Male entitlement, why it’s a problem, why I (and you should) oppose it


Because, in 2014 (not, you know, 1814), a woman can be sent a document, from her husband, detailing when she said no to sex. Because a website can publish a list of traits “attractive girls” have that, I guess, “unattractive” girls don’t. Because a man who’s not exactly on good terms with women’s equality can make an entire album for his ex-wife about getting her back – and people think it’s cute, not incredibly invasive and creepy.

Because, perhaps worst of all, many responses to such stories express support for the men writing and conveying such worldviews; because people, especially women, who oppose such treatment  are threatened, harassed, abused. Women are owed to men, it seems.

The woman who posted her husband’s bizarre list of her saying no to sex, wrote: “This is a side of him I have never seen before… Bitter, immature, full of hatred.” In response, we had the Internet in all its misogynistic glory.

“Her vagina clanged shut months ago and he’s simply pointing that out,” postulated an expert in strangers’ marriage and women’s anatomy.

“She’d have to have the IQ of a doorknob to think her constant & repeated rejection of her husband wouldn’t have an adverse affect on him,” bleated another.

“The poor guy is continuously putting himself out there only to be shot down with half truths,” asserted a finger-waving therapist or perhaps best friend.

Some might say that we have no way of verifying the veracity of the woman’s claim. Yet, what concerns me – above whether a husband “really” documented the sexual habits of his wife like she’s an alien creature, he an anthropologist – is the responses put the blame on her, dismiss his behaviour as either expected or worth sympathising over.

This isn’t about anonymous internet trolls either. These are merely the voices of a widespread acceptance that dresses creepy, entitled behaviour in the wardrobe of romantic or unfair treatment. It’s why Robin Thicke can make an album named after an ex-wife, where every song is about getting her back, and it can not only be recorded and distributed, but purchased and celebrated.

We saw it in the men’s rights forums after Eliot Rodger went on his killing spree. “THIS is why we do what we do,” one said. “TO PREVENT THIS SHIT!!! He should have gone to our website and got our personal dating coaching or purchased one of our products. IF ANYONE NEEDS HELP, CONTACT US! Don’t ‘suffer injustice.’ ”

Injustice. Not getting women to sleep with you is an “injustice”. A man denied sex is a “poor guy”. Since when, men of the Internet, is sex a right you are owed? Since when has it become a tragedy women won’t sleep with you? In fact, is it any wonder that people want distance from you when rejection is deemed injustice, a lack of sex is viewed as basically a rights violation?

Probably every adult has had rejection, many then fought with every ounce of their being to “get her/him back”, when they first – first! – had some kind of romantic engagment – and knew nothing about boundaries. No one is denying the sense of dismissal and belittlement felt. But that gives you no licence to claim what a woman should’ve done: she does not owe you sex for being a friend. You are not owed her genitals on a platter for treating her like a person. You can create names for all sorts of states – friendzone, injustice, etc. – but that doesn’t legitimise your property claims on women any more than me sticking a flag on someone’s car makes it mine.

This tolerance of brutalising women into dating men and making romantic comedies of it; this acceptance that men will become violent, enraged, angry and its women’s fault for rejecting said men’s penises; this idea that women ought to live according to some arbitrary standard of attractiveness to be deemed worthwhile, all of it needs to be put in the same box as astrology: widely believed bullshit, sometimes published in national papers and media, that deserves erasing.

It needs constant pointing out because of how it’s so accepted, because of its ubiquity. It fills papers and pages, where women report street harassment – or, worse, when women all over the world just accept it’s going to happen because they’re on the street, in public.

I don’t know what sort of person would let another person be treated this way, but they’re not people I want to support. Orwell wrote, in 1946, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” And women dictated to by men’s genitals is a good example of precisely that. The problem is that many become defensive about it. Pointing it out to men often means responses like “It’s just a joke”, “But I’m just complimenting her”, etc. Or perhaps, more strongly, idiot concepts like the friendzone, where a woman is a slot machine (“slut machine?) where you put in your nice coins and get sex out.

Women’s myriad mistreatment requires nuanced responses, but the overarching problem can be dealt with wholesale by not tolerating it ourselves and pointing out occruing immorality to others. Especially those men who agree it’s wrong and aiming at those who actually behave this way.

Until we stop being apathetic toward such views, until we start highlighting the many ways such behaviour is wrong to each other and for each other, until we stop doing it ourselves, don’t expect those of us opposing it to give into silence, while the hoots and catcalls and wailing of sexist men and unwelcoming environments continue.

UPDATE:

Comments seem to be proving my point. So is my next post.

Comments

  1. Edward Gemmer says

    This seems a bit naïve. Are you saying that marriage doesn’t entitle a spouse to some certain amount of time with his or her spouse? Are women who complain about guys who never call them after sex expressing a sense of “entitlement” to a man’s time? Your post takes social contracts and turns them into sexism. Beyond all doubt, many social contracts are based on sexism. However, people expressing frustration at the lack of sex with their significant others is not about entitlement and more about being a human being. This post seems to attack people for expressing human emotions and being people.

  2. tiko says

    @Edward Gemmer

    This post seems to attack people for expressing human emotions and being people.

    Yeah right, it’s totally about that because he never provided any links about street harrasment and male entitlement.

    *sarcasm*

  3. Tauriq Moosa says

    @Ed

    “Are you saying that marriage doesn’t entitle a spouse to some certain amount of time with his or her spouse?”

    Entitled to a spouse’s time is not the same as entitled, unrestricted access to their genitals without their consent. I’m not sure how you read mere happy couple time when the list explicitly says it’s about a husband detailing her saying no to sex. Not “time” … but “sex”.

    “Are women who complain about guys who never call them after sex expressing a sense of “entitlement” to a man’s time?

    Again, time not the same as full, unrestricted access to genitals.

    “Your post takes social contracts and turns them into sexism.”

    Turns?

    “People expressing frustration at the lack of sex with their significant others is not about entitlement and more about being a human being.”

    Yes, I forgot there are no other ways to approach not getting sex – like not catcalling, not listing overtime your partner says no, or, you know, moving on. You know: being a decent human being. Nobody died because they didn’t get sex and it’s pathetic that people treat it as some kind of life-sustaining activity. Especially men.

    I really don’t see how you’ve reduced a myriad of disgusting behaviors into “contracts” and “just expressing themselves” – indeed, you’re actually proving my point for me. So, I guess thanks!

  4. says

    I’m not entitled to sex with my wife. If we both find it happy and enjoyable, then we happily and enjoyably do it. If one or the other of us should find it unpleasant, than we would talk about what we can do to make the other happy…but the last thing either of us would do is demand that the other participate anyway. One-sided sex is not fun.

    But yeah, Gemmer is always good for demonstrating the wrongness of his views.

  5. leni says

    Are you saying that marriage doesn’t entitle a spouse to some certain amount of time with his or her spouse?

    Did you look at the spreadsheet? They were having sex about once a week. That is not abnormal, nor is it by any reasonable measure neglect.

    Yet people, including you, are happy to characterize that as “vagina clanging shut” or insinuate neglect. Yeah, nothing entitled about that.

  6. says

    Edward Gemmer

    Are you saying that marriage doesn’t entitle a spouse to some certain amount of time with his or her spouse?

    *looks around*
    *looks at noticable absence of husband*
    Nope, apparently not.
    Also, could you define that certain amount of time? At what amount of time is a spouse entitled to send ugly spreadsheets?

    Are women who complain about guys who never call them after sex expressing a sense of “entitlement” to a man’s time?

    What are we exactly talking about?
    Are we talking about, you know, people hooking up for a one-night stand, no strings attached? Or are we talking about one person pretending that this is the start of a serious relationship when actually they’re just after some sex? Right, who is the actual asshole in that scenario?

    Your post takes social contracts and turns them into sexism. Beyond all doubt, many social contracts are based on sexism.

    So, what is it? Are the social contracts sexist or are we seeing sexism where none exists?

    However, people expressing frustration at the lack of sex with their significant others is not about entitlement and more about being a human being. This post seems to attack people for expressing human emotions and being people.

    This says a lot about you, very little about human beings in general.

  7. Edward Gemmer says

    @ Tauriq,

    Entitled to a spouse’s time is not the same as entitled, unrestricted access to their genitals without their consent. I’m not sure how you read mere happy couple time when the list explicitly says it’s about a husband detailing her saying no to sex. Not “time” … but “sex”.

    Well of course not, but “unrestricted access to their genitals” is a pretty broad jump. People in relationships have varying levels of interest in sex with each other, and sexual frustration is a pretty common theme when surveying relationship issues. Such is life when people are expected to make lifetime decisions after somewhat meager experience relationships. Regardless, your position seems to be a male expressing sexual frustration to his partner is somehow morally wrong. This can’t be more wrong. While writing your complaints into a spreadsheet and emailing them is perhaps not the way I would communicate with my wife, I can’t imagine that we would push relationship communication even farther into the Stone Age by suggesting sexual conversations are off limits.

    Yes, I forgot there are no other ways to approach not getting sex – like not catcalling, not listing overtime your partner says no, or, you know, moving on. You know: being a decent human being. Nobody died because they didn’t get sex and it’s pathetic that people treat it as some kind of life-sustaining activity. Especially men.

    For one, catcalling, which tends to be yelling explicit sexual language at strangers, is far different from writing down the number of times your partner refuses to have sex. To suggest just to “move on” just seems naïve. Whenever you are having a problem in your relationship, the proper method to deal with it is not to communicate, but rather just leave? In any event, moving on may be a great option for failing relationships, but people aren’t robots. Failing relationships cause all sorts of swirls of emotion, all of which are completely valid, and it isn’t your job to judge someone for being upset that their marriage is failing.

    @PZ,

    I’m not entitled to sex with my wife. If we both find it happy and enjoyable, then we happily and enjoyably do it. If one or the other of us should find it unpleasant, than we would talk about what we can do to make the other happy…but the last thing either of us would do is demand that the other participate anyway. One-sided sex is not fun.

    This is a wonderful thing, and congratulations. As someone who has been in terrible relationships and wonderful relationships, the latter is much preferable. My point is that lots of are not in wonderful relationships. Posts like the OP reinforce a sense of humiliation on people for having perfectly valid emotions. Sexual frustration with random strangers and sexual frustration with your spouse are two very different experiences.

    @Giliell,

    Are the social contracts sexist or are we seeing sexism where none exists?

    Here, I think the latter. It’s fairly common that in committed relationships there is an understanding that the participants won’t have sex with others and reserve that for each other. Many times one person will want more or less sex than the other. I don’t find this phenomenon particularly sexist.

  8. says

    Edward Gemmer

    People in relationships have varying levels of interest in sex with each other, and sexual frustration is a pretty common theme when surveying relationship issues. Such is life when people are expected to make lifetime decisions after somewhat meager experience relationships.

    What century do you live in?
    This year, my husband and I celebrated the wedding aniversary at which we had been married for exactly as long as we had been together before getting married. Yes, we started this whole thing in the last millenium. Nobody apart from extremist religious people is expected to get married to their first partner while not having had an intimate relationship anymore. On the contrary, many people will ask you if you’re sure of what you’re doing if you want to get married after only a short relationship.

    Regardless, your position seems to be a male expressing sexual frustration to his partner is somehow morally wrong.

    You seem to be in fundamental error about what people are actually saying. But I admit it’s much easier to you to argue against that big ole buddy made of straw.

    This can’t be more wrong. While writing your complaints into a spreadsheet and emailing them is perhaps not the way I would communicate with my wife, I can’t imagine that we would push relationship communication even farther into the Stone Age by suggesting sexual conversations are off limits.

    Because that is exactly NOT what anybody has been saying. The usual chant is “talk to your partner, talk about sex, talk about sex freely”. Like good old Salt ‘n’ Peppa. But there’s a difference between talking to each other about sex and making spreadsheets or bullying her into having sex.

    Posts like the OP reinforce a sense of humiliation on people for having perfectly valid emotions.

    I think this is the crux of your argument: Grow up. No, you can’t always get the amount of sex or kind of sex you’d like to have. Maybe your partner has a lower sex drive, maybe your sex drive runs on a different timetable than yours, maybe your jobs are very demanding, maybe your kids have an uncanny knack for waking exactly when you’re having adult sexytimes. That is frustrating, but adults are expected to deal with frustration. Sex with other people is not something you really should be getting and that somebody is injustly witholding from you. No, not when you’re in a relationship, not when you’re married. I don’t remember anything about “fuck him if you want or not” in the paperwork.

    Whenever you are having a problem in your relationship, the proper method to deal with it is not to communicate, but rather just leave?

    Pressuring somebody into something they don’t want is not communicating. And yes, complaining about the fact that you’re not getting enough sex IS a form of pressuring. Communicating would be something like “I feel like my advances are not very welcome to you. Is there anything we can change?”
    And yes, if you find out that your sex-drive is so important to you that you cannot live with somebody who has a much lower one, leave before you victimise somebody.

    Here, I think the latter.

    So, let’s just ignore the whole historical background to this, the fact that in many countries marital rape is not against the law and that in those in which it is, these changes happened not only within my lifetime, but mostly within my adulthood. Let’s just ignore that many people still believe that husbands cannot rape their wives, that they think that wives owe husbands sex, that a brazillion books and colums and webpages, and mainstream ones at that, give tips to women how they should sexually satisfy their male partners, telling them that they need to overcome the fact that actually, they’d rather like to read now while wearing yoga pants and that they need to get dressed up and have sex with him or else…

    It’s fairly common that in committed relationships there is an understanding that the participants won’t have sex with others and reserve that for each other.

    It’s also faitly common that when he doesn’t stick to that understanding she gets the blame for driving him away by not having had enough sex with him, not having given blowjobs, not having done….

    Many times one person will want more or less sex than the other. I don’t find this phenomenon particularly sexist.

    -Sex drives vary. A lot. Within the same person. Over time.
    -The fact that they are not perfectly synchronized is not sexist. How society deals with this phenomenon, who is seen as the default “wants more sex” gender, who gets blamed if sexual frustration becomes a major issue within a relationship, whose cheating gets excused and whose doesn’t, those things are sexist.

    Here’s my thought in a nutshell: Sex is to a realtionship what chili is to food: The person with the lowest desire sets the limit. Because it’s damn easy to add. And yes, talk to your partner. Talk about different ways. Like masturbation. Like porn. And realize that you do not die from bland meals and lack of sex.

  9. Chris J says

    The take-home message is to act like an adult. Yes, sometimes lack of sex in a relationship can be an indicator of issues. Sometimes. In those cases, the appropriate thing to do is not to demand sex, but to try to communicate and work out what those underlying issues are. Compiling a list of every time your partner has said no to you (and asking almost on a daily basis in order to compile said list) is not acting like an adult.

    @Edward Gemmer:

    Regardless, your position seems to be a male expressing sexual frustration to his partner is somehow morally wrong. This can’t be more wrong. While writing your complaints into a spreadsheet and emailing them is perhaps not the way I would communicate with my wife, I can’t imagine that we would push relationship communication even farther into the Stone Age by suggesting sexual conversations are off limits.

    Yesterday I watched a kid in the grocery aisle throw a fit because his mother wouldn’t buy him a box of cookies. While throwing a tantrum and crying to get what you want is perhaps not the way I would communicate with my parents, I can’t imagine that we’d push parent-child communication even further into the Stone Age by suggesting cookie-buying conversations are off limits.

    See what I did there?

    Compiling a spreadsheet detailing all the times you were rejected (with passive-aggressive notes on why you think the excuses weren’t good enough, since “I don’t want to” is apparently not good enough) is not a poor way to communicate. It is not even on the communication spectrum.

    This is entitlement; even entertaining the idea that perhaps this passive-aggressive, childish, douchebaggery could even be compared to “communication.” Because the dude might feel bad because he’s not getting the sex validation he wants. Because what amounts to throwing a tantrum is so totally the same as an adult male wanting to work out intimacy issues with his partner, or just expressing frustration.

    As 5 already noted, you are a wonderful example of how much of a problem male entitlement is.

  10. sw says

    I wish it surprised me how comfortable people are to extrapolate so much from a tiny glimpse we have in to a couple’s lives, with regards to the sex spreadsheet.

    Maybe one of them are at fault, maybe both are at fault.

    Maybe before they were married they had sex regularly, and now all of a sudden the wife has become completely uninterested in sex, and she’s refused to discuss it and insists it’s not an issue. Maybe she insists that they’re having just as much sex as they used to and the husband is just imagining it. Maybe after trying to engage with her on this subject for months, he starts keeping track of how often he’s getting shot down to reassure himself that he’s not just making it up. Maybe after they argue about it for the thousandth time before she leaves for a trip he emails his spreadsheet to her to prove he’s not just making stuff up, and as a kind of cry for help because he’s incredibly sexually frustrated.

    Or, alternatively…

    Maybe the amount they’ve been having sex is the same that it’s always been. Maybe the husband wants to shame his wife into being more sexually submissive, and thought that documenting how often she shoots him down in spreadsheet form and emailing it to her was the best way to do that.

    Or maybe any one of the thousands of other possible scenarios that could lead to this spreadsheet existing.

    Both sides of this argument are just projecting their own experiences onto this situation, when really no one except the couple themselves (and maybe a few people who actually know them well) have any idea what the actual truth is.

  11. Edward Gemmer says

    @Giliell,

    What century do you live in?

    This one, whatever that is. According to the never failing Wikipedia, worldwide most people get married for the first time in their mid to late twenties, which seems about right. Not sure how old you are – I’m 35. I’ve been married twice. What I was looking for 20 years ago and ten years ago and today are very different things. I imagine it will be still different 10, 20, and 30 years from now as well. My point is that you don’t get practice for lifelong commitments, but lifelong commitments are often expected.

    Because that is exactly NOT what anybody has been saying. The usual chant is “talk to your partner, talk about sex, talk about sex freely”. Like good old Salt ‘n’ Peppa. But there’s a difference between talking to each other about sex and making spreadsheets or bullying her into having sex.

    I agree! My point is that not everyone is blesse with wonderful communication skills. Further, communication requires both people. What if he did try to communicate, and was shot down? If he says “you hardly ever want to have sex with me” and her response is “your full of it,” I can imagine the next step is for him to show some proof. The fact that there may be better ways of going about this does not make him a bad person who feels he has an unlimited right to his partner’s genitals.

    The fact that they are not perfectly synchronized is not sexist. How society deals with this phenomenon, who is seen as the default “wants more sex” gender, who gets blamed if sexual frustration becomes a major issue within a relationship, whose cheating gets excused and whose doesn’t, those things are sexist.

    Sure, I don’t disagree. However, there is a fairly common stereotype of the “Desperate Housewife” and what not, so I don’t think society is blind to the fact of sexually frustrated women.

    Here’s my thought in a nutshell: Sex is to a realtionship what chili is to food: The person with the lowest desire sets the limit. Because it’s damn easy to add. And yes, talk to your partner. Talk about different ways. Like masturbation. Like porn. And realize that you do not die from bland meals and lack of sex.

    Pretty sure I would shoot myself if I had to give up hot sauce.

    Chris J,

    Compiling a spreadsheet detailing all the times you were rejected (with passive-aggressive notes on why you think the excuses weren’t good enough, since “I don’t want to” is apparently not good enough) is not a poor way to communicate. It is not even on the communication spectrum.

    Interesting. Why do you think this?

  12. says

    When my husband realized I was going to school full time while holding down a job and responded by taking up an additional share of the work involved in running a house/family, it’s amazing how I stopped being so tired all the time. And when I stopped being so tired all the time and could actually catch my breath and have a few minutes to myself here and there, it’s just fucking amazing how much more interested I was in indulging in some good ol’sexy times.

    It never seems to occur to folks like this husband and our dear friend Ed that maybe the problem isn’t that women have ‘lower sex drives’, it’s that women have to carry so much shit through our lives that we don’t have the energy or inclination to have sex as often as the men who benefit from our work.

    Want more sex? Try doing half the housework instead of letting your wife run around ragged shouldering the entire burden.

  13. Edward Gemmer says

    It never seems to occur to folks like this husband and our dear friend Ed that maybe the problem isn’t that women have ‘lower sex drives’, it’s that women have to carry so much shit through our lives that we don’t have the energy or inclination to have sex as often as the men who benefit from our work.

    I assure you such things have occurred to me.

  14. says

    Edward Gemmer

    What I was looking for 20 years ago and ten years ago and today are very different things. I imagine it will be still different 10, 20, and 30 years from now as well. My point is that you don’t get practice for lifelong commitments, but lifelong commitments are often expected.

    Funny how suddenly you’re all about societal expectations.
    You know, maybe you just aren’t cut out for long term relationships. Just because what you are looking for in a relationship 20 years from now is different from the things you want now puts your partner under no obligation to follow along. No, I really don’t see your point. I also don’t see what it has to do with the topic, which is why men feel entitled to have sex with women.

    I agree! My point is that not everyone is blesse with wonderful communication skills.

    You know why we call them skills? Cause they can be learned.

    What if he did try to communicate, and was shot down? If he says “you hardly ever want to have sex with me” and her response is “your full of it,”

    1. “You hardly ever want to have sex with me” is not an open and honest attempt at communication. It’s an accusation coupled with a demand. Don’t believe it? “You hardly ever do the dishes”
    2. According to that spreadsheet, they were having sex about once a week and he approached her about every single day. If he collected any evidence then it’s for him being an entitled ass who apparently thinks that her reason needs to pass his approval.

    The fact that there may be better ways of going about this does not make him a bad person who feels he has an unlimited right to his partner’s genitals.

    No, the fact how he did it and when he sent it does. See above.

    Interesting. Why do you think this?

    Because it’s obvious bullying and coercion.

    Within this mind

    It never seems to occur to folks like this husband and our dear friend Ed that maybe the problem isn’t that women have ‘lower sex drives’, it’s that women have to carry so much shit through our lives that we don’t have the energy or inclination to have sex as often as the men who benefit from our work.

    Being very frequently asked for sex, without having given any evidence that you might want sex right now is a big turn down, too. It means you’re getting stressed out every time you get close because you’re afraid that they will ask again so you don’t even get to make up your mind about whether you actually might want sex or not. It’s like visiting that old relative of yours who will almost always start talking about when you’re getting married and have children. Spoils the whole thing, only worse.

  15. says

    Oh, btw, that “Desperate Housewives” stereotype?
    Notice how in that stereotype she does not get access to her husband’s body. She does not get to demand sex from him. She has to find another willing guy. His bodily integrity is safe against her demands.
    Which also harms male victims of sexual coercion because we all know that this doesn’t happen anyway.

  16. Chris J says

    @Edward Gemmer

    Interesting. Why do you think this?

    Think what? That compiling a passive aggressive spreadsheet is not communication? It’s a stance. Technically yes, putting words onto a document and giving that document to someone is technically communication. But when talking about a couple communicating, this is not it. This is a one-sided demand, belittling the other person. My point is that we would be perpetuating ideas of “male entitlement” even by calling that document “poor communication,” as if such a document were even remotely defensible.

    Communication is not just speaking, and not just listening, but speaking in a way that leaves open the chance for the other person to speak and listen. This dude just wanted to bone more, was childishly upset that his partner didn’t want to bone more, and threw a tantrum about it. That, in no way, is communication.

  17. Edward Gemmer says

    @ Giliell,

    You know, maybe you just aren’t cut out for long term relationships. Just because what you are looking for in a relationship 20 years from now is different from the things you want now puts your partner under no obligation to follow along.

    That is my point. Things change over time. People change, relationships change, sex changes, life changes – yes. These changes can cause hard feelings between two people. Hard feelings lead to arguments, fights, and very rarely, spreadsheets about your sex life. My objection is that the OP takes a normal part of life and tries to paint it as some sort of sexist entitlement, as if there is something special about males that would make them immune to sexual rejection in the course of a relationship.

    Because it’s obvious bullying and coercion.

    Don’t relationships necessarily have a bit of bullying and coercion in them? For example – “If you sleep with someone else, I’m leaving you.” This is a pretty common sentiment in relationships, and is absolutely an attempt to coerce someone into a behavior you would like.

    Being very frequently asked for sex, without having given any evidence that you might want sex right now is a big turn down, too. It means you’re getting stressed out every time you get close because you’re afraid that they will ask again so you don’t even get to make up your mind about whether you actually might want sex or not. It’s like visiting that old relative of yours who will almost always start talking about when you’re getting married and have children. Spoils the whole thing, only worse.

    I don’t disagree – I’m defending anyone’s actions. Clearly, this couple’s sexual relationship has broken down for at least one of them. My point is that I’m not going to begrudge each party’s feelings about it or attribute it to “male entitlement.” If male entitlement equates to being frustrated that your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you, then it’s a pretty broad definition.

  18. says

    @Giliell

    I’d also suggest he examine his behavior to determine if there were other contributing factors to when she said yes/no. On the days she said yes, was he nicer to her? Did he help out around the house? Did he shower or otherwise make an effort to present himself nicely to her? Did he ask romantically vs ‘nice shoes now lets fuck?’

    Was she more willing on the weekends, when she hadn’t come from a long day at work only to come home and deal with crap there as well?

    When she said ‘no’, did he ever stop to consider WHY? From her POV? Clearly, Ed hasn’t, because he doesn’t actually think she could possibly have a good enough reason to not be interested in sex all that often if her owner was.

    Because the spreadsheet wasn’t about ‘hurt feelings over not getting enough sex’. My husband had a medical issue a while back that set his sex drive to zero while on the meds, and amazingly enough I managed to refrain from making any kind of spread sheet or even catty remarks. Why? Because I love and value my husband as a person. He is far more to me than just a provider of nookie.

  19. sw says

    Yeah, that’d be totally productive. Go to a man that has become so sexually frustrated that he’s made a spreadsheet of all the times he’s been shot down just to prove a point, and ask him “well, have you tried being nice to your wife?”. I’m sure he’s never thought of that, and all his problems will be solved.

    Are you seriously suggesting that he probably hasn’t tried being nice, being romantic, or showering?

  20. says

    sw

    Yeah, that’d be totally productive. Go to a man that has become so sexually frustrated that he’s made a spreadsheet of all the times he’s been shot down just to prove a point, and ask him “well, have you tried being nice to your wife?”

    Dingdingdingding!

    Yes!
    I expect an adult who has become sexually frustrated to sit down and think for a moment if this is actually justified instead of throwing a proverbial tantrum at the supermarket check-out.
    Because obviously he and you think that sex is something he should be getting from his wife more often than she is currently willing to give. And he thinks that her reasons need to be good enough, as if sex were the default and you need something like a doctor’s note to decline.
    Which is the male entitlement we are talking about.
    Because no, not all feelings of frustration are justified. Being frustrated because you’re feeling entitled to something that you’re actually not entitled to does not make you a poor kicked puppy for whom people need to feel sorry.
    He hasn’t been gods damn “shot down”. Watch your own language for a moment. He has asked for sex (I have this nagging feeling that we’re not talking about offering sex in these situations), she has said no more often than she has said yes. Women saying no to sex is NOT in any way, meassure or form “shooting him down”. Really, that phrase sounds like it’s been taken from Elliot Rodgers.
    And no, by looking at his own spreadsheet, we can say that he’s not living in a sexless marriage. He lives in a pretty average one.

    I’m sure he’s never thought of that, and all his problems will be solved.

    Are you seriously suggesting that he probably hasn’t tried being nice, being romantic, or showering?

    Yes.
    Because I have no indication that he actually tried to improve it, that he’s been looking at any correlations between her having sex with him and his prior behaviour. The whole thing focuses on her, her behaviour, her reasons.

    Edward Gemmer

    My point is that I’m not going to begrudge each party’s feelings about it or attribute it to “male entitlement.” If male entitlement equates to being frustrated that your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you, then it’s a pretty broad definition.

    It’s a little bit more. It’s feeling frustrated plus thinking that the world, and in this case she, need to remedy this.
    I’m feeling pretty frustrated about things in my life frequently. About sex occasionally. And you know what, I deal with it. I ask myself if this is actually justified. Are the situations actually in any way or shape unjust? Is somebody not doing their actual duty? You know, like the time some lecturer used Facebook in order to announce that the lecture was cancelled instead of using the university email system and I and others subsequently drove to uni in vain because we’re not on Facebook.
    Or is it just a situation that is nobody’s fault in specific, or where people are just living their lives without prioritising my needs?

    Don’t relationships necessarily have a bit of bullying and coercion in them? For example – “If you sleep with someone else, I’m leaving you.” This is a pretty common sentiment in relationships, and is absolutely an attempt to coerce someone into a behavior you would like.

    You either don’t know what coercion and bullying mean or you’re being plain dishonest. Yes, there are certain agreements on which relationships rely. Your example would be coercion if the person who makes it is:
    -in a situation of power where they can leave easily but the other one is dependent
    -do not apply the same rules to themselves.
    Usually it’s an agreement between both and an issue of trust.
    Are you able to understand the difference between people agreeing to refrain from a certain behaviour and demanding that people have sex with you?

    Within this mind

    Because the spreadsheet wasn’t about ‘hurt feelings over not getting enough sex’. My husband had a medical issue a while back that set his sex drive to zero while on the meds, and amazingly enough I managed to refrain from making any kind of spread sheet or even catty remarks. Why? Because I love and value my husband as a person. He is far more to me than just a provider of nookie.

    There were long streches within our marriage where I was totally disinterested in sex. And by long I mean over a year. Pregnancies are weird things. We talked about it and we also talked about how I would be the one to innitiate sex when I was ready again so I wouldn’t feel under pressure. I guess my husband was not very happy about his sex life at that point, but never ever did he try to make me feel bad about it, because he’s totally in the boat that sex is something two people have with each other and not something that women give to men.

  21. Ned says

    I think we live in a confused society, and even views that are often touted as “enlightened” are not internally congruent. In fact, even those touted as “enlightened” are not grounded in a fundamental respect for humans. To wit: I recall observing at a batterer’s intervention group, where many forms of abuse were outlined, among which was listed “withholding sex.” Please note that the class was taught from a very feminist point of view. And now, in this context, we hear that no partner in a relationship owes sexual contact to another.

    I AM IN NO WAY STATING THAT EITHER OF THESE STATEMENTS IS WRONG. However, it is worth noting that our society has not clearly articulated the boundary line between these realities. If withholding sex is a form of abuse in the context of certain relationships, then where does an appropriate entitlement to sexual consideration end and an inappropriate sense of entitlement to sexual favors begin? Please realize, that in neither case does this issue justify the behavior of the individual mentioned above – if in a relationship with a person who is showing indifference to one’s sexual feelings, the appropriate measures are to communicate, possibly seek counseling and, if the indifference is deliberate and intentional, possibly sever the relationship and seek one more compatible – never to humiliate the party by exposing their sexual habits to others. Another interesting example is the case of Catholic priests caught in molestation of children. One of the first and most popular reactions to such discoveries is to claim that “obviously” the reason that they become sexual offenders is because they are vowed to celibacy.

    The reasoning is that deprivation of adult sexual relationships causes men to become sexual offenders. Unfortunately such reasoning is not limited to bigoted morons – I have heard it, with great conviction, fall from the lips of a long-practicing psychiatrist. However, if we actually believed this (and I will afford the charity of supposing that those here are intelligent enough to see through idiocy of this caliber), would it not also be reasonable to state that non-vowed men who are unable to attract a sexual partner will inevitably become offenders? Of course, neither assertion is reasonable, but buy-in to the former is quite popular, which, I believe, implicitly supports the latter, encouraging a mind set which says that sex is a need for men, not a want. However, we don’t even have to look that deep to find this assertion. There are plenty of “enlightened” and “liberated” people who will state explicitly that sex is not a want, but a basic human need. That it is impossible for an adult to live a healthy and normal life without being sexually active. The argument became popular in the midst of the sexual revolution, as a way of arguing against conservatives who opposed it, and sometimes as a way to justify one’s own sexually liberated behavior to one’s “inner parent,” who might tend to be more conservative than one might like. But it has gained general currency.

    However, to call sex a basic human need is inconsistent with the principle of treating other humans with dignity – after all, if it is a basic human need, then wouldn’t withholding that need from another human be rightly considered cruel, or at least callous. It is, however, rightly pointed out that it violates a woman’s dignity to paint her as heartless or unfair for failing to “put out.” The only rational conclusion is that the sexual favors of a woman are, like those of a man, hers to give if she wishes, and that a man may live while either receiving or not receiving such gifts.

    I have also frequently heard people, in very liberal settings, claiming that sex is a right. But if one person has a right to something which can only be had by the active participation of another, then the other cannot have the right to choose not to participate, because to do so would be to violate the right of the first person to have that which requires the participation of the second. My point is to say that, while sexism is a powerful force in the attitude of sexual entitlement, it is by no means the only force. To those who fight for women’s rights, I would say that some of your own allies are reinforcing this idea, in indirect ways. I think it is important that we stop thinking of sex as a “need” or a “right,” and start thinking of it as a gift that persons give to one another – or don’t give, according to what seems right to them. As far as rights go, like happiness, people can have a right to pursue, not a right to obtain.

    [EDITED TO ADD BLOODY PARAGRAPH SPACING – TM]

  22. sw says

    Because obviously he and you think that sex is something he should be getting from his wife more often than she is currently willing to give.

    Well, he obviously seems to think that. I thought I made my position pretty clear that I have no idea what’s actually going on in his relationship, like everyone else commenting here.

    Women saying no to sex is NOT in any way, meassure or form “shooting him down”. Really, that phrase sounds like it’s been taken from Elliot Rodgers.

    It’s a common expression where I’m from, and applied to both genders, and not exclusively about sex. If you think it means I should be lumped in with misogynist spree-killers, I think that’s your problem, not mine.

    Because I have no indication that he actually tried to improve it, that he’s been looking at any correlations between her having sex with him and his prior behaviour. The whole thing focuses on her, her behaviour, her reasons.

    You have no indication that he actually tried to improve it? If he had, do you think you would? This spreadsheet is literally the only thing we know about their relationship. Maybe he has already tried other things, maybe he hasn’t. In my opinion, it’s likely that he’s tried other things, because making this spreadsheet seems to me an act of frustrated desperation, the kind of thing you’d do after already trying the obvious things. “Maybe I should try being nicer or more romantic to my wife, perhaps that will put her in the mood” seems like a far more obvious and natural first step than “maybe I should make a spreadsheet detailing how often I attempt to initiate sex unsuccessfully”. Knowing nothing about this person and just assuming they jumped straight to making this spreadsheet before “maybe if I shower she’ll be more attracted to me” seems outlandishly cynical.

    I’m not ‘suggesting’ or ‘implying’ anything. I’m flat out saying it. Based on his behavior with the spreadsheet, 99% of the problem is him.

    99% of the problem is him? What’s your margin of error on that?

  23. says

    sw

    It’s a common expression where I’m from, and applied to both genders, and not exclusively about sex. If you think it means I should be lumped in with misogynist spree-killers, I think that’s your problem, not mine.

    And what does that have to do with the price of butter? That language DOES reveal a very problematic attitude about sex. And I grant you that it’s a very problematic attitude that is pretty dominant in society and that has Elliot Rodgers as an extreme. Misogyny, entitlement and rape culture are not on/off switches. They’re gradients.

    You have no indication that he actually tried to improve it? If he had, do you think you would? This spreadsheet is literally the only thing we know about their relationship.

    1. Yes, he collected a lot of evidence for us. HIs own godsdamn spreadsheet. Yes, I think that somebody who painstakingly writes down when his wife takes a shower would also write down that he took a shower if he thought this relevant to the matter in any way. After all, it would make his case appear much stronger if he wrote “cleaned the house, cooked you dinner, showered and shaved, still said no”.
    2. I extrapollate this from the spreadsheet the same way I extrapollate things from other people’s behaviours. This thing is such a cluterfuck of male entitlement taht I have no reason to believe that he tried all the reasonable, decent, non fucked-up things first and that she really made him do it. It’s like when I see somebody hit a child i don’t have to assume that they really tried gentle discipline and time outs and what you have first and that they really had no other ways left.

    In my opinion, it’s likely that he’s tried other things, because making this spreadsheet seems to me an act of frustrated desperation, the kind of thing you’d do after already trying the obvious things.

    See above. There are actually things decent people don’t do. And just in case it hasn’t been mentioned often enough: This guy had sex with his wife on a pretty average basis. There is no fucking reason to get desperately frustrated unless you think that your wife owes you sex whenever you feel like it. This is why we’re talking about entitlement. It’s not like he only gets sex for christmas and easter. Sex on a weekly basis is absolutely no indication for sexual disfunction.

    “Maybe I should try being nicer or more romantic to my wife, perhaps that will put her in the mood” seems like a far more obvious and natural first step than “maybe I should make a spreadsheet detailing how often I attempt to initiate sex unsuccessfully”.

    This very thing should tell you something about the person who made the spreadsheet. Because there’s no logical path from “being nicer” to “make spreadsheet”. Those are the behaviours of fundamentally different people.

    Knowing nothing about this person and just assuming they jumped straight to making this spreadsheet before “maybe if I shower she’ll be more attracted to me” seems outlandishly cynical.

    At the risk of repeating myself: We assume this because “making a spreadsheet” is not in the toolbox of decent people.

    99% of the problem is him? What’s your margin of error on that?

    Well, you’re right. Maythere are issues that she has. Maybe she has body image issues, maybe she actually has some physical issue, maybe she’s just overworked and constantly exhausted. That still makes his spreadsheet and his attitude that lead to the infamous spreadsheet 100% wrong.

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