April 16th, 2014

Marriage And Consent

There's always a lot of talk about the idea of enthusiastic consent when it comes to online debates about rape. And, pretty much everyone agrees that you should never be pressured into giving consent.  That applies even if you are in a relationship.

But there's one aspect about consent I rarely see talked about - the subtle pressure inside marriage for a woman to give consent even if she'd rather not - particularly given the current state of the economy.

I'm thinking about this because several women on my LJ/Facebook friends lists have made posts that make it clear they really don't want to have sex with their husbands. But, they do because they worry that their husband would divorce them if they didn't. In all of these cases the women are married to men who make much more money than they do. In most of the cases the women have small children.

Their worry is that if they got divorced they'd be no way for them to support their children or themselves. Jobs are hard to come by- particularly if you've been out of the workforce for a while. The system is also set up so that even if the woman has the same skill sets as her husband, her pay would be significantly less than his.

So, because of this terror they lay back or bend over and  make the right noises in hopes he'll finish faster and get the whole thing over with.

In all of the cases it's pretty clear the husband knows that she doesn't want to be fucking him lately. And while none of them have used violence or coercive words in order to get sex, it seems to go unstated that if the panties don't get dropped the cold, scary world of being a single parent without a lot of resources is lurking just around the corner.

I bet these men don't consider themselves rapists. And, for the most part their wives probably don't consider them rapists either.

But at the end of the day in some ways they are - and being that way is a result of how fucked up our economic and cultural system is.

I'm not saying I see any solution to the issue in the near future. But I really wish there was more discussion and awareness of it - because I'm sure it's happening in many, many marriages even though it's often invisible in our culture.