Menu Home

Advice – My partner said really insensitive things. [NSFW]

TW: mentions of rape.

“My boyfriend [18M] and I were discussing the Eden Club scene in Detroit: Become Human. I mentioned how sad it was that the AI’s sole purpose in life (at least in the eyes of humans) is to be raped 24/7. My partner brought up that the AI were programmed for it and it doesn’t matter. He added that raping them is okay as long as they are AI and that the androids do not have pain receptors. He didn’t say anything about how it feels wrong for a human to hurt an android in the first place.

As a rape survivor myself, I am physically repulsed by this new information. He actually knows that I have past sexual trauma. However, every time my past experience comes up, he acts jaded and brings up the few people who truly lie about the accusation. He has some personal past experiences with sexual trauma as well. He was accused when he was younger by his step mom.

I don’t even want to see him. Sitting near him makes me feel unsafe. I don’t want to do anything sexual for a long time. I know that if I was to be an android, he might have no problem raping me, abusing me, and treating me as an object. He repulses me now. I don’t trust him, and I don’t feel safe.

I don’t know what to do. Some might say I am overreacting, but it doesn’t matter. When I brought up how fucked up his response was, he deflected by replying, “Well, you hate the British so you can’t say anything.” Completely unrelated to the conversation.

What should I do?”

/u/imamess247, /r/relationship_advice.

Dear I’m a Mess 24/7,

Before I get to the advice portion of this post, please indulge me in a philosophical discussion here.

My partners and I have had spirited discussions in the past about ethics of sex robots. One of my biggest hangups around this topic is how can something consent when it cannot reasonably sanction the concept of consent at large? We live in a digital age where sex toys can be procured within series of clicks of your mouse. Do we ask ourselves if our sleeves and vibrators have consented to be a part of our sexual fantasies? We might care about ethical sourcing of these toys. But I assume that majority of sex toy users do not ask for consent because toys cannot meaningfully consent to sexual acts. This specific topic was discussed and fully realized in the show Westworld and the movie Her. Even outside of sexual context, the deeper question herein lies whether or not robots are held to the same ethical standards we humans subject each other and ourselves to.

Consent as a concept is heavily weighted in this regard. How can that which cannot feel emotions consent to that which it is designed for? The sole purpose of those robots were to implicitly consent to sex acts by design. In that sense, the programmers, engineers, and club owners have consented to sexual acts on behalf of those sex robots because they’ve each determined that the robots themselves cannot consent in a meaningful way as they do not have agency in their own programming. Assuming that androids themselves have consciousness, how can androids determine without a doubt that that consciousness was not programmed into them? How can we as humans determine for androids that consciousness means the same for them as it means for us? By extension, how can we assign abilities to consent to androids when we don’t know what consent means for them specifically? They’re not humans. We do not hold even our kin to the same standards. And even asking the question of whether they can or cannot consent is projection and an unfair assessment of who “they” can be. Shouldn’t the androids be the ones burdened and authorized to determine whether or not they can consent, not their creators? In lack of self-authority to determine so, consent as a concept feels meaningless.

Photo by Keenan Constance on Pexels.com

I do think the heart of the issue here isn’t about whether or not robots can consent to sex. It is about a fundamental disconnect and your boyfriend’s incredibly poor communication skills.

I’m really sorry to hear that you and your boyfriend have each had negative sexual traumas in the past and I hope each of you are getting the therapeutic help that you each need.

According to a study, Lisak et al (2010) determined that 8 out of 136 reported (5.9%) cases of sexual assault in a major Northeastern university were false accusations. Due to how difficult it is to define sexual assault and to prosecute them with burden of proof, the true percentage of false rape accusations might lie somewhere in between 2 to 10% depending on the country. And that is only among reported cases. This does not take account into how much rape and sexual assaults go under- or unreported. According to RAINN, only 23% of sexual assaults and rapes are even reported to the police. So to throw doubt and respond in that way to your past trauma reveals that your boyfriend is reacting inappropriately to your past trauma. His bad-faith discussion is highly irresponsible.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Ultimately, these are just numbers and statistics that describe the population at large. So let’s talk a bit about your specific circumstance, how he reacted, and your bodily response to his reaction.

In his reaction, he has displayed a complete lack of self-awareness. You said he knows about what you went through. But he definitely did not reflect on his own words or consider your past trauma, when he approached this discussion from such an insensitive place. It doesn’t actually matter what his intentions were when he discussed those things without self-insight or self-reflection; he still hurt you. And for that, he owes you an apology.

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he did not recall your past trauma when he made this comment, that it wasn’t a willfully malicious exchange. It is still wrong to communicate in this way. To not remember your past trauma is forgetfulness at best, negligence at worst.

I do think that there are deeper issues at play here, especially in regards to how he has casually dismissed your past sexual trauma in lieu of his own personal sexual trauma. It is clear that his social upbringing and his past experiences inform his sexual headspace about what consent and sexual assaults mean to him. You’ve seen a pretty dangerous and inconsiderate side of him through this discussion. His subsequent response/dismissal regarding your unrelated dislike of British culture further reflects how incredibly out of touch he was with you in that situation. He didn’t just make one mistake. He made series of mistakes extending long past this particular incident.

Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com

I think this is what you should do.

You should first sit him down and first set the tone that this is a pretty serious discussion. Then engage with him and relate your headspace to him about how his comments regarding AI hurt you. Then communicate with him that the pain makes you feel unsafe to be close with him. Your distaste and discomfort is very reasonable; you don’t feel safe. Until you feel safe, establish a boundary regarding sexual contact.

Then allow him to bridge the gap by communicating with you. You aren’t interested in excuses or deflections of false rape accusations (of which there are only 2 to 10% of the larger 23% that actually go reported). He needs to apologize for not just this experience, but also for all the previous bad faith discussions discrediting your past trauma. He needs to understand that this wasn’t just a one time occurrence, but rather a series of alarming behavior that appear to disqualify your previous sexual trauma. He is passively discrediting and contributing to the culture of rape by continuing to engage in these fallacious discussions with you. Anything short of a profuse apology, possible restitution, and action plans to improve for the future is simply unacceptable.

I’m really sorry to hear that you are going through this. And I really hope that you can continue on your journey to recovery in your own way.

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at teatimetomato@gmail.com. If you liked my advice for this post, please subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Categories: Advice

Tagged as:

teatimewithtomato

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: