Tag Archives: consent

The Horizon of Desire

(CSA Images/Mod Art Collection/Getty)

Laurie Penny | Longreads | September 2017 | 15 minutes (4,185 words)

“Man fucks woman. Man: subject. Woman: object.”

 —The Fall, Episode 3, “Insolence and Wine”

The first thing you need to understand about consent is that consent is not, strictly speaking, a thing. Not in the same way that teleportation isn’t a thing. Consent is not a thing because it is not an item, nor a possession. Consent is not an object you can hold in your hand. It is not a gift that can be given and then rudely requisitioned. Consent is a state of being. Giving someone your consent — sexually, politically, socially — is a little like giving them your attention. It’s a continuous process. It’s an interaction between two human creatures. I believe that a great many men and boys don’t understand this. I believe that lack of understanding is causing unspeakable trauma for women, men, and everyone else who is sick of how much human sexuality still hurts.

We need to talk about what consent really means, and why it matters more, not less, at a time when women’s fundamental rights to bodily autonomy are under attack across the planet, and the Hog-Emperor of Rape Culture is squatting in the White House making your neighborhood pervert look placid. We still get consent all wrong, and we have to try to get it a bit less wrong, for all our sakes.

To explain all this, I’m going to have to tell you some stories. They’re true stories, and some of them are rude stories, and I’m telling you now because the rest of this ride might get uncomfortable and I want you to have something to look forward to.

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Doing Her Quiet Thing

Michelle Koufopoulos | Longreads | December 2016 | 13 minutes (3,257 words)

 

It was my birthday. I don’t mark the date with any kind of mental memorial anymore, or throw overly earnest celebrations like I did the year after, when I was still raw and grieving and thought that maybe, if I had all my closest friends clustered in my living room, decked out in silky dresses and party hats, I could erase what had happened the year before.

It’s been ten years. I’ve learned to compartmentalize. I focus on trivial things on my birthdays instead—Did I pick a bar too far afield? How many people will show up? And yet. I still obsess. I turn that night over and over in my mind, needing to examine it from every single angle, every single perspective. Tell it in a thousand different ways, and then again. I’m still trying to control the narrative. I’m still trying to understand.

I was the kind of girl who wrote about everything, liked to catalogue crucial moments in a manner more poetic than the actual event. I kept hardbound journals hidden under my mattress, maintained an OpenDiary from eighth grade until the year after I graduated college, when the site finally shut down and I downloaded thousands of entries into a .txt file that lives on the desktop of my computer. I told myself, if it sounded artful, then the suffering was worth it. Even then, I don’t think I really believed that, but I wanted to. Read more…