THOUGHTS ON THE CLASSIC VIEW OF SEXUAL OBEDIENCE – Part 1 of 2 Part Article
They weren’t suppose to enjoy it. They were suppose to lie still for it. Archie Bunker
In this society, sexual obedience has been forgotten. Made invisible. Sexual obedience has always been the result of laws controlling sexuality. But you wouldn’t know that from our public discussions.
I ask what isn’t rape when women had to be obedient, had no choice to act and weren’t suppose to enjoy it?
Mothers advise to daughters was ‘just give it to him to make him happy.”
Ask women how they handled it years ago? A woman told me “You just put up with it”. It was legal. The law.
Older women are surprised at how the discussions flow today in ignorance of the past – and they hardly enter the discussions, too.
The jokes of a woman having a headache barely skimmed the can of worms about
women’s choices. It was all fodder for joking which added to the seriousness of the matter when the matter wasn’t discussed.
Media flourished with endless suggestions for women on how to make him happy to have a happy home. Good mothers were selfless, putting children and men’s needs first. Never doing enough, or having enough advise, on how to please your man. It was simply the terms of being a good wife and mother.
But can we as a society admit that rape was the terms of being a good wife and mother in women’s history? Can we admit that? It wasn’t just a bunch of bad guys but a belief system taught through social institutions?
Today women are told the opposite. Don’t please him. Please yourself.
Don’t have sex if you don’t want to. You were raped when you had sex when you didn’t want to.
The questions researchers ask girls is Did you ever have sex when you didn’t want to?
But where does obedience enter in? What girl has sexual freedom to do as she wants, seriously?
The result is mixed messages. Double messages. Not clarity. More confusion.
The regulations about obscenity in media forbid much real discussion about a woman’s life, body or work as unrelated directly to man’s needs. Ditto for children. These conflicts about media obscenity were fought between 1850 through the 1920’s. And that media, at one time, included medical and university textbooks as well as television and movies.
Nudity in varying degrees, rape and murder of women was not obscene from the start as it glorified men’s power and victory over life’s battles. No laws against it. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and other real life stuff interfered with the ‘flow’ of the drama, the necessity of scientific research and the logic of man as authority over women. It blew the cover off the fantasies of sexual manpower and potentially exposed irresponsibility towards and ignorance about women and children – if things got too real.
Sex in media was always fantasy. Highly distorted and overly emphasized on one hand and completely denied on the other.
What is rape when it was believed that mothers were inherently non-sexual beings – or had to pretend to be except in the bedroom?
What is rape when a society uses respect, morality and sexual obedience as a tool of control, sometimes sexual punishment and an indicator of social status?
How can one be raped when one can’t be respected and honored for being sexually active to begin with? Wasn’t the rape the results? Wasn’t the initial rape, first, the actual beliefs about a woman’s sexuality to begin with and how that played out?
If you believe she can be non-sexual (or sexual) only on a man’s own terms and not hers, she’s already stripped of her own bodily functions – including her mind if she believes man’s authority. If you believe she can get pregnant and doesn’t have to enjoy it or doesn’t have a choice whether she wants to or not, then the issue isn’t that her body isn’t just her own (a issue like involuntary servitude and slavery), but it is that her body has no boundaries or limitations. It’s not real. Her body is made fantasy. Archie Bunker style.
Examples aren’t hard to find even in 2014 of what I’m pointing to in the past! There are video clips of open admission.
What does rape mean when a woman’s only chance at divinity was to be a virgin – that is a person who hasn’t had sex? What does it mean when once a woman has sex, she has no divinity, no sacredness, no honor? She’s marred from some dubious purer state and status. She’s got the real life stuff that goes with sexuality once she’s had sex.
If you can’t be sexually active, honored and respected at the same time, what is that condition called?
How did we ever get to the almost meaningless debate that made it appear as if rape does or does not occur solely dependent on whether a woman said no?
Isn’t that in itself ridiculously a complete denial of a woman’s social and legal obligations? But the denial of women’s lives and bodies as they experience them is what women have consistently been resisting, debating and in conflict with men about. It is the piece that is being omitted over and over again.
Or the other piece that is supposedly a sign of rape was if she displayed a resistance and fought back the attacker yet the total environment of women’s realities in this society was the complete opposite? Sexual obedience to men is the normal in our society for women. Sexual deviance is what is perceived as the problem. For women to fight back has been to be sexually deviant as a woman. Fighting back for women meant more violence, social and legal sanctions. And fighting back can get you killed, especially in some short term circumstances. Women don’t want to be raped but they don’t want to be killed either. Sometimes women make the right choices and sometimes women don’t but it’s not like we live in a predictable environment of clear messages that help the matter.
But what about the remote possibility that women can live a life free of the possibility of being raped and killed terrorist style?
We have whole countries designed for freedom.
These discussions about rape reduced to saying no or fighting back could only happen with those who haven’t fully understood or come to terms with the complications of sex segregation and opposite sex theory.
If we believe in opposite sexes, then how on earth could opposites be the ‘same”?
We have to rid ourselves of opposite sex theory before we can ‘be the same’, don’t we? And logic then rapidly concluded, well, women and men are not the same and so it is futile. All of this is either inevitable or we are fighting against the nature we are. But this is a mind caught in opposite sex theory. Not one that is free of it.
We treat gender in illogical ways. In contradiction and confusion. We’ve been given error both in what we believe is the ‘same’ in opposite sexes as well as what we believe is ‘different’ in the opposite sexes. Women have been treated badly in terms of being the same as men and in terms of being the opposite of men. Only unquestioning belief and blatantly ignoring the problem can avoid facing confusion and contradictions.
Confusion and contradictions abound, but like any other confusing issue, we can come to clarity. The most relevant question is….does everyone want to?
I think not. For many reasons.
There is a weird sense of safety in the confusion if it’s familiar confusion. Getting real and being exposed to a world the unknown now that’s scary. What do you do in an unknown world when what is known has slipped away?
You learn something new.
Rape had nothing to do with what a woman did in response to it as it had nothing to do with what she did prior to it – except be born in a society that believes in opposite sex theory.
For decades, she was allowed none – sex. He had it all. Couldn’t help himself.
This was a reverse in gender beliefs since previously women were the ones who could be considered nymphomaniacs. That is before opposite sex theory was developed. In more recent decades, it flipped 180 degrees. Men were considered the helpless nymphomaniacs, except we didn’t use that word for men.
It’s as if society had a skip in the DVD track of our culture in order to discuss rape the way we do today. Make that a a bunch of skips and a damaged dvd. You simply can’t even hear the whole track.
If rape was forced on her physically and she had to fight back and say No as the determining factors of whether a rape occurred, what has just happened is we denied all the factors of sexual difference in an environment where the beliefs and teachings are opposite sex and in that frame, the social responsibilities of a good wife, woman were such that she could do neither, then what is that? How do you be a good woman and not be raped in the normal course of socially controlled events of *obedience*?
Denial of the facts of a woman’s life, historically and at present? That’s how.
It’s double talk. It’s having words that are meaningless to her actual existence in
such a way that the hierarchy and adherents stabilize social power over women by fictionalizing their lives as they claim reality for both sexes as convenient and then claiming difference when that’s needed. The struggle women are left with is doing the work to articulate their reality in such a way that not only gives appropriate meaning to their experience in context but names who did what but at the same time say it in a way men will respond appropriately. At least that’s the logical attempt.
Words were the way it was done. Words are the way it is done. Unfortunately, women were taught to believe in the words of a man (all those who had social leadership and authority) and a society controlled mainly by men that they were taught to honor, respect and obey because he was authority and superior in logic. His reality was the entire reality. Not to mention avoiding punishments for disobedience.
When Archie Bunker said women were suppose to lie still for it, society was changing but was not changed. It still is not changed. Rape wasn’t a word in the media. Hotlines didn’t exist. And women could not get respect and be sexual at the same time. And it took a lot of maneuvering just for women to be able to talk publicly to begin with. Many times they still can’t. Men didn’t have to listen either. When you have power and money, you don’t have to. When you don’t, you have to obey those who do.
Rape is still not legal obscenity in movies or television. But more women are having a harder time watching it happen and more women are resisting the public tradition.
In the 70’s during the Archie Bunker television series, most people still behaved as if Men were the authority and their word was respected no matter what it was. Edith’s whole being gave respect to Archie as a man in the way she carried herself, walking gingerly, brief touching foot to the ground surface in taking brief, small steps or as to not take a wrong step. Her sexual obedience began with her understanding of herself as a good wife and mother. Her sexual disobedience laid open the conflict with her requirements of being a good mother and wife.
Men were entitled to their word being honored because they were the authorities over women – not because it had integrity, facts or truth. It was the belief in the opposite sex (and one sex) theory about Man being the standard and superior human being. They were the authorities of what was reality. And their voices declared it back then. They were the superiors and women the inferiors. Women not given voice publicly except in strictly controlled ways by men. Women had significant consequences if they weren’t obedient. Rape and domestic violence were often perceived as punishments, or some failing on the part of woman in pleasing the man as well as the rights of authority to force their subordinates into the action they desired. Such ‘appropriate’ behavior was considered necessary for attaining women’s obedience and a man meeting his own needs. It’s the way we allow violence in many places even today. How much of this is changed? How much can be changed? And if so, how?
At the same time, women were considered inferior, emotional, incapable of intelligence, stupid, crazy and sick by the very conditions of being feminine and female. (Often as the results of being mistreated and misinformed too.) The bitch deserved anything she got so most women worked really hard not to be called a bitch. So any woman that protested violence and rape was just perceived as a bitch, an unnatural sick or deviant, bad woman.
She was unwanted and men made choices. They also attacked her in endless ways and justified what they did by who they made her out to be. Society went into a tizzy about outspoken women and feminists, like terrorists, were categorically BAD. Never mind the identification mistakes of who actually is one. Feminists were bitches, unfeminine, and accused of hating men and children. This belief is tenacious.
Add on top of this, marital duties, laws about marriage and divorce, religious-spiritual sexism, psychiatric, psychological and scientific sexism that found scientific and rational *reasons* to endorse and ensure that women submitted to sex and their domestic duties endorsed women’s sexual obedience. Love – the highest duty of woman – was pumped as reason for all she did to the point she believed it and worked at nothing harder than Loving her family. And sexual deviance, that is sexual avoidance, sexual mixed feelings, sexual conflicts could be perceived as a mental disorder as it is today. Sexual conformity with male desires is perceived as mentally healthy – no matter how much harm to women.
What does all this add up to? You have the perfect storm for marriage and relationships as a distorted socially formed condition of choice-involuntary servitude where negotiating sexual freedom with sexual obedience and ideas of sexual deviance is hardly a simple matter. Discussions of rape then are not just the resolving of conflict in opposite sex matters of force and autonomy, but the door to widening our understandings in a much broader sense about our society’s ideas of sexual obedience, regulations and freedom.
The idea back then about Freedom in marital choice was only defined by the fact that marriages were no longer arranged formally and a daughter could say No to a marriage proposal. That was her freedom. She couldn’t make a proposal. That was ‘out of social order’. But her ability to say No, however, as a choice of hers was dubious in fact when so much family pressure was on gender training, and boys and girls to be obedient to parents in opposite sex regulations existed as well as good parenting requiring strict control of children. Sexual deviance and social deviance go hand in hand. Not to mention religion was the backbone of sexual and social morality.
Years ago in sexual segregation as it was women and men never were able to be socially together in the same place except through authorities’ supervision or if married. Sex segregation is a process of socialization of girls and boys that takes a number of years to achieve before they actually begin to live the sex segregated lives.
After all, submission of daughters and wives also was rationalized by the ideas of men as insatiable, out of control sexual beings that couldn’t help themselves. It was up to women to control them and appease them. Men were entitled to women’s domestic and sexual services and to be loved and obeyed. It didn’t go the opposite way in legal and social obligations. Marriage was for their entitlement to women’s services. Women only expected some of the same. This originally was established before women could speak in public, attend universities, read, write, make any financial decisions of their own or participate in any territory marked for men in a sex segregated society.
Things have changed, but still the roots of this haven’t been entirely pulled out.
This history isn’t forgotten by some. Some social members maintain it emphatically, Others think it is all ancient history. Hardly believe it still exists.
We are a society unsettled. A tug of war and push and pull about how to live and what should be legal is either front and center or just too hot to touch in the midst of a very conflicted society. Everyone has their opinions similar to how I imagine everyone had their opinions before it became obvious that the world was round. Those that got on the boat and sailed, knew the world was round. Eventually those who never got on a boat can’t deny the facts anymore.
Those who live beyond the classic view of sexual obedience also know what was taught as absolute morality was, well, some horrific kind of morality for women. It is best understood that what became religious morality of sexuality was very much tied to land ownership and the accumulation of wealth and not so much about being a good person, avoiding harming someone and having an eternal afterlife as many believe today. The beliefs of our morality in origin were very much about constructing wealthy families, not loving ones.
The goals have all changed but the structure and behaviors from outdated ideas still run the course for acquiring wealth and constructing wealthy families.
The common media stance and attitude coming from most of the large institutions in our society is denial and minimized by believing that the rape problems we have are just a bunch of bad guys. We find them and weed them out. On the other hand,there are mostly good guys out there. Bad guys and good guys define the problem rather than systematic teachings of gender defined roles.
It is also denied that men as a group and these beliefs didn’t really exist. After all, we all know that there have always been good guys. And if we just catch and punish the bad guys all the social problems will be solved. Obedience is the answer. Yet while we are jailing people for non-obedience of sexual laws and morality on one end, on the other end, we, as a society, can’t decide what the laws should be. And in the end, we can all fall into the category of the ‘bad’ guy.
Unfortunately, the bad-good guy stance has been a long held ‘solution’ about our social problems. It’s part of the problem. Not any substantive solution. We get scapegoats and heroes and we believe in them and while it appears change is occurring because action is being taken, the underlying realities, once again, are hidden and denied. No amount of action can work if it is the wrong beliefs and wrong actions. The bad guy-good guy response to social problems is ineffective because a social problem requires everyone to change – not just the identified bad guys. And we don’t need heroes except for every single one of us to be one by change oneself.
If it’s just a few bad guys, well, then all the good ones can continue behaving the way they *believe* – and the behavioral residue from the classic view of sexual obedience stays the same, conflicts play out and are denied, then rise again in new forms but are essentially the same old same old along with a mess of a history to deal with that becomes fictionalized, fragmented and used as defenses.
The attempt to blame a few bad guys serves to simplify and cover up the reality of our social system functioning about violence and it’s purposes as a whole rather than address it. This happens, in part, because the problems are intergenerational.
They get passed down to the next generation in the midst of change and contradictions and myths about good and bad women and men. Children aren’t taught clarity but instead by missing, distorted and fragmented, confusing information. Each new generation is born and raised in the mixed messages and lives them and the confusing, contradictions with newer ideas of what makes them good or bad – often with a clear reaction claiming absolute devotion to change from the mess that their parents had to deal with or the society as it was. But others do the opposite to cope, they claim the good old days with a complete denial of the bad days. But what also happens is the way people are labeled ‘bad and good’ produces false beliefs and epidemics about individual human problems that really have no basis in fact and instead are the result of a systematic functioning..
Like each other generation, I think the people who were born after the mid 70’s really don’t understand what they inherited in this society because they didn’t experience pre-70’s, history wasn’t written quick enough and this history, if it does exist, gets told as if it’s a one size fits all. I’m tired of what the lack of knowledge about our society is doing to further complicate problems that are not being adequately solved but we want solved. I do not like the idea of what we are handing our grandchildren.
Today we call someone a *rapist* and like *terrorist* name calling in the Bush era, the label, rapist, is the shovel we use to dig into a can of worms and hope we get the bad guys in the hollow of our grasp. But we know that we don’t have the problem nailed down hard enough to actually identify the rapist and terrorist. It becomes opinions and points of views based on the beliefs were already inherited that are part of our social upheaval. Prejudices and stereotyping result.
The very labels and words we give people are not only completely problematic, they cause an enormous outgrowth of additional problems and sometimes solve little of what was intended to be solved. In fact, it’s quite known that our society is
actually successful at created more of the problem they propose to be solving.
The very basic ideas that circulate in media about rape are often in error.
I propose that it all doesn’t have to be this way and that we, as a society, need
to dig into the can of worms until we find the fundamentals that are *not* beliefs but obvious truth. At some point, the conflicts about the world being flat were solved. Took a few hundred years for the catholic church, but they were solved. At some point, witches stopped being burned and people stopped being killed for their
beliefs in baptisms and omissions of Catholic or catholic like christian rituals.
In the meantime, there is enormous error and ineffectiveness in attempting to meet goals that meet a complete resolution of today’s problems.
Mostly that error springs from a society that hasn’t been honest with itself about women’s bodies, women’s work and women’s history. Of course, That, too, is just a symptom of the problem. The core of the problem, as I stated earlier is fundamental error about who we are as humans on the planet. How do we live on it and not
destroy ourselves, each other and Earth itself?
It’s the ways we use language and how we treat people that are the problem based on false ideas and if you pay attention, you might really come to believe that’s really the source of all the other problems. False ideas.
You know, it is possible to wipe out all the branches of the problem if you cut at the root. But getting to the root is what radical is and we’ve been told being radical is bad. Well, there is good radical and bad radical.
I mean the term woman and man are so ingrained and common that they seem benign but it is the very words and the meanings that have contributed to the problems of rape.