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The Establishment failed to recognise rape, so I made it easier for them.

content note for rape, victim blaming, alcohol and intimate partner violence 

Intimate partner violence is hidden behind the minimising term “domestic” abuse. Its domestic, small scale, ignorable, just a part of the pattern of relationships. A domestic used to be shorthand for something not worthy of police attention, just the way a man behaved after a few pints. Inroads were made into this attitude by framing the abuse as a pattern of male violence, the home the space where the patriarch has free reign. This analysis however falls short, since it means so many victims cannot access the term victim. Men, members of the LGBT community, are denied support, even recognition of their abuse because of their gender.

This blind spot to “the wrong type of victim” is something one would hope a feminist website would recognise. After all feminism has also fought against victim blaming, especially when it comes to rape and intimate partner violence. However as this piece from The Establishment shows it seems some abusers, some rapists still get a free pass. Since the editors at the establishment seem to be struggling to understand that the article is a horrifying account of an abuser (something written about excellently here) I thought I would make it easy for them, I have reversed the genders.

I hooked up with the bartender one night. And then I married her.

And my wife, girlishly cute, tall, slim, is a gentle, passive, and wildly intelligent woman. She mixes a mean martini and loves me more than anyone has ever loved me.

The problem is: She won’t kiss me. She won’t spontaneously touch me—not a hug or an arm on my shoulders. She rarely, if ever, sleeps in our bed. And for the last five years, we have lived in a “sexless marriage.”

Yes, we have sex. But barely: Six times so far this year. To define my terms, I mean penis-in-vagina penetration. The number drops to two if I only count “successful” forays into the erotic, where at least one partner actually reaches climax. I truly can’t remember the last time she gave me a blow job—four years ago, maybe? I married a woman for whom making love to her husband has become an afterthought, or an occasional reaction, under duress, to my advances.

Under duress, there is it, in the opening to the piece, she (we have reversed the genders remember) is raped, by her partner. Is it is any surprise they sleep in separate rooms? Is it any surprise she does not want to touch her rapist? Is is any surprise she does not orgasm, as she remembers all the other times her partner has raped her? 

It’s not that either of us lost our looks. I am handsome and sexy in a non-intimidating, disheveled kind of way. I am emotional and physical: I love hard. I work and play hard. I feel things deeply and intensely. When we first got together, she worked in a bar and I had a “grown-up” job. We loved having a good time. We consumed a lot of booze, cooked meals together, and listened to live music as often as possible. I was six months out of a bad relationship and wanted to feel safe while enjoying a woman’s company. No commitments necessary. And we had good sex—it was often slow and delicious.

But it wasn’t frequent. She was 27 when we got together, and had only been with a couple of men. My sexual experience was more, ahem, varied, and I was an enthusiastic teacher. The attraction, at first, was mostly physical: Here was this super-cute girl who was nice to me and had an amazing body. She was easy to surprise or seduce, although she needed a good 24 hours to recharge before getting it up again, during which she completely shied away from me. Back then, as now, I tried to explain to her that “intimacy” includes an entire spectrum of activities that fall between sleeping separately and having loud, acrobatic sex. But my first mistake was assuming this could be taught. Or that it would come along later. We always had love and deep caring. What we never had was passion. I thought love and passion were different things: In my past life I had hot, often violent romances with more women than I cared to count. We connected sexually and drove each other crazy with desire . . . but I didn’t want to start a family with any of them. I thought this was better.

Surprise-given the lack of concern for her consent I think we can guess what “surprise” meant. Is is any wonder that it took 24 hours to recharge. a dehumanising and objectifying term, reducing a partner to a sex bot.That she shied away suggests right from the start she was forced into sex, raped, and unable to break free from her abusive partner. It is also the case that many abusers find issue with the sexual experiences of their partners. Here its the Christian Grey version, you are too innocent, so I will “teach” you. This teaching is in fact trying to shape someones sexuality to suit you, a process which denies the victim their own pleasure and instead sees them as simply existing for the abuser. 

Oh and whore madonna split- non passionate, non sexual baby making machine- check

We were together nearly three years, with no signs of moving toward marriage. She still wanted to party every night; I was 30, and wanted to start living a more adult life, so I broke up with her, only to discover she was pregnant with our first child. She was excited and couldn’t wait to be a mom. She doted on me but did not touch me except put my hand on her belly to feel the baby. During the second trimester, I was out of my mind with excitment I wanted to eat, play, and have sex. She refused me every time. I maintained my physical appearance and kept up our life as best I could. (His alcohol consumption increased; I begged him within weeks of my due date to slow down, that I needed him to be conscious This doesnt fit with the gender reversal but I am leaving it in, with a question, how would it feel to know your rapist was having your baby? Perhaps the drinking is explained?)  After the baby was born, I was anxious to feel somewhat normal and looked forward to her touch. She was afraid  and wanted to let me sleep. We stumbled through parenthood and eventually married when our oldest daughter was 2. This, I thought, would make it better. Marriage, legitimacy. Maybe she acted like so childlike because she was one; maybe she felt guilty getting crazy with me when I wasn’t her husband.

Over the years she continued to pull away from me. Our honeymoon was spent in Mexico, drowning in tequila. We had sex twice. I bought a drawer full of honeymoon lingerie that she never wore because she wasn’t interested. My subsequent pregnancies were a fluke, happening on the first try. She followed the pattern of the previous pregnancy: bringing home ice cream, drinking more, and avoiding my touch. When our youngest was born, he was so drunk that he passed out in the delivery room. I labored alone and it was nearly impossible to wake him up when the baby was ready to arrive.

The drinking seems a constant refrain, however imagine a woman trapped with an abusive, rapist, husband, there are many ways to escape, alcohol is just one of them.

I wanted to do better, fix the marriage. I thought that if I fit the traditional role of “husband” focusing all of my energies on our family, she would come back to me and see me as a sexual being again. That doesn’t make sense, does it? I changed my job multiple times to find a better schedule and tried to tone down my creative personality. I searched out other families with whom we could become friends. We moved into a bigger house in a family-friendly neighborhood, started making more money, and I eventually quit working altogether. This year I found myself immersed in our home and family because this was what we wanted, this is what we had worked for. It was supposed to make everything all better, but I spiraled downward, lonelier and bitter. She still didn’t want me. I failed.

The traditional roles of breadmaker and homemaker have so often been used by abusers to declare they are doing the right thing- so their partner owes them sex.  Rather than working on the relationship they demand sex, as a return for being a “good” husband or wife.

Content note for description of rape.

I used to wake her up with kisses, teasing, boldly climbing on top of her and having my way. She responded by laying still, her eyes closed, sometimes with her fingertips on my hips, waiting for me to have an orgasm so she could go back to sleep. The one-sided nature quickly felt dirty and wrong. What kind of asshole was I, taking sex from her when she didn’t want it, just so I could get off? I come on to her at night, wearing clean pyjamas because blatant sexuality scares her. I stay up late with him, flutter my eyelashes and place a hand on her thigh or suck lightly on her earlobe. She stares blankly at me, swigs her beer, and turns on the television.

No comment fucking necessary. 

Then there are nights when she drinks just enough to find me irresistible. My wife of 15 years becomes a sloppy teenager, either fucking me selfishly, purely focused on cock-in-pussy banging until she ceases to be aroused, or passing out cold after she wakes me up. Those mornings-after, I often awake to the delight of him having pissed the bed and am further humiliated when I have to wait for her to wake up, closer to noon, before I can wash the sheets.

When your wife will only have sex with you because she is so drunk she pisses the bed, you need to look, long and hard, at your relationship. Also, that drunk, it still isn’t consensual sex, not that consent matters to the author or it seems, The Establishment

When she initiates while relatively sober—once every 4 or 5 months—she doesn’t touch me with fingers or tongue to make sure I’m hard for her. She doesn’t force me; I accommodate her lack of finesse because I miss intimate touch so much and, truth be told, I am very easily turned on. She doesn’t make a sound if she climaxes and is embarrassed by my vocals. Afterwards, she catches her breath and retreats to the bathroom to shower while I am left filled with shame—I’m her husband, why does she want to wash me away so quickly?

I dont know, why would a victim of multiple rapes feel dirty after sex with their rapist?

I find myself mentally tracking our intimate contact based on football games and holidays and the position of the moon. My friends bitch about the lack of frequency with which their wives  want sex; I tolerate the conversation as long as I can before lashing out at them, telling them to take it when they can get it. One man asked me over beers one night, caring and curious, what it feels like to be denied passion all of the time. I didn’t have to think about the answer: It defeats and crushes me; I feel embarrassed and deeply sad.

Take it when they can get it- the frat boy, the date rapists, the husband, the sports jock, the defence, the cry, of rapists through the ages. Sex is for “taking” not giving, not consenting.

Sometimes I miss the simple pleasure of kissing more than sex. I crave lips and fingers and tongue. I love having a woman’s hands in my hair or her arms wrapped around me so tightly I can’t breathe, her eyes open, studying my face, watching me, wanting me, overcome by having to make the decision of which part of me she wants to kiss next . . .  Ohhh, who am I kidding? I miss the sex, too. No appliance, and no matter how talented and familiar my own hands, nothing compares to connecting with another person on a purely sensual level. Stimulation and orgasm aside, I miss warmth and trust and reading someone’s reactions to my touch, making it up as we go along. I miss waking up sticky and sore and aroused, tasting the other person on my lips, the scent of him on my skin, and doing it all over again. I miss loud, crazy, Cirque du Soleil–worthy sex acts that leave me gasping and incapable of speech and quiet, spontaneous quickies, clothes rumpled and shifted, messed-up hair, followed by giggles. I love being desired and seduced and—at my core—I am unashamed of expressing my wants and feelings. Sex makes me happy and creative. Spontaneity drives me wild. When the situation allows, my enthusiasm creates a force to be reckoned with.

Notice how this description of sex omits any idea that those we have sex with have needs, desires, how it focuses solely on the writers experience of sex. 

The rest of my life is stretching out before me and all I can see is a desert, devoid of lust. By now I’m afraid I’ve had too many lonely nights to overthink and overanalyze. I’m paralyzed with self-doubt and am irreparably terrified of rejection. How would I explain to the world that I left my marriage because I wasn’t getting any? I’ve finally discovered the sexual man that I want to be—and GOD is he a lot of fun!—but I am forced to hide it because my wife simply doesn’t want me. I kick myself every time I become wistful and romantic, hoping this time—whenever that may be—will be different.

As a sex worker this is a position many of my clients talk about. However these men, usually working class, usually in their 50s or 60s know what the author of this piece does not. Forcing their partner to have sex is wrong, coercing them, waiting until they are drunk is wrong, their solution, visiting a sex worker, may be seen as immoral by many, but they are not rapists.

The gender swap I have attempted here should not even be necessary, but it seems it is. Some have discussed whether the authors husband is asexual, or a survivor of sexual abuse. Few seem to have considered this is what life looks like when you are a victim of persistent intimate partner violence, when drink is your only escape from the fact your partner rapes you. 


7 comments on “The Establishment failed to recognise rape, so I made it easier for them.

  1. Nicholas C Kiddle
    August 14, 2016

    The gender-swapped version works so well, especially at the start, that I almost wonder if it was intended to be gender-reversal satire in the first place. But then, could any satirist get that pity-poor-me tone so spot on?


    • jemima2016
      August 15, 2016

      I honestly wish I could believe it was meant to be satire, but I think we have such norms about men always being “up for it” and women as never able to be abusers that it is 100% genuine.


  2. Ret MP
    August 14, 2016

    This is very thought provoking. I’m taking time to digest it. Will visit the original and see if I can find some clarity. The gender switch, while helpful in some ways, also detracted from my ability to see things from both partner’s perspectives– perhaps because you correctly identified the cultural norms for traditional roles.


    • jemima2016
      August 15, 2016

      thank you for reading, I think the problem is that we are unable to see rape, and intimate partner violence outside of gender roles, so we excuse a woman for behaviour we would condemn in a man. The gender swap does not completely work, for example, if your partner is pregnant, I would suggest drinking heavily so you cannot support them at the birth, is not a decent way to behave, however I wanted to make people consider that perhaps victims dont behave decently, and that, if this had been an account by a man, about his wife, we would more readily see the abuse for what it was.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ret MP
        August 15, 2016

        Thanks for the clarification on the behaviors of the victim…truly the victim makes poor choices-especially under duress, which my continue for years…Victims are not perfect when in survival mode. Additionally, this is a financial inequality perspective- male or female- it is difficult to exit without resources, and difficult to remain out when children are added to the mix. I am attempting to decipher the description of the continued badgering and attempts to pique interest/coerce into sex…i’m also examining the description of the (one-sided, objectified) passionate and fulfilling description of what s/he is missing in the marriage bed.
        I’m examining the suggestion these “persuasive arguments” for sex and the continued silent treatment and guilt-trips are a form of abuse.
        Again, very appreciative of the piece. Just need to do my homework on the application of your observations and the authors intent as well. – Ret


        • jemima2016
          August 15, 2016

          Your comment has just made me think reguarding economic power, we dont know what the husband does, but they met when he was a bar worker, and she had a “grown up” job. Again a reversal of the usual cultural norms but this may highlight economic dependence too

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Why Feminists Are Better for Men Than "Men's Rights Activists"

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