QotD: “a heterosexual sex-rape continuum”

Bart (1983; Bart and O’Brien 1985) has identified a heterosexual sex-rape continuum. At one end is consensual sex (both parties equally desire sex). At the other is rape. In between are altruistic sex (one party submits out of guilt, duty, or pity) and compliant sex (one party submits because the consequences of not submitting are worse than those of submitting). Using Bart’s conceptualization, Kelly found that most women “felt pressured to have sex in many, if not all, of their sexual relationships with men” (p.56). Yet she found that women perceived sex as coercive only when physical force or the threat of physical force was used.

Dee Graham, Edna Rawlings & Roberta Rigsby. Loving to Survive: sexual terror, men’s violence, and women’s lives. NYU Press. July 1 1994. (p. 15)

Found at The Bewilderness

11 responses

  1. And guess which sex are the ones overwhelmingly pressuring/coercing the other sex into sexual compliance? No guesses it is heterosexual males because they always enact their male pseudo sex right to female bodies. Women according to men, have no sexual autonomy or ownership of their bodies because women only exist to sexually service insatiable (pseudo) male sexual demands/rights.

    In other words there is a tiny fine line between what men term ‘real rape’ and what women commonly experience from coercive heterosexual males, which is rape but we mustn’t say that because it upsets those ‘nice respectable males!’

  2. This is a great quote for me to use on an entry I’m writing about the over-emphasis on physical power and the vast under-emphasis on monetary or psychological power. This really nails it on the head insofar as the feminist area goes.

  3. Are you familiar with Galbraith’s classification of power? Because the sex-rape continuum presented in this quote fits within it exactly. Rape=condign, compliant sex=condign and compensatory, altruistic sex=conditioned.

  4. Hi Francois,

    I haven’t heard of Galbraith’s classification of power, would you care to elaborate some more?

  5. Galbraith divides power in three categories- condign power (the use or threat of violence), compensatory (the use of wages, bribes, in general paying people to do things) and conditioned (indoctrination). All three forms of power are necessary for each other to some extent, but he posits that condign power is less and less necessary in democratic societies and that compensatory and especially conditioned power are on the increase as society becomes more and more complex.

  6. That sounds about right, and a good explanation for why women are still in such a bad state.

  7. Well, my thesis is that our political language (like “freedom,” “rights,” “choice”) is too narrow and only incorporates condign power, because it started to be used at a time when condign power was dominant. This quote demonstrates the point perfectly as regards to “rape.”

  8. Yes, the mainstream, male dominated way of thinking only recognises physical violence as ‘real’ coercion, everything else falls under the umbrella of ‘choice’.

    We see this particularly in discussions of the sex industry, with sex-pozzers insisting on their magical choosy-choices, and pro-sex industry academics like Laura Agustin dismissing the idea of psychological coercion and control as ‘psychobabble’.

  9. Well, it is hard to pierce through the veil, because the voices of the prostituted are kept silent for the most part and you have to seek them out. But it’s obvious that people like Agustin are acting in bad faith.

  10. […] world. I’ve also mentioned prostitution as another example earlier. Here is another example quoted by antiplodon at Anti-Porn […]

  11. […] don’t even make the connection. Not only that, but as I’ve mentioned before, there is a gradient between consensual sex and rape, including altruistic sex and compliant sex. Most importantly, […]

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