[Sexual act begins.] He is holding down the woman’s arms, trying to force down the woman’s head against his penis, penetrating too hard and not respecting the woman’s desire to stop when she is no longer interested in continuing. She stops responding and eventually tries to push him away from her body, but she says nothing, or perhaps partly out of fear that make will the man who already exhibiting aggressive behavior even more angry.
It is obvious that something is wrong. In some sort of egalitarian sex, or at least where some kind of communication is established between the two parties, the man in this position should recognize that he should not continue. But he continues as he has the power to do so, or because he has an attitude to women who tell him it’s OK because she was sexually involved with him at the time, he listened to her, or because he read the law and knows that he never in hell will be able to be tried.
Can anyone tell how this case is classified? Would he be convicted if he recognized the above? Is there a case where a man can be convicted of rape despite the fact that the woman started to have sex willingly?
— Anna Ardin, from her blog of June 1 2006. Translation is by Google Language Tools with additional translation by Babylon.com, edited by Eric Francis for clarity.
This is from the blog of Anna Ardin, years before she accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sex crimes that sound a lot like her hypothetical description above. Initially she gave consent, but changed her mind in the midst of having sex. She stops responding, signaling with non-responsiveness that “he should not continue. But he continues as he has the power to do so.” Her question at the end is a legal one? “How is this classified?” — as a crime.
Let’s assume for a moment that Anna Ardin’s prosecution of Julian Assange is not politically motivated, that that it has nothing to do with who he is, and that the prosecution is not moving forward with the case for its own political reasons. Taking her example as a hypothetical with no other circumstances, she is asking: when does consensual sex become rape? This is one of those deep feminist questions. Some feminists have defined all sexual intercourse as rape.
I I have a better question: what does a legal statute have to do with it? Why do we need government intervention?
No matter how feminist one’s theoretical argument, when you go to daddy for recourse, which means the government in any form, that is not feminist and it does not support women, who (in nearly every feminist theory) are characterized as being inherently oppressed by patriarchy. This conversation does not have to come down to what is prosecutable and what is a crime against the state, or who is an injured party in the eyes of tort law.
There is question of human consideration, and there is a question of power dynamics that exist inside of any sexual transaction. The more sex is about pleasure, the less political it is. The more sex is about power, the more political it is. The thing is, most of us are attracted to sex where there is a question of power, and there are a top and bottom in nearly every sexual equation.
Last, if we want to understand the continuum of rape, coercion and consent, we need to understand the impulses inside of desire, and I mean both male and female desire. In this sense, how we treat the other is mediated entirely by our inner relationship. If we want to understand rape dynamics or coercion dynamics, the thing to deconstruct is how we feel about ourselves, and how we project that onto the other. We can rage on and on about rape and abuse, but how does that help heal either party to the transaction?