This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.
Maoist Internationalist Movement

"Why do you say 'all sex is rape'?"

[This page is under construction, because it has many points and references to tie together.]

*See also our review/summary of lawyer and social theorist Catharine MacKinnon
*See MIM's page on gender issues in general

MIM has already answered questions surrounding our line that under patriarchy "all sex is rape" at length in MIM Theory 2/3 sold at as linked to above and in various articles throughout this website. We offer this page just to raise the relevant problems and organize study of the question.

Common misconceptions and problems with existing ideas about rape

*The most common misconception is that rape is by a stranger, done with a gun or knife.
*A stereotyped view with no basis in the law is that rapists are only men attacking wimmin to the exclusion of vice-versa or same-sex rape.
*Until one gets into politics or court, one may be completely unaware of how the subject actually gets handled by the rulers. The vast majority of imperialist country people are out of synch with the rulers' stated ideas on sexual crimes, but what ends up happening is that the rulers implement a limited and hidden agenda that will not overly offend public opinion in practice.
*Among alleged Marxists, most incorrectly continue to see gender oppression as a lifestyle question, not a group-level oppression question. They in fact cede the whole ground to Liberal pseudo-feminists. Some of the same political activists calling themselves "communist" who do great work to understand their differences with other small organizations of communists do not apply the same effort to taking a stand on gender oppression. As anti-revisionists, we at MIM intend to apply the same level of effort and precision on gender questions as we apply on related questions of the history of class struggle.

Legal history

The history of law regarding rape in the imperialist countries points toward refinement of concerns surrounding individual rights. Specifically, rather than accepting existing or historical standards of "what is natural" or what men usually do, bourgeois law has attempted to adapt the subject to seeing sex-linked interactions among people the same way they look at business deals--with each individual having a right to property and doing business and each individual having a right to form a consensual sexual agreement or contract.

One striking change has been regarding rape in marriage. In the days of Marx & Engels, there was no practice attacking rape in marriage. Now in the imperialist countries, there is. MIM does not wish to go back to the old days, but only extend this progress toward its logical conclusion. We should accept that the definition and usage of "rape" has changed since the days of Marx & Engels while remaining true to the Marxist method.

From the bourgeois point-of-view, the change in thought means that marriage is not a permanent agreement consenting to sex. At any time, a persyn is to have the legal right to refuse sexual contact. It goes without saying that if this is so in marriage, there is no basis for thinking sexual contact is legally justified even if customary in certain dating situations.

Aside from the spreading application of the ideas of marital rape and date rape, more lawyers and legal theorists are pushing to sharpen the notion of consent. It will surprise readers to know that lawyers are not concerned mostly with stereotyped Hollywood movie rapes. In one case, a major U.$. legal theorist argued that rape does not involve force at all other than sexual contact if there is no consent. The same and other lawyers have argued that consent may be impossible to give in cases of retardation or alcohol or other drug abuses. Sexual contact with people subsequently deemed unable to give consent is causing many criminal cases to advance.

Ideological history

In today's modern imperialist country usage, any sex without mutual inclination is called "rape." Back in the day, we are fortunate to have the record that Engels already said that it is impossible to say that "mutual inclination" is the reason for sexual interactions including marriage (not just prostitution) under capitalism. The influence of money has to be removed first, before we could hope to think that sex might not be rape. By that, Engels does not mean avoiding prostitution or having "individual integrity." He means that money has to be abolished in the advanced stage of communism, before we can be sure what is going on between people having sex.

Anyone who thinks at a group-level can see this logically just from looking at prostitution. If someone decides to see prostitutes instead of dating, that persyn is no longer available to others for dating. Likewise, the prostitute's attitudes toward all dating may change. This causes a domino effect on who ends up dating whom. Without prostitution and money, the same people would have interactions with different people and so everyone else's dating choices including their degrees of inclination and reasons for that inclination would also be affected. Since prostitution, modeling, Hollywood and pornography are all driven by money, standards and choices of everyone are affected by money--even those not paid in connection to sex.

No where do Marx and Engels treat gender oppression as something to cede to subjectivism or Liberalism.


Once we have read the law and see what the rulers are attempting to define as rape, we must ask two sociological questions: 1) what is the existing sexual practice of the population?
2) if we really tried to apply the oppressors' law to the existing sexual practice what portion of the population would be in prison?
3) if application of the law is not the real purpose of rape laws, then what is?

MIM Theory 2/3 answers these questions.

Rape is no longer just the stereotyped gun-to-the-head or knife-to-the-throat situation, contrary to what a large portion of the population believes. Recently there have been a number of cases involving deaths of wimmin taking "date rape" drugs secretly given to them in alcoholic beverages. In other cases, frequently at college parties, the imbibing of alcohol reaches a point where the ability to give consent and also the ability to render evidence after the fact have resulted in more cases.

MIM is pointing out where all this is going: the recognition of more and more forms of coercion in gender relations by the law. Guns, knives and deadly poisons are already weapons recognized. Alcohol is on the borderline. How long will it be before people realize that guns and knives are simply the street version of big money being used on wimmin struggling to survive around the world? How many starving wimmin have meaningful "consent" rights?

Finally, as Andrea Dworkin described in her book Intercourse and as lawyers like Schulhofer have said, rape is merely contact, contact that may be customary but nonetheless wrong. For them, a prosecutor should not have to prove "force," only a lack of consent.

In practice, and this we can know from sociological surveys, mental acuity problems that interfere with consent affect a large portion of the population, several times larger than the entire prison population for all crimes put together. Looking at mental disability and drug abuse alone, we would find a substantial portion of the population unable to give consent but having sexual contact--rape. Not surprisingly, this is what surveys discover, that large portions of the population including females would have to be in prison just on this basis alone. (The law usually does not say that females cannot rape males or other females.)

A literal reading of the law and the dictionary definition of "rape" brings the whole question into sharpest focus. Rape can also occur through acts of fraud or deceit, not just force--and this without much recent innovation in the law. Yet, if we believe surveys or just our own common knowledge, a majority of imperialist country people have lied about sex to their partners in their lifetimes. Yet it is by definition impossible to consent to a lie. By this fact alone, a literal reading of the law would label most people, including females, rapists.

What we have uncovered just in the ordinary complaints of the population brought before the court system is a wide range of problems in gender interactions. As usual with bourgeois law that is really a bourgeois dictatorship, the rulers write and interpret the law in such a way as to be able to catch almost anyone. What then happens not surprisingly is a discriminatory application of the law, since in no society does everyone go to prison.

We communists are not surprised. In labor struggles, we said that there is coercion underlying contracts between exploiting employers and exploited workers. It does not matter whether the two sides give consent to the business interaction by signing a contract or not. Someone starving and with no wealth has to work and for whatever wage is available. Someone with wealth and not starving has a different level of power in the interaction. For that matter, Marx proved in Capital that even a category of non-starving workers is exploited if their earnings are their subsistence alone. What alleged Marxists need to understand is that individual consent to a contract with an employer does not disprove exploitation and likewise individual consent to sex does not disprove rape. For the Liberals consent is the key both to employer-employee relations and sexual interaction. That's not Marxism. Whether it is alcohol or lies, sexual consent today is a joke. It cannot be taken seriously until after the coercive conditions affecting sexual consent are gone.

The same is true of gender interactions: they are all corrupted by various problems of power that the population brings to court in ordinary life but does not resolve--weapons, poison, alcohol, retardation and lies. The reason these problems do not get resolved and in fact seem to expand is that there is lacking a theory--an idea about the cause of the problem. MIM is here to say that communists are the ones who even after we abolish money, we will make sure there is no gender oppression. If money and property are gone and we still have physically strong people sexually exploiting weaker people, then communists will be the ones looking for a solution to that, whether it takes bio-engineering, control of gender ratios, organizing the weak into collectives suitable for self-defense or anything else.

Ideological goals

The statement "all sex is rape" is not a theory. It is an ideological orientation that helps people to know what to look for in a theory. When Marx and Engels equated prostitutes and housewives under capitalism, the point was not to say that everything was great in gender relations. It was closer to saying all wimmin are prostitutes. Since there are a lot of issues to understand in gender oppression it can get easy to get lost in the reading or say "so what"?

1) Despite whatever embarrassment people may feel about not knowing the law or where it has gone, MIM aims to have a discussion of rape, one which we believe refreshes our own understanding of what Marxism was to begin with, not just on the question of gender oppression but on the production of all theories for all oppressions, and hence the dialectical materialist method itself.

Many people can read a history of classes in certain countries and recite Marxist dogmas pertaining to that history, but applying Marxism to gender today means grasping the overall distinction between Marxism and other methods and collections of theories. It means really understanding what Marxism is.

2) We aim to expose the imperialist state for its approach to crime--both its failure to solve problems and its discriminatory approach.

3) We aim to show how Marxism differs from Liberalism on gender oppression and how it does a better job resolving gender oppression. Conservatives say that past habits are OK. Amerikan liberals and rulers generally are saying that they want flaws in consent addressed, but we communists are saying there is no such thing as a meaningfully given consent to sexual relations or economic contracts until communism. It is not our task to point to a good example of a lifestyle with proper sexual consent or politically correct hiring in sweatshops. That is for conservatives and liberals to argue about. We are here to say that the whole consent and group-level dynamic is oppressive.