Friday, February 20, 2009

The Problem with Consent

A solution by Twisty Faster at I Blame the Patriarchy.

Although this condition does not obtain with regard to any other crime you can think of, when it comes to rape, women are currently considered to exist in a state of perpetual “yes!”. This is because “yes!” is consistent with global accords governing fair use of women. Victims of robbery or attempted murder don’t have to prove that they said no to being robbed or murdered; the presumption is that not even women would consent to being killed. But because penetration by males is what women are for, if we are raped we have to prove not just that we didn’t say yes, which is impossible to prove, but that we specifically and emphatically said no, which is also impossible to prove.

There are rules about what sort of woman can even attempt to make the “I said no” argument in court. Women who typically are not eligible to opt out of consent include: women who drink in bars, women who walk alone, women who walk at night, women who use drugs, women belonging to certain castes, women who dress a certain way, women who don’t dress a certain way, women who are married to men, women who have had multiple sex partners, women who may have said yes last month, women who may have said yes at the beginning but who, three minutes in, found it disagreeable and changed to “no,” women who didn’t fight back hard enough, women who didn’t tell anyone or report it right away, women whose physical similarity to pornulated women aroused the defendant, women whose behavior at the party aroused the defendant, teens with a “reputation,” and prostituted women.

Prostituted women are indistinguishable from sex itself. This is true to varying degrees of all women, but prostituted women particularly are imagined to manifest so cavalier an attitude toward being used at any and all times by any and all comers that it is considered impossible to rape them. Prostituted women can never say no to sex because they are sex.

The Twist-Solution

My wacky consent scheme flips it around. According to my scheme, women would abide in a persistent legal condition of not having given consent to sex. Conversely, men, who after all are constantly declaiming that their lack of impulse control is a product of evolution and there’s not a thing they can do about it, would abide in a persistent legal state of pre-rape.

Women can still have all the sex they want; if they adjudge that their dude hasn’t raped them, all they have to do is not call the cops.


But if, at any time during the course of the proceedings, up to and including the storied infinitesimal microsecond preceding the sacred spilling of dudely seed, the woman elects to biff off to the nearest taco stand; and if her egress from the sweaty tableau is in any way impeded by the pronger (such an impediment would include everything from “traditional” brute force, to that insistently whispered declamation “just a couple more minutes, I’m almost there” the dread seriousness of which the fervid oaf dramatizes by that ever-so-slight tightening of his grip on her wrist); or if, in three hours or three days or, perhaps in the case of childhood abuse, in 13 years it begins to dawn on her that she has been badly used by an opportunistic predator, she has simply to make a call.

Presto! The dude is already a rapist, because, legally, consent never existed.

The cessation of rape would be immediate. Men would begin aligning their boinking protocols along non-barbaric lines in a hurry. It would suddenly be in their best interest to make damn sure that nothing in their behavior, either prior or subsequent to hiding the salami, would cause their partner to believe she has been abused.

She's so genius I feel giddy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sexting is the new Rainbow

Sex 'Cells' for Naked Teenagers
from the NYPost.
Reading this article made me question using the NYPost as a news source for an article, but there were several points I wanted to highlight about this teen "sexting" uproar.

In case you're unfamiliar, the idea is that middle and high school students are suddenly using their cellular/email/webcam technologies to send nudie pictures or sexual texts to classmates. Now, Cosmo has been suggesting that women take their feminine (read sexual) wiles to text since texting was invented, but now apparently the teens have caught on (duh - who else reads Cosmo in the first place??) and suddenly cell phones are perverting our youth.

1. I think the term "sexting" is wildly creative.

2. I am not sure that sending pictures or sexual texts is in itself inappropriate. I do realize that the decision making process that teens are using may be lacking. Deciding to send naked pictures, who to send them to and what the ramifications may be appears was clearly not fully baked for some teens. Well what do you expect?! Their frontal cortex hasn't fully developed! This is why we don't consider them adults! Being able to figure out the cell phone's secret functions doesn't mean they have the maturity to know how to deal with them. That's why parents were invented! Some teens may be sending boob shots to a boy they just met at a party, some may be using them as one part of a healthy sexual relationship (hey, you can't get STDs from a text) with a partner. The fact that all sexual/technological uses are being lumped together is clearly not a full picture of the behavior.

5. Every article I've read about the sexting phenom has focused predominantly on the fact that girls are getting naked and sending it to the boys. Where is the conversation about WHY young girls feel so pressured to objectify themselves? and WHERE is the accountability for these boys who are sending and circulating the pictures on? I don't want to hear the garbage about "the girls should know better" - I'm one to believe that trusting is a good trait and that faith in humanity shouldn't go punished - but beyond that; If a girl tells something private to a partner (an integral part of healthy relationships) and the partner then violates that trust, and that girl he is the problem. Not her.

4. The fact that "more than 50% of the girls who sexted did so under pressure" is alarming, but not shocking. We know that teens are experiencing dating violence, but we're having a much harder time as a society addressing this, and are instead freaking out about Teens! Sexting! instead of Teens! Abusing! So also not shocking that instead of addressing the epidemic of men's violence against women, rape and teen dating violence, the media likes to write about young girls sexting, complete with minor-in-a-lacy-thong graphic.

5. Note that all this shock and awe over our sexualized (read slutty) youth (read girls) didn't stop the post from reprinting a sexual image of a minor...apparently sex sells for more than just teens.

This is mildly reminiscent of the whole "rainbow parties" teen craze that was supposedly sweeping the nation a few years ago, which leads me to wonder if sexting is similarly a fantasy of overly anxious parents.

Violence and Women's Health

SPEAK UP ABOUT HOW VIOLENCE & COERCION AFFECT WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

With Congress and state legislatures across the country coming into session, analysts expect hundreds of bills to be introduced that would in some way restrict women’s access to reproductive health information and services. This year, the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) is urging experts, service providers and advocates to consider helping spread the word about the reproductive health consequences of abuse, and the ways restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care can harm victims of violence or coercion.

“For a long time, many of us who work to stop domestic, dating and sexual violence have stayed in the background on reproductive health issues,” said FVPF President Esta Soler. “As a result, we may have missed some opportunities to educate the public about how difficult it can be for victims of violence and coercion to access the reproductive health services they need. It’s time for more of us to speak up and say that restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care can do grave and lasting damage to women who are trying to survive coercion or violence.”

The need for action is urgent. In the next few months, legislatures are likely to consider laws and regulations that would, among other things: make it harder for women to access emergency contraception; allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control; and require school-based sex education programs to teach abstinence-only and prohibit them from providing contraceptive information or services. Because victims of abuse are at increased risk for sexually transmitted infections including HIV, unintended pregnancies and poor birth outcomes, access to these services and programs is critical.

Last year, bills were introduced in several states to prevent women from being coerced into having abortions – in most cases, by lawmakers who have worked for years to make it harder for women to access reproductive health care services. The rationale for this legislation is that women who are victims of violence are being forced to have abortions, as part of that violence.

Violence prevention experts agree that coerced abortion is wrong, but note that it is only one facet of the complex and common problem of sexual and reproductive control. Research shows that women in abusive relationships often experience a range of coercive behaviors, and may have partners who interfere with their birth control, impregnate them against their will, or intentionally expose them to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Focusing only on coerced abortion ignores the larger, more complicated reality of abuse and reproductive control, they say.

kNOwMORE
To support this work, last fall the FVPF launched the KnowMoreSayMore initiative to create a dialogue about the birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion that many teens and young women face, which can result in unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, miscarriage, infertility, coerced abortion, poor birth outcomes including preterm birth and low birth-weight babies, and other serious health problems.

Its website, www.KnowMoreSayMore.org, features the stories of several women who are sharing their experiences with birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion.

“These stories underscore that it is impossible for many women to negotiate safe sex because they are not in healthy, respectful relationships,” Soler continued. “That’s one reason abused women experience more sexually transmitted infections, HIV, unintended pregnancies and abortions. We can help lawmakers understand that subtler forms of violence, such as exposing a partner to HIV or refusing to use birth control, are terribly dangerous. The more we share that information, the more we will be able to do to make services available to victims and improve their reproductive health outcomes.”

Action in ‘09
This year, the FVPF is working with advocates and legislators around the country on legislation that would provide effective interventions to victims of violence in reproductive health care settings, as an alternative to coerced abortion bills. This kind of intervention can improve the health and safety of women experiencing abuse and control. The FVPF has created model legislation for these projects, which aim to educate health care providers about how to identify abuse and reproductive coercion, prevent the health effects of such violence, decrease unintended pregnancy, and partner with advocates to improve the health and safety of individuals who are experiencing violence.

“Most lawmakers, and even some advocates and health care providers, don’t fully understand the relationship between physical and sexual abuse, and reproductive health,” said FVPF Public Policy Director Kiersten Stewart. “It is imperative that we change that. Violence and coercion have a direct impact on women’s reproductive health and we must ensure that victims of violence have access to the information and services they need to keep themselves safe. At the same time, we must help those who care about reducing unintended pregnancies and abortion understand that they must address violence and abuse head-on to be successful.”

The FVPF initiative also supports expanding sex education to teach young people the importance of healthy, respectful relationships.

The FVPF’s kNOwMORE initiative is funded with generous support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund has developed a new toolkit to give violence prevention leaders and others the tools to advocate for legislation that is not limited to coerced abortion, but addresses the reproductive health needs of all victims of violence. The kit includes sample proactive legislation, educational materials on coerced abortion legislation, as well as fact sheets, talking points, sample opinion articles and letters-to-the-editor on this issue.

To request a copy, please contact lisa@endabuse.org.

For more information, please visit www.KnowMoreSayMore.org.