(For the sake of honesty – this post has been edited quite heavily. A previous version included what was fairly clearly a personal experience, and on reflection I’ve decided I’m not all that comfortable with such detail being out there; especially as, although I see this blog as anonymous, in my opinion I’m still sort of identifiable, and consequently so is he. I would also like to make clear that this is not due to pressure from anyone, but to do with several unrelated events in the past week that have made me think about whether or not it was generally a good idea to put that information out in the public sphere.
TW: Descriptions of harassment and sexual assault, and reference to rape and rape culture.)
Entitlement is the numerous stories I’ve heard or read about women being physically trapped by a stranger until they give up their phone number. Or a kiss. Sometimes more.
Entitlement is the well-known reality that being “taken” is often the only form of rejection respected without further questioning (although even that’s not always the case; sometimes the response to “I have a boyfriend” is “Well where is he then?”, because heaven forbid a woman exist in public without a chaperone). It’s not about her feelings, but about whether he can claim her or whether she’s already owned.
Entitlement is present in the idea that “excuses”, whether true or false, are necessary for turning down unwanted advances; the implication being that you can automatically claim anyone, unless they have a good enough reason. And with every “no” being subject to intense questioning, you don’t really think any reason is good enough. You’ve just been told it’s polite to ask.
Entitlement is a culture that relies on the absence of a direct “no” instead of a clear, enthusiastic “yes”; effectively, it’s the presumption of consent. This, combined with the pressure, with the coercion, and with the socialisation of women to put everyone else’s feelings before their own, to “let them down gently”, to not give a direct “no”… well, I hope the problem is clear. And if she does say no, she’s dismissed as a friendzoning bitch.
Entitlement is sometimes most apparent within existing relationships. In the UK, a husband could not be convicted of raping his wife until October 1991. More recently, there were George Galloway’s comments stating that once two people are “in the sex game”, failure to obtain consent is merely “bad manners”. This sort of attitude is prevalent. Consent to a relationship is often viewed as consent to sexual activity, and consent to sexual activity once is often viewed as consent to sexual activity forever. Those who do not consent, or no longer consent, are often made to feel at fault, that there’s something wrong with them. Maybe, sometimes, they’re put off because it’s become literally the only part of “relationship” you care about.
Entitlement is expressly asking about sex (after all, it’s good manners) but not really offering a free choice, instead just repeatedly trying various different arguments – ridiculous as it is that you still think there’s consent if you have to argue about it – until they eventually give in. No? Why not? Don’t you love me? It’s fine! It’s okay! Why not? Come on! It’ll be fine! How about now? How about now? How about now?
Entitlement is having defensive hands ignored. It’s having to lie about being on your period to stop him from going any further
Entitlement is refusing to accept separation. It’s the same attitude of “I want you, so I should be able to have you”. I can’t really be leaving permanently because then you can’t have me anymore, and that’s just out of the question. It can only be a temporary break – and, as with everything else, you can use pressure and coercion to get what you think is rightfully yours. Not at home? Use the internet. Blocked on one site? Use another. Can’t send Facebook messages directly anymore? Go through relatives. That doesn’t work? Start showing up at the house again. Reclaim control by any means. If you are Robin Thicke, this might involve naming your next album after your ex-wife and repeatedly announcing in public that you want to get her back, and this will, by and large, be accepted as entirely normal behaviour. Entitlement is, by and large, accepted as entirely normal behaviour.
It’s control and ownership and assault and rape and dehumanisation… and it’s something most women know all too well.
Entitlement is fucking scary.