Heteronormative* patriarchy for men and the issue of marital rape
Ally responded to the writer of the original article, Alyssa Royse :
“I believe that one of the most grievous errors of the original Royse piece was to imply that acts like that committed by her friend the rapist are so common as to be mundane. She confirmed this in the comments to my previous blog, when she suggested “it cannot be as simple as saying “he’s bad.” Because to say so would mean that at least 50% of the men out there are bad.”
“Royse would have us believe that “at least 50%” would do what her friend did. I’m unclear whether she means that at least half of all men would rape a sleeping woman given the chance; or that at least half have in some way victimised a woman in a drunken muddle or fumble. I’m not sure which is worse. The former is wildly detached from any credible evidence of the prevalence of rape and normalizes the cruel act. The latter implies that what her friend did was not really any different to a clumsy drunken pass or an ill-timed arse-grab, and so minimizes it.”
I added a short comment on 22 December which has yet to be approved:
Nothing here about rape within marriage / partnership which I suggest is a major oversight.
“The marital rape exemption was done away with in this country in 1992. So husbands do not have a “right” to have sex with their wives, and wives are not under any “obligation” or “duty” to sexually service their husbands. And yes, if your husband has sex with you even after you’ve said no, that is rape.”
The Rape Crisis National Freephone Helpline is open from 12-2.30pm & 7-9.30pm every day of the year: you can call them on 0808 802 9999
So I did a little searching which revealed a remarkable lack of information about rape within marriage but did come across this paper.
In Marital Rape: New Research and Directions, Raquel Kennedy Bergen writes:
“If we consider the number of women who felt emotionally coerced to have “unwanted sex” with their intimate partner, the prevalence is much higher. In a national study, Basile (2002) found that 34% of women indicated that they had unwanted sex with their partner—most frequently as a result of marital obligation. Rape in marriage may occur more frequently than previously estimated particularly when we consider that women who are involved in physically abusive relationships may be especially vulnerable to rape by their partners.
“Despite the fact that marital rape receives little public and scholarly attention, it is one of the most serious forms of violence between intimates. The research to date indicates that women who are raped by their husbands are likely to experience multiple assaults and often suffer severe long-term physical and emotional consequences. Given the serious effects, there is clearly a need for those who come into contact with marital rape survivors to provide assistance and challenge the prevailing myth that rape by one’s spouse is inconsequential.”
Now while this paper is six years old it does indicate that despite it being an offence in the USA, the UK and many other countries, rape within marriage was still in 2006 a major issue. But I suspect recognising that would rather upset Ally’s agenda.
* Heteronormativity is a term used by social theorists in order to discuss the way in which gender and sexuality are separated into hierarchically organised categories. It has become one of the most important ways of thinking about sexuality within the academic study of sexuality.