Today, for the first time ever, I read a short piece about why some women have an orgasm during rape. It included:

“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.”

You can read the whole piece (it is very short) here.

I thought I was alone. When I was raped I never did have an orgasm, but there was one moment – a moment of which I have only ever (until now) spoken to one friend about because it disturbed me so much — when my body moved against Paulos Fofo. As if it wanted him.

He had this long knife in his hand. He had a rag over his head so I could not see his face even though it (and he), were dark as death at the time. He was inside me. He smelled like he had been sleeping in shit-garbage for weeks. His dick was soft and he was struggling to have his orgasm.

And my body moved against him. Just once. Maybe a few seconds of time that in my memory has always been a long and very sick movie. One of those dreams that leaves you with a hole-in-your-heart feeling that never goes away.

I do not know who was more shocked. Me or him. He froze. I froze. I know what a cold sweat is. It is instant, wet and freezing. I thought he would kill me right then for sure. The knife blade was shining. He said “What are you doing?” He said it roughly. I kept silent. I did not know what to say. I have never known what to say about this. Not known what to think of myself.

Obviously he did not kill me, but when he had what he took from me, he went outside and came from the garden to my bedroom window and looked in, his eyes like two burnt fried eggs in the night. And he said “you must close your windows before you sleep”. And then he left. I always thought that maybe his shock at my body’s strange reaction was what triggered this seemingly compassionate moment of his own. And I never spoke of it, even though I have never been ashamed that I was raped and have written about it quite openly. But I was always humiliated — until recently — that I had moved against him. It made me feel like I was his accomplice. I had somehow participated, raped my own self, put myself into a position where I could no longer look in a mirror.

And then I read this piece and saw that I am not alone — though I have never spoken to another woman or man that has told me this has happened to them. It was amazing to read this piece. There are a small percentage of us but there we are. Are our bodies more honest than our wills? It still begs this question. But I know, when he came to my door, a stranger, two weeks before, and asked for a glass of water, I gave it to him willingly. And that is all I ever gave him.

Paulos Fofo was executed in 1987 for raping many women. I do not excuse him but I forgive him. And I forgive my body for being itself. And that feeling that I have been carrying around since 1985, I think it will go now. I am not alone. And neither are you, no matter what you did.


  • Lesley Perkes writes about the state of imagination, her general loss of respect for politics and big business with too few exceptions, eyesores, aesthetically pleasing moments of bliss. Every now and then she writes too about grave matters some people think are best kept to yourself. She does not. Err. Obviously. Sometimes she writes about the silencing and the wars. MsChief at artatwork, a public arts action dis-organisation based in Johannesburg, Lesley is also #lesfolies at The Troyeville Bedtime Story, a timeless legend and neighbourgood adventure, in happy collaboration with Johannes Dreyer, photographer and artist. Writer, curator, producer and general artist with performative tendencies, in February this year Lesley spoke at TED2013 in Los Angeles. It was a life experience of note. She uses her time to fund, or find funding and resources to produce artwork and advocate for make-believe.


Lesley Perkes

Lesley Perkes writes about the state of imagination, her general loss of respect for politics and big business with too few exceptions, eyesores, aesthetically pleasing moments of bliss. Every now and...

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