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Coersion/Rapeco-erce ko-ers vb co-erced; co-ercing 1: RESTRAIN, REPRESS 2: COMPEL 3:ENFORCE--co-er-sion -er-zhen,shen n --co-er-cive -er-siv adj rape ^r`ap n 1:a carrying away by force 2: sexual intercourse by a man with a woman withouther consent and chiefly by force or deception; also : unlawful sexualintercourse of any kind by force or threat As if the line between normal and acceptable consensual sex and rapewasn't thin enough already, there are those out there that wish to make it aneven narrower, less defined and more twisting line to stay on the right side of.It seems as though somehow, somewhere, someone decided that the two termsdefined above are in some way related. However, in the manner of logic which Ipossess, they are not. The debate now is rape, and what constitutes that oncehorridly thought of crime. In the opinion of some, rape is no longer just aphysical act of violence that accompanies uninvited sex. Rape, as defined bysome, can occur even when the two parties involved agree verbally or otherwiseto have sex. This to me, seems absurd. In the most basic terms, and with thesimplest definitions, no means no, and okay, yeah, yes and please, all mean yes.The term 'NO' is not very complicated, and is probably the word that wasrepeated to us the most as children, so we should all get that one right.
Butstill, how can yes mean no? Apparently through a term known as 'verbalcoersion,' which allows a large grey area to form between these simple answersto sometimes complicated questions. 'Verbal Coersion' is not a term you will find in the dictionary, atleast not in any of the ones I own. In an article by David R. Carlin, Jr., hestates that as he interprets this term 'rape [can] occur even when consent isgiven, provided this consent is influenced by external pressures and is notsimply the result of internal desire.(12; par.3).' I find this to be anacceptable definition of coersion as it relates to sexual situations, although Ifeel strongly that under no circumstance can coersion constitute rape, once thecoerced has consented to full physical acceptance of sexual advances. Although coersion can be exercised through many different approaches, Icontend that the entire idea that verbal coersion can constitute rape isinadequate on one main principle.
In order to coerce someone, that someone mustallow the coercing to occur. If a man who is trying to gain sexual favors froma woman attempts to seduce her through flattery, promises and so on, doesn't endup getting what he wants, no coersion has taken place. His attempt has failed.This is true only because the woman hasn't allowed herself to succumb to hischarms. But if this is all that occurred, in no sense of the word has heattempted to 'rape' her. If a man has a girlfriend or wife who is not in themood for sex, and the man threatens to go find sex elsewhere or threatens toleave her, this is, in a way, coersion. This is not just a simple coercivestatement though.
It is coersion through blackmail, and is unkind and immoral,but again, it is not an attempted rape. Nor is it illegal.I think that Camille Paglia is probably a good example of a person whowould not allow herself to be coerced. In her essay 'It's a Jungle Out There'she exhibits a massive general mistrust of the male gender as an entire group.She argues that 'Hunt, pursuit, and capture are biologically programmed intomale sexuality(637; par.10)' as she attempts to warn young women about theperils of behaving with naivety in the presence of young men, who have but onething on their mind, and, supposedly, are willing to go to any lengths to get it.I truly doubt that this woman, or her younger counterparts who share thisattitude, would willingly follow an intoxicated member of a fraternity up to hisroom, an expect nothing would happen. I doubt that any form or amount ofcoersion could change this, for their attitude is too defensive. They would bedistrustful of anything a young man might do or say.
In order for this type ofwoman to have sex with a man, she must first truly desire to, and all women, inmy opinion, are capable of being this strong and self-reliant. Coersion, as I see it, is a practice as common for most people asbrushing their teeth before bed. I think that we are all guilty of beingcoercive, for in our society coersion is the ladder on which we stand to reachup and get that which we desire. We coerce others to see things our way, do thethings we want to do, and to aide in making compromises that will be foundacceptable to more than one party. Others coerce us for the same reasons, aswell as many more. Everyday, we are exposed to an average of over seven-hundredadvertisements which attempt to cajole us into buying a new product orservice(often through sexually oriented advertising), or to try out an oldproduct again. Coersion as I see it, and not as the dictionary defines it, isany attempt to persuade a person into doing something they may not ordinarily do.For that matter, it is even possible for us to coerce ourselves.
We second-guess our first instincts, we buy act impulsively, and we are all capable ofwanting things passionately. It is not irrational to expect that sex is one ofthose things. I do believe that phrases such as 'verbal rape,' 'date rape,' and'acquaintance rape' do diminish the substance and impact of the word 'rape'itself, and I feel that they should not be used in these forms. I feel that theword 'rape' is designed to carry a powerful and shocking image, as is does asdefined at the beginning of this work. When attached to other words such as'date,' and 'verbal', words that carry much different connotations and images,the impact of the word 'rape' diminishes.
Apparently I'm not the only one whothinks this. David R. Carlin, Jr., in his article 'Date Rape Fallacies' writes'.. -even though I continue to be troubled by the use of the word 'rape' tocover the whole range of events. For no matter how true the new feministanalysis might be, there still remains a world of difference between a smoothtalker on one hand and a man holding a knife to your throat on the other.Calling them both rapists may be a fine way of highlighting the malignity of theformer, but it is also a way of trivializing the criminality of the latter.(12,par.6).' I is very hard for me to compare a crime called 'rape' against acrime called 'verbal coersion' and expect that I, or anyone else, for thatmatter, would view them with the same degree of severity.
Although I have already stated that coersion of all types plays a rolein our daily lives, at no point is this more true than when dating. In myopinion, dating is something that we do as a natural part of our existence associal beings, and in this day in age, sex plays a part in a dating relationshipprobably far too early. However, I don't think that this is due to men gettingbetter at coercing women to have sex with them, nor do I think that women havelost their ability to say no or to protect their so-called 'sacred vessels(Rophie 647, par. 7).' I think that this is due to the fact that it is finallyacceptable for women to want sex. No longer are women treated as outcasts forwanting to have sexual relations on a first or second date.
Women can nowinitiate sexual contact without being nearly as embarrassed as they feel likethey should be. Also, women are now allowed to participate in the coercing.Although they don't as much, it's always fun when the roles are reversed andthe man gets to try to hold off. The preconceived notion that we all carry which implies that for men,the goal of dating is sexual conquest is true, and I'm sure always will be. Theway that most men attempt to achieve these conquests is through coersion. AsSusan Jacoby says in her essay, 'Real men don't rape(644, par.19).' In myopinion, though, there's nothing wrong with trying to change someone else'sopinion of you, or how that person feels about you. And that is coersion.
And,often times, it is sexually oriented. And, if it does lead to sex, that's fine.It should also be fine if it doesn't. But either way, I think that it'sunrealistic to consider coersion of any type to be a form of rape.
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