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"Sleep With Me Or I'll Leave You" = "Forced Sexual Intercourse"?

Forced Sexual Intercourse Among Young Adult Women, Child Trends Fact Sheet #2008=30 reports that "Approximately 18% of women aged 18-24 report having experienced forced sexual intercourse at least once in their lives."

Forced sex was defined as either responding "not voluntary" to the following question about first sexual intercourse: "Would you say then that this first vaginal intercourse was voluntary or not voluntary, that is, did you choose to have sex of your own free will or not?" or responding "yes" to the following question: "Have you ever been forced by a male to have vaginal intercourse against your will?" ...
But it turns out that "Young Adult Women Report Experiencing Different Types of Force During Forced Sexual Intercourse." For 12%, the "type[] of force" was "Told Relationship Would End." For 61% (the largest number), they were "Pressured by Words/Actions Without Threats."

This is just ridiculous. It's true that the word "force" has many possible meanings: Some people, for instance, feel they're "forced" "against [their] will" to work in certain jobs — or are doing those jobs not "of their own free will" — because that's the only way they can enjoy the standard of living they want. But these are radically different kinds of force from being forced to do something by physical force, or threat of physical injury. And mixing the two yields results that are useless at best and misleading and dangerous at worst.

I should note that some of the types of force reported in the study would indeed be indicative of very serious crimes (chiefly rape), for instance being forced by being "physically held down" (I assume this would likely have been interpreted to mean held down against one's will) or by being "physically hurt or injured" or "threatened with physical hurt." But the heinousness of those actions just illustrates the error of mixing these with being told that if one doesn't have sex, the relationship would end.

Note, incidentally, that the questionnaire seems to prompt respondents into reading "forced" broadly. The questionnaire begins by asking:

Think back to the very first time you had vaginal intercourse with a male. Which would you say comes closest to describing how much you wanted that first vaginal intercourse to happen?
I really didn't want it to happen at the time ..........1
I had mixed feelings — part of me wanted it to happen at the time and part of me didn't .........2
I really wanted it to happen at the time ...............3
It then asks "Would you say then that this first vaginal intercourse was voluntary or not voluntary, that is, did you choose to have sex of your own free will or not?" Later, it asks (if respondent "reported her 1st vaginal sex as 'not voluntary' or didn't want it to happen or had mixed feelings"), "Were any of these kinds of force used?," and lists as "kinds of force"
Were you given alcohol or drugs?
Did you do what he said because he was bigger than you or a grownup, and you were young?
Were you told that the relationship would end if you didn't have sex?
Were you pressured into it by his words or actions, but without threats of harm?
Were you threatened with physical hurt or injury?
Were you physically hurt or injured?
Were you physically held down?
The "have you ever been forced by a male to have vaginal intercourse against your will?" question is asked shortly after these questions (though note also that the "Were any of these kinds of forced used?" question is only asked of people who gave certain answers to the preceding questions). From all this, it seems to me that the survey would naturally lead respondents to read the word "forced" broadly, and to indeed label sex as "forced" even when they were "forced" by threat of cutting off the relationship, or by unthreatening but "pressur[ing]" words. (For a breakdown of the answers to these questions for women age 18-44 rather women age 18-24, see table 38 of this report.)

taney71:
Is this coming from the Feminist Legal Studies crowd?
9.24.2008 6:54pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I share your instinct that "have sex with me or I'll leave you" is not "forced" in the normal or even useful sense of that term.

But you also write:

Some people, for instance, feel they're "forced" "against [their] will" to work in certain jobs -- or are doing those jobs not "of their own free will" -- because that's the only way they can enjoy the standard of living they want. But these are radically different kinds of force from being forced to do something by physical force, or threat of physical injury. And mixing the two yields results that are useless at best and misleading and dangerous at worst.

Do you really mean that being told, e.g., "sleep with me or I'll fire you" isn't at least an attempt to "force" the person to sleep with you -- in a normal or useful sense of the word? It's clearly economic coercion, which strikes me as a type of force often as powerful as physical force. Or do I misunderstand you?
9.24.2008 6:56pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
JosephSlater, I think you're misreading him. The illustration of working at a job one does not like is not connected to a threat to have sex in order to remain employed. He's just using it as an analogy: a person may not like the job they have (it's boring, the boss is an ass, etc.), but voluntarily stay in it because it pays well, it has good benefits, or whatever. I'm quite certain Eugene is not stating that an explicit sexual demand in return for continued employment doesn't constitute "force" in the most inappropriate sense.
9.24.2008 7:04pm
Pragmaticist:
"Economic coercion" defined: Picking the most attractive option.
9.24.2008 7:05pm
one of many:
Hmm, I wonder what the rate of forced sex (under these defintions) is for young men instead of young women. My experience has been that there is a fairly hefty amount of emotional blackmail utilized by women (or force according to these standards). If we go beyond simply sex and apply these standards of force, how many women are serial abusers in relationships, forcing their partners into many things they do not wish to do?
9.24.2008 7:09pm
Oren:

But these are radically different kinds of force from being forced to do something by physical force, or threat of physical injury. And mixing the two yields results that are useless at best and misleading and dangerous at worst.

Seems like there's more of a continuum from actual physical violence to no force at all. In other words, I don't see a dividing point where I can cleanly separate out the two categories you claim are "radically different" (even if you have provided examples from both ends of the continuum).
9.24.2008 7:10pm
JosephSlater (mail):
PatHMV:

That's a plausible reading, better than mine probably, but I was just checking.
9.24.2008 7:10pm
Smokey:
Cool. An article by Jennifer Manlove.

Maybe next, Jennifer could explain to me why I'm being forced to vote for John McCain because of the candidacy of Barry Obama.
9.24.2008 7:12pm
trad and anon:
Insofar as the people promoting this statistic as a "scare statistic" designed to make the problem seem more serious, it is seriously misleading since people would normally think of physical force rather than emotional "force." At the same time, these kind of emotional threats are pretty awful behavior and should not be seen as an acceptable way to get a woman to sleep with you.
JosephSlater, I think you're misreading him. The illustration of working at a job one does not like is not connected to a threat to have sex in order to remain employed. He's just using it as an analogy: a person may not like the job they have (it's boring, the boss is an ass, etc.), but voluntarily stay in it because it pays well, it has good benefits, or whatever. I'm quite certain Eugene is not stating that an explicit sexual demand in return for continued employment doesn't constitute "force" in the most inappropriate sense.
Well, Eugene is claiming that "sleep with me or I'll end this relationship" should not be thought of as "forcing" someone to sleep with you in the context of romantic relationships, apparently because anything other than physical violence or the threat thereof doesn't count as "force." And then you have to accept that "sleep with me or I'll end this relationship" is also never "forcing" someone to sleep with you in the context of employment relationships.
9.24.2008 7:12pm
titus32:
Oren -- are you saying that they aren't "radically different"? Do you not see a radical difference between, say, "have sex with me or I won't wash your car," and sex forced by violence? After all, they're both on your continuum ...
9.24.2008 7:15pm
trad and anon:
"Economic coercion" defined: Picking the most attractive option.
Here it seems to be more like picking the least unattractive option, which isn't the same thing. And the way you're talking someone pointing a gun at you and demanding your wallet, keys, and cell phone is also "economic coercion," complete with scare quotes, since handing the stuff over is indeed the most attractive (or least unattractive option) in that situation.
9.24.2008 7:16pm
Oren:

Oren -- are you saying that they aren't "radically different"? Do you not see a radical difference between, say, "have sex with me or I won't wash your car," and sex forced by violence? After all, they're both on your continuum ...

Yes, those two things are radically different. My point (probably imprecisely stated), however, was that the categories of force (violent v. otherwise) are not readily distinguishable because I can come up with any number of 'gray' cases that do not fit into either category.

Physical coercion blends continuously into emotional coercion, financial coercion and no coercion at all.
9.24.2008 7:20pm
trad and anon:
Seems like there's more of a continuum from actual physical violence to no force at all. In other words, I don't see a dividing point where I can cleanly separate out the two categories you claim are "radically different" (even if you have provided examples from both ends of the continuum).
Well, a difference in degree is sometimes a difference in kind. And I think there is a big difference between emotional force and being physically held down or threatened with serious violence (as opposed to being threatened with a mild slap, pinprick, or tickling, which are also physical force).
9.24.2008 7:21pm
EH (mail):
Isn't this analogous to parents staying together for the children being considered child abuse? Unhealthy environment, etc.
9.24.2008 7:21pm
David Schwartz (mail):
It's kind of sad that this study was so badly arranged that you can't draw any useful conclusions from it. At least it was reported in enough detail that you can tell the conclusions are worthless.

For example, the number of women forcibly held down in truly non-consensual sex would be an important number to know. But this study includes women who were held down during non-consensual sex with women who were held down during sex rational people would consider consensual. It also conflates women who are talked into having sex and then experience some pain with women who are battered during physically-forced sex.
9.24.2008 7:22pm
Dan M.:
I don't see what's so inappropriate about "sleep with me or I'll end this relationship."

I mean, people want certain things out of a relationship, and if you want sex out of a relationship, then you might as well be up front about it and end the relationship if you're not getting out of it what you want.

Also, the "without threats of harm" would literally preclude such things as "sleep with me or I'll tell the whole school that you're a whore." However, blackmail doesn't seem to be included as a form of force. This is likely intentional so that this would all be thrown into the 'pressured' statistic. They likely didn't want a distinction between 'pressured' and 'blackmailed.'
9.24.2008 7:23pm
trad and anon:
Maybe next, Jennifer could explain to me why I'm being forced to vote for John McCain because of the candidacy of Barry Obama.

Well, you're certainly not, because Obama is the better candidate ;-) But it would actually be perfectly normal for someone to say "The Republicans have forced me to vote for Obama because McCain is so awful" or "The Democrats are forcing me to hold my nose and vote for McCain."
9.24.2008 7:25pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
I'm curious, Eugene. Which would you say is worse in the context of an intimate or familial relationship--physical abuse or emotional abuse?
9.24.2008 7:29pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Joseph Slater: Coercion by threat of physical violence, economic coercion, and coercion by threat of withheld affection are very different kinds of coercion. The law does and should treat them differently -- the first is a serious felony, the second is generally civilly actionable in some cases (e.g., an employer threatening an employee with firing if she doesn't have sex with him) but not in other cases (e.g., someone threatening to kick his mistress out of his apartment if she doesn't stop withholding sex from him), and the third is not at all actionable and may even be constitutionally protected.

It also seems to me that mixing the three in the same study under the rubric of "force" is unhelpful at best and misleading and dangerous at worst. (I say "would be" because this study didn't mention economic coercion, and my hypothetical involved economic coercion by the world leading you to take a job, not economic coercion by an employer aimed at getting sex.)
9.24.2008 7:34pm
trad and anon:
I don't see what's so inappropriate about "sleep with me or I'll end this relationship."

I mean, people want certain things out of a relationship, and if you want sex out of a relationship, then you might as well be up front about it and end the relationship if you're not getting out of it what you want.
I take it you'll consider it completely appropriate if a male superior tells you to take it up the ass or get fired? An employment relationship is a relationship.

In the context of a romantic relationship, "sleep with me or I'll end this relationship" is inappropriate assholery because you're abusing the trust of someone who has placed trust in you and developed an emotional stake in the relationship. (Otherwise the threat wouldn't work.) You wouldn't do that to someone you actually cared about. And if you don't care about their feelings at all going through the work of getting them to care about you is a lying, deceptive way of showing you don't see them as a real human being. And if that's not condemnable assholery I don't know what is.
9.24.2008 7:36pm
Anderson (mail):
What about "sleep with me or I'll cancel our first presidential debate"?

Because I don't think that's coercion -- it's just kinda pathetic.
9.24.2008 7:37pm
Big Bill (mail):
If your SO says "sleep with me or the relationship is over" that is one thing.

"Sleep with me or the relationship is over AND I will make sure you get fired" is quite another, whether it is made by a generic SO or an employer SO.

And if it is made by someone with whom you have NO relationship whatsoever (i.e. a boss) that is a third thing entirely.

Why is it so difficult to understand.
9.24.2008 7:38pm
Malvolio:
Do you really mean that being told, e.g., "sleep with me or I'll fire you" isn't at least an attempt to "force" the person to sleep with you -- in a normal or useful sense of the word? It's clearly economic coercion, which strikes me as a type of force often as powerful as physical force.
I don't know if Eugene means it but I certainly would.

All economics is "coercion" if you allow that to be. "Give me a hamburger or I won't give $4.00!" "Gee, I really need that $4... You're robbing me!"

Obviously, grossly changing the terms of an ongoing transaction like employment just because your counterparty is suddenly vulnerable is always pretty sleazy and adding a sexual condition is extra, extra sleazy, but it isn't tantamount to robbery or rape.

Kinda connected: I was sitting in a bar in Bangkok and the guy on the next stool was an Australian-born construction on a break from a job in Laos. He told me he had picked up a hooker the night before and taken her to his hotel room, whereupon she changed her mind and said she was tired and wanted to go home and asked to be paid anyway. Would this guy have been in the wrong to say, "Sleep with me or I'll fire you"? (In the actual event, he gave the girl a little money and sent her on her way, which was nicer than I would have been.)
9.24.2008 7:39pm
Don Miller (mail) (www):
This question:

Were you pressured into it by his words or actions, but without threats of harm?


Is way to vague and broad. It covers the gamut from blackmail and economic pressures that other people have mentioned that are totally wrong to the "I really love you and want this to be special" jibberish that young men typically spout.

In other words, the question would encompass both negative words and actions as well as positive words and actions.

Maybe I am reading too much into it, but there seems to be a subset of the women's studies movement that wants to define any sex not initiated by the woman as rape.

The question is too vague
9.24.2008 7:42pm
jxr (mail):
"sleep with me or I'll end this relationship"

Who hasn't used this at a singles bar? :)
9.24.2008 7:43pm
JosephSlater (mail):
EV:

Thanks for the response. My followup question is this. For the purposes of a survey such as this, I think it does make sense to say that a woman was "forced" to have sex if her boss told her he would fire her if she did not. Do you disagree? I understand that physical force is distinguishable in some ways (criminal penalties instead of civil, e.g.), but I would still say it would be entirely fair to say she was forced through improper economic coercion.
9.24.2008 7:44pm
trad and anon:
It also seems to me that mixing the three in the same study under the rubric of "force" is unhelpful at best and misleading and dangerous at worst. (I say "would be" because this study didn't mention economic coercion, and my hypothetical involved economic coercion by the world leading you to take a job, not economic coercion by an employer aimed at getting sex.)
It seems to me that it depends on what the purpose of the study is. Knowing that 62% of women have been pressured by words and actions into having sexual intercourse despite the fact that they didn't really want to looks like a significant result to me.
9.24.2008 7:45pm
ShelbyC:

I think it does make sense to say that a woman was "forced" to have sex if her boss told her he would fire her if she did not.


If someone says "my boss forced me to have sex with him" you don't think that leaves a rather important distinction between physical and econocmic coersion unanswered? Most people would assume the force used was physical.
9.24.2008 7:49pm
trad and anon:
Maybe I am reading too much into it, but there seems to be a subset of the women's studies movement that wants to define any sex not initiated by the woman as rape.

No, there isn't. The feminist movement wants to define rape as sexual intercourse without the consent of both parties. Basically, they don't believe there are reasonable mistakes as to consent. Or (depending on exactly who you're talking about) they think our standards for what counts as a reasonable mistake as to consent are too lax. I would count myself in the latter category. You may of course disagree but you are completely wrong about what we think.
9.24.2008 7:52pm
Skorri (mail):
The study makes more sense if you stop approaching it as "how many women/girls were raped" and instead see it for what it was intended to be: "how many women/girls were coerced or otherwise pressured into sex they didn't particularly want for sake of the sex itself."

Which I think is something interesting to know. Apparently a shade over 60% of females had sex not because they wanted sex, but because their partner was imposing some kind of negative consequence if they didn't.
9.24.2008 7:52pm
trad and anon:
If someone says "my boss forced me to have sex with him" you don't think that leaves a rather important distinction between physical and econocmic coersion unanswered? Most people would assume the force used was physical.

I sure wouldn't assume that in the context of talking about someone's boss!
9.24.2008 7:54pm
Matt_T:
Sex is a fundamental part of many relationships and lack of sex ends many relationships. Film at 11.
9.24.2008 7:55pm
LM (mail):
How about if the believable under the circumstances threat is, "Sleep with me or I'll frame you for capital murder"?
9.24.2008 7:59pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Joseph Slater: If the survey had simply lumped quid pro quo workplace harassment together with rape, I'd still object, because the two are quite different. Indeed, the two can both be labeled "force," but they are different enough kinds of force that I think it's unhelpful to lump the two together. But it's even more unhelpful to lump rape with "sleep with me or I'll stop dating you."

Grover Gardner: You ask, "Which would you say is worse in the context of an intimate or familial relationship -- physical abuse or emotional abuse?" Much depends on what you mean by "physical abuse" or "emotional abuse," terms that can both cover vast ranges of behavior. Because they both cover so much, I don't think the question can be answered at that level of abstraction.
9.24.2008 8:00pm
Smokey:
"Give me oral sex or I'll have you reassigned out of the White House."
9.24.2008 8:02pm
trad and anon:
But it turns out that "Young Adult Women Report Experiencing Different Types of Force During Forced Sexual Intercourse." For 12%, the "type[] of force" was "Told Relationship Would End." For 61% (the largest number), they were "Pressured by Words/Actions Without Threats."
I just looked at the study and women were allowed to pick more than one type of "force." We also had 57% "physically held down," 32% "threatened with physical hurt" and 26% "physically hurt or injured."

Mentioning only "pressured by words/actions without threats" and "told relationship would end" is a severely misleading presentation of the data, to the point where I am lead to suspect deliberate dishonesty.
9.24.2008 8:02pm
JosephSlater (mail):
ShelbyC.

If someone says "my boss forced me to have sex with him" I would assume that could include the "or I'll fire you" threat.
9.24.2008 8:03pm
Dan M.:
trad and anon:

I won't disagree with you about whether or not such a person is likely an asshole. However, even an asshole is free to pursue his goals and if a female feels that he is being an asshole she is free to dump him and tell all her friends about how much of an asshole he is. While I would be first in line to say "Don't be an asshole" I'd also love moreso to caution dumb adolescents into investing themselves so much into meaningless relationships. The girls manipulate just as much. So, you have to understand that "told the relationship would end" is likely in a lot of cases to mean "you need to make it worth it for me to put up with your bullshit."

In fact, "told the relationship would end" would also include the not uncommon instance where a guy tries to ditch a clingy girl, and she entices him to stay with her by having sex with him. Because, obviously, she felt that she was forced to offer him sex in order to keep the relationship together. And then once she convinces him to sleep with her once, she guilts him into staying with her for months or years.
9.24.2008 8:04pm
ShelbyC:

If someone says "my boss forced me to have sex with him" I would assume that could include the "or I'll fire you" threat.



Huh. I sure wouldn't.
9.24.2008 8:06pm
Oren:
EV, why does the distinction between criminal/civil/not actionable matter in this context? What matters to me is whether or not the person is being coerced by someone threatening to deprive her of something that is rightfully theirs. For example the editor of the school newspaper demands that you sleep with her or else she will bury your stories. If you are a journalism major, I would reasonably conclude that she is forcing you to have sex because the thing she is threatening to withhold -- fair consideration of your pieces -- is something to which you are entitled.

Because there are all flavors of power-dynamics in relationships (ranging from friendship between equals to employee-boss) there are likewise many degrees of force (or, if you prefer, coercion). Trying to draw a line between them seems impossible.
9.24.2008 8:06pm
Calculated Risk:
I have to disagree with Volokh here. He is being extreme when he says that this categorization is "useless at best." In fact, it is a very useful categorization, although clearly the definition of force used is much broader than that which would be appropriate for rape prosecutions.

Ideally, a person should not have to engage in sexual intercourse at the threat of a relationship ending. Instead, ideally, a person should only engage in such an act only when they truly desire to. At the very least, one could say that the person who forces sexual intercourse in this way is a major league a-hole.

Now, one might object to calling this force because why shouldn't a person, confronted with someone who says they will end the relationship unless that person engages in unwanted sexual relations, ever submit to this demand. Shouldn't they just dump this inconsiderate a-hole and move on with their life?

That is an idealistic view, especially the more one has built the victim has built his or her life around a particular relationship. While I agree that it is ideal to just dump the inconsiderate party, emotional and economic considerations may make this very difficult.

So, I think it is a fair definition of force. It is not useless. It captures instances where sexual relations that are not desired nonetheless occur due to pressure from the other party. People who use pressure, including economic and emotional pressure to get someone to do something they really do not want to do are using a sort of force.

Surely, you would not consider a sexual relationship that is entered into by mutual desire to be equivalent to a sexual relationship that is entered into because of emotional and/or economic pressure? One should be celebrated. The other should make us look down upon the pressuring party with disdain and scorn.

I hope the Eugene Volokh himself would never engage in such pressure tactics to get sex in his personal relationships. But if he doesn't, it is hard for me to understand why he would think the distinction that is captured here is "useless." Now, one may wish there was another word other than "force" to capture this distinction. And perhaps there is another, better word. But, I think the word "force" does the job just fine. There is, after all, no requirement in the English language that a given word have the exact same meaning in all contexts.

So, overall, I think Eugene Volokh's tantrum here about how this use of the word force is at best "useless" or at worst, somehow "dangerous" makes him look foolish.

What exactly is the danger here? That the legal definition of force will become exactly the same as it is used here and that a-holes who bring improper non-physical pressure to bear will face rape charges? That strikes me as highly unlikely, though who knows what paranoid delusions Mr. Volokh suffers given his fears of slippery slopes here, slippery slopes there, slippery slopes everywhere.
9.24.2008 8:08pm
trad and anon:
In fact, "told the relationship would end" would also include the not uncommon instance where a guy tries to ditch a clingy girl, and she entices him to stay with her by having sex with him. Because, obviously, she felt that she was forced to offer him sex in order to keep the relationship together. And then once she convinces him to sleep with her once, she guilts him into staying with her for months or years.
Um, do you have any evidence that this situation is "not uncommon"? It sounds like a bunch of stereotypical nonsense to me.
9.24.2008 8:17pm
Calculated Risk:

If the survey had simply lumped quid pro quo workplace harassment together with rape, I'd still object, because the two are quite different. Indeed, the two can both be labeled "force," but they are different enough kinds of force that I think it's unhelpful to lump the two together. But it's even more unhelpful to lump rape with "sleep with me or I'll stop dating you."


That two different sorts of things are lumped together is not really a criticism of a particular categorization that is designed to capture a different sort of distinction.

The distinction that is being captured here is that between sexual relations where two people have a mutual desire to engage in sex, and sexual relations where one person uses pressure of some sort to get a party who does not have a desire to nonetheless participate.

That is a real and important distinction.

Anyway, really any definition of the word "force" could be criticized on the grounds that it lumps two things together that are very different. Let us say we limited "force" to situations where physical violence or the threat of physical violence is used. Well, this definition could be criticized on several grounds. First, actual physical violence and the threat of physical violence are two very different things. Second, a sexual relationship that is entered into out of genuine mutual desire is very different from a sexual relationship where one party enters only due to some sort of pressure that is brought to bare.

I would not say, simply because there are various important distinctions that this definition of "force" fails to capture that this definition of force is at best "useless" and at worst "dangerous." Instead, I would recognize that this particular definition and means of slicing up the world has limitations, just as any alternative definition would.

The bottom-line is this. The best definition depends on the distinction one is trying to capture. If one is trying to advocate a particular ideal, that is, people entering into sexual relations only when it is genuinely desired by both parties with no pressure, then clearly a more broad definition of force (or perhaps a different word that captures the same distinction) is superior. In contrast, if you are trying to determine who should be prosecuted for rape, then a more narrow definition of force would probably be the better definition. (Of course, which definition is superior in the context of a rape prosecution depends very much on what sorts of sexual relationships you think should be criminal. And that normative debate is really not in any way resolved by arguments over the trivial debate about what the word force means "in reality".)

I do not understand how you could fail to understand this. Who cares what the definition of force is, as long as it is clear how it is being used in a particular context?
9.24.2008 8:28pm
Oren:

But it's even more unhelpful to lump rape with "sleep with me or I'll stop dating you."

Fair enough, but I've yet to see a positive definition from you as to how to categorize these.
9.24.2008 8:30pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
skorri.
You make a partially good point about how the study should be promoted.
But you're wrong. It will be promoted as if it were all violent rape. The nuances will disappear. If you have the stomach, give the fem blogs a day or so and see how they characterize this.
For fems and radiclibs, if some rape is bad, more is (politically) terrific.

You'll recall that, while the radiclibs were howling over the Duke non-rape case, desperately hanging on to at least "something happened" and sliming the guys when even that didn't fly, there was a real rape at Duke.
Nobody cared. Not the faculty, not the fems, not the students, nobody.
Problem: The vic was white, the perp was black and the location was a black fraternity house...which was not closed down.
The first case promoted a narrative the radiclibs like--rich white guys sexually abusing the black woman like in the plantation days. The second case promoted a narrative the radiclibs don't like--black man's sexual violence against white women--and so the violated sister is a nothing. Meaningless. At worst, an embarrassment never to be spoken of.

So, however reasonable your view of the survey, the point is to pretend that this many women suffered violent rape. Except, since the victims hardly ever come forward, it's really probably, oh, 2-300% of young women are raped on a weekly basis.
9.24.2008 8:32pm
Ninja Zombie (mail):
Trad and Anon:

>In the context of a romantic relationship, "sleep with me or I'll end this relationship" is inappropriate assholery because you're abusing the trust of someone who has placed trust in you and developed an emotional stake in the relationship. (Otherwise the threat wouldn't work.) You wouldn't do that to someone you actually cared about.

How about "let my mother come visit every week/leave the toilet seat down/other standard female demand or I'll end this relationship"? Or "show some emotional intimacy or I'll end this relationship"? Or, to take a common feminist complaint, "engage in >50% of household tasks or I'll end this relationship"?

We all want certain things out of a relationship. For many people (myself included), frequent high quality sex is one of them. Without those things (what they are varies from person to person) the relationship is unsatisfying. In this situation, ending it makes sense.

Should the partner with a higher libido suffer for the rest of his life, simply because it's "assholery" to move on and find someone he/she is compatible with? Similarly, should a person suffer emotional isolation for the rest of her life if her partner walls himself off?

(For the record, I have ended relationships due to both lack of sex and low quality sex. I'm kind of offended at the idea that I'm an asshole just cause I consider sex important.)
9.24.2008 8:34pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Oren: "Because there are all flavors of power-dynamics in relationships (ranging from friendship between equals to employee-boss) there are likewise many degrees of force (or, if you prefer, coercion). Trying to draw a line between them seems impossible." I'm not sure what you mean by this, given that drawing a line is both possible and necessary.

The law draws such lines, by distinguishing felonies from civilly actionable conduct from behavior that's not illegal at all. And it must, unless you want to treat someone who says "sleep with me or I'll stop buying you dinner" -- or even "sleep with me, or I'll divorce you and as a consequence you'll have a reduced standard of living" -- as a felon.
9.24.2008 8:38pm
Calculated Risk:

Fair enough, but I've yet to see a positive definition from you as to how to categorize these.


Oren, you concede too easily. The fact is any definition of force could be said to be "unhelpful" depending on the distinction one is trying to capture. In different contexts, different definitions will be either more helpful or less helpful. It all depends on the purpose one has in slicing the cake. All definitions will inherently lump unlike things together. That is not a deficiency unique to the definition of force that EV chooses to criticize.

Of course EV hasn't come up with any positive definition of how to categorize these things. The reason is because the definition of force that he takes to be the "real definition" itself is unhelpful in making certain distinctions that one might wish to make.

As a more general matter, this is a good example of why arguments about what the "real definition" (while absolutely necessary in the context of law, where a particular case must be decided and decided now) are usually rather useless when it comes to policy discussions. What is important is not what definition we adopt. Rather, what is important is that we adopt clear definitions and perform a full analysis. (That is, we acknowledge and compensate for when appropriate the limitations that any particular definition we choose for particular words will inevitable have in lumping unlike things together.)
9.24.2008 8:44pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Calculated Risk: I'm not speaking for Eugene here, but the danger is that, based on the title of the document -- "Forced Sexual Intercourse Among Young Adult Women" -- people would take this as a statistic relevant to the very serious issue of rape. They might actually read the document -- but at least then there's a chance they would read far enough to see the different types of force used, and realize their error. But more likely, someone in the press would pick it up and use the "one in five have experienced sexual intercourse" statistic out of context, and then it would acquire a life of its own where unsuspecting people who care about rape would use it to show the seriousness of rape.

That's the danger -- that debate on a serious issue would be distorted by the use of an inaccurate and alarmist statistic, which is just as bad as overestimating murder rates, car accident rates, HIV infection rates, etc.

Now, on the other hand, one could use this statistic to discuss a separate issue, which is people being psychologically pressured into sex. That wouldn't be so bad. Even then, I'm hesitant to say that telling someone the relationship would end is bad as a general matter, for reasons some of the other commenters have touched on. Some people actually engage in purely sexual relationships, and some of these relationships are purely sexual on both sides. Sometimes one party wants to make the relationship less sexual and the other one doesn't. Then there's nothing wrong with ending the relationship -- or saying beforehand that the relationship would end -- because that's just a difference in expectations from the relationship.

Now sometimes saying the relationship would be is not so innocent, and could be manipulative -- but that all depends on the facts of the case. So _as a general matter_, even using the statistic to discuss "the sleazy behavior of pressuring people into having sex" would be problematic, though of course far less problematic than thinking that this has to do with "rape" as commonly understood.
9.24.2008 8:51pm
Calculated Risk:

The law draws such lines, by distinguishing felonies from civilly actionable conduct from behavior that's not illegal at all. And it must, unless you want to treat someone who says "sleep with me or I'll stop buying you dinner" -- or even "sleep with me, or I'll divorce you and as a consequence you'll have a reduced standard of living" -- as a felon.


I think we have finally reached the source of Eugene Volokh's confusion.

The document he lists does not propose to use precisely the same definition of force that is used in rape prosecutions. Obviously. And in the context of a particular statute, there may in fact be only one appropriate definition for a word. For example, in the context of most rape statutes, the term "force" does not typically include "have sex with me or the relationship is over."

So what. The author of the document that Eugene links to is not obligated to use precisely the same definition of force as a rape statute. Just as the author of statute X is not obligated to use the same exact definition for a word as statute Y.

I really do not understand Eugene's complaint here. A different definition of force is used. A definition that has different benefits and different limitations than the definition of force typically employed in rape statutes. So what?
9.24.2008 8:52pm
ShelbyC:

What exactly is the danger here?


The danger is that when people discuss the prevelence of forced sexual intercourse, other people will assume that they're including things like, "I'm looking for a sexual relationship. If that's not what you're looking for we should see other people."

If you want to do a study on people being pressured into having sex, do that study. Having a study where "Pressure" is labled as "force" is usless and dangerous.
9.24.2008 8:54pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The reason that I think that this is a bit over the top is that for a lot of guys at certain parts of their lives, the relationship is about sex. It has been this way for eons, and, despite the best efforts of feminists and many of the posters here, it will continue to be that way. The guy wants sex, and the girl wants a relationship. They trade. And what is funny about that, is that ultimately, in a lot of relationships, that swaps.

Women have been trading sex for relationships and renumeration forever. The only thing that has changed is that the former is now considered rape, and the later prostitution.

I have known plenty of men over the years who operated on a three strikes rule - three dates w/o sex, and they are gone. The women usually know that up front. Sure, these women are no longer virgins, or at least most aren't. But then drawing that line would not be fair for the men - are they to be held to different standards if the female is a virgin? How are they to know?

What I don't think the proponents of this have thought through is the next step. The guys want, and think they need sex. The girls they are with don't want to put out, but others do. So, apparently, the solution is that the guys need to stay with the girls who aren't putting out, but for how long? How many more dates does he have to take her on before he can get into a relationship that he wants to have? Does he have to take her incessant calls in the meantime? Or hold her hand, when that is all the further she will let him go? Why isn't this involuntary servitude?
9.24.2008 9:01pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

You ask, "Which would you say is worse in the context of an intimate or familial relationship -- physical abuse or emotional abuse?" Much depends on what you mean by "physical abuse" or "emotional abuse," terms that can both cover vast ranges of behavior. Because they both cover so much, I don't think the question can be answered at that level of abstraction.


You didn't have any such problem declaring what constitutes forcing a woman to have sex.
9.24.2008 9:03pm
Gabriel McCall (mail):
> > Maybe I am reading too much into it, but there seems to be a subset of the women's studies movement that wants to define any sex not initiated by the woman as rape.

> No, there isn't. The feminist movement wants to define rape as sexual intercourse without the consent of both parties. Basically, they don't believe there are reasonable mistakes as to consent. Or (depending on exactly who you're talking about) they think our standards for what counts as a reasonable mistake as to consent are too lax. I would count myself in the latter category. You may of course disagree but you are completely wrong about what we think.

trad and anon, you don't speak for the entirety of your movement. Don Miller's inference is exactly congruent with the stance of more than one published feminist.

"Rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire... Most of the decently married bedrooms across America are settings for nightly rape" (Robin Morgan, "Going Too Far")

With that said: the foundation of any ethical interaction must be mutual consent. That means we don't have sex unless we both want to. It also means that we don't have a relationship unless we both want to. I don't have a claim to your body but just as equally you don't have a claim to my emotional support.

Threatening to withhold something to which you are legitimately entitled is a form of theft, and thus "force" if we're using force as a term of art for any unethical activity. However, there is no such thing as a legitimate entitlement to a relationship: you cannot ever have a property interest in someone else's actions or emotions. (As was pointed out to me on this blog a few weeks ago, performance of a personal services contract is never enforceable; only financial penalties for nonperformance are.)

Discussing the possible areas of overlap between my willing self-interest and yours is not force; it's negotiation. If a girl doesn't want to negotiate, that's her right, but it's not anyone else's fault if she doesn't get what she wants without doing so.
9.24.2008 9:04pm
Brian K (mail):
But more likely, someone in the press would pick it up and use the "one in five have experienced sexual intercourse" statistic out of context, and then it would acquire a life of its own where unsuspecting people who care about rape would use it to show the seriousness of rape.

so we should stop all research that someone might possibly misinterpret?
9.24.2008 9:05pm
trad and anon:
Should the partner with a higher libido suffer for the rest of his life, simply because it's "assholery" to move on and find someone he/she is compatible with? Similarly, should a person suffer emotional isolation for the rest of her life if her partner walls himself off?
Do you really not see the difference between trying to work things out and ending the relationship if you can't and delivering a threat in an effort to manipulate the person into doing what you want?
9.24.2008 9:06pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I agree with Sasha as to the problems with the "study".

Actual rape is a very serious crime. But trying to show how common it is, by generalizing its definition to include much of what is now, and has always been, the normal interaction between horny males and nesting females is counterproductive. Lines have to be drawn as to what is deviant behavior, and throwing normal male boorishness into that is just not going to work, but rather, will inevitably lead to a reduction in the penalties we enforce against real rape.
9.24.2008 9:09pm
Calculated Risk:
Calculated Risk: I'm not speaking for Eugene here, but the danger is that, based on the title of the document --

"Forced Sexual Intercourse Among Young Adult Women" -- people would take this as a statistic relevant to the very serious issue of rape. They might actually read the document -- but at least then there's a chance they would read far enough to see the different types of force used, and realize their error. But more likely, someone in the press would pick it up and use the "one in five have experienced sexual intercourse" statistic out of context, and then it would acquire a life of its own where unsuspecting people who care about rape would use it to show the seriousness of rape.


Any journalist who quotes this tiny two page document without reading it is guilty of journalistic malpractice.

Any policy maker who depends on the statistic in this two page document without reading it is guilty of policy-making malpractice.

You know, a lot of bad things could happen if you made policy or thought you understand the days events merely by scanning headlines. I don't think that is really a criticism of this particular use of the word force. It is more a criticism of people who make snap judgments based on ignorance and who think they really know something about an important topic based on a headline.


Now, on the other hand, one could use this statistic to discuss a separate issue, which is people being psychologically pressured into sex. That wouldn't be so bad. Even then, I'm hesitant to say that telling someone the relationship would end is bad as a general matter, for reasons some of the other commenters have touched on. Some people actually engage in purely sexual relationships, and some of these relationships are purely sexual on both sides. Sometimes one party wants to make the relationship less sexual and the other one doesn't. Then there's nothing wrong with ending the relationship -- or saying beforehand that the relationship would end -- because that's just a difference in expectations from the relationship.


Well, that is an interesting normative perspective.

I have a different one. Even if you are interested in a relationship primarily for sex, I think you should find a partner who also wants sex from the relationship, not a partner who hopes for something more or different from that relationship. Also, I think it is wrong to pressure someone who does want to have sex with you on some occasions to have sex with you on other occasions when they would prefer not to. That normative perspective is tied into how I believe human relationships, and sexual relationships in particular, ought to function.

I think it is inconsiderate, to say the least, to knowingly have sex with someone who does not desire it. I think it is a morally bad act to use any sort of pressure to get someone to engage in sex when they do not have a genuine desire for it.

Now, I can understand why someone with a different normative perspective might think that a definition of "force" that captures this distinction is not useful to capture that which they happen to find normatively relevant. However, I would still expect such a person to acknowledge that different normative views exist in the world and that a different definition might be very functional for someone with a different normative perspective.

In other words, what they should be criticizing is not the definition of the word "force" used. Given a particular normative perspective and purpose to promote pressure-free mutually-desired sexual relationships, that definition is actually quite functional. Instead, what they should be doing is engaging in dialogue with the normative perspective with which they differ.

I actually think that this is a common problem in debates. Often, basic normative disagreements seem to be masked by definitional debates. The problem with that is often that addressing the actual normative disagreement, one simply says that other side is using the wrong definition.
9.24.2008 9:10pm
ReaderY:
The post seems to take a position that consent and use of force are the only two possibilities. Yet because consent is an unknowable subjective experience while force is an objective physical event, there is a vast grey area between consent and force. One can subjectively not consent without anyone being aware of the situation.

There was quite a bit of litigation in North Carolina in the last 20 years on the scope of the grey area. If consent was proved, the defendant got the advantage of a mitigating factor for acts where the victim was over 16 and consented. Rape and forcible sodomy charges required poof of force. There were a number of cases where forcible charges were dismissed for insufficient evidence, yet the defendant didn't get the mitigation factor. Date rape cases typically fell in such a gap. The appelate courts basicaly held that if the woman testifies she subjectively didn't consent, she can be believed for purposes of the mitigation factor in a sodomy-law conviction and the defendant doesn't get a reduced sentence, even though such testimony is insufficient evidence of force to convict for forcible crimes in the same case.

In essence, North Carolina took the "Amherst position" -- if the woman does doesn't affirmatively consent, non-consent can be presumed.

I see nothing wrong with a state making consent an affirmative defense that a defendant has the burden to objectively prove, whether motivated by the sort of feminist arguments Amherst used, or by a conservative view that exceptions to morals laws should be narrowly construed.
9.24.2008 9:12pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Do you really not see the difference between trying to work things out and ending the relationship if you can't and delivering a threat in an effort to manipulate the person into doing what you want?
Ok, I think that I see the line you are trying to draw. It is ok if the guy makes the girl feel inadequate for any number of reasons, or drops her for not putting out, he just can't make the quid pro quod too obvious. And, and I am sure that she will not read that into why he terminated the relationship. Teenaged girls never overreact when it comes to boys. Never.
9.24.2008 9:14pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Bruce, I *really* don't mean to be personal, but I've got to assume that you don't have a daughter--at least yet. ;-)
9.24.2008 9:17pm
trad and anon:
Any journalist who quotes this tiny two page document without reading it is guilty of journalistic malpractice.
And, in fact, as I discussed above, the same table of that two-page document indicates that physical force (at least 57%) or the threat thereof (32%) was used on a great many women, and Eugene selectively quoted other numbers, giving most of his readers a vastly misleading impression of the results of the research.
9.24.2008 9:18pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I see nothing wrong with a state making consent an affirmative defense that a defendant has the burden to objectively prove, whether motivated by the sort of feminist arguments Amherst used, or by a conservative view that exceptions to morals laws should be narrowly construed.
Except that the burden should be on the state, and in this situation, you have he says/she says, with the burden on the defendant to overcome what she said. I don't have any problems playing with burden shifting in the civil context, but do when the accused may spend years behind bars (and henceforth have to register as a sex offender, not be able to own a gun, etc.)
9.24.2008 9:18pm
Malvolio:
I see nothing wrong with a state making consent an affirmative defense that a defendant has the burden to objectively prove, whether motivated by the sort of feminist arguments Amherst used, or by a conservative view that exceptions to morals laws should be narrowly construed.
Really? You see nothing wrong with it?

I don't know about you, but I have never obtained consent for sex that I could "objectively prove". No documents, no signatures, no video. If it came down to it, it would be my word against hers. What do you do, keep notarized consent forms on file?
9.24.2008 9:22pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Well I largely agree with Skorri and Bruce Hayden.
Eugene doesn't agree with the definition of "force" because he thinks it is too expansive. But, what the study really shows is that many women and young women may think of "force" as synonymous with coercion --"I truly didn't want to have sex, but did so because my boyfriend wanted it and did something or said something that made me do something I didn't want to do. Therefore, I was "forced" into it."

The study may tell us more about the inherent preconditioning of women by our society to believe that "good girls don't have sex before marriage." It may be that some women say they were "forced" under the expansive definition because they don't want to admit that they agreed to sex without coercion, i.e., maybe they wanted it too.
9.24.2008 9:24pm
trad and anon:
I see nothing wrong with a state making consent an affirmative defense that a defendant has the burden to objectively prove, whether motivated by the sort of feminist arguments Amherst used, or by a conservative view that exceptions to morals laws should be narrowly construed.
Despite my being the VC comment board's resident feminist, that looks like it does too far to me. What would the elements of the offense be, if lack of consent or something equivalent is not an element?
9.24.2008 9:27pm
ReaderY:
Why should the burden be on the state? Nothing in Lawrence v. Texas says where it should be. Lawrence creates an exception to a general crime if certain facts exist. Nothing in Lawrence indicates that a state has any obligation to prove the existence of any of those facts.

Note: I agree that the use of force is analytically distinct from non-consent. But Lawrence doesn't require force before the state and its morality can intrude, it only requires non-consent, leaving the gray area up for grabs. Hence a state can currently choose whether to put the gray area in the yes or no column, as well as who has the burden of proof in gray cases.
9.24.2008 9:29pm
ReaderY:
My point here is that there is no natural or obvious answer to the question (although people often treat their own opinions as obvious and natural. One could legitimately take the survey's position. I agree the two aren't inherently the same. But they could rationally be treated as the same so far as how the law views things.
9.24.2008 9:32pm
trad and anon:
Ok, I think that I see the line you are trying to draw. It is ok if the guy makes the girl feel inadequate for any number of reasons, or drops her for not putting out, he just can't make the quid pro quod too obvious. And, and I am sure that she will not read that into why he terminated the relationship. Teenaged girls never overreact when it comes to boys. Never.
Trying to "make her feel inadequate" is being an asshole too, you know. And I don't see how what the dumpee reads into it is relevant, we are talking about the potentially ultimatum-giving party's conduct.
9.24.2008 9:33pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Calculated Risk: I'm all in favor of debating the normative positions on the merits. But the point being made here is, to some extent, independent of the merits.

As you say, "Any journalist who quotes this tiny two page document without reading it is guilty of journalistic malpractice. Any policy maker who depends on the statistic in this two page document without reading it is guilty of policy-making malpractice." Sadly, that sort of malpractice is extremely common in media treatment of studies and statistics, whether related to rape or anything else.

Therefore, I think that -- even before we get to the point of debating normative perspectives -- people who write studies that are designed to get distributed to the media should make an effort to use words as closely as possible to their common, everyday meanings. And "sex or I'll end the relationship" is simply not considered "force" by most people. (This is of course an empirical statement on which I could be wrong, but that's my view.) That makes it misleading even if I'm entirely wrong on the normative question.

(Relatedly, I'm teaching a law and economics course right now. I've been discussing "threat points" -- if you're proposing some cooperative venture with someone, the threat point is what each of you could get if you decided not to cooperate. The reason we call it a "threat point" is that you can threaten to stop negotiating unless you get at least that much from the cooperation. But the authors of my textbook have a useful parenthetical where they caution people never to use the term "threat point," for instance, in court, where the concept of "threat" is normatively loaded and could be taken to involve coercion of some sort.

Similarly, economists use "addiction" whenever your consumption today increases the marginal utility of consumption tomorrow, even if there's no pharmacological mechanism and even if there's nothing negative about it, e.g. you can become addicted to a TV show with a story arc merely because watching one episode helps you understand the next episode. But be careful using the word with people who understand "addiction" as being negative!

The moral: You can use whatever words you want, and define them however you want, and within the four corners of the study that's valid as long as you make yourself clear. But it's fair game to criticize you if you'll be predictably misunderstood (despite your clarity, which may be clear enough for your colleagues but not clear enough for the media), all the more so if you're predictably misunderstood in harmful ways when you've intentionally packaged the study for media consumption.)
9.24.2008 9:41pm
Skorri (mail):
The article isn't one on law and legality -- it's more sociology than anything. So trying to then criticize it because it uses the word "force" in a context that would be inaccurate in a legal context is absurd. (Likewise absurd is the claim that a study is flawed simply because it could theoretically be misinterpreted.)

"Force" for purposes of the article seems to encompass situations where a woman has sex with her partner not because she desires sex but because she wishes to avoid a sanction. Now enough quibbling over the choice of the word "force" -- make up a new word for it if you so desire. Argue over the substance of the article, that's more interesting.

Ending a relationship with someone because the sex is bad or nonexistent is acceptable (and in most cases, a damned good idea). But are you really going to defend the deliberate use of coercion, emotional or otherwise, to engage in sex with someone who does so only out of fear and worry?

It is a *good* thing to teach both young men and women to teach them not to manipulate others for sex and to be aware of manipulation when it occurs. The study shows that, currently, most women get pressured into sex at some point in their lives, and that is -not- a good thing. ... It really just baffles me where all the objection to this study is coming from.
9.24.2008 9:42pm
trad and anon:
Why should the burden be on the state? Nothing in Lawrence v. Texas says where it should be. Lawrence creates an exception to a general crime if certain facts exist. Nothing in Lawrence indicates that a state has any obligation to prove the existence of any of those facts.
Lawrence invalidated a strict liability statute banning certain sex acts. It had nothing to do with rape laws.

The Constitution require that the burden of proving a criminal offense is placed on the government. The prosecution is required to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. I believe the elements the government is required to prove is (a) sexual conduct of certain types and (b) non-consent of the victim, or something similar. Thus the defendant can win by arguing that the government hasn't shown lack of consent beyond a reasonable doubt.

Reasonable mistake as to consent, on the other hand, is an affirmative defense; I think it should be restricted.

What would you replace (b) with? Would you just make the prima facie case of "rape" sexual intercourse with the "victim"? In other words, you'd be creating a new crime of "having sex" with an affirmative defense of consent. That would be unconstitutional under Lawrence.
9.24.2008 9:45pm
trad and anon:
Lawrence invalidated a strict liability statute banning certain sex acts. It had nothing to do with rape laws.
Correction: I think the statute at issue in Lawrence had a mental state requirement. But it had to do with the defendant's mental state, not the mental state of the other party (who the law regarded as a co-perpetrator, not as a victim).
9.24.2008 9:47pm
Ninja Zombie (mail):
Trad and Anon:

>Do you really not see the difference between trying to work things out and ending the relationship if you can't and delivering a threat in an effort to manipulate the person into doing what you want?

"Sex is important to me, and it's one of the things I'm looking for in a relationship. If I don't get that, I'm going to move on."

Is this 'trying to work things out' or 'delivering a threat'? I honestly do not see the difference. Can you explain? Is the difference one of motivation, rather than actual acts?

Calculated risk:

>I think it is inconsiderate, to say the least, to knowingly have sex with someone who does not desire it.

I also don't agree with this. Someone you love is desperately in need. You can satisfy this need at the expense of 10-15 minutes of your time. I'd say it is inconsiderate NOT to do this. If you replace "sex" with "an emotional conversation about a personal crisis", I think you'd agree.

In every long term relationship I've had, both I and my girlfriend helped out the other one at times like this (usually non-coitally). When you care about another human being, you sometimes do things you would not otherwise do to make them happy. Why is that 'inconsiderate'?
9.24.2008 9:48pm
trad and anon:
It is a *good* thing to teach both young men and women to teach them not to manipulate others for sex and to be aware of manipulation when it occurs. The study shows that, currently, most women get pressured into sex at some point in their lives, and that is -not- a good thing. ... It really just baffles me where all the objection to this study is coming from.
There seem to be two things going on:

1) The claim that "force" makes the bottom-line presentation of the study misleading. That would be a legitimate criticism if true, though it's substantially inaccurate. As I've repeatedly mentioned above, the results reported in the two-page document indicated that a lot of physical force is being used, which is much more troubling.

2) As the discussion above indicates, there seem to be a lot of people who want to defend the practice of using emotional threats to get someone else to have sex with you, perhaps because they are assholes who care more about getting laid than about basic human decency.
9.24.2008 9:53pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brian K.
---"But more likely, someone in the press would pick it up and use the "one in five have experienced sexual intercourse" statistic out of context, and then it would acquire a life of its own where unsuspecting people who care about rape would use it to show the seriousness of rape."---

so we should stop all research that someone might possibly misinterpret?


Don't be deliberately obtuse. Who said we should stop all research? Give us a cite, please.

Jeez.

To make it clear, the point is that this is likely to--cannot fail, imo--to be morphed into it's all violent rape, and further that we should be careful when reading alarming studies because they may well be as flawed and misinterpreted as this one.

"Stop all research." Can't you do better?
9.24.2008 9:58pm
Skorri (mail):
Ninja Zombie:

"Sex is important to me, and it's one of the things I'm looking for in a relationship. If I don't get that, I'm going to move on."

No one here thinks that is use of threat or coercion. You're arguing a strawman. For myself, and I think a lot of other commentators here disagreeing with you would define coercion as something along the lines of, "I know your mom just died and you're upset but if you don't have sex with me right now and let me do wherever I want, I'm going to leave you too."

Honest discussion and appreciation for another person's needs and desires is never coercion. Emotional manipulation is entirely legal, but it's not conduct worth defending.

Granted, deciding where to draw the line has no easy answer. But, personally, I'd draw it somewhere between "if you don't have sex with me I'll have blue balls and it'll hurt for like /days/" and the example I gave above.
9.24.2008 10:00pm
Smokey:
...the not uncommon instance where a guy tries to ditch a clingy girl, and she entices him to stay with her by having sex with him. Because, obviously, she felt that she was forced to offer him sex in order to keep the relationship together. And then once she convinces him to sleep with her once, she guilts him into staying with her for months or years.
trad and anon replies:
"Um, do you have any evidence that this situation is 'not uncommon'? It sounds like a bunch of stereotypical nonsense to me."
Um, you don't get out much, do you, T&A?
9.24.2008 10:06pm
Elliot123 (mail):
This all reminds me of Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles holding the gun to his own head and saying, "Drop it! Or I swear I'll blow this nigger's head all over this town!"
9.24.2008 10:08pm
Random Commenter:
"Trying to "make her feel inadequate" is being an asshole too, you know. And I don't see how what the dumpee reads into it is relevant, we are talking about the potentially ultimatum-giving party's conduct."

You seem to have an immunity to irony. You might want to re-read his post.
9.24.2008 10:09pm
trad and anon:
Um, you don't get out much, do you, T&A?
So that's a no?
9.24.2008 10:13pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

Um, you don't get out much, do you, T&A?


Apparently not with your crowd.
9.24.2008 10:21pm
gasman (mail):
"Sleep with me or I'll end the relationship".
That's not force, that's simply bartering. And a woman who exchanges sex for something, in this case a continuing relationship has established a quid pro quo using sex has her considerations.
Once we learn that someone is willing to exchange sex for consideration of value, thier trade is established; the only thing remaining is to dicker over price.
9.24.2008 10:21pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
trad and anon: The bottom-line presentation of the study is quite possibly misleading. It says 18% experienced forced sex. You could change that to say 18% experienced sex with at least some kind of pressure. Or you could keep the concept of force, and revise the 18% number.

That would mean dropping the "told relationship would end" category (12%) and the "words/actions without threats" category (61%). That would leave the other categories, like "physically held down" (57%) and the other smaller ones. What number would you get? I don't know, but it would be something between 10% (that is, 57% of 18%) and 18%. I would say that reporting 18% is misleading when the true number is 10%; maybe not so much when the true number is 17%. Now 10% is very serious, though not as bad as 18%; but the actual number is important, because it's harmful to overestimate problems, even very real ones. Anyway, it would be helpful to know the true number without having to guess at whether the invalid portions of the study had a big or small effect on the bottom-line outcome.
9.24.2008 10:25pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

To make it clear, the point is that this is likely to--cannot fail, imo--to be morphed into it's all violent rape


...or it could also be a tool to reinforce to young people between the ages of 18 and 24 that manipulating someone, by whatever means, for your own sexual satisfaction is unacceptable behavior.
9.24.2008 10:27pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

This all reminds me of Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles holding the gun to his own head and saying, "Drop it! Or I swear I'll blow this nigger's head all over this town!"


If you mean it's like watching a movie filled with fart and tits jokes, on a Friday night, in a frat house filled with dateless losers who can't understand why their best "lines" failed to get them laid, I agree.
9.24.2008 10:34pm
Brian K (mail):
Richard,

Who said we should stop all research? Give us a cite, please.

when did i say we should stop all research? cite please.
9.24.2008 10:34pm
Oren:
The law draws such lines, by distinguishing felonies from civilly actionable conduct from behavior that's not illegal at all.
But the law necessarily under-inclusive -- it establishes a minimum standard of morality, not an upper limit. Consider my hypothetical in the school newspaper editor case -- that's not a crime (actually, IANAL, so someone correct me if it is) but it's still highly immoral coercion.

Maybe we are talking at cross-purposes here. The words "forced" and "coerced" have broader general meanings than the precise legal definitions.
9.24.2008 10:38pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Brian K: I believe it was when I said:

But more likely, someone in the press would pick it up and use the "one in five have experienced sexual intercourse" statistic out of context, and then it would acquire a life of its own where unsuspecting people who care about rape would use it to show the seriousness of rape.

and you commented:

so we should stop all research that someone might possibly misinterpret?

whereas all I had suggested was that one should choose one's words differently when misinterpretation is likely. I believe that's what Richard Aubrey was trying to get at.
9.24.2008 10:39pm
Oren:
Sasha, I back everything in your post besides the empirical claim. If a woman in a committed relationship is given an ultimatum to put out or get out, I would colloquially refer to that as "forced to put out".
9.24.2008 10:44pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Oren: Fair enough. I'm curious, would you also understand "18% have had forced sex" to include that? You could observe a situation and call it "force" without understand the generic term "force" when used in that context to include that situation.
9.24.2008 11:08pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
I spent the last year in social services; this deliberately dishonest lack of distinction was pretty common within the industry. "Domestic violence" was a term which included withholding sex, threatening to leave if sex was withheld, not having your spouse's name on the checking account... any number of non-violent improprieties.
9.24.2008 11:36pm
Waldensian (mail):

If you mean it's like watching a movie filled with fart and tits jokes, on a Friday night, in a frat house filled with dateless losers who can't understand why their best "lines" failed to get them laid, I agree.

How dare you sir. How dare you.

"Blazing Saddles" -- widely known as "the Citizen Kane of Comedy" -- is not "filled" with "fart jokes." It does, however, have a scene that no true American male EVER fails to laugh at. I give you.... the campfire scene.

Although actually this is my favorite part of the film.
9.24.2008 11:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brian K. Only quoting you. Filty habit, I know.
9.25.2008 12:03am
Grover Gardner (mail):

That's not force, that's simply bartering.


Okay, let's look at two scenarios:

"Honey, I need to have sex tonight."

"Well, I don't feel like it, but if you buy me a diamond ring tomorrow, I'll read a book while you get your rocks off."

:Great!"

That is bartering.

This is not:

"Honey, I need to have sex tonight."

"I don't feel like it."

"You want a house to come home to tomorrow, you'll have sex with me."

Also, I'd love to hear from any man here who has been forced to have sex. Seriously, I'm all ears. Anyone?
9.25.2008 12:41am
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
Props to G. McCall for coming up with the Robin Morgan quote while I was still trying to find the cite to Chapter 7 of Andrea Dworkin's Intercourse, which pretty clearly argues that only acts of intercourse actually initiated by a woman are anything other than the equivalent of rape.
9.25.2008 1:07am
neurodoc:
Also, I'd love to hear from any man here who has been forced to have sex. Seriously, I'm all ears. Anyone?
Episode 8, Flight of the Conchords. Bret McKenzie did not want to have sex, but that bakery shop girl tricked him into it, telling him she was Delta Force and shipping to Iraq in the morning. Then she laughed about how she had taken advantage of him with her girlfriends.
9.25.2008 1:14am
neurodoc:
Emotionally manipulated = "forced"? (Were you told that the relationship would end if you didn't have sex?)
9.25.2008 1:20am
Careless:


Also, I'd love to hear from any man here who has been forced to have sex. Seriously, I'm all ears. Anyone?

My wife didn't talk to me for 3 days after I passed on sex to watch the Cubs in a playoff game. We had sex during game 3.
9.25.2008 1:22am
ReaderY:
I think I need to supply some context: In a number of states, particularly in the South, date rape charges tended to include consensual sodomy counts which could (and often did and sometimes still do) proceed to conviction even if the forcible counts were dismissed or resulted in acquital. Thus "gray area" cases and discussions of the boundaries of force and consent tended to come up in the context of sodomy laws in a date-rape context.

I acknowlege that even under this regime, there was a clear distinction maintained between force and lack of consent. I also acknowledge that whether a state can currently prosecute conduct in the gray area after Lawrence is a separate matter from whether such conduct is force with respect to crimes such as rape traditionally requiring it.
9.25.2008 1:59am
Grover Gardner (mail):

We had sex during game 3.


You must have been miserable!
9.25.2008 2:10am
Careless:


You must have been miserable!

And the woman who has sex with her boyfriend after "or else I'm leaving you" and really enjoys it is miserable?
9.25.2008 2:18am
Grover Gardner (mail):

Emotionally manipulated = "forced"?


Try telling your teenager, "Honey, no one's forcing you to do that." It's a matter of perspective. Parents fight this battle every day.
9.25.2008 2:19am
Grover Gardner (mail):

And the woman who has sex with her boyfriend after "or else I'm leaving you" and really enjoys it is miserable?


I suppose that depends on how manipulated she feels afterward. Does your wife refuse to speak to you for three days every time you don't feel like having sex? If so, does that make you happy?
9.25.2008 2:30am
autolykos:
Couple thoughts:

1. While it might be technically correct that coercing someone to do something is "forcing" them to do it (at least from a plain English perspective, though it's incorrect from a legal perspective, which strikes me as considerably more relevant when we're lumping something in with acts that are illegal), we're only having this argument because (i) the authors lumped these types of forced encounters in with sexual assaults that everyone agrees are very, very bad and (ii) people get weird about sex anyway. If the survey had asked if people were "forced" into sex along with a bunch of questions about what other things people in relationships are forced into doing, it wouldn't be nearly as charged a discussion.

2. Whether you like it or admit it, almost every person in an adult relationship is "forced" to have sex with their SO. It may not be as explicit as telling your SO "have sex with me or I'll break up with you", but I don't know many relationships that would last if one partner just decided they didn't want to have sex anymore.

3. Moreover, I don't understand the alleged point that so many are getting worked up about. If someone tells you they'll break up with you if you don't sleep with them, let them. What's the big deal? You clearly don't want the same things in the relationship, so why are you acting as if a loss of that relationship is some terrible thing?

4. We don't need the state intruding into the bedroom. The fact that a person can break up with a SO for any reason or no reason, at any time, in their sole and absolute discretion is a good thing, regardless of what you may think of their motivation.
9.25.2008 2:40am
Careless:


I suppose that depends on how manipulated she feels afterward. Does your wife refuse to speak to you for three days every time you don't feel like having sex? If so, does that make you happy?

It's almost like I'm still talking about it a year later. Yes, it's a big deal when a spouse decides that she's going to go on total marriage strike for 60 hours or so because she didn't get laid. the fact that men want sex more than women shouldn't be relevant. It's really frigging hard to find a way to make a man feel manipulated after sex because it's so very easy to get a many to consent to sex.
9.25.2008 2:41am
Careless:
many=man, of course
9.25.2008 2:43am
Grover Gardner (mail):

If someone tells you they'll break up with you if you don't sleep with them, let them. What's the big deal?


No big deal if you're not an emotionally vulnerable teenager, or financially dependent on someone, or have a family with that person.
9.25.2008 3:13am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Careless, my crack was inappropriate. I apologize and will count you as a man who was manipulated (or forced) into having sex with his wife.
9.25.2008 3:18am
autolykos:

No big deal if you're not an emotionally vulnerable teenager, or financially dependent on someone, or have a family with that person.


What's the point of having a family with someone if you're not going to sleep with them? Again, whether you know it or not, if you're in a relationship with someone, there's probably going to be an expectation of sex (unless your SO is getting some on the side). The financial dependence point strikes me as a red herring. Any person who is financially dependent is almost certainly going to be in a committed relationship (how else do you become financially dependent other than by some weird familial situation that's far out of the norm)?

The only point that has any transaction is the "emotionally vulnerable" teenager (which is clearly what they're trying to get at in their questions) and while I'm not going to claims having teens pressured into sex is a good thing, it's nowhere close to tantamount to being held down or actually physically threatened. Just because people make stupid choices (especially teenagers) doesn't mean they're not choices.
9.25.2008 3:27am
Careless:

Careless, my crack was inappropriate. I apologize and will count you as a man who was manipulated (or forced) into having sex with his wife.

But you know what? I'm not pissed off. Why? Sex in marriage is like the weather. I know that, as a Chicagoan, I'll have 4-5 months of cold, 3 months of snow, 4 months of winter clouds, 2-3 months I think are too hot, and 2.5 months of mosquitoes.

It's not notable unless it's January and we don't have any snow.

And yeah, if my wife promised a drought of indefinite length, that would cause a problem in the marriage. It's absurd to think that one party's refusal to have sex cannot result in the dissolution of a contract that was based on the promise of sex at some point.
9.25.2008 3:27am
2cents (mail):
For an interesting look at "constructive force" in rape cases see http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/opinions/2003Term/02-0001.htm
9.25.2008 3:34am
autolykos:

And yeah, if my wife promised a drought of indefinite length, that would cause a problem in the marriage. It's absurd to think that one party's refusal to have sex cannot result in the dissolution of a contract that was based on the promise of sex at some point.


The only explanation is that such a belief is based on some warped neo-feminist conception of sexuality (where sex is more of a weapon than part of a normal healthy adult relationship). Whether you frame the discussion in terms of reliance or not, it's ridiculous to think that one party's refusal to engage in a normal, necessary, adult activity isn't going to be fatal to the relationship.
9.25.2008 3:46am
Jim S. (www):
This reminds me of a similar issue when I was in college. The issue of the day was "coercion rape," that is, when a woman says no to sex, and the man then talks her into it. Since people are talked into all kinds of things all the time without it being considered a crime against them, I thought it was just silly.
9.25.2008 5:17am
Grover Gardner (mail):

What's the point of having a family with someone if you're not going to sleep with them? Again, whether you know it or not, if you're in a relationship with someone, there's probably going to be an expectation of sex (unless your SO is getting some on the side). The financial dependence point strikes me as a red herring. Any person who is financially dependent is almost certainly going to be in a committed relationship (how else do you become financially dependent other than by some weird familial situation that's far out of the norm)?


What in the world makes you think that saying Not tonight means Never again? When my wife says, "Not tonight," she means "not tonight." Maybe tomorrow night, maybe not--but we certainly know each other well enough to know that in a few days (or weeks, or months--who cares?) the timing will be right for both of us. If I make enough of a fuss, I might get my way, but it's hardly the great experience I was looking forward to. Reacting with anger or resentment pretty much guarantees that I'll have to wait that much longer. Bullying and threats? What fun I'm gonna have!

I also don't understand your comment about financial dependence. "Committed" relationships can be just as disfunctional as "uncommitted" ones. In fact, they can be even worse, in that the the aggrieved party may not feel that he or she has any other options.

And who in this day and age thinks marriage confers a "right" to sex, anyway? Good grief.


Just because people make stupid choices (especially teenagers) doesn't mean they're not choices.


Oy.
9.25.2008 5:41am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I'm glad R. Gould-Saltman brings up Dworkin. I've heard such views parodied as "Any sex in which anyone is on top of anyone, or inside anyone, is tantamount to rape." (Or simply "is rape".)

Just like more CPS-types need to have raised children, more of these researchers need to have been in good, long-lasting marriages to understand that it's not always horny-teenager/honeymoon sex, there's also mercy sex (I'm not into it), grudge sex (I'm not into it, and I'll hold it against you) and oral sex (I'm too tired from taking care of the baby, can we just talk about how it would be nice to have sex instead?) (IMNSHO, healthy marriages do sometimes contain phrases like "Go ahead without me" or "Beige, we should paint the ceiling beige", just as they contain phrases like "Sure, let's go antiquing". Life is not supposed to be perfect all the time.)

The largest problem with this kind of report is the backlash. If someone says she was raped, was it the held-down-against-her-will / threatened-with-serious-injury type, or was it the Duke / I-was-afraid-he-wouldn't-ask-me-out-again / the-check-bounced type?
9.25.2008 5:46am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Just like more CPS-types need to have raised children, more of these researchers need to have been in good, long-lasting marriages to understand that it's not always horny-teenager/honeymoon sex, there's also mercy sex (I'm not into it), grudge sex (I'm not into it, and I'll hold it against you) and oral sex (I'm too tired from taking care of the baby, can we just talk about how it would be nice to have sex instead?)"

This is not what the study is talking about. In none of the examples you give above is anyone saying, "Give me sex, or else..."
9.25.2008 6:10am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
"Give me sex, or else..." may have preceded "OK, but I'm not into it." That's the problem with the two-pager, that it lumps together all the elses, whether they are "or else I will kill you" or "or else I will break up now" or "or else it will be one more coffin in our relationship" or even "or else years from now we'll realize that our long-term sexual incompatibility, of which this will be just one of many examples, is why our marriage didn't work out".

In 61% of the cases it is "or else I will continue bugging you about it."
9.25.2008 8:00am
Oren:

I'm curious, would you also understand "18% have had forced sex" to include that? You could observe a situation and call it "force" without understand the generic term "force" when used in that context to include that situation.

That's true. And now that we've parsed it to death, I have no idea what I would have thought at first glance.
9.25.2008 10:08am
Gabriel McCall (mail):
"You want a house to come home to tomorrow, you'll have sex with me."

If the coerced partner is paying towards the lease or otherwise has a clear entitlement to residency, then this threat has no teeth. If she doesn't, then she's a kept woman. You are never entitled to another person's largesse. The fact that being deprived of that largesse would be inconvenient does not constitute an entitlement.
9.25.2008 10:12am
Brian K (mail):
Only quoting you. Filty habit, I know.

we all aware that you have mastered the use of ctrl-c and ctrl-v. it is equally obvious that you have yet to master reading comprehension.
9.25.2008 11:01am
Kent G. Budge (www):
Hmm. So if my wife decides she is no longer interested in sex, and I file for divorce as a result, I am guilty of attempted rape?
9.25.2008 11:37am
TDPerkins (mail):

The document he lists does not propose to use precisely the same definition of force that is used in rape prosecutions.


As Sasha Volokh points out, it implies exactly that by it's certainly deliberately misleading title, and regarding that comment you said:


Any journalist who quotes this tiny two page document without reading it is guilty of journalistic malpractice.


Granted but the point is without relevance--it is also overwhelmingly common practice.

Especially when the outcome is to promote a certain flavor of ideology...

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.25.2008 11:37am
whit:
This is what the feminist lobby (see also domestic violence lobby etc.) does... define deviancy up. This survey reminds me of the DV pamphlets I have read (available at your local PD, women's shelter etc.) that ask "are you a victim of domestic violence" and then have this laundry list of things that qualify as domestic "violence" including name calling, criticism about weight, etc.

classic. iow, make everybody a victim.

the term 'victimology' might be overused but when you conflate forced sexual intercourse with "if you don't have sex with me, i'm leaving you" you might as well say the old "if you want to have sex with me, marry me" is forced marriage.
9.25.2008 11:39am
Tom952 (mail):
Were you threatened with physical hurt or injury?
Were you physically hurt or injured?
Were you physically held down?


Did he get you hot to trick you into doing it?
9.25.2008 11:48am
EPluribusMoney (mail):
I don't see why there's anything so wrong with "have sex with me or the relationship is over". If one person wants a relationship with sex and the other doesn't then they don't belong together and don't yet have a relationship.

It is normal and natural for men to need sex and they should be free to choose to have relationships with persons who meet their needs.

I for one just stopped calling when our needs appeared dissimilar but I've been told that some women want to be convinced into sex so they feel less guilty about it.
9.25.2008 11:58am
Mark Buehner (mail):
What we need is a word that succinctly describes the act of physically forcing sex on someone. Then, instead of all this confusing rhetoric, we would know exactly how many women have had physical force used on them. If we had such a word i might suspect that the question writers were intentionally not using it in an effort to murk up the subject and produce a result much larger than it actually is.

Maybe there's a latin term for the act? Or, oh, maybe something we can borrow from Asia. That would add a certain level of gravitas to the term. Lets all give it some thought. Physically forcing someone to have sex. Hmmm... Its right on the tip of my tongue.
9.25.2008 12:00pm
DADvocate (mail):
At some point any romantic relationship I'm in will come down to "have sex with me or the relationship is over" if there is no sex. I usually don't say it but it's a reason relationships end.

Looking at the questionnaire, there are only 3-4 questions regarding female-female sex. Considering the "good rape" in the Vagina Monologues, female on female rape needs to be more closely examed.
9.25.2008 12:31pm
whit:
DADvocate, but that's impossible. Just ask andrea dworkin. rape is males having sex with females.

an older woman forcing sex on a young woman isn't rape, it's "empowering".

your false consciousness is disturbing.
9.25.2008 12:34pm
A.C.:
Grover Gardner, I like the way you think. Makes me think that not all men are Neanderthals, even if a lot of men sound that way on the Internet.

Okay -- in adult relationships, people should certainly be up front about what they are after. There are lots of possibilities for adults, and most adults of both sexes eventually learn enough to figure out what they want and how to express it in words.

Kids are different, and we are talking about kids here. If people barely into adulthood are discussing their previous experience, that is. And the thing about kids and sex is that they are learning something new.

There used to be a sequence to the experience, from kissing on through the various "bases" to actual intercourse after a time. For a lot of teenage girls, this is still the expectation. You date a bunch of times (most likely a lot more than three) and work up to greater levels of physical intimacy as you learn to trust the other person. In the first relationship of a person's lifetime, this development may extend over years.

The timeline is likely to get shorter as a person gets more experience, but people who compress it down close to zero will probably find that their lives hold a lot more drama than they want. There are very good reasons for people of BOTH sexes to avoid involvement with partners they don't know well enough to trust. Men who say they want sex on the third date, and then find themselves saddled with partners they can't stand, have only themselves to blame. It takes time to learn whether someone is a jerk.

What we are talking about in this case, though, is relatively inexperienced couples in which the male partner wants to round the "bases" significantly faster than the female partner does. This problem is probably as old as time, but societies used to encourage boys to slow down and establish actual trust before moving forward. Now, for some reason, even the most inexperienced girl faces demands to speed up or be sent packing. This does not count as progress.

And then we wonder at the rate of divorces and broken homes, and why so many women consider the fathers of their children to be more trouble than they are worth.

My point? There are reasons besides the minute-by-minute preferences of individuals to encourage people to form actual relationships before they have sex. And no, I don't think people learn how to do this spontaneously at age 35 if they have allowed themselves to be led around by the genitals for the previous two decades. Learning relationships is even more gradual than learning sex.

Oh, and the wife in a couple that follows traditional gender roles is not a "kept woman." Not if she does her own housework and child care, that is -- things like that are real work, and they create an obligation regardless of what is going on sexually. I'll grant the insult for the sort of upscale "toxic wife" whose whole job is being a sexual partner and arm candy, though. Nobody likes them, especially not other women.
9.25.2008 12:43pm
meh (mail):

Okay, let's look at two scenarios:

"Honey, I need to have sex tonight."

"Well, I don't feel like it, but if you buy me a diamond ring tomorrow, I'll read a book while you get your rocks off."

:Great!"

That is bartering.

This is not:

"Honey, I need to have sex tonight."

"I don't feel like it."

"You want a house to come home to tomorrow, you'll have sex with me."


so when the woman offers the terms it's bartering, when the man offers terms it's force? this framework sounds familiar...
9.25.2008 12:46pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

"Give me sex, or else..." may have preceded "OK, but I'm not into it." That's the problem with the two-pager, that it lumps together all the elses, whether they are "or else I will kill you" or "or else I will break up now" or "or else it will be one more coffin in our relationship" or even "or else years from now we'll realize that our long-term sexual incompatibility, of which this will be just one of many examples, is why our marriage didn't work out".


Any one of these options strikes me as a hell of way to start a relationship.


I don't see why there's anything so wrong with "have sex with me or the relationship is over". If one person wants a relationship with sex and the other doesn't then they don't belong together and don't yet have a relationship.


Don't you think there's a difference between saying, "This relationship isn't working for me because you're never interested in sex" and "Have sex with me tonight or find yourself another husband/boyfriend"? Especially in the case of an immature teenage relationship in which one party might be especially vulnerable to emotional or peer pressure?


What we need is a word that succinctly describes the act of physically forcing sex on someone.


We do--it's called "rape."
9.25.2008 12:51pm
plutosdad (mail):
A feminist I knew (she described herself as a feminist) told me that in feminist classes they teach if a man even tries to convince you at all to do anything it is "forcing" you. She gave the following example:
"let's have sex"
"no"
"aww come on"

And said that was forcing.

The funny thing is when I was arguing with her about her constant guilt trips and crying and head games trying to guilt me into doing things she said "that's not forcing! you could do whatever you want" And while she was right I found the hypocrisy pretty unbelievable.

That is why when the Jack Ryan divorce came up in Illinois and Jeri Ryan complained he tried to "force" her to go to a sex club I dismissed it, since the feminist definition of "force" is even "trying to convince you".
9.25.2008 12:52pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

so when the woman offers the terms it's bartering, when the man offers terms it's force? this framework sounds familiar...


Hey, it can work both ways:

Man: "If we have a date tonight I'll take the kids Saturday morning and you can sleep in."

Woman: "I could get enthusiastic about that."

or

Woman: "I hear there's a big card game tomorrow night. How about a date tonight and we'll forget about that movie we planned to see?"

Man: "Okay."

See? No ultimatums, no threats. Bartering.


A feminist I knew (she described herself as a feminist) told me that in feminist classes they teach if a man even tries to convince you at all to do anything it is "forcing" you.


Feminist classes, now? Okay.


And while she was right I found the hypocrisy pretty unbelievable.


I'm not even going to try to parse that one.
9.25.2008 1:08pm
A.C.:
Endless guilt tripping over things the other person has no obligation to do are pretty repellant, too. Guilt tripping over things that the other person really was obliged to do, or even promised to do, is something else again.

The trouble is to figure out the difference. That's one of the things you are supposed to learn when you learn how to have relationships, which is why jumping the gun is a bad idea.

We aren't really arguing about "male" demands and "female" demands, but rather about expectations that are reasonable under a given set of circumstances and expectations that are not. It's hard to form general rules when circumstances vary so much, but can we at least agree that there's a big difference between using an ultimatum to induce someone to lose her virginity and hiring a prostitute? "Sex" is not a single, all-purpose category, any more than "force" is.

And heck, some people even enjoy being held down and smacked a bit. But that is NOT something any partner should ever bank on, not unless trust has already been established and communication is very, very clear.
9.25.2008 1:13pm
TCO:
what about they abusive force that women use on men, by withholding sex. They know we want it more than they do and they FORCE us to buy them dinners and kiss their asses and such, just to get some nookie. Very abusive and powerfully forceful. Darn cee tees
9.25.2008 1:48pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
What if you say this to a girl and she declines, and then you leav eher. Is that attempted rape?
9.25.2008 2:38pm
PubliusFL:
This definition of "force" must be why so many Congressional Democrats voted for the resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq and then opposed the Iraq War. They thought they were just authorizing Bush to say: "Come on, Saddam! Tell us where the (suspected) WMDs are or I'm never talking to you again!"
9.25.2008 2:43pm
whit:

Don't you think there's a difference between saying, "This relationship isn't working for me because you're never interested in sex" and "Have sex with me tonight or find yourself another husband/boyfriend"? Especially in the case of an immature teenage relationship in which one party might be especially vulnerable to emotional or peer pressure


whether or not there is a difference, neither is "force" and neither should be lumped in , in any way whatsoever, with rape or other illegal activity.

generally speaking, women are the gatekeepers so to speak. archetypal roles and all. it is the man's JOB to try to convince the woman to have sex. it is the woman's job to resist. or at least that's the old skool way.

as to "force". technically speaking, when an officer arrives at scene his mere PRESENCE is considered the lowest form of force... "comman presence". however, this is not FORCE as in physical force, or if a sgt. asks "did you use any force".

so, yes. in a very loose way - persuasion is force. but you can take that as far as you want. you could say a woman dressing super hawt is force too. it's a ridiculous argument, it defines deviancy up, and it is a frequent practice of the feminist left- make every woman a victim or potential victim, because then the problem is worse, therefore you can gripe more, argue for more legislation and govt. programs, and demonize men even more.

fwiw, there are many on the left who feel that walmart FORCES consumers to shop there by offering unnaturally low prices. this is the same philosophy.

iow, stupidity.
9.25.2008 3:29pm
neurodoc:
Geez, am I the only one who saw that Flight of the Conchords episode (#8) and thought what that woman pretending to be in Delta Force and shipping out to Iraq in the morning did to hapless Brett McKenzie was unconscionable, and outrageously funny? Plus, as I recall, she was astride him, hence physically dominating the poor fellow as well as emotionally manipulating him. Not quite as funny perhaps as the supremely ironic Cleavon Little as sheriff in Blazing Saddles scene mentioned above (which involved no "forced" sex), but still ironic enough to be unforgetable.
9.25.2008 3:41pm
ken in sc (mail):
I like sex. I enjoy it very much. However, I have had sex with my wife many times when I did not feel like it because I knew she expected it. One time I didn't and she had a tantrum. I don't want to go through that again. We've been married over 20 years. There have been times when I did not come off but pretended that I did, just to get it over with. I have heard that women do this too. Some people here seem to indicate that is 'force'.
9.25.2008 4:05pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Ok, I've read through enough bs on this thread. Bottom line, being an asshole shouldn't be prosecutable. Is that clear enough to the idiots?
9.25.2008 4:14pm
Deoxy (mail):
When there are studies about how often a man is "forced" to take a woman out to dinner, etc, or the relationship is off, then I'll take this seriously.

The level of "force" being talked about here is the same level of "force" people of both sexes use on each other to get what they want all the time.

Some of it is pretty crass. Much of it is innappropriate and rude. A lot of it is selfish and manipulative.

It get used to get (or try to get) whatever people want, from sex to an expensive piece of jewelry or clothing.

Men tend to use it more for sex, because that's what they want. Women tend to use it more for stuff (because if they want sex, they can usually get it for free).

Is that "fair"? Men and women are so different in this area that I think that "fair" and "unfair" are pretty much useless.
9.25.2008 4:33pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
EIDE.
You say so. Seen the feminists' view on that?
9.25.2008 4:35pm
someD (mail):
what's important isn't who is the bigger hole...

it's the framing of the question. Nobody asks a guy if he was coerced on his first roll in the hay... even if he was. The idea that force is the same as persuasion is something that has to be fought. NOT for the group of woemn that are deflowered against their will. But for those who aren't sure, or change their minds later. "Well, we were both really drunk at the time..." Doesn't make it HIS fault. 'I gave in because he/she is really nice...' also doesn't make it wrong, it simply happens that way sometimes.

It takes the focus off the punks who don't take no for an answer and use physical force. That is illegal, and should be prosecuted. But it is bad news where a punk's actions are taken together with who says "don't worry it will feel good, I don't want to wait..." and made equivalant on a pie chart...

For those who say the second is force also, it would be how my girlfriend at the time encouraged me not to wait until I was comfortable. So, am I a statistic?

oh, wait, I'm a guy. I can't be.
9.25.2008 5:04pm
J.R. (mail):
Grover or trad and anon:

So would a teenage male be guilty of forcible rape if his girlfriend gave into his advances for sex because he said the relationship would be over otherwise?

Should he be treated as a sex offender?
9.25.2008 5:15pm
dkfjdlfj (mail):
Eugene, why no outrage over guys pressuring girls into having sex with them? I'm so tired of men controlling this debate.
9.25.2008 6:21pm
Tim Duq (mail):
Feminists = hilarious on this. We need the current generation to come of age. The generation of Dworkin females is completely off the reservation. Thankfully the twenty somethings have rightfully brushed off such definitions and idiocy.
9.25.2008 6:53pm
hey (mail):
I really can't believe that some people who were arguing the sociologists corner disbelieved that any man had ever been forced into sex. It's called Borderline Personality Disorder, read some of the fun stuff about it!

I've been coerced into sex numerous times with a variety of partners. Threats of suicide if I didn't, threats to end the relationship (and the end of a relationship - be sure that the other party wants to maintain the relationship before you make that threat), all sorts of other behaviors. Is any of that good or healthy? Of course not, but it's a whole other playing field than actual compelled sex.

One thing I'm surprised at is that no one disputed the "held down" stat. The wording is ambiguous and could easily be interpreted to mean any sort of restraining force. Y'all may not get out much, but that's an exceptionally popular activity amongst consenting partners.

The other problem is the pervasiveness of incapability to consent statutes. Most single people socialise over copious quantities of alcohol. Ridiculously inebriated sex with partners old and new is a regular activity. But yet men can be prosecuted if a woman decides she didn't "really" want to do that. Rape should only exist when sex occurs against the objection of one of the parties, one of the parties is unconscious, or one of the parties has been given a noxious agent surreptitiously. All of the above voided if there was prior agreement that any of that would happen (I do have a moderately kinky sex life, and with most of my long term relationships there have been agreements that one party could engage in any of our regular behavior when the other was asleep).
9.25.2008 6:55pm
Trouble:
1. It also happens that women will, in a carefully calculated way, present themselves as all full of teh crazy in order to to get what they want, including sex - "you never know what might happen if you disappoint me", in essence. Yeah, it happened to me; yeah I put up with it for awhile, because (1) it wasn't all that much of a chore, and (2) I'm a sucker for big tits. The 'relationship' ended, eventually. Oh well, f#ck it and drive on.
2. If you're breaking up with a woman over sex, just find some other reason to give her. Jeezuz, it ain't that difficult.
9.25.2008 7:23pm
bobH (mail):
Why should anybody be surprised that these women are arguing this? I've come to believe that the fundamental paradigm of human sexual intercourse is prostitution, and that includes marriage. As in any buyer/seller relationship, women want to get the most income, expressed in terms of money, goods and/or services, for the service provided and men want to pay the least possible. Men and women are constantly negotiating the price of the next fuck!
9.25.2008 7:26pm
SPImmortal:
And who in this day and age thinks marriage confers a "right" to sex, anyway? Good grief.

This right here is the dumbest question ever asked in the history of the internet.

They'res a condition that's analagous to marriage without sex; it's called friendship.
9.25.2008 8:07pm
TCO:
This is going to be deep. Some odf the best sexis when you don't feel like it but do it for the other person. Also it is best to make a habit of it and just do it every night. It draws you closer. really.
9.25.2008 8:45pm
B. Long:
Women are emotionally weaker than men. So, the threat of breakup DOES constitute forced intercourse. Right?
9.25.2008 11:03pm
autolykos:

They'res a condition that's analagous to marriage without sex; it's called friendship.


Without even addressing the strawman in the post you referred to (nobody's claiming you have a "right" to sex, you just have a right to leave if you're not getting sex - or for any other reason), you make a good point. If it wasn't for sex, would any man live with a woman?

I don't know about you, but if you take sex out of the equation, I'd rather live with my buddies than my wife. My college roommates wouldn't hassle me when I left dishes in the sink, they liked the same kinds of alcohol/sports/games/movies that I do and I wasn't forced to buy them expensive gifts. The fact that people choose to live with people of the opposite sex despite their differences speaks volumes about the value of sex.
9.25.2008 11:41pm
whit:

But yet men can be prosecuted if a woman decides she didn't "really" want to do that. Rape should only exist when sex occurs against the objection of one of the parties, one of the parties is unconscious, or one of the parties has been given a noxious agent surreptitiously. All of the above voided if there was prior agreement that any of that would happen (I do have a moderately kinky sex life, and with most of my long term relationships there have been agreements that one party could engage in any of our regular behavior when the other was asleep).


actually, the penal code in my state allows you to have sex with your wife if she is incapable of giving consent (such as intoxicated etc.). that's one of the "privileges" of marriage.

the lowest version of rape is sex without consent (vs. against consent, and with forcible compulsion, etc.). however, this does not apply to married couples. consent is assumed.

iow, if you live with your girlfriend, you have done so for 20 yrs, and she is passed out drunk, and you start having sex with her, technically that's rape. if it's your wife, it's not.
9.26.2008 1:08am
David Schwartz (mail):
trad &anon:
And, in fact, as I discussed above, the same table of that two-page document indicates that physical force (at least 57%) or the threat thereof (32%) was used on a great many women, and Eugene selectively quoted other numbers, giving most of his readers a vastly misleading impression of the results of the research.
...
I just looked at the study and women were allowed to pick more than one type of "force." We also had 57% "physically held down," 32% "threatened with physical hurt" and 26% "physically hurt or injured."
You have utterly missed the point. The number of women physically held down during *consensual* sex is not interesting. The number held down during non-consensual sex is. The number of women physically injured during non-consensual sex is important. The number who experienced some bleeding after being talked into sex, however, is very different.

This study, in a way that appears to be by intentional design, carefully adds these types of events together.

If I talked a woman I just met into sex at a singles bar by telling her that all I wanted was sex, she consented, then I held her down, told her I was so big she wouldn't be able to walk the next day, and the next day she was sore, that would be counted as almost every category.
9.26.2008 12:12pm
Jim in L.A.:
So if a woman lies and tells you she's on the pill to get sex, but in fact forgot her pill or is not on the pill at all, and gets pregnant, is the man spared from child support because the child was conceived only due to the woman's deception?
9.26.2008 3:28pm