7 thoughts on “Week 4 Day 1 Discussion Question 4

  • March 2, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    The passage that struck me the most was when Offred reminisces about Moira not approving of Luke. Moira believed Offred was “poaching, on another woman’s ground”, according to Offred. Offred counters by stating that Moira has no problem “stealing” or “borrowing” women when she feels like it. Moria, on the other hand, claims that her circumstance is different as “the balance of power was equal between women so sex was an even steven transaction”. My favorite part is when Offred says “there was more than one way of living with your head in the sand and that if Moira thought she could create Utopia by shutting herself up in a women-only enclave she was sadly mistaken. Men were not just going to go away … You couldn’t just ignore them”; and Moira responds, “That’s like saying you should go out and catch syphilis merely because it exists”.

    This section has little purpose other than to reveal more about Moira’s personality and Offred’s prior personal experience to the reader. It indicates to the reader that Moira is a second-wave feminist in a larger sense.

  • March 2, 2022 at 10:34 am

    Morgan’s piece Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape was a very vivid read, and as such had a number of very striking statements and passages. One that stood out specifically to me was part of Morgan’s expansive definition of rape. She said “I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the women out of her own genuine affection and desire.” She continues on to explain that women say yes to sex because they are fearful, and that “the pressure is there, and it need not be a knife blade across the throat; it’s in his body language, his threat of sulking, his clenched or trembling hands” and so on.

    What Morgan is describing I would classify as coerced sex, meaning that because consent given under coercion isn’t freely given, it doesn’t count as consent. And so even if the threat felt by a person in that position is not physical force or violence, the act of instilling fear into someone to the point that they can no longer consent of their own free will and agency is rape. I think this connects to a lot of important conversations today about rape and consent, especially regarding situations where consent becomes “blurry.” The involvement of alcohol, previous violence, veiled threats or perceived fear, or just a power dynamic such as size or gender are all aspects that could remove agency from a person being forced into a position of sex. Without direct conversations of consent, the implied consent is given and taken from perceived indicators in these situations, but could be warped or coerced by feelings of fear. Although I felt some of Morgan’s statements were extreme, her definition here did in my mind a decent job of capturing many of the argued “nuances” around situations of power based personal violence and coerced sex.

  • March 2, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Like several others who have commented on this discussion post, I was struck by a number of passages in Robin Morgan’s “Theory and Pornography and Rape.” What stood out to me most prominently in her analysis was her highly expansive definition of rape and other sexual misconduct. Morgan writes, “I would define rape not only as the violation taking place in the dark alley or after breaking into and entering a woman’s home. I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman out of her own genuine affection and desire” (137). She then expands on this idea, posing a number of illustrative questions that clearly resonate with many female readers: “How many times have women had sex “willingly” with men they didn’t want to have sex with? Even men they loved? How many times have women wished just to sleep instead or read or watch ‘The Late Show?’ It must be clear that, under this definition, most of the decently married bedrooms in America are settings for nightly rape” (137-138).

    I appreciated Morgan’s articulation of the idea that, due to often unspoken pressure, complacency and ambivalence have become accepted as substitutes for actual consent. This caused me to consider further complex questions, such as why we live in a society in which people have been conditioned to accede to sexual and other physical contact that they do not truly want. As a final matter, I appreciated the way that Morgan’s definition of rape challenged the misconception that most cases of sexual assault are perpetrated by violent strangers on the street or by criminals who break into unsuspecting womens’ homes. Study after study has now shown that the overwhelming majority of sexual assault and rape survivors know their attackers, but at the time that she wrote her essay, Morgan’s point must have been more eye-opening.

  • March 2, 2022 at 12:32 am

    One of the quotes that stood out to me in Robert Morgan’s piece was the claim that ‘rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the women out of her own genuine affection and desire’ and the treatment of this statement as being so radical. Whilst some may interpret it as a very strict definition of rape, it raises interesting conversations surrounding the importance of consent not only as not being no, but as being an active and enthusiastic yes.

    In recent years, I feel as though consent has been re-centred in conversations surrounding sexual wellbeing in many situations, however it is problematic that within our society in the case of any sexual activity the assumed response is to be agreeable and willing unless told otherwise. This plays into a larger issue in which the general consensus is that consent or discussing levels of comfortability before engaging in sexual activity is ‘unsexy’ or that it ‘ruins the mood’. Therefore, in response there is a reliance on expectations or non-verbal cues which can be misinterpreted all too easy.

    Relying on these physical indicators I believe risks interacting with the wider dialogue of someone perceived to be ‘asking for it’ and the victim blaming that can occur during instances of sexual misconduct. It also plays into the incorrect notion that someone may be ‘owed’ sex just because an individual participates in other intimate activities with them. Hence, I do not think that Morgan’s claim is as radical as it would first seem.

  • March 1, 2022 at 10:18 pm

    Morgan writes, “How many millions of times have women had sex ‘willingly’ with men they didn’t want to have sex with? Even men they loved? How many times have women wished just to sleep instead or read or watch ‘The Late Show’? It must be clear that, under this definition, most of the decently married bedrooms across America are settings for nightly rape.” Referring to a husband’s casual rape of wives before bed, she implies that verbal consent is not enough to legitimize sex as certainly non-rape and fixes a new standard of non-rape as starting with the woman or wife’s initiation “out of her own genuine affection and desire.”

    She poses the question: what actually is consent in a situation where you have a gendered power differential? Can you even give it, if not obviously enthusiastic? This leaves little agency to women and positions them as perennial victims of rape. However, I don’t know how much this actually matters, the issue of a woman’s agency to determine when she’s having totally consensual sex or not, when it comes to the micropolitics of patriarchy at play during moments of intimacy, however casual or customary sex might be for some. It’s difficult to join one camp or the other, rape or not at all rape, because the extent to which something is considered rape, so long as it occurs between people inhabiting any kind of gendered, raced, or classed power imbalance, is limitless if not for the green light of verbal consent. I think sex in a heterosexual marriage/relationship during which a wife/partner is slightly begrudging but still verbally consents is not so clear-cut as rape or not. Ultimately, I don’t really know where I come down on this.

  • March 1, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    Robin Morgan’s piece on pornography and rape was engaging and vivid, with little left to the imagination. I admire her bluntness in the piece and thought her firm and persuasive tone made the piece compelling and eye-opening. The passage that stood out most to me was her description of society’s double standards for women and children, and the various situations they find themselves in.

    It reads, “I find it educative that a woman who, for instance, notices her child being molester by a dirty old (or young) man on the playground, and shampoos the man with a brick, it is considered a proper mother, ‘the tigress defending her cubs.’ Yet should the same man molest her, she ought to, in society’s view, welcome him and admit that she relishes being pawed, or if she must, plead winningly with him to stop.”

    This statement, graphic and thus capturing the attention of the reader highlights Morgan’s view that society does not seem to care for women when they are victims as opposed to how the same women are applauded when protected children. Morgan aims to convey that the same human rights and basic human decency should extend to all, and especially women in particular, who have been called liars, victim-blamed, punished or ignored for being on the other side of a despicable and violent act.

  • March 1, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    In Robin Morgan’s text “Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape”, there were many passages and quotes that stuck out to me which made it hard to just pick one. The one I decided to discuss is one that put into words so perfectly how differently rape can be and is perceived in our society. First, rape, as Morgan states, “is the perfected act of male sexuality in a patriarchal culture—it is the ultimate metaphor for domination, violence, subjugation, and possession.” This definition stuck out to me as I had never thought of it this way before but it is so true. Rape is the ultimate instance that shows, and proves, male dominance and female submissiveness.

    Misogynists will blame the women and take the side of “Every Woman Loves a Rapist/All Women Want to Be Raped/Good Girls Never Get Raped/It’s Always the Woman’s Fault” as Morgan states. This opinion of rape immediately condemns the woman involved and what she was wearing, what she was doing walking alone, and things along those lines, which infuriates me. To blame a woman and what she wears to be the cause of rape is not right. Not everything women do and wear is for male attention, and I think our society is stuck in that idea even to this day. Another approach that Morgan brings up and that stood out to me was the “Pity the Poor Rapist” version which tells us to be sorry for the rapist and that mentally he is ill and not okay. That he “is sick, cannot help himself, and needs help.” This perspective is hard to grapple with in a current society so centered around mental health and illnesses. I understand that rapists may be mentally ill, but I do not think it is okay to use that as an excuse to get out of the consequences of raping an innocent woman. I sort of see this perspective as an escape and a way to not condemn men for their actions, which ultimately lets this issue continue to unravel.

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