When sex gets complicated

When sex gets complicated

The Aziz Ansari sexual misconduct episode makes me wonder whether we are getting a little too carried away with the #metoo campaign.

A media person, who recently co-produced a brilliant film about a feisty woman, just got royally heckled by all the women on his timeline for asking some uncomfortable questions. His points — can a bad sexual encounter be labelled as assault? Especially in hindsight? And can you label the guy a sexual predator? It is a very fine line indeed and the gent in question was castigated by his women friends for speaking from ‘a place of entitlement and prejudice’.

There is perhaps no woman in the world who has never had a bad sexual experience with someone they like, love, have a crush on, or have no clue about. The biggest hypocrisy plays out in our bedrooms, night after night, when women – wives and girlfriends — across cultures, go through sex hesitantly or regret having it minutes later.

If we are married to the guy who is bad in bed, what do we call him? If he insists on having sex when our mind is on something else, is he a predator? And why is a hesitant or unpleasant sexual act with a known and trusted partner not assault, while the same experience with a guy in a powerful position qualifies as one?

Marital rape is not something we are comfortable talking about. Simply because it involves men we feel compelled to protect. We have been conditioned to believe that no matter how painful the experience, women must grin and fake it with their spouses.

Compulsion and consent are complicated issues. To protect the so-called sanctity of marriage, or love, or to protect a job, or a career… we may do a lot of things under duress and regret it. Why, even having sex on certain dates mandated by the IVF clinic is coercion, in my opinion. Call out a bad sexual experience by all means. But we must think twice about painting all sexual encounters with the broad brush stroke of assault and deflect from the real problem.

Speaking out against assault – whether at home, at work or anywhere – is the need of the hour. But instead of going after just the known guys in powerful places, we need to be honest with ourselves. Speak out against the boyfriends, husbands, paedophiles as loudly as you speak out against the Weinsteins of the world. Our selective ‘outing’ and our selective ‘outrage’ against men of a certain profile, even as we continue to protect the offenders back home, is actually doing a huge disservice to the movement.

No means no. Even if it is the only guy you have ever had sex with in many, many years.

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