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In the discussion thread: Let's talk about "Coercive Sex". [View all]

Response to Bonobo (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2013, 02:54 AM

78. Here is how Smith college defines sexual assault and consent

http://www.smith.edu/sao/sexualassaultresources/definition.php

What constitutes as consent?

You can't have sex with someone if they say "No." That is easy to understand. But the fact is that you cannot have sex with someone unless you have consent. So how do you know exactly what consent is? Generally defined, consent is an explicitly communicated, reversible, mutual agreement in which both parties are capable of making a decision. But sometimes it is more complicated than this.

Is it a simple "Yes"?
Does it have to be verbalized?
What if the person is drunk or high?
What if they don't say anything at all?
Can consent be implied?
This combination of cultural messages about sex and consent creates confusion over what exactly constitutes consent. To clarify:

Consent is a "Yes" in response to requests for sexual acts.
Silence is not consent.
"No" is not consent.

In Massachusetts, consent cannot be given by someone who is not of sound mind and body. Someone who is drunk, high, unconscious or mentally incompetent may not be able to give consent to a sexual act.
Submission is not necessarily consent. There is a fine line between persuasion and coercion. Having sex with someone who reasonably believes that there is a threat of force meets the legal definition of rape in Massachusetts.


The above warning that an implied threat of violence naturally invalidates the "yes" of consent. No one would argue with this. However, I do not think even Smith college would argue that pleading, begging or romancing would fall under the category of coercion.

NOW CONTRAST WITH THIS:

"Yes means maybe, and maybe means no"
http://radtransfem.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/under-duress-agency-power-and-consent-part-two-yes/
Radical feminists argue that the concept of a straightforward “yes” is unique to those groups who don’t experience pressure on their consent. A “yes” under pressure can’t be unequivocally understood as “yes” because it may mean “maybe” or indeed “no”. The act of a man taking a woman’s “yes” as a “yes” is an act which directly denies conditions of sex inequality between men and women under patriarchy.

Properly, the radical feminist understanding of consent can’t be summed-up as an “x means y” statement. When under duress, there’s no such thing as a simple “yes” or “no”; the very idea of a statement ‘meaning’ one of those things becomes questionable when an answer may have as much (or more) to do with the power factors at play than with what a person really wants to communicate.

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LineReply Here is how Smith college defines sexual assault and consent
Bonobo May 2013 #78
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