Male Entitlement: 7 Startling Reasons Men Feel Entitled to Women’s Bodies

What causes male entitlement to women's bodies? Read the layered and complex reasons why some men haven't figured out that women are autonomous individuals.

Male entitlement to women’s bodies is a driving force behind emotional & psychological abuse, sexual coercion, domestic abuse, sexual violence, and homicide. Here’s what you need to know.

This episode is Part 2 of Anne’s interview with Rachel Moran.
Part 1: “Consent” Is Harming Us: What You Need to Know
Part 2:
Seven Startling Reasons Men Feel Entitled to Women’s Bodies (this episode)

Why Do Men Feel Entitled to Women’s Bodies?

Navigating the complex maze of societal expectations and gender dynamics, women often find themselves at the mercy of a perplexing phenomenon—male entitlement towards their bodies. It’s a pervasive issue that manifests itself in a variety of ways, from thinking women “owe” them sex or perhaps cleaning the toilet.

This list explores seven compelling factors that contribute to male entitlement to women’s bodies.

1. Patriarchy is a System of Male Entitlement

Patriarchy is an established a framework where men have privilege and women don’t. Historically, the male experience has been the default, and women in contrast have been objectified. Their roles reduced to caregiver or a sexual object.

Men, owing to their societal status, grow up with a sense of entitlement toward many aspects of life, including women’s bodies. The belief in their innate right to women’s attention, affection, and bodies can begin early.

2. Cultural Norms Perpetuate Male Entitlement to Women’s Bodies

The media plays a significant role in perpetrating gender stereotypes and norms, often depicting women’s bodies as objects for male consumption or that women are the supporting cast.

From advertising that commodifies women to movies and songs that glorify persistent pursuit of women despite their lack of interest. The cultural narrative is loaded with messages that reinforce the idea that “real men” take control.

3. Ignorance Isn’t Bliss (For Women)

An educational gap in teaching about healthy relationships and truly mutual sex further exacerbates the problem. Many education systems worldwide lack a comprehensive approach to relationship and sex education that includes the nuanced aspects of respecting one another’s autonomy. Without this knowledge, it is easy for men (and women) to believe men are entitled to women’s bodies in a variety of ways.

4. Religious Beliefs Support Male Entitlement To Women’s Bodies

Religious and traditional values often “assign” women the task of being the moral compass for men, as if men aren’t capable of making ethical, healthy decisions. These beliefs can simultaneously place the onus of “morality”, domestic labor, childcare, and “meeting a man’s sexual needs” the duty of a “righteous” woman.

While also stripping her of equal value and decision making power. This can lead to the paradox where, on the one hand, women are seemingly “exalted”, and on the other, a convenient scapegoat when men’s desires or behaviors spiral out of control. These beliefs can be manipulated to justify male entitlement to women’s bodies.

5. Male Entitlement Codified Through Legal and Political Structures

The failure of legal systems to adequately protect women from emotional and psychological abuse, including sexual coercion and coercive control reinforces female entitlement to women’s bodies.

In some instances, the very laws that are meant to protect women end up being tools of oppression. For example, when rape laws require evidence of physical resistance, it implies that without this resistance, the sex was mutual. Or that all that was required was a “yes”, without concern for how that yes was obtained.

6. Socio-Economic Factors That Support Male Entitlement

When men are the primary earners, there can be a belief that their financial contributions translate into ownership, not only of their wife but of her body as well. This is particularly evident in cases where women are financially dependent on men and fear the consequences of asserting their rights.

The resulting power imbalance can be exploited and justify men’s sense of ownership and control over women, including their sexual autonomy.

7. Lack of Empathy is The Root Cause of Male Entitlement

Arguably, the most pernicious aspect of male entitlement is its normalization and acceptance within male social circles. Many men fail to recognize the privileges they hold and the ways in which their behavior contributes to a culture of male entitlement.

Instead, there’s often a reluctance to hold each other accountable for actions that violate women’s rights and boundaries. Without empathy, it’s challenging to change the societal narrative that enables and excuses male entitlement. Men must begin to stand up and actively work against these norms to create a culture of respect and equality.

Why Do Men Feel Entitled to Women & Girls?

“First of all, society breeds into it into men when they’re boys. It doesn’t just appear.”

Rachel Moran

Rachel and Anne work through the origins of male entitlement. It’s important to understand that male entitlement isn’t biological – there is hope. Just as boys learn to feel ownership over women’s bodies, they can learn to be respectful, caring, and observant of autonomy.

are you being sexually abused male entitlement


Anne (00:01): Rachel Moran is an Irish journalist, the International Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Today I interviewed her about male entitlement to women’s bodies.

Rachel (02:05): Back again to that term consent. People will simply look at it and say, oh, but you consented. So what’s the harm? Or, oh, but she consented. So she has nobody to blame but herself. And that’s another really dangerous aspect of the term consent, the way that we use it to excuse, you know, so society uses it in all sorts of, of harmful ways, and that’s one of them.

Male Entitlement: Marriage Does NOT Equal “Consent”

Anne (02:32): Women who are in an abusive marriage, their husband is abusive. He could say that she consented to marriage.

Rachel (02:42): Yeah. And also she didn’t leave.

Anne (02:45): She’s what, by default, consenting to let him psychologically and emotionally abuse her? No. She did think that she was in a relationship with a man who cared about her. She does not realize she’s in a transaction ship with a man who was interested in using and exploiting her. So you would say mutuality. So how would you use the term mutuality?

Sure, She Said Yes, But Was The Sex Mutual?

Rachel (03:08): Well, that would very much depend on the context. It’s not a word that you can switch out directly for consent in most instances, although you can sometimes. Of course you can say, well, the sex was mutual as readily as you can say, well, the sex was consensual.

They have those subtle but very important distinctions between them. Here are a few of them now if you like, because it might be interesting for your listeners to think about how they can use this.

What Differentiates Consent From Mutuality?

Anne (03:38): I agree with you. This, this consent word has really messed people up. ‘Cause they think, well, I did consent. ’cause I said, yes. Not thinking, but I didn’t really want to do it, or I didn’t feel comfortable.

I’m thinking if a way to use the word mutuality really did mean that you were actively desiring it. Maybe something like the husband and wife were talking and they feel really close to each other. Both of them are really interested in physical touch because they are both feeling safe.

She was safe because he was honest and trustworthy and actually cared about her. So the sex was based on mutuality. I mean, is that the kind of thing that you would say?

Rather than saying the husband and wife went on a date, and then of course she consented to have sex. Part of me is hearing from you kind of that it would take a little bit longer when we talk about it to actually describe mutuality.

Because it’s more than just someone saying yes. It involves so much more that there’s no way to just say. And so then she mutuality, right where you can say, and then she consented.

Introducing Mutuality Deliberately Into Our Conversations

Rachel (04:57): Well, you can say just as briefly, the sex was mutual. Ah, we don’t have to make it more complicated than it needs to be. I do think that we’re gonna have to really push for this. We’re going have to actively put this into conversations and also explain why. Because people are going to keep on circling back to the whole consent thing.

I mean, it’s not the boulder up hill scenario that it might seem, 50 years ago, nobody was talking about sexual consent. Some idiot of a feminist came along and it took off. Same thing happened with the term sex work, which is just appalling. I do think we can, and we should introduce mutuality deliberately into our conversations. It doesn’t have to be that hard.

Male Entitlement: Sexual Entitlement

Anne (05:53): When we’re talking about male entitlement and this sense that men feel entitled to use women’s bodies. This entitlement is fueling prostitution, which is increasing sex trafficking, it’s fueling sex trafficking and prostitution because so many victims of sex trafficking and prostitution are filmed.

Then that documented filming of their abuse is called by the general public pornography. But we know it’s just documentation of sexual abuse in a very real way.

Rachel (06:26): We’re all harmed because society itself is harmed. Clearly, the individual who’s on the receiving end that harm is the person who’s harmed first and foremost. We’re all harmed by this. Any mother who’s ever brought a little boy into this world has seen the progression of that child and the difference in his innocence pre and post puberty.

The difference between a little boy who’s eight or nine and the same child that 13 or 14 when the, the social phenomenon of masculinization kicks in and he’s at the receiving end of a strange sort of bullying from his peers that forces his personality into hiding.

That’s all part of this. Back to the, the conversation about male sexual entitlement. First of all, that’s bred into men when they’re boys. It doesn’t just appear. And there’s something really strange that I’ve noticed about it too, is that it’s not enough for these young men.

The Male Entitlement of Incels

(07:48): I mean, you have a whole movement of them now, I’m sure you know, they call themselves incels – involuntary celibates. For anybody who hasn’t heard, any one of those young men could go and pay to assault a woman. It is assault in a brothel, but it’s not enough for them that women’s physical selves are available to them because they are to every man in America and everywhere else. That’s not enough for them. I’ve noticed this. It’s really strange.

The Incel Mentality Is Dangerous

They also want to be wanted; they demand to be wanted, they feel very hard done by, to the point where some of them are even willing to murder because they’re not wanted. I think that that takes entitlement to a very strange place. We seem to be witnessing something that is larger than anything that I, I think we’ve ever seen throughout history.

Anne (08:50): Wait, wait, wait. I just sit around playing video games all day, and all I eat is like a monster energy drink. And you are not interested in talking to me? Like, not only should you want to have sex with me, which I’m entitled to, but you should also want to be with me and maybe clean up my mess and maybe help me out. Why in the world would you not think I’m awesome? Kind of an idea.

The Brutality Of Male Entitlement Is Shocking

(10:18): A Muslim woman from Romania, she’d only been living in Ireland for three weeks at the time that she was killed. She was killed by a Middle Eastern man who had only been here a couple of months. You’d have to be a flat fool or living under a rock or something.

Not to realize that this was one of those very ugly male and female examples of violence from Islamic extremists that are referred sometimes to as honor killings. He killed her because she was a Muslim woman in a brittle in the western world, sleeping with the infidels. This is what his whole thinking was. He was arrested the next day up in Belfast. He’d skipped across the border.

He was arguing that he would have to have, be granted bail because he couldn’t possibly have his religious convictions pandered to if he was detained in prison. Here’s this guy talking about, you know, his, his fate in Allah to be respected after he’s just butchered this poor woman. He, he didn’t turn up there for a sexual encounter.

He killed her in one minute, 57 seconds. That’s how long it took him to arrive at her apartment, walk in, murder her, and leave under two minutes. It exemplifies the level and the nature of the brutality that we’re dealing with.

Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates

Anne (11:45):
It’s reminding me of a book I recently read, and it’s on our website. This one is called Men Who Hate Women from Incel to Pick Up Artists. The Truth about Extreme Misogyny and How It Affects us All, it’s by Laura Bates. It is excellent.

It’s talking about this type of extreme misogyny that leads to physical violence. She’s talking about murders like the one that you just described, but also domestic abuse, not just physical, although it definitely includes that.

Also, all the emotional and psychological abuse that women endure from men who believe that they’re entitled to women’s bodies, but also their labor. They really genuinely feel like, you owe me this because you’re just a woman and I’m a man as victims of this type of abuse.

(12:41): The only thing that we can do is get to safety. Start making our way to emotional safety, psychological safety. Make sure that the people that we are around are safe, actual caring people rather than people who want to exploit us and or see us as sort of a good or service that they can exchange with. What are your thoughts about how to change this mentality knowing that women who listen to this podcast have no ability, right.

To change the, the mentality of the abusers out there, but do you have any thoughts about it from your experience as to how abusers could maybe see things a different way so that they would stop viewing women as sexual objects or people to be exploited?

As Long As We Have Prostitution On This Earth, We’ll Always Have Violence Against Women

Rachel (13:34): Well, I think first of all, that every woman ought to join the women’s movement. It’s absolutely untrue that we don’t have it within our gift to affect change. You know, everybody has their, their voice to raise and their, their presence to bring every last one of us are really valid and, and relevant in that respect.

Because if every woman  was to bring her own voice in her own way, whatever that is, to the women’s movement, we would have a very big movement. Another thing, this is really obscure for most women and for understandable reasons, but I truly believe that as long as we have prostitution on this earth, we will always have violence against women.

Deconstructing Male Entitlement To Women’s Bodies

Anne (14:30): Absolutely agree with you. Yes. Yes.

Rachel (14:33): Some people think that you can contain violence against women by directing it towards one group of women. That those women are for the greater good of most women, are serving as some kind of human shield. I have heard women make remarks along those lines that clearly believe that some segment of us should absorb men’s violence.

Anne (15:05): That’s crazy.

No Woman, No Matter How Disadvantaged, Deserves Abuse

Rachel (15:06): Here’s where those women are really very silly in their thinking. As that as long as we have a segment of women who are the human shields of sexual violence. What you’re doing there is condoning violence accepting that since it needs a direction to go in, it has a right to exist in the force plate.

When we talk about eradicating violence against women, we’re starting from the wrong perspective. We’re thinking about a well-healed middle class housewife, for example, and don’t misunderstand me, please, I’m not suggesting that anyone deserves violence any more or less than anybody else.

What I’m saying is that when we think about violence against women, we think about young women in nightclubs. We think about victims of domestic violence, we think about women who experience abuse, stalking, harassment, et cetera.

We put all of our focus on what you might call civilian women, and we don’t think about the women who are at the absolute outer rim of the margins of society. I truly believe that that’s where we need to start.

We need to start at that outer room because if we start our work on this issue with the mentality that no woman anywhere, no matter how disadvantaged, no matter how marginalized deserves that kind of abuse. No woman. Well then that will sweep across society as an understand, and I believe far, far quicker.

The Problem with Male Entitlement

Anne (18:15): I’m absolutely shocked that anyone would ever think that any group of women should be used as a human shield. It also kind of gives the idea that they must be because men deserve it. Heaven forbid men not have a way to abuse women because that’s going to happen whether we like it or not.

I’m trying to like speak as they might speak, we are forced to have to sacrifice someone rather than thinking, men do not have to exploit women. That’s not a male characteristic. They could not exploit women. They could treat women with respect.

It sort of gives men an out, because they’re not viewing men as capable, caring human beings, that somehow their nature is to exploit. We have to sacrifice some women so that men don’t, I don’t know what, turn into cannibals or something. Do you know what I mean? That just sounds crazy.

Male Sexual Desire Isn’t an Excuse

Rachel (19:16): I do know what you mean. I think the crux of the problem is that a lot of people, including women, have come to buy the propaganda of male sexual desire as an unstoppable force. What men do constantly around their own sexual desires is that they mistake them for needs. That to me speaks to a state of sexual toddlerhood.

Yeah. In toddlerhood, at some point, when a child gets to around the age of three and a half or so, at that stage, you really need to clarify upon the psyche of the child, the difference between a want and a need. You want the ice cream, you don’t need it.

There is a difference. It’s a sorry state we’re in in the world when we have so many grown men who really ought to know better, not understanding the basic distinction between a want and a need. That’s something that we’re really gonna have to clarify before we get any sense out of such people. There are women, and it’s important to say this, who play that game and play along with it and cause great harm.

In doing so, that’s been clearly exemplified to me by the women who take their sons to brothels and convinced themselves that there’s a real and genuine need to take a, a young man or a teenage boy to a brothel. Those women make me exceptionally angry.

When Mothers-In-Law Enable Male Entitlement

Anne (20:45): In our community. I would say that a, not a majority, but I’ve heard many, many, many women who their mother-in-laws would fit this category, or their mother-in-law is like, my son has these intense sexual needs.

It is your job to give it to him. If you don’t give it to him, he has to get it somewhere. Of course he’s gonna view pornography, so it’s your fault that he views pornography, or it’s your fault that he abuses and exploits prostitutes.

It’s your fault because he has these sexual needs and you are not meeting them. So many mother-in-laws feel this way – and it’s traumatizing to their daughters-in-law!

Rachel (21:29): It sounds like the mother-in-law from hell.

It’s Not a Marriage – It’s Abuse

Rachel (21:33): Not every woman can, or rather not every woman thinks she can really speak up for herself in these circumstances. If I had any advice to anybody listening who was struggling with, with a situation like that, I suppose I would say, really, you need to stand your ground.

Except in that kind of nonsense from somebody will destroy absolutely every relationship in your life.

Most importantly, your relationship with your own self. There comes a point in our lives where we have to put the relationship with ourselves front and center, and if that means the collapse of a marriage, so be it. You know? If a marriage is under that kind of pressure to begin with, it’s a pretty good indication that it’s best off collapsed.

Anne (22:22): Well, that, and I’m thinking back to our consent discussion. In my opinion, it’s not a marriage, it’s a transactionship where they’re exploiting you. That’s a totally different thing than what marriage should be, which is a partnership. It is not that. And so you’re not collapsing a marriage. You are getting to safety from a very unsafe situation.

Rachel (22:48): Yeah.

Anne (22:51): Rachel, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Your insights are invaluable and I really, really appreciate your thoughts.

Rachel (23:01): You’re very welcome.


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