This article from the Federalist came across my news feed today and HOLY CRAP. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a horrific rape apologist train wreck. Conservative writer Suzanne Venker essentially argues that men want sex more often than women and therefore it’s women’s inevitable duty to just lie there and take it whether we want it or not.
Get your barf bucket ready before proceeding!
“When it comes to sex, men and women have very different needs. This used to be something people understood (my mother told me as much when I was young, although I didn’t believe her), but in a culture that insists the sexes are “equal,” as in the same, that understanding has vanished. As a result, so has any sympathy for men’s unique sexual desire.”
Who says that men and women are exactly the same? Certainly neither conservatives nor radical feminists believe that men and women are the same, and I don’t even think liberals think so. I can’t think of anyone who thinks that men and women are the same. If anyone knows who these mythical people are that Venker failed to cite in her article, please fill me in.
Anyway, then she gets into how nobody has any sympathy for men’s desire for a lot of sex.
“My favorite description of the male sex drive was explained in the book “Letters to My Daughters,” by former political consultant Mary Matalin. In it, Matalin shares a funny anecdote about her mother, who once said to Mary, “Men would screw a snake if it would sit still long enough.” That had me in stitches!
We don’t laugh at messages like this anymore (well, clearly I do). Instead, we’re hostile toward the idea that a wife should have sex with her husband if she isn’t “in the mood.” But most women’s sexual desire isn’t as dire at most men’s. From a physiological standpoint, a woman’s sex drive is tied to her menstrual cycle, whereas a man’s is fairly constant. Moreover, a man doesn’t need much preparation for sex, whereas a woman prefers romance and foreplay first. So by all accounts, there’s a disconnect.”
Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Like, yeah, it’s true that men will screw absolutely anything. Women, children, animals, objects, holes in the wall, it doesn’t matter. However, this isn’t funny, it’s goddamn terrifying. That men are so barbaric that they think everyone and everything in the universe is there for them to rape, and yet they’re the ones controlling the planet, should be considered cause for alarm and immediate action. Why anyone would find this amusing is beyond me.
And then, she laments that people are hostile toward the idea that women should submit to sex they don’t want! Unbelievable!
“As a rule, men communicate via sex. Via action. Your husband isn’t being insulting when you walk by and he grabs your butt. He’s not being rude when he turns some innocuous statement you made into something sexual. (If I had a dollar for every time that happens in our house!) He’s trying to get close to you. So let him. If he didn’t do those things, you’d have a problem on your hands.
That’s not to say all men and all women have the exact same sex drive. But it is to say there’s a general rule or framework at play. In the same way women need to talk, to release whatever’s on our minds, men need a release of a different sort. But that release isn’t just a physical act any more than your need to talk is just a physical act. When you talk to your husband and he gives you his undivided attention, that makes you feel loved, doesn’t it?
It’s the same way for men. Your husband wants to have sex with you because that’s how he feels loved. And it’s how he shows his love for you. If you hold this against him, or if you deny him the ability to show you his love, you’re effectively telling him you don’t love him. Ergo, to turn your husband down in bed is akin to telling him you need to talk to him about something and him responding, “Sorry, not interested.”
She is literally arguing that when your husband forces unwanted sex on you, he’s showing his love and you should let him or else you’re not letting him love you. Some idea of love she has!
I have a really different idea of love than this. Love involves being delighted to be in a person’s presence, wanting to be there for her and take care of her, because she is important to you, wanting the best for her and wanting her to thrive in life, wanting to share your time and energy with her, forgiving her flaws and devoting yourself to cultivating a relationship. It involves respect, compassion, kindness, devotion, and affection, and allowing your lover the space to blossom while standing by her side.
Forcing unwanted sex on a woman is the opposite of love. This behavior indicates that he does not respect her, does not care about her well-being, does not want what’s best for her, and is unconcerned about her needs.
Venker is aware that she is advocating for women’s sexual slavery:
“That this is true doesn’t mean wives need to be sex slaves (although the culture will insist otherwise). All it means is that women need to be sympathetic toward the fact that men’s sexual needs differ from theirs. If we reject this fact outright, bad things happen, as sociologist Catherine Hakim wrote about here. Men’s increased libido, she says, is like “hunger”: it cannot be ignored. Testosterone is powerful stuff.”
The fact that she brought this point up means she knows that this is exactly what she sounds like. She is advocating for women to submit to repeated rape by their husbands. Although she briefly denies that she is advocating for sexual slavery, she offers no alternative other than women’s submission.
Let’s take another look at Kathleen Barry’s definition of sexual slavery, shall we?
“Female sexual slavery is present in all situations where women or girls cannot change the immediate conditions of their existence; where regardless of how they got into those conditions they cannot get out; and where they are subject to sexual violence and exploitation.”
Conservatives still believe that women should be housewives and mothers and obey husbands who earn money outside the home. They still frown on divorce. When women are financially dependent on their husbands, they cannot easily leave an abusive marriage. When women cannot say no to sex, and also cannot leave their marriage, they are being held in sexual slavery. The only reason women aren’t literally being held in sexual slavery in marriage anymore is because of the feminism that Venker is against. It’s so unbelievable I can barely wrap my head around it.
So men’s libido is a “hunger that can’t be ignored,” says Venker. What is to be done about it, then? Anti-feminists of all stripes claim that the only solution to men’s libido is for them to have access to women’s bodies to use whenever they want however they want, regardless of what women think about it. This reduces women to non-human objects for men’s use, and makes men the only humans who get to enjoy legal personhood status.
It’s not just conservatives who think this way, of course. Liberals think the same way, but their misogyny has a slightly different flavor to it. While conservatives think that each man should privately own one woman for his personal use, liberals think that women are a natural resource to be shared among all men. Both positions consider women to be non-human receptacles for sperm. The only people who believe that women are full human beings who should decide for ourselves what we do with our bodies are those pesky feminists. You know, those horrible women who are literally killing both MRAs and MRAs in dresses day in and day out with our refusal to service their dicks.
So what is the feminist solution to the problem of men’s higher sex drive? Is it to castrate all men? (Ha! If only!) But no seriously, both male and female anti-feminists need to stop thinking that every time a man gets a boner, he has no choice but to insert it inside the nearest woman, and that he will die a horrible death if he doesn’t. That’s actually not his only option! He can actually take care of it himself! There is absolutely no reason why men need to hijack other human beings in order to release their own bodily fluids. For fuck sake, use your hands, guys! (And by the way, it’s not necessary or justified to watch videos of women being raped in order to masturbate, just to stick that little PSA in there.)
Now I’m going to randomly take this conversation over to transgender politics, because lately radical feminists and conservatives in the U.S.A. have been finding some common ground, and have been working together on projects, and this article really got the wheels in my brain turning about the different ways conservatives and radical feminists think.
Both conservatives and radical feminists understand that we should not allow men in women’s washrooms, and in both cases it’s because we know that men prey on women and children. Only liberals pretend not to notice male violence. Both conservatives and radical feminists want to protect women and children from harm in bathrooms. However, and this is where we differ greatly, conservatives only want to protect women and children from male violence if those males are strangers. The man who owns the women and children (the father/husband) is free to inflict violence on his family all he wants. Women and children are a man’s private property, they are non-human possessions, and it’s his God-given right to do with them what he wants. It’s also his right to keep other men away from his family, not because his family members are fully human and deserve freedom, but because he doesn’t want his possessions damaged.
Radical feminists, on the other hand, want to protect women and children all the time, everywhere. We want to end male supremacy and female sexual slavery. We want women and children safe both in public washrooms and in their own homes. We want women and children to be legally considered fully human persons, which means it must be illegal and also socially condemned to rape us or otherwise assault us. It means we deserve protection from harm not on the basis of being a man’s beloved possession, but on the basis of us being human persons who are inherently deserving of safety.
Andrea Dworkin wrote about this situation years ago in her book Right Wing Women. She noted the rampant misogyny of the left and made a case for why some women choose the right wing. When left wing men treat women as a resource for all men to use, some women decide they’d rather have only one rapist to deal with rather than tons of rapists. Fair enough, right? At least her husband/rapist is the only one she has to deal with, and at least he protects her from other men. The left-wing women have to service all the guys, and they don’t even get respect from lefty men for their ability to bear and raise children.
Now we have a situation where, not only do left-wing men want women to have the choice to choose to be sexually exploited in porn and prostitution, as they always have, but now they want women to have no boundaries whatsoever and allow all men access to all of our private spaces. Same patriarchy, different day.
Women can choose either right wing misogyny or left-wing misogyny, but either way we have to eat shit. It does no good to tell women they should choose a particular side. It does no good to hate women for being on the wrong side. I hate conservatives as much as the next anti-capitalist feminist, but I can’t actually claim that the left is any better for women, the way they are behaving. The only thing that will do us good is to work together as women to overthrow the patriarchy—all versions of it.