Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Rape can take different forms

Update (01/04/09): new post here for the follow-up...

Edit:(01/05/2009) As I said in the comment thread to this post, I understand why some people may have felt confused by this post because I was pretty tired & depressed when I'd initially written it and I guess I'd just let my personal thoughts go freely and weirdly without elaborating enough on what I really meant by seduction. I think it is now fair for me to edit my definition of "seduction" so that people can now understand what I really meant by seduction (through developing what I actually meant a little more), partly from personal experience. Now, for the people who keep sending accusatory comments: can you please stop it? I have NEVER said that all intercourse (or all sex) is rape, and neither has Andrea.


No doubt I will go back to all these various topics in future posts, but I just want to write about the different kinds of male sexual exploitation of women I have noticed:


- forcible rape (the most obvious), i.e. literally violating a woman while using threats and violence;

- sexual demand: insisting that she does something, haranguing her about it, carrying on asking for something, e.g. things he says like "If you loved me, you would do this" or "Everybody does it," "Every girl does that" [in the porn he watches, yeah, right]. Some sexual demands may involve blackmail;

- sexual coercion: this may involve grabbing, pushing, hold a woman down tightly, forcing any kind of sex on her, though sexual coercion may take different subtler forms, e.g. closer to sexual demand;

- prostitution: (in the vast majority of cases) when a woman or girl's body is bought and sold to primarily satisfy men's sadist sexual desires in a patriarchy;

- sexual 'duty': when a woman is forced (or sometimes 'forcing herself') to perfom sexual intercourse or any other kind of sex act as if it were somehow 'her duty' to do so, to "satisfy her man," in marriage or in a relationship. Sexual "duty" may even involve set dates as to when sex must take place or some sort of planning such as "Every (so often), we should have sex", for instance;

- sexual pressure: when a woman feels pressured to say "yes" to sex and thus 'consents' under male pressure;

- sexual payments: when a man buys a woman dinner, clothes, presents, etc and expects sex from her in return;

- pornographic coercion: rape of the mind; forcing or persuading a woman or girl to watch pornography so then her resistance to unwanted and uncomfortable sexual activities can be more or less overpowered. Alternatively, pornographic coercion can be forcing or persuading a woman or girl to have herself being photographed or filmed whilst naked or having sex;

- seduction: when a man persuades a woman to have sex with him, often subtly, through being kind, polite, chivalrous, while playing on her feelings, possible vulnerability, or sometimes getting her consent by deceiving her, distracting her, or, sometimes, intoxicating her (with alcohol or drugs) so that he can use her for his own sexual gratification and purpose.

- rape of our souls: when we, women, are not allowed to be ourselves because of having to conform to patriarchal feminine gender 'norms'. Whether we do it to "be liked" or not to be criticized, most of the time, we conform. This culture trains us to conforms and alter our body parts because, in a patriarchy, we are not allowed to Be Ourselves; we are not allowed to be human beings, i.e. we are not allowed to have a full bodily integrity (e.g. we 'have to' shave, wear make-up, etc to conform to male-supremacist feminine norms).


Nearly all women on this earth have had to deal with one or more of these forms of rape in a patriarchy. This is basically feminism 101 reiterated: women, as a class, share a common condition, i.e. what it means to be female in a patriarchy. . .


ETA (01/03/09)= a sidenote: Seduction is a form of male sexual exploitation of women. And I certainly do not condone when men screw women over, whether in an individual case or culturally. I will need to get back to this somehow, sometime: seduction does not feel like rape at all when a woman has fully accepted to submit to the patriarchy; that does not change the fact that patriarchal masochism is a destroyer of inner female energy. I think I should have called seduction 'a form of male sexual exploitation that intends to destroy female energy', but I will surely go back to that in a future post. ;) This actually gave me a great idea... Patriarchy will keep calling you 'crazy', but it is truly speaking to itself in fact: patriarchy blinds most people - especially men, but also including some women - and drives them 'crazy' so they cannot see oppression, exploitation or destruction of someone's human capacity for equality...

WRT to the main subject of this post, to sum up some of my new points: Yes, rape or male sexual exploitation of women can take different forms... That's my personal opinion that having to conform to gender norms is a personal rape of my soul. Most feminists argues that patriarchal gender norms are personally and politically oppressive anyway... I guess I meant 'rape' as male sexual exploitation. I think I like expressing a wider definition of rape (feminists have been looking for wider definitions of rape). In some cases, there are forms of sexual exploitation that a woman does not really want or does not really feel happy or fulfilled when these things have happened to her. Seduction may not be exactly called rape, but it still generally does involve a man fucking a woman over and deceiving her. Damn! I've seen this happen to me and women friends so many times, I'm not crazy: I have heard them complaining about what assholes often men can be... Any form of sexual exploitation (even a subtler one) you don't really want to happen to you or that you feel shitty or depressed about the fact it has happened to you is a form of rape or male sexual exploitation of women somehow. And these kinds of exploitation also make you feel horribly bad and mistreated, as a woman.

[Now there is another interesting subject coming up in my mind: masochism; and I will elaborate on it in a future post, just not in this one. ;) ]

A major point I have made in my comments: Straightforward sexual assault is of course one of the worst things that can happen to you. The guy has literally gotten off on you saying No, or expressing the NO while the tears were flowing down your eyes - like what happened to me, for instance- I think I'm very psychologically damaged by the experience in a way; this hasn't changed in years... Now, the unwanted hostile commenters, do me a favor and run along (!) please, or I'll just keep pushing the "reject" button...

Fucking patriarchy we live in! You cannot even express your own thoughts without the male-supremacist system keeping trying to play with your words and express them in its own way, a way you actually didn't mean your personal thoughts to be expressed in... Damn, I know it is not very happy everyday to be a radical feminist but it sure must suck to be a patriarchist! :P


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23 comments:

K McKiernan said...

Interesting. I really agree with many of these and would not necessarily disagree with the rest.

I have always argued that prostitution is rape.

Visit me sometime... I am not as prolific as you are, but I write something once in a blue moon.

Totally on the same page. Keep up the good work!

speaking up, an atheist woman said...

So much yes. And careful with that last bit Maggie, you will be in so muuuch trouble with the wholes wides worlds I SWEAR lol. I made a similar argument on my soapbox of a blog and was informed by a man no less that I was belittling women who have "Really" been raped. Head. Desk.

Maggie Hays said...

Thank you, K. I will go visit your blog soon. :)

I made a similar argument on my soapbox of a blog and was informed by a man no less that I was belittling women who have "Really" been raped.

Oh, AW, I think I'll survive the accusation. I am mainly arguing that rape can take diferent forms, including subtle ones, that's all. In my view, that isn't belittling women who have survived forcible rape; that is simply showing that some women have also suffered much more subtler forms of rape. Forcible rape is still the most obvious form of rape and also the worst (i.e. the most psychologically damaging).

I think I forgot to write about another one (even though I personally experienced it):

- when men think "it's okay" to push their fucking so-called 'entitlement' on a woman by grabbing any of her body parts as she walks past (in a public place or elsewhere)...

Isabel said...

I respect your blog space/rules enough that I won't bother to discuss the things on which we obviously disagree and would come to no agreement over (this is completely genuine, and not meant as a dig at all; frankly I hate people who complain when bloggers restrict certain types of comments, because hey, their blog, their right, fighting with them over something they're not interested in fighting a) is a waste of time and b) makes you a jerk).

But, I do have two genuine, in-good-faith questions; if you choose not to answer, I won't judge you, but just letting you know I am honestly curious as to what you would have to say.

1) Do you think that anyone in this society/culture has the ability to truly Be Themselves? everyone conforms, everyone has pressures thrust upon them, and while I'm not going to argue that, for example, the body pressures on men are as extreme as they are on women (they're not), or that everyone feels pressured ergo societal pressure can't be blamed for women opting into or out of certain professions disproportionately (wrong again), I do think for example that yes, it is a big deal that many men lack the freedom to express themselves emotionally because of cultural restraints. In other words, I'm not arguing with you that women are not allowed to be their true selves; I just don't understand why you think men are (or maybe you don't, and I'm reading something there that isn't).

2) I am not interested in arguing prostitution with you because you have said in your rules you have no wish to do so, which is absolutely your right. However, this is something I have been trying to figure out my own opinion about for a while, and so I'd like to get your perspective - assuming that we are talking for the moment not about physically forced prostitution but rather about, let's say, economically pressured prostitution: what makes prostitution different from other unpleasant, demeaning, or dehumanizing jobs? this is not meant to be a "gotcha!" rhetorical question, I genuinely want to know what in your view sets it apart from, say, fruit-picking for 12 hour days, or being a janitor in an industrial meatpacking plant. I know prostitution is more female-associated, but you seem to think that all prostitution is inherently degrading, etc. and I am wondering, why is it so much more degrading than the jobs I mentioned? If you can say that conforming to beauty norms is rape of the soul, then can't you say of just about any unpleasant profession that it is prostitution of the soul? I can't see a way to answer "no" to that question that doesn't seem self-contradictory, but I would be very much interested in what you have to say.

Isabel said...

oh actually I just thought of another question - why do you consider it necessary to call these things rape, instead of just calling them wrong, violent, unethical, immoral, etc.? I would agree for example that sexual demand is extremely wrong, but I don't understand why that makes it rape. I mean, beating people up for no reason is also wrong, but that is not rape, right? what's wrong with the phrase "male sexual exploitation," for that matter?

sorry for the overlong comments, and thank you again for any reply you might want to give.

Maggie Hays said...

why do you consider it necessary to call these things rape, instead of just calling them wrong, violent, unethical, immoral, etc.? I would agree for example that sexual demand is extremely wrong, but I don't understand why that makes it rape. I mean, beating people up for no reason is also wrong, but that is not rape, right? what's wrong with the phrase "male sexual exploitation," for that matter?

Well, I guess that, in this case, I meant 'rape' as male sexual exploitation, that's right. I think I like expressing a wider definition of rape, such as the fact that, in those case, these are forms of sexual exploitation that a woman does not really want when it (any of them) happens to her. My main point is that there are subtler forms of rape that aren't as noticed, and acknowledging them is important. Of course, the most obvious, the cruelest (and literal, straightforward) form of rape of male sexual exploitation, is forcible rape.

And prostitutes experience forcible rapes, a lot more often so than women who are not in the sex trade. But prostitutes' rapes go unnoticed because prostitution (as research has shown) is already male sexual exploitation and the rapes in the sex trade are seen as 'commonplace' by johns, pimps, etc.

Maggie Hays said...

I respect your blog space/rules enough that I won't bother to discuss the things on which we obviously disagree and would come to no agreement over (this is completely genuine, and not meant as a dig at all; frankly I hate people who complain when bloggers restrict certain types of comments, because hey, their blog, their right, fighting with them over something they're not interested in fighting a) is a waste of time and b) makes you a jerk).

Thanks, Isabel. I guess the main reason for my blog rules being there is to protect myself and other sisters who read here from the woman-hating malestream pornified culture and the same very apologies for porn, etc we hear every day. Thank you for your understanding.

Do you think that anyone in this society/culture has the ability to truly Be Themselves? everyone conforms, everyone has pressures thrust upon them, and while I'm not going to argue that, for example, the body pressures on men are as extreme as they are on women (they're not), or that everyone feels pressured ergo societal pressure can't be blamed for women opting into or out of certain professions disproportionately (wrong again), I do think for example that yes, it is a big deal that many men lack the freedom to express themselves emotionally because of cultural restraints. In other words, I'm not arguing with you that women are not allowed to be their true selves; I just don't understand why you think men are (or maybe you don't, and I'm reading something there that isn't).

Men, unfortunately, are born within a world that gives them a lot more privileges (given to them by patriarchy, of course). While where exactly an individual man stands, according to race, social class, wealth, etc, the main rule does not change: men, as a class, have been socially trained to hate women or to endorse certain woman-hating behaviors, to some extent or another.

Now, WRT conforming, what I was initially talking about here, in this particular instance, was bodily integrity within the boundaries of gender norms or roles. Men, for the most part, will have the privilege of keeping their full bodily integity. While women around the world, as a consequence of gender roles & norms, will have to alter their body parts (or have them altered by someone else), e.g. footbinding and FGM (that still exist or used to exist in some countries) or, in the West, wearing high heels (so we can't walk properly), wearing makeup (so we do not have the right to our own face), shaving, waxing most of our body hair (men usually shave their beards but, that isn't the point: a beardy man is extremely far less likely to be attacked or ridiculed than a woman with hairy legs or pits, for instance); 'boob jobs' and labiaplasty are some of the most extreme beauty practices institutionalized by male supremacy onto women.

assuming that we are talking for the moment not about physically forced prostitution but rather about, let's say, economically pressured prostitution: what makes prostitution different from other unpleasant, demeaning, or dehumanizing jobs?

I've also talked about prostitution in my above comment. But, to answer your question, as a friend once said on my blog, "Whereby females have in general, less decent career opportunities, slower career paths due to childbearing breaks, contrasted with 'an industry' patriarchy wants an endless supply of fresh female flesh is financially rewarded higher - whilst the downside (ie. violent johns) is dramatically downplayed."

I've talked about this before and I think this post and its comments would best answer:

http://maggiehaysagainstporn.blogspot.com/2008/08/on-choices-part-2-prostitution-and.html

What makes it no different is the relentless woman-hating (ab)use of the johns, as has been documented and evidenced before & ignored. The men, who create the demand for the endless sexual degradation and torture of women in prostitution, are constantly being made invisible...

If you can say that conforming to beauty norms is rape of the soul, then can't you say of just about any unpleasant profession that it is prostitution of the soul?

Well, I dunno. That's my personal opinion that having to conform to gender norms is a personal rape of my soul. Most feminists argues that patriarchal gender norms are personally and politically oppressive anyway. WRT unpleasant professions, I would not call them prostitution but I'd rather call them exploitation of labor, as many socialists have argued (I'm not a socialist but I sometimes agree with some socialist/marxist points on capitalism), and an exploitation of our labor is certainly an exploitation of our soul. Although, it is absolutely nothing compared with having to go through prostitution, as I heard it from some formerly prostituted women...

Maggie Hays said...

I shall just add this quote to this thread:

"Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine."
-- Andrea Dworkin.

Seduction may not be exactly called rape, but it still does involve fucking a woman over and deceiving her.

Like I said: I guess that, in this case, I meant 'rape' as male sexual exploitation, that's right. I think I like expressing a wider definition of rape, such as the fact that, in those case[s], these are forms of sexual exploitation that a woman does not really want when it (any of them) happens to her. My main point is that there are subtler forms of rape that aren't as noticed, and acknowledging them is important. Of course, the most obvious, the cruelest (and literal, straightforward) form of rape of male sexual exploitation, is forcible rape.

Any form of sexual exploitation you don't really want to happen to you, even subtler ones, is a form of rape somehow. And these also make you feel horribly bad and mistreated, as a woman.

That is not to say, of course, that straightforward sexual assault is one of the worst things that can happen to you. The guy has literally gottejn off on you saying No, or expressing the NO while the tears were flowing down your eyes - like what happened to me, for instance- I think I'm very psychologically damaged by the experience in a way; this hasn't changed in years...

laurelinrain said...

'Crazy' is what they call you when you're making too much sense, usually!
xxx

Maggie Hays said...

Thanks, Laurelin. :)

pisaquari said...

Seduction is the rapist's sleazy sales pitch.

If I don't want you without tapping the vast reservoir of conditioned responses to dominance-submission-paradigm eye dances/gender performances/body festishes then our physical transaction amounts to nothing more than a hazy reification of woman-hating. And no person, except a raging sexist and rapist, believes women knowingly consent to these measures.

M.G. said...

It's interesting how they are calling you crazy but then spend a disproportionate amount of time reading and discussing what you have to say.

Keep up the good work Maggie.

M.G.

Maggie Hays said...

Good point, Pisaquari. ;)


It's interesting how they are calling you crazy but then spend a disproportionate amount of time reading and discussing what you have to say.

Exactly, M.G.: These people seriously need to go & get a life! When I really hate someone else's blog, well, I simply don't read it... Fucking stalkers those patriarchists are!

Keep up the good work Maggie.

Yep. It gave me new thoughts on which to write about as soon as I get the chance...

laurelinrain said...

Good point M.G... when I think some theory is 'crazy' and that no-one would ever be fooled by it in a zillion years, I don't waste my precious time on refuting it. Maybe I should... maybe it's time for that blog post I've been planning refuting the theory that Martians built the pyramids ;-)

Seriously, I think the use of 'crazy' here comes from a place of fear and spite.

figleaf said...

Hi Maggie,

If I don't agree with you in tone I really agree with you in substance. Something that really stuck in my craw back in the 1970s was something I think Susan Brownmiller said about a study of criminal-sexual-assault-style rapists that found they were psychologically pretty indistinguishable from men who weren't. I didn't figure out why that would be until a year or so ago.

The bottom line is that all the activities you list, from rape to exploitation of economic disadvantage to aphrodisiacs to dinner with roses comes from a patriarchal indoctrination in men that women have no, zero, none autonomous interest in sex and therefore have to be, one way or another, "jump started." If not outright "jumped." Because, we're led to believe (by real patriarchy, by mere anti-feminists, and... feminists before the "third wave" alike) is that women aren't just disinterested in sex, that just naturally never *want* sex, but that any woman who ever does is... broken, twisted, sick, wrong, fallen, a "disgrace" to her father/husband/family, or, more recently, a "traitor" to her gender/class.

If that's what men believe then, yeah, your Dworkin quote is dead on: all (heterosexual, male-initiated) sex is exploitation of a resource for which women have neither use nor interest, and therefore any and *all* efforts to *extract* sex-resources from women by men who swallow that ideology amount to rape.

Of course this idea that women are interested only in having children, or domestic security, or economic gain, or even just not being harmed but *never* interested in actual sex for themselves is ideologically *extremely* convenient to the patriarchy and it's fellow travelers, and might make sense to men, but it's, um, wrong. Because most women and, obviously, most heterosexual women, generally *do* have sexual feelings, interests, desires, and (anathema the patriarchy) *intentions.*

(In this regard, paradoxically, separatist and radical feminists are perceived as *reinforcing and upholding* that patriarchally-defined ideal of "good" women as disinclined to sex with men and "bad" or "broken" or "traitorous" women as enjoying it. But I digress...)

But because of all the institutional denial that erases women's desire even when it's voluntary, enthusiastic, even woman-initiated such that men can't distinguish women's agency from their own "luck" in "scoring," maybe with a woman' who's "easy," I really appreciate the important qualification Dworkin made elsewhere that *because* of all that ideology heterosexual sex is *indistinguishable* from rape.

Which is a bit of a relief. Because instead of that just being the way it is all we have to do is... learn to distinguish it! To give up on a three-thousand-year-old lie we, men, have been persuasively telling ourselves and everyone else. Which, considering the considerable benefits, is worth whatever effort it takes to get through people's heads.

---

One quick point. I found your post via a chain of links of women, including some in academia, who take exception to your claim that seduction is rape. This, I think, is because there's some formal equivocation in the term where it means the disingenuous acquisition of consent by means of guile, distraction, and possibly intoxication on the one hand (which I agree is incontestably indistinguishable from rape) and on the other hand an agreed-upon form of foreplay between two individuals who have already agreed to have sex with each other. I'm... pretty sure you mean the first while I'm also pretty sure critics think you mean the other.

Sincerely,

figleaf

Maggie Hays said...

Laurelin & Figleaf, any body else, please click on my blog header. I have an update here:

http://maggiehaysagainstporn.blogspot.com/2009/01/seduction-connecting-dots.html

I understand why some people may have felt confused by this post. I was pretty tired & depressed when I'd written it and I guess I'fd just let my personal thoughts going freely and weirdly. I think I was talking from personal experience, definitely...


If I don't agree with you in tone

Figleaf- the tone in the update was meant for unwanted & hostile commenters (who I deleted) who came here after Isabel, it wasn't meant for the general readers, just people looking for trouble and stalking me on the net.


I'm... pretty sure you mean the first while I'm also pretty sure critics think you mean the other.

Exactly, Figleaf, that's what I meant. This reminds me of the time when everyone thought that Dworkin had said that all intercourse - or all sex - is rape, and the myth still carries on while she NEVER said that. I think I'm getting a similar curse here?...

Damn!

sophie said...

This, I think, is because there's some formal equivocation in the term where it means the disingenuous acquisition of consent by means of guile, distraction, and possibly intoxication on the one hand (which I agree is incontestably indistinguishable from rape) and on the other hand an agreed-upon form of foreplay between two individuals who have already agreed to have sex with each other.

Interestingly enough, I've never heard of the second meaning. I checked the dictionary too (I don't think anyone who stands with the word 'seductive' as not related to rape would want to check my dictionary; it spells it out as persuading someone to do something they wouldn't otherwise do).

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that if a man is kind and chivalrous to a woman and starts dating her and then has sex with her, that that is rape? hmm... im confused.

Maggie Hays said...

So are you saying that if a man is kind and chivalrous to a woman and starts dating her and then has sex with her, that that is rape? hmm... im confused.

No, I am not saying that. I am sorry for being so confusing.

As I said in this comment thread, I understand why some people may have felt confused by this post because I was pretty tired & depressed when I'd initially written it and I guess I'd just let my personal thoughts go freely and weirdly without elaborating enough on what I really meant about seduction. Thus, I think it is now fair that I have now edited my definition of "seduction" in this post so that people can now understand what I really meant by seduction (through developing what I actually meant a little more), partly from personal experience. Now, for the people who keep sending accusatory comments: can you please stop it? I have NEVER said that all intercourse (or all sex) is rape, and neither did Andrea Dworkin.


To elaborate, I meant seduction as: 'When a man persuades a woman to have sex with him, often subtly, through being kind, polite, chivalrous, while playing on her feelings, possible vulnerability, or sometimes getting her consent by deceiving her, distracting her, and sometimes intoxicating her (with alcohol or drugs) so that he can use her for his own sexual gratification and purpose.'

Maggie Hays said...

I think I have now made my points clear enough now and I worked hard during the last two days on elaborating those (you can re-read now and re-check if you like). Therefore, if I get another wrongfully accusatory comment sent to me, I will push the "reject" button, and I will keep pushing it if I get another one.

m Andrea said...

I have NEVER said that all intercourse (or all sex) is rape, and neither has Andrea [Dworkin].

Just so you know, this chatbox appears to be 11 characters wide, in my Internet Explorer.

Anyway. Men can define torture porn as "empowering" but that is simply their opinion. And for some mysterious reason which has nothing to do with a patriarchal sexist culture, you are not allowed to use your own definition or opinion?

Oh please, just tell them to get lost. That game is done.

Maggie Hays said...

Miss Andrea, I agree. Thank you so much. :)

Anonymous said...

Why don't we just shoot all of the men? I was watching t.v. and there is an Asian woman ( I forget her name) that does documentaries on sex crimes. She was in India investigationg child brothels. The camera crew and herslef were having a hard time finding ways to liberate the age 4 to 15 year old girls from this place. If they just did away with men who are the cause of the problem. Thay are the ones who are seemingly less evolved thus cannot control themselves. Why just not off them with their pants down?