Sex as a Weapon
Updated: Sep 22
Despite lackluster reviews, nostalgia associated with House Party 3 (1994) allows me to conclude that the film is worth honorable mention regarding hip hop history. Admittedly, I was a Kid ‘n Play fan, so I’m biased in this regard.
Noteworthy, R&B group TLC—of whom I was also a fan—was featured in the film as performance act Sex as a Weapon. During my high school days, I couldn’t fully understand what was inferred by the weaponized sex reference.
Many years since then, I’ve come to understand different meanings associated with the term. Per one source:
When you use sex as a weapon, you intentionally withhold sex as retaliation for not getting emotional or physical needs met. You may also be overtly sexual in appearance, but play “hard to get.” Controlling the amount and timing of sex can be a way to try and gain more power in a relationship.
I suspect noteworthy emphasis for this description rests with the concept of power and control, relating to feminist perspectives on power. Generally speaking, the individual who wields power over another is thought to be an oppressor.
Elaborating on this dynamic through a moral lens, one source states, “Believing that whoever controls the sex in a relationship also holds all the power is off the mark; sex shouldn’t be withheld as a punishment or given as a reward.”
I regard this view as moralistic, because use of words such as should, must, or ought presume what is the good, proper, or right course of action to take. When practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I dispute such presumptions in order to challenge irrational beliefs.
For instance, suppose person X believes that sex shouldn’t be given as a reward. However, person Y disagrees. Suppose person X and Y is involved in an intimate relationship with one another.
Person Y is studying for a major exam though has difficulty with extrinsic motivation—reasons one has for behaving in a particular way, predominately through an external reward system. To serve as a catalyst for performance, person Y requests sex from person X for every completed eight-hour period of studying.
While person X is under no obligation to oblige the request, is person Y a bad person for initiating the request, and who has taken the wrong approach towards rewarding desirable behavior? Morals are subjective and it all depends on who is asked as to whether or not person Y is using sex as a weapon.
One source elaborates by suggesting, “Passive-aggressive behaviors are common and include tactics such as intentionally withholding sex or only offering sex as a reward when the partner has ‘done something right.” This is a different scenario than person X and Y’s relationship.
Here, the reward factor appears to be other-initiated—that is to say it isn’t a mutually-agreed upon course of action though a regulatory strategy to manipulate an individual. Let’s tweak person X and Y’s scenario.
Person Y, still extrinsically motivated and studying for a big test, finds it difficult to concentrate on the course material. Person X states, “We aren’t having sex again until you pass your exam.”
The proclamation isn’t initiated by person Y and it’s not something to which person Y has agreed. Even if person X is well-intentioned, perhaps attempting to motivate person Y, rewarding a person for an expected outcome is said to serve as a form of sex as a weapon.
Still, there is another way for sexuality to be weaponized, a topic on which I haven’t discovered many people commenting. Recently, actor Jonah Hill—whose documentary I addressed in a blogpost entitled More Tools for the Proverbial Toolbox—has been the subject of controversy.
An individual purported to have formerly dated Hill, allegedly posted screenshots of texts with the celebrity for which Hill has been accused of the “misappropriation of popular therapy-speak [which] created a veneer of respectability that disguised a perverse shift in the power dynamic between himself” and his reported former romantic interest.
Having witnessed biological sex-based accusations against other men, regarding reported claims of sexuality as a weapon which were apparently cause enough to divide global opinion based on little more than baseless claims, one wonders about the merits related to accusations against Hill.
In particular, Hill has been accused of “sexting” his former love interest just prior to moving in with his current intimate partner. Sexting relates to sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or videos, primarily between mobile phones.
In typical fashion, feminist armaments are loaded for bear before the actor has been afforded the right of due process of the law—or at minimal the benefit of critical thought regarding allegations made against him. Other mental health practitioners have apparently weighed in on the matter though without addressing the issue highlighted herein.
I don’t know Jonah Hill or the alleged former romantic partner in question. I have no comment one way or another about the authenticity of information pertaining to either party.
What I think is worth highlighting is how there appears to be an emerging trend whereby male sexuality is weaponized in favor of females, particularly concerning men and women. I briefly addressed this matter in a post entitled What’s it to You?
Allow me to speak in hypotheticals. Suppose man X prefers intimacy with women who are adult-aged, though significantly younger than him. He engages in a relationship with woman Y and the two use sexting as a method of foreplay.
Is man X a bad person for behaving in this manner? If you think so, upon what do you base your conclusion? Is your judgment predicated on subjective moral imperatives? If so, might your assumptions about man X be untrue?
Now, suppose man X terminates the romantic relationship with woman Y and he begins a new relationship with woman Z. Perhaps self-disturbed by her irrational belief about how she’s been wronged, woman Y submits to legacy and social media sources intimate details about communication from man X.
Is woman Y a bad person for behaving in this manner? If you think so, upon what do you base your assessment? Is your conclusion dependent upon similar moral directives you’ve used regarding man X’s behavior? If so, might your beliefs about woman Y be inaccurate?
Taking matters a step further, let me label man X’s behavior regarding his selection of pair-bonding with younger women as “predatory” and woman Y’s actions as that relating to “vindictive.”
Are these terms logically and reasonably sound? Who benefits from use of these labels? Is anyone harmed by these words?
As an REBT practitioner, I argue that words do not hurt people—because words are not weapons. Instead, what individuals tell themselves about these terms is that which results in unpleasant consequences.
Based on this understanding, I use disputation of irrational beliefs as a form of munitions-resistant equipment when faced with sex that is used as a weapon. Moreover, my clients are encouraged to do the same.
Therefore, if man X is subject to misleading accusations about his behavior, he can challenge his unhelpful assumptions associated with the claims. As well, woman Y can interrogate her unproductive beliefs about man X’s behavior.
I remain cautious in regards to the direction in which society appears to be moving. Using sex as a weapon doesn’t seem to benefit the would-be oppressed as much as it allows for the weaponization of sexuality by perceived victims.
For the clients with whom I work, I encourage the use of personal ownership along with unconditional acceptance when faced with these matters. As such, my clients own their role in emotional and behavioral outcomes while accepting how little influence and control they have in life.
Perhaps you’ve been metaphorically shot at by the blast of sexuality, narrowly having overcome the ordeal, and are now searching for a method to prepare for future instances of sex being used as a weapon against you. REBT may be just the tool for which you search.
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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