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FRIES and the concept of consent

(14 Posts)
begonialover Thu 07-Jan-21 16:12:55

I came across this short essay and it could be useful for others in thinking about the responsibilities of employers and service providers so I am posting it here. The idea is to adapt the FRIES mnemonic for defining what genuine consent to sex is (Free, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic. Specific) to apply to the consent people give (often implicitly) in situations in which people need bodily privacy:

"Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organisation in the US known, historically at least, for campaigning for and providing contraception and safe abortion. PP promotes the acronym FRIES as a mnemonic for a set of 5 principles underlying ``sexual consent’’. From the Planned Parenthood website:
“Sexual consent is actively agreeing to be sexual with someone. Consent lets someone know that sex is wanted. Sexual activity without consent is rape or sexual assault.

*Freely given.Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
*Reversible.Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed.

*Informed.You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent.

*Enthusiastic.When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.

*Specific.Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).”
FRIES is a useful and practically applicable "checklist’’ to aid understanding of proper consent to sex. (Note that the application of these criteria to the buying of sex in the sex trade implies that buying sex is almost always rape or sexual assault. Given the success that lobbying for the sex trade has had in recent years, it is to be expected the Planned Parenthood FRIES definition of consent will gradually be altered, weakened or buried altogether.)

Principles 1,2,3 and 5 (FRIS) on the FRIES checklist can be extended more generally to define consent by service users in the context of services and facilities where someone is partially or fully unclothed, or where bodily functions and personal care are performed, or where someone’s partially or fully unclothed body is touched or viewed by others or when someone will be vulnerable by being asleep. These situations include for example medical examinations, shared sleeping accommodation, toilets and changing rooms. In almost all of these situations, consent and the specific things to which one is consenting are normally implied by one’s actions and the understood nature of the service and situation. For example by entering and using a group changing room in a sports centre one is consenting, implicitly, to be viewed in a partially unclothed or naked state by the other users of the changing room, and also consenting to see those other users partially unclothed or naked (which consent, therefore relies on the principle of consent being Informed, in this case by clear, well-communicated policy of the service provider.) However, one is not consenting to being touched by another facility user.

Notwithstanding that consent is implied by actions in this way and need not be verbalised, the consent must nevertheless be FRIS. This has implications for service providers as in the example above. Providers must be able to demonstrate how they know that the consent of service users is freely given, reversible, informed and specific. This implies that providers must consult widely, with clarity including about the law and about the meaning of any words that might be ambiguous (“informed” and “specific”) and without prejudice or threat (“free”) and must adopt clear policy and communicate that policy widely, about what the service is and who will use it."

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BrassicaRabbit Thu 07-Jan-21 20:03:56

Thanks I found that interesting. I could see this section coming as I read it:

Given the success that lobbying for the sex trade has had in recent years, it is to be expected the Planned Parenthood FRIES definition of consent will gradually be altered, weakened or buried altogether.)

Isn't it amazing how organisations, when confronted with something that rocks their core values, are more willing to change or obscure their core values rather than question the narrative they are being presented with? It makes me doubt their integrity or their intelligence.

Examples such as BACP /UKCP branding depth psychotherapy with trans individuals "conversion therapy". Some parts of BLM not understanding structural oppression after all when it comes to women. Labour Party supporters pro the sex trade.

Last time I looked the NHS had a page online about consent, demonstrating they clearly understand what "informed" means. And yet deception is written into their policy with gender ID replacing sex when designating wards or categorising staff.

begonialover Thu 07-Jan-21 23:24:08

Yes @BrassicaRabbit, it is amazing how people can bear such blatant contradictions. The doublethink over the sex trade is especially egregious. We should screenshot the PP FRIES pages now before they disappear.

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ChattyLion Fri 08-Jan-21 00:03:41

Thanks that is a really useful mnemonic begonialover I hadn’t seen it before.

Ereshkigalangcleg Fri 08-Jan-21 00:32:04

That's great, much as I think this organisation is dubious in other areas.

NiceGerbil Fri 08-Jan-21 00:33:15

This bit is really iffy

'. For example by entering and using a group changing room in a sports centre one is consenting, implicitly, to be viewed in a partially unclothed or naked state by the other users of the changing room, and also consenting to see those other users partially unclothed or naked (which consent, therefore relies on the principle of consent being Informed, in this case by clear, well-communicated policy of the service provider.) However, one is not consenting to being touched by another facility user.'

NO.

the expectation in these situations is that others sharing facilities will be courteous and respect your privacy.

There is no consent to be 'viewed'. Wtf?

Knowing that pp believe twaw that bit is really iffy.

The fact they draw the line at touching (which is so far OVER the line it's not normally even mentioned) and say that staring, sidling up to, striking up conversations with, and all the other stuff that would be really horrible... Is really worrying.

Ereshkigalangcleg Fri 08-Jan-21 00:41:15

That's a good point.

begonialover Fri 08-Jan-21 14:50:24

@NiceGerbil I agree, the word "viewed" is not a good choice there.

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BrassicaRabbit Fri 08-Jan-21 15:29:12

I kind of get what they mean. You don't actively look, do you, but you also don't scrunch your eyes shut and sometimes it is inevitable as you move about that your eyes face away from the wall. You might see bodies, without looking. I suppose "view" makes us think of a cinema but they were perhaps just using a formal sounding word.

I don't know how I'd feel if I were a male in the men's changing. But I'm OK with the above in the women's. I'm fairly confident that the number of female sex offenders is sufficiently tiny, plus they don't have the physical advantage of men. Unlike TRAs I don't think sexual abuse is about desire so the sexual orientation of the other women is irrelevant.

What is absolutely fucking key though is INFORMED which is invalidated every time an organisation enforces single sex as single gender. You could argue SPECIFIC here too. Saying I'm OK with being undressed around women does not mean I'm OK with being undressed around transwomen. Substituting a transwoman for a woman represents a significant change in the specifics of the situation.

Ereshkigalangcleg Fri 08-Jan-21 16:21:12

What is absolutely fucking key though is INFORMED which is invalidated every time an organisation enforces single sex as single gender. You could argue SPECIFIC here too. Saying I'm OK with being undressed around women does not mean I'm OK with being undressed around transwomen. Substituting a transwoman for a woman represents a significant change in the specifics of the situation.

Yes, exactly.

NiceGerbil Fri 08-Jan-21 21:37:51

The word consent to be viewed in a communal changing room is just bizarre full stop.

I think it's a terrible way to put it.

If anyone is going into changing rooms with the idea of viewing others or being viewed, then they're out of order off the bat.

The fact they only draw the line at touching is worrying as well.

DidoLamenting Fri 08-Jan-21 23:24:33

I don't read it as anything more than being seen or as Brassica put it. The language used doesn't bother me , if anything as I hate the idea of communal changing rooms, it seems quite accurate.

ChestnutStuffing Sat 09-Jan-21 04:27:30

Yeah, if you go into a changing room, and take off your clothes, other people who are there will see you. You can't make a claim that you didn't consent to that - if you don't want other people to see you naked, you just shouldn't take of your clothes in a public change room.

Maybe this seems less obvious if you regularly change only in places where there are cubicles or everyone makes a real effort to not look or be seen, changing behind towels or whatever. Not all change rooms are like that however, in some people are quite open about nudity.

begonialover Sun 10-Jan-21 16:19:20

"see" is a better word than "view" for use in the article. I agree with the posters above that the point to stress is that the nature of a shared changing room is that one will be seen and see others in various states of undress and so consent is needed. And consent is not consent if it is not informed, properly and unambiguously informed.

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