I recently wrote a post which included reference to a scenario from a NZ rape crisis schools education programme:
Jo is a Year 13 Student at XX High School. She is at a party on a Saturday night. Jared is going to be there and she’s been trying to hook up with him for awhile. She’s wearing a short skirt, boots, and a low cut top –she’s sure to catch his attention –She looks great. Jo and her friends drink a few bottles of wine before they get to the party and she feels pretty drunk by the time they arrive. At the party she starts talking with Jared, he asks if she wants to go up to one of the bedrooms –they walk up the stairs followed by comments from Jared’s mates as they close the door.
In the room they start kissing, and Jared is putting his hands up her top and down her pants, she likes it and starts touching Jared. Jared then takes off his pants and hers. Jo starts to feel uncomfortable and pulls back a bit, and pulls her underwear back up. She doesn’t want to have sex with Jared but doesn’t know how to stop it. Everyone at the party thinks they’re having sex, and she doesn’t want Jared to think she’s tight. Jared pulls her knickers back down and they have sex.
I deleted a comment from that thread, but I've decided it illustrates a point rather well, so I'm going to write a post about it:
what is of concern is that one can get the impression that women reward such behaviour as opposed to punishing it. a lot of men claim that it does work (and presumably they wouldn't if it didn't). Ie you proceed assumiong you have consent to avoid asking for it and opening the door to rejection.
This is actually a reasonably common argument when people discuss consent. You let a thread go on long enough and some man will make some sort of argument that boils down to: "men who don't seek consent get more sex than men who do, women shouldn't let that happen."
Now I've no idea if the premise is correct. How would you know if men who ignore consent have more sex than men who seek consent? But the argument reveals some really disturbing thought patterns.
The first is that men are only motivated by their dicks, and so must be trained, much in the way you would train a dog. Women can control men by depriving them of doggie treats and if they don't do so then it's inevitable that men will continue to poo on the carpet and ignore consent.
Now we're just going to stop for a second and put the blame for rape where it belongs - on men who rape. Of course the moment we do that the argument falls apart. Women should not have to centre their sexual actions around discouraging men from raping.
I want people to think a little bit about what it would mean for women to centre their sexual actions around encouraging men to seek consent. Women who freeze or disassociate because of past sexual abuse would have to stop. Women who don't have a language to describe consent would have to learn. Women who have learned that their sexual role is to please men would have to unlearn. Women would have to ignore almost everything mainstream society tells us about sex.
I'm not saying that many of those changes aren't desirable, but you can't make that change in the hope that men will stop hurting you. It's not claiming your sexuality as your own if you're doing it to stop men raping.
The other disturbing aspect to this comment was also common on other on-line discussions of these scenarios. Here's an example from Anarchia
Well that makes it harder. About a hair harder. She didn’t consent, so it’s rape. What should happen next is going to depend on things we weren’t told in the story.
It's really common on discussions on rape scenarios for people to switch straight from a discussion about whether or not it's consent, to a discussion about consequences. Sometimes people start talking about whether or not someone should be prosecuted, sometimes people are implying that the repercussions should be that the guy doesn't get sex.
What seems missing from this is any idea that women are people, and the reason you shouldn't have sex with someone when you don't know if she really wants to have sex with you is because you could really hurt her. To be honest I don't care about rapists and what happens to them, I just want them to stop.* Even if I supported the justice system in any form (and I really don't) I know that they're never going to catch and convict every rapist. I know that the only way we can stop rape is by convincing men that women are people, and our desires are as important as their desires, and our right to our bodies is more important than mens' rights to our bodies.**
Every time someone skips straight to ensuring there are consequences to rape they're implying that they think it's more likely that we can catch and convict every rapist, than we can change men's minds. That belief depresses the hell out of me.
* I'm fairly certain that the only rapist I've ever argued should go to jail is Clint Rickards.
** I can't put into words how much this sentence scares and depresses me.