Elliot Rodger’s brutally tragic murders of six men and women near UC Santa Barbara in late May was allegedly a misogynistic surge of vitriol against the women he both loathed and desired and the men who did have relationships with them. However, the case was only another in a line of violence brought about by a myth of sexual entitlement that seems to be perpetrated by men and women alike.
I was raped in my mid-20s by a man who, at a muscular 250-plus pounds, said he had needs that needed satisfaction. We had been dating for a short time and I had made it clear that I was not ready for our relationship to proceed to a sexual level. He saw nothing wrong with using his weight, his greater height, and his muscular appearance to force the issue between us and while the incident was not violent, it was brought about by his insistence that he would have sex with me, regardless of whether I said no. As a victim of sexual entitlement, I am not alone. Rape occurs worldwide, but the notion of sexual entitlement is certainly new. It is essentially a term that began to be used in the wake of the UC Santa Barbara tragedy, and it appears to be gaining speed.
When Women Refuse is a Tumblr website that was established in the wake of the shootings, and one of the primary goals of the site is to collect stories of violence perpetrated against women who refused to have sex. Unfortunately, what is being ignored is that while under-reported, men are also victims of sexual entitlement. Female teachers have had sexual relations with male students, and date rape continues to be of significant concern between both sexes. It appears that instead of taking “no” at face value, those whose partners refuse to have sex with them – either as a one-time affair or consistently – are being effectively punished.
Of course, it is disappointing and even frustrating when one partner is in the mood to be intimate and the other is not. There are many who are in that same situation every night or day. However, resorting to extreme measures when someone refuses to have sex is inexcusable. Rodger allegedly could not accept that women would not be attracted to him because he was rich, he wore quality clothing, and he had a great car. However, there’s more to the laws of attraction than having pretty toys. There’s having the basic understanding of what the significant other in the relationship wants; there’s basic respect, empathy and compassion involved as well. Violence is never the answer for anything, and the notion that sexual entitlement is enough for people to want to push for sex when the partner in the relationship is not interested at that time is both repugnant and sends a terrible message that it is acceptable to threaten people simply because they do not desire sexual relations.
At our basest level, humans are animals. We have instincts and among those is the instinct to reproduce. That being said, we are also the only species other than dolphins that has sex for entertainment. It’s important to recognize, though, that there is a significant difference between wanting to have sex because you are attracted to someone and the other person is attracted to you and feeling entitled to sex simply because you have needs. Sexual enlightenment may be a fairly new term, but the philosophy behind it sets a very dangerous precedent for both genders.
Opinion by Christina St-Jean