This story is AWFUL.

I love you feministing for giving me a platform to rival this evil, expose it, make it known and fight it. I love you feministing commentators for kicking commenting butt. This story is awful. And so is this thread that followed it at Digg. Please a) start a more appropriate discussion here and b) go kick some commenting butt. Together we can overcome!
The line that should be ignored but disturbed me profoundly: “They are married.. He owns her.. It could never be rape because he is entitled to anything he wants.”

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  • AlaraJRogers

    I’d like to clear up something I said in the light of other people’s comments.
    If a person is fondling you against your will, and you say “no”, and they still do it, that’s a violation. If it leads to them having sex with you and you told them “no”, it’s rape.
    If a person is intentionally depriving you of sleep in order to demand sex, it’s rape.
    If a person is physically threatening to you in any way, it’s rape.
    But if they’re lying next to you in bed, not touching you, and going on and on about how it’s going to be so *hard* for them to get to sleep tonight because they’re *so tense* and they *just wish* you’d be willing to do something to help them with it because they’re going to be *so tired* tomorrow if they can’t sleep and blah blah blah… they are not raping you. They are whining. They are being really frickin’ annoying. But if you decide to have sex with a person doing this because it is the quickest way to shut him the hell up, you were not raped.
    If you were afraid that if you didn’t agree to have sex, he might hit you, you were raped. But if you were just irritated and gave in the way you would give in to whining for a cookie, that is not rape.
    I would definitely call what happened to plenilune rape. The difference between the guy who assaulted her and the situation I’m thinking of is that my husband doesn’t touch me without my permission. If he wants to lay in bed whining about how he can’t sleep and how he wishes he could have sex with me, I consider that an obnoxious attempt at persuasion, not coercion, because I *can* say no and enforce it.
    On the other hand, he has been known to either wake me, or prevent me from sleeping, because he wants to have a stupid argument. *That* I consider borderline abusive. Screaming at someone who is trying to sleep because they did not go to the gym today like they promised is unacceptable no matter how many times they’ve promised they’ll go to the gym and then not done it. I find when he pulls this kind of stunt to be seriously upsetting and traumatic, whereas the whining for sex is more like dealing with my two-year-old. Yeah, whatever, dude, here’s your cookie, now be quiet. I’m not afraid, and I think fear is a necessary part of coercion — if you’re perfectly certain that you *can* say no, and you can enforce it, and all that will happen is you will have to put up with annoying noise, and you’re not afraid but you just don’t feel like being annoyed, then you were not raped.
    So I don’t want to make people think I am saying that physical force is required to commit rape or that if you ever said yes, you were not raped. I am saying that there *is* a difference between giving in because you are afraid, or because you are being fondled against your will and you can’t get them to stop, or because they are deliberately keeping you awake, and giving in because it is less annoying to do so. Sometimes in a relationship we do things we don’t feel like doing because it will make a partner happy, or because it will make them shut up, and if that thing is sex I don’t think it automatically equates to marital rape. It depends on the situation. I’m a lot more willing to consider something rape if the woman felt threatened or frightened or overwhelmed or despairing than if she was just annoyed.

  • Alon Levy

    I don’t believe in the existence of magic, Brightapplsword. Except, of course, the magical ability of women to control the world and make everyone believe that men do. When you manage to have hardly any representation among world leaders and still control the world, there must be some magic involved in there.
    And Tink, an MRA is indeed a men’s rights activist. There aren’t any here, but the comments on the thread Samhita links to are filled with them, apparently.

  • Fenriswolf

    Good god. The article was disgusting: especially since it’s over here (I’m a NZer) and not in the US. Those comments aren’t even worth commenting on by now.
    What has made me feel kind of unwell and teary is reading the stories on here.
    I think Alara made a good distinction. It’s hard to define, but it’s definite.
    I told someone on another forum I did not think she was raped. I felt awful, and said that this was based on a very incomplete account. Also that it was clearly abusive. But she described it as her agreeing. Her saying yes. She didn’t mean it, he knew she didn’t mean it. It was disgusting and abusive but I think using the word rape erodes a concept that it’s hard to defend even when it’s a virgin dressed conservatively raped violently in the middle of the day.
    Plenilune, do not feel bad your hands were shaking. MY hands ARE shaking.
    I am just overwhelmed by the number of people who feel they were… passive-aggressively raped? It revolts me and reinforces my feeling of unfairness when people try and argue statistics with me.

  • tankerton

    This is a really interesting thread. First, I want to say to Mary B and others that I’m really sorry that you had to deal with that shit and I’m glad that you’ve also had the courage to get counsling, heal, and speak out.
    I’ve realized that I may have never clearly defined rape to myself. Which is quite strange because I’ve had to deal with it in the past.
    When I was 12 I went to a college party and was pushed into a dark room and raped by a stranger. I never told anyone until many years later.
    When I was 15, I fell crazy in love with a fucking sociopath! This guy used my trust and love to manipulate me until I was completely submisive, quite a feat considering that generally I was quite an opinionated and even defiant person. So he repeatedly used my feelings to extort unprotected sex. He was just so fucking cruel. (and of course cheating on me with multiple people! I am so lucky not to have any STD’s). By the time I got to college, I can say that he was definetly raping me. He would climb in my bedroom window at night and I awake to him on top of me. I broke up with him and It continued to happen. So I finally took action, by bribing him with money and a one way airplane ticket to leave the state. I should have called the cops!
    Now this has taken years of therapy and I’m still not as confident as I would like to be.
    At any rate, I’ve just described three situations where I was coerced into sex. The first and the last I do not hesitate to call rape. But what about the second, the situation in which I willingly gave into sex, not because i wanted it, but because I was afraid of “loosing him” or hurting him or because I didn’t deserve to refuse? Absolutely that was emotinal abuse. But was it rape? I don’t know! I’d like to know what other people think. The only hesitation I have to calling it rape is that Its already so hard to prosecute rapists and in such a situation it would be much more difficult.
    One more thing: I am so uncomfortable relating all this information for the world to read. Sad, I know.

  • Fenriswolf

    “One more thing: I am so uncomfortable relating all this information for the world to read. Sad, I know.”
    Not sad. I haven’t been raped, or sexually abused. But I have had an awareness of rape and sexual violence from well before I understood sex.
    When I was about 8 a man called from a payphone and asked me to touch myself. I did it.
    When my mother came home I lied about giving my name because I was ashamed about having forgotten all my sex-education.
    I totally blocked it out until I was about 16, when I realised it probably contributes to my discomfort with my body.
    It makes me feel unwell sharing these things.
    I had dreams about being raped, sometimes by my father, for years. Sometimes I enjoyed it. This is something I find almost physically impossible to say out loud. I feel dirty and revolted.

  • tink

    What you talk about is why I wish we had more words for these acts. I would agree that there is a difference between giving in out of fear or subjugation vs. giving in out of annoyance. But then we don’t always realize that we have a right not be treated like this because we don’t think what’s happening to us is rape!
    AND – while I know what Alara is talking about, what about those moments of “yeh well, whatever, here you go” that happened because one has been so sexually subjugated or indoctrinated that an alternative doesn’t even come to mind, even though there is no fear? I would love to see a word for THAT that indicates it’s a bad thing – one that suggests it’s wrong to just go along because…
    of the myth that sex is all boys want…because of the norm that women need to be validated by men…
    Thanks Alon. Side bar: It’s funny (and wonderful and refreshing) to argue so fiercely w/ a commenter on one thread & find the same commenter so delightful on another. I love the complexity of thinking people.

  • Inky

    I think part of the problem is that it’s such a fluid scale…if we start out with the concept that sex *isn’t* rape if you could have said no without the other person harming you in some way, then the whole thing rests on what counts as “harm”. Obviously death or injury count, and sleep deprivation count, and most of us would say that mild annoyance doesn’t. Where do we draw the line, especially in cases of long-term emotional manipulation? If someone has intentionally worn someone else down psychologically, with the purpose of making them so dependent that the abuser’s criticism or frustration is unbearable, then that’s a totally different situation than criticizing or being frustrated with someone with whom you have a healthy relationship. I would say in that case the abuse beforehand was a precursor or primer to the eventual rape, and that the coercion is just as real even though it took place over a long period of time. That’s just my view though, and I can see reasoning for the opposite side as well.

  • choiceonearth

    To Mary B and others on here, thank you so much for sharing your stories. It means so much to hear other women’s experiences of what many people see as a “gray area” (or just plain not an area) of sexual abuse. I had a similar experience with one of my first boyfriends in college. We had just started dating and in all our time alone together he would always be pressuring me.
    He would just tire me out emotionally and physically. Deep inside I was so skeeved out by the way he touched me and treated me, but I just got so tired of fighting for what I wanted (or in this case, didn’t want) that I finally just let him do what he wanted. I guess I should be grateful that for whatever reason my virginity must have scared him off from “closing the deal” but what he did do hurt something so deep inside that it took me a long time just to find an outlet for it. I remember I became so physically ill that it hurt just to walk for days and at first I didn’t even understand that the two events were related. The pains didn’t go away until I finally told someone what happened–I know it can be hard to believe, but I shit you not, my body held me hostage until I let some of that hurt and confusion out.
    Anyway, I didn’t mean to write this much, but to make a long story shorter, I lost pretty much all the friends I had at the time after I confided in them about it. They really just didn’t want to hear that about someone they also called a friend (my boyfriend was from our circle). I didn’t foresee that at all. I guess you could say this was one of my feminist “awakening” experiences. I went through a deep depression and had to go through the work of putting together an all new support system, but I also got so much stronger. I know firsthand how awful it is to live with this violation that is killing you inside but be afraid to trust people enough to speak out about it when it doesn’t fit most people’s definition of sexual abuse. It is absolutely reprehensible to minimalize someone’s pain because what they went through may not be a prosecutable offense. The emotional and physical effects of violation on those who have been violated don’t work within legal standards.