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Power, Politics, Prudery or the Totalitarianism of Sex

Sex is a dangerous subject. Rape even more so.

However, the question is: does the current climate of sexual victim narratives exactly fit in an age that is allegedly post-sexual liberation?

To be clear; violence used to gain ones pleasure against the will of another should always and everywhere be rightfully condemned.

But despite this obvious disclaimer is there still somewhat of an antiquated double standard operating in the sex lives of men and women?

If not, why is it then that if young men are forced to have sex with women, or disrobed by them unwillingly, or made to perform or undergo sex acts by them that no one, in the end, really cares including the young men involved? Or if this is not the case, then is it because young men are ashamed to report such behavior? Or are they less traumatized by such behavior for social, cultural reasons? To put it more dramatically, do young men view the fact of having sex, even unwillingly, with more than one partner in a night as a somewhat different experience than do women? And if so, does this mean men and women are after all different and perhaps unequal in questions of sexual modesty or that women’s view of their own sexuality has to let go of the last vestiges of Victorian prudishness?

If modern day feminism is to be consistent I think they must choose the latter. This would mean that women should not be expected to be more traumatized or incensed by certain unwilled sexual acts than would men. This, too, means that the concept of rape has to be carefully rethought. After all both sexes often enjoy the thrill of a bit of violence in their sexual relations. Anyone who denies this is a liar and a hypocrite. (But yes Americans are sooooo good at hypocrisy) Sex is complicated but at the same time shouldn’t its ambiguities be shared equally?

Here’s an even more extreme example to contemplate. If someone puts a gun or a knife to your throat and literally forces you to commit a sexual act, let’s say for the sake of argument, that for most people that would be an undesirable situation to be in. Yet, if a woman were to play the role of the violator in this instance would society expect the man who was violated to be deeply and irrevocably traumatized? So the question here is: why does society still encourage women to view themselves as victims and sex, even violent sex, as the terrible monster from which they will never recover?

Should not women be encouraged to view sex, all kinds of sex, as something natural and, just as for men, if they should be in a position to commit unwilling sexual acts that this is unfortunate but not, barring physical damage, an irrevocable caesura in their Dasein?

For the record, I am emphatically not saying that rape, however it will be defined in the future, is OK and not a serious event. It is. Yet what I am saying is that I think our present day culture is a schizophrenic hybrid of outdated Victorian mores and supercharged Pornographic fantasies which send an overwrought and confused signal to young men and women. If men are raped by women we, and they themselves, expect different things/responses from themselves than the reverse situation. Is that right?

If someone put their vagina, unwillingly, on a young man’s face how do we expect them to react? Do we view it as an unmentionable crime? I think not. But if a young man exposes himself in the same way towards an unwilling woman the response is inevitably histrionic. Again why? Are today’s young women not psychically strong enough to take such an event in their stride? Are their psyches so weak and their bodies more sacrosanct then young men? Or are we indeed operating here with a double standard inherited from the Victorians which view women as always the potential innocent victim with the evil, demonic male principal ever lurking to satisfy his disgusting lusts on a pure virginal symbol.

C’mon people grow up already. Women are just as sexually manipulative, conniving, and opportunistic as men are. As often as not, society encourages them to capture and use the age old Victorian narrative to their advantage. And who benefits? Often powerful men, who want to bring down other powerful men. Demonization has always been one of the tricks of the trade of totalitarian societies. In the USA, true to Orwellian form, SEX CRIMES are the clever if not so subtle way to destroy ones opponent. After all, even in the Soviet union enemies of the state were always referred to, among their many negative epithets, as sexual deviants.

We should not stay silent over this insidious culture and institution of thought crime. A first step forward is to be responsible modern people and start viewing young women as equal to men in their sexual appetites, sexual powers, sexual machinations, and sexual conflicts. Both sexes are equal in their abilities to sustain the ups and downs of the sexual circus that is part of the travails and tribulations that is sexual experimentation. Massive institutional intervention is not necessary and probably unwise in the long run. Diffusing sexual events, even unpleasant ones, of any histrionic metaphysical meaning; of making sex more spiritually at home in the female; and making both sexes equal combatants in the arena of passion might, in the end, free us from both the power and the prejudice of the American Totalitarianism of Sex.

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Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

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