Sexuality as a Contractual Agreement
Lastly, sexuality has been described as a contractual agreement. Pi – neau (1989) has critiqued the traditional conceptualization of consent, which “sets up sexual encounters as contractual events in which sexual aggression is presumed to be consented to unless there is some vigorous act of refusal” (p. 233). According to this view, whenever a woman’s behavior is interpreted by a man as provocative, she has entered a contractual agreement to engage in sex. This analogy, however, implies that sexual activity must follow a particular progression. This sexual script is androcentric, with vaginal-penile intercourse signaling completion of the contractual activity. Why is this definition of a sexual encounter used to determine successful compliance with the contract? If we follow the contract metaphor to its logical conclusion, the only acceptable resolution to a breach of contract would be a legal one; no one has the right to enforce privately the terms of a contract. Even if a man took a woman to court because her provocative behavior did not result in sexual intercourse, the only legal resolution would be nonsexual compensation. Hence, the contract analogy perpetuates a view of sexuality that justifies sexual aggression. Societal myths and cultural attitudes contribute to this contractual view of heterosexual sexual interactions. It is to these cultural myths that we now turn.