Can I bite my tongue, restrain my hands and glue my feet to the ground? I fear that there are these and few other actions I could take to control myself when I hear someone argue that it is impossible to rape your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse. Today I was graced by the presence of another unenlightened soul that felt this way. They had a very specific view of relationships and roles that led to their belief that when two people are in a committed relationship, sex is a necessity and a right. “How can a spouse deny their partner sex”, he asked.
Good or bad, I have had this discussion so many times that I can dismantle the argument without much effort. I have heard all of the rationales and summarily dismiss it just the same with simple words like “mutual”, “respect” and “partnership”. Today’s unenlightened soul, however, had more stamina and will than most before him which meant that I had to be a little more manipulative and utilize a lot of emotional intelligence and presumptive communication.
Here’s how it went down…
Me: As I’m sure you know, intimacy isn’t just about physical intimacy. There is emotional and intellectual intimacy.
Him: Absolutely! I love praising and complimenting my wife and do so very often.
Me: And what about intellectual intimacy?
Him: It’s important. I can see that. I can’t be married to someone if I don’t respect their intelligence and if they can’t stimulate me.
Me: I figured you had that in your toolbox. What about mutual respect? What are some negative ways you see that showing up in relationships? I know you have friends that talk to you about their issues.
Him: Dude, I had a colleague tell me that his wife used to nail him to the wall in front of his friends every time he wanted to buy something. She would give him shit if it cost this much money or that much money. It was ridiculous.
Me: That is a bad situation. So she’s not respecting him because she’s not letting him spend any money? Is everything her decision and not his?
Him: Don’t you think that’s disrespectful?
Me: I do. I assume the money is theirs, not just hers. They both work? They both have access to it. It shouldn’t merely be her decision. She should respect his autonomy, his desires. I gotta tell you, you have a lot of good insights. Do you think about this stuff a lot?
Him: Not as often as you might think. No offense to what you do, I just don’t think it’s that hard.
Me: Actually, I agree. I mean, take a word like “partnership”; it has a pretty basic meaning, right? We’re talking about two people that (intentional pause) (intentional struggle to find my words)…
Him: They’re in it together. Mutual decisions. Both people gain from whatever. They do not go it alone.
Me: Right. He doesn’t make decisions that affect them unless she supports it and vice-versa. I find so many people that struggle with understanding this basic principle.
Him: I do too. I’m glad to say that my wife and I are always on the same page in that regard.
Me: I figured as much, what with our dialogue today. Since mutual respect is about respect going both ways and respecting each other’s views, autonomy and desires, that has to apply to sex, married or not. The same would go with a partnership of mutual decisions, dual gain and no one making lone decisions that affect the other. In this case, it can’t be that sex is seen as a right or a given, not between two partners right?
Him: F*!k you. That’s not what I said! Sex is different and you know it.
Me: No thanks on the F*!k you request and if you think mutual respect and the spirit of partnerships apply to everything but the bedroom, you have a lot to learn. And by the way, the reason I roped you into the intellectual and emotional intimacy conversation is because often times when women do not want to have sex with their partner, and it’s because those two things are lacking. They’d prefer not f*!k when there’s absolutely no substance.
Him: (Insert several cuss words and a bunch of other excuses that had nothing to do with the conversation at hand)
So yes, it is possible that a partner does not want to have sex with a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse for a number of different reasons.
I don’t feel any real intimacy with you.
You don’t respect me.
I don’t feel like we’re a good partnership.
And since sex requires that two people consent to their bodies joining together, rape can apply anytime one-half of those two people does not consent, regardless of their relationship to the other person.
Like the manipulation of a close minded bloke, it’s not complicated.