Thanks for those who inspired me to do this.
I wrote an article years ago, before there were such things as blogs, with this title, and caused a major commotion in the MSN Religion community.
The basis of it was that such experts as anthropologists etc, widely accept the sex-for-food contract among earlier humans as a normal, stable aspect of our relationships, although they dispute its staying power. Basically it's an arrangement designed to work until the child is old enough for the mother not to be dependant on the father. She might then move on to another mate. But I daresay even back then, some stayed because they liked one another. I like to think so.
Never mind all that. The fact of the matter is really very simple. He went hunting, she took care of the baby, and his reward for bringing her home something to eat was sex.
You would think we had moved way past that, but we haven't.
It may not be sex for food exactly now, it's more clothes/jewelry/perfume/new car for sex now. Most women in the modern world are perfectly capable of supporting themselves. But either it's not enough, or they prefer a sugar daddy, and so they seek out The Great Provider.
You can say they offer him many things, such as company and affection, someone sympathetic to come home to, and maybe a homemaker in the real sense of the word, cooking his dinner, making his bed, washing his socks. In other words, doing domestic work.
It doesn't matter that some women do this happily and willingly. That is luck more than anything. No matter how you slice and dice all of this, we still have this arrangement, this agreement.
Modern women often rebel against it, but that doesn't mean it's not THERE. Many modern women seek the sex, thank you very much, but that changes nothing either. I'm sure many of you will argue that I'm wrong, but I stand by what I say, I've been looking at this a long, long, time.
And I say it without some bitter personal bias. I have a good marriage, and we do not treat each other as suppliers of services. But even my enlightened modern husband, having brought me home my favourite wine as a treat, will grin from ear to ear and say he's been a good boy..............
So. You can accept it or not, like it or not, and certainly go along with it or not, and lucky you that you have all these choices, because your ancestors didn't. If they refused sex, they could quite easily have been forced. The idea that a wife has a choice here is extremely modern.
In fact, TODAY marital rape is only recognized in half the countries in the world, and it was not recognized anywhere much before the 1970s. If you don't believe me, look it up. The data is easily found. The further you go back the easier the dismissal of the idea is to find. I found a quote on Wikipedia, for example, as follows:
Sir Matthew Hale, in his 1736 legal treatise, Historia Placitorum Coronæ or History of the Pleas of the Crown, where he wrote that such a rape could not be recognized since the wife "hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract."
The important thing to remember is that there are two versions of marriage. Legal and religious. As we all know from the current arguments regarding same-sex marriage, these often conflict, but in any situation where the church IS the law (and even in countries with a separation of church and state, that can still happen, and you better believe it) it makes no difference. It was generally the church that dealt with marital affairs until quite recently.
The church (or religious entity of any type), on hearing that a wife was refusing conjugal rights to her husband, would chastise her. Every time. It is very rare for an exception to this. It would be a small proportion, the most liberal, modern parts of any given religion. With the law (see above) backing them up, she had no redress at all.
And why? Well, you can find all sorts of justifications in scripture, several hundred in the Bible alone, but the one most people know is this one:
1 Peter 3:1
"Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands."
Now, I realize, because I've been told in no uncertain terms by those involved, that some women LIKE being subjugated. That they have kind men, who never force themselves upon them when not welcome, and who combine this mandate with other far more generous ones, about protecting and supporting their wives. They are happy, it all works for them, and it's none of my business.
It still changes nothing. He protects, she puts out, and the ancient agreement is complete. It is still sex for food, in effect.
And the church encourages this.
Yes, it's natural anyway, that's not the point. As soon as an authority slaps its approval on this contract, it ceases to be an agreement between the couple concerned, and becomes something else. Now the woman can't get out of it. There is nobody in her corner.
Sex for food is prostitution. An exchange of sexual services in return for cash, or goods. A form of sexual slavery, as in any house of that most ancient of professions. She can't leave because she needs it.
THANKFULLY, nowadays, in the west at least, things have changed. But they haven't changed for all women, not even here and now because of shame and local cultural pressures. Ask the Jehovah's Witnesses, for example.
Before I sign off and let you argue this, because I know I'm going to get strong objections, I have nothing against prostitution. I have nothing against marriage, either (obviously). This is not a judgement on marriage. This is not a judgement on prostitution either, I'm just telling it like it is.