Fri | Dec 9, 2016

So women should just spread 'em and take it, huh?

Published:Wednesday | November 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

I came across a rather disturbing article, written by Steve Lyston, which was published November 10, 2014 under the title 'Marital rape: a blatant attack on Christian principles'.

Mr Lyston portrays marital rape as secular warfare on Christianity. He quickly drew quotes from the Bible to justify why marital rape doesn't exist and why a woman, or man, should quickly give it up if his/her partner says so. In the same breath, he also provides a quote that heavily showcases his belief in the fact that our bodies aren't essentially our own, but someone else's.

One commenter, in particular, praised Mr Lyston's contribution and made it known that if a wife should ever refuse sex, it gives him every right to divorce her, as he should be able to "take it" when he sees fit.

I was entirely shocked. Mr Lyston repeatedly put forth the notion that wedded couples shouldn't deprive each other of sex, as it is a privilege in marriage. Yes, it is a privilege, but not a right. A man/woman doesn't owe you sex simply because you are married to him/her.

Your body continues to belong to you even after marriage. You choose what you want to do with it. You choose if you want to shave or not. You choose if you want to colour your hair or grow a beard. You choose what you want to do with the home God gave your soul to reside in. Simply because you were born in it and were granted the gift of free will.

seek authority

By Mr Lyston's logic, a woman should ask her husband permission to cut her hair and a man should ask his wife permission to shave his beard. Since their bodies no longer belong to them, they have to seek authority from their spouses in even the simplest of matters concerning it.

This brings me back to my first argument about respect. By definition, respect means to admire someone deeply. From experience, it means treating this person as you'd like to be treated and honouring his or her wishes. Shouldn't you, a good Christian man, want to make your wife happy and feel respected? As you all should know, rape is any sexual act forced upon someone else without that person's consent.

Then there's the case of domestic violence. You cannot expect a man or woman, who is being abused, to want to give it up quickly. You cannot demand this of them. To negate the existence of marital rape is to invalidate the experiences and feelings of these victims. To negate the existence of marital rape is to say, "Hey! You don't know what is right for you! I do!"

To negate the existence of marital rape, justify it using Bible quotes and tell these victims that they have no authority over themselves is a slap in the face and victim blaming. It's indirectly telling them that it's their fault, as they should have known that they should give it up freely since they are now married.

punishment

These two reasons were never mentioned in Mr Lyston's article. He clearly put forth the very sexist argument that the only reason a woman would not want to have sex with her husband is because she wanted to punish him.

And marriage isn't solely a Christian thing. It isn't owned by the Christian faith. It exists in all cultures, religions, countries, sects. Just because we live in a predominantly Christian society doesn't mean that only Christians exist here. I know quite a few atheists as well as practitioners of other religions. Addressing the issue of marital rape is not and will never be "an attack on Christian principles" simply because 1) marriage isn't just for Christians and 2) marital rape exists in cultures where Christianity isn't even dominant.

In addition, to say that bringing up the issue of marital rape is an attack on marriage itself is quite backwards in thinking. Bringing light to the issue is an attack on rape itself. As simple as that.

At the end of the day, a woman's body is her own, and so, too, a man's. Either has every right to deny sexual intercourse for whatever reason they see fit. The minute you go against this, it's rape.

No has never meant yes. Not even in the context of marriage.

n Davia Andrews is a final-year biology and psychology student

at the University of the West

Indies. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and davia.andrews@gmail.com.