There’s something about marriage that requires it to be propped by a million advice articles, most of them directed at women and written by men. One such article recently caught my eye. In this newspaper column, this man who works at a Sexology Clinic – who knew there was such a thing?- tells us how he handled a recent case at his office. A woman walked in and told this sex expert to ask her husband to get into an extramarital affair.
In a newspaper column in one of the nation’s top papers, a self-styled sex expert takes us through the professional guidance he gave this woman who according to him was suffering from sexual anxiety. Let’s go through the advice this whole expert had for this married woman.
The problem breakdown
This is the problem breakdown in the exact words of the sexual health expert.
- Life had been good for the first ten years of marriage then the woman, Josephine lost her libido.
- Justus, her husband, could hear none of it and kept forcing his wife.
- The action became painful for Josephine as her body and mind failed to respond to her husband’s advances
- After a full assessment, I concluded that Josephine had severe sexual performance anxiety and was sliding into sex aversion
The advice breakdown
Loss of libido
No effort is made to get to the bottom of why Josephine has a diminished libido. All that’s said in passing is that loss of libido can be hormonal or due to life circumstances and is transient. We’re told Josephine and Justus have been married for 13 years and have four children. Four children in a society in which childcare and domestic labour often fall on women. Research shows that when domestic work is spread more equally, sparks fly. So if the sparks aren’t and you have four children under 13 in the picture, consider the fact that it may be this. That’s a discussion for another day.
Regarding loss of libido, the question must be asked, must you desire sex? What’s the issue if you no longer want to have sex with someone? Isn’t it enough that you don’t want to? Why must that be viewed as a problem that must be fixed? What’s worse is it’s not being fixed for Josephine’s sake, so that she can resume her enjoyment of carnal pleasures. It’s being done so that her husband can continue to have his way with her sans resistance from her. Forcing someone, raping someone requires far more effort than taking it from a pliant subject. The job of the sex expert is to make her pliant once more.
Rape by another name
Josephine, for reasons that are as yet unknown no longer feels like having sex with her husband. What does her husband do? He forces her. He forces himself on her. That’s what we call rape. That’s what the sex expert refuses to call it. Forcing her is raping her. It makes sense that a man would not consider it rape. The penal code in Kenya doesn’t even consider marital rape a crime. That’s what women have to contend with.
Even a sex expert does not call it out for what it is. If he can’t call it out then you wonder what guidance he offers his clients. If he will not even acknowledge that it is marital rate then he should not even be giving relationship advice. If you see marital rape and don’t immediately call it rape, you have no business talking about sex in a professional capacity from a point of authority.
Sex. What is it good for?
What even is the purpose of sex for couples? What is women’s role in it? Is it just about getting off? If that’s the case are women just living blow-up dolls with the correct slots for men to use? Josephine didn’t want to have sex so her husband Justus forced himself on her. It was obviously not about intimacy and mutual pleasure. The purpose of sex for Justus is to get off and his wife’s body is somehow the only tool he can commandeer for this purpose.
It’s interesting to me that for the sex expert and the rapist-husband, the purpose of therapy is making sure Josephine gets back into a frame of mind that makes her a willing sexual participant. The goal is to ensure her husband gets off. This tells you everything about what this expert sees as the purpose of sex and women’s role in it. In fact, the husband tells the wife that she is not fulfilling her marital obligations. Sex is something married women apparently owe men. An obligation that sex therapists work to make sure they continue to fulfil.
After being repeatedly raped by her husband, Josephine became even less interested in having sex with her husband. Every time they had sex i.e. every time he raped her the act became painful for her. She dreaded it and got headaches accompanied by excessive sweating. This, our resident expert concluded was evidence that she had severe sexual performance anxiety. He couldn’t see the link between repeated sexual assault and her reaction to her husband’s advances.
He doesn’t tell us what miracles he performed, all he says is after a record 20 therapy sessions for six months, things between Josephine and Justus were fully resolved i.e., Josephine stopped resisting her husband’s advances, began having sex with him and stopped with all that talk of her husband getting another sex partner. Keep in mind that the average therapy session is 45-60 minutes once a week. That’s why it comes to 6 months.
That sexologist is evidence of how deeply entrenched rape culture is even among professionals who one would assume know better. He is evidence of how deeply rooted in misogyny our society is with sex therapy practices undergirded by a view of married women as owing their husbands’ sex. His interest in the article is to restore the wife to a mental headspace where she will be willing or at least open to having sex with her husband, for the husband not for herself.
Nowhere in the article do we talk about what the wife wants with the exception of the statement that she doesn’t want to have sex with her husband and wants him to find another woman. Our focus is on fixing her up so that her husband can go back to having sex. All we care about is his pleasure. Josephine is just a gatekeeper to what he wants. Sex is for men. Women exist for men. Anyone who has such views has no business advising anyone about anything and instead needs to concentrate on learning to shut all the way up.
This is what rape culture looks like. A refusal to immediately call grave harms happening to women what they are. An instinct to worry more about men’s needs over women’s needs. Something about being behind a keyboard can make you pretty ruthless so I’ve had to wonder whether I’m being too hard on this random therapist. One can even say that he was limited by word count, so we don’t fully know his thoughts on the matter. Okay. Have you ever read a tweet, a single tweet and known just where someone’s views lie on a matter? I have, a million times. So how is it that we are asked to give this man grace when he had a couple of hundred words during which he failed to make his position clear? Why are we asked to worry about him and his feelings when his article fails to call out marital rape, rape is evidence of how normalized violence against women is? His article is an embodiment of violence against women. That’s why we must respond with indignation. All the indignation in the world.
Tell me, how many therapy sessions would it take for you to get over your husband raping you over and over?
Opinion: Stop Advising Married Women To Have Sex Even When They Don’t Feel Like It
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Opinion: On Men Have Needs & And Women Withholding Sex