Apparently worried that the world might forget what a thoroughly reprehensible human being he is, fantasy author and freelance bigot Vox Day (Theodore Beale) has decided to bring up the issue of marital rape again – in order to assert, as he has many times in the past, that marital rape doesn’t actually exist.
In a post yesterday on his blog Vox Populi, Beale notes with obvious pleasure that an Indian judge recently ruled that marital sex, “even if forcible, is not rape,” thus upholding a section of the Indian Penal Code that refuses to acknowledge marital rape as rape.
Some of my dimmer critics have attempted to make a meal out of my factual statement: a man cannot rape his wife. But that is not only a fact, it is the explicit law in the greater part of the world, just as it is part of the English Common Law. …
The fact that some of the lawless governments in the decadent, demographically dying West presently call some forms of sex between a husband and wife “rape” does not transform marital sex into rape any more than a law that declared all vaginal intercourse to be rape would make it so.
Unfortunately for Beale, simply declaring that the world is on his side on this one does not make it so. It not simply a handful of “ lawless governments in the decadent, demographically dying West” that see marital rape for what it is. The United Nations has recognized marital rape as a human rights violation for more than two decades. And the world is coming around to this point of view.
While (as of 2011) only 52 countries had laws specifically criminalizing marital rape, many others don’t have a “marital rape” exemption to their rape laws, meaning that in more than 100 countries marital rape can be prosecuted. And that number will inevitably grow.
Here’s a map from Wikipedia showing the countries (in red) in which marital rape is illegal. The countries in black allow marital rape. In the other countries, it’s a bit more complicated. (See here for the details.)
But for now, at least, Beale is happy for another chance to explain the toxic “logic” behind his assertion that “marital rape” is impossible.
Anyone with a basic grasp of logic who thinks about the subject of “marital rape” for more than ten seconds will quickly realize that marriage grants consent on an ongoing basis. This has to be the case, otherwise every time one partner wakes the other up in an intimate manner or has sex with an inebriated spouse, rape has been committed.
Now, by Beale’s logic, a husband is entitled to force his wife to have sex over her screaming objections. Since “consent is ongoing,” in Beale’s version of marriage, a woman could say no or even fight back against her husband’s advances, but none of this would count as non-consent because once a woman is married there is no such thing.
But of course Beale doesn’t want to have to defend what is obviously – at least to anyone with any humanity – violent rape. So he tries instead to restrict the debate to the seemingly innocuous practice of “wake-up sex.” After all, what guy doesn’t want to be woken up with a blow job?
But even this example isn’t as persuasive as he thinks it is. Some people like to be woken up in an “intimate manner,” at least some of the time; some don’t, and you don’t get to override their desire not to be sexually manhandled in their sleep just because you’re married to them. And while drunk sex is not necessarily rape, marriage doesn’t give you the right to force sex on a partner who is intoxicated to the point of incapacity.
And for those who wish to argue that consent can be withdrawn, there is a word for withdrawing consent in a marriage. That word is “divorce”.
No, that word is “no.” There is no such thing as ongoing consent to sex. The fact that you are married to someone doesn’t give you the right to have sex with them whenever and wherever you want, whether they want to or not, any more than the fact that someone is a professional boxer gives you the right to punch them in the head any time you feel like it.
The concept of marital rape is not merely an oxymoron, it is an attack on the institution of marriage, on the concept of objective law, and indeed, on the core foundation of human civilization itself.
No, Mr. Beale, you having the right to do whatever you want to with your dick is not the basis of civilization itself. Civilization, in fact, is built in part on the repression of some of our darkest desires. Part of growing up is reconciling ourselves to the sad fact that we can’t just do whatever the hell we want to all the time; Freud described this as putting behind the “pleasure principle” of infancy and early childhood for the “reality principle” that governs the more mature mind.
Beale seems to be driven not only by a desire for instant sexual gratification, whenever and wherever he wants, but also by a certain degree of sexual insecurity. In a previous post on the subject, he wrote:
If a woman believes in the concept of marital rape, absolutely do not marry her! It would make no sense whatsoever to marry a woman who believes that being married to her grants her husband no more sexual privilege than the next unemployed musician who happens to catch her eye.
Beale seems to think that if married women are allowed to say no to their husbands, they’ll desert these poor beta schlubs en masse in favor of scruffy alphas with guitars. At the root of all his arguments against the idea of marital rape is an obvious terror of unrestricted female choice.
In a way Beale’s petulant, self-serving defenses of marital rape serve a positive function, in that they help to remind us how abhorrent the practice is and how nonsensical the “arguments” in favor of allowing it really are.
Every time he opens his mouth on the subject, he helps to strengthen the growing consensus against marital rape.