Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Infant At University

A dispatch from the wilds of Claremont McKenna College on the subject of consent:
...what I want to talk about is what happened before I said yes, who taught me to say yes, why I thought it was better to say yes, and why I really meant ‘no.’
For me, and many others like me, consent isn’t easy. Yes doesn’t always mean yes, and we misplaced ‘no’ several years ago. This experience isn’t random, but disproportionately affects oppressed communities. Consent is a privilege, and it was built for wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculinity. When society has taught some of us to take up as little space as possible, to take all attention as flattery, and to be truly grateful that anyone at all could want our bodies or love, it isn’t always our choice to say yes.
Individuals with this affliction clearly need some kind of help, though I'm not entirely sure of what kind. Only white males can issue consent? Isn't that... infantilizing everyone else? I mean, look at the classes of people who are legally presumed unable to consent: children, the elderly, the infirm, the insane. Some people are not meant for whatever it is that's going on between the sexes on campus these days, and that's fine; just, please, stop taking it out on everyone else. And yet, after uncorking of a vial of the usual toxins, she unloads with an unexpected point of agreement:
So if consent isn’t just sexy, quippy slogans on tank tops, or boob-shaped cupcakes, what happens next? First, we have to realize that all oppression is connected, and all rape is racist, classist, ableist, patriarchal, hetero and cissexist. We cannot make consent available to all if we are not simultaneously disrupting these structures. Next, we have to stop trying to squash the variety of experiences of coercion into one “Affirmative Consent” law. We cannot trust the state to defend consent and bodily integrity—not in Baltimore, Ferguson, Los Angeles, or Claremont. In this moment, we have to throw out legislation entirely to realize that justice for our communities wasn’t built into those systems anyway. We have to stop looking to our Title IX office for a second and take a look at ourselves. We have to stop being defensive and start apologizing for the ways that we are hurting each other.
WAIT WHAT IS THIS HERESY? The rest of it is standard-issue cant, but the idea that appealing to law might not get you exactly the behavior you wanted in everyone else is positively revolutionary — and apparently the author recognizes this. Progress, perhaps? Not much: she still appears to be demanding that others never pressure her to make a decision she might later regret. But still, a first step.

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