Coerced? – a nuanced discourse about consent – Tracy Ofarn

The issue of coerced sex is not a simple one; regardless of how many confident opinions you may see flying about the place. There are arguments over the differences between force and co-ercion; co-ercion and manipulation; manipulation and convincing.
I am by no means an expert on this subject but I understand coerced sex to be sex or sexual activity that a person didn’t want but was pressured into having, by another person. It can be easily distinguished from sex they wanted at the time, but are now regretting. A lot of people think it falls short of rape, depending on the particular circumstance, because of the existence of technical consent.
In high school, I’ve heard coercion described as ’emotional rape’. The term covered a range of activities – begging; badgering and/or crying (people have reported this kind of bothering for hours); threatening shame and public disgrace; creating and manipulating circumstances so that the other person can’t leave a particular location; or creating physical barriers or restraints without actually forcing yourself on the victim; or sometimes just standing over the person, visibly frustrated and enraged, nursing what seems like a painful erection, until she gives in.
What differentiates coercion from what people usually consider to be rape is the giving in, or the failure to say ‘no’ (assuming the person is not incapacitated).
The reasons people reluctantly consent also vary. For some, there is a real fear of being attacked (whether the other party acknowledges it or not) or of the threat of blackmail being carried out. With others, it is a desire to stop the Other person’s apparent distress; not wanting to cause trouble; or giving in just to be left alone. Some freeze; others rationalise – with themselves and the other person – and a lot of women have been conditioned to blame themselves for being in that position in the first place.
The society’s reaction to claims, and complaints of coerced sex are also varied.
Leaving aside the issue of false accusations, the society’s first reaction seems to be outrage, that people are trying to categorise coercion as rape, or even sexual assault.
Some people think that once consent is obtained, however it is obtained, no one should attempt to ruin a man’s reputation by even hinting at the ‘r’ word. While others accept that coercion is wrong, opinions vary as to whether it should criminalised, or whether the term rape should be reserved for what is, in their minds, a very specific offence.
There are the usual declarations that women should take responsibility for their actions, which include not being anywhere alone with a man who is attracted to them, being prepared to confront or physically fight off their attacker, or to repeat ‘no’ loudly for as many times as is necessary.
In making these declarative statements, people frequently fail to take into account the different forms of coercion. There is a desire for a clean line to be drawn between rape (a criminal act that only monsters and fake men commit) and coercion (not great, but not a crime for goodness’ sake!) and convincing (oh come on! we’ve all done it). To people who consider themselves to be decent, rape is inexcusable, but coercion is debateable.
I think the reason that this has been an issue for such a long time is some problematic views about sex which are similar to views that justify or excuse rape. Society has only relatively recently begun to question long-held beliefs that men cannot, and should not, be expected to control their sexual impulses, because they somehow ‘need’ sex and the responsibility for providing, controlling, or resisting sexual activity, lies with women. This apparent ‘need’ for sex goes hand in hand with reducing women to a receptacle for that desire. ‘Sorry’ goes the traditional advice ‘this is just a risk that women have to wise up to’. The begging, lying and trickery are just things a savvy woman will have to navigate her way around (if she is lucky), all these does not make the man ‘a bad guy’, it just makes him a ‘man’.
It’s difficult to overestimate how much this mindset, that women should be in charge of men’s desires, is engrained in both conservative and liberal societies. Both factions provide different answers. Religious conservatives have preached abstinence and an iron-grip on your sexual desires as a solution while the left has gone for the more relevant emphasis on the importance of enthusiastic consent. This webpage illustrates the point – https://sapac.umich.edu/article/205 .
The left has also championed sexual liberation, particularly in relation to recognising that sex is not just something that happens to women; women have an equal say in what kind of sex takes place at all times.
However, I do get the feeling that the ‘liberation’ part of sexual liberation sometimes lags behind the sex part. The acknowledgement that people will have, quite often, creative and exotic sex outside of marriage and conventional relationships, has, for some, turned into an entitlement to that kind of casual sex.
There have been high profile cases involving men, whom many would expect to be very concerned about enthusiastic consent, but who have instead decided that any woman they fancy is definitely sexually liberated enough to be pressured unconscionably into casual sex with them. This is despite fairly clear signs that the women very much do not want to have sex with them at that moment.
So is the much-derided Matt Walsh right? Does ‘hook-up’ culture lead to rape culture (https://twitter.com/MattWalshBlog/status/476741565046476801)? Not in my view. Rape has existed since recorded history. The reason that it has been treated as a baby crime in so many societies, with the many exceptions and conditions that make detection, punishment and even identification very difficult, is that people have seen rape as an extension of men’s uncontrollable sexual desires (instead of an act of violence and the exertion of power that it is) and because women are reduced and objectified as recipients, receptacles or ‘plunder’ when it comes to sex and sexual violence.
Coerced sex is just another manifestation of this thinking, perhaps brought about by the stigmatisation of violent rape. Disregard for women’s sexual and bodily autonomy is still very much alive – as long as the hurdle of technical consent can be crossed.
Criminalising, at least, some manifestations of this behaviour is probably necessary, because they are so close to force (which is what a lot of coercion is) and removing any real choice and because some people will never really care about a woman’s consent anyway. However, I do think society needs to dig deeper – especially those of us who call ourselves liberals. If you consider yourself to be a decent human being, you can’t escape the fact that women – people – are autonomous beings. If someone does not want to have sex with you on your terms at that time, that should be the end of the discussion. If you are about to have sex with someone you despise, you’re at greater risk of turning them into an object for your desire and disregarding their wishes. If you go on a night out and your state of mind is that you are going to get laid tonight, come hell or highwater, you are probably on the way to downplaying autonomy and true consent.
There are other complicated scenarios. For instance, there is an expectation of sex in most romantic relationships. The question is when. For some it’s marriage, for others it’s on the first date. For a lot more others, it’s somewhere in between. No one is entitled to sex from another human being, but we acknowledge that if sex suddenly stops in a relationship (or never starts), it is an issue that needs to be addressed. However, in a relationship, when does a discussion about sex turn into coercion? Is threatening to end a relationship really co-ercion as the link above suggests or should people be as entitled to say they want sex as they are to say that they don’t want sex?
How about when you are the only liberated soldier in a backwards, conservative society and you are sure that the woman you are with wants you but is only being held back by outdated beliefs about what good girls do and do not do? Is it your noble duty to disabuse her of her unevolved, primitive ideas – the sex with you being just a collateral benefit, of course, hardly worth mentioning? Should you convince her that’s ‘it’s okay’, God doesn’t love you any less if you have sex with me this minute and it would definitely be the right thing to do?’
I don’t have all the answers but I feel very strongly that if someone does not want to have sex or any kind of sexual activity at that moment, deciding to co-erce, manipulate or convince them to go further shows a disturbing willingness to override their will. And the only relevant communication is what they are saying in the present; not what they have done in the past or what they may enjoy in the future. It sometimes is rape and it sometimes is sexual assault but it doesn’t have to be classified as such for it to be wrong. Consent is not a technicality to avoid trouble or a goal in itself; it is a recognition that the other person is an equal, autonomous person like yourself.
All in all, the issue of coercive sex clearly needs to be addressed and certain behaviour should be criminalised, in my view, if it is not already. But the conversation around it demonstrates the fundamental problems in how we understand and regard consent. It is tempting to demonise everybody or wish everyone would just stop wanting to have casual sex. However, the key may be to answer this question about consent honestly: if you are willing to plough ahead with sex with someone who has expressly said they don’t want to have sex at that time and/or who is clearly reluctant for whatever reason, in what ways exactly do you consider your mindset to be different from a rapist’s?

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Sex Work and the Worth of a Woman – Olutimehin Adegbeye

Nicki Minaj wants to tell women who charge for their time, companionship and pussy to “know their worth” sis why else do you think they have rates?!

It’s so hilarious how “know your worth” is coded to mean “fuck for free”. In this capitalist world where people’s value is determined by how much money they can generate for their personal use, women’s labour is almost inevitably under- or devalued, and it is understood that sex diminishes women unless said women are expressly offering it in service to or as the property of men.

It seems to me that women charging the equivalent of some people’s monthly income (the 2k Minaj states) for sex is a sign that they know their worth.

“Know your worth” is slut-shaming, whorephobic nonsense. What a person does/doesn’t do sexually has no impact on their worth. Human beings are intrinsically worthy; it’s Minaj’s inability to divest from oppressive ideas of differential value that is the problem, not IG models.

That fake deep take of “I was critiquing myself and asking if I contributed to women selling sex because I sell sex appeal” while positioning women who actually sell sex as ‘less than’ and somehow ignorant of their own worth is traaaaaaaash and Nicki can like to gedifok.

Sex work is work. And legitimising sex work benefits everyone, particularly women. Nicki is probably just mad that a former sex worker is now being treated as a better, more interesting, more current rapper than her.

Look. Struggle all you want with the idea that sex work is legitimate labour. It doesn’t change the fact that it is. Labour = production of goods & services that have exchange value. Sex work puts material value on consensual sex the way nannying puts material value on childcare.

Sex work is a service. And heterosexual sex in particular is so often transactional, even when the exchange doesn’t involve a direct price structure. That’s why y’all’s husbands and dads are forever ‘joking’ about how they end up paying for sex one way or another.

The struggle people have is rooted in the degree of agency women sex workers in particular display when it comes to who and how they fuck, in women’s rejection of monogamy (& marriage) as the only ‘legitimate’ sex, & the radical way a woman claims ownership of her body via SW.

Sex workers claim the benefits of sex with men (bc let’s face it, most clients are male) while ostensibly escaping the costs; the servitude, denial of self etc that come with being a ‘legitimate whore’ aka a wife.

And let’s be clear: wifehood IS whoredom within traditional heterosexual marriage. Het. marriage is constructed as a contract in which a woman exchanges her sexual value for economic and social benefits. (I’m sure your feminist marriage is the exception sis, please don’t @ me.)

Bottom line: legitimising sex work will force us as a society to reckon with how our collective morality has its foundation in cis women’s vaginas. And the day society can rid itself of its obsession with all women’s bodies, vaginas or not, half our work will be done.
Go follow @thotscholar @Raquel_Savage @tilly_lawless for complex, complicated conversations about sex work. ???

Side note: there’s no place with more glamorous women enjoying their lives, drinking water, minding their biz & being sweet to one another than sugarbaby twitter lol

Side side note: dead the idea that sex work is easy, or easy money. All those memes of “if I can’t hack school I’ll just become a sex worker” are laughable. Like, have you met men??? ????

Side side side note: before you @ me to argue about wives being the ultimate whores (I use that word with intention), ask yourself why so many people believe that neither wives nor whores can be raped – that even forced, unwanted sex with wives and whores *cannot be* rape.
Okay so sex workers are agreeing with me, therefore I have done something right. I’d like to dedicate this award to my beloved mother of blessed memory.

BTW: If you’re pro-justice, a feminist, or just interested in learning about the world through a sex work(ers) lens and you’ve never read @titsandsass, you should fix that.

The article was originally posted as a thread.

Follow @ohTimehin on Twitter

There are men who walk daintily , there are men who walk like antelopes

Dear Humans
There are men who walk daintily , there are men who walk like antelopes, there are men who walk like turkeys/chickens , there are also men who walk like lions. There is no particular way men walk.
There are men who are slim and there are men who are fat. There are men who have beautiful shapes, there are men who are shaped like an amoeba. There are men who have protruding asses and there are still others who have flat asses.
Men have breasts and men have nipples. Men’s breasts are sensitive and are responsive.
There is no particular way a man should be. Every human comes in a particular way, shape and size that is unique to them.
Dear police men, stop arresting men for allegedly looking like women. Nonsense!
We are not arresting you for been thieves or extorting or blackmailing.

Laraba Oiboh is self described as a non-feminist who believes in and works towards gender equality

A love letter to Nigerian Feminists – Ayodele Olofintuade

Dearest One,

How have you been? I mean how are you really?

I hope you’re making money, I hope you’re taking out time to be with friends, time to breathe and party. I hope you’re getting laid, getting well laid. But most importantly I hope you’re healthy and happy.

I understand how difficult it is to be a Nigerian, woman, to self-identify as feminist, to do this work of nation building by dismantling the patriarchy one damn brick at a time.

I understand how it feels to have reductive terms like ‘bitter aunty’, Facebook/Twitter feminist, etcetera thrown in your face each time you stand up for yourself and other women. I understand how tired you get when you open your account in the morning to the howling of trolls in your mentions, on your feed. I understand how you sometimes despair when ignorant people with the emotional intelligence of a rock and the IQ of the size of a grain of sand starts TELLING you how to be.

I am in your shoes.

But I want you to know that you’re doing alright, you’re rattling cages, things are no longer the same and it’s because you’re lending your voice and muscles to making this change. You are doing amazing darling. You are the dreams of your ancestors, you are beautiful, inside out.

Well Done!!!

Don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball. We will have equality, we will have bodily autonomy, we will have our sexual and reproductive rights. We will use our voices.We will have anything we set our sights on because we are human. We will have all our rights, we have power, we will use it.

I’m sending you peace and love. I’m sending you basket-fulls of not-giving-a-fuck.

Soar.

STRATEGY AND INNOVATION FOR DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE (SI4DEV) GOVERNANCE GROUP – RECOMMENDATIONS ON COMBATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS.

INTRODUCTION

The United Nations defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
Contrary to popular belief, violence against women goes beyond the physical and includes mental and emotional abuse. Gender-based violence covers genital mutilation, femicide, rape, sexual harassment, physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, education and job deprivation, denial of political rights, trafficking and kidnapping of girls and women, among others.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Ironically, violence against women continues to increase, despite rising campaigns on human rights and gender equality. In their poll on domestic violence, NOIPolls Limited and Project Alert found that 54 percent of Nigerians have suffered some form of domestic violence in their homes or know someone who has. Respondents stated that majority (75 percent) of the victims of domestic violence are women, with men and children as victims at 16 percent and 9 percent respectively.
In Nigeria, violence against women is rooted in gender-based discrimination, and gender stereotypes. It is promoted by our traditions and cultures which give males excessive dominance over their female counterparts. In rural communities, the rights of women are trampled by villagers ignorant of gender rights, and many women live at the mercy of men, relegated to the background, deprived of education, liberty and inheritance. In cities, violence against women appears in cases where women are sexually harassed at their jobs or schools, in relationships or marriages lacking adequate finances and trust, or where the male has alcohol addiction, and in more secretive settings where women are trafficked for sex work.
High profile cases of violence against women in Nigeria include the abduction of girls by the Boko Haram Sect, the first being of almost 200 Chibok Girls in 2014 and more recently over 100 Dapchi Girls in March 2018. It is awful that some of these girls remained hostages of these terrorists for several months and were victims of sexual harassment, statutory rape and underage marriage.
More generally, rape has been on the increase, with the reported gang rapes of over 20 girls and women at a musical concert in Enugu recently. Intimate partner murders have also been on the rise. The fact remains that violence against women needs to be critically fought by the government and society.
CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
Causes of violence against women include cultural norms, carefree attitude towards gender-based violence, weak legal sanctions, indoctrination of boys on lesser value of women and girls, and ignorance of women rights by members of the society. Other reasons are low educational level, personality disorders and harmful use of alcohol and drugs, criminal behaviors, difficulty in communicating marital/relationship dissatisfaction, and refusal of victims to disclose cases of violence.
The harmful effects of violence can be classified under psychological, socio-economic and medical effects:
Psychological effects – depression (may lead to suicide), low self-esteem, emotional trauma.
Socio-economic effects – Unemployment, dysfunctional relationships and marriages, divorce, substance abuse, increased social vices, juvenile delinquency and crimes including murder.
Medical effects – Injuries, miscarriage, abortion, STIs, HIV and AIDS.
EFFORTS MADE SO FAR
In 2006, the Federal Government of Nigeria instituted the National Gender Policy with the purpose of ending gender discrimination. In 2015, then President Goodluck Jonathan signed into Law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015. Since 2015, the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP) together with the Fund for Peace(FFP) and their partners across Nigeria have been reporting on violence against women and girls. Recently, the National Human Rights Commission signed a memo with the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) to help educate and empower women on their rights. The Women Arise for Change Initiative (WACI) also encourages women to stand up for their rights and fight their misuse and abuse by men.
Despite these efforts by government and the civil society to mitigate violence against women in Nigeria, it is apparent that more work is needed to fight the menace.
RECOMMENDATIONS
Gender-based violence isn’t just about women. Men and boys also play an important role in empowering, mentoring, and supporting women as their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, co-workers and fellow citizens to develop our community. The Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative, SI4DEV Governance group therefore makes the following recommendations:
Prevention is the best way to address the menace of violence against women and girls and should be priority for all stakeholders at all levels.
Women should begin to challenge the deeply rooted inequalities and social norms that reinforce tolerance for violence against women and girls and perpetuate men’s control and power over women.
Women should seek legal redress whenever they are deprived of parental or marital inheritance.
Stakeholders should use all available channels including TV, radio, newspapers and social media to raise awareness about this issue and champion community mobilization.
Opinion leaders including political leaders, religious leaders and community development association should be enlightened and engaged as advocates.
Religious bodies should educate their members on Gender based Violence.
Gender parity policies should be implemented in the workplace, education, economy and governance.
Survivors of gender-based violence should be empowered, not as victims, but as champions and advocates of gender parity and leaders of the cause against such violence.
The national Bureau of statistics should support research to get data on attitudes, perceptions and behavior of men and boys, as well as people exposed to this form of violence.
We need a long-term national orientation program to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence in Nigeria to support behavioral and culture change among boys and girls.

SI4DEV is a non-governmental organization registered in Nigeria as Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative. SI4DEV brings together individuals and groups and provides training on practical skills towards achieving democracy and economic prosperity for communities.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Truth-butes (II)

Editor’s Note: Day two of curating the tributes and thoughts of African feminists about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (26th September 1936 – 2nd April 2018).

As expected there are a lot of disrespectful narratives shared on several platforms downplaying Winnie’s role in the liberation of South Africa, bringing home the importance of the alternative voices insisting on telling her story as is.

I was silent for quite a while before I could even attempt to unknot my feelings.

The only person whose legitimacy I have ever recognized as Mother of a nation.

‘I am me; I am black; I must be proud of my blackness. – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Winnie Mandela was a woman of outstanding courage. She kept Mandela’s name alive for 27 eternal years and helped create the myth of the unseen Mandela. When Mandela gained freedom, Winnie had to be torn down in order to create a new Mandela myth. A woman’s lot. Rest in Power.

“I am not [Nelson] Mandela’s product. I am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy.” ~Mama Winnie Mandela

Thabo Mbeki had better keep quiet.

And my, something that is not often remarked upon: Winnie Mandela was a great beauty.

‘Are you aware she used violence,’ someone tweets at me.

As if the men that took part in the guerrilla struggle went into the bush to eat scones.

I have today avoided going to the great world news sites to read their obituaries of Winnie Mandela, something I would ordinarily do. They are too invested in a skewed narrative of Winnie. So, I quarantine myself of them. And I am watching not CNN but SABC’s respectful coverage.

Goodnight, Winnie Mandela
On this day I tried
To reclaim the narrative.
I kept the faith.
And you,
You tried.
You did.
Goodnight, Winnie Mandela.
#RestInPower

Molara Wood. Writer, Cultural Activist, Feminist.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Truth-butes

Editor’s Note: Over the next few days we’ll be curating the tributes and thoughts of African feminists about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (26th September 1936 – 2nd April 2018), her life and activism.

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf

RIP Winnie Mandela, you indomitable spirit, sleep tight. You live on.
Here is Winnie in her own words: “The overwhelming majority of women accept patriarchy unquestioningly and even protect it, working out the resultant frustrations not against men but against themselves in their competition for men as sons, lovers and husbands. Traditionally the violated wife bides her time and off-loads her built-in aggression on her daughter-in-law.So men dominate women through the agency of women themselves.” Let’s share her words before CNN, Sky, BBC and White South African media machinery do it for us.

In reference to Winnie, people should stop saying, ‘obviously she was imperfect’. Erh, imperfection is part of what makes us human or did people forget the memo? Or is it only applicable to black women? Till you can present a perfect human, shut up!!

And then when you say, ‘she is a complicated figure’, do you want her to be simple and bland? The starting point of our discourse about her life should not be that she was ‘an imperfect or complicated figure’, that should be assumed – she is human damn it!

Let’s talk about what she made possible precisely because of her imperfection and complexity. Let’s talk about her challenge to the rule of the father (black and white), let’s talk about her confrontation with white supremacy and her rejection of the Christian notion of truth and reconciliation, let’s talk about how she responded to a violent and violating system and see what lesson we can learn from it today. Yes, let’s talk about how she handled power and agency. But please don’t go be saying she is a complicated and imperfect figure. She deserves better!

SHE CALLED ME WOMAN: COVER REVEAL RELEASE

‘These true stories are beautifully
told, the pain and honesty and
hope and joy in these accounts is
strong like a song’ – Stella Duffy

SHE CALLED ME WOMAN:
NIGERIA’S QUEER WOMEN
SPEAK
PUB. DATE: 24th April 2018
Published by Cassava Republic
Press PRINT ISBN: 978-1911115595
FORMAT: C-format PB, 135 x 216
mm EXTENT: 360pp
GENRE: Non-Fiction PRICE: £12.
99

Cassava Republic Press is proud to reveal the cover for ‘She Called
Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer
Women Speak’, a ground-
breaking collection of 25 first-
hand narratives from a cross
section of queer Nigerian Women.
Edited by Azeenarh Mohammed,
Chitra Nagarajan, and Rafeeat
Aliyu, these narratives give the
reader access to the narrators’
innermost thoughts and explore
what it means to be a queer
woman within Nigeria’s often
deeply conservative communities.
Through their words, we learn
of first loves, heartbreaks and familial pressure; the struggle to
reconcile religion, sexuality and
culture; the battle to be
comfortable with one’s gender and
sexual identity within
communities that can be hostile
and intolerant; the socioeconomic
pressures and universal difficulties
faced by women in Nigeria.
She Called Me Woman restores
agency, presence and humanity to
Nigeria’s queer women by
providing a platform from which
they speak for themselves. Women
from a wide range of class, religion
and educational backgrounds take the reader on a sometimes

celebratory, sometimes troubled
but always insightful journey into
their everyday life. The book covers
the experience of queer women
from across Nigeria, with narrators
coming from Maiduguri, Zamfara,
Imo, Oyo, Abuja, Plateau, Lagos,
Ondo and more. It restores balance
in the discussion on sexuality and
gender, which can unfairly favour
queer men. It brings into
mainstream consciousness the
existence and issues of queer
women in Nigerian society,
ensuring that their stories are told and their voices heard.

Catcalls – Jumoke Verissimo

Each girl eats her own eyeballs,

floating heels,

confidence-padded into breasts,

kettle-mouth lips

blow off the steam of male gaze;

in a market world women are

crafts.

 

Her designer labels with absolute names

the reason for her aching ankles

becomes the shame,

beauty the reason for the spare time

becomes the shame.

 

The horde’s hoot hang to her feet

as she flees from a body being stripped

of a dress that homes

shame.

When a girl discovers she’s dressed in disgrace—

wearing a blemish no foundation

power

can hide—she moves away from

herself.

 

The market stalls are no shelter for men,

trading in leers that rush after short skirts

teeth spaced for the

tongue to wag;

there’s no signpost to read their

folly.

Here are men who once

bargained with brains

now they trade their hearts

as ignorance wares.

 

And when tongues rip the cloth

off the girl

the shredding men’s eyes will go

home

to cover a sister, a mother, or a

partner

shame them with another

performance

a poor showman of his market

failing

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