Comment Rescue: Thinking Re-Aligned
by Mad Rocket Scientist
In the Willful Offense post by Zic, Morat20 made this comment:
Sure, lots of things will still come down to he said/she said. But I think asking the accused “Did she say yes” is a heck of lot better than asking the victim “Well, did you say no?”
If anyone followed the back and forth between Morat20, Patrick, myself and a few others, you’ll have noted that despite the debate, I really liked this idea. As a matter of fact, this idea has been rolling around in my brain for a while now and I only recently hit upon why it is stuck in my mental craw. Being a libertarian (and trying to have some kind of moral and philosophical consistency to boot), Morat20 is right, consent is everything. It is one of the underpinnings of the libertarian philosophy, that doing something to a person, especially violating the integrity of their person, without their consent is wrong and thus the bar for legitimately overriding consent is set very, very high. Furthermore, the notion of explicit consent carries more weight than implicit consent.
And thus I know why it was stuck. Of course, getting an idea stuck in ones head, and allowing it to roll around awhile, is likely to stir things up a bit. As it has here. I mean, if explicit consent is king, and bodily integrity is held dear, why was I even lightly defending the notion of implicit consent?
Because that is what I have been taught my whole life.
As a young boy coming to manhood, what is the lesson I was taught? “No Means No!” Most of us probably heard this long before sex was on our radar, as mom and dad laid down the law regarding what we weren’t allowed to do. And most of us probably found the same loophole to parental authority; that which is not explicitly forbidden is allowed. Even better if mom and dad weren’t actually serious about that prohibition. It was how I exerted my independence from my parents, even when I knew what I was doing would not meet with their approval. It was prohibited, so it was allowed (until it was very shortly thereafter prohibited, once they found out what I had done). So if I, as a young man, was taught that when it comes to sex, “No Means No!”, then the loophole I knew and used to enact my desires was also in play. No one ever really said otherwise.
Now, toss in every story you hear about rape — in the news, from people you know, in the crime dramas we watch — and we get that message reinforced, over and over and over. It isn’t really rape if she didn’t say No. That which is not forbidden, is allowed.
We make it even worse with other lessons we often impress upon men, such as “Fortune favors the bold” and “It is better to beg forgiveness, then it is to ask permission.” Real men can make bold decisions, and if they pay off, you get away with it. Usually a good lesson in certain instances. Heck, even in gaining the attention of a potential partner, boldness has it’s place. But for sex?
And now I realize the danger of using “No Means No!” when it comes to sex. We can’t use pithy cliché’s for this lesson. It has to be delivered in a way that it stands alone, so the message doesn’t get confused — so it can’t get confused. We have to make sure men know the consent must be explicit, and is temporary, and can be fleeting.
My thinking has been re-aligned, thanks to Morat20’s comment. A re-alignment I will carry with me as I raise my son, so that I can teach him definitively that sex is a mutual agreement, not a prohibition to circumvent.
So thanks Morat20, for being enough of an intelligent pain in the ass that I actually pay attention to you.