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Locker Room Talk

What passes for man talk these days? We are told that asserting that you just walk up to women and just kiss them, you don't even wait, and that you grab their genitals is normal, natural, common. It's just locker room talk. It's just locker room behavior.

But is it?

Guys talk. Guys talk sex sometimes. When guys talk sex it can run quite a range from admiring a woman's physique in the most gentlemanly of terms, "Isn't she exquisite?" to more base forms, "Whoa, check out the curves on that babe." What both of these expressions share is passive admiration. There is nothing about taking control of another. There is nothing about asserting yourself over another. There is nothing about dominating another.

Walking up to women and just kissing them, not even waiting, however, is another matter. Walking up to women and grabbing their genitalia is another matter. It is about taking control of, asserting yourself over and dominating another.

This difference is what constitutes a sex crime.

Taking control of, asserting yourself over and dominating another is an issue we deal with in family law all the time. Until fairly recently (1993), it was perfectly lawful to rape your wife. Under common law, a woman's unconditional sexual consent was considered a part of the marriage contract. You are married = you consent. Period.

Even now, many states have different standards for marital rape than for rape. In a number of states it is still lawful to rape your wife if you have drugged her or she is asleep. In some states, even force is not considered sufficient to charge the crime of rape unless the force involves the use of a weapon or physical violence of a high and aggravated nature.

Wives still routinely experience all forms of sexual assault. One husband would not give his wife her "allowance" until she relented and made herself available to him. Another wasn't so contractual, her service to him was mandatory whenever he commanded it. And I do mean commanded it. Another would force himself upon his wife in her sleep. She would wake up to find himself on top of her. Another would hold his wife's arms down to keep her from squirming so much. All of these are quite legal in many states today. The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than half of female rape victims report being raped by an intimate partner.

More than one-half. That's a lot of rape. That's a lot of control exerted over another.

From the cave man clubbing his intended over the head and grabbing her by her hair to the modern version of "I grab them by their (female genitalia)," we have a long way to go to rid ourselves of such immoral, reprehensible conduct. It is how we control our women. It is why rape is weapon of war. No different here. We control women by controlling their bodies, one rape or one grope at a time.

So, when someone proclaims that they have committed sex crimes against others, we should take their word for it. We should believe them.

By all means, we should protect ourselves from them.

Michael Manely

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