Below are my thoughts on the idea of Consent Culture. Because I am primarily heterosexual, this is written from a very hetero-normative perspective. If anyone has any thoughts from the LGBTQ perspective, please comment below. I would love to hear your insight!
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Even with the trigger filled week (or more?) that I have had, I have refused to fully turn away from all of these conversations about rape culture and safer spaces. One thing that really stood out for me was the idea of Consent Culture. The idea that we don’t proceed without the ENTHUSIASTIC YES. Whether it is in friendship, family, business, and of course in love relationships. The idea of Enthusiastic Consent intrigues me. I do know that for now we are still silent. We are operating on the idea of silence as implied consent. I know that I do it a lot in a lot of situations. Of course this week the conversations have been around consent culture as an alternative to rape culture and the context is primarily physical affection and sex. I want to practice the process of enthusiastic consent with my next lover. Can anyone (male or female) thoroughly entrenched in this patriarchal culture of implied consent really respond to the idea of enthusiastic consent? Can I bring myself to speak in those alone moments where the draw of skin lures me into touch? So far… no.
With all these conversations happening all over facebook, I have really examined myself and my habits. I am glad to say that most of my most offensive moments were years ago (back in 2008-2009). There is no reason for me as a woman to think that just because a man unbuttons his shirt that it is OK to rub his man fur. I am aggressively flirtatious. I see the times that I have said WILDLY inappropriate things with definite intentions. I am working on myself in these things and have come a long way since then. I still have a lot of work to do and I am still not actively seeking consent, but I am much better and I am thankful for these hard conversations that keep it in the front of my mind so that my imperfections do not become transgressions.
I have a feeling that people think that women can’t be coersive, but really many of us are the absolute best at psycological manipulation in a lot of cases because we usually don’t have the physical advantage (in hetero-normative situations anyway). Although, I have thrown a guy down once and even though at the time it was just to show that I could do it if I wanted to, right now that action feels more dangerous than I ever want to be again. During these times of hard talks (now and before) I have had male friends tell me of how women have gone against their wishes. I feel women get away with more because we are all conditioned to think there is no way a wittle itty bitty woman could force a man to do anything. But the idea of male ego may override the lack of interest in the act that a woman initiates. I think men do what women do in those situations, turn it around in their head so that they are not weak. Make it an idea of conquest and a compliment. Men are not immuned to this even though they are not nearly as victimized (as far as we know).
I do know that as a woman and a survivor I am sensitive to non-verbal cues. The last near sex situation I found myself in I had to stop because the guy was conflicted and although he would pull me to him when I tried to pull back in respect the part of him that didn’t know if sex was the right direction to take our friendship. I don’t know for a fact that he was trying to override his hesitation because of male ego and sexual bravado requirements of how our current culture works, but I have a feeling that this mindset probably had a lot to do with it. I told him honestly that I didn’t feel like what was happening was fully consensual on his part so stopping had to happen. He conceded and we are still friends. I am thankful for my growth in this area leading me to this even being possible.
So what about the future? My future? How can I as a woman implement this Consent Culture and the idea of Enthusiastic Consent into my next interaction? I’m still growing in this. I still listen and look for the non-verbal cues instead of asking out loud for a voiced confirmation. I will work on this in myself. I hope that we can begin the process of all learning it so that we can be safer and happier.