Rape By Another Name: Coercive Sex In Ghanaian Society

Screenshot_2015-03-18-11-40-48
In civil and criminal law, we call this false imprisonment. In everyday world we call this predatory scum behavior.

When you live in a society that teaches men that their sexual satisfaction is more important that women’s well-being, sexual coercion becomes normalized. As the picture indicates, many men in Ghanaian society are comfortable engaging in dirty tactics that seek to break women’s will, rather than create a safe, secure, and comfortable setting for consensual sexual activity to occur. The result of which is the gender based sexual double standard. While seemingly harmless, sexually repressed double standards for men and women create a toxic climate conducive to women’s exploitation.

What do you think will happen when you shame and attack women for having sex, while encouraging and giving men “hard guy” status for getting sex? Well for one, you create opposing incentives. Men seek sex not just for their sexual gratification, but also for the recognition and fans of their male peers. Women shy away and repress their sexual desire not just from shame and guilt, but also because women will be deemed “whores”, “hoes” and persons unworthy of respect and love. Essentially, because women take a loss, and risk reputational damage for having sex, women are rightfully resistant to sex. Which means men must now “break” women to be able to get sex. The gender roles are set, as women become hunted like prey, and men identify as predators. While men scramble to get women to do what society has warned them not to do, unacceptable negative persuasive tactics that amount to coercion occur. Disturbing as it is, Ghanaian women deserve to be treated better, and Ghanaian men deserve to be better people.

The Problem: Creating Opposing Incentives To Ensure Male Sexual Dominance

By dissuading girls from having sex, and convincing boys that their manhood depends on their ability to get sex, Ghanaian society creates an imbalance in incentives that encourage men to manipulate rightfully resistant women into engaging in sex. Because women’s reputation, dignity, potential opportunity to get married are at stake, and because men’s “hard guy” status is contingent on engaging in sex, Ghanaian society ensures that opposing desires that encourage scary, detrimental and abusive behavior become a normalized way for sexual satisfaction to be achieved.

Our society goes even further, devaluing women who enthusiastically grant consent with vile words such as “cheap”. The message to women is clear: it is unacceptable to desire sex, and those who do are worth less.

Tactics of Social Control

There are a myriad methods of ensuring that women and men perform their carved out sexual, heteronormative, gender roles.

For women it is as follows:

dirty-hands
“If you think a woman is dirty after she’s has sex, then you may want to take a look at your hands.”

1. Lie that naturally girls don’t want sex even though sex is a biological drive
2. Use religion selectively to condemn women having sex while men enjoy it without backlash
3. Utilize existential falsehoods that arbitrarily claim that women become “less pure” when they engage in sexual activity. (Supposedly sex makes women dirty but not men)
4. Use biological myths that wrongly theorize that penis make vaginas huge, unattractive, holes despite vaginal elasticity
5. Teach women (and men) not to respect women who engage in a lot of sex.
6. Also, Tell women that if they have sex, no man will marry them
7. Reduce women to sexual objects and not sexual subjects
8. Attack women who desire to have sex by calling them “desperate” and “cheap”.
9. But most importantly thoroughly disrespect women who have sex, by treating them as subhuman and unworthy of respect. Refer to them as “whores”, “area hoe” and treat them like they lack dignity.

For men that methods of social control are as follows:

1. Lie that naturally all boys want to have sex all the time, despite feelings, and despite differing libido
2. Attach it to their masculinity. Make it the case that boys who have sex are “real niggas” and those who don’t are losers. Stir insecurity
3. Make sex a way for men to get peer recognition and respect, the more sex and “conquest” the more respect.
4. Use sex as a way that men assert ownership and control over women
5. Utilize sex as a means of male bonding between men
6. Use homophobia to shame men and boys into pretending to desire sex with women incessantly
7. Teach men not to respect women who have sex
8.  Most importantly embed within men’s consciousness a binary way of looking at women. Where sex suddenly changes the quality of women’s humanity. Where there are only Housewives and Hoes and nothing in between or nothing more. Where men learn to objectify, degrade, and associate negative attributes to women who have sex.

Re-Thinking Sex and Rejecting Sexual Coercion

The combination of women’s sexual objectification and opposing incentives creates a predatory relational attitude between men and women;

where all of us are taught to think less of women who have sex,
where men are taught to pursue sex by any means necessary,
where the sexual objectification of “hoes” allow us to ignore that women who have sex are multi-dimensional persons deserving of bodily respect,
and where a social climate of sexual coercion thrives.

To Disrupt unjust, violent, and sexist social forces we must do the following three things:

First, we must refrain from taking away the moral worth of women who engage in consensual sex. Ensuring that women who have sex are not attacked as “whores”, are not reduced to commodities as “cheap”, and are not reduced to objects who can be used as a means to an end.

Second, we must re-teach men to become sensitized to the humanity of women. Men must understand that women are versatile, complex, autonomous persons who cannot be arbitrarily reduced to human fuck toys they can use and discard. Men must be taught that they do not control women. That they are not entitled to women’s bodies. That they may not utilize emotional manipulation or physical coercion to get women into bed. That they should stop when women demand it. And most importantly, that they should seek meaningful consent where women are comfortable, happy, and excited to engage in sex, rather than seeking to break women’s will.

Last, gendered notions that reduce the complexity of human sexuality to binary stereotypes must die. We must not guilt men into having sex, we must not attach men’s masculinity to their sexual habits, we must not use homophobia to attempt to coerce men into sex that they do not want. Black men are not mindless, hypersexual, savages, white supremacy lied. At the same time we must not attack women for wanting sex, or for not wanting sex. Gendered slurs like “area hoe” that seek to strip women of dignity for the choices that they make with their bodies must also be buried.

Desire must be complicated, and healthy sexual habits where safety and enthusiastic consent is present, must be the bare minimum standard.

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