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Consent (a long one)

I ran into this post of Laurelin's a while ago. I didn't link to it, because although parts of it rub me wrong, I don't think it's quite on the "consent is meaningless/silly/was invented by rapists" level of most of these posts (which aren't hers, just to be clear). So I quote, to lay it out there and think about it:

Consent implies nothing more than agreement to undergo. Nothing more than ‘yes’. One consents to undergo operations to save one’s life, or to reduce unbearable physical suffering. One signs the consent form without desiring to experience the pain and danger that operations necessarily entail. One does not sign a form proclaiming that one enjoys an operation.

One consents to an operation after having weighed up all possible alternatives- or so we hope. We hope that the medical profession is clear and sincere in their discussions of benefits and risks to one’s health. Having decided that the risk is worth it, that the odds are in our favour, or in extremity, that there is nothing else we can do and it would be madness not to try, we consent. But we do not want the operation itself. We will not enjoy the invasion of our privacy and bodily integrity that it entails.
Consent is nothing more than ‘yes’. Yes may mean yes, but it doesn’t mean anything else.

When we speak of female sexuality and agency, we need to care about a hell of a lot more than the ‘yes’. Not just the ‘yes’, not just the ‘consent’. Not the signing of the form. Not the grudging agreement, the inability- for whatever reason, economic, psychological, physical- to say no. Not the yes of exhaustion, the yes of emotional manipulation, the yes of poverty.

There are numerous reasons that one may consent. There are numerous reasons one may say ‘yes’ to things we do not want to do. Consent in itself is not enough. Consent can be given in the direst of circumstances. Consent can be given because the other options are worse.

If all we seek for is female consent, we ignore the person who requests the consent. Consent involves having something done to you; it assumes the subordinate position of the person who consents. The doctor we may consent to because we believe s/he is better qualified to judge our safety than us. The lawyer we may consent to because we believe s/he knows the law better than us.
Do not be content with consent. There can be no sexual freedom when we consider that the ‘consent’ of the woman is enough to wipe out the harm inflicted by the person she consents to.

On the one hand, I very much agree that when we have sex with someone, we should prefer that they really, really want it, rather than that they "just undergo it." I can see that having a different name than "consent." I've seen it as "mutual desire" and some other things, but usually people just slap an adjective in there and say "enthusiastic consent" from what I've seen.

On the other, the analysis of consent to sex as similar to consent to medical procedures fucking creeps me out. It's not that I go to my partner and ensure that he's willing to endure something horrid for my sake (since I'm the top and he's the bottom.) It's that we do things together. (Often, I think he's more fully into it than me. How's that fit into this?)

There's this weird assumption in a lot of these "I don't like the concept of consent" posts that one person desires (a man, usually) and another does not (a woman, who is acted upon with, apparently, all the joy of hydraulics.) But where exactly does this come from?

It might be a thoughtful observation that the concept of "consent" doesn't actually require desire, which I agree is interestingly suspicious. But reading these posts it always seems to me that it's more than that, an assumption that women don't desire, rather than that there's a weird desire-hole in the abstract concept. Reading Laurelin, I get the feeling -- and please let me know if I've got it all wrong -- that she's telling me that women do, or should, see "letting" men penetrate them as something to be endured, a form to be signed.

And while I'm sure some women do see it this way, whether for personal reasons or because their lovers are morons, this just strikes me as a re-iteration or rehashing of the age-old stereotypes that call men the only desirers and women only the (usually annoyed) desired.

And that has no place in my life, or any of my ideologies. If I've even got those any more, really.

I also, however, encourage everyone to read this, a different take on "consent is not enough" that talks about pressure quite compellingly:

Imagine a bank robbery. If the robber points a gun at the teller’s head and orders him to open the vault, no one will say that he did so willingly. He was threatened to do so. He did not consent, he merely cooperated to save his life. Or maybe to save the life of a customer in the bank held a gunpoint. No one will say that the teller was one of the robbers, no one will say that he stole from the bank. He is a victim. Then take the weapon out of the equation. You don’t need a weapon to kill a person, nor do you need it to inflict serious harm upon a person, perhaps there is just a note saying “We have your family”. No weapon - only the implied threat of violence. The thing with rapists is that they are usually fairly normal people going about their business in life. They have friends, and if you’re at a party together, chances are you have mutual friends. A simple look from the rapist can imply a threat of violence to someone you know, or it can imply them telling nasty rumours about you to everyone, and no one will disbelieve them, because no one knows that they’re capable of such meanness. But the fact is: the rapist doesn’t need a weapon to threaten the victim into submission, sometimes he doesn’t even need to verbalize the threat, because it lies implicit in his disrespectful behaviour. Consent may only be there because the alternative is worse. Laurelin put it nicely

and then she goes on to quote what I have quoted above about consent not excusing.

Which makes sense, again, but I'm very leery of talking of something coerced as "consensual." I commented there with:

I have to say I’m uneasy about the quoted bits, at least as they’re worded there.

It’s true that someone can acquiesce from pressure, but I think it really muddies the waters to call that “consent.” If we call that “consent,” what do we call rape? Because that means rape isn’t “nonconsensual sexual contact” any more — because we have to build into our definition that “consent” is no longer enough for what’s happening to be morally (or legally?) acceptable.

Any time anyone suggests “consent should not be enough” I have real problems with the concept and am terribly leery, unless the person is saying that, ideally, everyone ought to look for more, rather than “Do not accept ’she consented’ as an excuse for a man’s harmful behaviour towards her. Consent does not mean desire, does not mean free and unfettered choice.”

The problems, better expressed than I could, by someone who’s actually a survivor of rape:

You would think after seeing shit like this on the internet for all these years, I wouldn’t have this reaction anymore, but every single time someone says something that sounds like it is at all possible to consent to rape (be it “radical” “feminists” or staunch anti-feminists - and, hmm, maybe the former ought to examine how it ends up on the same side as the latter so much), I feel so deeply offended. That is so grossly dismissive of rape survivors, and it makes me feel used and commodified by women whom I should be able to trust not to do that to me.

I also think it’s important that, when we talk about striving for enthusiastic consent or for full mutuality or however we’re going to term “Yay, let’s go” rather than “Yes,” we have to be sure to keep from acting like only what lives up to that standard counts as legitimate sex.

Just as plenty of people say “No” and have it understood to mean “No” in nonsexual arenas, plenty of people say “Er, okay” or “Yes” and are understood to have meant “Yes,” even if they don’t love the hell out of the experience or even feel it wasn’t so great. Bad sex happens. Bored sex happens. Unsure sex happens. And all those things are not necessarily rape.

If the bad/bored/unsure had to do with pressure, of course that’s different. But this “She might have said yes but not had her whole soul in it” makes me suspicious. Plenty of people make decisions they’re not sure of or ambivalent about, and that doesn’t make those decisions not theirs or not real.

Pressure vitiates consent, which is what makes “Yes” sometimes not enough. It’s not that “Yes” doesn’t mean anything, and we wander over to the table of what things are harmful and see “what this man did” and DING we have a winnah (especially given that Laurelin, if I remember right, has elsewhere claimed that BDSM being consensual doesn’t make it okay.) Who keeps those tables? In whose interest, truly, are they created?

Consent is a flawed concept and needs improvement, but jettisoning it means there is no rape. How else would we understand what rape is?

Without keying it in “what she wanted or didn’t,” all we can do is, again, consult some table of Bad Acts… which will miss some rapes that look “OK” because the acts are on the OK list (much as things like digital rape sometimes don’t get called rape today) and miss some sex that’s mutual and joyful because it’s on the No-No List (like, say, very heavy BDSM, which most of the Consent Ain’t Enough brigade disapproves of.)

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
ext_59619
Mar. 28th, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)
I'm overjoyed to see this discussed so thoroughly and thoughtfully.

I kind of liked the first post by Laurelin that you quoted. In a general context it kind of fits how I feel and think about consent, which is along the lines (I guess) of, just because you eventually badgered her into it doesn't mean it was OK.

But I think it's really clear that when kink people talk about "consent" we're not talking about badgering someone into something and having them eventually give up on saying no because they just want us to shut up and leave them alone, much less threatening or coercing someone. We're talking about people actually, really, in their hearts agreeing that they want to do something (or will do it despite not wanting it because they love not wanting things and doing them anyway; it does get complicated).

As I've said before, most of my bdsm experience, both as a top and as a bottom, is that the bottom is usually longing for it, dying for it, wanting more - often more than the top has the energy, skill, or desire to give. I probably shouldn't traffic in stereotypes, but I think people who actually have experience with kink would recognize it, and the fact that it is the stereotype does say...well, something.

The idea of pressuring an uninterested person into bottoming to you is pretty yucky - yuckier (to my mind) than pressuring someone into topping you. I guess I do kind of think there is an intrinsic thing where you shouldn't hurt or sexually dominate someone unless certain circumstances hold (like that they enjoy it).

Consent can't be determined by a heuristic about whether you just did it because the alternative is worse. I mean, I really DID consent to my surgery. The surgeon was doing something good to me when he performed it. It's not his fault that the universe arranged to fuck up my neck and make me need it.

And I really DO consent to the sex I have, even though I'm just having it because the alternative (not having sex) is worse. Or if I decide to have sex to make my partner feel good even though I'm not that into it, that doesn't make it non-consensual.

I don't know. I've gone into rambling here.
fierceawakening
Mar. 28th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
I kind of liked the first post by Laurelin that you quoted. In a general context it kind of fits how I feel and think about consent, which is along the lines (I guess) of, just because you eventually badgered her into it doesn't mean it was OK.

The thing is, I don't think that is consent. Maybe I'm very weird, but I think that's... someone being badgered.

I don't know exactly what dimensions I think that should have legally, but I'm very leery of the idea that "yeah, whatever, will you GO AWAY AFTER?" should be considered consensual.

I don't think Laurelin or the other poster was talking about BDSM there specifically, though I do seem to remember Laurelin saying, with respect to BDSM in some other conversation, something like "torture is not OK because someone consented to it." I'd have to look it up and make sure it was her, though.

Or if I decide to have sex to make my partner feel good even though I'm not that into it, that doesn't make it non-consensual.

Yeah. This is part of my problem with some people's new models -- suddenly "I really, truly, authentically wanted to make someone else happy and don't regret it in the least" shows up on some of them as nonconsensual. And bad sex shows up as awful violation... which just disappears the difference between "Gish, that sucked" and "I was violated."
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous)
Mar. 28th, 2009 10:08 am (UTC)
Also...
My q for you doesn't have anything to do with SP, just a personal situation. Not for public consumption.
fierceawakening
Mar. 28th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Just send me a private message through LJ :)
ext_177955
Mar. 28th, 2009 07:13 am (UTC)
I responded over at my own blog
But I'll post my response here as well. I'll probably make another post discussing some of the things you've brought up over here as well. I appreciate your insights, I find I haven't spent nearly as much time reading your posts as I ought to have. Anyhow, here's what I wrote in response to your comment over on my blog.

“Consent is a flawed concept and needs improvement, but jettisoning it means there is no rape. How else would we understand what rape is? ”

I completely agree. That was sort of the point I was trying to home in on, because literally ‘consent’ means nothing more than agreement or acceptance. So yes, one can consent under pressure/coercion, and I assume that’s why we’ve started seeing such terms as “true consent” and “enthusiastic consent” (not scare quotes; actual quotes) around the blogosphere.

“Just as plenty of people say “No” and have it understood to mean “No” in nonsexual arenas, plenty of people say “Er, okay” or “Yes” and are understood to have meant “Yes,” even if they don’t love the hell out of the experience or even feel it wasn’t so great. Bad sex happens. Bored sex happens. Unsure sex happens. And all those things are not necessarily rape.”

You are absolutely right about this. Unfortunately it’s very hard to tell whether that “Er, okay” is hesitant but true consent or whether it’s a truly reluctant “The alternative is worse” type of consent. Especially in the society in which we live. Goodness knows, I’ve consented to sexual acts with a boyfriend that I didn’t want to try, all because I thought he’d find me boring if I didn’t want to. It was consent, yes, and he had no way of telling whether I said yes because I wanted to or because I felt I needed to. He only had that yes to go on. And since we can’t expect men to be mind-readers… well… yeah.

Of course this leads me to another pet theory of mine: The rapist-less rape. Sometimes, because a woman might be pressured by social mores into consenting, the coercion is not on part of her partner, and thus he is not a rapist, but the effect it might have on her can still well be that of a rape. For me I wouldn’t say the effect has been that bad - thank goodness, but I do know of women who have consented to things they didn’t like, because they thought it was the done thing, only to find out later upon talking to their partners about it, those partners were horrified that they’d done something they didn’t like, when it wasn’t actually that important a part of the whole.

Anyway, going back to Laurelin’s post, which I quoted. Taking that post solely for what it says, I do agree with it. Because summarized all it says is: “Yes can be said in the direst of circumstances.” And about that she is right. That is what I attempted to illustrate with my bank robbery analogy that you quoted in your post (yeah, I went and read it of course). “Yes” does indeed not mean agency and freedom, and that is exactly why I had to continue this post into a discussion of agency and free will.

See, I think we all pretty much agree that consent can be given under pressure - and yes, even then it is still consent. It is when we start to define when there is agency to give real consent that we’re getting somewhere, and as I pointed out above, I very much disagree with Laurelin and other radfems about who has agency and when. And this especially goes in terms of BDSM and sex work - though for some reason I completely forgot to mention BDSM in the post. That’s my bad, it was not intentional.

I’m as leery as you about that “Table of Bad Acts”, as I believe it’s not the specific act that defines the goodness/badness of an encounter, it’s the intent or lack of intent behind the acts. As long as the intent is to find pleasure for both (or more) participants, with the expectation of listening to what participants like and enjoy the actual acts are not of consequence. It’s when the intent is “take what you want” or when the intent is not “respect your partner” that things go wrong, and they can wrong in all sorts of acts. In terms of rape, simple, standard missionary does not make it any less of a rape than any other position, just because missionary is sanctioned by social mores as the ‘right’ way of having sex - to put it like that.
fierceawakening
Mar. 28th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
So yes, one can consent under pressure/coercion, and I assume that’s why we’ve started seeing such terms as “true consent” and “enthusiastic consent” (not scare quotes; actual quotes) around the blogosphere.

You say this really fast, and I keep thinking "whoa, wait."

What does this mean? Does it mean that any time anyone says "Yes" they've "consented," even if they're threatened? Because I have a huge problem with that, actually. If I say "I'll do anything you want" to someone I fear will break my bones or kill my dog, have I really entered into some contract by which I am forced to obey them, and when they say "then get on your knees" and I squeak "Y -- yes," in terror, I've consented because Yes is a magic word? Do I have to remember not to pronounce "Yes" to not be consenting?

You appeal to "people" and what they think a lot -- maybe I'm not "people" but I'm really troubled by the assertion that a "Yes" said under pressure counts as a real "yes."

Of course, I do think things can be complicated. One can kind of want sex and kind of not, and listen to the "wanting" side because it also shuts up a badgering partner. In that case... I don't know that I'd call it rape, but I'm not sure I'd call it consensual either.

I really have a hard time looking at consent to sex similarly to consent to medical procedures. It seems you don't, and maybe "people" don't either. I wouldn't know.

But I know what it's like to sign a consent form I really didn't want to sign because I had no other option, and while I'd say, yes, that was my name on the paper, a similar situation sexually would be rape to me, full stop. Hell, I'm not sure I consider the medical situation fully consensual. "I'd like to not die now" != "I have been free to consider this carefully and make the choice I consider best for my body and spirit."

But if all people care about's my name on the paper, I'm not gonna fight that. I will fight when people say sex is the same.
snowdropexplodes.myopenid.com
Mar. 28th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
Well said, Trin.

Here's my take on the same things:

Last year I started work on figuring out economic philsophy, working from what i regarded as first principles.

One of the first things I came to was the Free Market Economics idea that trade happens only when it is in both parties' interests (however, I'm seeing it lead to very different conclusions from the Free Market Theory). Immediately the question came up in my mind of things like protection rackets, slavery, robbery at gunpoint etc.

It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between answering a want or need that is naturally occurring or that has occurred through some other agency, and answering a want or need that one has deliberately and artificially created in the other person. The latter is obviously not "consent" (in the legal sense) but "coercion". As the wikipedia article on coercion makes clear, "consent under pressure/coercion" is a direct contradiction in terms - it's an oxymoron.

In this passage quoted in the OP, it is clear that there is no consent, only coercion:

if you’re at a party together, chances are you have mutual friends. A simple look from the rapist can imply a threat of violence to someone you know, or it can imply them telling nasty rumours about you to everyone, and no one will disbelieve them, because no one knows that they’re capable of such meanness. But the fact is: the rapist doesn’t need a weapon to threaten the victim into submission, sometimes he doesn’t even need to verbalize the threat, because it lies implicit in his disrespectful behaviour. Consent may only be there because the alternative is worse.


Since that alternative is artificially created by the rapist, in order to force an action from the victim, it cannot be said to be consent - it has to be seen as coercion.

This analysis of coercion versus consent still leaves the grey area of acts that are not voluntarily chosen but are forced due to other circumstances. Such acts cannot be seen as "consenting" acts (as Trinity explains, "I'd like very much not to die now" is not equivalent to "this is a free and informed choice"). Going back to the bank robbery situation, suppose the bank robbers just happen to know that the bank's employee is in serious debt and will lose his home soon? Is it "coerced" if they then offer him, in return for his help in robbing the bank, the ability to pay off that debt? More to the point, should it be seen as guilt of a crime if he does help them?

This appears to me to be the thrust of the "rapist-less rape" theory, which actually has some merit to it. Without a doubt, there are many sex workers who are in sex work because they need to pay the bills and cannot find any other way to do so. For them, the business can be extremely distressing with many of the effects of rape. Yet it would be unhelpful and missing the point to describe the punters as rapists.

I have searched my vocabulary for a word to describe this type of sexual encounter, and it seems to me that if rape is coerced or forced sex, and the ideal is freely consenting sex, then the type of sex that is driven by outside pressures (economic or social) might be called "involuntary sex" (other synonyms I looked at were "unavoidable", "disadvantaged", "breadline", "pressed"). It is this type of sex that it seems to me 2nd Wave feminism has done so much to help eliminate (when society effectively required that a woman needed the economic support of a man in order to survive, obviously all sex was involuntary for her); there is obviously a long way to go to solve both social and economic problems before it is gone completely.
ext_177955
Mar. 30th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
I'm not sure what you mean by saying that I say something really fast. I wrote it, the speed at which you read it is your own.

Look up the word consent. It can imply a few different things, the only definition I have not been able to find is "permission freely and completely voluntarily given". To consent means "to give permission", it means "to accept", in another context it means "to agree". As Laurelin says, however much I disagree with her on other points, consent does not convey desire, a fervent wish, or anything beyond the meaning of the word "yes".

I'm not sure what you mean by the people I keep referring to. But please point out where I said that a coerced "yes" is freely given. It seems you only read one part of my post at a time.

The word consent holds no other meaning than yes, the word yes holds no other meaning than yes. If you say yes, than you've said yes, and that's all you've said. You haven't said "Huzzah", "Owh, if I have to..." nor "Weeee!" When you start speaking of a "real yes" you're speaking of exactly the same thing as those who speak of "true consent". Marcella Chester and Cara from The Curvature are the ones I read the most on that issue.

Yes, things are complicated. They are complicated all the time, because humans are complicated and thus communication and interaction between them must consequently be so too.

A yes is nothing more than a yes - and when a partner hears "yes" that's what they have to go on. Sometimes they know damn well that they got that yes because they spent 3 hours being an annoying ass, and thus it can easily be argued that yes wasn't real. But a yes was indeed given, so how should a court view it. I'm not only talking about what I think is good and bad, I'm also talking about how we can define things so it's actually legally applicable. That's why there's a problem with the word consent, because in the minds of rapists (and in many parts of society in general) there's a conflation of "she consented" with "she wanted it".

It ties in with the situation you describe as well. One can be on the fence about wanting to have sex, and go ahead and decide to do it because there's a perceived benefit or an avoided disadvantage to it. So she goes ahead and agrees to an undefined romp, but when he suddenly pulls out the big guns and expect this romp to be the hardcore 3-hour session they sometimes have did she also agree to this? No, she did not, but since it is so often construed that since she said yes, she must have wanted it - and must thus also have wanted the rest of it - then what? What does this conflation of consent with want/desire bring us? Nothing good, that' for sure.

I'm not the one who compared sex to a medical procedure - that was Laurelin. Please remember that. I don't at all compare the two, but consent in both cases mean the same - consent/yes, nothing more, nothing less.

To be continued in next reply due to length limit...
ext_177955
Mar. 30th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
I'm ambivalent about the validity of comparing medical procedures to sex, but consent-wise I do see the point. You seem to only think of life-saving medical procedures, but remember there are procedures such as setting broken bones, removing moles, having a tooth pulled, repairing an injured knee etc. they are not intended to save your life, but to improve it, and isn't that what sex is to us? Something that improves our lives (if the sex is good, that is :P ) because it's fun and/or pleasurable. That's why we consent to sex and life-improving procedures. Then it's a free and informed choice. Consent under pressure is what we have when the medical procedure is necessary to save your life, 'cause yeah, the threat of losing one's life can probably make most people consent to pretty serious and major procedures. Same goes with consent to sex under pressure, 'cause as I exemplified in my original blog post: if a bloke has already proven that your boundaries and preferences mean shit to him, what does your life mean? Better consent so's to avoid any further violence and possible seriou injuries.

When I look at it this way, the difference in the situations where consent is considered and either given or withheld are not that big. There are medical procedures that people refuse, only to become so ill that they end up unconscious in the ER to have an emergency procedure anyway. It happens. And some of them do feel violated afterwards - I'm thinking (among others) of the Jehova's Witnesses who may not so much as receive a blood transfusion.

And yes, I agree with you. The situation "accept surgery or die" is akin to rape if the situation were sexual.

All in all, I'm not really sure what it is you're objecting to, it seems to me were saying the same things just in different ways. Perhaps it's because I haven't made myself clear enough - I've been known to talk gibberish on occasion x_x
fierceawakening
Mar. 30th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
I'm sorry, we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I really do think that sex and medical treatments are profoundly different experiences and parts of life, and the states of mind that lead to consent in each are vastly different.

Honestly, seeing my sexual consent compared to forms I signed is really triggering to me, and I'm just absolutely, fundamentally, and profoundly bothered by this analogy.

I may be able to comment more to you later, but this is *really* creepy to me and it deeply concerns me that it's being presented as good feminism.
ext_177955
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:36 am (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
Who's presenting it as good feminism?

Anyway, I'm sorry it's triggering to you. I'll leave it alone. I'm working with Laurelin's analogy - one which I didn't even include in my original post - only because you drew it out. I would never have chosen it myself, mainly because it doesn't come as logically to me either. I have repeatedly said I do not back her completely.

Perhaps I should've written more expressly that I more or less agreed with her point, but not with the tools she used to make it. Anyway, I've responded in your new thread, and a I don't really feel there's much a of a dialogue going on here I'm gonna sign off. If you want to take it up with me again, you know where to find me.
fierceawakening
Mar. 30th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
"Really fast" means that your argument is moving quickly. That is, that some steps in it seem to be missing and therefore that I don't feel that you've convincingly (to me, at least) argued for your conclusion. It's got nothing to do with the speed at which I read. (Huh?)

Look up the word consent. It can imply a few different things, the only definition I have not been able to find is "permission freely and completely voluntarily given".

If one is coerced, one's permission is not "freely and completely" given. Therefore, if you give permission under coercion, by the dictionary definition you yourself present, you have not consented.
snowdropexplodes.myopenid.com
Mar. 30th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
Point of order - the quotation was a definition that jemimaaslana had NOT been able to find in a dictionary.

However, the definition of coercion directly excludes even "reluctant" consent, and certainly in legal definitions of consent, if coercion exists it is not consent.

The wikipedia article I mentioned, the text reads:

Coercion is the practice of compelling a person or manipulating them to behave in an involuntary way (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, trickery, or some other form of pressure or force. These are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way. Coercion may involve the actual infliction of physical pain/injury or psychological harm in order to enhance the credibility of a threat.


Since by the dictionary definitions consent requires agreement, giving permission or acceptance, once coercion is involved these elements are no longer possible. If one is compelled to say "yes", then one has not "agreed", nor "given permission" - one could, I suppose, be said to accept one's situation but I do not think that counts as acceptance in the sense that consent is a synonym.
fierceawakening
Mar. 30th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
Okay, my mistake, SD and jemimaaslana.

If one is compelled to say "yes", then one has not "agreed", nor "given permission" - one could, I suppose, be said to accept one's situation but I do not think that counts as acceptance in the sense that consent is a synonym.

THIS.
ext_177955
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
Re: I responded over at my own blog
As my personal view I would hate for consent to mean anything but real consent. But we live in a world where courts and society in general are not as benevolent.

Also: Consent is the same word as consensus, and a consensus decision is something we may not all agree with, but we'll back it anyway - for a variety of reasons. No as extreme as rape obviously, but it lands somewhere along the way.

Consent can be given, hesitantly but honestly, and the effects of the encounter can still be that of a rape, not because of specific things done but because of a partner's attitude. So yes, we need something better than consent - but redefining a word without the backing of the rest of the world won't do the trick.

*sigh*

And here I was thinking I didn't want to engage anymore in this... ah well, I'll probably be back again anyway. *rolls eyes*
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