After being sexually harassed endlessly for weeks, Mel Watts, who runs the blog, The Modern Mumma, succumbed to her husband’s pressure and engaged in what she calls “a quickie.” That is to say, she had sex she didn’t want, with her partner, without having any say in the matter.
When I say “sexual harassment,” I’m not exaggerating. On Facebook, where Watts posted an “after” shot, she writes:
“Rewind back this morning I’ve had dad sex jokes thrown at me all morning. Packages dropped on my shoulder, dry humping my leg and asking if I want sausage to eat. I would hardly say it was romantic.”
I’m not completely out of it. I’m well aware that many heterosexual couples think that if the male end of the partnership asks his wife or girlfriend if she “want[s] sausage to eat” it’s seen as just a cute joke — a kind of flirting… You know, the kind of “flirting” 13-year-old boys engage in once they’ve learned that sexual harassment and jokes about sticking their dicks in girls’ mouths is “cute” and “flirtateous” rather than part of their learned participation in rape culture.
But harassing your tired partner day in and day out for sex by “humping [their] leg” and pushing your dick at them, literally, (as she explains it, “Packages dropped on my shoulder”) isn’t cute, flirtateous, or modern. In fact, it’s very much connected to the mind frame that existed not so long ago when marital rape was legal — the (male) mind frame that says, “I have a right to sex with my wife,” “I have a right to sexually harass my wife,” “Sex is something I ‘need,'” “Sex is something owed to me.”
“I may have to admit it was quick and slightly obligated,” Watts says. “I was definitely not prepared…” And why wasn’t she “prepared?” Well, because she didn’t want sex and didn’t intend to have it. The sex was clearly initiated by her husband, and she succumbed, feeling she had no other choice. Does this sound like “enthusiastic consent” to you? Or are we prepared to argue that enthusiastic consent doesn’t matter in a marriage? Surely we all know where this line of thinking leads us…
What bothers me about this situation is not only that this man felt it was perfectly in his right to force his partner into having sex with him, but that Watts actually was made to feel guilty about declining him.
“The amount of times I have turned down this mans ‘charms’ one would assume I was ungrateful. I think more tired and exhausted would describe it best. I’m not normally your day time quickie kinda person but today I thought the amount of effort he has put into every sexual advance it would just be plain mean of me.”
She’s right to put “charms” in scare quotes — this man is anything but “charming.” He’s an entitled child who believes his wife is obligated to give him what he wants, regardless of her desires and feelings. It’s not “mean” to decline sex with men when you don’t wish to have sex — it’s exactly what women should feel comfortable doing. The fact that they do not — and that when they do say “no,” they feel guilty about it and men keep up the pressure anyway– perfectly exemplifies how entrenched rape culture is in our supposedly “modern” culture.
Thousands and thousands of people “liked” Watts’ post on Facebook, cheering her on, laughing and normalizing their own experiences with selfish, entitled, childish husbands (or as those husbands themselves). One commenter writes:
“You had me at the very start… Dry humping, package drop, really poor sex jokes. It’s my husband every day, and as much as I roll my eyes, I can’t help but laugh at his stupid jokes and wouldn’t have him any other way. And to all the haters this honest post does not mean Mel doesn’t have endless hours of ‘meaningful’ sex nor is it anyone’s business, but this day she had a quickie and she wrote about it, and it was fucking brilliant…that’s it stop analysing [sic] her life over one post. Mel you are a champ.”
Another woman says:
“I think if any type of sex between a stable couple could be considered ‘degrading’ you are with the wrong person, thanks hun for the super relatable post and let nit pickers and stedford [sic] wives go about and have their unspontaneuous [sic] and non degrading sex.”
One man writes:
“As a man and a father, I find this light hearted post hilarious and so refreshing! I can relate to the ‘leg humping’ and the ‘sausage’ comments (we males have all been there) but also to your view of it! It’s modern life, it’s parenting life and it goes on in every household but it’s still for some reason one of those things we don’t feel comfortable talking about.”
But these people don’t get it. Yes, this post is relatable — because most women have been pressured into sex by men (and because so many men think this kind of pressure and harassment is perfectly fine). Most-likely we’ve all been sexually harassed and subjected to men’s prodding, flashing, and “sex jokes” as part of that harassment. I mean, the multitude of dick pics women are subjected to online should tell us how accepted this kind of behaviour is… (Want sex? Shove a dick in her face!) Moreso, a huge percentage of us have been sexually assaulted — not just by strangers, but by boyfriends, family members, friends, and, yes, husbands.
Those of us who question whether or not this behaviour is acceptable, funny, or harmless are not opposed to “spontaneous” sex, we are talking about the larger context for this kind of behaviour and are questioning why it is acceptable in the first place.
Men learn from the time they are young that sex is something you “get” from women and is something that women don’t really want, but give in to. (And of course, if they do “want it,” they are “sluts.”)
If men and women alike learn that sex is “for men” and that it is something women are obligated to do in order to keep men happy, regardless of what they do or don’t want, how on earth do we expect to undo rape culture? How do we expect young boys to understand that, actually, sex is something both parties should want, otherwise lay off?
Watts expresses relief, at the end of her post, that she’ll have a temporary break from the constant nagging and harassment: “Silver lining he’s happy for the next few days and I’m going to bed without dick jabbed in my back.” But that’s nothing to be relieved about. So long as rape culture is accepted as harmless and unavoidable — whether it’s inside or outside our homes — we have no hope of building a world wherein women are safe from men’s violence and treated with the dignity and respect we deserve, as human beings.