Saturday, 1 December 2007

More of the "consent? wuzZAT, you patriarchs?" meme

(zposted from my blog)

http://wom ensspace.word press.com/2007/11/30/todays-m ale-terrorism-exploiting-the-brut al-murder-of-emily-san der/#com ment-72901

I’m wondering (no seriously, guesstimate with me) how long it will take before “rape kill fantasies” are defended. Women collecting en masse (feministing, Bitchphd, pandagon, feminste, etc…) to assure everyone they find pleasure and joy in the sexualization of their own death.

Then police won’t even have to worry with their half-assed investigations–all “murders” of women will be considered assisted suicide (which will become legal once more).

Can we, as radfems, not use words like “want” and “consent” for, I dunno, another 1,000 years? Right now it has F$$$-all to do with us and I’m really tired of such concepts being thrown around.

My heart goes out to Emily Sanders and her loved ones.


I'm not here for long today (yay weekend fun -- no, not quite that kind), but I just want to note it.

I know these people aren't representative of feminism or even of thoughtful radical feminism. But it's often taken as a Feminism 101 point to assume "no one would ever REALLY say 'all sex is rape,' stop putting words in Dworkin's mouth."

And the thing is, whether Dworkin said it or not, there was, and still is among a very kooky, small minority of women who use feminism in some very weird ways, a strain of feminism where this kind of inversion happens. And it makes sense that it would, among absolute extremists, really, because their basic position is that choice is illusory in a world where one social class has control. If that control extends to hearts and minds, consent isn't real, isn't deep, isn't personal...

...so it's hardly surprising someone would go all the way and ask if consent is meaningful in any way at all.

But of course, that's chilling. With no notion of consent, everything is rape.

Or nothing.

Or nothing at all.

As suspicious as some of us are (and rightfully, in some cases, IMO) of liberalism... we do need some liberal concepts mixed in with our radical ones. We need notions of bodily autonomy, free choice, and consent (whether to sex, to medical procedures, to body modifications, etc.) I'm the first to acknowledge that autonomy is a tough one, consent is a tough one, fully free anything is impossible since we're influenced all the time.

But that doesn't mean we abandon these concepts. That means we use our massive monkey brains to be sure as we can of when and how they apply.

12 comments:

Devastating said...

It's slightly tricky, the issue of consent within a (non-consensually) unequal power structure.

In the time of slavery (I'm thinking U.S. slavery), could a slave have consensual sex with a master? I'm sure there were times when a slave felt her sex with a master was consensual within the structure of their lives, but I don't think the structure of a (non-consensual) slave's life allowed for real consent.

At the same time, if you lived in that structure, it wasn't necessarily extra wrong to have this "close to consensual" sex.

I don't know. But those are the kinds of lines I think along. In practical life, of course I believe in consensual sex among adult men and women. It feels ridiculous not to, and I would never consign myself to a life of celibacy (or even only having sex with other women) just because the patriarchy exists.

DaisyDeadhead said...

But of course, that's chilling. With no notion of consent, everything is rape.

Or nothing.

Or nothing at all.


Yes, this is the crux of the matter. I'd like to ask Heart & Co. if they actually believe in consent? If not, have they consented to do what they are doing in their lives, or are they somehow 'exceptions'?

And if they are exceptions, how did they arrive at the conclusion that they have earned "exceptional" status? Answer: Because they "believe" the right way. Exactly as fundamentalist Christians/puritans believe; "right thinking" and correct belief gets you a pass from 'regular' womanhood.

Good post.

Trinity said...

"And if they are exceptions, how did they arrive at the conclusion that they have earned "exceptional" status? Answer: Because they "believe" the right way. Exactly as fundamentalist Christians/puritans believe; "right thinking" and correct belief gets you a pass from 'regular' womanhood."

YES. THAT.

Trinity said...

"In the time of slavery (I'm thinking U.S. slavery), could a slave have consensual sex with a master?"

That's a great question, but I think it's also off-point when we're talking about things like what Heart & co. are saying. Because I don't think we can quite draw that parallel, patriarchy and chattel slavery. We can say patriarchy's influence has similarities, but I don't think qw've quite got slaves and masters here, really.

Trinity said...

"At the same time, if you lived in that structure, it wasn't necessarily extra wrong to have this "close to consensual" sex."

That I do agree with, though.

Myca said...

What daisydeadhead said is perfectly correct. The thing is, of course they actually believe in consent. Of course they believe that there's a difference between rape and consensual sex.

That's not really where the issue is, I think. The issue is that they think that consent only 'counts' for certain activities or certain people. Sure, you can consent to sex with your partner, and yes there's qualitative difference between sex you consent to and sex you don't . . . but porn? You took part in porn? Oh, I'm sorry, that consent doesn't count.

And of course, the arrogance underlying it all is the idea that the choices they make are the right choices, and if someone else makes a different choice . . . well, it's not really a choice at all.

---Myca

Trinity said...

"What daisydeadhead said is perfectly correct. The thing is, of course they actually believe in consent. Of course they believe that there's a difference between rape and consensual sex."

Oh yeah, I don't disagree. I'm just saying that the end point of their ideology, of what they twist radical feminism into, allows for nobody's consent. So they can/do say things like "can we please be radical enough to officially consider 'consent' outmoded?" -- despite falling back on a presumption that it exists the moment their choices are challenged.

Myca said...

Oh, of course, of course. I don't disagree. My point was that although they talk a big-ass 'radical' game about consent being irrelevant, it's obvious that they only believe it to be irrelevant when it comes to 'stuff they don't like.'

Trinity said...

well, yes -- it's not *possible* to not believe in choice-making. It's just not. It's possible to believe in vitiated choices, yes, but... come on. I want to say "Did you or didn't you agree to have dinner with your husband last night? If you did, was that vitiated because he's "the man of the house"?"

verte said...

Ah, but it's because we're not examining our own understanding of consent thoroughly enough, you see. I've been told this many a time - there's good consent and bad consent. My consent is clearly bad and wrong.

No, I don't live in a vacuum. Yes, our culture is patriarchal. But the BDSM forum I post on most is called Informed Consent for a reason, and the 'informed' part is, yes, pretty damned important.

belledame222 said...

"What do you want for dinner--oh, shit, sorry. Uhhh..."

yeah, that works well. because some rancid fuckhead murdered that poor woman, "consent" has no meaning. the implication being...what? that "pro-porn" people are arguing she consented to be murdered? that's what it -sounds- like, but then I don't speak Venusian, so it's hard for me to parse that out.

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