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-   -   Consent (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=69518)

hyperskeptic 04-04-2014 06:44 PM

This isn't about polyamory, per se, but it's really pretty cool and worth sharing around:


london 04-04-2014 06:53 PM

I know there is this movement to get people to always verbally ask for permission before progressing physical intimacy, but just as many people feel that this isn't what they personally want as a norm. I'm not talking about the aggressor either, some people enjoy someone taking the lead in that way and are prepared to withdraw consent of they don't wish to continue.

I caught myself watching ' millionaire matchmaker' recently and a guy they set up did he asked before he kissed the woman he went out with and from what I understand, they did kiss. The matchmakers felt this was a mistake and the date wasn't as successful as a result.

Not that I think that's an authority on consent culture or anything but it's just proof that people don't want that explicit verbal consent thing as a norm.

SchrodingersCat 04-04-2014 07:17 PM

Any time you start a sexual relationship with a new person, it's a good idea to first have some conversations about the gamut of expectations and desires. Condoms or bareback? Tests up to date? How do you like to be approached? Giver or receiver?

I would say that as far as consent is concerned, if that's something someone is concerned about, they can bring it up during the preliminaries. "Do you want me to ask explicit permission every time we fuck, or is it ok to assume that if you're undoing my belt, you probably want me to fuck your brains out?" or "I'm not always in the mood but sometimes I'm afraid to say so. I would appreciate it if you would ask me for permission every time we have sex." If you can't be mature enough to have those conversations with someone, you shouldn't be putting yourself in a situation where sex is a reasonable expectation, like making out with half your clothes off.

Frankly, the "nothing means no" default is ridiculous. Women need to learn that if they don't want to have sex, they have the power to get up and walk away, or use their words to express their wishes. If someone is doing things you don't like, then stop them. You're not a powerless rag doll. Sure, saying "no" doesn't have to be the word "no," it can be "I'd rather not" or "let's wait" or "your breathe reeks." But c'mon, sticking your tongue down someone's throat and humping them through their jeans sends a pretty clear message, and if that's not the message you're intending to send, then you'd better send an even clearer message by explicitly expressing your denial.

Obviously I'm referring to date-rape scenarios where there was a reasonable misunderstanding on the part of the initiator. If you try to stop someone and they physically force you, that's a whole other can of worms.

london 04-04-2014 07:33 PM

I totally agree with you, SC, every word. However, people with our stance are often labeled as rape apologists and said to be ignorant to the fact that women are conditioned to give up the goods (which can look like enthusiastic consent) and therefore, their actions are not to be relied on as an indicator of consent.

Tonberry 04-04-2014 09:47 PM

I think it's a complex issue. I mostly agree with SC, but I think there are also cases where one person is very aggressive and enthusiastic and the other is shocked and so doesn't say no right away, and then has this feeling that it's "too late" to say no.

I think people need to be told that it's never too late to say no, and from both sides. That is, "say no whenever you're uncomfortable" but also "stop whenever someone says no or otherwise is showing that they don't want it to keep going"(like pushing you away or facial expressions).

I don't think it's fair to call someone a rapist if, from their point of view, their partner was enthusiastically partaking. But just laying there doesn't imply consent either. Because someone didn't have the confidence to assert themselves doesn't mean it's "their fault" if the other party just went along and never bothered to look at the signs that it wasn't consensual.

I think permission before every kiss and time having sex isn't really something I require. But if someone kissed me out of the blue I would definitely be pissed off. And depending on the circumstances, I can imagine someone starting to undress me causing me to freeze and panic. Saying "no" means trusting that the person will stop if you do, rather than beating you up, and it might be hard to trust such a thing from someone who just started fondling/undressing you out of the blue.

So I think there is a range. I definitely agree that a discussion beforehand, like SC suggests, is a good thing. However, saying that if you're not able to have that discussion, you're not mature enough to have sex does nothing to help with the fact that some people don't have the discussion yet still have sex. Nothing is stopping them from that.

Maybe people should be taught about that first discussion early on so that they're more likely to have it. I have to say that if having such a talk "breaks the magic" or whatever, chances are having sex with that person was a bad idea in the first place, so no harm done. Sure, some dates might go better if people act without talking, but that's only because they don't get a chance to realise they're not compatible. You don't want a date to go well only because you don't know better. The later you realise you were not compatible, the more time you've both wasted.

SchrodingersCat 04-05-2014 05:07 PM

You know, I think another major factor is that sex is such a "big deal" in our culture.

I mean really, sex is not so different from dry humping or a boring conversation. Not really. It's just an interaction between humans. But in our culture, it's been turned into such a big thing. Just the phrasing of "give up the goods" strongly suggests that it's a commodity to be exchanged.

But honestly, I've had sex before when I wasn't really that into it, but I didn't "not want it" enough to say no, and for me it just wasn't a big deal. I've also endured painfully boring conversations that were far, far more cumbersome and unenjoyable. But because sex is SEX and boring conversation is just "something you have to do sometimes," people would be more likely to say I was raped for the sex stuff and just being polite for the conversation.

There are cultures where sex is so normalized and common that people do it without all this overanalysis and deep philosophical discussion. Even if they aren't that into it and they just do it to be polite, nobody blinks an eye, the girl doesn't go off feeling used and abused, and it's just not a big deal. So really, date rape is only "possible" because our culture has made sex into such a big deal.

If a woman has sex with her boyfriend to shut him up, it's "date rape." If a woman watches a baseball game to shut her boyfriend up, she's just being a good girlfriend. Personally, I'd rather endure 10 minutes of bad sex than 3 hours of bad sports.

kdt26417 04-06-2014 01:54 AM

Not to be perv but ... good point? :o

LovingRadiance 04-06-2014 03:19 AM

I think the word rape is a lot like the word cheating.
I see rape as taking advantage of and forcing me into any form of intimacy that I have said I am not interested in. Not necessarily sex.
Much like cheating is breaking an agreement or ducking out of a responsibility. Not necessarily about sex.

kdt26417 04-06-2014 03:59 PM

Seems reasonable ...

london 04-06-2014 05:32 PM

As long as we understand that many things that could count as rape under that definition are not illegal.

I've heard the argument that people who have lied to someone and consent for sex was based on this false information should be liable for rape charges. That means if someone who is married went out and hooked up with a person by lying about their marital status, they'd be a rapist. It also could mean the poly people who would hook up with someone without explicitely confirming their marital status could be a rapist if the person strongly felt their omission was pivotal in the giving of consent.

I do not support the idea of people being able withdraw consent in this way. I'm not saying the married person isn't a jerk, but that isn't rape.
This idea of rape being anything that forces or manipulating someone into a level of intimacy they are uncomfortable with isn't that far removed from supporting the withdrawal of consent for sex after the fact. That's why I think it's extremely important that anyone using the word "rape" in any context that isn't explicitely the illegal act of having sex with someone against their will should be concise about this distinction both in their minds and in their actions. Ie don't make a police report or join a rape survivors group because someone was a bit over familiar.

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