This morning I am delighted to take the opportunity to bloviate on the notion of consent as it pertains to the sex class in a male-dominated society. As longtime readers are painfully aware, I trot this topic out for an airing semi-annually, because nothing says “patriarchy isn’t just some dull academic idea; it actually obtains in your most real life, girlfriend” like the notion that our social order renders consensual sex between straight people impossible.
Today’s excuse for the Consent Lecture is a discussion that erupted on a recent post. Let’s join it where blamer Jezebella says to blamer yttik:
“Are you suggesting that any woman who has consensual PIV sex, even with contraception, is a victim of…. what? disrespect? Really?”
To which yttik replies:
“Darn right I am. The majority of men don’t even begin to comprehend the health risk, indeed, even the potential death to a woman, that creating a pregnancy can cause. If inserting my penis into somebody’s vagina had the potential impact of causing something as minor as a root canal, I’d make sure I was a whole lot more careful on account of her biological vulnerability and the potential harm I could cause. In fact, if men could get pregnant, causing one an unwanted pregnancy would probably be viewed as criminal negligence.”
To which Jezebella, now exasperated, rejoins:
“Oh, fer fecks’ sake, it is absurd to posit that all women who engage in consensual PIV sex are victims of some dude’s rapey disrespect. Give me a break, lady.”
To which I say, check the weather reports in Hell, because I think I’m sort of agreeing with yttik.
For it is the stated position of the Savage Death Island Chapter of Spinster Aunts International that, in a patriarchy, “consensual sex” (between women and dudes) doesn’t even exist. This is because, in a patriarchy, agency is not conferred equally upon women and dudes. This untoward circumstance creates a contingency wherein the notion of consent is, for women, entirely non-substantive, a figment, a desperate fantasy invented to obscure the true nature of women’s status as the sex class. The true nature of our status as the sex class is, by the way, that we are imprisoned in a rape continuum. This continuum ranges from the “voluntary” performance of femininity (which quantifies women’s usefulness to men), to compulsory heterosexuality (which ensures availability to men), to pornography (which eroticizes inequality), to violent sexual assault (which is at the apex of the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women).
The issue of consent — or, more precisely, the idea that women are considered by both custom and law to abide in a persistent state of always having given consent — is the absolute crux, nub, hub, axis, polestar, and epicenter of women’s oppression. The thing is, women can’t freely give consent because women can’t freely withhold it. “Consent” is a meaningless concept in the context of women’s reality.
In a patriarchy, women are, at essence, considered to be giant vaginas with the word “YES” stamped all over’em in red. Because of the sex-based power discrepancies inherent in our social structure, members of the sex class — that is, women — are always “yes” unless they specifically, adamantly, and in front of 3 witnesses with video cameras, say “no.” But even when “no” obtains, other (subjective and arbitrary) factors are almost always seen as mitigating it into a “yes.” Such as not saying “no” loud enough, not fighting back physically, being the dude’s girlfriend, or wearing a tight sweater.
Thus, as I have written elsewhere, “consent” in the context of bumpin’ uglies is nothing but a binding contract the terms and conditions of which exclusively describe male use of women as receptacles. As we have seen, the tactics that may be used to obtain this contract do not exclude coercion, drugs, or fraud. Once obtained, the contract is non-revocable.
Not your Nigel, though, right? It is absurd, as Jezebella suggests, to posit that all women who do it with dudes are “victims of rapey disrespect,” right?
Well, if your enlightened, feminist Nigel has never coerced you, then your Nigel, in the sweaty throes, has never said to you, when you were ready to stop, “no, wait, I’m almost there.” Or you’ve never closed your eyes and thought of England because you knew you’d hurt his feelings if you said no.
But maybe you have complied in such situations, only you don’t consider those little things “coercion.” Maybe you think you were just doin’ him a solid. Letting him use you as a toilet shows how much you love him.
OK, but if one agrees that male privilege exists at all, and that this privilege is conferred upon every male person by law and custom and is his identity, and that this privilege afflicts all other aspects of human interaction, it would be nonsensical to assert that sex is the only behavior that escapes the taint. Rarely, if ever, does there saunter along a dude-paragon who never wields his privilege.
And you know one of the provisions of this privilege dictates that dudejaculation is the only natural and lawful fulfillment of the consent contract “negotiated” with a giant Yes-vagina.
The “rapey disrespect” to which Jezebella alludes may be thought of as male privilege that is brought to bear whether or not the male in question specifically intends to bring it. One aspect of this privilege is, as yttik suggests, the cavalier attitude dudes assume when it comes to pronging women. And as we have seen, privilege expressed by the privileged is experienced by the non-privileged as oppression. And often, sadly, interpreted by the non-privileged as love.
Many straight women — especially those with substantial emotional and fiscal investments in the hetero-nuclear family scenario — fling turds at this analysis because it’s so bleak they just don’t want it to be true. I feel ya, but I’m not the one asserting all this stuff. Your male supremacist culture asserts it; I’m just a lone patriarchy-blamer who happened to notice.
So if you’re bummed, let me suggest a spot of feminist revolt; it’s the only cure for patriarchy.