Let’s talk about consent. Sorry, I can’t, I’m a man!

Posted: May 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

It’s been a month to the day since I last talked about coercion. Before that I don’t think I’d written a single blog on the topic. I don’t know why, I think in all the discussions and debates about rape it had never seemed that relevant. Of course, it’s possibly one of the most relevant conversations you can have when it comes to rape, especially as ‘consent’ is the very concept that we must be aware of before being able to differentiate between rape and sex.

But the problem is that, much like the definition of rape has become diluted and almost meaningless, the concept of consent, the definition and application has become muddled, dirtied, lacking in clarity.

It’s a very easy concept in theory – if someone says ‘yes’ when you ask them if they want to have sex then they have consented. Exceptionally easy, yes? The problem lies, as ever, in the modern, intricate applications and definitions. That’s where coercion comes in and the debates on what does and doesn’t constitute coercion are almost impossible to navigate.

As with all things rape at the moment the foremost drive to help redefine and repurpose the concept of consent is coming from feminists. They’ve already done a stellar job of redefining rape itself, good enough to omit male victims of female rapists completely, so now they’re setting their sights on other aspects of rape they haven’t yet trivialised.

It might sound harsh for me to say feminists have trivialised rape but it’s not something I’m going to shy away from. They have trivialised it, possibly more so than anything or anyone else. They’ve redefined and refocused rape so much that it’s pretty much nigh on impossible to talk to them about it, even to simply disagree, without them throwing out their latest buzzwords: misogynist, rape-apologist, rape denier, general all-round piece of shit scumbag.

I mean, they’ll even settle for attacking fellow feminists, as Christina Hoff Sommers has found out recently. Apparently, even wanting to set the record straight on decades of false reporting and misleading statistics makes you a rape denier. Feminism doesn’t want the truth on rape statistics, it doesn’t want to know that rates of rape have been dropping steadily for the last 30 years, it wants to maintain its iron grip on the victimhood that they so fully enshroud themselves in.

But, having said all that – are they wrong? To a large degree, yes. Their constant shifting of the goalposts is only muddying an already murky issue. It’s taking something that should be fairly simple – if you don’t want sex then saying ‘no’ is enough – and diluting it far too much. The result is that rape has now become almost impossible to talk about for fear of being labelled unjustly. When simply disagreeing with an ideological standpoint gets you labelled as some sort of monolithic scumbag then you know you’re doing something wrong.

However, when it comes to consent I can see why they are so keen to push their biased, victim-driven agenda. Yeah, they’ve completely fucked it up to the point that modern day feminism has become a laughing stock, but I can see their point. Do I think feminism is inherently flawed? No, the concept itself – that of advocating for equality – is pretty simple and pretty spot on. Unfortunately, the people who have destroyed that concept and turned feminism into a whinging, self-entitled mess of a movement are feminists themselves. It’s become poisonous, not just to men but to women as well. I’ve said it before so it’s not like it’s a surprise but I truly think there is very little positive about modern day feminism. For every decent thing they do, for every piece of pop culture they highlight that’s actually related to a salient point there are 10 points that make them out to be professional victims, whiny women who don’t get what they want and have to ruin everyone else’s fun. They’re hypocritical, desperate, lacking in humour, stuck-up, arrogant, self-entitled, narcissistic fuckwits. Not all, but a large portion of them. It’s that that leads me to dismiss the ‘not all feminists are like that’ defence. Feminists spend too much time trying to claim they are not ‘like that’ whilst allowing those who are ‘like that’ to continue spouting their divisionary bile.

So yeah, 1 step forward, 156 steps backwards.

But in amongst all that bile and poison there are points that deserve merit, that actually deserve to be discussed. I don’t discredit feminist ideas totally, I just don’t think they’re safe in the hands of feminists. They need to be discussed on a wider platform, especially when it comes to discussions of male victims. Feminism has totally fucked up the treatment of male victims, despite their claims otherwise.

It’s a daily battle I have to fight. There are times when I’m willing to just let the wave of anti-feminism consume me and decry every single facet of feminism as pathetic and unnecessary. Luckily, being a teacher means I can often snap myself out of the self-destructive pattern of thought. Whilst I think feminism as an ideology is poison, its base motives as a ‘movement for equality’ still serve some merit

Anyway, back to the point of this blog; consent. The last blog I wrote on consent was pretty exclusively focused on consent and rape, but a news article popped up on my timeline last week that really made me think:

http://cmcforum.com/opinion/04302015-why-yes-can-mean-no

It still applies the concept of consent to sex, but it also applies it to everyday occurrences in life, ones that we wouldn’t necessarily think to associate with a concept as abstract as consent. Of course, it still applies the terms of consent through a heavy feminist lens but we can dispense with that and just approach the concept from a more neutral standpoint.

I really wish I could remember where these links appear. Most of the time they are posted on pages I like and I favourite them ready to write about them later. Often, by the time I’ve actually got round to writing about them I’ve completely forgotten where the damn thing first appeared. Seen as a lot of pages I like share admins they all end up posting about the same stuff so it’s hard to pinpoint where specific articles appear.

I’ve spoken about the ‘grey area’ of rape before and how it infantilises women. I still think that and this article doesn’t do much to change my mind completely, but I do like the idea of at least exploring the issue of consent as it pertains to things other than sex. I think we get so tied up on the issue of consent as framed in discussions on rape that we forget the idea of consent is actually a lot more applicable than that narrow focus.

A quick google search (https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=define:+consent) shows the definition of consent to be exceedingly simple:

permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

Simple, yes? Applicable to more than sex, yes? Yet we don’t seem to apply it in that way. We limit our focus to a single moment. ‘In that specific moment, before you had sex, did you consent?’ If the answer is yes then we don’t have a problem. But what happens if that ‘yes’ comes not out of coercion in that specific situation, but from a lifetime of coercion? A lifetime of not being able to say no? It’s a strange concept and, feminist-tinted spectacles aside, is something I’d never thought of before.

What a thought, a concept as simple as consent applied to an entirely new train of thought. I’m fairly wary of the feminist victim slant that the above article will likely have, but if there’s a salient point in there somewhere then we’ll be able to draw it out.

Of course, I’m not planning on doing a paragraph by paragraph breakdown and I certainly don’t want to take this personal blog and simply start bitching about her experiences or trying to diminish what she’s been through. All I’m trying to do is see if we can broaden the appeal of the concept of consent, see if we can take it away from what it ultimately be a rather one-eyed, feminist version of how even saying yes can simply be another string to the victim’s bow.

It starts off in fairly predictable fashion, referencing the feminist ‘victories’ in how consent has developed in the last few decades:

‘It started with “consent is sexy.” But, of course, there was no point in that—it was like saying rape is just bad sex, instead of a felony. Then there was “consent is mandatory.” It was much better, reminding us that sex is consensual, and everything else is rape.’

The development hasn’t stopped there. Now we have a newer, more updated version of consent and, goddamit, I can’t remember what it’s called. Affirmative consent? Something about consent needing to be enthusiastic, ongoing and other such absolutist phrases that pretty much reduce ‘caught in the heat of the moment’ to a serious crime. Not that I’m trying to say consent is bad, just that the new ‘yes means yes’ law that was trumpeted by feminists has, already, been declared unfit for purpose. By another feminist no less.

This is where we get to the focal point of the article:

‘But then there was me, after a party, in a man’s dorm room. And there was “is this ok?” If we are being legal about this, I said ‘yes’—no coercion, no imminent threat of violence, no inebriation (well, not a lot, anyway). But what I want to talk about is what happened before I said yes, who taught me to say yes, why I thought it was better to say yes, and why I really meant ‘no.’’

And this is where my struggle with feminism really begins to tear me apart inside. I absolutely don’t want to try and dismiss this woman’s experiences, absolutely not. If I sound like I’m coming across that way then just appreciate that I’m trying to blow this concept wide open, not because I think this woman wasn’t raped but simply because I think the concept of consent, even within this article, is still loaded with the whiff of feminist hypocrisy and victimhood.

See, the problem I have with this situation (and I’m talking about the situation, not the woman in particular) is that it’s a symptom of never ending feminist victimhood. She states that she said yes, no coercion, no threats of violence, only a little bit of inebriation (not ‘intoxicated’) and yet, despite willingly going through with the act of sex in that specific moment there’s still an attempt to elicit sympathy as some sort of victim. This time, because victimhood cannot be garnered through the act itself, the time frame must be widened. No longer is it the scumbag man’s fault for being coercive and rapey, it’s now society’s fault for teaching women (or at least this woman in particular) that ‘no’ isn’t a word she should be using.

A constant fight, that’s what it is. A constant fight inside me. One side says ‘this woman went through a horrible experience and even attempting to write a deconstruction of this article in a blog entry is bordering on horrible rape denial.’ But, and it’s a big but (fnar fnar), the other part of me says ‘she said yes. Can we really open the parameters of consent that much to the point that we could, conceivably, paint any and all instances of sex as rape?’ Is that what this road leads us to? If we delve into the idea of consent as a lifelong concept rather than just an ‘in this moment’ cursory evaluation do we open up the possibility of rape claims being made with the reasoning simply being ‘I was never taught to say no’? I must be sounding like a right cunt about now.

The thing about this article is that, much like any other article that’s published on a feminist website, what starts out as a rather insightful, truly eye-opening discussion on a certain topic soon devolves into a typically feminist cavalcade of buzzwords and ridiculously one-eyed, dismissive rhetoric. I appreciate that was a stupidly long sentence but it’s so annoying when these types of discussions; good, open, frank discussions that everyone should be having, that should be out in the open and accessible to all, are suddenly shut off because, apparently, it’s only certain groups (read: anyone who isn’t a white male) that should be allowed to participate in this circle-jerk of victimhood.

Dammit, I really don’t want this to turn into a scathing, incomprehensible rant about one woman’s experiences. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do, but I’m not going to sit here as a man and just accept that consent is a concept that, as a white male, does not apply to me. That’s where the victimhood comes in. It implies that feminism, or maybe it’s just this one author, believes men either always consent or never find themselves in a situation where coercion has played its part. It implies that men don’t go through the same socialisation as women, albeit in different ways, implies that men somehow just wander the way through life without ever getting into trouble. That’s a ridiculously exclusionary way of thinking and, contrary to her earlier protestations, is typically feminist.

I’m not going to look at every paragraph, but there are salient points made that are worth looking at. Bear in mind this is coming from a pro-male perspective so I’m talking about consent as it applies to situations in general, not the one specifically written about in this article.

There is one part that I think does have ramifications for everyone:

‘Honestly, there’s a lot more to it than that for me. At five, relatives used to kiss my cheeks even as I winced and turned away. At the tender age of twelve, I was taught that my bra straps and thighs deserved detention because they distracted boys at school. At sixteen, my boyfriend assured me that most girls liked this—I just needed to relax. So at 20, in someone’s room after a party, ‘no’ was scary and unfamiliar to me.’

And that’s why I think consent is massively important and something we should talk about. The problem is that we only ever seem to hear about consent from a woman’s perspective, that it is somehow only women who need to learn how to say no.

Most people who read this blog know I’m a teacher. One of the many amazing things about my job is that I get to see this kind of stuff in action. In the 6 years I’ve been teaching I’ve probably taught 1000 kids, there or thereabouts, that’s lot of power I wield to shape and influence people as they develop from pre-teens into teenagers and young adults. Being a blogger on the internet is one thing, but ultimately nothing really changes, all I do is put forward views and theories. My job allows me to actually connect with young people in person, allows me to educate them in more ways than they even realise.

Yes, my relatives used to kiss me on the cheek when I was younger when I didn’t want to, yes I’m sure some people have been through hell with members of the opposite sex as they grow up. That’s why my job is important, it allows me to feed this information to the younger generations. For all my narcissism on here, what I’m doing in the real world is far, far more important than empty words on a website.

The point I’m making is simple – what is feminism doing? The author here is saying that ‘no’ was an alien concept to her, something that I don’t doubt at all, we all have moments when we want to say no but feel like we can’t. However, how is feminism tackling this problem? It isn’t, it’s campaigning and screaming for new laws, but it’s not actually doing anything to help empower the women those laws are supposedly going to benefit. For all the hot air they blow, they actually let the problem fester. Being able to say ‘no’ extends to much more than sex but, as has been demonstrated by feminist actions in the past, they really don’t care about anything other than sex. As long as the laws are in place they couldn’t give a fuck about any other context.

Paragraphs like that make me think there is a way to save feminism, that there are at least some people within the movement that actually do stick to the dictionary definition.

Then, there are paragraphs like this:

‘For me, and many others like me, consent isn’t easy. Yes doesn’t always mean yes, and we misplaced ‘no’ several years ago. This experience isn’t random, but disproportionately affects oppressed communities. Consent is a privilege, and it was built for wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculinity. When society has taught some of us to take up as little space as possible, to take all attention as flattery, and to be truly grateful that anyone at all could want our bodies or love, it isn’t always our choice to say yes.’

Fucking buzzwords! Just when I thought this article was actually making sense it dives right into the pool of victimhood. The concept of consent ‘disproportionately affects oppressed communities’? This is typical feminism, not only does it infantilise women but now has its sights set on other ‘oppressed’ communities, which I’m assuming means blacks and LGBT. Whilst I’m sure they all have their problems, to suggest that consent is a ‘privilege’ is stupid. Everybody knows how consent works, it’s such a simple concept. To suggest that, basically, anyone who isn’t a white heterosexual male is somehow denied this simple thing is bordering on insanity. Correction, it is insanity. Consent is not a ‘privelige’, it is something that every person is capable of expressing, whether that’s for sex or something as simple as buying food. To even suggest that that it is something only afforded to one group of people is flat out one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard, for two simple reasons:

  1. It implies inherent victimisation of everyone who isn’t a white cis-het male.
  2. It implies that men always consent.

Like, if you aren’t a white man then consent is something that is ripped away from you, something that you cannot ever fully come to utilise. Well done on dousing everyone with your victimhood spray! Such an absurd statement, there are people, particularly from those ‘oppressed’ groups, I know who would laugh in your face if you tried to tell them that consent was not something that ‘came easy’ to them. Don’t be fooled by the use of the word ‘masculinity’, she means ‘men’.

Quite apart from that, it also suggests that men either always give consent or never find themselves in coerced situations, have never said yes when they really meant no. It takes a universal concept and, again, tries to make a victim out of anyone who isn’t a man. That’s feminism.

Again, society is a bad place, there are lots of shitty things that women face and I don’t deny that some people just don’t have the ability to stand up for themselves, but this article is taking the experiences of one woman (and a select few of her friends) and blanketing the entire population with these thoughts. I don’t just mean one half of the population either, I’m talking about every single person who isn’t a white cis-het male.

She tries to do some damage control here by suggesting that fulfilling relationships an be achieved in these ‘oppressed groups’, but she ends up shooting herself in the foot:

‘Consent as a privilege doesn’t just happen in sex. It happens for those of us who give too much in friendships without knowing how to ask for reciprocation, who let doctors touch us in ways that are triggering because we don’t want to make trouble, who dance with handsy strangers because our friends already left the party, who stick around in toxic relationships because we don’t know if we’re allowed to expect better. When you’re poor, disabled, queer, non-white, trans, or feminine, ‘no’ isn’t for you. I don’t mean to insist that every person oppressed in these systems of power can’t have empowering consensual experiences, and I know many who do. What I do mean to say is that for me, finding ‘no’ is a process, consent is elusive, and sometimes, even when people don’t mean to—they hurt me.’

This, to me, is feminism in a nutshell – ‘this thing happened to me so I’m going to assume it happens to everyone.’ It takes a specific situation, blankets it to the entire population and then creates an article that treats that blanket as cast-iron fact. She does try to clarify by saying that this is a personal journey she’s on, but it’s too little, too late. By this point, she’s already labelled most of the planet as victims simply by saying that consent is a ‘privilege’ not afforded to them. Then, she removes the very idea of being a victim from the remaining population and makes the, frankly absurd, insinuation that hat ability to consent, to say either yes or no with confidence, is something that men never even have to think about.

I’m not going to quote any more of the article but feel free to read it. Consent is such a massive topic and I do think there is a validity to its inclusion in discussions around sex and relationships. I also think it’s imperative we widen the scope of how we look at and define consent as it’s a concept that, by definition, is not solely applicable to sex.

However, a feminist lens is not the best thing through which to view it. As with discussions about sex and rape, feminist theory is poisoning open and frank discourse on a huge topic. When consent is brought up in discussions on rape it must follow the feminist doctrine of how to be utilised, anything else is simply rape apology, rape denial and good ol’ fashioned misogyny.

Men get raped, men get abused, men get assaulted. What is feminism doing about this? Fuck all. Women get raped, women get abused, women get assaulted. What is feminism doing about that? Very little, unless you count infantilisation and incessant victimhood as ‘empowerment’.

Consent is not something we can allow to be co-opted by feminism or any other social justice movement that seeks to exclude an entire section of victims. All that does is prove, again, that feminism doesn’t care about men’s issues, in fact it barely cares about ‘women’ at all, it cares about ‘those women’, ‘those women’ who buy into the feminist doctrine, who buy into feminist theory. If you do that then they are your best friends, turn away from that and they are your worst enemies.

I’m not, for one second, trying to suggest the author of this article wasn’t raped, I’m not that much of a cunt. However, I do think her reasoning behind this article is flawed and dangerous. Yes, she claims that her brand of feminism will not be liked by the harpies at Jezebel but she goes on to spout feminist buzzwords anyway, so is there really a difference? Absolutely, let’s talk about consent, let’s talk about the socialisation of people, let’s help the author get through whatever tragic event happened in her life, let’s help her to move forward, but let’s not turn a discussion on a vital concept of life’s experiences into a one-upmanship game of oppressed and oppressor, victim and victimiser, let’s not allow a tragic event to influence a discussion on concept that everyone should be educated about.

Suggesting men don’t need to be taught about consent because it’s a ‘privilege’ that they automatically receive due to being male and suggesting that pretty much every other group of people is denied that ‘privilege’ is as short sighted as it comes. Continue to teach women and minorities that they are and always will be victims and ‘empowerment’ becomes an impossible achievement; continue to teach men that they can never be victims and you doom them to continued silence.

Consent is something we must be able to discuss freely and openly. If we don’t, if we let social justice groups to co-opt it and present their opinions as truth then we may as well all become celibate and let the human race die out.

Did I just say genocide was more desirable than feminist theory? Such narcissism!

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