Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another Stellar PR Campaign for Heterosexual Marriage

[TW: Rape]

Ho-ly shit. The things people still say out loud.

Take self-described "marriage, relationship, and sexual coach" John Wilder, opining upon how "Feminists Are the Ruin Of Marriages, and Your Sex Life":

"It is appalling what feminists and feminist counselors tell couples about sex. They say that women should only have sex when they feel like it and disregard their husband’s feelings. The feminists would say that a woman should not allow herself to be a 'sexual slave' to her husband. There are even some feminists claiming that any married sex amounts to rape. This is not conducive to resolving sexual conflicts in a marriage relationship.

Feminists and feminist marriage counselors tell women and men that women should only have sex when they feel like it and to disregard men’s needs. This message has become common in mainstream marriage counseling. In all sincerity, is this not the ultimate in self centeredness? Is not love defined as putting the needs of your partner above your own."

First off, when saying that some people say things, it's usually good to provide a quotation of people actually saying those things. John, you'll notice, doesn't feel the need to do that. Indeed, my experiences on the inter-tubes have led me to arrive at a maxim whereby the frequency with which a critic of feminism claims that "the feminists" say such-and-such is inversely proportional to the number of feminist blogs, books, and articles said critic has actually read in his (or her, but usually his) life. It's as though the vast majority of anti-feminists and men's rights types get their feminist info by googling "radical feminist quotes" and seeing what pops up on

With that in mind, let's see what our dear critic of feminism says about how "the feminists" have ruined (heterosexual) marriage. The implication in John's post, above, is that women's ability to decline sex with their husbands is a bad thing. According to John, it is a woman's wifely duty to have sex with her husband even if she doesn't feel like it, because that is what is fair to men and what preserves marriage. Call me a feminist, but I think there is a term for when a man "has sex with" a woman who does not want to have sex with him at that moment.

Not that that's what John here would call it rape or say that he's in favor of that. Over at the forum where I first encountered the fellow, I noted that he seemed to be advocating for spousal rape, and so John clarified his position:

"You are guilty of selective publishing. You will note in [my] blog I noted that I don’t support forcing any woman being forced [sic] to have sex against her will but complained about feminists teaching that is [sic] perfectly acceptable to force men to do without sex aginast [sic] his [sic] will on a regular basis. Where is the equality in that?"

Ah yes, the trusty old "You totally misrepresented me, what I really said was [insert what Fannie just said I said]" bit.

On the one hand, John doesn't support forcing women to "have sex" against their will. But on the other, he thinks it is harmful to marriage and unfair sex inequality against men for women to not have sex with men when they don't want to have sex with men. Here, John sees three competing interests: Women's right not to have men rape them, men's "right" to "have sex with" women who don't want to "have sex with" them, and the preservation of the heterosexual marriage.

Because John calls the "feminist" idea of women being able to withhold sex from men both "appalling" and something that "ruins" marriage, it is evident from his own words how he weighs these three competing interests. Both men's entitlement to sex and the preservation of marriage take precedence over a woman's unwillingness to have sex. Female consent becomes moot.

So let's talk about force.

John claims that he doesn't "support forcing any woman being forced [sic] to have sex [sic, that would be rape] against her will." Yet, it is abundantly clear that he does support using the authority and legitmacy of his "marriage coach" status (whatever authority and legitimacy comes from such a thing) to make women feel guilty, discriminatory, and like shitty wives for not "having sex" with their husbands when they do not feel like having sex with their husbands. By framing this refusal as a grave injustice against men, indeed as an instance of sex inequality and female domination, when wives do not let their husbands fuck them when they do not want to be fucked, he uses his moral and mental authority as an alleged neutral relationship arbiter- a so-called couples' professional- to compel women to have sex when they do not want to have sex.

The loathsomeness of forcing women to have sex is warped to mean how loathsome it is for a woman to force a man not to have sex! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how an anti-feminist envisions sex equality and the ideal heterosexual marriage.

Now, at this very moment, I can see the straight ladies in the audience giving same-sex marriage a second look. As a Homosexualist Recruiter, I will be happy to sign you up for the toaster oven that comes with the "So you think you might be gay?" pamphlet. Yet I also realize some of you are legitimately into the heterosexual lifestyle. And so, let's consider that many feminist definitions of sexual consent are something akin to "the enthusiastic verbal consent of another adult who is able to give it." That definition isn't perfect or universal, but doesn't it make for an infinitely better PR campaign for sexual relationships than "unethusiastically letting one partner 'have sex' with another even though one doesn't want to have sex because the preservation of marriage entitles us to sexual access to our partners"?

Here it's apt to note that my definition of feminism has evolved somewhat over the years to mean something akin to "removing women from the sex class by eradicating male entitlement to sexual access to women [and girls and boys] and discouraging male violence, which is often sexualized, against women." If I could fine-tune that and add some bits about gender stereotyping, I'd have a pretty golden definition of what feminism means to me.

Indeed, one of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of most dictionary definitions of feminism is that it's usually defined as something like "belief in the legal, political, and social equality of men and women." In reality, that definition often operates to center men as the human standard to which women must emulate. And, of course, anti-feminists and men's rights types inevitably dust off their dictionaries, look up feminism, and then pervert what equality means to use it against women's interests.

And so, we return to John Wilder who further elaborates on his opinion that women should fuck their husbands even if they don't feel like it because that is what is "equal" to both sexes:

"If feminists truly wanted equality, that would include equality for men as well. Equality after all means that both men and women are equal and should receive equal treatment. Do men get equal treatment? Well the feminists claim that women should only have sex when they feel like it. If men and women were truly equal in a relationship, men would have the opportunity to have sex with their wives on one night, and the women would have the opportunity to not have sex on the next night."

John, it bears mentioning, opposes same-sex marriage. Which totally accords with the equal hierarchical vision of violent, male-centric traditional marriage that so many "marriage defenders" are actually defending.

Equality in the sacred hetero marriage doesn't mean that each marital partner gets the equal right to refuse sex, it means that men get the more equal right to demand sex from their wives. Or, men and women being "equal," both partners get the equal right to demand sex from their partners. Although literally "equal," neither is a particularly dignified application of the equality principle.

Nonetheless, after looking up "feminism," the anti-feminist/MRA invariably flips a few pages in his handy-dandy dick-tionary, stumbles upon the word "misandry," and believes himself to have discovered the most apt word to describe women's horror at (a) male entitlement to rape and (b) the perversion of equality to promote male dominance.

Take, John Wilder, for instance:
"I have been navigating these blogs and I am sick to death of women making excuses and DEMANDING thei [sic] right to refuse their husbands sex. When I point out valid reasons why women should take care of their husband’s sexual needs, women come out of the wood work to call me a pervert, a misogynist and worse. All too often when a man critiques a woman she becomes vicious in her verbal attack in retaliation rather than dealing with the critique. Misandry (reverse sexism by women against men) is every bit as bad as misogony [sic]."

Ah yes, capital letters. They always indicate that a person is SO SERIOUS. And, the old "it is worse to call someone a bigot than it is to actually be one" canard. But since John has complained that "all too often" women just call him names instead of dealing with the substance of his posts, I dedicate this entire blog post to John.

Meanwhile, ladies, you can dedicate your sexual assault stories to John. Just drop him a line at his "professional" yahoo email address, where he wants you to "unload" your secrets.

In other news, BP is now offering oil showers to seagulls impacted by the oil spill.

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