Consent

Recent posts

Tips For Men With Good Intentions

Actually, this fabulous blog post by my feminist friend Xenologer is less of a collection of tips and more of a comprehensive guide to understanding how male privilege can negatively affect the interactions of well-intentioned men with women. Using simple language and concrete examples, and packing a ton of links for further reading, Xenologer unpacks how guys who don’t perceive themselves as sexist can have happier and healthier interactions with not just women, but everyone around them who’s impacted by patriarchal power structures – which is to say everyone, really. Here are some of my favorite points from her post (though really, you should just go read the whole thing):

Recognizing your privilege is important – and perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to feel bad about being privileged. When feminists point out instances of male privilege, we’re not trying to shame you for having it: “You are definitely not a bad person for having male privilege, and you don’t need to be a sexist male to have it. It’s not ‘misogynist privilege,’ after all. Continue Reading →

What If We Thought About Consent In Terms Of Food?

In my attempts to theorize consent, I sometimes think of it in terms of metaphors and stories (see my joking “tangerine consent” post for an example of this). Along those same lines, I began wondering: what if we thought of sexual consent in the same terms that we think of food? Ponder these scenarios:

A woman is really tipsy, and someone who’s talking to her reaches toward her mouth with a piece of food in hand, as though about to begin feeding her. The conversation has not been on food, and she’s not given any indication that she’s hungry. A man is napping, and someone comes up to him and begins to work open his mouth with their fingers so a morsel of food can be inserted. Continue Reading →

Rethinking “Consent Is Sexy”

Condom Monologues recently published an interview with sex educator Ashley Manta on consent, sex positivity, and other hot topics in the world of sex education. In it, she urges us to rethink the phrase “consent is sexy,” claiming that it’s an oversimplification:

Consent is not always sexy—sometimes it’s downright awkward. Having a conversation about boundaries, STI testing, and other pre-sex talking points can be incredibly difficult. That does not make it any less necessary. I think it’s important to let people know that these conversations can be challenging and that good sexual communication takes practice. Continue Reading →

When It Comes To Sex Or Religion, Intent Doesn’t Excuse Bad Behavior

In a recent conversation, a friend mentioned that she was upset about about a pattern she noticed. She described how when Christians tried to convert her, her attempts to describe how hurtful it was were met with their disbelief – after all, everyone involved had good intentions! This set off bells in my head. Because when it comes to discussions of aspects of rape culture like street harassment or those supposedly-innocuous-but-possibly-threatening flirtation attempts that get labeled as “creepy,” intention is often invoked as a cure-all. “But he didn’t mean to be creepy!” Continue Reading →

Consent On The Playa

I’ve discussed sexual assault at Burning Man in the past, and so I was pleased to find that when my husband came home from the playa this year, he came home with this pamphlet:
The BED is a grassroots effort to promote consent-based interactions both on-playa and off-playa. Check out their publications for some of their tips on consent and intimacy. Anything that foregrounds consent gets a thumbs-up from me, so I’m glad this souvenir found its way home to me (even if it was trailing playa dust). Continue Reading →

Dealing With Harassment – Again

It seems that I keep returning to the topic of harassment, in part because it continues to be present in our culture, and in part because it just keeps happening to me. I’m not particularly special or attractive, I just have the poor luck of being a woman who spends a lot of time in public places. Like, ya know, a lot of people tend to do these days. In my most recent instance of harassment, though, I managed to keep a level head and defuse the situation in a way that seemed to work, so I thought I’d share a bit about the experience. I was at a street festival, dressed in my belly dance costume – not that this is a particularly relevant detail, as it wasn’t skimpy (which is totally not a justification for harassment anyway!), plus I was surrounded by other belly dancers so it’s not like I really stood out. Continue Reading →

The Wallet Metaphor

Humans communicate in metaphors. They’re useful for expressing abstract concepts in concrete terms, even if the metaphor doesn’t 100% map to the concept being expressed (the point is that they’re not supposed to be literal representations). My post on the puzzle box model of sex shows one example of this, and this blog post using a lost wallet metaphor demonstrates another. According to the wallet metaphor, “just because you left your wallet someplace doesn’t make it right that someone took your money” and, similarly, “We set the stage for ‘date’/'acquaintance’ rape when we imply that when a woman’s body is ‘left out in the open’ in some way — because of a short skirt, or too many drinks — it’s in any way acceptable to engage in any type of sexual contact without her explicit consent.” Think about it. Continue Reading →

The “Dating Rules” Idea

What’s up with the spate of rules that fathers make about dating their daughters? I’m sure you’ve all heard some variation of the whole “oh, so you’re dating my daughter, have I mentioned that I have a shotgun?” dating rules. Maybe they’re meant to be jokes, but they also communicate something very specific about what dating and sex are about: that boys will try to “take” sex from girls, and it’s the father’s job to lock up his daughter in order to protect her. Ugh, right? In this excellent blog post, TheFerrett deconstructs the notion that fathers should be overprotective of their daughters. Continue Reading →

Informed Consent: The Zimbardo Experiment

Also called the Stanford prison experiment, this psychological experiment is known along with Milgrim’s experiment as one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the human tendency to react dramatically to power imbalances. A group of young people were randomly divided into prisoner roles or guard roles, and the arbitrary amounts of cruelty and control exhibited by the guards exceeded anyone’s expectations. This video clip shows some of the original footage as well as present-day commentary (and some hilarious 1970s hairstyles). The subjects knew that they were in an experiment, but they had no way of knowing how drastic the humiliation and psychological suffering would be. So again, we return to the idea of informed consent – that it’s important for people to understand what kind of situation they’ll be getting into in advance. Continue Reading →