Accepting or refusing an act of love, from a simple caress to a light kiss, including an embrace and sexual intercourse, this is what the concept of respect for sexual consent covers in the couple.

Thus, each approach towards the other implies his clear and clear approval to go further, to prolong the moment of intimacy while being certain of the reciprocity of desire.

A refusal can arise and must be accepted beyond the feeling of love. In this regard, the Feminist Collective Against Rape and the Women’s Foundation recall “that sexual freedom implies the freedom to have sexual relations between consenting adults … as well as the freedom not to have one”.

“No need for violence”

Sometimes situations of psychological and physical suffering give rise to serious amalgamations. An example ? “He or she did not object, it was that somewhere he or she wanted. Except that not daring to say no is not to say yes.

In her book “Troubles in consent”, Alexia Boucherie explores in depth the issues raised by this notion. The law associates it with “the absence of violence, threat, constraint, surprise”, she recalls. But “there is no need for explicit violence for a sexual relationship to be perceived as rape, or for the issue of consent to be murky.”

There is also the question of the expression of the refusal. Beyond language, the body can also speak. A withdrawal into oneself, an attempt at rejection as timid as it may be, sign for example the absence of consent.

Behaviors rooted in customs?

Even today, the notion of consent is weakened by the stigma of marital duty. This obligation to sexual intimacy, abolished on September 5, 1990 by the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation, still permeates our Western societies.

No obligation to maintain sexual relations is made in article 215 of the Civil Code, which provides for “the community of life”, and not the implicit return of conjugal duty. But in many cases, the refusal of intercourse between the couple is presented as fault in the event of divorce. Fortunately these accusations rarely succeed: in 14 cases out of 86 cases, revealed Julie Mattiusi, lecturer in private law at the University of Haute-Alsace, in her study “The conjugal duty: of the obligation to consent”.

To go further: the book “No, c’est non”, Irène Zeilinger, Edition La Découverte, 245 pages, March 2008, 16.90 euros

Source: “Sexual freedom put to the test of conjugal duty”, Family file, consulted on June 1, 2021

“The reverse and reverse of consent. Sexuality, the family and the body, between consent, constraints and autonomy ”, Manon Garcia, Julie Mazaleigue, Alicia-Dorothy Mornington, Edition Mare & Martin, August 12, 2021, 27 euros