Literally Asking For It? Why you still can’t murder your girlfriend
It’s 9.03pm and you’re outside a bar in downtown New York. A drunk guy spills your drink and asks you if you want a fight. You swing the first punch. Are you, therefore, not guilty of assault because he ‘wanted it’?
Legally speaking, no. Because the prosecution would rightfully argue that you shouldn’t commit bodily harm, and unless you have a super slick lawyer who can argue you that you were defending yourself from a realistically threatening opponent, most juries would find, correctly, that you shouldn’t go around thumping people. Even if they’ve ‘been asking for it’.
Society recognises that we, as smug westerners, do not want to be part of a culture where grievously harming a random civilian is morally and legally acceptable.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sadistically beating, maiming, torturing or murdering women and LGBTQ people, the social attitude appears to shift somewhat on that legal matter. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a man-hating chip-on-shoulder-fest for every guy I’ve ever felt a bit let down with in the bedroom. And yes, I fully acknowledge that the extent to which the domestic abuse of men is ignored is horrifying (will write on this soon). But, for the sake of not muddying the waters too much here, I really think we need a nice little chat about consent, autonomy, and normalised violence.
First of all, I’m not here to kinkshame you.
If being tied up and spanked is your thing, I get it. Some people are similarly into pretending to be garden gnomes or gladiators. Whatever gets your knickers off in a consensual and fun way for you and your partner, while maybe odd or perhaps a little strange, it is ultimately personal, private, and a matter for you to decide upon. Having heard the range of fantastical and bizarre roleplays my friends get up to, I can strongly assert that there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ sexuality.
However, and this is a big however, GBH, molestation and assault are still criminal acts, even when committed with pink handcuffs and latex.
If you have your hands around your girlfriend’s neck and you’re bashing her head against the wall, it doesn’t matter if you’re pretending to be a burglar. It doesn’t matter if she’s roleplaying with you. You are hitting a woman’s head against the wall while choking her. We seem to have forgotten that fact as a society: ‘pretend’ doesn’t magically cancel out what is really happening. You wouldn’t let your child eat Lego because they are pretending they are chips. So for Christ’s sake, don’t choke your girlfriend and give her a cerebral hemorrhage because you were ‘pretending’ to hurt her.
Make believe, like all bedroom roleplay, has to stay make believe. The minute you are genuinely hurting someone, genuinely terrifying them, or genuinely making them choke to death, it stops being a game. It’s abuse.
And don’t shout ‘grey area’ at me, because if your behaviour doesn’t meet this one, simple question with a hard ‘no’, it’s a criminal offence:
Is there a substantial likelihood of your physical activity causing real bodily harm or death?
It’s really not hard, folks. You can pretend to be Christian Grey (Grey? Gray? Clearly I need to read that again) without violently assaulting your partner. You can stalk the bedroom calling her a bad girl without knocking her teeth out. You can threaten to kidnap her and take her to the Death Star without grabbing her by the hair and knocking her unconscious against the wall. You can tie her up without murdering her.
Anyone who says they ‘lost control’ in a sexual frenzy needs a highly trained psychotherapist, not pity. If you can’t have sex with big boy skills like consent, bodily autonomy or self control, you shouldn’t be having sex at all. There’s a huge difference between liking it a bit rough upstairs and choking a woman until she falls unconscious and dies. That’s not normal. That was never normal.
Ultimately, I refuse to believe that any normal bloke would want to kill a woman, or enjoy any sex act that caused her to have a genuine chance of extreme physical pain or death. Most men seem repulsed by these cases of extreme bedroom sadism, thank goodness. But ultimately, we need to remind ourselves a society that a fantasy is a fantasy, and abuse is still abuse whether it’s in the bedroom, the kitchen or the office. If a woman is asking you to do something that you feel might kill, harm, or seriously injure her, the answer is always ‘no’. In the same way ‘Honey, let’s rob a bank, that’s so hot’ would be met with a resounding negative, hold the same principles in sex. In the same way you wouldn’t give a friend heroin or opioids, set boundaries and stick to them. Cause no harm.
If you feel you are a risk to women, children, or indeed anyone, or that your sexual preferences are becoming out of hand or too extreme, then there is help. I’d always rather you came forward and got help than continued to hide your shame and potentially harm someone.
I’ve got some helpful links below:
And remember, a kink is fine, assault is not.