Why I don’t think people have the right to sex…
On the road to sexual freedom we need to be cautious
No one has a right to sex. The idea of a right to sex is pervasive in the logic of rape. I realise the liberal left does not have this vision in mind when they talk about the right to sex, but language is powerful as Chomsky will attest and I think couching it in this way is problematic.
That is not to say people don’t have the right to have sex. They just do not automatically have the right to sex. The right to sex kind of suggests permission to have sex as much as you want with whoever you want regardless of their boundaries and desires.
Sex is a beautiful and natural thing. It cements relationships and deepens bonds in the best circumstances. It is also very good fun in the main.
However, sometimes sex is not desirable. Sometimes the word no is important. Sometimes the right to deny someone else’s right to sex is important. The whole debate about rape culture is inherently bound up with a discussion over the power and sanctity of the word no.
Yes, I may have kissed you. Yes, I may have invited you home. No, surprisingly I do not feel ready to have sex with you. And yes, you should respect this. Regardless of what I am wearing. Regardless of how horny you are feeling. Regardless of whether you thought that was the way the night was heading. All I should have to say is no.
So here is where I argue that the right to sex shouldn’t exist.
Not the right to have sex, to enjoy it consensually, but this idea of a right to sex as a blanket idea.
Sex is not a right. Sex is something we need to encourage people to have with us. We should not expect it from anyone, not even our spouse.
Calm down love…
Why if I enjoy sex and believe in loving sexual relationships am I challenging with such earnest the right to sex? Because current discourse is leaning towards porn and prostitution as desirable models of sexual desire. I find this inherently problematic. I realise, increasingly, I am a drowned-out voice in this debate. Seen as prudish and sexually repressed. I am neither, but I am not going to take pains to convince you of this point.
Sex is something that does link to love. Admittedly it is not always this simple, but the ideal of sex with someone you love and not just someone you have paid is an ideal we should be fighting for.
I believe it frees both women and men to have an open, consensual and equal relationship around sex. A relationship not related to rights, but rather to understanding. An understanding of whether it is truly desired and enjoyed, or whether it needs to be delayed or even avoided.
My inspiration, the adorable Owen Jones: