Just to recall a basic fact: Intercourse/PIV is always rape, plain and simple.
This is a developed recap from what I’ve been saying in various comments here and there in the last two years or so. as a radfem I’ve always said PIV is rape and I remember being disappointed to discover that so few radical feminists stated it clearly. How can you possibly see it otherwise? Intercourse is the very means through which men oppress us, from which we are not allowed to escape, yet some instances of or PIV and intercourse may be chosen and free? That makes no sense at all.
First, well intercourse is NEVER sex for women. Only men experience rape as sexual and define it as such. Sex for men is the unilateral penetration of their penis into a woman (or anything else replacing and symbolising the female orifice) whether she thinks she wants it or not – which is the definition of rape: that he will to do it anyway and that he uses her and treats her as a receptacle, in all circumstances – it makes no difference to him experiencing it as sexual. That is, at the very least, men use women as useful objects and instruments for penetration, and women are dehumanised by this act. It is an act of violence.
As FCM pointed out some time ago, intercourse is inherently harmful to women and intentionally so, because it causes pregnancy in women. The purpose of men enforcing intercourse regularly (as in, more than once a month) onto women is because it’s the surest way to cause pregnancy and force childbearing against our will, and thereby gain control over our reproductive powers. There is no way to eliminate the pregnancy risk entirely off PIV and the mitigating and harm-reduction practices such as contraception and abortion are inherently harmful, too. Reproductive harms of PIV range from pregnancy to abortion, having to take invasive, or toxic contraception, giving birth, forced child bearing and rearing and all the complications that go with them which may lead up to severe physical and emotional damage, disability, destitution, illness, or death (See factcheckme.wordpress.com for her work on the reproductive harms of PIV, click on the “intercourse series” page or “PIV” in the search bar). If we compare this to even the crappiest online definition of violence: “behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something”. Bingo. It fits: Pregnancy = may hurt, damage or kill. Intercourse = a man using his physical force to penetrate a woman. Intention / purpose of the act of intercourse = to cause pregnancy. PIV is therefore intentional harm / violence. Intentional sexual harm of a man against a woman through penile penetration = RAPE.
If we look at the act in more detail (skip this parag if you can’t take it), PIV is a man mounting on a woman to thrust a large member of himself into her most intimate parts, often forcing her to be entirely naked, banging himself against her with the whole weight of his body and hips, shaking her like he would stuff a corpse, then using her insides as a receptacle for his penile dejection. How is this a normal civilised, respectful way to treat anyone? Sorry for the explicit picture, but this is what it is and it’s absolutely revolting and violating.
The term “fuck you” is not an insult for nothing, men know why – it’s the worst thing you can do to a human being. It is in itself an extremely physically invasive act, very often painful, generally at the beginning before the pain may be cut off by the genital arousal; causes all sorts of tears, bruises, swelling, discomfort, STDs, vaginal infections, urinary infections, genital warts, HIV and death. Not to forget the additional sado-gynecological interventions/ costs of PIV-maintenance, and all the secondary physical mutiliation and financial costs that go with our duty to make ourselves look decorative for male sexual consumption – such as hair removal, make-up, starvation or forced feeding, torturous limb deforming or cutting up, etc.
The fact intercourse causes so many infections and tears and warts attests to the unnaturalness of intercourse, that it’s not meant to be. The vagina’s primary function isn’t to be penetrated by a penis but to eject a baby for birth. They are two muscle tissues / sphincters pressed against each other to help the baby be pushed out. Penetration of the penis into the vagina is completely unnecessary for conception.
There’s a reason men need to groom us into it, and why this grooming takes so long- because it’s so grossly violating and traumatising that we would otherwise never submit to intercourse. The only reason we may now not feel raped or have the impression we desired or initiated PIV, is because men broke down our barriers very skillfully and progressively from birth, breaking down our natural defences to pain and invasion, our confidence in our own perceptions and sensations of fear and disgust that tell us male sexual invasion is painful, harmful and traumatic.
Through an all-pervasive and powerful male propaganda, they stuff our minds from infancy with the idea that PIV is normal, desirable and erotic, before we can even conceive of it as something horrifying, and make sure we never see any alternative to their lie – or that if we do, we can no longer take in the information, are punished for thinking and saying otherwise. The fact we may not immediately feel raped doesn’t mean it’s not rape, objectively speaking. To give a classic example, many women in prostitution may not identify the act of prostitution as rape, except if the act wasn’t paid for. It doesn’t stop us from saying that all prostitution is rape. We know that our subjective feelings or thoughts may be colonised by men’s perspectives and as radical feminists we don’t let that override and erase the objective reality of violence. (PS -The reason why ONLY the lack of payment is defined as rape is because the offence here isn’t against the prostituted woman but the pimp who was deprived of his income. Rape comes from rapt, which is an old word for theft of woman-as-property.)
Lastly, from a structural point of view, as a class oppressed by men, we are not in any position of freedom to negotiate what men do to us collectively and individually within the heterocage. Men, by whom we are possessed, colonised and held captive, are the sole agents and organisers of PIV. Men dominate us precisely so we can’t opt out of sexual abuse by them; intercourse is the very means through which men subordinate us, the very purpose of their domination, to control human reproduction.