Consent - a problematic concept if ever I saw one.

(221 Posts)
Beachcomber Sat 24-Mar-12 08:58:43

I find the concept of consent, and how it is defined and applied in patriarchy, very problematic.

All sorts of misogyny and abuse is perpetuated against women under the flag of 'but she consented'. Why are we having to put up with this? And why is consent used as though it is some sort of final word on an issue, regardless often of any other factors?

When it comes to rape, I broadly agree with Twisty Faster's wacky consent scheme. I think the whole concept needs an overhaul, and critically examined with regards to all sorts of other issues too.

(For people unfamiliar with Twisty's writing style, she is being a little tongue in cheek and she writes unapologetically for a female radfem audience. Can we try not to get too hung up on semantics - it is the concept that interests me.)

I'm interested in what others think. Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
Beachcomber Sat 24-Mar-12 09:01:03

A definition of consent, the synonyms in particular illustrate some of my unease with it when applied to human interactions.

Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
Give permission for something to happen: "he consented to a search by a detective".
noun. assent - agreement - approval - accord - compliance
verb. agree - assent - accede - acquiesce - comply - concur

OP’s posts: |
ecclesvet Sat 24-Mar-12 10:04:40

I think that "wacky consent" scheme is ridiculous. If I understand it correctly, it gets rid of consent altogether, and regards all sex as rape and men as rapists. The man just has to hope that the woman won't call the police afterwards?!

Beachcomber Sat 24-Mar-12 10:55:53

No that isn't what it means - as I said it is written in a tongue on cheek way.

At the moment women are considered by society to be in a perpetual state of consent, a perpetual state of 'yes'.

According to the law, it should be the opposite (which is what Twisty is arguing for - she is arguing for current UK to be properly applied and to be reflected in societal behaviour).

Women should be considered to be in a perpetual state of non-consent and that they remain in non-consent unless consent is clearly and happily accorded. That consent can be withdrawn at any time (I believe this is the case in Canadian law).

All sex is not at all regarded as rape and all men are not at all regarded as rapists - just the ones who do not obtain consent. Which is actually the way the law stands (so it isn't ridiculous) at the moment. What is problematic is not the law on consent which is clearly in accord with the scheme outlined above. It is societal attitudes to that law and how the law is applied that is the issue.

Current legal definition of rape

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the Act) came into force on the 1st May 2004. The purpose of the Act was to strengthen and modernise the law on sexual offences, whilst improving preventative measures and the protection of individuals from sexual offenders. The Act extends the definition of rape to include the penetration by a penis of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person. The 2003 Act also changes the law about consent and belief in consent.

The word "consent" in the context of the offence of rape is now defined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. A person consents if he or she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. The essence of this definition is the agreement by choice. The law does not require the victim to have resisted physically in order to prove a lack of consent. The question of whether the victim consented is a matter for the jury to decide, although the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considers this issue very carefully throughout the life of the case.

OP’s posts: |
InAnyOtherSoil Sat 24-Mar-12 11:12:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ecclesvet Sat 24-Mar-12 11:17:33

I think you've misunderstood the article. She clearly argues that consent should no longer be a relevant concept; it will always be assumed to be no, and this cannot be escaped. It doesn't say that consent will be assumed to be no until stated otherwise, it says consent will always assumed to be no, whatever the parties involved say:

"women would abide in a persistent legal condition of not having given consent to sex"
"Presto! The dude is already a rapist, because, legally, consent never existed."

Men simply have to accept that any and all sex they have is rape, and their freedom is dependent on the decision of the woman to not report the 'rape'.

It demonizes the man and rips autonomy from the woman - personally, I wouldn't like the government telling me "you've been raped; you might not know it, and you might not think it, but you have been".

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Mar-12 11:20:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.


StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Mar-12 11:23:26

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DilysPrice Sat 24-Mar-12 11:26:14

UK law as I understand it also encompasses withdrawal of consent at anytime during the process for any reason. Rarely prosecuted for a variety of obvious reasons but that is the law.

ecclesvet Sat 24-Mar-12 11:28:59

"I think you'll find the government already does tell people what is and is not rape."

Yes, true. But they don't tell me it was rape when I explicitly agreed to the act, which would be the case here.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Mar-12 11:29:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ecclesvet Sat 24-Mar-12 11:33:58

And I think you're selectively ignoring parts.

"women would abide in a persistent legal condition of not having given consent to sex"
"Presto! The dude is already a rapist, because, legally, consent never existed."

These quotes clearly propose a scenario where a woman could not grant consent.

Prolesworth Sat 24-Mar-12 11:36:52

No, that's not what she's saying. She's doing a reversal of what is currently the case:

"women would abide in a persistent legal condition of not having given consent to sex"
"Presto! The dude is already not a rapist, because, legally, consent never existed always already exists."

hope those strikeouts work or that will be a mighty confusing post

Beachcomber Sat 24-Mar-12 11:37:20

Ecclesvert, what Twisty is arguing for is what current UK law states. I am arguing for the law to be properly applied.

I think it is you who is misreading the article.

DilysPrice that's interesting WRT UK law.

I know we will probably have a lot to say on the subject of rape in the usual sense, but I'm also interested in consent as applied to porn, prostitution and BDSM.

OP’s posts: |
Prolesworth Sat 24-Mar-12 11:39:52

Yeah, I was just thinking about the BDSM issues raised in the Ann Summers thread. How the mainstreaming of BDSM further entrenches the idea that sex and force are inseparable.

It's extraordinary how many juries are willing to believe that sexual violence is consensual in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Surely the mainstreaming of BDSM reinforces that.

Beachcomber Sat 24-Mar-12 11:46:04

ecclesvet you are misreading her. She has a particular writing style so I can see why.

She is a arguing that a woman should be believed if she says she has been raped and it shouldn't be difficult to believe her and apply the law (which exists and is in accordance with Twisty). It is to be assumed that a woman did not want sex (ie she has been raped) unless consent has been given.

I promise you, Twisty is arguing for the law as it stands. She is just arguing for attitudes to change so that consent is taken seriously and non-consent is considered to be the case, unless clearly stated otherwise by the woman concerned.

OP’s posts: |
InAnyOtherSoil Sat 24-Mar-12 11:49:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kickassangel Sat 24-Mar-12 11:50:22

Marking my place and having a think

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Mar-12 11:51:06

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InAnyOtherSoil Sat 24-Mar-12 11:54:12

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Goawaybob Sat 24-Mar-12 11:58:36

I havent looked at the link and i am only responding to the OP. But i think consent is a very difficult thing to describe.

No means no, but it doesn't have to be said, or it shouldn't at least. I would imagine finding myself in a position with an over enthusiastic partner and not saying no, but my actions itself being enough for him to realise it wasn't wanted, i shouldnt actually HAVE to say NO. If that makes sense. However, i think signals can be misread and women should absolutely feel the right to say, very clearly NO, and STOP without having to try to be nice about it. After all, you might like the person, you dont want to spoil things, you just dont want sex at that time.

Persuasion and playing hard to get can be erotic, for both partners, and it worries me that this is where mistakes are made. So whilst you might be coyly removing hands from where you don't want them yet, if you genuinely don't want it, then NO it has to be. Im not making myself very clear.

What about within a relationship where someone has already had sex? Is consent after that point a given? I don't know, i don't usually say no (randy mare) but there are times when DP has spent quite some time persuading me and i may start out irritated but then with the right buttons pressed i think, oh go on then, i can count on one hand in 20 years the times i've had to say, really no i don't want to, im too tired, anxious, whatever.

What about the woman who is quite happily with a man, likes the snogging and some petting but doesn't want to go further, but then doesn't have the confidence to stop things when they have started - how does that stand? She may not want to have sex, but alot of men are pretty ignorant to subtle signals and will press on, being too turned on to realise she isn't getting it. Now these men are idiots, but are they rapists? (i dont know)

I think women need to be made awayre that even if his cock is just about to go in (sorry) you are entitled to change your mind and say , no, sorry i dont want this.

So, thats my vague view, i basicaly dont know

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Mar-12 11:58:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Goawaybob Sat 24-Mar-12 12:03:07

Twisty faster and her smart cervix - she fucking barking!

Goawaybob Sat 24-Mar-12 12:07:14

Prolesworth - I like BDSM, both in fantasy (which for me can be very extreme) and in the bedroom. I love to be dominated, have sexual teasing "forced" upon me, if im tied up for instance. BUT there is a very fine line being forced into that situation. I do not want to be forced to have sex, or do sexual things. HOWEVER, bdsm for some, is giving up of control. But thats the key, in BDSM consent is paramount and can never EVER be assumed. That is why people have safe words etc. There has to be a time when that control is handed over, not taken, but given. BDSM and rape are not the same

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Mar-12 12:08:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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