Being in the sex game: who gets to define rape? by @Herbeatittude

Cross-posted from Herbs&Hags: Meanderings of a Hag

First Published August 31. 2012

 

Now that the first flurry about George Galloway’s depressing remarks about rape is over, I’ve had some time to think about it.  I know, I’m a bit slow like that.  But I have been on holiday, so that’s my main excuse.

That video really is more triggering and upsetting than hearing the reports of what he says.  There’s something about an aggressive man actually sitting there jabbing his finger at you while telling you that once you’ve agreed to go to bed with a man, once you’ve consented to sex with him once, you then lose all right to decide what happens to your body from that moment on, which is far more unpleasant than just reading about it.

And that of course, is what George Galloway and everyone who agrees with him, is saying.  I have no idea whether some of these lefty-boys are simply being disingenuous and pretending to believe that consensual sex is the same as rape, or whether they do in fact genuinely believe this and are on the same side as rapists in this debate.  The idea that once you are “in the sex game” with a man, anything can happen, you’ve lost your right to have any bodily integrity, is an incredibly frightening, intimidating idea and makes sex a really unattractive prospect.  At least with George Galloway and those who agree with him.

Because let’s look at what he’s saying.  If a man has the right to insert his penis into you while you’re sleeping, because you were happy for him to do that earlier on while you were awake, then what else does he have the right to do?  Insert his penis into your mouth?  Into your anus?  Tie you up so that you can’t go to the loo when you need to and when this may be deeply distressing and scary for you?  I don’t ask this question frivolously; we live in a culture saturated with porn and many young men get much of their sex education from it.  Sexual practices which George Galloway may consider unreasonable to do to a sleeping woman with whom one is not well acquainted, may be considered part of a normal sexual repertoire for the porn generation of men.  

This is the problem isn’t it.  If you argue that once women have had consensual sex with a man, they have morally and legally given up their right to bodily integrity, then any practice which any individual man decides is OK, can be done to them whether they are asleep or not and be defined as consensual by George Galloway, other lefty-boy rape apologists, the courts, the police, the man himself and everyone except people who believe that women are really human beings and don’t give up their right to have some say over what happens to them when they consent once to sex with a man.

It’s only in the area of sexual conduct, that men like Galloway and the other rape apologists, believe that consent once given, is given unconditionally and forever.  I’m reminded of Hugh Grant’s complaint at the Leveson enquiry, where he made the point that the press feel that if you give one interview to a magazine, that’s it, you are now fair game for every paparazzo in town to hound you because you’ve given away your privacy:

“It is also very important to remember that when a person DOES do an interview with a paper or magazine they are doing it by consent. It’s a form of barter. The paper gets what it hopes will be a boost in sales, and the person gets what he hopes will be some helpful noise about his forthcoming project. It is like bartering 12 eggs for a bale of hay. Or like me selling you a pint of milk for 50p. When the deal is done, it’s done. You wouldn’t then say, “You sold me your milk, you slut. I’m now entitled to help myself to your milk for ever afterwards”.

I wonder if Hugh Grant would apply that argument to sex. Possibly, possibly not, I know nothing about his views on women’s autonomy (except that he once thought he had the right to insert his penis into a woman who would only endure him doing so, because he gave her money to allow it). Most men seem to understand that when you engage in any other activity with someone, you have the right to set boundaries about it.  If you agree to go to dinner with someone, that isn’t an agreement for them to force-feed you cake until you vomit;  if you agree to babysit their child for an evening, that doesn’t mean they can go away for the whole weekend leaving you to it; if you buy a red diesel 1000cc renault from them, they don’t have the right to deliver a silver petrol 1800cc volkswagen – after all, you’ve agreed to buy a car, you’re already in the car-buying game.  Only when it comes to sex, do men like George Galloway argue that when women agree to sex, they have no right to stipulate the terms under which they will have that sex.  Once they’ve said yes, the yes is unconditional it seems.  

Which makes me wonder if they believe the same of men.  I suspect they do actually, when it comes to gay men, because men who believe that women who agree to sex with a man, have lost their right to decide how and when they have that sex, are usually homophobes as well as misogynists.  They’re as undisturbed by the idea of a gay man being raped by a partner with whom they had previously consented to sex, as they are by a woman being raped after having had consensual sex with her rapist; moreover, they don’t even recognise it as rape, because in their minds, a woman or man who has chosen to have sex with a man, can no longer be raped by that man, because for a certain period of time (I’m not sure how long, any rape apologists out there who believe in this model of sex, do let me know), that man has an absolute right to use the body he’s with as a wank sock (rather than treating the owner of the body as a human being) and not have that called rape, because he gets to define what rape is.

And of course, rapists define rape, the same way alcoholics still in denial define alcoholism: the old joke is that the definition of an alcoholic, is someone who drinks more than you do.  For rapists and their apologists, the definition of a rapist, is someone who uses a bit more force than you, or is less well acquainted with his victim than you are with your’s, or employs a sexual practice you wouldn’t at least without first discussing it.  Alcoholics tell themselves that they aren’t really alcoholics, because they don’t drink 2 bottles of wine in one sitting, like that woman last night did, or that they always have at least one day a week where they don’t drink, or that they never have a drink before six o’clock, or whatever the practice they can point to is, that proves that although someone else who drinks and acts and speaks about alcohol the way they do is an alcoholic, they aren’t.  Rapists and their apologists do very much the same sort of thing. The difference being that as a society, we don’t let the alcoholics define what alcoholism is, but we’re still letting rapists get away with defining what rape is.  If we weren’t, it just wouldn’t be possible for an elected representative, to sit there and tell women in no uncertain terms that once they have consented to sex with a man, they are in the sex game and he can do what he wants with them.

 

HerbsandHags: Meanderings of a Hag: I have no fixed subject matter for my blog, it tends to be whatever grabs me, but for some reason lots that has grabbed me has been about rape or other male violence. It’s all with a feminist slant though. [@Herbeatittude]

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