I'm going to describe a series of events and I'd like to know whether you think what I'm describing qualifies as rape or not.
Two people work at an office and over time get to know each other pretty well. The male employee is the female employee's boss. One day, after the office christmas party or some other get together, they end up splitting a cab to go home. The man invites her into his apartment for a nightcap and she agrees, thinking that they'll just have some coffee and talk. Once inside the apartment, he propositions her. She thinks about how if she says no, he could go apeshit and fire her or otherwise try to ruin her career so she says yes and they knock boots.
Was she raped?
What sort of disturbs me about this situation is that if you think it's a rape, it's based entirely what's in her head. If you buy into her thought process, whether or not it's justified, then the guy seems like a predator. If I had told you instead that she said yes because she thought he was hot, then the specter's gone. Nothing in the situation has changed other than what's knocking around inside her head. That seems to be a pretty horrible way to determine whether a crime has occurred.
In the episode, the situation was pretty much as described and the investigators are dead set on classifying it as rape even before finding out what was in the guy's head. The woman claimed she was in fear for her life if she didn't consent and because of that there was no point at which she said no. In the end, it almost doesn't matter whether the guy had a nefarious intent or not since it's all about her perception. Of course, because it's a tv show, the guy had to be shown to have known that he was coercing her, but what if he wasn't? What if he truly believed that they were having a great consensual relationship? Is he still a rapist simply because that's how she views it in her head?
Here's a curveball of sorts. If you do think that this is horribly inappropriate sexual contact, or even rape for a person with power over another to ask/initiate a sexual relationship...do you then also believe that Bill Clinton, in effect, raped Monica Lewinski? Why not? If she had perceived it as a power issue...would it then have been rape even if his actions were exactly the same in both situations?