when they’re not thinking rationally.

I have had casual, drunk sex, which was not rape because we weren’t past the point of rational thinking (or was with someone who I’d given generalized, drunk sex is cool, consent to), and I have been sexually assaulted while drunk. But, judging by what you all are saying, I guess I wasn’t because I was just “wasted” (blackout, falling down, throwing up, rambling) and not completely passed out while the guy was sober enough to recognize that I wasn’t all there but went ahead anyways. But since I responded to what was happening to me positively in a completely incoherent state, I guess it was all good? There was, to me, a clear difference between myself in that state and myself drunk, lowered inhibitions, but still rational and capable of understanding what is happening.

And I also think it’s dangerous to be talking about how some people go out getting drunk in order to lose inhibitions and get laid. Yes, we know people do this. But we also know that wanting to get laid does not equal wanting to sleep with ANYBODY who comes along. I’ve seen that argument use to claim drunk women were asking for sex they didn’t want because, well, they obv went to the bar to get laid, right? We don’t know this guy’s POV. Maybe he really did have a little black book with people he wanted to specifically sleep with in it and got drunk with the intention of getting laid, picked her name as a person he’d want to sleep with sober or drunk, and thinks it’s all good. But maybe he didn’t. Maybe he didn’t even know who he was calling because he was so out of it.

Again, we don’t know what this guy thought about this encounter, so I’m not gonna assign him a label he doesn’t agree to. I just see this story as incredibly dangerous and irresponsible. It’s not cool to tell a story like this and not recognize how fucked up your decision to accept the advances of a relative stranger who was so drunk they started passing out mid-oral is. Not just on the basis of, “this sex sucked and I’m better than this,” but as a personally immoral decision. I think it’s important to reiterate to people that, as a sober person, you have a level of capacity for reason that a drunk person does not, and it’s your responsibility to utilize it. If you don’t have a reasonable understanding that the person wants to have sex with you, drunk or sober (and that doesn’t include just being a guy who is supposed to always want sex), like, for instance, the man here with the gf who was struggling with confidence (been there myself with a bf), better safe than sorry.

Josh
Josh
4 years ago

And this is why male victims of rape will never be taken seriously. Because every time a case of male rape is put to you, you analyse it so it isn’t rape.

whistlindixie71
whistlindixie71
4 years ago

This website and the comment section is a pathetic cesspool. Shame on all of you. I wish I’d never stumbled across this place.

Joe
Joe
4 years ago

Futrelle, I went and read some of the Schumer talk. I didn’t need to hear all your BS. I just needed to hear what SCHUMER said and I got this from YOUR LINK.

He was too wasted to give consent. She had sex with him. By feminist standards, she is a rapist. Case closed. That you’re defending her just means that YOU are a hypocrite.

No doubt you won’t have the balls to leave this comment up. Know, as you block or delete it, that you are not only a hypocrite but also a coward.

weirwoodtreehugger
4 years ago

How many times is this thread going to be necro’d with pretty much the exact same post?

Joe, your point has been addressed multiple times by the multiple people who have come before you. Why don’t you read the thread instead of bloviating about how scared David is by your oh so original truth bombs?

NICK
NICK
4 years ago

Please do not lie anymore, author. It’s embarrassing that I have to share a planet with people who make claims that are easily shown to be false.

Thanks in advance, champ.

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