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Instead of asking, “Did she say no?”, we should start asking, “Did she want to have sex?”

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, July 28, 2014 13:28 EDT

This item is a little old, but I wanted to flag it because it really gets to the heart of the debate about what sexual consent is. Feminists are increasingly clamoring for an affirmative consent standard, where someone has to indicate, through language or body language, an actual desire to have sex. I call it the “only kiss people who are kissing you back” standard. Anti-feminists disagree, arguing that feminists are trying to label all men rapists or police sex or some other horseshit. Here’s a piece I wrote kind of detailing out my problems with that argument, mostly that it’s a strawman and that assuming someone is automatically in a state of consent unless they phrase their refusals just so is not held for any other intimate behavior, such as allowing people in your home or allowing people to watch your children, and just for sex. Which is to say anti-feminists are actually arguing that the barrier for someone barging into your house should be higher than for them barging into your body. (And considering how most of them are anti-abortion, it follows that they believe the barrier for to force someone to have a baby should be lower than to force yourself into their house to sit on their couch.) Which is fucked up, to say the least.

Anyway, the larger story is a frustrating one, of a teenage girl who says she was raped by a classmate on a field trip and who has basically had to pull out of her high school while her alleged rapist goes on without facing any consequences. You should read the entire article to see the administrative problems and just general victim-blaming that seems endemic to these situations. I wanted to single out a couple of details that show that the standard of affirmative consent—of only having sex with people who want to have sex with you—is so important.

Teachers, Garfield’s principal, district officials, a rape advocate, the National Parks Service and the FBI, which has jurisdiction over the national park, were all alerted, and details tumbled out quickly: The alleged perpetrator was a classmate, who admitted that he had had anal sex with her. He acknowledged to law enforcement that she told him to stop several times but said he persuaded her to “roll with it.”


When asked if Emily said anything during the incident, the boy disclosed to the school district investigator, “I did not pay attention to her that much.”

Basically, people who support the affirmative consent standard don’t want “I couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to what she was saying long enough to tell if it was no or yes” to be a legitimate defense.

Part of the problem with putting the onus on victims to make the rape “official” through refusing and fighting back is the next thing that happens is we get into a quibbling match over whether or not they fought back enough to “earn” the right to have their rape considered a rape. It encourages this mentality where badgering someone until they stop saying no or simply ignoring them so that you can honestly say later you had no idea that they were refusing is somehow in-bounds. It becomes the victim’s fault for not refusing in exactly the right way, even though most rapists aren’t actually going to take any no for an answer, no matter how you phrase it.

What if, instead of saying, “Did she say no?” to this young man, the question was, “Did she want to have sex with you?” The answer to that seems screamingly obvious. Far from making things more complicated, framing the question this way would have made things much simpler.

Sure, there will always be men who will whine that it’s so hard to get laid if you have to bother knowing if your partner wants to have sex, too. But so what? If I ran around saying that it’s so hard to get invited to dinner without just walking into people’s houses uninvited, that wouldn’t change the fact that I’m criminally trespassing. If I insisted the only way I get to visit people is by barging into their houses, you’d tell me that it’s my responsibility to learn how to make friends so I get invited. Men who want to have sex should be held to the same minimum standard.

The “we like sex” argument is a winning one, so why are so many people afraid to use it?

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, July 25, 2014 14:52 EDT

You only get medical care if you stand very still and never do anything beyond the bare minimum to survive, said no doctor ever. This is hardly a new thought, but fuck it, it’s Friday and for some reason people are harassing me again on Twitter for wanting to be childless, so I’m in a “I don’t fucking care if you like it” mood. Kaili at Wonkette has drawn my attention to the fact that…


Hey, gun nuts: Shooting someone who is running away in the back is not self-defense

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:16 EDT

Another brave American, who is totally brave because guns make you big and brave and manly through osmosis, has taken another life: Greer said that he was tackled and thrown to the ground but managed to get his .22-caliber revolver and confronted them as they ransacked a safe containing cash.…


“Open carry” activists have a lovely time celebrating guns at the site a Democratic President was murdered by one

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 16:07 EDT

From the Dallas Observer and Talking Points Memo it appears that some of the “open carry” extremists are little worried we don’t get the implication when they scream about how the Democratic President is illegitimate and all their lip-flapping about how they need guns for some fantasized-about revolution. So, just in…


Ladies who don’t use contraception have had it with you 99% that do, you dirty girls.

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 8:00 EDT

What if I told you some women actually wanted to have sex for non-baby reasons? As a reminder during our fancy new era of Christian fundamentalists trying to make contraception controversial: “More than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive…


California needs to ban lawn-watering

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, July 21, 2014 11:38 EDT

The California drought is highlighting a number of serious problems that our country has let fester for decades, including global warming and casual disregard for the limits of our resources. This story in particular just really demonstrates how this kind of catastrophe was inevitable, a product of a culture that…


Moments in old man crabbiness taken to absurd levels

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, July 18, 2014 10:16 EDT

Damn bspencer at LGM for drawing my attention to this long form “kids these days” rant about modern art. John C. Wright is mad at the lefty kids these days because their P.C. bullshit means art cannot be beautiful anymore blah blah blah. You’ve probably heard it before, but one…


Some Bible verses for the Good Christians® angry that migrant kids might sleep in a bed

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, July 17, 2014 13:21 EDT

Cut it out, Jesus. You’re making your followers look bad. The horror show that is the growing right wing demands that migrant children who are being detained be—well, it’s hard to say, but the implication is that it’s wrong to detain them anywhere, and so I guess the demand is…


Politician tells tall tale of a bus full of migrant kids, turns out it was a school bus headed to summer camp

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 10:23 EDT

I have to imagine most of you, except of course our right wing trolls, are as appalled and even depressed at the display of raw racist hatred that has been emanating from the right in recent weeks with regards to the exploding number of unaccompanied minors migrating to the U.S.,…


The media needs to treat gun lobbyists for what they are: Representatives of the gun industry, not customers

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 12:49 EDT

In response to a Rolling Stone profile of Larry Pratt, the head of Gun Owners of America, Media Matters asks an important question: Why is Pratt being treated like an expert guest on cable news? This is not an idle question, as Pratt has been on cable news networks, most…

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