So I was thinking some more about the people I quoted and linked to yesterday, and wanted to write a little bit of a follow-up.
Make Tea Not War posted this in the comments of my last post:
You might not agree with me but I'm going to say it anyway. Of course rape is terrible and inexcusable and should be dealt with. However, I truly believe it is a minority of men who perpetuate it or think it is anyway acceptable. It is the exception not the norm and it needs to be seen in that perspective.Of course we don't have reliable statistics. But in a survey on sexual behaviour 4.5% of men said that they had forced a woman to have sex against her will. That's the ones who admit it, and who classify it as force. To me, that is a terrifyingly high number, particularly as the actual number would be much higher than that, because large numbers of men would not classify what they did as forcing a woman to have sex with them. I do think that it is probably a minority in the sense that less than 50% of men who have forced a woman to have sex against a will. But I don't think that those who condone rape are a minority.
In particular, I think a sizeable proportion of men, and our culture as a whole, believe it's perfectly OK for a woman to have sex against her will, as long as the man doesn't use direct physical force to do it. That was what Biting Beever's post made so clear, that there are so many situations where the power imbalances mean that women can't meaningfully consent. She gives great examples, and I recommend reading the whole post. It left me with a question that I've been thinking about all day, and honestly can't answer:
Why do men have sex with women who don't want to have sex with them?
Is it because they don't know that the women don't want to have sex with them, or that they don't care? How on earth could someone who doesn't want to have sex with you be a turn-on?
I don't know how many men could say that every time they had sex the person they were having sex with also wanted to have sex. I would be surprised if it was a minority of men. I do think that the idea that it is OK to have sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with you is a huge part of our culture's condoning of rape.
I was talking about this and a friend suggested that the underlying idea is that women don't ever want to have sex, so if a woman only sort of doesn't want to have sex, then it's totally OK to go for it. I think this is certainly the idea that is supported in mainstream culture. Most mediocre sitcoms work it into their basic premise in some way.
But the wider answer doesn't answer the question I keep coming back to. Why would you want to have sex with someone who didn't want to have sex with you? How is unwillingness sexy?