November 26, 2008

Is All Heterosexual Sex Just Rape With a Different Name?

Catharine McKinnon and her crew basically say all heterosexual sex is rape. The act in and of itself to them is kind of violent. While I don't agree with this thought per se, it's occurred to me recently that McKinnon is not COMPLETELY crazy. No, het sex isn't always rape. Of course not! That is ridiculous. But just how consensual is it? Surely concept isn't a continuum. There are different levels of consent that can be present or absent from a given sex act. For example, you might say yes to sex, but what does that really mean if, even if you'd wanted to, you couldn't say no?

In my own life, I have often thought to myself, sure I am saying yes. Sure, I do actually want to, but all that is meaningless. If I changed my mind and he wouldn't let me go, I'd still have to have sex. As a woman who is 5'3 and failed self-defense, my consent rests on a my sexual partner being polite and respected the intangible idea that is my sexual autonomy. Sure, if I got sexually assaulted, I could take that matter to the police, but all that is cold comfort while on is actually BEING sexually assaulted. I couldn't do much to stop it in the first place! All the deterrence I have is what is available to me in the form of legal repercussions for anyone who attacks me. It's not as if I could beat a guy up who decided he wanted to try something I didn't like. I must acknowledge that most men I've met could take me in a fight.

Of course, not all men have a size advantage over all women, but this is often the case. So, given that I couldn't stop it if I wanted to, how meaningful is my consent? It's not really mine, is it? I have no method of enforcing it. The only thing that gives it any teeth is the institution that is the Canadian legal system (right now, the British Legal system). I have very little personal control over my own sexuality.

So, maybe McKinnon was kind of just a little bit right? I hate to admit it, but I don't know if sex can ever be fully consensual unless I could stop a guy from assaulting me who didn't care that I'd said no....

2 comments:

Tiny T said...

This blog fascinates me. What constitutes rape? I can say I was raped. A guy forced himself on me, and I said, "no, stop." yes, i half wanted it, but not with this weirdo who i was not dating and who had a girlfriend. Some people say, however, that it was NOT rape because I didn't do much to stop him. the guy didn't respect my wishes for him to stop, but i didn't bite his balls off, so was i not raped?

rantsalamode said...

Of course you were raped. There are lots of reasons people don't fight back, and many are valid. Saying no should be enough. IF you start violently attacker your rapist, he could fight back, and if you know he's bigger than you, chances are you don't want to risk it. Plus, if this dude won't stop when you say no, I wouldn't trust him not to get incredibly violent when hitting him. You experienced sexual assault under the law. All you have to do is say no...