(Discussing heterosexual issues here, I'm not Lesbian, so I have NO ideas how sexual refusal dynamics work in GLBT relationships...I'll leave that to people who are more versed in that culture than I am, and feel free to chime in on the blog with your comments. I'm not being Heteroist on purpose, honestly)
Here's a rhetorical question for you. Do you think that sexual refusal in long term relationships, is linked to the rape/slut shame/Sex negative view that is pushed on women? I mean both sides. I know women who refuse to put out to their long term male partners, and men who refuse to put out to their long term female partners.
If you think about it, from an early age, we women are taught that you need to dress a certain way for boys to respect you, if you dress any other way, you're pretty much pushing the envelope, and will lose their respect. If you wear a low cut top, a short skirt, or even shorts in the summer...showing ANY skin is an invitation for judgement as one of "those" girls. So, as a woman you take it upon yourself to dress from head to toe, so you don't "tempt" your "weaker brother". (notice the sarcasm quotes) From day one, you're taught that men can't control their libidos. They're always after you. It's up to you to keep them from succumbing to their baser natures. Heck, you're taught that sex is "Base" and "dirty" and "Wrong" and that only "Bad Girls" do it. Right? So you give into pressure from your boyfriend, and have sex. Shit happens. You're human, it's only natural to want to have sex. It's a pretty strong biological urge after all. It feels good, (and leaving procreation out of it..) it puts the whole pavlovian happy response in your brain. You're now labeled as "Damaged" "That Girl" "Slut" "whore", and now anything any man wants to do with you is fair game. You wanted it once, you must want it all the time right?
The guy, who pressured you into sex the first time, he has his own set of cultural conditioning. Since YOU are supposedly responsible for all his sexual thoughts, as a woman, he isn't responsible at all. He's just a walking penis waiting to ravage anything he comes across. After all, that's what he's been taught through society all these years. Right? He's gotta be "The Man" and "Bang as many chicks as possible", or here's a major kicker, he's looked at as gay if he doesn't at least score with one chick, and is bullied and ridiculed.
So when they get into some long term relationships, be it marriage, or just common-law, after doing the initial "Reel Em In Because" sex, they shut down. If it's female refusal, it's to keep him on track, or "Good Girls Don't, and I want to be a good girl again, I want him to respect me, no man respects sluts". If it's male refusal, it's to show her that he isn't just a walking bag of testosterone and testicles waiting to ravage her at any moment, and wants to gain her respect by showing her that he's a "virtuous" male, and not like the other guys.
Sex, should be something willingly given, from both parties. Not taken. It's not a weapon, it's not something used to control your partner. It's a bonding experience for both parties. It's something to do to get your rocks off...it's hella fun, and it shouldn't be used as a way to shame or control anyone. Taking it is wrong. Refusing it because you want to control someone, is wrong as well.
Girls, you aren't "Bad" or "Dirty" or "Evil" for wanting to have sex. Guys, you aren't a potential rapist, you're smart enough to control what's between your legs. In a relationship, sex should be a gift you give one another because you love each other. If you're withholding it for any reason, time to evaluate what's up with the relationship that makes you not trust that person to that point. When I say withholding I mean Long Term Marriage/Commonlaw Relationship, not a short term 'hey I just met you and this is crazy' deal...of course if you want to have a one night stand, fill your boots, but no means no in monogamous relationships as well as the short term ones...thing is sex in long term relationships help re-enforce that pair bonding. There's biology to back that up as well...but I won't get into that yet...
Of course that's just my rambling. I think refusal and rape are each an edge of the same double edged sword. Both are used as a way to control and hurt another person. I also think they share the roots in the rape/slut shame culture.
I welcome comments on this. It's a ramble, probably makes no sense, but if it makes you think...then that's good, too.