Friday, November 20, 2009

What is "Asking Too Much" in a Heterosexual Marriage?


[image of cover of book by Diana E. H. Russell is from Amazon.com, but I'd rather link to Diana's website, for those unfamiliar with her other important work.]

I open this post with comments delivered to me by a man, a husband, who is into playing games with his wife that begin with her saying "No" to his sexual advances. He considers his sex life to be fine. I consider it to be completely messed up on his part. And I asked him to reply to me here, and, guess what? He's never replied to them!!

Here's what this supposedly loving husband commenter wrote to me:
But - I've read post after post here, and I have to disagree with much of what is written about "rape". I've been with my wife for 22 years now. By your definitions, I've probably raped her dozens of times. Hell, hundreds. "Don't - my back hurts." "Want me to rub your back?" "Yes, but behave yourself" After several minutes, "That's not my back!" "Oh, all right - good night." "OH NO, you're not done!" "Well, if I keep rubbing, I'm gonna rub something else too!" and she says, "Shut up and rub"

Is that rape? Come on - some of these posts get pretty outrageous with the definitions of rape.

Approve my post or not - it makes little difference to me. I don't buy into anyone's agenda or way of thinking unless and until I make sense of it myself.
[...]

So far, what I read here only makes sense if I cast both myself and my wife in an evil light. Women use men, men use women - it has always been that way. And, it works out fine for everyone, so long as agreed upon lines aren't crossed.

Violent rape, and coercive rape will always be on the wrong side of the line. The rape of juveniles will always be on the wrong side of that line - whether that rape is part of an arranged child "marriage" or not.

What I wrote back is after the rest of this post. I place his comments at the beginning of this post because I think they tell us a lot about how heterosexual husbands view sex with their wives, understand the concept of respecting her first "no", and their right to ignore that first no and move on to get what THEY want, whether or not it's what the female (so-called) partners want.

Portions of what follows are excerpts from here:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2315570/Just-do-it-sex-call-sparks-womens-fury

A sex book causing a stir overseas is about to land in New Zealand and if the reaction in Australia is anything to go by, it could see Kiwi women saying "yes" more often.

The Sex Diaries: Why Women Go Off Sex and Other Bedroom Battles, by sex researcher Bettina Arndt, has sparked dozens of blog posts and stories in Australian newspapers, magazines, and on television.

The chapter getting couples and critics hot and bothered is called "Just Do It", about the idea that women should say yes to sex even when they don't feel like it.

Cue controversy: bloggers have dubbed Arndt a "rape cheerleader" and called her "yes" message "marital rape". One critic wrote: "Don't worry about why women aren't interested in sex any more, just pressure them into it by threatening the future happiness of their families, and pretty soon their libido will be bouncing right back."

Australian feminist Eva Cox has weighed in against Arndt, saying that by bedtime many women just want to sleep. "After an evening of organising kids, dinner, the shopping, the washing, the homework, etc, maybe [women] are too tired to want sex."

In her first New Zealand interview, Arndt told the Sunday Star-Times she had braced herself for this "huge kerfuffle", and she thinks some of her more strident critics are missing the point.

"I'm not saying `just do it, lie back and suffer, lie there like a log' I'm saying that if you put the canoe in the water and start paddling, the chances are you may well enjoy the experience. Just see, just try paddling and see what happens.

"Men must `just do it' too. And `just do it' doesn't mean having intercourse it can mean just giving someone pleasure. So it's a two-way street it just so happens that it's much more common for women to go off sex than men."

[That wouldn't be because men are so emotionally illiterate and immature, would it? And predatory. And disrespectful and unvalidating of women's emotional lives, including those of their wives, in countless ways? Is it really asking too much to take that dynamic into account when assessing why women "go off sex"? Might the women also be asexual, or lesbian, or no longer attracted to the lout? Or is that not allowed to be discussed, socially and interpersonally? What if a woman marries a man and later decides she's not that interested in sex with him, because, say, he's "let himself go"? But they have children already, and bills to pay and don't want to put their children through a divorce?]

Arndt said many members of the public were far from outraged by her book in fact it had reignited sparks in bedrooms. "The letters coming in are amazing... They are getting more sex! There are some men saying the drought is breaking!"

[Meanwhile, the drought goes on--and on and on and on--for women I know who want men to be interested in them as individual human beings, as "not just for sex", and as people who get to say "No" once and have that be the end of the "advance". What may, in fact, be breaking, is her will to keep saying say no because she knows he won't respect it at all, but instead will interpret it as "foreplay".]

Arndt's book, released here in May, is based on the sex diaries of 98 Australian couples some newly in love, some in stable but sexless marriages. While most women complained about being badgered for sex, Arndt was most taken aback by the men's diaries.

"They [HETEROSEXUAL WHITE MEN] are stunned to find their needs so ignored. It often poured out in a howl of rage and disappointment."

[And who says straight men don't have feelings? They have them. They just don't express them in healthy, respectful ways to women. Meanwhile, heterosexual white women are stunned to find their needs EVER being appropriately respected and attended to at all--such as the need for respect, if and when THAT happens. Their feelings often pours out in silence, because TO ASK for a need to be met is to be "a nag" or "a b*tch". So what do we call husbands who HOWL IN RAGE AND DISAPPOINTMENT that their needs aren't met by "their" wives? Answer: emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, and POLITICAL abusers.]

"Many men, like 48-year-old Clive, had resorted to 'the grope' fondling their partner in a cuddle just to connect with her again."

[Because it just doesn't occur to the heterosexual male supremacist jerk to just ASK for some time to speak about what's going on for him. Because he's usually emotionally illiterate and hasn't figured that learning to be emotionally literate might actually SERVE his marriage and be GOOD for his spouse. His lazy ass just wants to "grope" when he wants something from her physically. To actually be responsible, like an emotionally mature adult, and ASK to discuss issues in their marriage is apparently ASKING TOO MUCH. No, he just by-passes any attempts at being responsible, because he is entitled to have physical access to her body, right? WRONG.]

"Women hated 'the grope' but Clive said it was his way of saying: 'I'm still here. I still adore you. Hello! Where has she gone, this lover I married?'"

[HEY CLIVE: HOW ABOUT SAYING  "I still adore you, and I miss being with you physically. What can I do that would feel caring and loving to you--that may not be physical at all? Given my adoration of you, let's prioritise YOUR needs for the rest of our married life, given that to date everything has been organised around MINE. Why, I'll bet my systematic behavior of not respecting your boundaries has eroded your trust in me to be genuinely respectful of your needs so much that you're having a difficult time believing that what I'm saying right now isn't self-serving." She looks at him and says "Yes, that's true. I don't trust your motives any more. You've been a selfish husband for so long, I can't really believe you might actually put my needs, wants, wishes, or desires before yours--or even on par with yours."]

"The book's central message is that sex is an important part of a relationship and too often, 'it simply hasn't worked to have a couple's sex life hinge on the fragile, feeble female libido.'

[That is so messed up for so many reasons! First, what is "sex"--how is that defined and agreed upon in a marriage? Is it EVER? Second, "sex" (whatever that is for any given man--and Lorde knows it's increasingly pornographic) is not necessarily even remotely healthy in a relationship where the relationship itself is messed up. Third, the heterosexual couple's "sex life" is routinely "marital rape life" according to many women, and documented in the book The Hite Report: A National Study of Female Sexuality

Have you lived with a heterosexual husband? Do you know how damned manipulative white heterosexual men can be? Do you know all the tricks they "play", when  not exploiting and raping women outside the home by being "tricks"--procurers, prostitutors, purchasers and renters of teenage girls and women? Do you suppose some married women acquiesce to men's pleadings, demands, proddings, and various methods of "not taking THE FIRST "NO"' to mean "THAT'S MY FINAL ANSWER" because it gets men to stop bothering them? Why is it asking too much for men to actually respect the word "no" when they hear it, regardless of whether or not they think they can, with pouting, with insistence, or with force, "magically" turn that no into a silent yes. I know this is how it works for many women, due to talking to married women who have had husbands who pressure them into having sex. I've also known heterosexual husbands who emotionally, physically, and sexually neglect the women they are partnered to, and then rape them in ways that any reasonable court of law would call rape, if the couple wasn't married, that is. This is to say, inside heteromale supremacist societies, it is, apparently, asking too much of a husband to NOT rape his wife, at least on occasion. A "fragile, feeble female libido" might be translated to mean:

1. The unsure sexual interests of someone who is an incest, child molestation, or sexual assault survivor.
2. The lack of sexual interest in a man who has repeatedly demonstrated "it's all about him".
3. The hesitancy of a woman whose past and present male partners have been emotionally illiterate and physically aggressive.
4. The woman is a lesbian.
5. The woman "just isn't that into you". What part of "not interested" don't you understand, fellas?
6. A term used to take the political, social, and interpersonal focus off of the "fragile, feeble male ego".

"The right to say `no' needs to give way to saying `yes' more often provided both men and women end up enjoying the experience."

[If it takes women saying no to husbands, men not taking no for an answer, men pushing on, husbands breaking down emotional boundaries, and making sure that 'no' becomes a 'yes', for "both men and women" to "end up enjoying the experience", then those couples need to read Andrea Dworkin's book Intercourse ASAP.]

If the just-start-paddling tactic doesn't appeal, Arndt has another gem schedule sex. She talks about one couple in their 30s who have an "every three days" deal. And they're both quietly thrilled that by the time they are 70, sex may be a once-a-week treat.

[I hesitated when I read "the just-start-paddling tactic" knowing damn well men get aroused by physically abusing women. Among the women I know, including in my family, one has said--after thirty years in a marriage noted for his thoughtlessness, inconsiderate behavior, gross lack of understanding and extreme insensitivities to her as an incest survivor, his selfishness and self-centeredness and neglect of her on all levels, that she ought to have just startled "paddling away from him" (to borrow the phrase from above) as soon as she met him. And that if she had to do it over again, she would. She did know how to swim, so she well could have. She taught me how to swim and I've learned to paddle away from men who are jerks.

How many women do you know who want sex to be scheduled like taking their kids to dance lessons or  football/soccer practice? And does "the once-a-week treat mean him giving her pleasure, or him popping a Viagra tablet and assuming she wants to have his dick anywhere near her? Do you know the number of older women who, upon losing their husbands (sometimes at stores) will only be with women after that?]
_____________

As for what I wrote back to the husband of 22 years... what's in italics is his writing. The rest is my own.

But - I've read post after post here, and I have to disagree with much of what is written about "rape".

What you are about to say reveals why.

I've been with my wife for 22 years now. By your definitions, I've probably raped her dozens of times. Hell, hundreds. "Don't - my back hurts." "Want me to rub your back?" "Yes, but behave yourself" After several minutes, "That's not my back!" "Oh, all right - good night." "OH NO, you're not done!" "Well, if I keep rubbing, I'm gonna rub something else too!" and she says, "Shut up and rub"

First, it's for her to name it as rape, not me. Second, the behavior you describe shows self-interest as a motivating factor in how you regard your wife. If she states at the start that she wants a back rub and nothing more, who the fuck are you to go further? What level of respect for her stated wishes does that show?

Is that rape? Come on - some of these posts get pretty outrageous with the definitions of rape.

It's oh so typical heterosexual male behavior that is on a continuum from manipulation to coercion to overtly forced rape. That's what it is.

Why not simply do what your wife asks when she asks for it? Why do you need to "push her boundaries" in order to obtain sex? Is she unable to ask for sex when she wants it? Can you not fucking wait until she does? Please explain that.


Approve my post or not - it makes little difference to me. I don't buy into anyone's agenda or way of thinking unless and until I make sense of it myself.

You clearly have bought into a somewhat convervative liberal agenda, without even knowing it!

If I did, I might be just another gang member....

I'm glad you've steered your life away from that.

So far, what I read here only makes sense if I cast both myself and my wife in an evil light.

If you choose to see the world only in terms of "Evil" and "Good" perhaps. How about seeing the world in terms of behaviors that are more respectful to women, and behaviors that are less respectful to women? And ditch the "good" and "evil" shit, which is designed to make you feel so badly about yourself for doing fucked up shit that you can't even look at it without intense self-condemnation.

Women use men, men use women - it has always been that way.

Yes, and more than that too. It's been far more than "just" women and men using each other. Even you agree that's the case. Because YOU state that what Roman Polanski did is BEYOND that, right?

And, it works out fine for everyone, so long as agreed upon lines aren't crossed.

You really are soaked through in liberalism. I doubt you're going to find your way out of it. You do realise, I hope, that women (and men) who are incest survivors and rape survivors sometimes don't know what boundaries to set, or how to get what they need from another person without submitting to things they don't want, right? Is your wife a survivor of incest, child molestation, sexual assault, repeated sexual harassment, or rape--before she knew you? If so, have you bothered to find out how such atrocities have impacted her? Have you bothered to care how such traumas impact someone's wishes and needs? Or do you just selfishly go along with however she behaves, as if sexual trauma doesn't effect anyone in any way at all? Are you a survivor of incest or child molestation or rape? How have those experiences impacted you and how you behave sexually and emotionally. Do you ever dissociate from your body and not know what you want?

If a woman is dissociated when you want sex from her, and she goes along, what do YOU call that?

If a woman grew up being terrified of saying no to the sexually predatory advances she had to endure, from daddy, or whomever, do you care to know, loving man, how such a past "plays out" in the present?

Violent rape, and coercive rape will always be on the wrong side of the line.

As opposed to, say, the kind of rape that you enjoy? As opposed to what kind of rape? Please be clear here. YOU are distinguishing between violent rape and coerced rape and other kinds of rape, right? I'm not doing that. You did it yourself. So what ARE those other kinds of rape, sir?

The rape of juveniles will always be on the wrong side of that line - whether that rape is part of an arranged child "marriage" or not.

And who defines who is a juvenile? You know it varies from country to country, right? From age eight to eighteen? So what constitutes "a minor" in your view, and if you think a sixteen year old is not a juvenile, and you engage her in sex when you're thirty, what do you call that? (What do YOU call that, sir, when the age of consent in your state is seventeen?)

Your statements unwittingly reveal where you stand. And where you stand is in a self-serving place that is grossly insensitive to many realities women live with. If your wife of 22 years is a survivor of any form of sexual violation and intrusion, including by you, you might care to ask her about that, yes? And you might care to not push her boundaries, right? Or are you too afraid you'd never "get any" if you actually DID respect her first "no"?

2 comments:

JENNIFER DREW said...

"I'm not saying `just do it, lie back and suffer, lie there like a log' I'm saying that if you put the canoe in the water and start paddling, the chances are you may well enjoy the experience. Just see, just try paddling and see what happens.' So says Bettina Arndt and once again women involved in heterosexual relationships are being simultaneously told 'yes you have rights but you must at the very least attempt to sexually satisfy your male partner, even if this amounts to him raping you, because his sexual needs and wishes always trump your rights and ownership of your sexuality and body.'

How many times have I not heard similar advice directed at women who rightly refuse to accept it is men's right to rape and/or use coercion against a woman in order to gain sexual access to a woman's body.

I never hear such advice directed men wherein men are told/advised 'even if you aren't interested in sexual activity with your female partner, you should at the very least appear to show you are willing to sexually satisfy her needs, because if you don't try you won't know if you like it.'

Bettina Ardnt is condoning and promoting male heterosexual partner rape because once a woman has entered a long-term sexual relationship with a man, her body and sexuality supposedly is now his personal and private property, to do with as he wishes and desires. I wonder what Arndt's reaction would be if she were informed many women have attempted to concede to their male partners' sexual demands and instead of finding 'they like it' they feel humiliated, degraded and violated because the man they love has demonstrated he clearly does not respect her but instead is only intent on using her body as a masturbatory aid. Ardnt would doubtless claim the woman has a 'problem' and should consult a sexologist in order to cure her 'sexual dysfunction.'

Sadly, I know many women who have experienced similar male partner rapes and for many of these women it has taken them years to realise their male partners raped them. No, it wasn't just a 'little male pressure' or 'a little male persuasion' - it was rape and the only difference is the men involved did not use physical violence against the women. These men chose to ignore the womens' clear lack of active participation and even if the female partner tells the man she does not want to engage in a certain sexual activity, he makes the informed choice of deciding not to hear her, but believes it is his right to have sexual access to her body as and when he desires. Many husbands/male partners believe they cannot rape the woman once she has entered a long-term relationship with a man , since she has supposedly given blanket consent in respect of any future male sexual demands.

Women subjected to multiple male partner rapes commonly feel they are to blame and some even feel their male partner did not rape them but instead enacted his pseudo male sex right. Ardnt is not alone in promoting marital rape because despite claims women and men are now equal, it continues to be women who are constantly told they must be 'mens sexual service stations.'

Cara over at The Curvature rightly says, rape is never rape when a woman is not subjected to physical male violence but instead is coerced or worn down by the male partner's refusal to accept her right to refuse to engage in sexual activity. Many, many men do not need to threaten or use physical violence instead they use coercion, pressure or wear the woman's resistance down until she submits.

'Men suffering a sexual drought?' Since when have men died from lack of heterosexual activity? Is 'sex' a human right? Humans die if they do not have sufficient food or shelter but 'sex' certainly is not something which is essential in order to stay alive. Have men never heard of using their hands on their sexual anatomy if they wish to sexually satisfy themselves?

Julian Real said...

On all points you made, Jennifer, THANK YOU!!