Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Don’t know much about history. 14.05.14
“Don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology” was my immediate response to reading a radical feminist blog categorically stating that all PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex is, by its very nature, always rape:
“Intercourse is the very means through which men oppress us (…).
First, well intercourse is NEVER sex for women. (…) That is, at the very least, men use women as useful objects and instruments for penetration, and women are dehumanised by this act. It is an act of violence.
(…) intercourse is inherently harmful to women and intentionally so, because it causes pregnancy in women. The purpose of men enforcing intercourse regularly (as in, more than once a month) onto women is because it’s the surest way to cause pregnancy and force childbearing against our will, and thereby gain control over our reproductive powers. (…) Pregnancy = may hurt, damage or kill. Intercourse = a man using his physical force to penetrate a woman. Intention / purpose of the act of intercourse = to cause pregnancy. PIV is therefore intentional harm / violence. Intentional sexual harm of a man against a woman through penile penetration = RAPE.”
Once I stopped shouting “What the fuck? What the actual fuck?!” to the heavens, I came to the conclusion that yes, this girl doesn’t know much about history, and definitely doesn’t know any biology. The comments on her blog made me scream some more, but also realise that she’s not alone. There seriously are people out there who consider all penetrative sex had by anyone under any circumstances as rape. It was a bit like discovering an alien life form.
I’ve been wanting to write a snarky blog about how it’s virtually impossible to have sex these days without it being classed as rape. I recently saw a flowchart from “Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe”  showing rules and regulations concerning sex back in the dark days of old. There were so many limitations as to what when where how with whom you could have it, that it must have been almost impossible to have it at all. Instead of thinking “how barbaric” or “how very quaint”, I found myself thinking “so what’s changed?” We appear to have gone collectively bonkers about sex, again.
You see, according to the current dogma, if I am horny hence want to have sex, it’s rape: I am using another person for my selfish sexual gratification. If I am not horny but my partner is, it’s rape: any attempts at persuading me, however fun or pleasant they may be for me, are by their very nature oppressive and abusive. If we both simultaneously want to have sex, that’s NOT rape, thanks be to Freya. And yes, that happy circumstance may come to pass, if the planets align or if Salma Hayek appears on the TV. However, if we are that way inclined because we find each other sexually attractive, that’s rape again, because we are objectifying each other.
Now, I may be a strange little cookie, but my horniness settings are “yes please” and “nope!” on a kind of slider with “hmmm, lemme see what you got” somewhere in the middle. In practice this means that either I start sex or the partner does. We don’t tend to set schedules ahead of time or consult the oracles. One of us tends to have to start it, or it doesn’t get started at all. Plus I tend to have sex with people I want to have sex with – I know that’s a positively outrageous approach, but that’s the way I prefer it. Hence, I can’t help but rape my partner, or be raped, or we are raping each other by mutual consent, any which way it’s rape rape RAPE and can’t be tolerated.
The blog was going to be a tongue-in-cheek affair. Then I realised that the subject really isn’t funny at all. I’m not worried about sounding as if I’m trivialising rape, because that’s already been done. We can now retroactively regret having had fully consensual sex with somebody and class it as rape, awarding ourselves the same “victim” badge as those who were terrorised, tortured or beaten into submission for someone’s sick entertainment. I try to avoid the word “offensive” as it’s been taken over by the Whinge Brigade, but that’s the best label I can come up with for that bit of rebranding. It’s offensive, it’s callous, and it trivialises the pain of people who have suffered more than many of us can even imagine. I can’t trivialise rape more than that. However, I can’t make fun of the fact that there genuinely are people out there who, in the name of liberty and fairness and all that is good and just, judge sex – healthy, consensual, energising, happy-making, good honest sex – as inherently evil.
I grew up with a grandmother who had “I don’t do it for my own pleasure, but to give children to God” embroidered on her nightgown. My grandparents slept in separate beds all their life and presumably only bonked when they wanted to produce babies. This was completely in line with my grandmother’s religious beliefs, which were officially supported by the society she grew up in. Sex, for them, was a sordid, defiling affair that ought to be conducted in secret and only for procreation. There was no joy in it – there wasn’t SUPPOSED to be any joy in it, or it would turn into a sin.
Sex was the main reason I kicked the church. It wasn’t that I was so overwhelmed by hormones that I couldn’t toe the line, but that I started studying biology. Biology taught me that sex is a natural bodily function. We naturally have a sex drive. We need it to survive as a species. Like all other natural drives, it can get out of control so we need to manage it somewhat; continuous bingeing can be bad for us, whether it’s on sex or cookies. However, once I knew how the body worked and why, you just couldn’t sell sex to me as something dirty, sinful or almost unnatural.
I was extremely lucky as I grew up in that happy window of time right after women became liberated, when bonking around (safely, we already had the fear of AIDS to keep us in line) was not only accepted, but almost expected. Now that window has been slammed shut by the same movement that originally opened it. Instead of shouting “sin!”, we’re shouting “rape!”. I don’t see it as much of an improvement. It’s just as narrow and shallow a view of the world, and just as damaging.
We’re not telling girls that if they give it away they will forever be despoiled and potentially rot in hell. They have the right to use their own bodies as they see fit! They are liberated! However, if they allow men to have sex with them just because they consider them attractive, they are being objectified and exploited and ultimately victimised – even if it’s consensual, even if it’s fun, even if it feels perfectly nice and natural. We’re also telling boys that virtually any approach they may make to girls can be used against them, classed as sexual harassment or even assault, even if it’s received well at the time. We’re piling artificial fears onto an already terrifying subject.
I remember being a teenager, although I often wish I didn’t. Working out the rules in the “battle of the sexes” was by far the most complicated, nerve-racking part of growing up. “Does he like me? If I show him that I like him, will we be happily ever after? Happy for the weekend? Will I be rejected and potentially publicly ridiculed? If I go too far – well, how far is too far? How does this work? Where’s the bloody manual???” Frankly, at the ripe age of mumblemumble I am STILL more confused by human mating and bonding procedures than by properly complicated grown-up stuff, like filing my taxes. There are guidelines for the latter, and I can pay someone to give me professional help.
I spent more time bouncing about between elation, terror, regret and hope regarding intimate relationships that I have about everything else in my life piled together. Most of my friends are exactly the same. Books, music and television lead me to believe that we’re far from unique. Sex and love are important to us humans, and when they merge or clash things can get complicated, painful or utterly, utterly wonderful. This is a risky business, that we should handle carefully, because it can give us bliss well beyond the physical, or pain that can truly crush us. And the current “radfem” dogma pisses on it from a great height.
All sex is rape. If you enjoy it, it’s because you’ve been corrupted by this oppressive society. Really? Everything I think, know and feel on the subject is wrong, because I’m wrong in the head, because the whole world is wrong and full of evil, because history and biology can teach us nothing? Give me a break. If YOU don’t like sex, don’t have it. Opt out. Heck, that’d give us all the distinctive advantage of taking you right out of the gene pool. But don’t go tarring other people’s lives and lifestyle choices with your dirty brush, however righteous you may feel about it. You may think you’re far more advanced than the rest of us, able to parse this complex topic in such a radical, cutting-edge light, while we’re blinded by oppression and submission. Good on you. The way I see it, you’re no better than my grandmother, with her threats of the fires of hell. You’re so narrow-minded that you’ve got a single, pre-formed, unshakeable, unassailable answer to each and every question. It’s all sin. It’s all rape. If it’s all the same to you, I choose to ignore the lot of you and continue to do with my body as I see fit.
 “Non lo faccio per piacer mio, ma per dare figli a Dio.” The Old Country can be fun.
 I believe that their private faithfulness may have been somewhat less strict, but I can’t be sure.