Friday, April 8, 2011

Manufactured Consent vs. Real Consent

To put it basically, manufactured consent is when someone gives in to sex when they don't want it. This is typically achieved through coercion from the other party. Examples are:

- "Come on, I did X* for you. You're not gonna return the favor?"

- "You know, withholding sex isn't gonna get you what you want any faster."

- "Gee I'm sorry, I thought you liked me! No no, it's okay, we don't need to have a relationship, we can just hang out and be friends. Here, let's see what's on TV."

- "Come on, you said you wanted to earlier! You're such a tease."

- "Now now, you have to have a good reason why not. 'I don't feel like it' is not a good reason."

- Philosophizing, or using logic "You know, I believe in saying yes to every opportunity. Just live in the moment and seize every opportunity, and have fun! Don't put such personal restrictions on yourself, just let go . . ." (the idea here is that their way of thinking is correct, and you're wrong, stupid, or immature for not thinking that way).

*X can be in reference to paying for a special dinner, buying someone a present, treating them well, pleasuring them sexually, or doing anything that, in their mind, "earned" them some nookie in return. This plays off the commodity model of sex, which frames sex as something that is given away for free, or used as payment for favors, material goods, emotional security or affection. In the same way, people often assume that all women use sex for their advantage: they withhold it until they're given what they want, and only then do they give it up in return.

In these ways, the victim is made to feel bad, selfish, or just plain evil for not giving in. They are finally led to believe that giving in is the right thing to do. Often, this coercion comes with a very taken aback reaction to any aggressive defense - again, demonizing the victim for saying "no."

I would equate this to when my parents signed me up for soccer. My dad said I didn't have to, but he said "I'd like you to," and he kept saying it, each time a little more forcefully, emphasizing the importance of making the choice that would make him happy. I eventually gave in, knowing that was the only way out of the argument. I knew that "Yes" as the only answer my dad would accept, and he was going to keep pushing until that was the answer he got. I ended up playing soccer for two and a half years, not because I liked it, but because it made my parents happy and I didn't think they'd even let me stop without a legitimate reason.

In the same way, manufactured consent is when the victim is coerced to the point where they know that not having sex is not an option with their partner - they know their partner will keep pushing until they get a "Yes" no matter how much guilt they have to layer on to get it.

Real consent, on the other hand, is a genuine and enthusiastic agreement to participate in any sexual activity. Real consent is given, affirmative, and continual; something you give not because you feel obligated, but because you really do want to have sex. This should be the only accepted form of consent.

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