Monday 15 September 2008

Consent- The Only Point That Matters

Last week you voted on the best solution to violence in our culture.

Disarm Civilians but Arm the State Further? 13% 2
Give all Citizens the Right to Bear Arms? 27% 4
Disarm the Globe? 60% 9

15 votes total.

Fairly conclusive. The right result, I feel :)

This week's issue is actually prompted by a little insight into what some males out there- the chivalrous sort- think should be our attitude to consent. When I say an insight, I'm going to point that the post in question was, rightly in my view, disavowed by it's author and removed from the public gaze. I can quite see that as soon as he read it, he must have seen just how wrong the view espoused is.

He clearly would not wish to be associated with these thoughts, and I shall not associate him with them either. But his thoughts remain in Google Reader, and exist to remind us just how long a way we still have to go in tackling the minefield of consent and co-ercion.

These speculations concern Mike Tyson's conviction for rape.

Glad to see six people [at the time of writing] agreed he did not technically rape her. It's a principle most women must understand [and those males who also can't see it] that it was a known known. Her history showed her to be not naive. The booze, the come-ons, the whole obnoxious thing was a known known all the way.

She agreed to go up there. That constitutes consent with a known beast like that. If it is not consent, then no male is safe any more. Any female he goes with can, at any time, cry rape and that makes the female gender too hot to go anywhere near, particularly in this litigious society where courts and other authorities are convicting on the most spurious grounds.

No one is denying the appalling things done to women and the need to circumvent them. No one is denying that women have many issues and need the societal laws to protect them. But no one, women least of all, needs this sort of injustice.


Where do I start?

If I leave my windows open through my own incompetence and get burgled, does that make the burglar less guilty than if I had barricaded my flat like Fort Knox?

A women is not on trial when a man is on trial for raping her.

She is not being tried for being drunk, being foolish, or being provocative.

The jury is not being asked to decide if she is a virgin or a whore.

The jury is asked to decide on one thing. Had she actually given her consent for sexual intercourse to take place and did sexual intercourse take place in defiance of her wishes on the subject.

As in, did a male person physically insert a part of his anatomy into her in a manner causing her distress and was he aware that was the outcome?

Was this insertion an intimate or an invasive act?

The writer here seems to be implying that because Tyson comes across as a scumbag, people should know that and therefore they are responsible for not knowing he's scumbag and that THEY not HE are therefore responsible for the outcome.

GREAT!! What a GREAT basis for legislation. What a great legal precedent to be set.

Don't leave your car in your drive. If the streetkids spraypaint and vandalise it, no they committed no crime. YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE LEFT IT THERE!!!

Your husband was stabbed and murdered for his wallet. Sorry, we're not investigating it. If he would walk through Moss Side at that time of night, he was asking for it.

I suppose the real implication in this post is that the woman in question, knowing Tyson's proclivities, actually set out to get raped to milk it for publicity.

She 'knew what was coming'.

Even if that were so, he did it. He raped her. So the idea that 'men aren't safe' because of his conviction is drivel. If you don't want to be convicted of rape, a good start to not being convicted of rape is very simple; don't rape people.

But let's look deeper into this. Because underlying it is a major attitude shift taking place in the issue of consent and co-ercion, in regards to sexual issues.

Time was when rape was clear cut. Sex forced physically onto somebody. But it was OK for a man to gain sex by duplicity, deceit, blackmail, threats, claiming conjugal rights or using his greater age or life experience to obtain the same result.

And society is now coping with eradicating that attitude.

And yes, it's causing some problems. Not only are a lot of young men being convicted of rape whose fathers don't see why, because it was 'OK' when they were young, but there are sadly a lot of women out there who are using this societal attitude shift to make false accusations.

But actually, the older generation are wrong. In these circumstances, it is not the obligation of women (or men for that matter) to behave in a manner which reduces their chances of being raped to zero, nor is it their responsibility not to freely give consensually to people that which it would be a crime for someone to take against their will, just in case some court one day thinks they shagged too many people to any longer have the right to decide WHO to have sex with and WHEN.

The burden lies on any MALE (because the penetrating party is by definition male) to ensure that not only did he NOT hear NO, but that he quite definitely heard YES.

And not a 'yes' that was co-erced either. A yes freely given. And anything else must be totally eradicated.
Because when I read things like this, actually, I see them as being pretty much in the same ball park as rape. And if we clamped down properly on a culture that thinks that date rape isn't really rape, we'd remove the culture where older men think it's OK to co-erce younger girls into sex. Though actually, if the law change I support came into play, what is described in the linked post WOULD actually be criminal.

You see, males CAN protect themselves very easily against false rape allegations. Make sure you get consent. Make sure it is an established fact.
And if you take someone home from the pub that you've just met and you plan to have sex with her, then if you really don't go out of your way to establish consent, you deserve all you get.

I have in the past taken people home who I have just met and had sex with them. But I follow certain guidelines. I make sure their friends know where they're going. I make sure people I know have seen me leave with her.
None of these points in themselves prove anything of course. But they're a good start.

And never back to hers- make sure its yours. Again, it proves nothing.

Because what you shouldn't forget is that it doesn't matter if when you cross through your front door, she is thinking of having sex with you. Thinking is the operative word. She probably hasn't made up her mind and that it is STILL hers to make up. Probably a lot of blokes convicted of date rape forgot that. They thought they had a 'done deal' then got pissed off when she decided, actually, no.

I think the point is about not closing a woman down or feeling she's pressured in any way. Make clear that if she doesn't feel like going home, sex isn't a condition for her staying. And don't be talking about going to bed the minute you get through the front door. If you can't get the girl a cup of coffee and play her some music- to give her time to know what she wants- again, you deserve it if you get into hot water later.

You're not an animal. If you want to be treated like a wild animal that can't control it's bodily urges, than a lethal injection solves the problem.

You moan when feminists say 'Men have two brains but only enough blood to work one at a time'.
Prove them wrong.

Prove you are capable of possessing a thinking man's penis and understand in your mind that insertion of part of your anatomy actually inside someone else is potentially EITHER an intimate or an invasive act.

If you think there's a chance that it MIGHT be invasive and you ignore that possibility, then yes, it's rape.

Frankly, I really don't care who has sex with who. I really don't. As long as they have full consent of the other party, that the other party was old enough and in a position to give it, and that consent was not co-erced or achieved by other foul means- such as exploitation of younger girls by older men.

If I had my way, the law would be altered as follows.
Any sexual acts would be permitted between consenting adults provided they satisfied the following criteria.

  1. Both parties were over the age of fourteen.
  2. If one party was under eighteen, then the other party should be no more than two years senior to them.
  3. Demonstrable proof of consent (rather than the absence of evidence of refusal) should be able to inferred.
  4. Evidence of co-ercion or pressure should be treated as invalidating any consent.
  5. Evidence of incapacity to give consent should invalidate consent.

That's just my view.

Nevertheless, my view is quite simple. I am aware that many people say that the low conviction rate for rape is because so high a proportion of the complaints turn out to be bogus. I'm not disagreeing that that may play a part. I also know that a great many rapes never end up in court, because the victim doesn't feel they have the evidence to support their case.

Now I know at least two women who lost their virginity in a date rape scenario. And that's a terrible way for someone to be introduced to the world of love making.

And it's this, this 'grey area' that needs to stop being grey and join the rest of the black. The goal posts DO need moving.

Men need to stop being deaf to the word 'no' and wait till they hear the word 'yes'.

We are not coming down hard enough on rape, or its apologists.

But it's not up to me, it's up to you.

The poll is in the sidebar.

Have your say!

Update: A reader has provided me with a link to an excellent article on the subject which I think is worth sharing. It expresses and debates the matter intelligently from the point of view of a modern, sexually active woman. I would say her conclusions are exactly the right ones and I urge you to read it.


Anonymous said...

If the tabloids are saying the truth, most male celebrities are rapists.
Anyways,I had this conversation with a friend once and we agreed on two things 1-you have to say No(literally)women need to speak up if they don't want to put out, some men need to be told to stop, feeling something is different from saying it out loud. 2-some men don't take no for an answer( small %) if so then fight for your body, your body is worth fighting for.

Also, over the age of fourteen..ouch I think 16 is more appropriate.

"Demonstrable proof of consent (rather than the absence of evidence of refusal) should be able to inferred."
Such as...? Should you film it or make each other sign a document?

Anonymous said...

No means NO, just because you are in a room or where ever with a person, does not mean you want to have sex with them, she needs to make it clear and he needs to take heed.
I think though that there have been women who have in the past maliciously said it was rape half way through the act itself.
In true circumstances of rape, women or men for that matter do not deserve it or ask for it.
There is NO excuse for rape but women need to also have common sense not to place themselves in obvious danger.
ANY Asswipe who thinks that a person should expect that sex will take place or that it is their given right for sharing drinks, flirts or accompanying them to a room, obviously has self esteem issues.
Nothing so disgusting as a man or woman who preys on those so much younger.

Anonymous said...

Very good post.
I've not had the experience with older vs younger, though; my ex was about my age. And I'd still say he 'raped' the next girl in the same way as he always did; by promising her he wouldn't take her virginity, and then taking it anyway (cos over here, we're not as sexually aware as when we get on the blogs and learn stuff... ;-))... but what's done is done...

Anonymous said...

One thing I am thinking is, and people may laugh and scoff at the idea, what about a man who says no and the woman continues. Yes the end result maybe that there is sexual penetration of the woman, but the whole time he doesn't want it?? I think it is fair to say women can force man to have sex against their will also. Rapists are not confined to gender.

Anonymous said...

Kizzie- I would agree, yes.

I approve reducing the age to 14, but as you ntotice it introduces a further bar at 18.
The point is kids at 14 DO have sex. There seems no point in it being criminal- it's normal. What we don't want is kids that age having sex with older men. And of course it also widens that protection up to 18. Which I think is right.
I dion't think we should worry about a 15 yeard old boy and a 14 year old girl having sex.
But a 30 year old man and a 17 year old girl, yes, he should be locked up.

Proof, I don't know. It is hard I concede.
But what I would say, is that maybe it is worth having some demonstrable means of establishing consent.
Critics say this would mean consent forms by the bedside- no it needn't mean that.
But is there perhaps anything wrong in 'one night stand' scenario, by simple definition of the fact there are no other factors (co-habitation, prior knowledge, etc, etc) which would make consent appear likely, is there anything wrong in there being some kind of acknowledgemenmt- maybe the girl texting a friend or something- to acknowledge that its a consensual situation?

Nunyaa- Yes, but the idea that the woman is responsible because she didn't shout no loud enough is part of the problem.
Part of the problem is this attitude that if you didn't HEAR the no, you're entitled to presume a yes.

I think preying on those much younger, is the ultimate, yes.

Eve- Your own situation which you described would be hard to define as rape, in a legal sense, though in many ways the end result is much the same.

If Rape is robbery, then what you describe is still theft.

I actually think there are a lot of these little deceits and pressurising techniques that are in the same ballpark and ultimately do need eradicating, but its hsrd in the culture we live in at the monent. Half the male population is probably guilty somewhere along the line.
Changing attitudes has to a major part of it, not just legislation.

Nunyaa the return- I'm actually going to disagree with you here a little.
There are certain biological differences which basically mean that sex cannot ever really be traumatic to a male.
Being blunt, have someone force themselves inside you is the worst invasion of your person conceivable.
Being forced inside someone else, can no way compare.

I say that, becaause I can think of at least two occasions where, by your definition, I was raped.

By your criteria, then yes. I had specifically said 'no' to sex. I had say no several times. I found that 'no' wasn't listened to and I was being held down and ridden. I said no throughout until it was to late for no to matter, because the nale nerve in question simply responds, it had done, and at this point all there was to do was make sure she was on the pill.

I didn't feel traumatised by it at all. Annoyed, yes, very. I didn't enjoy it as such, but nor did it particularly upset me either.

I would say I have suffered extreme abuse at the hand of women, in some caes stuff I would compare as being equivalent to a sexual trauma, but the fact remains I don't think by and large women ever traumatise men SEXUALLY.

Anonymous said...

A man can be digitally raped the same as a woman, not necessarily about his penis going inside a woman, lets say what if he was tied to the bed and the female just helped herself, sniggers aside, if he was in a helpless situation, saying no, and could do nothing about it, then yes he can be raped. There is always the cases you hear about where a man has had a sex aide used on him against his will, if that happened to a woman there would be hell to pay and rightly so..women want equality, then they need to accept that sexual assault is not just happening to women.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post, Crushed. I agree with everything you have said in it-- it is about time that we stopped treating the victim in these cases as somehow more responsible than any other victim.