Consent

let’s make it simple

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When I ask you to stop pressing my forehead, I expect you to stop.

When witnesses of this exchange see you continue to press my forehead after I say stop, they look at you and say what the fuck is wrong with that guy?

And if you still do not stop, one of those witnesses will speak up.

Hey, man, give her a break. What’s your problem? Calm down, weirdo.

Nobody understands your desire to press my forehead beyond that weird subtly aggressive energy that makes you feel like being annoying and grabbing attention.

These people feel confident they will never be on the other side of this criticism of behaviour. There is no negative ego catch in speaking up.

Even when my no thank you is not respected by you, those who bare witness respect it over and above your desire to annoy.

When I don’t feel like letting you borrow my car and you feel like I don’t have a legit reason, you feel like I’m trying to piss you off,  or that my right to not let you borrow my car is smaller than your right to access my car, you have a few choices:

A. Move on to the next person who might let you borrow a car

B. Try to convince, coerce, manipulate or shame me into changing my no to a yes

  • (Please? Why not? Oh come on! I’ll let you borrow my tablet.
  • I thought you were nicer than that. Everyone will know how selfish you are.
  • Your face will turn green if you don’t let me borrow your car.
  • You’re a selfish bitch, you know that!)

C. Punch me in the face or flatten my tires

The only choice that’s okay is A.

Part of being a human being is having the right to be treated with respect.

Respect includes allowing others to make their own choices about boundaries, regardless of whether it offends your ego.

When my ego is offended, I recognize an issue within myself that needs to be cleared. And I do my personal work. (Hopefully this comes before I react from a place of scarcity.)

Here’s something really important to clear up in this whole consent matter:

Some people have a hard time saying no.

It can come from the way we are raised or pressure to fit in (sideways need for love and acceptance) or fear of criticism or a number of different fears.

These people say no in ways that are not verbal. They make a face that indicates displeasure. They move away. They shift back.

Can you think of other non verbal examples in your own life where it was clear a person did not want to do something? Or wanted something to stop?

Have you seen the face of a child asked to eat broccoli?

Have you seen a kid step away from an impromptu ball game to avoid getting hit?

A man waving his hand over his glass in a restaurant when the waiter asks, ‘refill?’

Arms crossed over a chest.

A head shaking side to side.

And what about ‘mixed signals’? Let’s say we’re at a restaurant and you ask me if I’d like to order the daily special.

Shrugging is not a yes.

Whatever is not a yes.

Maybe is not a yes.

Even if I wore a nice dress to a fancy restaurant where I planned to eat a meal of food, it doesn’t mean I want to order the special.

As far as I’m concerned, when a person who has a hard time speaking up does anything that indicates no or maybe, it’s the responsibility of those who have asked for something to clarify what is meant instead of just going ahead and ordering the special on his or her behalf.

Consent is giving permission. It is important to be clear on what is being asked and what permission has been given.

Do you have permission to press my forehead? No. Never.

And if you get the urge to press my forehead, I suggest that you ask before you do, or you might have to do some personal work to assuage your ego.

Harsh Truths About Why We Still Blame the Victim and Why We Should Stop

and the cost of collusion

Each time we blame the victim, we’re supporting a system and culture which nurtures violence.

We’re still stuck, on many levels, in hunter-gatherer mode.

Typically it is the fairer sex who reports rape, which means we’re trying to resolve big non-gender-specific issues like consent and violence from within the singular, thick lens of a dichotomy that has deep, deep roots in a power imbalance.

At its best, the power imbalance looks like a sick symbiotic relationship:

‘Hey, darlin’, you can’t be alone in the wild. I want to protect you.’

‘Oh, thank you, I don’t want to be scammed or thieved or raped or tortured or murdered and chopped into pieces. But what can I offer in return?’

Wink. ‘We’ll think of something.’

And then we’re on our hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor with bleach and a toothbrush.

The power imbalance is not biological. It does not come from different needs or physical strength or socioeconomic potential.

It springs from a belief that women are less than men.

Because when there is a natural imbalance (physical strength, for example) that’s not exploited, its not violent.

People who exploit others do so because they feel superior.

This lens of men holding more value than women is having a great impact on how rape cases are tried.

I’m going to guess, based on logical extension, that convicting a (valued) man based on allegations (regardless of whether they are true) made by people considerably less valuable than him is terribly distressing because of all he has to offer.

Plus, that whole ‘omg that could have been me in college and I can’t imagine my life now if I had to go to jail for that one time I pushed it’ sympathetic response.

So, because of this imbalance, when we have victims (women) on the stand, they better be the most credible as fuck upright citizens in the world. And if that woman has a history of having sex, or of being date raped and not reporting it, or has ever posed for a questionable photo online, forget it.

We won’t ruin a valued man’s whole fucking life for some soiled woman.

We won’t label a valued man violent or savage, which will haunt him for the rest of his life, unless there’s no other option.

Because of these fears, rape was believed to be about taboo sexual mishaps between two consenting adults. Rape wasn’t labeled violent in Canadian law until 1982. But the belief about rape not being assault is quite rooted.

We’re just now starting to discuss consent in an informed way, which goes a long way toward support for victims.

But who is impacted by creating a culture of support toward victims?

I guess if you want to maintain an edge, the upper hand of a power imbalance where, for example, you can coerce or manipulate a woman into a sexual act to avoid the potential embarrassment of rejection, then you have to stick with the belief that rape isn’t violent. Or, oh boy, there would be serious cognitive dissonance.

When rape is viewed from a greater perspective, leaving behind the thick lens of gender inequality, it’s easier to see that rape is not about sex.

It’s not an oops, singular moment of putting sexual ‘needs’ before the human rights of a female non violent minor incident.

It’s an, omg, we need to preserve this delusion that men and sexual deviants are not capable of controlling their sexual urges. Like their dicks rule their brains. Like men are not capable of rising above the hunter-gatherer brain. (I’d be offended if you told me I couldn’t do that, but that’s just me.)

It’s a we need to preserve this hands in the air, ‘I can’t help it’ attitude when it comes to rape.

Instead of just plainly stating the truth, which, no matter what level of assault, is that the perpetrator put his or her needs (sexual or otherwise) above the victim’s needs to the detriment of the victim. Always. That’s violence.

The horrible truth is that a physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually violated woman just does not threaten the status quo of a male dominated society the way a rape conviction does.

The cost of collusion, which starts with the opposite of supporting rape victims, reaches far and wide.

It undermines any lip service that violence is wrong (this includes anti bullying messages to school aged children).

When we collude in perpetuating the myth that rape is about sex, child molesters have a better chance of convincing groomed victims to keep quiet out of shame and fear that the biological response to physical pleasure means s/he wanted it, and therefore somehow became a conspirator, instead of a victim. 

And when the way we perceive rape helps child molesters, it’s a good enough reason for me to do the heavy lifting of helping men accept responsibility for controlling their sexual desires instead of blaming the female victim for wearing that dress or for flirting or for drinking.

Anything less than telling a victim of assault that it’s not his or her fault is blaming the victim, which becomes a win for the perpetrator of each violent crime.

its not too late its just starting 

The physics of major change

I woke up this morning thinking about violence.

There’s violence that we can all agree is violence – war, murder, physically attacking another person.

There’s violence that we haven’t quite labelled as violence en mass. Rape, physically attacking ourselves, verbal, emotional, psychological and spiritual attacks.

There’s violence that many don’t see as violence. Thoughts. Beliefs that lead to actions of exclusion or the opposite of kindness. Prejudice of all kinds (including racism, misogyny, homophobia, ageism and disablism) is a form of violence. (Whether expressed out loud or hidden.)

The definition of racism is the belief that one race is superior and has the right to dominate others.

When someone looks at the color of my skin and assumes that I will laugh at racist jokes, does that person understand why I’m offended? Does s/he understand that -yes, even a ‘harmless joke’ – is based on her/his conscious or subconscious belief that s/he is better than whatever group s/he is belittling?

And the right to dominate others. What the bloody fuck? Who the hell believes they have the right to dominate others?

Do we even know what domination is and how it works and what affects it has on those who are dominated? Do we know where the desire to dominate stems from?

To control, to rule over.

How do people do that? Through violence. Harm. Sometimes obvious. Sometimes subtle.

Now that the world is starting to shift in meaningful ways, we need to talk about violence in new ways.

As attitudes such as racism, misogyny and homophobia become less and less acceptable to a growing number of people, the true core believers of these ideas are holding on tighter.

This is the power and the physics of change.

When one person is used to having something and feels that something is being taken away, s/he will fight. And will see any opposition (such as using our voice, rising up, loving ourselves) as a punch in the face.

So the fight, the power struggle continues.

The only way to end the power struggle is to opt out. Let go of the rope. Stop struggling. Surrender. Which, for those who have experienced oppression, is really fucking hard. And I don’t mean stop advocating or telling the truth or fighting for what is right. I mean there’s no point fighting AGAINST them, but FOR us.

The fight is not against ‘them’. The fight starts within and it’s not allowing those who struggle to accept loss of power and privilege to keep pulling us back into the drama.


This journey strengthens self-love, patience and compassion. To me, that’s worth it.

As we start more conversations about what is acceptable and what is not, people will not change. They will not give up what they feel they deserve to have.

Those who don’t want to be called out as a hater have fallen back on more subtle ways to keep the feeling of entitlement to dominate and to rule over.

Oppression comes in many forms.

There are threats and intimidation as we rise up. Oppressors hate nothing more than an influential voice that shares opinions opposite to the way they want life to be.

When we’re down, there are tactics that influence us to doubt that we are worthy or that we are entitled to the basic human rights of safety, respect, dignity and kindness.

It doesn’t matter anymore who learned what from where or whether the intent is genuine. That is a distraction that keeps us caught in drama.

It’s time to stop. Violence begins to end the second I refuse to allow it in my home, my heart, my mind.

My worth as a human being is not determined on what I can or cannot offer you.

That is such a sad, sideways projection of self-loathing. And it all needs to stop.

Do you know where this desire to oppress, to exclude, to hate or to rule over comes from?

At its root, the desire to oppress comes from helplessness.

When I’m feeling helpless in any situation, when I’m feeling threatened in any way, my survival instincts kick in.

There is a part of me that wants to take control of the situation in some way. To become bigger or smaller than the situation. To feel like I’m doing something to stop it. Even in situations where there is absolutely nothing I can do.

Those who are threatened by loss of power or position react to that feeling of hopelessness within themselves as well.

We have gone on too long in this world with the majority of us living from a fear-based perspective.

But it’s changing. And there is some chaos because of these changes. It’s a sign of progress. It’s a blessing to be alive at this time in history. To be part of this great shift.

In fear, there is only mine or yours. Stepping up or being stepped on. Pray or predator. Domination or submission.

In fear, we cannot believe that true power comes from within and that it is gentle and tender and effective.

From an abundance-based perspective, violence is not required. Ever. Because once we all feel worthy and competent and confident and accepted in our own selves and our own lives, there is no hate.

Abundance starts with self-acceptance. When we cannot accept certain parts of ourselves, we cannot accept this in others.

For example, I am bothered when a friend of mine refuses to see the reality of his relationship with his ex and how it affects his child.

It bothers me because I spent some time in denial. And I haven’t yet learned to fully accept and love that part of me which chose to deny the truth in certain situations.

But that’s where my self work comes in. Instead of expecting that man to change, because I know he won’t, I look within to see why it piques something and I do what I need to do to accept that formerly denied part of myself.

When I do my work, instead of festering about that and then cutting someone off in traffic, I find clarity, peace and true comfort.

And we can all do this. It’s a big step toward accepting our interconnectedness as it is for what it is and what it’s not.

Fuck violence.

Ask for the courage to look within.