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Jul 18 2011

A bit of lighthearted fun

This morning I am delighted to take the opportunity to bloviate on the notion of consent as it pertains to the sex class in a male-dominated society. As longtime readers are painfully aware, I trot this topic out for an airing semi-annually, because nothing says “patriarchy isn’t just some dull academic idea; it actually obtains in your most real life, girlfriend” like the notion that our social order renders consensual sex between straight people impossible.

Today’s excuse for the Consent Lecture is a discussion that erupted on a recent post. Let’s join it where blamer Jezebella says to blamer yttik:

“Are you suggesting that any woman who has consensual PIV sex, even with contraception, is a victim of…. what? disrespect? Really?”

To which yttik replies:

“Darn right I am. The majority of men don’t even begin to comprehend the health risk, indeed, even the potential death to a woman, that creating a pregnancy can cause. If inserting my penis into somebody’s vagina had the potential impact of causing something as minor as a root canal, I’d make sure I was a whole lot more careful on account of her biological vulnerability and the potential harm I could cause. In fact, if men could get pregnant, causing one an unwanted pregnancy would probably be viewed as criminal negligence.”

To which Jezebella, now exasperated, rejoins:

“Oh, fer fecks’ sake, it is absurd to posit that all women who engage in consensual PIV sex are victims of some dude’s rapey disrespect. Give me a break, lady.”

To which I say, check the weather reports in Hell, because I think I’m sort of agreeing with yttik.

For it is the stated position of the Savage Death Island Chapter of Spinster Aunts International that, in a patriarchy, “consensual sex” (between women and dudes) doesn’t even exist. This is because, in a patriarchy, agency is not conferred equally upon women and dudes. This untoward circumstance creates a contingency wherein the notion of consent is, for women, entirely non-substantive, a figment, a desperate fantasy invented to obscure the true nature of women’s status as the sex class. The true nature of our status as the sex class is, by the way, that we are imprisoned in a rape continuum. This continuum ranges from the “voluntary” performance of femininity (which quantifies women’s usefulness to men), to compulsory heterosexuality (which ensures availability to men), to pornography (which eroticizes inequality), to violent sexual assault (which is at the apex of the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women).

Wait. What?

The issue of consent — or, more precisely, the idea that women are considered by both custom and law to abide in a persistent state of always having given consent — is the absolute crux, nub, hub, axis, polestar, and epicenter of women’s oppression. The thing is, women can’t freely give consent because women can’t freely withhold it. “Consent” is a meaningless concept in the context of women’s reality.

In a patriarchy, women are, at essence, considered to be giant vaginas with the word “YES” stamped all over’em in red. Because of the sex-based power discrepancies inherent in our social structure, members of the sex class — that is, women — are always “yes” unless they specifically, adamantly, and in front of 3 witnesses with video cameras, say “no.” But even when “no” obtains, other (subjective and arbitrary) factors are almost always seen as mitigating it into a “yes.” Such as not saying “no” loud enough, not fighting back physically, being the dude’s girlfriend, or wearing a tight sweater.

Thus, as I have written elsewhere, “consent” in the context of bumpin’ uglies is nothing but a binding contract the terms and conditions of which exclusively describe male use of women as receptacles. As we have seen, the tactics that may be used to obtain this contract do not exclude coercion, drugs, or fraud. Once obtained, the contract is non-revocable.

Not your Nigel, though, right? It is absurd, as Jezebella suggests, to posit that all women who do it with dudes are “victims of rapey disrespect,” right?

Well, if your enlightened, feminist Nigel has never coerced you, then your Nigel, in the sweaty throes, has never said to you, when you were ready to stop, “no, wait, I’m almost there.” Or you’ve never closed your eyes and thought of England because you knew you’d hurt his feelings if you said no.

Lucky you.

But maybe you have complied in such situations, only you don’t consider those little things “coercion.” Maybe you think you were just doin’ him a solid. Letting him use you as a toilet shows how much you love him.

OK, but if one agrees that male privilege exists at all, and that this privilege is conferred upon every male person by law and custom and is his identity, and that this privilege afflicts all other aspects of human interaction, it would be nonsensical to assert that sex is the only behavior that escapes the taint. Rarely, if ever, does there saunter along a dude-paragon who never wields his privilege.

And you know one of the provisions of this privilege dictates that dudejaculation is the only natural and lawful fulfillment of the consent contract “negotiated” with a giant Yes-vagina.

The “rapey disrespect” to which Jezebella alludes may be thought of as male privilege that is brought to bear whether or not the male in question specifically intends to bring it. One aspect of this privilege is, as yttik suggests, the cavalier attitude dudes assume when it comes to pronging women. And as we have seen, privilege expressed by the privileged is experienced by the non-privileged as oppression. And often, sadly, interpreted by the non-privileged as love.

Many straight women — especially those with substantial emotional and fiscal investments in the hetero-nuclear family scenario — fling turds at this analysis because it’s so bleak they just don’t want it to be true. I feel ya, but I’m not the one asserting all this stuff. Your male supremacist culture asserts it; I’m just a lone patriarchy-blamer who happened to notice.

So if you’re bummed, let me suggest a spot of feminist revolt; it’s the only cure for patriarchy.

193 comments

6 pings

  1. superfluous consonants

    but then, what does “revolt” look like in this context? not having sex with dudes? ’cause, as a straight lady, whether or not i’m being oppressed, i want to be having sex with dudes. or is oppression just the price i pay for sexytimes? truly, this is a sarcasm-free inquiry.

  2. EmilyBites

    The phrase ‘letting him use you as a toilet’ is going to stay with me. That shit just ain’t sexy.

  3. pandechion

    This is because, in a patriarchy, agency is not conferred equally upon women and dudes.

    I have a two-year-old daughter who often wears boys’ clothes. When people know she’s a girl, they expect her to let them hug and kiss her. When she’s taken for a boy, they do not.

  4. Barrhaven Blogger

    So let this one get things straight.

    1. The patriarchy is omnipresent.
    2. Consent is a nonconcept within a patriarchy.
    3. Therefore, all PIV sex is nonconsensual.

    Assuming the above is true, the following questions are raised.

    1. When the patriarchy is gone, will consensual PIV sex be considered possible?
    2. Will consensual PIV sex be considered acceptable?

  5. DancesWithCats

    Right on.

  6. Jill

    Hey Gratuitous Lowercasist, you’re oppressed whether you have sex with dudes or not. So boink away.

  7. Feministsub

    But if women can’t truly consent, then they can’t withhold consent either, and can’t actually be raped. That’s an extremely dangerous idea. And not dangerous to the patriarchy – dangerous to women.

    “Letting him use you as a toilet shows how much you love him.”

    Wow. What a bleak view of female sexuality.

  8. mearl

    The only way to achieve a state of universal equality in which consensual sex can be had will simply be to evolve as a species into a race of androgynous supertaints with all the same plumbing who get busy by communing cerebrally/psychosomatically and who reproduce by budding.

  9. Comrade PhysioProf

    [M]ale privilege…is brought to bear whether or not the male in question specifically intends to bring it.

    This is really the nub.

  10. Judi

    Aunt’s words are dripping with truth. The truth is not sweet, but it shines. It obtains.

    Thinking back to when I used to do that sex stuff with dudes (it’s been a glorious 20 years now – YAY I’m gonna throw me a party!), I recall that, even when it was a dude I liked a lot, a fine-looking dude, a kind, fun, respectful, feministy dude; even when it was a dude I loved; even when I was feeling lusty and frisky and horny; even when the experience was delightful and orgasmic, even when it was full of warm-fuzzies and fireworks; when I had sex I always felt, every time, like I had lost an argument, like I had given something up, given in, come around, gone along. Now, I understand why I felt that way, and why it was inevitable that I would feel that way. In a patriarchal culture, it’s part of the contract.

  11. Dilly

    I never get tired of hearing you say this, Twisty.

  12. Nolabelfits

    For me, I always had this vague feeling that consenting was participating in my own abuse. I could never quite articulate why the whole experience felt somehow defeating. This post sums it up nicely. Thanks Jill! I can now skip happily through my day in the great P firm in the knowledge that I am not an insane harpy with an agenda!

  13. Fictional Queen

    To stay a virgin or not stay a virgin,that is the question.

  14. Emilybites

    ‘Consenting’ does feel a bit silly when you’re sort of aware the dudes are going to go ahead whether you say yes or say nothing – since they don’t really care whether you want to have sex or not, as long as you submit. Makes one feel a bit foolish.

  15. Phonaesthetica

    A het woman who’s never felt the post-PIV “lost an argument…given something up, given in, come around, gone along” (thanks, Judi) is either disingenuous or a unicorn.

    It’s hard to blame the former, invested as they are in culturally-approved nuclear families where the light leaving from the “angel in the house” Victorian zeitgeist is still hitting Earth full-force at 186,282 miles per second. Give and give and give, no matter how sore your vagina gets or how long you stare at the ceiling waiting for it to be over and wondering if there are any Oreos left in the pantry.

  16. TotallyDorkin

    I’ve always thought that the traditional college party or club setting when looked at from the outside is an insane and rapey institution. A bunch of guys tell women to come to a place, they give them a bunch of free or cheap alcohol (“ladies nights”) and then they turn off all the lights and play music so loud that no one can speak to each other. What could possibly be the purpose for all this I wonder? Oh yeah, sexual assault on the dance floor.

  17. hothead

    Twisty, what do you think about consent in the context of dude-on-dude sex?

  18. pandechion

    Comrade PhysioProf, what’s the HTML tag for quotations? I look like I’m stealing Jill’s words.

  19. Chroma

    “Hey Gratuitous Lowercasist, you’re oppressed whether you have sex with dudes or not. So boink away.”

    For another sarcasm free enquiry, what should a man do? (not in a “hey, what about the men” way but in a what is the morally right thing to do way)

    If a man is faced with a woman who claims to want to have sex with him and who he would would like to have sex with should he: a) have sex with her even though she can’t consent and it will therefore be rape; or b) decide that she is unable to properly consent and therefore say “You say you consent but I know you don’t” and therefore refuse to have sex with her.

    Also, isn’t it more than just being oppressed? Isn’t the point of the post that: 1) it is impossible to consent to sex with a guy; 2) therefore, all heterosexual sex is rape.

    If that’s right, doesn’t Twisty’s answer translate to: “You should have sex even though in doing so you will be being raped”? Or is there a difference between non-consent of the type referred to in the post and rape?

  20. Jill

    “But if women can’t truly consent, then they can’t withhold consent either, and can’t actually be raped. That’s an extremely dangerous idea. And not dangerous to the patriarchy – dangerous to women.”

    Yes, you grasp the point. You can’t rape a woman if it is deemed consistent with fair use. This is precisely why rape laws favor the rapists, and why it is so difficult to get rape convictions, and why shit like nagging and mild coercion employed by boyfriends to get laid is seen as OK, even by the women who give in to it.

  21. Jill

    Hey pandechion, it’s blockquote , /blockquote, and I fixed it for youse free of charge.

  22. minervaK

    My mom, that grizzled old veteran of the first wave wars, has always opined that men should be kept locked up in a wildlife preserve somewhere and loaned out for sex (to those of us who enjoy the occasional pronging) on an as-needed basis. Something in the back of my mind has always loved that idea.

  23. K.A.

    Many straight women — especially those with substantial emotional and fiscal investments in the hetero-nuclear family scenario — fling turds at this analysis because it’s so bleak they just don’t want it to be true.

    There has to be a name for such a relatively common logical fallacy. For example, underprivileged folks seem overrepresented in religious populations, presumably because their belief in a meaningful universe, personal agency/control, and an afterlife that offers an eternal justice that is painfully absent in the mortal realm is, for many people, what makes life bearable. Sometimes it’s all they’ve got. That’s one reason I don’t really care as much about movement atheism as I do about feminism and racial inequality — a more socially just world will rid people of desperate supernatural longings much more efficiently than atheist activism, because the psychological need for it will disappear.

    Not that there is no point to movement atheism in achieving other types of social justice. I just think it will work faster in reverse.

    Maybe the logical error should be dubbed the “Reality Crutch Fallacy,” closely related to the “Belief in a Just World” psychological bias.

  24. minervaK

    er, second wave, I meant. She’s only 73.

  25. Jill

    1. When the patriarchy is gone, will consensual PIV sex be considered possible?
    2. Will consensual PIV sex be considered acceptable?

    When intercourse is more universally considered a value-neutral activity — i.e. “copulation” as opposed to “penetration” — that’s when one might look around and say to herself, hey, maybe patriarchy is on the wane! But as it stands, well, Andrea Dworkin sums it up nicely as follows:

    Since the paradigm for sex has been one of conquest, possession, and violation, I think many men believe they need an unfair advantage, which at its extreme would be called rape. I don’t think they need it. I think both intercourse and sexual pleasure can and will survive equality.

  26. Comrade PhysioProf

    There has to be a name for such a relatively common logical fallacy.

    False consciousness.

  27. K.A.

    Social norms dictate which particularly tail-end-of-the-bell-curve hate crimes against women will be deemed offensive and punished, hence the importance of highlighting that it is a continuum of coercion and, thus, rape. Acts that virtually everyone participates in will not be rejected or prosecuted, of course.

    Remember when Alec Baldwin verbally abused his daughter? And everyone was all, “that’s not ‘verbal abuse’! That’s how people talk to their kids when they’re bad!” Something is only labeled as abuse once the subset of the population who engages in it diminishes to a minority of people.

    Coercion is always abuse. And everyone is on the coercion continuum. But only the outliers will be held up as wrong.

  28. K.A.

    It’s hard for people to stomach the thought that the worst imaginable cases of non-consent are in any way related to sex they’ve had intentionally. But women are always subject to having to make the best deal they can get within the same system. Angling for one of the better deals and succeeding is not the same as having total personal agency or sexual equality.

    Dworkin also pointed out that that’s the deal Right Wing Women made — they correctly identified the best position they could cut for themselves in such a system, and that’s why they try to make other women do the same. In a way, it is the strategy that minimizes the most harm that can come at the hands of men, although it only perpetuates the debasing system.

  29. Lovepug

    Hate to sound like a dumbass, but what’s PIV?

    Best quote: “In a patriarchy, women are, at essence, considered to be giant vaginas with the word “YES” stamped all over’em in red.”

    And: “Angling for one of the better deals and succeeding is not the same as having total personal agency or sexual equality.”

    Regarding: “Many straight women — especially those with substantial emotional and fiscal investments in the hetero-nuclear family scenario — fling turds at this analysis because it’s so bleak they just don’t want it to be true.”

    Most of us know it’s true and live the truth every day. We do our best. Some days go better than others. Speaking as an identified hetero woman, I guess I’m from the above mentioned angler group, but I feel no need to fling turds. There are more than a few blamer ideas that I don’t get in line with, but I’m always glad someone is saying them. Do I agree with everything Twisty/Jill puts out there? No, but it’s more often than not a nice respite from the patriarchy in which I’m immersed. And it’s always good brain food.

    Radical feminists need to keep speaking the truth loudly and often despite any flying turds because those of us who still have not made it to Savage Death Island like to and need to hear it.

  30. Emily H.

    “In a patriarchy, agency is not conferred equally upon women and dudes.”

    The agency I have wasn’t “conferred” on me by an outside force. I am sure we can agree that it’s common to treat women as if they had less agency than men. Or as if they *should* have less agency than men (a woman trying to get her way is a crazy bitch), or should refrain from expressing any agency because doing so would violate a set of arbitrary rules that have been codified into “common sense” (“boys will be boys,” it’s women’s job to show restraint). But a man treating me that way doesn’t make it so. I know what it feels like to make decisions, I know what it feels like to act on them, and I also know what it feels like to have my actions thwarted or suppressed. To insist that this is all just false consciousness, and women’s experiences of exerting agency are an illusion, is rather patronizing.

    “Letting him use you as a toilet shows how much you love him.” This “toilet” business is just begging the question. You’re trying to show straight sex is disgusting, you prove it by… describing it in a way that makes it sound disgusting. The conclusion is also the evidence. This is such a rudimentary example of circular logic, I’m surprised any educated person would use it.

    Any sex act can be made to sound distasteful. I recently encountered an old homophobic comic that describes a variety of gay sex acts in disgusting terms (http://www.ep.tc/problems/28/01.html). If someone can claim that gay men are all using each other as toilets, does that mean there’s ~really~ something worthy of critique about all gay sex?

  31. Emily H.

    “Many straight women… fling turds at this analysis because it’s so bleak they just don’t want it to be true.” This is another logical fallacy. The fact that people don’t want something to be true because it sounds unpleasant doesn’t make it true. This same logic was often used in the 1920′s to deride anyone who didn’t like Freud’s theories. Complain that the Oedipus Complex and death drive didn’t exist, and the whole theory was too pessimistic and sex-obsessed, and you’d be told you just didn’t WANT it to be true. Because you Couldn’t Handle The Truth. The fact that those ideas sound ridiculous has nothing to do with it!

    Also: For some people, it is more pleasant to believe that everything just sucks in our world. That way there’s no need to bother with the agonizingly slow struggle to bring about changes. Everything will be perfect after the Second Coming/Proletarian Revolution/{etc}! Not saying anyone on this blog is guilty of such thinking, but it’s not unheard-of.

  32. regular commenter, anon for the moment

    How I deal with the issue of non-consent:

    I went on a sex strike for five years after our kid was born, as a way to maintain my autonomy and agency once I realised the kid thing really did economically trap me into my (reasonably happy) marriage with a (reasonably egalitarian, yet clueless) guy. I just couldn’t give up that last thing of myself – if I had, then he would have owned *all* of me, not just my free childkeeping and house labour.

    (And I didn’t miss it. Caring for kid, going to school, making art took up all of my energy.)

    When I did want to have sex again, I made the political decision to engage with men outside of the marriage, as well as the husband. If I was going to engage in (the oppressive act of) sex, then I would have it *how* I wanted it and with *whomever* I wanted it with, so as to expand the boundaries inherent in the system of non-consent.

  33. minervaK

    OK, let’s see if I can say this without falling into the filter…

    For my sister hets who enjoy PIV sex, consider this: men are physiological able to have an orgasm without ejaculating. Yet they all do it, every time — penis-involved sex isn’t considered ‘complete’ until ejaculation occurs. Imagine a world in which men were taught not to ejaculate unless they were specifically asked to by the person they were sexing up. Not as a birth control method, since that wouldn’t prevent pregnancy, but just because it’s messy and uneccessary. Can you hear the howls of dude protest? You have to ask yourself why.

  34. Helen Huntingdon

    I have a two-year-old daughter who often wears boys’ clothes. When people know she’s a girl, they expect her to let them hug and kiss her. When she’s taken for a boy, they do not.

    EW! There is no way on earth for that not to be creepy and wrong!

  35. Jezebella

    Ah, Jill, you know I agree with your analysis re: pronging and hetero sex, so I don’t mind being made an example of. I won’t bore anyone with the ways in which I do not conform perfectly with radical feminist philosophy, even the tenets I wholeheartedly believe in.

    What I didn’t like was yttik, at first, sounding exactly like some prim Baptist lady lecturing a teenager on how she should wait until marriage, because men don’t “respect” a girl who fucks before marriage.

    If you wanna call all PIV rape, call it rape, but the term disrespect just sound fecking godbaggy to me. Perhaps I’ve been in Mississippi too long.

    PS: Lovepug, PIV = “penis in vagina.”

  36. Cyberwulf

    My mom, that grizzled old veteran of the first wave wars, has always opined that men should be kept locked up in a wildlife preserve somewhere and loaned out for sex (to those of us who enjoy the occasional pronging) on an as-needed basis.

    minervaK – we shall keep the most suitable ones for sex, on condition that they adhere to a stringent and unrealistic standard of beauty determined by us. The rest shall be castrated and forced to labour in the Tampon Mines.

  37. Lidon

    “Letting him use you as a toilet shows how much you love him.” This “toilet” business is just begging the question. You’re trying to show straight sex is disgusting, you prove it by… describing it in a way that makes it sound disgusting.

    I thought the toilet metaphor was used because honestly, how many men give a shit about pleasing women? How many men actually acknowledge the existence of the clit? How many men are concerned about giving a virus to their partners? I even see these articles online advising men to wear condoms when NOT in a monogamous relationship. So if they are in monogamous relationship, it’s okay if they fuck up their partner’s life by giving her high-risk HPV, a virus that they can’t get tested for! And how many men do you know who even get a goddamn vaccine for that?! Of course lots of women want sex, but how many women have suffered in countless ways as a result of it? Taking our current social situation into account, the toilet metaphor is more than apt.

  38. Lidon

    My mom, that grizzled old veteran of the first wave wars, has always opined that men should be kept locked up in a wildlife preserve somewhere and loaned out for sex (to those of us who enjoy the occasional pronging) on an as-needed basis.

    I always thought they should be locked up like wild animals because they claim they “can’t help” themselves when doing something inappropriate or downright horrid, so if they’re not responsible for their actions, like a wild animal, then they should be treated as such.

  39. minervaK

    I think I’ve just gone queer for Cyberwulf’s humor lobe.

  40. Jill

    Emily H, if my description of patriarchal protocols sounds “rather patronizing” to you, it’s because the system I describe is just that fucked up. It’s not because, as my detractors like to suppose, I derive some great satisfaction from denying women’s agency (I can’t deny anyone anything; I’m just a blogger).

    Meanwhile, a person can saunter around town claiming to have all the agency in the world, but that doesn’t make it so. A woman can also achieve personal successes, but it won’t be because she is acting with the same agency as any dude; it will be because she’s scrappy or resilient or lucky and either bucked or played the system better. This woman’s experience will be fairly anomalous. Globally speaking, the system efficiently oppresses women by denying them agency.

  41. Jill

    Yikes. I don’t think we should go around locking up wild animals!

  42. humanbein

    The whole idea of lack of consent is consciousness-raising. What it doesn’t provide is a strategy for liberation from male oppression. It’s just opening our eyes to see the enormity of the oppression, and the unconscious problems that stem from it.

    I’ve been living my radical-feminist-aware life in a state of confusion about sex, because the women I look up to for ideas are a little weak in this area. We all have some way of dealing with it besides a shrug of the shoulders and grimly getting on with it, don’t we? This is where the sex-positive feminists need our help: They are addicted to the feeling of more sex than they need and can’t stomach any idea that harshes their sex buzz.

    Since I am kind of old and don’t really need sex anymore, going without is fine for me. Plus I came of sexual age in a time when sex as a recreational activity was still very new – the idea that you fall in love with someone and then you would naturally want to have sex with them because it was an expression of love for another human being was more important than the idea that you needed to have sex because it was supposedly “harmless” fun.

    The pill is still a very new development, from the timetable of the evolution of the species. Many humans still cling tragically to the idea that making as many babies as possible is still what our species needs to survive. Other humans have taken the reduction of risk to mean that sex is a weightless, meaningless form of recreation without any consequences. Yet we know, deep in our animal brains, that sex is life and death, every time, because hundreds of thousands of years can’t be buried completely in the modern brain.

    Do we have a feminist theory of heterosexual sex that will reduce, if not eliminate, sexual oppression? And what does PIV mean, anyway??

  43. yttik

    “..consider this: men are physiological able to have an orgasm without ejaculating.”

    That’s rather startling to discover at this late date, but after some unpleasant internet research, apparently quite true. They are two completely separate processes. Apparently in private, some men prefer to just avoid the mess so they leave out the E part. I’ll be darned. There really is a grand conspiracy going on.

  44. K.A.

    To the person who asked: PIV = Penis-in-vagina. It’s usually used as shorthand in discussions that reject its centrality to the definition of heterosexual sex, since it primarily serves male sexuality.

    Question-begging doesn’t come into play at all. The argument has nowhere, at any point, been about whether “heterosexual sex is disgusting.” However, it may indicate how you view lesbians, some less enlightened assumptions you make about them, and how readily you may dismiss their opinions on that basis. It could possibly, perhaps, maybe, in some circles, be construed as reflecting some borderline bigotry, but Death Savage Island offers abundant benefit of the doubt.

    People. This is not about personal pleasure. It’s not about you you you at all. It’s not about what is sexually pleasurable to you any more than critiques of sweatshops are about the workers’ love of fabric-weaving crafts. Who cares how much someone does or doesn’t love fabric weaving? That’s not what we’re discussing. At all.

  45. ew_nc

    Lovepug – PIV=Penis in Vagina. Or I guess it could also be Penetration in Vagina, but probably not.

    Menopause, in spite of the sometimes uncomfortable body changes, really does free you to see the light about PIV sex. When I was still menstruating and had a libido, I would have a lot of trouble hearing this analysis too. I probably would have thought it meant that I shouldn’t be having hetero sex, much less enjoying it. I wouldn’t have wanted to admit that I was doing anything that wasn’t 100% my idea. But now that I’ve come out of that hormonal fog I can fully appreciate what Twisty is saying about consent. There were a few good times during my sex career, but the majority was done to please the man or husband du jour. And I took pleasure from them getting pleasure, because it made me feel accepted and secure. For about 10 minute;, then the cycle of coercion and anxiety started again.

    It really is lovely right now to not feel the need for sex, only the occasional want. And that want is satisfied in all new ways that feature ME. The clarity of post-menopause has made me feel a bit foolish about my previous sex life, but knowing about patriarchy lets me give myself a break. I wish the same for all my hetero sisters.

  46. A Ginva

    Yay, so good to read this!
    To me consent is totally irrelevant to rape – since rape – just as slavery, prostitution, pornography et al – can very well be consented to or contracted; it doesn’t retrieve the fact a rape occured.
    Consent is also irrelevant in a world where feminity and masculinity means socialisation to rape/being raped, and eroticisation of domination/submission in general.

    I define rape as any non-desired sexual act, as opposed to non-consented, and define rape continuum as the degree zero of female heterosexuality (general expropriation and colonisation of the mind and body)

    The idea of desire seems important since in patriarchy our degree zero heteresexuality is reduced to surrendering, refusing or delaying (when we can) external sexual intrusion; we don’t have a desire or a body of our own.

    I’d say feminist revolt would mean creating our own sexuality, freeing our minds and body from patriarchal colonisation.

    Thanks for quoting Andrea Dworkin.

  47. K.A.

    I have another post stuck in moderation for answering this question precisely, but for the people who asked: PIV means Painis-in-yourgina.

  48. Carpenter

    It seems necessary for feminist struggle and as a condition of living life without utter despair, to believe that I actually have human agency-and hence sexual agency- whether that agency is respected by all people or not.

    This is similar to the way first wave feminists believed that their ‘natural rights’ existed whether or not they were respected by men. Those women were often,though not always- thwarted when attempting to physically assert their agency (say by voting despite the legality), but they kept trying, and eventually triumphed. The jailing and beating of suffragists sometimes thwarted but didn’t render nonexistent the concept of a woman’s political agency. I’m pretty inclined to think of sex the same way.

  49. ashley

    “This is similar to the way first wave feminists believed that their ‘natural rights’ existed whether or not they were respected by men. Those women were often,though not always- thwarted when attempting to physically assert their agency (say by voting despite the legality), but they kept trying, and eventually triumphed. The jailing and beating of suffragists sometimes thwarted but didn’t render nonexistent the concept of a woman’s political agency. I’m pretty inclined to think of sex the same way.”

    Wow, carpenter- thanks for articulating something that I’ve believed all my life but didn’t know how to state. I do think there is a natural woman-as-primary order to sex in the natural (and by natural I mean not patriarchal) world. Even thought there’s a rapey grid laid over top of it, it’s still there.

    That doesn’t mean that advocating for that is easy, but it’s reassuring that it does exist.

  50. ashley

    p.s. I generally am on board with the rape continuum idea, however- @Jezebella- someone can’t disrespect you if you aren’t in need of their respect. Yes, some things are just disrespectful period, but I get what you’re saying- the whole idea of disrespectful PIV is founded on the idea that it’s dirty to have sex, and that idea is founded on the idea that women’s bodies are dirty. We have no frame of reference for woman- centered PIV that would not be based on a patriarchal framework of thinking. what you’re saying is it has to change somehow, and that women start that by redefining disrespect. I agree.

  51. Crystal

    Regarding PIV sex in today’s screwed up world, my opinion is this: if a woman feels like she really wants that kind of sex, she should go for it until she has an orgasm or is satisfied, and then just stop in the middle of the act. Why continue? So the dude can have an orgasm, too? Bah! Why should a woman give a crap about dude orgasms or his satisfaction? When you’re done, you’re done! Sadly, this a) only works for those who are pleased quickly, and b) is probably dangerous because men will happily take it a step further and force women to endure until he’s finished too. So actually… don’t take my advice. I guess there’s still no real, moral way to have consensual PIV sex, other than to just not have it.

  52. stacey

    @Crystal – treat it as an exchange? “You give me one, I’ll give you one.”

  53. magriff

    This thread reminds me of the time my sister’s Nigel’s younger brother was staying with them for a few weeks one summer. I’d just lent her my copy of Intercourse, which was out on the coffee table. They had no tv and he was bored during the day so he read it (probably thinking- hey, it’s called “Intercourse”, awesome!). She came home from work and he was visibly shaken, and immediately demanded “Have you READ this? Have I REALLY been raping people??”

    Thoughtful conversation ensued, and the young lad is probably a much better person for it.

  54. Jill

    Listen up, blamers. Look at the post again. You will find, in italics, the phrase in a patriarchy qualifying the statements about women’s agency contained therein. Even a cursory reading of the essay will reveal that I nowhere claim that women aren’t capable of self-determination. I argue, based on empirical evidence, that patriarchy strips women of agency. Stripping women of agency is, in fact, paptriarchy’s primary function. The only way for your your hidden inner agency to be “respected” is to live outside of patriarchal influence, where no paradigm of dominance and submission obtains. When you find this paradise, let the rest of us know.

  55. Kris

    I’m not comfortable with how close this is coming to policing desire. Calling PIV sex rape seems to pile it on a bit. Women are made to feel guilty for so many things so often as it is.

    I was sexually assaulted as a teen and it made me acutely aware of sexual pressure and power imbalance in relationships. Yet I like PIV sex, even in my fantasies it’s always what I want, call it social conditioning or whatever, it’s how I am. Taking an abstract position like ‘PIV is always rape’ seems unhelpful and limiting, rather than freeing. FWIW, my solution is that sex only happens when I initiate, and stops the second I feel uncomfortable.

  56. Nolabelfits

    Really Kris? Good luck with keeping up that solution. Seriously, I just cannot imagine how you would manage that in any relationship with a dude.

  57. ginger

    Yeah, this is another example of that thing where the P hurts everybody except the people at the tippy top – even sensitive loving adoring Nigels who are so consciously conscious and edumacated that they wouldn’t dream of coercing their beloved Nigellas to any extent, are still part of the P, still part of the system that obviates consent and denial. Of course it hurts those Nigels to be rapists by default, and it hurts both Nigel and Nigella to have to decide whether the way they express their individual sexual natures is worth the degree to which it supports the P. Doesn’t change the fact Nigel and Nigella are better people for recognizing the P and acknowledging their tiny cog-contributions to the big machine.

    So, look, I don’t want to boink any ole Chad who’s been locked up in a wilderness area. I want my Nigel. I want all the wonders of the primate pair-bond. (I want the joys of the troup, too.) Separatism just doesn’t work for everyone. But I still reject the Patriarchy. And I might still end up on sex-strike if I can’t make it work in my head. Certainly if I can’t make it work in my pair-bond. I don’t want no Nigel what insists he’s not part of the P, nor no Chad what accepts the P, in my car.

    Okay, sorry, Aunt T, I get all full of pent-up stridency and I have to outgas occasionally. I still don’t know how we exercise a revolution without lots of blood and death of the most vulnerable, either.

  58. Boner Killer

    This essay and the subsequent commentary has been more than enlightening!

  59. No Sugarcoating

    “The thing is, women can’t freely give consent because women can’t freely withhold it.”

    This was such an aha! moment for me.

    Can you ladies recommend some blog posts that can act as an introduction into feminism? I tried to remember what got me started, but I can’t pinpoint that first aha! moment…

  60. Lidon

    Yikes. I don’t think we should go around locking up wild animals!

    Haha well yeah, I’m not really into zoos myself.

    People. This is not about personal pleasure. It’s not about you you you at all. It’s not about what is sexually pleasurable to you any more than critiques of sweatshops are about the workers’ love of fabric-weaving crafts. Who cares how much someone does or doesn’t love fabric weaving? That’s not what we’re discussing. At all.

    So true.

    I looked up info about male ejaculation (this too was news to me) and good ol’ Cosmo came to the rescue (what would we do without them?). It turns out if they do repeated exercise of a particular muscle, meaning practice, they can have control over it. To think of all the unplanned pregnancies that could have been prevented with just a little muscle control. It’s no wonder this info has hardly seen the light of day.

  61. Carpenter

    I get that in the aggregate my personhood/agency/consent doesn’t count; in the grand patriarchal narrative,women are not quite a human. But it is useful to me, as struggling person, to keep up a counter-narrative in order to fight the good fight. This counter narrative doesn’t involve the self deception of tying to pretend that asshole fucksticks out there don’t hate me, it just involves deciding that I am the one that gets to decide if I am a person (and trust myself to associate with other people who also view me as a person). It could be possible that I am delusional and that the patriarchal narrative always wins over my counter-narrative because it is bigger and it has all the money.

  62. Crowfoot

    Feminstsub, at the beginning of the thread:

    “Letting him use you as a toilet shows how much you love him.”

    Wow. What a bleak view of female sexuality.

    It’s not a bleak view of female sexuality so much as a bleak (and realistic) view of how men view having sex. IE, “I put my dick in you, you lose.” And since women exist in the P for the express purpose of serving men in which ever way the men see fit, they have been raised to show love for their men by letting them do what they want – by serving them. Many women may want to have sex with men, but the way we get to do that, and what that sex means, socially, is generally out of our control.

    We’ve all been raised with the idea that this is what sex just is, so men, consciously or no, practice their sexuality the way they’ve been taught. For all of us it’s not about sexual desire for the opposite sex per se, but rather doing sex the way the P has taught us. Or rather, just what Andrea Dworkin was quoted as saying earlier.

    My apologies for grammatical and formatting errors, if any. I am rather sleep-deprived.

  63. Jezebella

    The Cosmo article also notes that orgasm-without-ejaculation is NOT a reliable form of contraception. Those swimmers are sneaky, and some manage to get out ahead of the pack. So maybe if dudes learned to do this, it would reduce some – but not all – unintended pregnancies. Maybe.

  64. Lidon

    The Cosmo article also notes that orgasm-without-ejaculation is NOT a reliable form of contraception. Those swimmers are sneaky, and some manage to get out ahead of the pack.

    I’m sure it isn’t reliable, but combined with condom use (which also isn’t *entirely* reliable on its own) it might have helped a tad. But of course men generally don’t give a flying fuck anyway.

  65. Barefoot Doctoral

    Had some thoughts that I felt deserved its own post:
    http://barefootdoctoral.blogspot.com/2011/07/messaging.html

    In short:
    “OK, but if one agrees that male privilege exists at all, and that this privilege is conferred upon every male person by law and custom and is his identity, and that this privilege afflicts all other aspects of human interaction”

    I agree.

    Society places one party at an advantage over the other. This hurts the billions of people who do not have the opportunity or support to tackle this inequity. But I don’t think this make the majority of hetero sex rape. (There are arguments for restricting and expanding the definition of rape. I favor the former.)

    There is a lot of reason for pause and to examine the meaning of consent. However, I shy from legislating or even morally mandating that it occur only when both parties stand on equal ground. I don’t see a way to do so without treading on a host of other hard fought for rights.

  66. Z

    [Thanks jsaustin who followed the pingback, good job standing ground.]

  67. Kristine

    “I have a two-year-old daughter who often wears boys’ clothes. When people know she’s a girl, they expect her to let them hug and kiss her. When she’s taken for a boy, they do not.”

    Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

  68. stacey

    @ Kris: I can’t see how this comes even close to policing desire – as KA said, this is not about personal pleasure, it’s about acknowledging that within a patriarchy, women have no rights of autonomy or personal agency. *Within a patriarchy.*

    The patriarchy wants to control every single part of women’s lives, including telling us what we desire; sometimes those desires may overlap. That doesn’t mean we *shouldn’t* have those desires, but we have to go about it with eyes wide open and backup plans in place. We need to establish our boundaries and settle for nothing less than absolute respect and compliance with the partners we choose to have, regardless of sex.

    Sorry, am I preachy? I’m probably preachy. Sorry.

  69. Treefinger

    This is a good post.

    For more on this, people who haven’t read it/recognized its influence on this post might like to check out Dworkin’s Intercourse (the apex of scary second wave radicalism in the eyes of funfeminists and anti-feminists, and consequently you can be assured that’s it’s chock full of the truth). Also read it if you have any interest in feminist literary theory because at least half of the book consists of that.

  70. Ashley

    The trouble with describing collective oppression in an individualistic culture is that people will assume your solution to said oppression is individualistic. I think much of people’s resistance to these ideas has to do with the fact that they literally cannot imagine a collective way to address a problem. Especially when it comes to sex. Almost everyone will hear this argument and reduce it to some narcissistic question about their own sex life. So, I’d say that is something anyone trying to move forward with Dworkin’s theory must address with some specificity (“ending patriarchy” is not specificity, and that’s a place where Dworkin fails). Effective social justice movements work because people believe they can make things better. When they don’t, there’s just a lot of apathy and escapism (aka “American culture”).

  71. allhellsloose

    Regarding ejaculation; men can always choose to bank their sperm and have a vasectomy or after they’re done with having children get one. Combining this with the muscle contraction to stop ejaculation would prevent harm, as in babies.

    I knew someone who didn’t like to think that PIV caused any pain/harm whatsoever, though it didn’t stop him wanting it. He’s now with a woman (yeah I was cheated on) whose favourite ‘romantic’ poem is the patriarchial tosh that is Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress. I’m left bathed in a luxurious glow of schadenfreude.

    Consent is a nonsense, as women are seen to be in a perpetual state of consent and only have the agency to say no. However as women are often seen in terms of cunning and sly the old ‘women are liars’ will be trotted out as a defence and believed.

  72. Laila

    “… you’re oppressed whether you have sex with dudes or not. So boink away.”

    I’m curious. Does this line of reasoning also apply in this way?

    “You’re oppressed whether you have hair on your legs or not. So shave away.”

    If not, what is the essential difference between het sex and performing femininity?

  73. MaryK

    @ Laila. Femininity and sex are all lie on the continuum of patriarchal oppression. We all have our little devil’s bargains and capitulations to the dominant culture. A taqueau has to do what a taqueau has to do. I think the point is to understand the enormity, depth and consequences of each of these bargains, and know that negotiating an existence within a patriarchal system is fraught with peril.

  74. Jill

    “Taking an abstract position like ‘PIV is always rape’ seems unhelpful and limiting, rather than freeing.”

    Hetsex is messed up in a patriarchy, in a bleepin patriarchy! It isn’t unhelpful to point out that women are getting literally screwed under the current world order. You are shooting the messenger.

  75. pandechion

    It is messed up, to be sure. I didn’t guess that policing a two-year-old’s physical boundaries would have been part of being a mother. I guess I should have.

    The interesting thing, though, is the disconnect between people’s intentions and the results of their actions.

    Which is to say, there’s nothing inherently creepy about how these friends and family members ask for a hug. It’s just that their insistence that it’s the polite thing to do for girls– and only girls– is so obviously an early step on the path to denial of agency.

    Observing her interactions with adults has strengthened my commitment. When I was treated by men as less-than-human when I was younger, I tried so hard to understand where I had gone wrong. (And then was appalled to find I didn’t really feel that responsible.) When I see people treating her that way, I know that she is blameless.

  76. Sarah

    @Laila “what is the essential difference between het sex and performing femininity?”

    Nada. It’s a matter of harm-reduction vs. radical solutions, ie you choose to indulge to patriarchy to X degree to keep from getting beat up/forced into poverty/etc. Not radical, but often necessary.

    “Rarely, if ever, does there saunter along a dude-paragon who never wields his privilege.”

    And thus is why many of us have given up PIV sex, even though it was loads of fun if we managed to fool ourselves into thinking we weren’t being used as toilets. It’s hard to justify the revocation of consent in exchange for manly sexytimes when there are so many awesome alternatives. ‘Course if you don’t like the alternatives, boink away – everything you do, boinking or not, shaving or not, happens in a patriarchy.

  77. K.A.

    It is messed up, to be sure. I didn’t guess that policing a two-year-old’s physical boundaries would have been part of being a mother. I guess I should have.

    This is why I am infuriated when people minimize how important male privilege, or a lack thereof, was during the earliest years of life, and how women’s continuing inability to police their own boundaries with male people who benefited from male privilege is pretty much the most misogynist thing ever.

  78. Jezebella

    Perhaps the focus on PIV is too narrow here; isn’t ANY sexual exchange with male privilege going to be fouled by the patriarchy? I mean, honestly, if you say to a guy, hey, I like to have sex, but not PIV, he’s going to be all “hurr, hurr” and start thinking of other orifices he’d like to poke.

    And what is up with same-sex sexual encounters within the patriarchy? Is *all* sex fouled by the patriarchy since we’re all stuck in it? Argh. Depressing, eh?

  79. laxsoppa

    It’s funny how quotes like “All sex is rape” are made up, attributed to whoever happens to be the hated hairy feminist of the week and widely circulated as legitimate in order to vilify feminism and scare the public with the prospect of a sexless future, while at the same time the judges, juries, reporters, defendants, ridiculously well-paid defence attorneys and righteous moral-policing members of the public around the globe are saying essentially the same thing: rape is just sex, so it can’t be a crime, and there must be something wrong with YOU.

    And by funny, I mean heartbreakingly tragic.

  80. Hippolyta

    I find it interesting that one of the objections to Jill’s essay is that these ideas are too depressing to be true. As if there must be some action one can take to avoid living in patriarchy deprived of the simple agency of controlling one’s body. To recognize the extent of and damage inflicted by patriarchy is to experience a tragedy and then live your life with ptsd, punctuated occasionally by good friends, margaritas and tacos.

  81. K.A.

    Jezebella, I think male-male sex is also based on misogyny. The concept that there is a “top” and a “bottom” made absolutely no logical sense to me well into adulthood — that is, until radical feminist analysis enlightened me about related dynamics. Chinese people don’t wonder who is the “bottom,” but translate from Mandarin very literally, “which one is the woman?”

    Guess who is the inferior one! This shit is universal.

    So penetration not being a value-neutral activity is true, and it’s true everywhere. Back to the Reality Crutch Fallacy — I think part of me needs to believe this phallic penetration implication is entirely socialized. But to “make someone inferior” by penetrating them is probably a very primal, ingrained form of misogyny. That is not to say awareness and evolving social norms cannot make life better for women. But I don’t have to deparately clutch to the idea that it’s 100% socialized anymore, either. Bleak indeed.

  82. Aunti Disestablishmentarian

    As a companion to this discussion, may I present a fascinating threadon Captain Awkward’s awesome blog discussing the penchant many men (and some women) have for touching women to test and push their boundaries.

    I’d also like to bring up an olde quotation from this very blog which sums up PIV in the context of the patriarchy quite well: “If I get my dick in you, you lose”, coined by the legendary LMYC.

  83. K.A.

    Jezebella, I think male-male sex is also based on misogyny. The concept that there is a “top” and a “bottom” made absolutely no logical sense to me well into adulthood — that is, until radical feminist analysis enlightened me about related dynamics. Chinese people don’t wonder who is the “bottom,” but translate from Mandarin very literally, “which one is the woman?”

    Guess who is the inferior one! This shit is universal.

    So penetration not being a value-neutral activity is true, and it’s true everywhere. Back to the Reality Crutch Fallacy — I think part of me needs to believe this phallic penetration implication is entirely socialized. But to “make someone inferior” by penetrating them is probably a very primal, ingrained form of misogyny. That is not to say awareness and evolving social norms cannot make life better for women. But I don’t have to desparately clutch to the idea that it’s 100% socialized anymore, either. Bleak indeed.

  84. K.A.

    Sorry about the double post. On being flummoxed about there being a “top” and “bottom” — the logistics of gay sex didn’t confuse me. It was that the roles were designated and stable between the couple, and reflected who had less social capital, usually.

  85. Briefly Without A Name

    The experience of feeling at the very least vaguely put upon during PIV is so universal, that one comes to think this is what copulation just feels like. Even at its best, there’s always something wrong, a feeling of giving in, of giving up, that taints what could be simple joyful physicality.

    I didn’t realize how pervasive this ick was until the first time I had sex with another woman (having been up to that point only a theoretical bisexual). I realize that it might not be an option for the purely heterosexual however, the experience was enlightening.

    After sex with men I feel a quality of not being quite myself. I had mistakenly thought this was just how sexual expression between humans goes, and imagine my surprise when after having sex with a woman I felt still fully in possession of myself and with no possessive feelings towards her and like nothing had been taken or lessened from me only an exchange occurred, not too different from a back-rub or a conversation or a loving kiss. No domination, no submission, no lessening of the self, only a very pleasant exchange. I imagine that without the poison of the Patriarchy this is how sexuality might be all the time.

  86. incognotter

    [blockquote=Carpenter]I get that in the aggregate my personhood/agency/consent doesn’t count; in the grand patriarchal narrative,women are not quite a human. But it is useful to me, as struggling person, to keep up a counter-narrative in order to fight the good fight. This counter narrative doesn’t involve the self deception of tying to pretend that asshole fucksticks out there don’t hate me, it just involves deciding that I am the one that gets to decide if I am a person (and trust myself to associate with other people who also view me as a person). It could be possible that I am delusional and that the patriarchal narrative always wins over my counter-narrative because it is bigger and it has all the money.[/blockquote]

    Carpenter, that is my approach too. The feminist struggle is to build community so we can reinforce each others’ self-determined personhood and use our mutual support to find ways to undermine patriarchy with the limited agency we manage to claw back from the P.

    And as far as gay sex goes, it is possible to have a less P-poisoned relationship on Planet Lesbian, but there are issues even there. Thanks, Patriarchy!

  87. incognotter

    I swear, HTML is a patriarchal plot to ruin my day. **headdesk**

  88. tinfoil hattie

    Incog, try < instead of [ – I think?

  89. incognotter

    Crud. I started with < and "fixed" it to [ after checking an example.

    I am just not presentable without a "preview" button.

    Twisty, editing before posting is the most important part of public discourse — and WYSIWYG helps a lot. Surely you agree?

  90. yttik

    Confronting this truth is depressing but eventually it can bring about more agency, less shame, more freedom. It lifts a burden off your shoulders that is not yours to carry. Women don’t bear 100% of the blame/shame for sex as the culture would like us to believe. Why is blame/shame even a part of sex? Because the patriarchy knows they’re doing something wrong and somebody has to feel bad about it. Let’s make women carry our water for us.

    The idea of consent is really a messed up concept under patriarchy. It takes all of the responsibility off of men and the culture and places it all on women. “Well, she wanted it.” Rather then granting women equality, it really just puts them in a position of being entirely responsible for their own oppression.

    When somebody says, “PIV is disrespectful to women,” I bet half a dozen women in the room immediately feel bad, like it’s their fault. Oh gawd, now I have to feel guilty about PIV sex, too! Almost as if you were the one actually disrespecting women by being at the receiving end of PIV. That’s how well conditioned we are to carry all the water for men and to blame ourselves.

  91. stacey

    (totally off-topic aside to pandechion: I always treat my boy as if he has bodily autonomy (except for grabbing at him if he’s being violent, dangerous, etc.) Imagine my utter disgust, when visiting my niece and nephew across the country, upon finding them pulled and mauled about by my parents, their primary “day care.” To make a point, I always asked before I could hug or kiss them, they always refused, and I always respected their answer. My parents thought I was being whacko, but I pointed out to them, “They always refuse. Doesn’t that tell you something?”)

    (Then there was the day my dad, after harassing my kid for a hug and getting pushed away, and me chastising dad, when he tried to OFFER MY KID MONEY as a way to say sorry. OMG.)

  92. virago

    “I looked up info about male ejaculation (this too was news to me) and good ol’ Cosmo came to the rescue (what would we do without them?). It turns out if they do repeated exercise of a particular muscle, meaning practice, they can have control over it.”

    Yeah, but that’s too much work for them! My ex-husband had a problem with pre-mature ejaculation, and a therapist told us this was correctable. She gave my ex a pamphlet on “certain techniques” to practice during masturbation. I don’t know what those techniques were, but after a day or so, my ex thought it was “too much work”. Too much work, unless I agreed to give him a blowjob so he didn’t have to masturbate so much. While I didn’t mind helping the guy out once in a while, I wasn’t going to do ALL the work for what was essentially his problem. I basically stopped having sex with him after this crap. It didn’t bother me.

  93. lawbitch

    Shame is a powerful tool. Women are supposed to collectively bear all of the shame of all humans (think: Eve). Under this scenario, women cannot escape shame, even in our personal relationships.

  94. gwyllion

    THAT – was FUCKING BRILLIANT!

  95. Saurs

    This thread, so far, has produced far less tense, tetchiness than I’d've predicted (cf Blowjob wars, of ye olden times), but is just as productive, full of amazing minds. Am I the only one who likes to return to those endless threads, just because of how much cool, angry, and awesome shit you find in them, not just in spite of but because of the divisiveness? It brings out the best in the blamers.

    yttik, your whole post at 11:01 is awesome, but these articulate the problem so fucking well

    Why is blame/shame even a part of sex? Because the patriarchy knows they’re doing something wrong and somebody has to feel bad about it.

    and

    When somebody says, “PIV is disrespectful to women,” I bet half a dozen women in the room immediately feel bad, like it’s their fault. Oh gawd, now I have to feel guilty about PIV sex, too! Almost as if you were the one actually disrespecting women by being at the receiving end of PIV.

    And laxsoppa’s comment is killer, too.

  96. Rididill

    @ Ashley

    ‘The trouble with describing collective oppression in an individualistic culture is that people will assume your solution to said oppression is individualistic. I think much of people’s resistance to these ideas has to do with the fact that they literally cannot imagine a collective way to address a problem. Especially when it comes to sex. Almost everyone will hear this argument and reduce it to some narcissistic question about their own sex life.’

    Yes! I had never thought of this but it makes so much sense.

    And the article, and the other comments as well.

    My God. I feel like i get smarter everyday when I read this blog… why is this depressing? the conclusions may be bleak, but it’s not as bad as going around thinking this shit is fucked up but is it just me? In many ways I find it uplifting.

  97. Rididill

    Also, thing with the kids and the hugs?

    That is some fucked up shit.

  98. TwissB

    @barefoot doctoral: “However, I shy from legislating or even morally mandating that it occur only when both parties stand on equal ground. I don’t see a way to do so without treading on a host of other hard fought for rights.”

    Kindly explain, with examples.

    As for men with men sex, John Stoltenberg has some interesting observations in his “Refusing to Be a Man.” As public acceptance, indeed a PC attitude of respect, becomes more established, some of the behavior and its rationale that he describes may be less the prevalent mode but it is well to bear in mind that as with PIV sex, it all takes place within Patriarchy and has always borne the scars of it..

  99. nails

    Well, lucky me indeed. Even if you have an awesome nigel, the rest of society certainly treats you like his toilet and gets weirded out if he doesn’t follow suit. Dudes at my nigels work bitch non-stop about their wives. Dudes at my old work did it too. It was clear they kept their wives around for fucking or children or free labor. Its like when people say racist crap in front of me and get all weirded out that I am not on board with it- they all figure that every other white person is as shitty and openly bigoted as they are. Even if you never ever have PIV or ANY sex people will see you as his property. Everyone assumes you do PIV because anything else isn’t considered sex. The fact that PIV is THE sex in the eyes of the world is really fucked up too. I agree that this school of thought has horrendous consequences for women everywhere. A shift in that kind of thinking, by itself, would be awesome. Of course it would mean men would have to let go of intercourse as a conquest, and lard knows that shit isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  100. Shelby

    “If I get my dick in you, you lose”

    Yes. It’s self hatred. Groucho Marx. Any club that would have me as a member, I wouldn’t want to join.

  101. notalady

    This recent Jezebel post dovetails nicely with this topic. TW for explicit sexual violence and slut-shaming prosecutor.

    http://jezebel.com/5820022/how-a-rape-case-went-off-the-rails

    This is my town! Aaaaaagh!

  102. Morf

    I’m with Kris, sex is on my initiation, and if I feel uncomfortable, we stop. And any man who doesn’t abide by that doesn’t get to be in my bed.

    That makes me an “angler”, but as a result of this policy, I haven’t had sex I feel sad and ill about since my early twenties.

  103. Ashley

    I think male-male sex is also based on misogyny.

    So is lesbian sex, in a patriarchy. In a patriarchy, most interactions between two or more people, and most of the shit you do alone, has some element of misogyny mixed in. Patriarchy is in your head, not just in what other people do to or with you. I think what Jill is saying implies that you can’t extract the effects of patriarchal conditioning from your mind by not having sex, or having only certain kinds of sex.

    The question is where resistance is possible.

  104. ginger

    Oh, Ashley, that is so right on. (Accurate, I mean, not awesome.)

  105. Milly

    Thank you Jill and blamers. So many awesome thinkers here.

  106. Heo

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw the similarities between this Twisty Faster essay and
    this other one.

    But I still wanted to highlight that this dynamic of being unable to really express your own will when you inhabit a one-down position in a system is well-recognized when it doesn’t apply to man-woman relationships.

  107. Heo

    Sorry, html anxiety and Captain Morgan shut down the section of my brain that decides whether an imprecise pronoun or a clear referent are required. So, comment above references Jill aka Twisty essay upon which I am commenting and Spivak essay I linked.

  108. CrazyQuilter

    i have watched very many posters in this thread make insinuations that women who consent to, and even enjoy, PIV sex, are confused silly things who don’t know it’s really terrible for us. i want to ask you to consider what that sounds like–WHO that sounds like.
    it boils down to this: “Silly girls; this is terrible for you, and only WE know what’s good for you! So listen to us, or you’re a bad, bad girl.”
    and i feel as though a lot of you are doing a bit of patronizing, yourselves, to be honest.

    also, the fact that men have structured society to favor rapists and let them off does not create the act of putting, or taking, a penis into a vagina as rape. there are plenty of other ways to rape people, some of which do not even involve touching your body with theirs.

    and, short of invasive (and often more dangerous) medical measures, PIV sex is the only semi-reliable way to create life, should a woman ever want crotch fruit. also, as i said, some of us enjoy it for recreational purposes. i consider it about as hazardous, but marginally more enjoyable than, riding a bike. and you need safety equipment for both, should anything happen.

    i think what needs to be done IS to tell the truth about the consequences, without acting like PIV is a Heinous Evil Deed, on par with infanticide or cannibalism, which should Never Be Done Ever Again. why are we condemning the act when it is some of the actors who are the problem?

    going off and saying ALL PIV sex = rape does not really do much to point out the real-life consequences of PIV sex (gone wrong), such as a wide assortment of horrifying diseases, crippling disabilities, and poverty. it is not the sex that causes these things, unless the couple in question was doing something very, er, wrong, or it was a brutal rape. and do not equate a loving couple having fun making the beast with two backs, with a bunch of beasts beating a woman bloody with their dicks; it is not the same thing. what does this comparison accomplish? who do you help?

    @Feministsub: i thought the same thing.

    also, @MinervaK:
    a wildlife preserve? wow, that’s nice. very generous of you. you know, i heard something similar about women! only, the preserve was the kitchen. you know, where we’d be “safe”.
    and they didn’t want to let us roam free, they wanted to chain us to the pipes under the sink. you know, so we couldn’t get “lost”. oh, and of course they would get to use us for pronging whenever they felt like it, no loaning-out necessary.
    and what you said sounded just as scary.

    …also, @Judi:
    if you feel like every time you have PIV sex, you’ve “lost an argument”–you could try…NOT having PIV sex. maybe it just isn’t for you. there are an almost endless variety of other things to do. and if the nigel you are with complains, kick him to the curb. there are an almost endless variety of nigels, too.
    and if you just don’t like any kind of sex, that’s cool too. you don’t HAVE to have sex. and if your nigel is trying to force you, or is forcing you, A) get help and support from friends, and B) call the police on his ass. complain loudly. LOUDLY. and if they don’t do anything, tell all your friends and his friends that he is a RAPIST. and if they don’t believe you, continue to complain, or get new friends, because the ones you have (who believe him) are probably not-that-great-quality friends anyway.

  109. Ciccina

    First, a confession – I haven’t yet read all the comments in this thread, so the following may be redundant. I’m just dashing this off and will return later.

    The “piv sex is rape” argument, if this is not too much of a reduction, is based on the concept that consent is not possible in a relationship where power is inherently unbalanced.

    It seems to me that lesbian sex between “partners” where one woman is physically larger (or to be more precise, inherently more capable of inflicting physical harm), is the sole source of income or health benefits, or has sole legal custody of offspring, would also be inherently non-consensual.

    My question is this: why let lesbians in relationships where power is asymmetric off the ideological hook? Its not as though lesbians have perfect access to justice and can call on the legal system to enforce fairness or even punish a physical assault by a partner (or “partner”).

    This is not to say that patriarchy isn’t the paradigm, the blueprint, for power asymmetry (I, too, blame the patriarchy). But it seems that consent-is-a-convenient-fiction holds true for any relationship where the stakes are uneven.

    You can’t wish away power imbalance by simply eliminating the phallus.

  110. Ciccina

    @ yttik

    That’s rather startling to discover at this late date, but after some unpleasant internet research, apparently quite true.

    If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that. For example, I own a female dog who is a humper. I (previously) didn’t know female dogs did this. So I turned to my friend Google for more information. That was a big mistake.

    A big mistake.

    @ Comrade PhisioProf

    False consciousness.

    Actually, system justification theory is a much more useful, as well as evidence-based, explanation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_justification

  111. Saurs

    (Marcotte’s linked to this post, Jill, by the by. She refers the discussion therein as, hoo boy, residing on an “experimental plane.” Also, it is “interesting for provoking thought.”)

  112. Fictional Queen

    Every man, deep down, knows he’s a worthless piece of shit.
    Which is why they see sex the way they do,you lose if you have sex with me!
    You wouldn’t think putting your dick in someone makes them a loser unless you knew you were a worthless piece of shit.
    You wouldn’t think LOOKING at someone would degrade them (hijab) unless you knew you were a worthless piece of shit.
    Etc.
    Basically,if men stop being worthless pieces of shit,all these problems would be solved.Or at least if they kept their worthless-piece-of-shit-ness to themselves and didn’t force us plan our lives around it!But I doubt men are capable of not being worthless pieces of shit! *daydreams about female only country*

  113. harridan

    I pretty much agree with the post, however I’m currently in a ‘not my Nigel’ situation and would be curious to see if anyone has an opinion as to how the concepts in the post apply to my scenario.
    My boyfriend is gorgeous, madly in love with me, cooks for me, cleans for me, hand washes my clothes, carries my heavy handbag, prefers me without makeup, doesn’t care if I practice any hair removal (I’m moderately hairy in my natural state, not one of those ladies for whom it doesn’t make much of a difference), and he would sort of like it if I gained some weight (I’m an average/slim build).
    As far as sex is concerned, my main problem is that he is very reluctant to state any preferences and always says he just wants to do whatever I want (this is a problem with him in general). He’s always worrying about hurting me and apologizing for any little thing (though I’m slowly breaking him of this habit). I’ve never felt any pressure from him and he does whatever I say. If he even suspects I don’t like something he stops right away.
    I’m more educated, make more money, and generally make the decisions. How does this relationship perpetuate the patriarchy?

  114. Glossia

    “Yes. It’s self hatred. Groucho Marx. Any club that would have me as a member, I wouldn’t want to join.”

    Most definitely. Dudes have actually, literally said this to explain why they won’t allow themselves to be interested in women that don’t go in for all the beauty standard bull. A woman that complies is a prize to them, something to strive for (well, mostly pine for, watch porn of, et al).

    As Fictional Queen said, it’s projected self loathing. Instead of changing their self and their outlook (which takes work) they’d rather take their hate out on others. It’s monstrous laziness.

    “My question is this: why let lesbians in relationships where power is asymmetric off the ideological hook? Its not as though lesbians have perfect access to justice and can call on the legal system to enforce fairness or even punish a physical assault by a partner (or ‘partner’).

    This is not to say that patriarchy isn’t the paradigm, the blueprint, for power asymmetry (I, too, blame the patriarchy). But it seems that consent-is-a-convenient-fiction holds true for any relationship where the stakes are uneven. ”

    How would this imbalance be eliminated? Would it have the same implications without the global P system to prop up and promote the idea of “If you can do X to someone and they can’t stop you, do X?” Would most people feel the desire to dominate if the world wasn’t based around blind greed and the scramble for resources?

  115. Tanya

    The way I understand the change in the way consent is considered would drastically change the way rape is prosecuted for the better. Instead of a rape case hinging on whether the woman consented or not, all that would be required is to prove that intercourse took place. If the woman said it was non-consensual, a rape has been committed. When someone has been assaulted or had their property stolen, the case doesn’t come down to whether the victim wanted to be assaulted or have their stuff stolen. They just have to prove that the perpetrator stole their stuff and they didn’t consent. Or that they were assaulted and they didn’t consent to it. Isn’t the fact that the victim didn’t consent considered a minor point? But you get a rape case and everybody calls it a “sex case” and then speculate as to whether the woman really wanted it or not. It is enough to make me sick!

    Twisty, when I first read about your consent scheme I wrinkled my brow and I thought up a bunch of knee jerk reactions about why it wouldn’t work. I thought it was a little loony tunes. But now I think it’s the most brilliant idea ever. It’s simplicity and it’s awesomeness shines through. If we could get this implemented, rape would become almost non-existent. The problem is, of course, patriarchy. I do hope that if i can change my mind about this issue, others can too.

  116. Jill

    “My boyfriend is gorgeous, madly in love with me, cooks for me, cleans for me, hand washes my clothes, carries my heavy handbag, prefers me without makeup, doesn’t care if I practice any hair removal [... unpleasant description of personal sex life, etc ...] I’m more educated, make more money, and generally make the decisions. How does this relationship perpetuate the patriarchy?”

    You’re a dude.

  117. stacey

    @Crazy quilter: first you say PIV-as-rape is nonsense, then you advocate calling a boyfriend a RAPIST when he pressures you to have sex. This is… problematic.

  118. sjaustin

    Oh, harridan. Aside from the fact that your entire comment reads like fiction, there’s an actual problem even if it’s all true.

    and he would sort of like it if I gained some weight (I’m an average/slim build).

    Oh. So you’re not dangerously thin, but he would like it if you gained weight. He wants you to change your body for his pleasure. News flash – there’s nothing progressive about dudes who prefer “curvy” women or women with “meat on their bones” or whatever disgusting dehumanizing pornifying terms they use.

  119. laxsoppa

    “But you get a rape case and everybody calls it a “sex case” and then speculate as to whether the woman really wanted it or not.”

    The interchangeable use of the terms is just one more reiteration of the fact that in a patriarchy, sex as enjoyment and mutual pleasure does not exist. The concept of “sex” is as inconsequential and fictitious as “consent”. The dudes and their supporters ALREADY KNOW it was rape, because their entire power structure relies on rape being such a universal experience and constant threat. It’s only a crime if the rapist is not entitled enough, and that is what the justice system is built to determine. Women equal sex equal rape receptacles.

  120. laxsoppa

    And before anyone cries “not my Nigel” or “I have orgasms too”, I hasten to add that my comment deals with sex being a non-concept on societal level and has (hopefully!) nothing to do with your personal boudoir policies.

  121. Kate

    Dear Twisty, I understand that in your world view no woman has agency because we all live in a patriarchy which is oppressing us.

    In your world view how can we ever make it better? We are making it better by having a little space on the interwebs which you have given us. I don’t think we make it better by blaming women who do PIV sex and second guessing their motives. Or imagining what goes on in their bedrooms.

    I had hoped with my university degrees, my choice to be heterosexual and have a sex life with my Nigel, to bring up a daughter (only one child! not a tribe) and send her to a private girls school slightly protected from the pornulised society, to mentor younger women in my workplace, slowly we’ll all make the world a better place.

    Your ideas put me back to 1985 when I first heard that PIV sex could be thought of as rape it could be if you think of it that way. PIV sex is also called marriage, monogamy, pair bonding and it happens. Obviously some women are happy to have PIV sex and have babies as a consequence. PIV sex is also seen as a consequence of biological urges or even “love”.
    Some Nigels are not rapists. I have a psychological need to believe that.
    Whatever my opinions are they are probably wrong and you are probably right, but I’m not evolved enough to understand.

  122. yttik

    From Saurs comment about experimental planes, the fact that some people say this discussion has to exist only on an “experimental plane,” is evidence of that inability to consent. If it’s such an unrealistic choice that it can never be made in the real world, then it’s not a much of a choice at all, is it? Also implying that choosing not to have PIV would require a complete commitment to separatism really is saying that if you have any contact with men at all you’re going to engage in PIV whether you want to or not. There goes consent again.

    CrazyQuilter, I would never imply “women are confused silly things” or bad in anyway. My intent in participating in these discussions is to make sure women are armed with the truth. The more you are aware of what is going on the more prepared you are to deal with it. Women should not feel shame at all for engaging in PIV sex, it’s not their shame to carry. Women already have to deal with all the other consequences of PIV, pregnancy, birth control, abortion, disease, lack of consent, the mess, the fact that there’s a man attached to the other end and all the issues he brings. PIV can be really harmful to women, there’s a whole list of things we have to do to protect ourselves from this harm.

    If I were a man and could prevent women from experiencing all this harm by simply not engaging in PIV, that would be an easy choice. At the very least I would make sure I had done everything in my power to reduce the potential harm I would be causing. Men are not entitled to PIV, it’s not something they can’t live without. Women should not be required to put themselves at risk simply because a man wants to express himself in this way.

    To PIV or not to PIV is not the question. The question is, why is this one form of sex, the one that poses the greatest risk to women, considered to be practically mandatory for men to engage in?

  123. Rididill

    @Kate

    ‘Some Nigels are not rapists. I have a psychological need to believe that.’

    Hey Kate, at least you can admit it! Which is more than can be said for Clarissa on the pingback there, a smug fool if ever I saw one.

    What’s with this ‘it’s patronizing’ bull?

    We’re talking about the unknowable nature of free will in an admittedly, obviously, unequal society. The impossibility of knowing our own true motivations is universally applied. We can only move closer towards that self-knowledge by being aware of the forces acting upon us, and we’ll still never know.

    It’s nothing to with telling someone what they’re subjective experience is; it’s a general point about the relationship between individual consciousness and social conditioning and what that means for oppressed classes.

    There is nothing patronizing about that. However, assuming that someone is too dumb to go beyond the intellectually shallow statement of ‘it’s my choice’ and not saying a word, as it seems they would so like… assumes that person is stupid. Which is, I may say, patronizing.

    How you then choose to live your live according to this knowledge is up to you. I don’t plan to give up heterosex and I don’t plan to stop enjoying it.

    But better to approach the world with your eyes open, hey?

    Anyone who doesn’t believe in false consciousness must never have had a paradigm-changing epiphany.

  124. sjaustin

    Kate, nobody here is blaming women. You know what this blog is titled, yes? It’s the patriarchy being blamed, not women as a class, nor individual women who happen to have sex with dudes. I don’t think anyone here is saying that you’re a bad person or even a bad feminist.

    I do find it interesting that you say you made a choice to be heterosexual. Did you really choose to be sexually attracted to men, or are you just saying that you’re choosing to engage in heterosexual sex?

  125. eb

    People need to stop taking the hetsex=rape construction personally. While I understand the inclination to react, it’s not a personal affront to you. It’s not all about you or your Nigel. It is an observation about a power structure that imbues the lives of everyone on the planet. Some of us have been lucky enough to be born in countries where significant advances have been made to break this power structure. But, it still exists. No matter how many times you have an orgasm, it still exists.

    After 9/11, I argued that the US was not blameless in the events of that day – that Americans don’t live in a vacuum. The actions of our government create consequences and the government is us. I was then assaulted by people telling me how good they are and how hard they work and how they don’t wish bad things upon anyone and how I hate America and Americans. Blah blah blah. For all I know, you can be the Holy Fucking Virgin Mary mother of God but you still don’t live in a vacuum. Just because you are a good person, doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen in your name or because of your choices.

    Step outside the ‘I’.

  126. laxsoppa

    eb – Right on. The personal cannot become the political unless one is able to place it in a larger context, and sadly in this case the knee-jerk reaction seems to be to cry “not my Nigel” and pout. Patriarchy continues to thrive at the expense of countless women and children and some men, but apparently facing the truth, taking some time to review these icky patriarchal practices and dealing with the subsequent emotional fallout is sooo much worse.

    Nobody wants to hear that they are oppressed, but how does one do anything to make things better for anyone if one does not want to know what’s wrong? Taking it so personally and sobbing onto the collective keyboard like that Clarissa blogger is precisely why this power structure is still in place.

  127. Ayla

    “A het woman who’s never felt the post-PIV “lost an argument…given something up, given in, come around, gone along” (thanks, Judi) is either disingenuous or a unicorn.”

    I’m not disingenuous, but you can call me a unicorn all you want.

    When do I get my horn?

  128. AlienNumber

    Ayla, you don’t get to have a horn, seeing how you’re female in the Patriarchy.

    Anyway, what I meant to write is that the sentence “all heterosex had in the Patriarchy is on the rape continuum” is a political point, in addition to it being a fact. It is the equivalent point to “under the system of global capitalism, the making of one’s clothes necessarily involves slave labor or other gross inequality.” (Think about it – from the growing of the fiber, to the transport of it, to the displacement of entire communities, to sweatshop labor to — well, you get the point. Even in the nonexistent scenario under which you grow your own cotton or silk and make your own clothes somehow you’re probably still using a needle or two made because of problematic mining practices that even if miraculously pay the miners great wages, still end up in the long run screwing up the planet).
    So when you retort with “but I like my shirt, it feels good, and I bought it in the thrift store!” you really are just spewing nonsense because a) you’re not thinking politically b) you refuse to accept facts and process information in a way that acknowledges the reality and c) your narrow narcissism is completely nauseating.

    Finally, I just finished reading Andrea Dworkin’s Right-Wing Women and it is by far one of the best books ever written (I am an expert). Go read it now!

  129. GMM

    I have rarely had PIV sex. The boyfriends I’ve had never even pressed the issue. That changed with my (ex)fiance.
    Sorry if this is Too Much Info, but I was a virgin up until age 26 (if virginity means not having any PIV or PIA sex). He was a Taoist and insisted that he shouldn’t wear a condom because that would block the flow of “chi”. I was stupid enough to buy into it. I thought I didn’t have the right to question his beliefs because religious beliefs should be respected.

    Could that be classified as a form of coercion? It wasn’t the sex I felt pressured into, just the condomless sex.

  130. Kristine

    GMM, yes, it is coercion. You should never feel pressured to do anything, even if you don’t feel threatened (oh, if only I had followed my own advice).

    Religion is a stupid-ass reason for anything, and usually it’s just a rationalization that covers up the real reason (woman hatred). I have a special place in my heart for Taoism, though. I was a Taoist, right after I was a Christian and right before I became a godless heretic. Boy, what a load of misogynistic bullshit. The whole Yin/Yang thing sums up gender essentialism quite nicely.

    But I digress. The point was that if we lived in a truly sane society, no amount of discomfort would ever be tolerated during sex.

  131. Kristine

    Even emotional discomfort.

  132. Carpenter

    Pandagon has a post referencing this one that is pretty great.

  133. Ayla

    Well, AlienNumber, you don’t get to define my experiences for me.

    Sorry.

    Oh, no I’m not.

  134. Ayla

    Seriously. I’m not getting cowed this time.

  135. AlienNumber

    Your point that you personally enjoy hetero sex is irrelevant to the larger point that consent – however little it is, if any – to it is manufactured by the Patriarchy.
    Well, maybe the point -and the strength of your conviction that you truly enjoy it (!) – is not completely useless generally speaking, because it shows us that the Patriarchy is really good at what it is doing – getting its sex class to become complicit in its own oppression by teaching it to physically enjoy the damage (which is also known as pure evil genius – this is part of the reason why it’s so hard to fight it).

  136. Ayla

    AlienNumber, you don’t get to tell me how I feel.

    You don’t get to tell me how I feel right now, or tomorrow, or when I was five, or five minutes after the last time I had sex.

    If my own experiences are irrelevant to the whole, then fine. But no one gets to make a statement that all women feel x, y, and z, when I am a woman and I DON’T FEEL THAT.

  137. Ayla

    Also, let’s keep the argument where it actually belongs…on what I specifically quoted and denied feeling. I am not a liar and I won’t tolerate being called one. Period.

  138. Ksiusia

    This discussion is confirming what I hoped were unjustified fears about the kind of roles & situations I would fall into if I ever dated men.

    One of the main problems with the idea of consent to sex in a patriarchy is that the (Western?) patriarchal view currently defines sex as goods/services given by women to men (or taken from women by men). The portrayal of men as hypersexual and women as asexual even when “sexily” packaged is an attempt to justify this one-way service arrangement on grounds of, “But we neeeeeeeeeeeed it more.” I’ve even heard otherwise capitalist men arguing that women HAVE this thing that men NEED and they are selfishly keeping it to themselves when it should be fairly distributed across the (male) population.

    But if it were just that men really did neeeeeeeeeeeed it more, why aren’t they the ones catering to women’s sexual desires in an effort to be more attractive partners, and to make up for/camouflage the dangers of pregnancy and disease?

  139. stacey

    @Ayla, regardless of whether or not all of your (or our) personal sex experiences have been consensual (and congratulations for that) would you still agree that women, as a subordinate class within a patriarchal system, do not have the power of consent?

  140. Ayla

    I don’t care to discuss that here.

  141. GMM

    I agree with Ayla, I haven’t felt like I ‘lost an argument’ in every sexual encounter I’ve had. They only time I’ve felt that way was with my ex not wearing a condom, but I stopped having sex with him because of it.

    I don’t understand the idea that all women are participating in their own “destruction” ANYTIME they have sex. It’s incredibly patronizing.

  142. AlienNumber

    Patronizing? Yes, shoot the messenger won’t you.
    Honestly, read Dworkin’s Right-Wing Women, she articulates the point very well, although I guess it does take her 240 pages. Patronizing, she is not.

  143. GMM

    You’re reaction to Ayla is very patronizing, yes.

  144. GMM

    Your, sorry.

  145. Ayla

    GMM, I appreciate it.

    I do want to clarify, I’m not just saying that I don’t feel these negative feelings every time I have sex. I am saying I have literally NEVER experienced them after sex. I will own any and all privilege and luck that went into my being able to honestly say that, but I won’t have my experience denied and be called a liar.

    And now I’ve probably gone a bit over my fair share of posts in this thread so I will take my leave.

  146. AlienNumber

    Have not called you a liar, I simply said you were spewing nonsense, if we’re to get technical. On the other hand, Dworkin spends a fair amount of time discussing sexual intelligence in her chapter “The Politics of Intelligence” so maybe, Ayla, you’re one of the few women who has sexual intelligence in a world designed to keep us women sexually stupid. And if so, congratulations! But just because you personally enjoy getting pronged every single time, before, during and after, it doesn’t mean that hetero sex in the Patriarchy is not nonconsensual by definition.

    I’m also taking my leave now.

  147. Ayla

    Years ago that would have hurt my feelings and made me slink away. Not now.

  148. stacey

    @Ayla, sorry for putting you on the spot. I think what I was trying to determine was if you could divorce the personal from the political (although they are intrinsically linked). You don’t have to reply, but I’d like to put something down here, because I’m having problems articulating this, even to myself.

    I fully acknowledge that The Patriarchy denies me agency. Fully. As I was arguing in that Clarissa blog, the government decides who gets to fill out my taxes based on my sex life; I’ve never been paid top wages for any of the jobs I’ve done in the public sphere; as a mother, I battle every day to protect and educate my son about the unavoidable patriarchal crap in our life. On top of that, the (Canadian) courts favour white men, the police can’t be bothered to track down murderers of prostitutes, etc. It fucking sucks, I’m aware of it, and I do what I can to counteract it.

    Despite this lack of agency, I don’t feel at all that I’m letting the side down by having PIV sex. I do it on my own terms, with people I like, and I too have never had any coerced experiences. Yay me! As far as I am able to do so, I control what happens to my own personal vagina; I’m not too bothered by the fact that having PIV sex perpetuates the oppression of women by men, because there’s probably hundreds of other things I do that also make me a participant in my own oppression. OMG sometimes I wear lipstick. OMG I like the way my boobs look in my new bra.

    We can only do so much. Unless it is physically or mentally hurting another person, I’m not going to feel guilty about my pleasures. Also, nowhere in her post does Twisty advocate a sex strike… just “feminist revolution.” I’m revoluting as hard as I can. :)

  149. stacey

    Uh, to clarify:

    “Unless it is physically or mentally hurting another person, I’m not going to feel guilty about my pleasures.” That sounds naive; what I should say is, “While I choose to have friendly PIV with people I like, I will gladly uphold any woman’s right to refuse PIV for political or personal reasons.”

    And I think we’re talking refusing here, not condemning. Right? RIGHT?

    And also, “We can only do so much.” I go on marches, I write letters of protest, I speak out when dudes make sexist comments, I raise my son in a conscious manner. Sometimes I do a bit more, sometimes a bit less. I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that my lifetime will see no significant change in patriarchy, so I’m doing my bit to keep the feminist machine running so that subsequent generations have something to work with.

    Am I just throwing spanners into the machine by having PIV sex? Maybe. Does this damage feminism in any way? I’d like to think not, since when the revolution is over, some of us are still going to want to have sex with men – I’m enforcing and reinforcing that “personal sexual agency” for women is a viable model.

  150. Rididill

    @GMM and Ayla.

    Yes, that ‘lost an argument thing’ was unfair and it was trying to tell you what you feel.

    However, I’d say it’s not really the main argument being made here. Which is about how social structure makes consent by definition impossible, regardless of how you feel about it. The point is, those very feelings themselves are shaped by patriarchy so you can’t really know for sure what’s going on. Doesn’t matter how much you enjoy it. This is an important issue but it’s not the same issue.

    Given that it is impossible to construct any consciousness outside the patriarchy, we will forever be trying to take down the master’s house with the master’s tools. We can make some progress but reproducing aspects of the system is inevitable.

    So we form our own priorities for action and don’t beat ourselves up about it.

    However.

    If we keep on telling ourselves that we are free when we are not, we’re not taking down anything and are actually bolstering the system.

  151. Kiuku

    “The only way to achieve a state of universal equality in which consensual sex can be had will simply be to evolve as a species into a race of androgynous supertaints with all the same plumbing who get busy by communing cerebrally/psychosomatically and who reproduce by budding.”

    Have we considered it may be the case that a taint in the food supply and in the water, and an assault on the environment has caused a rapid difference between men and women that normally would have found no cause in nature to occur? The use of bio-hormones. Men have abnormalities that distinguish them from healthy male adults of related species: hair loss. We should have a vested interest in correcting these abnormalities, such as the heights they are attaining, and the early puberty of young women. We should seek to attain egalitarian nature.

  152. Kiuku

    I don’t like to see disparate heights between men and women in photographs; hints to me it is unnatural and I fail to find any remarkable differences in proto-humans, to the extent where I posit that perhaps there were not two sexes at one time. There is no reptilian dimorphism, and the male genome, what we know of it, is said not to evolve over time by itself. So I really think they’re using hormones and they are pushing the disparate height onto us the same way they make tall men pose with short women to impress upon the youth and the public that there is a gender difference, when there is none.

  153. Kiuku

    the deformity of hair loss in men appears normal to the modern mind, and it is not normal by a standard. It’s abnormal, and it’s an indication that something is going on.

  154. Wendy

    This was a brilliant post. Thank you. You’re funny as hell too. I think I’m in love. Thanks for the quote from Dworkin. Reminds me that I need reread some of her books.

  155. anne

    “We should have a vested interest in correcting these abnormalities, such as the heights they are attaining, and the early puberty of young women.”

    Are girls really experiencing puberty earlier or is that just one of those freak-out articles from the patriarchy’s circular file? I think I’ve seen versions of the same article, “omg there are 11-year-olds with breasts now!” from my grandma’s old Ladies Home Journals published in the 1910s. I myself was one of those unusually chesty pubescents and the only problem with it was the morons lose their shit at the sight of a female person with breasts. Most of whom were adults, btw. The breasts themelves weren’t the problem.

    Balding though, what’s up with that?

  156. E.

    As much as I love patriarchy blaming and enjoy most of the rhetoric and analysis on IBTP, equating the act of a man ejaculating inside a woman’s vagina as “using [her] as a toilet” makes me fear that much of the energy propelling this post is basically disgust at straight sex in any context. Sorry, Jill, but we straight women get to have sex, too. When I get my lady juices on my dude’s dick, is that like me smearing boogers on it? Where the hell does this imagery come from?

    I’ve been fucking my current man for sixteen years. And no, he’s never kept going when I’ve told him I was ready to stop. Never. Not once. We can always finish things off by hand, either mine or his. Is that “rapey” too? Me jerking the dude off? (Or being present while he finishes himself off? Sorry if this is TMI, but I’m responding to some pretty viividly detailed imagery here.) How exactly do I enact “a spot of feminist revolt” in the boudoir? Getting off as quickly as I can, then kicking the man immediately out of my bed and house and telling him not to call me ’til I call him?

    There is such a thing as good straight sex. If you find the very idea revolting, maybe you’re not the best person to make pronouncements on whether it’s possible while male privilege still exists.

  157. Jill

    Whenever I offer a critique of the power imbalance inherent in straight sex in a patriarchy, somebody invariably tries to tell me it’s because I’m not straight and therefore I must find straight sex “revolting” so I am not “qualified.” Well, Miss Straighty-Straight, even dykes can draw conclusions based on overwhelming evidence. My personal preference is not the point. Whether you personally find dudesex enjoyable is not the point. The point is that — in a patriarchy — heterosex is tainted by, you know, patriarchy. So is gaysex, for that matter.

    Why does everybody make this about themselves? For Pete’s sake, if you think your Nigel is a paragon, lucky you and congratulations.

  158. amrit

    E.:

    “When I get my lady juices on my dude’s dick, is that like me smearing boogers on it? Where the hell does this imagery come from?

    I’ve been fucking my current man for sixteen years. And no, he’s never kept going when I’ve told him I was ready to stop. Never. Not once. We can always finish things off by hand, either mine or his. Is that “rapey” too? Me jerking the dude off? (Or being present while he finishes himself off? Sorry if this is TMI,”

    This. Is. TMI. Way too much information, way too early in the day.

    Jill:

    “The point is that — in a patriarchy — heterosex is tainted by, you know, patriarchy. So is gaysex, for that matter.”

    That about sums it up, at least for me.

  159. AlienNumber

    I guess I always wonder – if it’s that great why go around posting on radfem blogs about how great it is? Thou protests too much, E.

  160. yttik

    Good point, AlienNumber. Thou protests too much.

    I am one of IBTP’s Miss Straighty-Straights. I don’t find the idea of opposite sex revolting at all. In fact, once you take away the breast ironing, the FGM, the forced pregnancy, the risk of STD’s, the child sexual abuse, the rape, the manipulation and lack of consent, the female shame, the beauty industry, and this idea that women are somehow dirty and defective, what is left over between two people can be a lot of fun. You might even say that without all of these other things, it would be a whole lot more fun. Or so I imagine, since all these other influences are way beyond my control and I’ll never get to really find out.

    The word “fuck” is either the greatest insult you can throw at someone or it’s a synonym for PIV. That pretty much sums it up for me.

  161. Jill

    “Thou protests too much”

    This verb is conjugated wrong! I think it has to be “protestest.” Or “dost protest.”

  162. Saurs

    Perhaps for women struggling to reconcile their own positive, neutral, or differing experiences with Jill’s description of heterosexual sex, they can acknowledge that het sex is thought, under patriarchy, to function that way?

    I’ve been socialized to believe, although as an adult I do not, that women are the site at which sex takes place, where sex is penetrative and always the prelude to an orgasm-induced male ejaculation. In that sense, yes, women are supposed to be the repositories of semen, men’s toilets. And even when sex is not intended for reproduction (sex is very rarely in practice intended for reproduction), “normal sex” is “supposed to” mimic reproductive methods of sex (penis in SOMETHING).

    That sex doesn’t actually work that way a large part of the time, thankfully, doesn’t negate the fact that public discourse about women and sex are informed by this very old and persistent way of perceiving sex, that people are brought up to believe women primarily function as sexual objects for men (men require sex; women are sex; ergo men require the use of women for a necessary biological and psychological function unique to men’s makeup and likewise women’s reproductive role is to “receive” a conception rather than play an active and primary role in conception, gestation, and birth), and that both men and women struggle, in real life, to resist and subvert this thinking. One may find it unfair, unjust, and outrageous, but it’s a demonstrable truth that it is accepted wisdom, that it has very real and dangerous political and social consequences, and that women as a whole are its main victims.

  163. Saurs

    Dudes often try to argue with me about a deep biologically-informed (read: reproductive) desire for penetrative sex, to which I say both “boo” and “balls,” ‘cos more than anything else, humans talk about sex and have always talked about sex and what we know and think about sex are informed by conversation, practice, and socialization, not instinct. We are the recipients of a narrative thousands of years in the making, and mostly constructed by and for men. That men might have good reason to think of “hole” equalling “pleasure,” most women, all the other things being equal and with the false narrative of penetrative sex being pleasurable absent from our history, would not associate penetration with pleasure, and certainly not with greater pleasure than clitoral stimulation. The bulk of physical pleasure from sex doesn’t exist in the birth canal. I know a few women who “Not My Vagina” me about totes loving anal sex or penetrative sex, but I honestly believe if women’s pleasure were at all a priority, dudes would not be demanding or expecting penetrative sex. That penetrative sex is taken as the default demonstrates that men’s pleasure is supposed to trump women’s pleasure women’s discomfort.

  164. stacey

    (Long detailed description of my fabulous sex life), oops, I meant to say “feminist revolution doesn’t mean we have to stop having sex.” Just stop accepting the sex that we don’t want to have.

  165. susanw

    Thank You, Jill, and all the wise blamers on Savage Death Island. IBTP is a refuge of sanity and truth within the twisted power-over narrative normalized by patriarchy.

    Consent, if it exists at all, is proportional to power disparity. Women under patriarchy have few choices of how, how much, when, and which whom to collude in our inferiority. (Aside: I emphatically reject the idea that women have been systematically domesticated and enslaved because we are actually inferior; on the contrary, our personhood has been co-opted precisely because we are so valuable to men.) While all but the tip-top tier, as stated by a previous blamer, suffer in hierarchical systems, women, as the sex class have almost no agency at all; men have exacerbated this by labeling a huge range of subjugation and abuse of women as “sex”. Beat a woman to death, and the perp might go to prison. All he has to do to win a get-out-of-jail-free card is to rape her first and claim she liked rough sex. As a bonus, this maligns women as a class, making it more acceptable to exploit all of us.

    As radical feminists, we have theory and perception to make meaning of our lives. Surrounded by virulent misogyny, compromising and colluding continually, we can still see the truth for what it is and make conscious, if painful choices. Patriarchy rules the world, but we can free our minds. Shave your legs if that’s a requirement to keep your job, but do it knowing why you made that choice instead of worrying if you are feminine or “pretty” enough. The Revolution won’t be realized by brainwashed women drenched in guilt and shame who actually believe that men are entitled to a world full of women dying to please them.

  166. Fictional Queen

    Men are portrayed as hypersexual and women as asexual…it just adds that sexy touch of sadism,the contrast that men get off on.And it’s disgusting,that’s the anti-libido if you have any sense of justice!How can that turn you on?It’s a crazed,perverted desire for domination and abuse.

  167. stacey

    “Men are portrayed as hypersexual and women as asexual…”

    …except if the woman is black or hispanic, as she is stereotyped in the States. They are supposed to be sex-mad, always available and willing. They’re the ones you go to when your wife won’t put out; they’re the ones you can treat even more badly than white women because they’re super-asking for it.

    (@Fictional Queen: I’m not chastising you – I just wanted to expand what you are saying.)

  168. IrishUp

    Good point, stacey. The treatment of indigenous women and WOC as unrapable, due to their animalistic natures amirite!?, by European colonists and their descendents would seem to be one of the clauses in the International Accords.

  169. Kate

    heterosex is tainted by, you know, patriarchy

    I love it! I find life is tainted by, you know patriachy. Should I work in a workplace where people use words like cunt and rape every day, even at breakfast (fly in fly out mine site job so I have to have breakfast with them, and get paid reasonable $$) or should I quit and live off my Nigel and be a stay at home mum. Of course the personal is political and maybe I should go and do..I don’t know what. Primary school teacher? I’m not qualified, only an engineer. Not tough enough princess, and well done to those who are. (the female engineers of my age 45-55 who wear lipstick and high heels and get their face in the engineering week supplements, oh sick making it is they are not threatening the P but benefiting from it and they only had to be privileged private school white girls whose parents believed in educating girls, tough feisty and aggressive competitive heterosexual but not too pretty but wearing high heels but fitting in! Good for you!) Well I didn’t make it, sorry P. Going off to knit myself a pity party with purple frills :)

  170. Milly

    That sux Kate. I think working on a fly in fly out mine site would have to be the very definition of a hostile work environment for a woman. I grew up in a very blokey (mining and military) frontier town. There’s no way I’d ever go back. I don’t blame you for wanting out. Of course, I blame the patriarchy. If you looking for friendly websites though, for someone in a STEM career, I recommend Zuska – the attack engineer, she’s pretty cool.

  171. GMM

    American Indian and Alaska Native women have the highest incidence of rape out of any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S. — at a rate 2.5 times higher than the national average, according to the Department of Justice (not some “biased” feminist group, so calm down MRAs). Most women are assaulted by men of their own race, but Native American women are assaulted by men of all races and backgrounds.

    Some suprising news, Godbag Warren Jeffs was actually convicted today of the rape of his child brides, ages 12 and 15. They played a very CREEPY tape in court that he made for the girls where he instructed them on how to please him sexually and how to shave their pubic hair. He kept objecting, saying it violated his religious rights (he acted as his own lawyer).

    In an official statement, the polygamous LDS church said they completely deplore child abuse but the reason it festers is because polygamy is illegal.
    Right.

  172. Kate

    Thanks Milly. I enjoyed that website, thanks for the link. Also the mother of a 14 year old girl and went and sat at a (girls only) party with her tonight, OMG she swapped shoes with friend and was walking around in high heels (bad for feet, may lead to ankle damage, why do? Says logical engineer mother). Wear high shoes because they make your legs longer and bum rounder! Says P. She is tall and tanned and toned and mascaraed but only 14. I worry! Not going back to that fly in fly out job while she is this age. Not describing my mother privilege to non mothers. Many teachers have seen the same I am sure.

  173. Milly

    No worries Kate, glad you enjoyed the website. Don’t think you should have to worry about “mother privilege” nonsense talk amongst radical feminists. See the “bad mothers get paid” thread here. Motherhood is no get out of gaol free card in the P. Hope you and your daughter get through the teenage years relatively unscathed. Young adulthood is another place I don’t want to go back to. Oh well. My daughter is 9 mths old, it’s all breastfeeding, co-sleeping and nappy changes, the two of us in our own Mother and baby canoe. At least I’ve got a bit of time before I have to brace myself for the rapids!

  174. E.

    AlienNumber, I didn’t say it was “that great,” I merely said it was not “rapey.” And I have no problem with feminist critiques of straight sex. I’m just objecting to the equation of ejaculation during PIV sex with “using her as a toilet.” For me, it weakens Jill’s argument rather than strengthening it. It’s not an issue of being “qualified” or not, it just seems to bespeak the kind of visceral disgust that can temporarily hamper an intelligent person’s logical facilities.

  175. AlienNumber

    All hetero sex in the patriarchy is rapey. Like the sky is blue and like a condor’s face looks like scrotum, it is a fact. Why not accept it so we can move on to more advanced blaming?

    Also, the toilet imagery is more about physical reality than about disgust. Men excrete their bodily fluids into women. It’s more often than not dangerous for women, because we can and will get pregnant whether we want it or not; and because the penis and the ejaculate are the primary vectors for STIs for women; and because, let’s be honest, men are just not that good at using their dicks to really please us women, despite the propaganda. “Close your eyes and think of England” is not just tart English humor.

  176. Louise

    I’ve got a question.

    If we’re unable to give consent, or have our own agency due to the patriarchy, then women must be psychologically incapable of free will and self determination.

    That means it must be impossible for a woman to enter any form of legally binding contract with a man. I take it you’re advocating that marriage should be abolished, along with mortgages, and women running their own businesses?

  177. Jill

    “I take it you’re advocating that marriage should be abolished, along with mortgages, and women running their own businesses?”

    Women are not able to give meaningful consent, not because we are, as you put it, “psychologically incapable of free will and self determination,” but because we are an oppressed class who is in thrall to patriarchal overlords. Thus, what I advocate, rather than the stupid crap you propose, is the overthrow of patriarchy. This would confer fully human status on women, allowing us to make use of our free will for a change. One of the happy side effects of the revolution will be the obsolescence of marriage.

  178. Jezebella

    AlienNumber, I just feel the need to point at that NOT all women “can and will get pregnant”. A lot of us can’t and won’t get pregnant. That doesn’t mean I disagree with your overall point. As a person living on the bleeding edge of perimenopause, I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m about to enter an even more invisible caste of humanity, because most men and a good number of women don’t even act like older and non-fertile women even exist.

  179. Louise

    Jill,

    But in the meantime, you’re saying women shouldn’t be allowed to own credit cards, or get loans, or get a cellphone contract, because we’re not fully adult, and can’t give consent.

  180. Jezebella

    No, she’s not. Read it again.

  181. nails

    hey Louise, ever read about that slave that Thomas Jefferson fucked? She was a fully adult woman, but she was a slave, and couldn’t really say “no” to her master. She could physically remark “no” but it had very little bearing on what her master did. Her “no” means nothing in a practical sense- what such a remark is likely to accomplish in her life. It is hard to say how meaningful “yes” is when “no” isn’t a real option. If she said yes, she might have done it just to make life easier and spare herself worse later on. Having an expectation of not being raped isn’t an option for her, it isn’t something that she can realistically expect from her master. Women don’t have any real shot at recourse when they are raped now. Our “no” doesn’t mean much in a practical sense for the exact same reasons. Saying that consent to heterosexual sex in a patriarchy is unproblematic for women is akin to saying that slaves can have unproblematic sexual relationships with their masters. The possible problems associated with sexual consent makes feminist ally men very uneasy and extremely thoughtful/careful about how they act around women. It doesn’t necessarily stop sex but it causes radically different behavior in men than what is displayed by the common man. These questions are irrelevant to most men, it makes the environment for consent that much worse for women as a class. Most dudes don’t really care about how meaningful the consent is as long as they “score” and don’t get in trouble.

  182. Jill

    “But in the meantime, you’re saying women shouldn’t be allowed to own credit cards, or get loans, or get a cellphone contract, because we’re not fully adult, and can’t give consent.”

    Ohh, you got me! I’m totally saying women aren’t fully adult and shouldn’t have credit cards. And if you check all the rest of my posts on consent, you will see that they are rife with assertions that women are intellectually incapable of managing cell phones. I’m really a dude! Way to read between the lines, McClever!

  183. Jill

    “don’t even act like older and non-fertile women even exist.”

    We don’t exist, didn’t you know? We’re figments of our own imagination.

  184. AlienNumber

    Well, even when you are invisible and a figment of your own imagination, men still will use you as a dumpster for their own genetic material, just hoping for a miracle or something. Have you not yet heard of “granny porn”? (please do yourself a favor and do not google it).

    Do not despair Jezebella, there is a market even for invisible women like you! (I’m being sardonic. I obviously don’t think you are despairing.
    Actually, I think you’re wonderful).

    My real point though is that Louise is guilty of pomo “agency” talk. Obviously women choose their own choices and when they don’t, it’s obviously Jill’s fault. Except Jill doesn’t exist and is a figment of her own imagination, therefore suffering doesn’t exist and something about a cell phone and a credit card.
    See how much sense that made?

    Which reminds me – what does it say about the state of basic reading comprehension in this country when “dogs cannot fly” is read as “dogs shouldn’t fly” and then “something about credit cards” and “how dare you deny dogs the agency to fly.” ?

    Poof.

  185. anne

    I think women are pretty much set for our agency to sex on dudes. That’s one right the P’s never denied. Talk about your bigger fish to fry. Nobody ever pulls the “honor killings” card when someone’s advocating for women’s empowerment to be sex, do they.

  186. Kiya

    Do the commenters and the aunt think it is possible for a female to exercise non-consent in matters of sex, despite existing within a patriarchy, if she is willing and able to harm the male who is attempting to coerce sex? I truly am serious about this question.

    When I was 16 years old and attending community college, a 42-year-old male student took an interest in me. Apparently this interest was less than platonic, and I did not pick up on those cues. One Friday evening, after the campus had closed down and was mostly uninhabited, he got into an elevator with me. As soon as the doors closed, he pushed me up against the wall and kissed me, without so much as a by-your-leave. I had at the time been training at a local MMA school for several years, and when he startled me, I broke his leg. I left him on the floor of the elevator and went home, and the next time I saw him (from a distance – he did not come anywhere near me after that) his leg was in a walking-cast from foot to hip. He never attempted to speak to me again, and as far as I know, he never reported his actions or my actions to anyone.

    Would this be an example of a female effectively exercising non-consent? Or is it something else? I’m truly looking for analysis here.

  187. RECLAIMTHECUNT

    Penis-in-vagina sex is so disgusting. Whenever I date men (which is hardly ever, because no man is incapable of viewing a woman as not a cum dump EVER), I make sure that they don’t stick their dicks in my vag. In fact, I usually just strap on a strapon. That I find, is the only way to subvert patriarchy when having sex with dudes. Pegging the patriarchy I call it.

  188. Jezebella

    Kiya, I don’t have anything profound to say except: that was clearly the perfect response to his assault. Jill can probably parse the consent/non-consent question with far more finesse than I can.

    And I wish all girls took martial arts in school instead of volleyball and softball.

  189. Ramilya

    From Tanya, over a year ago: “The way I understand the change in the way consent is considered would drastically change the way rape is prosecuted for the better. Instead of a rape case hinging on whether the woman consented or not, all that would be required is to prove that intercourse took place. If the woman said it was non-consensual, a rape has been committed.”

    That is truly a terrifying prospect. Since when do we give the state the benefit of the doubt instead of having them prove the key element of a crime?

    “When someone has been assaulted or had their property stolen, the case doesn’t come down to whether the victim wanted to be assaulted or have their stuff stolen. They just have to prove that the perpetrator stole their stuff and they didn’t consent.”

    Then you contradict yourself with your analogy here. Does the state have to prove the issue of consent or not?

    Many things I disagree with here. But this one is the scariest. It’s one thing to spread the radical word in an attempt to shame men/get people to think/shift the paradigm. It’s another to suggest using the state (and the implicit force behind it) as a tool to push said racial word. Just two cents from a jurist, though my country is itself pretty lawless so I might not be the best source.

  190. quixote

    Well, since you commented in an old thread, so will I.

    A while back, OJ Simpson got in trouble again for stealing sports memorabilia out of an acquaintance’s hotel room. The acquaintance had him charged, and OJ’s defense was, “But he gave it to me.”

    Didn’t fly. He had the stuff. Owner said it was stolen. The trial went on from that point.

    The situation with regard to rape that you seem to find terrifying is that the courts will have to believe the woman’s version of events rather than the man’s. Why is one of those more terrifying to you than the other?

    There’s no question of prosecuting without proving the key element. Intercourse happened. That can be determined as a matter of objective fact.

    Consent, on the other hand, is more ethereal. You can never prove its existence or absence, maybe sometimes if there are witnesses, but crimes, and especially rapes, tend to have no witnesses.

    So, since you can’t prove consent, you’d rather take the potential perp’s version of events than the potential victim’s. Is that how you approach all crimes in your jurisprudence?

  191. Ramilya

    “The situation with regard to rape that you seem to find terrifying is that the courts will have to believe the woman’s version of events rather than the man’s. Why is one of those more terrifying to you than the other?”

    But that’s not really what was being said by Tanya’s post. She said that in cases of rape accusations, the legal standard for proving rape ought to be just that there was an accusation and that intercourse was proven to have taken place.

    This is terrifying because in no other part of the law in any free society do we relax the standards of proof so radically. This would be akin to a situation where you give me a present, then call the police and say that I stole it. If we applied Tanya’s proposed legal standard to this situation, the fact that I have the item in my possession and that an accusation of theft exists is enough to convict me. That is simply absurd.

    “So, since you can’t prove consent, you’d rather take the potential perp’s version of events than the potential victim’s.”

    I’d argue that you’re misusing the word proof, or at least not using it in the way it is used legally. I’ll concede that 100% proof of anything is probably impossible, and it is even less possible to prove a negative. But proof in criminal law in the US (where I currently live, though do not come from) and most of the rest of the reasonably-free world does not mean absolute certainty of guilt. It means certainty of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (which, in practice, usually turns out to be considerably less rigorous). And, in most cases, it is possible to infer the issue of consent to some degree based on other facts in the case. So, you’re right, the issue of consent is fuzzy and exists in a mutual understanding of two or more people and therefore cannot be proven definitively. But the law doesn’t require definitive proof to determine guilt, only that alternate explanations really strain plausibility.

    I’ll concede that legal standards as we have them today allow a fair amount of the guilty to walk free. I’ll concede that rape is, by it’s very nature, more difficult to prove guilt compared to most other crimes. I even concede that, in one sense, it doesn’t make much sense at all to take the accused’s word over his or her accuser’s. But from the perspective of making a legal system that is designed to minimize type I error (false positives/convictions) at the expense of having more type II error (false negatives/acquittals), it is absolutely necessary not to presume guilt based on an accusation.

    Lowering the legal standards for charging or convicting a person of rape would almost certainly result in a greater proportion of rapists being convicted. But at the cost of also convicting a greater proportion of non-rapists. As a feminist who wants the crime of rape not to be diluted by an even greater suspicion of false accusations/convictions than already exists, and as a jurist who sees our system as deeply flawed but better than any alternative yet known, I cannot live with that. One could argue that it is a fair trade, but to do so one would have to argue against the legal traditions and protections that separate free (or free-ish) societies from authoritarian societies.

    “Is that how you approach all crimes in your jurisprudence?”

    Yes, yes it is. My counter-question to you is this: Would you support relaxing the standards of proof for any other crime where something ethereal like consent was at issue? Would you be willing to treat all accused burglars, embezzlers, traitors, flashers, batterers, con-artists, trespassers, spies, subversives, publishers of the obscene, destroyers of property and disturbers of the peace as you would an accused rapist?

    As an aside not directed at you, quixote: Do we really want to get our physiological research from Cosmo? For them to say that all men can learn to control their ejaculation is like when I watched a video made by a neo-hippie who said I could learn to have squirting orgasms, or that I could learn to orgasm through meditation. Maybe some people can, but certainly not everybody. Then again, of course they wouldn’t tell us that only some people are capable. No self-help guru would sell many books or videos without saying “…and you can, too!”

  192. varun

    Ramilya, you have not perhaps considered the point of “it’s rape if she say it is”. Intercourse is proven to have taken place and the victim is pressing charges. What is the false positive here? The possibility that the victim is lying about having felt violated. (Worse, the violation wasn’t ‘real’ violation.) But this is the problem with all the rape cases that court brushes aside: doubting the validity or sincerity of a rape victim’s experience, demeaning her suffering by either calling it an outright lie or an ‘overreaction’. I suck at blaming, but might it be better to lean on the victim’s side this once, where the victim is underrepresented so often?

  193. Ramilya

    Sorry that it took so long to reply.

    To answer your question, no, I don’t think it would be better to lean on the accuser’s side just in this case. That is no basis for any sort of sane legal system. It’s much easier to make laws and judge guilt and innocence about what I do, not how it made you feel before, during and (it would appear you’re saying) after the fact. To say that the legal system brushes rape cases aside is simply untrue. Accusers in rape cases are already given certain legal protections that are not granted to accusers in other types of crimes. If I accuse you of cheating me out of my savings, my identity is not protected. If I accuse you of attempting to kill me, my prior relationship with you is something that is legally relevant. Depending on your jurisdiction, the law already makes some compromises in order to shield the feelings/reputation of the accusers and/or make it easier to convict the accused.

    I’ve never met a prosecutor who would not jump at the opportunity to send rapist to prison. It just so happens that, as with all crimes where an intangible is a key element of the crime, rape is more difficult to prove. For every case where a prosecutor will not prosecute because winning the case is a longshot, there is a judge instructing a jury that they should convict based on the victim’s testimony alone.

    Sorry. My mind is a bit scattered today. I feel like I have a point that I’m failing to make.

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    [...] Blame the Patriarchy: “A bit of lighthearted fun”. . . so it’s on consent and PIV, of [...]

  3. #13 Stop defending rape. It’s completely disgusting. « More Women in Skepticism

    [...] idea by more experienced bloggers who have thought through this matter with more insight: “A bit of lighthearted fun” by Twisty and “How not to attract feminist allies” by skeptifem. I would be [...]

  4. On Patriarchy and the Non-Existent idea of Consent for Women « Dead Wild Roses

    [...] within the culture.  In this case, a simple link would not do, as I want to copy/paste this concise definition in another spot on the internet, maybe pissing off some MRA’s in the [...]

  5. Get ‘Em When They’re Young « Against All Evidence

    [...] that you will be engaging in proper hetero sex (PIV). Lesbian? Asexual? Just don’t want a painis in yourgina? Who cares! Shots for [...]

  6. Consent | swampmud

    [...] within the culture.  In this case, a simple link would not do, as I want to copy/paste thisconcise definition in another spot on the internet, maybe pissing off some MRA’s in the [...]

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