Okay, you know what, no more. ATTN WORLD: Stop using monetary and transactional analogies for sex and rape. It doesn’t work in a thousand different ways, and in fact the transactional ideology is one of the very basic ideas underlying rape: that one action justifies another action.
Capitalistically*, paying for an item in the store gives you the right to use it. The store originally holds the right—perhaps privilege would be a better word—to the item and you buy it from them.
Payment is a widely accepted action that justifies another action, i.e. you taking it out of the store and using it.
Now, in rape culture, the same standard holds. If you are in a relationship, you are entitled to sex in a similar manner to your entitlement to a potted plant if you pay for it. It is widely accepted that if you do not receive the other side of the transaction—sexual activity, foliage—you are entitled to take it by legal (plant) or coercive (sexual activity) force.
We’ve been over this. That’s Feminism 101 shit right there. Men the world over still believe that if they buy you dinner, they deserve sex in return.
“Entitlement” is a neat way of saying that you feel you deserve something from someone else that a) goes beyond necessities and basic standards of living, b) must be given by them to you (e.g. attention/time/respect, as with mansplaining) and c) that you want it with no regard to any damage it may inflict upon the person you’re demanding from.
When entitlement is widespread and unquestioned, it results both in privilege and power, and vice versa. Rape is not about desire (which would involve caring about your partner desiring it too); it’s about privilege (everyone assuming the transactional method of sexuality is valid), power (ergo, everyone bowing to your “right” to sexual activity) and the ensuing entitlement (that women should also follow the transactional model of sexuality).
Rape is about entitlement—believing that if your partner won’t put out willingly, you can force zem to because you deserve it. The transactional model of sex is a fundamental part of how much you think you deserve to, because you have societally-sanctioned situations in which the onus of rape will be transferred to the victim instead of yourself. Though, if you think about it it’s pretty damn funny, because basically everything is one of those situations.
Here’s another stunner about the transactional model of sexuality—it primarily works to the benefit of men, even non-rapists, because the cultural leverage of transactions can be used to informally coerce a woman into having sexual activity—now with 50% less effort! The transactional model of sex has also historically been used to justify many, many forms of sexual assault as mere sex—and it still is, if you haven’t noticed all the pornography arguments going around.
Because it provides the pretense of women being compensated for sexual activity (an idea which is like, holy shit, anti-sex), the transactional model of sex prevents women’s reports of sexual assault from being culturally validated. If a woman is raped and paid, it doesn’t matter; she must have consented in some way, shape or form—because the transaction itself is taken as implicit consent on the woman’s part. And, vitally, men have historically shaped Eurasian and African cultures so that women often need to accept “payment” for the bare minimum of survival.
Going out to dinner with him was consent. Wearing a short skirt was consent. Flirting with him was consent. Accepting the drink he sent over was consent. Staying in the relationship with him was consent. Not calling the police was consent. Having children with him was consent. Everything she did or didn’t do meant she wanted it.
Today it’s not better, just more codified—and, as always, there are women that are more rape-able than others. Women of color, indigenous women, non-gender conforming women, poor women and foreign women are all exceptionally vulnerable. They’re also seen as exponentially greedier than “normal” women (which is not necessarily white women, but usually depends on the country in which you live) so that every line becomes impregnated with suspicious ulterior motives. And in some cases—Duke, anyone? Assange, anyone?—a rape accusation itself is seen as “payment” for a vicious, vengeful, racist survivor. The cultural stereotypes of women being sexually conniving is ramped up to 11 when it involves a woman who isn’t “normal.”
Fundamentally, the transactional model of sexuality is wrong. Literally (it doesn’t fit human sexuality), ethically (see preceding text) and functionally (it does a massive disservice to virtually everyone who uses it).
And I have no sympathy for anyone who engages in a sexual relationship with this idea in their head… and finds out later that they raped someone. Let’s talk about how you have approximately 0.00% of room to complain.
But I have negative one google sympathy for anyone who, on the basis that their ex might come back and say they were raped, uses transactional analogies** to justify ignoring them.
There isn’t enough NOPE in the world for all that.
*I do not support capitalism in any way, shape or form. This analogy should not be construed in any way as support for any transactional system of oppression.
**Comment: May 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm, but also infinite variations thereof all over the goddamn web, all by men and sex poxes.