Marital Rape, Wife Rape

Is sex on demand the price a wife pays for being married? Does a husband have the right to force his wife to have sex when he’s in the mood even if she’s not? At what point does the sex act turn into rape?

Webster’s Dictionary defines rape as “the unlawful act of forcing a person, esp. a female, to have sexual intercourse.” It is the word “forcing” which is the key to whether or not sexual intercourse was consentual or not. If a partner says “NO,” it is rape.

Can a wife be raped? According to Wellesley Centers for Women: “Wife Rape is the term used to describe sexual acts committed without a person’s consent and/or against a person’s will, when the perpetrator (attacker) is the woman’s husband or ex-husband.”

A husband may believe that marriage gives him the right to have sex how and when he wants it even if his wife is not in agreement. If he wants to have sex and she doesn’t and he forces her through coersion, abuse, or intimidation to have sex, it is rape.

A wife may submit to her husband’s demands for sex out of fear of physical harm to herself, or someone else, if she doesn’t comply with his wishes. Women who have been emotionally abused when they have said “no” to sex may submit rather than suffer more abuse. A wife who has been forced or intimidated into having sex with her husband, or ex-husband, has been raped.

Intimidation can be a husband’s threat that if she doesn’t have sex with him he will find someone else who will or that he will divorce her. He may threaten to leave her if she refuses to perform a specific sex act on him or won’t allow him to perform a specific sex act on her.

In the United States, marital rape is now a crime in all 50 states. Other countries are slowly changing their laws regarding this issue.

When I searched the Web for links for this article, I found many more “wife rape” porn sites than sites with information about this topic. During my search I also found the following statements that leave me shaking my head in disbelief:

“The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract,the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract.” — Sir Matthew Hale, Chief Justice, in mid-17th century England

“Damn it, when you get married, you kind of expect you’re going to get a little sex.” — Senator Jeremiah Denton, Republican, Alabama, 1981

“It’s a waste of the court’s time to get into that area… a woman who is in marriage is presumably consenting to sex. Maybe this is the risk of being married, you know.” — Charles Burt, President of the Oregon State Bar (1979)

“Any woman who claims she has been raped by her spouse has not been properly bedded.” — Unidentified Legislator in Maine

Between two consenting adults, role-playing can enhance a sexual relationship including role-playing with one person playing the rapist and the other playing the rape victim. It would not be surprising to find this scenario being played out in private by married couples who have such fantasies. There is nothing wrong, again, if both are in agreement. The act is all wrong if one person wants to play out such a fantasy and the other person objects. Then it really is rape.