Sex Is Worth More

As a college student, I gradually became used to hearing that most people think of sex as something you do on a third date. I’ve even seen contraception given out as if they were candy by some student associations. It isn’t news to anyone that university campus culture promotes the thinking of sex as something exploratory and recreational; however, I noticed this view of sex changes when the topic at hand is nonconsensual sex: rape.

In campaigns against sexual abuse and in conversations about the topic, rape is represented as a terrible, deplorable offense because one person in the situation did not give consent. What confuses me is that so much of this rhetoric comes from the people who propagate the idea that sex is something casual, carefree, and empty of deep significance. I can’t think of any other act that can be trivial when consensual and an unforgivable offense when not consensual. Other acts, such stealing or harassing, are wrong because of the lack of consent, however, none of them carry the graveness that rape does. It does not add up to say that sex is something recreational and exploratory made to be enjoyed whenever and that rape, the instance when said “recreational and exploratory” act is forced, is a graver offense than most other nonconsensual acts. There must be something, other than the lack of consent, that makes rape something as terrible and deplorable as it is.

Although consent in some form is necessary for almost all expressions of affection to be acceptable, it isn’t a constant that always determines if something is right or wrong. Let’s suppose I ask my friend, who I know is in a difficult financial situation, if I can borrow money from him. I know he is impulsive and not very mindful of his precarious financial state, and I know it would harm him if I accepted the money. Although this is clear to me, I ask my friend for money. He says he can lend me it to me, so I accept it. The actions of asking, consenting, and borrowing debase us both, and the fact that it was consensual doesn’t make it good. Thus, the presence of consent doesn’t determine the rectitude of action, yet that is what many people use to argue why rape is wrong.

The reality, however, is that rape is wrong and serious offense because the sexual act itself is powerful in nature, and so are the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences it brings. Sex leaves two people completely vulnerable in front of one another. When sex is shared as God intended, it deepens an already existing bond between two people. If sex is transplanted to the context of rape, it only implants fear and distrust where there should be commitment and pure love. Sex is something serious that carries with it a great deal of power and significance when there is no consent and when there is.

I think the majority of people, including those that insist that sex is casual and empty of profound significance, recognize that rape is terrible and deplorable. The people that condemn rape do so with the subconscious understanding that sex has a great deal of significance, which is what makes rape so terrible. It takes the act that has the power to form an unmatched connection and intimacy between the people that share it and deforms it into something violent and degrading.

As much as our culture, especially that of college campuses, wants to treat sex as something as casual as a handshake, I believe that at some level we all understand that it is so much more than that. Sex is an act unlike any other and has the power to form a bond of love and trust and to create new life. We punish rape so severely not solely for lack of consent, but because, even if only subconsciously, we recognize what our minds and hearts whisper to us: that sex is not just a recreational act or a casual gesture, but rather something that should be treated with more respect in all contexts because in actuality it is worth more.

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Michelle is a student pursuing her Master of Arts in Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. In her free time, she likes to read novels and essays; watch TV series and movies; travel to places near and far; hike the desert mountains of El Paso and wherever her travels take her; explore empty buildings and her college campus at night; discuss ideas; and -if you couldn’t tell already- write. She also enjoys visiting churches and museums and keeping up with the latest in fashion and beauty. She has a tendency to get lost easily and can be counted on to display a dozen facial expressions in a couple of seconds and to always have a hug at the ready. For more of Michelle’s writing, visit michellespeters.com.

11 Comments

  1. Great read! It’s so nice to know that there are others out there who see the sacredness of sex and don’t view it merely as a recreational activity.

    By Beth | 3 months ago Reply
  2. As someone who was raped and also believes in consensual casual sex, I ask kindly you not use rape to further your abstinence only agenda. Please do actually research on the topic, including speaking to psychologists and reading scientific journals on rape, the motivations, and the ptsd that follows. It is far more simple than “sex is meaningful which can be proven by rape and sexual assault are bad.”

    By Nah | 3 months ago Reply
    • Hi Nah, I really sympathise with your rape experience but I don’t it is the intention of the author to belittle what must have been a traumatic event in your life. But I am glad that you have recovered well enough to be able to speak about it in public. God bless you my dear sister.

      By Ike | 3 months ago Reply
  3. Here’s a better analogy for casual sex and rape. Say you and your friend like kick boxing or karate or football. You two both agree it’s a fun way to exercise though both aware of the inherent risks. You still both consent to playing these contact sports because you know at any time you can stop, choose the proper equipment to protect yourself, or ask your friend to do something else. Yes there is always a risk but there’s benefits too! Now imagine you’re sleeping and your friend walks into your house and starts tackling you and beating the crap out of you without consent, proper protective equipment, or even consciousness. That is rape. Borrowing money from a financially irresponsible friend is a dangerous analogy and belittles the seriousness of the problem. This article does nothing but promote victim blaminng. It is universally observed by doctors and scientists that rape is a power crime, not because someone is too sexually liberal. If someone wants to get laid, they can, that’s why they invented tinder. If someone doesn’t want to have sex they don’t have to, that doesn’t mean they will end up being raped.

    By Alex | 3 months ago Reply
    • I wholeheartedly agree with this. And the comment above too! As someone who was raped by a catholic missionary, I also want to state that personal views on sex has nothing to do with sexual assaults. I think the intentions of this article were great but poorly carried out. I’ve always loved the message of the Chasity Project but have found many articles that promote victim blaming so heavily that it’s made me reconsider supporting them. Even referencing sexual assault poorly can be so damaging.

      By Katie | 3 months ago Reply
      • Katie, I can’t see where you get that this article suggests the victim’s at fault. She’s trying to explain why rape is so bad, not trying to explain why people get raped. Is thinking highly about sex victim blaming?

        By Fede | 3 months ago Reply
    • Hi Alex, which of these two cases do you think will be treated with more gravity by both the police and the media: someone without protective equipment who was beaten without consent or someone who was raped? Lets face it, there is something about rape that fills all of us with disgust compared to many other harm done without the victim’s consent.

      By Ike | 3 months ago Reply
    • One point that I took away from this article was that just because you CAN consent does not mean you SHOULD, no matter what “benefits” one may receive from it. The issue that arises here is how we view and conceptualize sex. While your example demonstrates a positive aspect of consent, it does not further look into how one perceives the act of kickboxing or football. That in my opinion is just as important, as it provides a frame of reference for further understanding. If you are one that does not view it in the spiritual sense, then it would make sense that you see as something different. Correct me if I’m mistaken in my assumption here.

      By Joshua | 3 months ago Reply
    • Bro, she’s telling you that rape is so TERRIBLE precisely because sex is so POWERFUL, more powerful than a beat down and a robbery. You’re barking at the wrong tree here.

      By Francisco | 3 months ago Reply
  4. So true! People fail to see that Sex not only has emotional consequences but spiritual as well. Psychologists and Scientists, unfortunately, will never take the soul into account. Hence, in most cases, you will never get the truth from them; even if they are well meaning. I don’t think the author: Michelle, is merely using rape to propagate ‘abstinence only’ for abstinence sake but she’s rather reminding us of the dignity and beauty of our human sexuality which requires a ‘little more’ than mutual consent. Abstinence will have meaning when it is expressed in the framework of love. The fact that we naturally abhor rape is a hint revealed by nature itself of the universal moral law not to mention sexual morality.

    By Lester Menezes | 3 months ago Reply
    • Thank you, Lester. I’m glad to see at least one person understood that it wasn’t my intention at all to mention or trivialize rape in order to propagate an abstinence only philosophy; rather, I was trying, as you say, to point out the hint revealed by the fact that we naturally abhor rape.

      By Michelle Peters | 3 months ago Reply

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