While browsing the asexual blogs that I’ve recently discovered, I’ve found some really interesting posts on asexuality and rape culture. And since we’ve been talking about rape culture lately, I thought it was a really relevant topic to discuss.
“…99% of the world is sexual and awash in cultural narratives towards how sex is owed in a relationship and away from earnest examination of sexuality and relationship structures.
In short, asexuals in relationships can find themselves highly prone to being coerced into sex they would not have agreed to otherwise, because of sexual society memes about how sex is owed in romantic relationships.”
“[People] talk about how asexuals don’t really have a human rights issue to organize about, that all we want is visibility. You point out–and rightly so–that asexuals can get married, and marriage isn’t all about sex. Now, you mentioned that there is an expectation there that the marriage isn’t consummated until the couple has had sex. You say that of course nobody is enforcing how often a couple has sex, and sure, that’s true… but the real problem is that nobody is enforcing the right of the uninterested party to NOT have sex. Marital rape is very real, but often goes unrecognized as a real rape because there is this idea that if people get married to one another, they automatically grant consent to have sex with that partner in the future, therefore, they believe those people cannot be raped.”
“…true consent is never tacit, it is never silent. Too many young men become date rapists by confusing silence with a clear, verbal affirmation. “No means no”, but with folks you don’t know well, you need to presume that silence (especially when accompanied by physical passivity) is also a loud, clear, shout-it-from-the-flippin’-rooftops, “NO!” How many women have had sex they didn’t desire with men they didn’t want simply because they were too tired of fighting, too tired of resisting, too eager to just have it over with?”
I also came across a few posts regarding “gift sex” or sex as a “compromise” with a sexual partner. I agree that compromise is important in all relationships, and sometimes you do things that you don’t want to do to please your partner, but to me, sex, especially for asexuals, should not be one of those things. That sounds like what Schwyzer deemed “sex characterized by obligation, confusion, and detached resignation.” Yes, both partners have a right to have their needs met, but in cases of sex, the sexual partner’s needs are far outweighing the asexual person’s needs if the asexual partner feels obligated to have sex with them. Where is the line drawn between coercive rape and “gift sex” from an asexual partner to their sexual partner?
“Part of being a good man, I teach, is not being a relentless advocate for your own pleasure. Part of being a good sexual partner is not using a variety of psychological (and chemical) tactics to turn the red light to green, to turn the “no” into a “yes”, or even worse, to simply wait until the young woman has grown tired of saying “no” and falls into a resigned silence.”
“Resigned silence,” to me, doesn’t sound pleasurable at all, for either party. One asexual described her experience in trying to learn to have sex with her sexual partner:
“There was a point where he tried to get me to get on top, but it was too painful, and I didn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing there, or how it could possibly be enjoyable to try. I didn’t want to drag it out. It felt unnatural, and I wanted it to just be over with.”
And, even though that is what sex was like for her, her partner continued to want to have sex. And she felt obligated to do so. To me, that’s coercive rape if I’ve ever heard it. Our culture and society, by only showing one standard of romantic relationships (marriage is for procreation, and therefore involves sex), promote coercive rape when an individual does not want to engage in what is seen as their “duty” as a participant in a romantic relationship.