Who has happy sex?

Nov 6, 2014 by     5 Comments    Posted under: culture, gender, philosophy, polemic, theory

keep-calm-and-have-good-sexWho has happy sex?


Awhile back, we exposed the Maoist Internationalist Movement’s (MIM) line of “all sex is rape” as metaphysical sophistry. (1) Recently, MIM responded. (2)

We’re not going to go very deep into MIM’s phony setup in their response. What prompted the discussion was a social-media discussion between a well-known MIM supporter, another person, and ourselves. This was not a discussion initiated by ourselves in a titanic struggle to distinguish ourselves from MIM or some effort to wreck. It was a blurb on social media that we found worth preserving. Anyone can read our numerous articles that mention MIM to see if we are “bad mouthing” or “wrecking” in any significant way or if what we say has merit.

Firstly, we found MIM’s response very strange. Their response drifts this way and that way. There are a lot of disjointed claims that don’t really add up, except in that they pile on the defaming adjectives. It might confuse less experienced readers enough to distract them from the main point that MIM does not address what we actually say in any serious way. Rather, MIM transparently mischaracterizes our aside that most people have an intuitive sense of rape versus happy sex as our main argument. As though our article boils down to “I know rape when I see it!” therefore, “all sex is not rape.” In fact, we say “Not that ordinary language is always right” right there in our article, so obviously we are not hinging our article on intuition or ordinary language alone.

We agree with MIM that rape is sex without consent. Where we differ is over what constitutes consent. We are fine with defining consent in reference intentionality under ordinary circumstances. If two full agents intend to have sex with each other, no rape has occurred. If one person does not intend, then it is rape. Now, this can be problematized. One can introduce epistemological skepticism: how do we ascertain intention? This is a reasonable question to ask, courts do it all the time. Juries look at evidence, testimony, etc. to determine this, but this is really a separate question from what constitutes consent itself.

The issue can also be problematized by introducing “hard cases,” cases where the circumstances are not typical, not as easily determined. MIM’s approach is to point to non-stereotypical cases,  all these hard cases, and conclude that “all sex is rape.” It should be obvious that this is a non-sequitur. MIM’s conclusion does not follow from the premises. Just because it may be difficult to offer up a traditional definition by listing necessary and sufficient criteria does not mean use of a term is meaningless nor does it means a term is infinitely broad. Let me give a famous example from Wittgenstein. Look at all the different activities we call “games”: football, checkers, solitaire, jump roping, peek-a-boo, and so on. Wittgenstein points out that there is no list — or, rather, list with explanatory power, no non-ad hoc list — of criteria that only identifies the class of all things we call “games.” What counts or does not count as a game is not determined by some definition that corresponds to an essence in the tradition of Plato to Aristotle or sense in Frege. Instead, what makes a game count as a game is that it bares a certain family resemblance to other games. And, within the class of games, some games are thought of as more typical and some as more atypical. Football is thought of as more typical. Jump roping or mountain climbing might be thought of as less typical, a “harder case.” Now, imagine if someone argued that just because the class of games cannot be easily defined to cover both the typical cases and hard cases that therefore, no behavior or all behavior should be counted as a type of game. This is the kind of bizarre reasoning MIM employs to reach “all sex is rape.” Because there are hard, non-typical cases, all sex must be rape. Or, imagine that someone argued that because it is difficult marking the exact borders of the shade the color red on a spectrum that therefore, all colors of the spectrum are red. This is the whole point of the first part of MIM’s argument in their FAQ, the part that piles on information that not all rapes correspond to our stereotypes. (3) MIM’s argument is not only a non-sequitur here, but also relies on a metaphysical conception of language that has evolved from Plato and Aristotle to German idealism and positivism.

Secondly, MIM adds another bad argument to the mix from their recent document:

“[I]t’s impossible to have a sexual relationship in capitalism under the patriarchy that does not have power differences, whether they be economic, physical, social, work, academic or some other aspect of power.” (4)

Furthermore, from their FAQ:

“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.” (5)

We examined MIM’s second bad argument in our previous article, but it is worth expanding on it since MIM has not addressed the substance of our claims. In this second argument, MIM adds a metaphysical conception of human agency to support their claim. The last line of MIM’s argument says real consent is different than apparent consent. MIM defines real consent as decisions made outside of power imbalances, sex outside of oppressive social systems. Since, humans are never free when they exist in systems of oppression, since they are always compelled in one way or another, consent can never be given. As we said before, this conception of what counts as a free decision is not unlike Descartes’ conception of what counts as true knowledge. Descartes posits an idealist bar for what counts and does not count as true knowledge. By contrast, in real science, theories count as knowledge if they predict and explain the world better than their competitors. Not so for Descartes. Descartes sets the bar for knowledge impossibly high, based on nothing more than a method pulled out of thin air. For Descartes, the only real knowledge is that which cannot be doubted, which means none of the sciences count as true knowledge, not even mathematical or logical truisms counts as knowledge. Descartes’ approach is a metaphysical one. Like Descartes, MIM pulls its definition of what counts as a free, consensual act out of thin air. It is not based on anything other than MIM’s own idealist intuitions. MIM sets the bar for what counts as free, consensual sex so high that happy sex has never existed. After all, anthropology shows us that even the so-called “primitive” societies of the distant past had some traditional divisions of labor and hierarchies, even if their inequality was much less than in modern societies. Distinctions of power and privilege even exist amongst other primates, even if these inequalities are much less than we see in our own society. So, we have a situation where MIM has set the bar for what counts as happy sex so high that, if MIM’s argument is taken to its conclusion, consensual, happy sex has never existed. Thus MIM out does Descartes. At least Descartes could point to the cogito, the act of the thinking self that cannot be doubted, as the only case of real knowledge, MIM can’t even point to any instance of real consensual, happy sex in all of human history. Thus, for MIM, everyone who has ever had sex has been involved, one way or another, in rape. Every great communist leader has been a rapist or a victim of rape, or both. MIM even named their movement after someone who they see as a rapist. Mao was reported to be sexually vigorous.  According to MIM, all sexually-active people of Third World and First World are rapists or victims, or both. All children from happy homes, from loving couples, are really products of rape.

Thirdly, MIM’s approach leads to all kinds of bizarre problems. Let’s focus on one of them. It generates its own hard cases, which MIM seems blissfully unaware. For example, let’s say a rich, able-bodied, younger, black guy has happy sex with a poorer, disabled, elderly white woman. Who is raping whom, according to MIM? Let’s say one wealthier, but disabled, black man is having happy sex with a poorer, able-bodied, black man. Who is raping whom? What if all the people in our examples are engaged in a four-way? How does the rape calculus work, exactly? How are all these  systems of oppression reduced to a single measure whereby we can determin rapist and victim? Whatever problems may exist with trying to refine a model based on looking at intent, reasonable expectations, and context are far greater in MIM’s approach. This, again, underscores that MIM’s model is not about creating a useful theory to serve as a guide to practice. MIM even admits it is not interested in finding “real rapists” in communities; MIM writes off the search for “real rapists” as “gender aristocratic.” MIM states:

“The gender aristocracy cares about labeling and punishing rapists, again, because it distinguishes their good sex from others’ bad sex.”


“In general, we are not interested in finding the ‘real rapists’ as we don’t believe there is such a thing. Rape is a product of patriarchy — that is the essence of our line that all sex is rape. Imprisoning, beating or killing rapists will not reduce gender oppression in the context of a patriarchal society. Yet this is the only solution that is even vaguely implied in LLCO’s critique.” (6)

Think about how silly this is for a moment. MIM implies that you cannot both have a plan to eliminate individual cases of rape as part of a broader, revolutionary plan change society fundamentally. Imagine if we applied MIM’s argument to land redistribution: “You foolish liberal, we cannot ever redistribute any particular piece of land, that would distract MIM from the main goal of redistributing all land.” It is not unlike the Trotskyish or anarchist ultra-left argument that making revolution in any particular place is somehow contrary to global revolution. The joke here is obvious: no contradiction exists in these two goals. It is important to solve the concrete needs of individuals in the course of implementing a more thorough, far-reaching solution. This is something MIM doesn’t seem to understand. By contrast, Leading Light does seek to develop a mass line and New Power among the masses. Leading Light knows that people we deal with in the Third World face real rape all the time. They need to be able to call on revolutionary institutions to deal with it. (7) Without revolutionary institutions, a New Power, capable of dealing with conflict resolution and social order, the masses will turn back to the Old Power. Leading Light aims to solve concrete problems as part of a bigger strategy.  MIM is more interested in weaving metaphysical stories. MIM is not really interested in useful tools or mass line, but in justifying ultra-left posturing like “all sex is rape!” and “sterilize all men!” and pontificating about celibacy. Good luck with all that. MIM can call its line a more “advanced,” “materialist line on gender,” or even “science.” Lenin said that that paper would tolerate anything. Well, the internet will tolerate even more.

Sexuality is the normal behavior of all complex species. Humans are social animals, and sexual animals. It is a part of our biology. To deny this is, even if dressed up in pseudo-feminism, is to deny science. It is also to deny real, proletarian feminism, which is based on the mass line, not on waving an idealist wand a la Descartes. Mass line means creating realistic, useful standards that are not so far ahead of the people that they are deemed unreasonable. It is about pulling people forward in a realistic way toward Leading Light Communism, not simply declaring some metaphysical fantasy. Proletarian feminism is about arming people with effective tools for their own liberation. It’s about handing the people the best weapons that exist, Leading Light Communism.


1. http://llco.org/comments-on-all-sex-is-rape/
2. http://prisoncensorship.info/news/all/US/2170/
3. http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/faq/allsexisrape.html
4. http://prisoncensorship.info/news/all/US/2170/
5. http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/faq/allsexisrape.html
6. http://prisoncensorship.info/news/all/US/2170/
7. http://llco.org/international-womens-day-in-the-bangla-zone/

5 Comments + Add Comment

  • There is a real difference between the horrors of actual abuse and having sex with your partner so you don’t make them feel rejected or because it’s their birthday or whatever. These are types of things both men and women are quite likely to do from time to time and its silly to see them as part of gender oppression. I think the MIM line on sex reflects a general bourgeois individualist trend in western society. Last night thousands of ‘anarchists’ rallied in London in a demonstration against God knows what, it certainly wasn’t about the exploitation and oppression of the great mass of humanity. I think the ‘all sex is rape’ line is a manifestation of this bourgeois tendency to progressively regard any kind of outside influence on behaviour, however slight, as some sort of terrible oppression. Anyone who thinks having sex to make your partner feel they are still attractive and desirable is the same as being violated when you are drunk and unconscious or being held down and and immobilised lives in some ivory tower far away from the real world. The cause of real abuse (which is common enough in western society) is the selfishness of people that is bred in any capitalist country. Ironically the desires of the anarchists and libertarians that now dominate the western left for a society of pure individualism is what is causing the very abuse that they are so concerned about.

  • MIM accuses you of wrecking too. I guess they don’t like criticism, or getting pwned.

    MIM is the kind of group that you could demonstrate over and over that they are wrong, but they’re still gonna keep on a’truckin.

    You spend WAY too much time on this, comrades. This stuff is probably less deserving of your attention than Mike Ely. I really enjoyed your discussion of Wittgenstein and Descartes though so I guess it is worth it.

    MIM shows how out of touch it is with both what it calls the “gender aristocracy” of the First World and the peoples of the Third World in quotes like these:

    “The gender aristocracy is very concerned with distinguishing between rape and good sex, because good sex is the premise of their very existence as gender oppressors. For the gender aristocracy the bio-male provides safe/respectful good sex and the bio-female provides good sex in the form of a respectable/chaste partner.”

    They spout this as though Third World peoples, the gender oppressed, including Third World women, aren’t concerned with good sex. I also love the part about how they think good sex in the mind of First World men is limited to some 1950s fantasy of the USA where men are looking for “respectable/chaste” June Cleavers. Maybe a century ago, MIM. It’s all about strippers, gogos, sults, and hos, at least in the lumpen culture that MIM claims to have some connection to. Chaste? Respectful? Pfft. Go do some empirical research, MIM.

  • There are loving homes. There are good relationships. There are happy couples. Are they perfect? No. But what guarantee they would be prefect under socialism or communism? People are people. They are not totally blank slates. Things will never be prefect. There will always be power differences even if they are less than they are now. MIM sees rape everywhere. There is something weird about that.

    There are plenty of people who were brought up right in happy homes. I find it very insulting that someone calls my mother and father “rapists”. I am sure that many others would find it insulting too. How do they expect to organize anyone?

  • MIM opposes “I know it when I see it arguments”. A question I had was how does MIM define sex? If all sex is rape, then we better know what is and isn’t sex. Vaginal sex is sex, thus rape, according to MIM. Some Christians don’t count oral sex as real sex. Some don’t count handy jays as real sex. So my question to MIM is: Is all dry humping rape also?Is all kissing rape? Petting? Caressing?

  • Heh.

    MIM’s responded:

    “‘Sexuality is normal behavior for any complex species.’ We would like to see some evidence that…”

    “LLCO’s recent articles on rape and gender oppression can easily be categorized as part of the patriarchal pornography machine.”

    “The whole content of the article could have been written by the Democratic Party if one just cut out the words ‘Leading Light Communism.'”


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