Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two Three On Consent

Two posts on consent, which, despite reductive and childish bloggers, is not simple:
  • In which we learn that some women expect men to be mind-readers, and think they are themselves:
    I had said "yes," but I didn't mean it. I knew that he knew I didn't mean it. Five minutes of what felt like a silent eternity followed.
    She knew this how? Everything else that follows is a justification for her own inability to say "no". She never establishes coercion, and so we must presume this is the voice of regret talking.
  • An elderly man has sex with his Alzheimers-afflicted wife — and is accused of rape:
    Friends and family say that Donna Lou and Henry Rayhons, a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1997 until this year, were besotted with one another throughout their relationship. She often accompanied him to the state Capitol in Des Moines. He bought her dresses and acquired a bee suit so he could join her in her beekeeping.

    “He treated her like a queen,” Charity McCauley Andeweg, who clerked for Rayhons, told Bloomberg.

    But a few years into their marriage, Donna was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. She suffered headaches and forgetfulness, drove on the wrong side of the road and once put a single sock into the dryer instead of a full load of laundry, according to Bloomberg.

    On March 29, Donna was moved to Concord Care Center in Garner, Iowa, a five-minute drive from her home with Rayhons. Rayhons reportedly resisted the move and clashed with Donna’s daughters — both from her first marriage — over how she should be cared for at the facility.

    In May, Dunshee and Donna’s other daughter, Suzan Brunes, met with Concord staff and drew up a care plan for Donna, according to a state affidavit. At the meeting, the women and doctors concluded that Donna was no longer able to consent to sex, a fact Rayhons was informed of.

    But a week later, on May 23, surveillance video showed Rayhons spending about 30 minutes in his wife’s room. When he left, he was holding her underwear, which he dropped into a laundry bag in the hallway.
    And thereupon he was accused of raping his wife — who could not, at least by some legal definitions, consent to sex. (One wonders who might have launched such charges; the stepdaughters seem natural complainants, but the article gives no indication.) “… Accusing a spouse of a crime for continuing a relationship with his spouse in a nursing home seems to us to be incredibly illogical and unnatural, as well as incredibly hurtful.” Indeed.
  • Update 4/9: Here's the third piece I wanted to put on this post but kept forgetting where I left it. A really thoughtful essay at Elle by Christina Nehring, contrasting a murky dating situation with her own actual rape at age eight:
    "Shall I take you home now?" he asked. It was one in the morning. I had recently arrived in a city whose geography was still opaque to me. I was in the car of a man I'd met at a dinner and who'd invited me to drinks.
    "Yes, of course," I said, giddy from a goodly amount of rosé. Dozens of turns and traffic lights later, we pulled up in front of an unfamiliar apartment building. It was his home. Not my home.
    My heart plunged. I'd never spent the night with a man. But what to do? Confess I'd misunderstood the question? Show that I, an international college exchange student, was that uncool, that frigid and frightened? Plead, like an innocent, to go home, to my home? I twisted my face into a smile, kept silent, and followed my companion to his flat the way I pictured a cow heading to slaughter.
    ... [T]his was the 1990s. And this was Paris. Were it today and in the U.S., our first time together could readily be considered "rape."

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