Bettina Arndt always cracks me up. You have to laugh otherwise you’d blow a head gasket. Her latest assertion is that “withholding” sex causes problems in a relationship, so women should have sex when they don’t feel like it because it will keep their husbands happy. Why take one side over the other? Why not say that men should never ask for sex because their partners feel pressured?
Arndt says it’s our “wifely duty” to attend to our “husband’s needs”. (From what I’ve read there’s no mention of husbandly duty to attend to a wife’s needs.) In her eyes, a man’s needs are more important than a woman’s. I would have thought she’d know from her experience as a sex therapist what happens when resentment builds in a relationship.
The cracker comes in an opinion piece she wrote for the Canberra Times: “As terrible stories of marital rape and sexual violence claimed the public’s attention, women’s right to refuse sex became fundamental to decent relations between the genders. The new rule was the sex must wait until women are well and truly in the mood. But that was where we went wrong. The assumption that women need to want sex to enjoy it has proved a really damaging sexual idea, one that has wrought havoc in relationships for the past 40 years.”
Excuse me? The assumption that women need to want sex to enjoy it has proved a really damaging sexual idea? Havoc in a relationship is more important than a woman’s rights? Excuse me while I burn my bra. Telling women they should have sex when they don’t want to sounds suspiciously close to saying rape is ok. Sigh. (I’m not the only one bothered by what Arndt is saying: check out Helen Pringle and Ben Pobjie writing in New Matilda.)
Last year Queensland Police chucked a hissy fit over an article I wrote about police in Cairns saying sex attacks would be reduced if girls didn’t get so drunk. They were trying to tell people to be responsible but in the process they blamed rape on the victim. Seems to me we’ve spent so much time telling girls how to avoid being raped that we forgot to tell boys not to be rapists.