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Does penetration = presumption of power/control?

(757 Posts)
skrumle Wed 17-Aug-11 10:53:37

Was chatting with my H last night and mentioned the Romeo and Juliet law in Ireland that's been discussed on here a few times. Anyway, when I asked if he thought it was reasonable his immediate answer was "no". I then asked him: if our son was gay, and started a conversation about a sexual experience that he was unhappy/uncomfortable about would he be more likely to feel that our son had been forced/co-erced if he was the one penetrated rather than penetrating and got a confused in reply...

I have to be honest, when I read the original thread on here my automatic view was that to protect girls over boys like this was to deny the fact that girls enjoy sex too, almost like taking a step back. When I read the thread fully though and thought about the implications for girls I probably did start to think that girls should have more protection than boys.

So, should there be a presumption that penetration equals a greater degree of control? So two heterosexual 15yos - greater responsibility lies with the boy to ensure that this is what both of them want?

MillyR Wed 17-Aug-11 11:35:07

I don't think penetration equals power, but I think there is a greater issue of consent when anybody is penetrating anybody else's body with anything. The person doing the penetrating, whether it be a female doing it to be a male, a male doing it to a female, a female doing it to a female or a male doing it to a male, has the greater obligation to check for consent where there is ambiguity over consent.

This does not mean that it is okay for somebody to start putting a man's penis inside themselves when the man is asleep - there is no ambiguity there - consent has not been given. But in situations of ambiguity, the onus should be on the person doing the penetrating to be sure of consent, because the risks to the person being penetrated are greater.

The Ireland thing is a slightly different issue, and has been discussed a lot elsewhere (I think). I think that is complicated by ages, and I think that age of consent requires some flexibility, so that there can be different laws around people with small age gaps, such as a 15 year old and a 17 year old. There is clearly a difference between a 17 year old having sex with a 15 year old, where they may be only one school year apart, and a 15 year old and a 30 year old having sex.

jennyvaultsthewagons Wed 17-Aug-11 12:18:01

I'd say yes - with a similar understanding as expressed already by Milly.

TheRealTillyMinto Wed 17-Aug-11 18:16:16

i think we are all influenced by a phalocentric (sp?) view of sex. sex is basically putting something small (penis) into a much larger muscle structure. but we dont really see it like that...

jennyvaultsthewagons Wed 17-Aug-11 18:18:37

lol - nicely put Tilly!

Tortington Wed 17-Aug-11 18:20:37

christ no.

jesus fucking christ this topic gets on my nerves sometimes.

VictorGollancz Wed 17-Aug-11 20:36:52

As much as I don't like the implications, I think what you say is right OP - but then, after a good few centuries of the almighty phallus owning everything and women being chattel, it's going to take a while for everything to settle down...

AyeRobot Wed 17-Aug-11 20:46:45

I bet if you introduced a strap-on into your sex life, he might put a bit more thought into his response.

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 09:17:55

LOL! AyeRobot.
Not just any old strap on either, but one that will deposit a parasite in his body that will grow and grow over the course of 9 months, which will lead to restricted movements, will trap him in his own body, prevent him from enjoying alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and recreational drugs, and then finally will only be ejected from his person through bullet-through-the-brain pain.
I rather think men would put a lot more thought into the penetration issue, if this was the case.

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 09:25:21

well the radfem analysis of this is that Penis-in-Vagina does not equal sex, for women. It's a patriarchal definition. Plenty of prostitutes are penetrated by minging men and don't get a jot of pleasure out of the experience. So when society talks about sex, what they really mean is "intercourse".
If women create and use new language to describe what sex is, what it means to women, and their innate sexuality, then it may end up being the case that Penis in Vagina was actually mainly designed for reproduction.

I don'T think I'm the only woman who had mind-blowing sexual experiences as a young teen, with boys who weren't under pressure by their mates or themselves to "stick it in", only for intercourse to be introduced into the equation at about age 16, and for "sex" to get progressively less satisfying. INtercourse also creates fireworks, true, but there are three questions here:

1)Is it as good as the hot teen sex you used to have before you began having intercourse?

2) Is it WORTH it. As in, is PIV worth the stress, aggro, the pill, and possible abortions.

3) How would your current man react if you told him you'd rather never have PIV again, but would prefer to have a different kind of sex? The kind that doesn't put your body at risk of impregnation. Would he leave you? Are you in a strong enough financial and emotional position to even have this discussion with him?

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 09:27:08

I think if the woman has expressed the desire to have a baby, then penetration does not = power and control.

Otherwize though, WTF are these men doing impregnating women left right and centre. Anyone would think they were doing it on purpose... They do know what a penis is for, after all.

Tortington Thu 18-Aug-11 10:08:16

I hate this woman= having no say in sex definition, its bullshit

i;ve had sex with the one man i married, i had hot sex as a teenager with this man and i still have sex with this man

i like sex

i like penis in vagina sex

i love it

it is fucking awesome

and i am quite frankly sick and tired of being made to feel somehow ...guilty for doing so.

we didn't want anymore children so dh had a vasectomy. now we can fuck day and night should we want to and i won't get pregnant. i won't beucse neither of us wanted anymore children, had a grown up discussion and came to a solution.

you paint women in an almost victim/childlike/choiceless way and i am not happy as a woman with being painted this way

in the mail online there is an article about how most women would rather have a hamster than sex

its like this women= don't want sex rhetoric is ok. i am a sexual being i like sex. sex is awesome. i like penis, i like penetration, i like sex

i think there is another 'feminist' argument here 'why can';t women actually like sex and say so - why do we have to rrather do anything else/have a hamster/have a headache ?

i refuse to have my sexuality pigeon holed this way

VictorGollancz Thu 18-Aug-11 10:46:44

It's not true to say that all women have no control, but it is true that a great deal of women have less control than men when it comes to PIV sex. And when it's placed in the context of rape and assault, then it is enshrined in law that the person to be penetrated is the victim. Rape cannot be understood, legally, in any other way.

Kallista Thu 18-Aug-11 12:59:46

IMO penetration only = power/control if it is non-consensual or if the partner being penetrated is submissive by choice.
I do agree with Custardo - PIV sex is amazing.

VictorGollancz Thu 18-Aug-11 13:51:25

But what about the different risks levels entered into by the participants? I'm no expert of physiology, but it seems that vaginas (and anuses) can tear, bleed and be bruised more easily than the penis, a hand, or a sex toy.

I enjoy PIV sex; I also use contraception that can fail and have various medical conditions that preclude me from doubling up with chemical contraception (and anedotally I know plenty of women who have problems with the CC that they use). There is no other contraception that my perfectly healthy male partner can take. It doesn't exist.

If contraception does fail, I suffer far more than my partner. It's me that has to have a termination, or continue with pregnancy that can be dangerous. My body suffers, not his. That is an immense power to wield over someone else. And of course this is in the context of consensual sex. It is a power that can be abused.

And I'm lucky enough to live in a rich country with abortion rights and free contraception. Take those away and the difference between power and no power becomes even greater.

jennyvarnishessthewoodwork Thu 18-Aug-11 13:59:10

Would it be right to say that the increased vulnerability of the penetrated to consequences and the relative invulnerability of the penetrator is an inherent part of how we think about sex in general?

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 14:31:41

CUSTARDO, I 100% agree with you, everything in your post, actually,

i also love PIV/intercourse

I never said I didn't.

But I'm discussing something else entirely

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 14:40:43

have to add that the "why can't women like sex" argument is a bit misconstrued.
IF you read Sheila jeffrey's SPinsters, you'll learn that as it became less socially acceptable for married men to use prostitutes there began a huge VIctorian-era campaign to get wives to participate in "enthusiastic consent"
In other words, no longer could a woman just lie back and think of England, but she actually had to act and be enthusiastic if she wanted to "keep her man". We see this today in all the girly magazines aimed at young teens with explanations on how to give blow jobs to please their men.

Enthusiastic consent and female enthusiasm in the intercourse department has been heavily promoted by the malestream media and in psychoanalysis for quite some time. We're talking about the invention of the words frigid and prude to keep women in line. To some women being thought of, by men, as frigid or prudish is a fate worse than death. Which is precisely why the terms were coined in the first place: to get women to keep their consent "enthusiastic" so that their man would not be tempted to abandon them for another woman.

This is just some the sexual politics behind intercourse to date.

I find it very hard to reconcile the personal and the political. I like BDSM! I have PIV!
Am I a hypocrite? Maybe.
But the radfem analysis of intercourse still stands. It is unequal. INtercourse can never be equal, because it's the woman's body, not the man's that suffers the fall-out of pregnancy. This is the power difference.
Then there are other power differences, which are eroticized in our culture. In fact, female subordination is eroticized through intercourse.

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 14:44:55

to add, it became less acceptable for married men to use prostitutes thanks to the huge campaigns led by the early feminists. They were amazing women.
They fought very hard for the minimum age of consent in prostitution. MEn were fucking children left right and centre. ANd these women knew it was their husbands doing it.

So it makes me sick today to see all the YAY pornstitution! women defending the sex industry. It's like they're spitting on our foremothers' graves.

RCToday Thu 18-Aug-11 14:48:37

just wondering if any animals feel violated by being penetrated <<muses>>

or maybe i'm over thinking things...

nature and all that grin

I agree with Custy and I like sex

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 14:56:35

yes, but this post is not about liking sex, is it. I think we've all agreed on the fact that all women like sex. Nature has designed it that way.

I suppose what we're discussing here is not whether or not women like sex, but why mother nature placed the clitoris--which is the only organ in the human body designed specifically for sexual pleasure--quite far away from the vagina.
And then asking ourselves, why Sex= intercourse, and nothing more in our culture.
Sex does not = a woman's orgasm.
WHen a man goes to a prostitute and sticks his dick in her and comes within 5 minutes, patriarchal culture defines that as "sex"

So I would say "Sex" = when the man comes during intercourse.

This is a big problem for women, to have our sexuality defined through men's eyes.

skrumle Thu 18-Aug-11 14:57:07

erk - how much info to give??? grin my H might kill me... let's just say that we've had a varied sex life and if anything "suffer" from the fact that both of us would prefer to be submissive (so take turns dominating when we feel like it).

i like sex, like penetrative sex, and at the moment have a higher sex drive than my OH. so i have no interest in the idea that women don't enjoy sex but i do think there is a power imbalance the minute you introduce penetration which it seems odd to ignore. and i agree with sakura that as a woman it is possible to have mind-blowing sex without intercourse.

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 14:59:38

yes skrumle smile I'm 100% on the same page as you. Especially this:

"so i have no interest in the idea that women don't enjoy sex but i do think there is a power imbalance the minute you introduce penetration which it seems odd to ignore"

I think today's women are highly invested in ignoring the obvious. It might open a can of worms.

sakura Thu 18-Aug-11 15:04:15

What I think is, the identity of women today hangs on the fact they believe they are in an equal relationship with a man.
So rather than address the inherent inequalities of intercourse, they go into some sort of denial. The pill is one way to go into denial but it's difficult to forget that it creates all sorts of health problems such as thrombosis, blood clots and even cancer. I do think women should take their health seriously. There is no equality in intercourse and the pill (the man ain't getting cancer is he)
Intercourse with a man who'd had a vasectomy (sp?), I think would be pretty equal, yes. Or more likely to be equal.

PamBeesly Thu 18-Aug-11 16:27:49

therealtillyminto I love your view of PIV sex, I have never thought of it like that but from now on will, thanks

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