Men other than employers and co-workers have power over women too. Significant others, needed for financial reasons, help with children, home, family, emotional support… also often hold enormous power.
“Just leaving” the relationship would be in many cases even more difficult for a woman than leaving her employment. She’d be leaving what feels like her whole life.
It’s no revelation that certain men know this. My ex-husband did. We share two beautiful children together and he knew I wanted to keep our family together.
Some men, like my ex, wield their power to coerce unwanted sex or sex acts from their partner. Sometimes these acts are simply not welcome or sometimes they’re emotionally or physically painful to the female (aka “bad sex“). When refused, inappropriate coercion begins, examples include threats ranging from not helping with children to the ultimate threat of completely leaving.
The tactics often start as subtle. Silent treatment or acts of abuse spilling over into daily life. We stand our ground for a while but as they become more difficult to tolerate, or threats grow, we acquiesce, we cave.
Sometimes simply to stop the harassment.
Sometimes to keep our family intact.
Allowing our bodies to be used in sexual ways we don’t want, don’t consent to, but feel backed into a corner, forced.
We’ve all heard the phrase, women withhold sex for power.
Certainly some do… but what has happened to a woman’s basic human right to say no to sex?
Many of us don’t say we aren’t interested in sex to obtain power. We say no because we don’t want sex in a particular situation, period.
There’s no hidden agenda.
The sexual revolution our nation is undergoing needs to extend to the home.
To acknowledge that any person, male or female, has the right to say NO to something that involves their body. At any time. For any reason. Without the consequence of undue pressure to change their mind.
Any attempt to coerce someone into unwanted sexual acts is wrong in the workplace and it’s wrong at home too.
At this point in our nation’s revolution, sharing of common experiences is critical to bring attention to the pervasiveness of the problem currently plaguing humankind behind many closed doors.
We must break the silence.
Together, if we, too, are brave enough to be heard, we truly can work to eliminate punishment for standing up for our rights in our own homes.