I have rarely been this angry but then again…

rarely have I read such nonsense. Yesterday’s edition of the Sunday Gleaner had this article:

It’s not rape. Blanket consent was given on taking vows
published: Sunday July 30, 2006

It is impossible for a man to rape his wife. To the best of my knowledge, rape means having sex with someone without their consent. In the case of a marriage, there is consent. It is universally accepted that sex between married couples is inevitable. So inevitable and intrinsic is it to marriage that a marriage can be annulled on the grounds that sex had not taken place.

It goes without saying, therefore, that blanket consent was given at the time of taking the marriage vows, and said consent cannot be just withdrawn on a whim and one’s partner charged with rape. This whole issue, therefore, rests on the question of consent, and I have demonstrated that there is, in fact, consent. So the question is: How can somebody be charged for rape if his/her partner had given consent?

There are no known rules governing sex between husband and wife – only on weekends; only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; every third Thursday; only when I don’t have a headache, only when I’m not mad at you, etc., etc. – which would then lead to a possible interpretation that sex outside of a given set of parameters is rape. No. The rules governing sex between married couples are totally optional for the couple.

Contending that a husband can rape his wife is like saying that if a man ignores his wife’s basic needs and she takes money from his wallet (without his “consent”) to buy food, she should go to prison – since this implies that a man has no intrinsic responsibility to support his wife.

Even in a case where a marriage has broken down and there is some legal impediment to his contacting her (in which case we can assume that consent had been withdrawn), it could then be considered that a sexual crime was committed. However, while in this case it boils down to semantics, I would still have a problem with the word “rape” within ANY context of a marriage. If the man has to be charged, he should be charged with some kind of assault but given the same sentence as for a rape charge.

Keep marriage special! Keep sex as a natural act within a marriage. The laws of the land should recognise the sanctity of sex as an intrinsic part of a marriage and eschew the ridiculous concept of rape between consenting adults.
– Xavier Newton-Bryant

Needless to say, I could not the opportunity to attack such foolishness go by so I wrote a letter to the editor this morning. Here it is:

The Editor, Sir:

In regard to Xavier Newton-Bryant’s “It’s not rape. Blanket consent was given on taking vows” in the July 30, 2006 edition of the Sunday Gleaner: I searched for a hint of satire or sarcasm in his argument but found instead an immoral and dangerous argument. Therefore, I have few things to say to Mr. Newton-Bryant beginning with: NO, means NO; regardless of the circumstances, NO means NO.

A man and woman can be in the mood with things progressing toward intercourse but the minute the woman feels uncomfortable, she has the right to say NO. If a wife does not want to have sex with her husband she has the right to say NO. That may seem unfair to the man or husband but sex should always be a totally consensual act, nothing else.

Your argument that ‘blanket consent was given on taken vows’ is an insult to women and utter rubbish. It is exactly the kind of attitude that helps to create an atmosphere of fear and retribution for Jamaican women who are victims of rape. It is entirely possible for a husband to rape his wife because rape is not about sex – it is about control, power, and violence. A marriage should never involve or be about these things. When vows are taken before God to cement the holy union of matrimony and to bring two people together, they are given to love, honour, and obey in sickness and health. How can you even suggest that a husband lives up to these vows – particularly the bit about honouring – by raping his wife? How does even the most basic common sense dictate or even suggest that violently and forcefully extracting sex from a wife is consented to upon the taking of vows? If that truly is the interpretation of the law that you advocate and that the law holds, then I urge women not to get married for it would seem that the sanctity and protection that marriage should afford would be destroyed because of a husband’s quest for control and the law’s ineptitude and injustice.

The threat of such an abhorrently violent act as rape at any time is one time too many. If a wife chooses to withhold sex from her husband that is her choice, and is probably the result of far greater problems within the marriage; perhaps counseling would be useful instead of demanding and forcing sex. Although sex is an important intimate act between a husband and wife it is not to be a coerced act. Furthermore the analogy of a husband raping his wife to a wife taking money from her husband’s wallet is incongruent. The two situations are totally incongruent – money, an intangible thing with definite value, can and should never be compared to woman’s body and the total control that she has over it, which is priceless.

Also, your contention that “[i]f the man has to be charged, he should be charged with some kind of assault but given the same sentence as for a rape charge” is nonsensical. If he is to be given a sentence that is similar to that which would be given for rape then why can’t he be charged with rape, get the correspondingly appropriate sentence, and live with the lifetime shame of everyone knowing that he committed such an act against his wife? Let’s not play the label game or silly semantics with the welfare and safety of our women.

Rape is never about the sex but rather sex is simply a means of control. Rape is about power and violence. Rape should not be tolerated in any aspect of our society.

2 Responses to “I have rarely been this angry but then again…”
  1. shumpynella says:

    I am late in commenting but this was a well written letter and I sincerely hope that Mr Newton-Bryant read this. That mentality is like poison.

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