On Marital Rape and Consent

Exploring Patriarchy – Chapter 23

MM was horrified at the lack of a law on marital rape in India. Read this article by the Times of India – Why Marital Rape Exists In Homes, In Data, But Not In Law.

MM had only ever experienced caring and kindness in this aspect of her marriage, but she knew women who hadn’t. Women for whom the bedroom was a place to tolerate. To endure. To dread. And to fear.

She know women from violent marriages who had escaped and she wrote on them some years ago at her old blog (now a piano teaching website) – in a poem Unbroken.

She felt that all of these people talking about conjugal rights were ignorant that consent was necessary for all aspects of a marriage to be fulfilled. She felt too, that they had very little knowledge of the psychology of fear and impact of denial of the right to consent on wellbeing. And no knowledge of female physiology. She felt that the authorities in India needed to send these people for a course to understand these matters.

  • The verbal aspect of consent to the act of intercourse.
  • The physical consent which is the readiness of a woman’s body for intercourse.
  • Caring, kindness and patience – a necessary part of any relationship. And especially a part of the marriage contract.

It’s always horrifying to read or listen to stories of women for whom consent to intercourse was never an option. And dear reader, if you read this and think this discussion is not relevant to you, please open your eyes and look around.

There are some topics need to enter common knowledge to aid discussions on consent, but society tends to look away.

Hormonal Change

The female body goes through hormonal changes every month, and female sexuality changes and women respond differently, and with different levels of comfort and ability during these changes. Then, there are changes due to childbirth and a need for rest and time for the body to heal. And changes that occur over the course of time as women grow older and approach menopause.

Fears That Are Created

There are fears taught by a society that believes that the act that creates a child is dirty. Something only men can enjoy. And something that women have to tolerate and endure. A punishment form the God’s to women and a gift they give to men. Fears that are taught to young women by their elders in a few families. It’s good that times are slowly changing.

Tiredness

The one thing that people overlook in discussions on female sexuality and consent is the sheer tiredness that many women feel. A tiredness that stems from the expectation that women need to sacrifice. And an admiration, and even a veneration, of this sacrifice.

A sacrifice demanded by a society where long working hours and commutes create tremendous stress for the one making time for interpersonal communication within the family. A sacrifice demanded often, by a society that raises families lacking in personal independence, to make sure that the woman who is the home manager can experience sacrifice. So they can admire her.

A tiredness that can be high even in families where women do less, because women are sometimes bound by restrictions in how they do chores, sometimes with very limited, or no freedom to do things their way. A tiredness because home managers don’t have a weekly off in many Indian families.

It’s very often true that the restrictions within the Indian family home might not be imposed by men, but by women raised with The Mother Wound of Patriarchy who don’t know any other way. But these restrictions cannot be perpetuated and carried on without the complicity of men. So change needs to be a joint effort.

Denial of Conjugal Expectations

It is reasonable for a man to have conjugal expectations from his wife, or a wife to expect the same. Expectations, NOT rights. And it is also reasonable for both men and women to expect caring, understanding and patience during the process of fulfillment of these expectations.

The inability to fulfil these expectations can be worked through with a counsellor. Medical problems or difficulties that women face can be sorted with a visit to a competent gynaecologist.

MM emphasized ‘competent’ gynaecologist because she had endometriosis, and had experienced consultations with doctors who specialized only in childbirth and were not very experienced in other medical matters affecting women’s health. And were very critical of women who brought these matters to their clinics.

When all fails, and conjugal expectations cannot be fulfilled, there’s always the option of a divorce.

Marital rape should NEVER be an option.


Microwave Madam is aware that her perspective on this matter doesn’t talk about the very real issues in creating and implementing any law. And other aspects beyond her limited knowledge of these issues.

She has no experience in these matters and feels that they are best dealt with based on the opinions of experts and those who assist families with these issues. In the same way that any effective law that works in society, is created.

And followed through with major efforts in discussion and awareness on these issues focused on understanding of consent to prevent marital rape and reduce the willingness of people to look away when it happens within their family.


I invite you to read all chapters of Exploring Patriarchy and walk with Microwave Madam as she explores the impact of patriarchy on her life and on society. And looks for solutions.

Published by Anitaelise

Anitaelise teaches piano lessons at Anitaelise Piano Studio and writes poetry and essays at The Relaxed Housekeeper. The blogs - therelaxedhousekeeper.com and anitaelise.com are written and owned by her and published in accordance with the copyright notice at the footer of each blog.

14 thoughts on “On Marital Rape and Consent

  1. So horrified by the opinion of all the men that are opposing this law in the name of “culture”. It’s appalling to see that so many people don’t understand the concept of “consent”. *Sigh*

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    1. Hi Happy Panda,

      Thanks for commenting. No all do not oppose law on marital rape and many – both men and women would like to see change that supports kindness. And have laws that are good in theory and in the way they are applied.

      Is it possible though that those voices haven’t been strong enough to impact laws? I wonder.

      I hope my writing has not implied that all men oppose this law, as it is not my intention at all. If you feel it does, could you point out the section? Will change it.

      The idea of consent has the support of many irrespective of gender – both men and women who live with this idea. However it is not discussed openly enough to reach the sections of society that need to hear these ideas.

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      1. Hi, I’ve been following this law in the news and I meant “all the men that are” opposing the law.
        I think the idea of consent is harder to accept in a patriarchal society.

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      2. Aahhh! Thanks for the clarification! Yes you are right about that, the idea of consent is not widely accepted or understood.

        I wonder if there would be change in terms of law, and a willingness to see divorce rather than force and coersion as an option, if understanding of this topic was aided by the opinion of medical experts and gynaecologists.

        And the impact of lack of consent on the mind and body were widely discussed with law-makers.

        That to me seems a large part of the problem. I can’t see law makers being comfortable with discarding the value of consent when it’s common knowledge that it causes harm and that harm is clearly discussed and visible to all in society.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it does happen all the world over. I am thinking about how I can include more on consent in this story. This post was quite a step out of my comfort zone. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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  2. I got here through Val’s recommendation…and i am so grateful she did. The issue on marital rape is really disturbing and alarming. It happens everywhere and could happen to any woman for that matter. Women should be given the choice to provide consent or not…sadly though for some choice is not even an option.πŸ˜”

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Consent is so important, especially in this sphere. Openness to the idea of consent needs some level of sensitivity education as well as sex education I feel.

      Liked by 1 person

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