Friday, July 24, 2015

Alcohol, consent, double-standards and why I wouldn't want to be THAT judge.

Oi. The Book of Face is a frustrating place sometimes.

I've been agonizing over whether to respond to shitty things I see on Facebook or just to take a deep breath and exercise my 'hide-button' finger when I see egregious shit being posted by people I otherwise love and respect.

It's a tough call, sometimes.  Do I risk being piled on or alienating people by playing the role of feminist (or anti-racist, or pro-LGBT, or otherwise anti-oppression) killjoy? Or do I quietly keep scrolling and secretly hate myself a little as I click the 'hide' button?

It's hard.

Someone I especially love and respect posted this image* the other day:

I agonized over whether to comment on this, to the point that I had a bit of an anxiety attack and ended up deactivating my account for a few days.

But here goes:

Yes, loved one.  Neither party in this particular infographic could legally consent.

I'll be quite honest, I would hate like hell to be the judge or jury in the rather unlikely event that the charges went to trial, because that person would be in the uncomfortable position of calling someone a rapist,or calling someone else a liar (and also, possibly, a rapist as well).

I say unlikely, because a very small percentage of rape cases actually go to trial.  Most charges are dropped or dismissed due to lack of evidence.  This case here would be a prime candidate to get dropped, mainly because of the he said/she said position and the fact that they were both drinking.  Many a rape survivor has heard the chorus of "If they didn't want it, why did they go with/drink with/get in a car with/flirt with/building a fucking sand castle with them?"  Seriously, anything to discredit the charges.

Don't believe me? Not only did over 40 women come out against Bill Cosby, he is also on tape admitting to purchasing Quaaludes to incapacitate women for the purposes of having sex with them.  And people will STILL perform mental gymnastics of Olympic Gold proportions to discredit the victims and give Cosby the benefit of the doubt. FORTY.

In a similar vein, Jake is also in a terrible position, were he to try and press charges.  He's be assumed to have consented based on the fact he's a dude.  Because male victims of rape only count when it's in prison. It sucks.  People DO need to get over the idea that women are incapable of raping men, whether through force, coercion, or incapacitation. 

Anyone (male, female, nonbinary folk) who is drunk cannot consent to sex.

It's pretty simple.  Don't have sex with people who have been drinking if you don't want to be accused of rape.  People will argue that "So what, if my partner has a glass of wine, I shouldn't have sex with them?"

Don't be silly.

Having a glass of wine is not the same as being drunk. That being said, some people can drink until the cows come home and be a clear as bell.  There are also situations (medications, not having eaten enough that day) that can cause one drink to hit someone like a ton of bricks.

If you know for sure your partner is totally into it and fully consenting - ie. they are tearing your clothes off and is maybe only one drink in; maybe you have been in a relationship for years - and you know they are not operating under the influence of outside substances, then knock yourself out!

Consent! A fun, sexy time for all!
If you are unsure the person you are with is able to fully consent, maybe don't have sex with them.

If they *seem* fine, but you know they've killed a case of beer or a bottle of wine or a 26er that day, maybe don't have sex with them.  Hell, if you're NOT sure they DIDN'T kill a 26er, or a case of beer or a magnum of wine, maybe don't have sex with them.

If the person you are with is exhibiting any behaviour that might suggest that they are not totally into having sex with you - for example, freezing up, zoning out, making weird whimpering noises, expressing doubt ("Maybe we shouldn't.. this isn't a good idea.."), even seeming bored or distracted, use your words and say something to the effect of "Are you okay with this? We can do something else."  Give them a safe out, and if they don't take it, then proceed.  If you're still not sure they're into it, maybe don't have sex with them.

If you fear that the person you are about to have otherwise consensual sex with might turn around and accuse you of rape, then maybe don't have sex with them.

If you fear that the person you are with is going to mock you, or call you a pussy, or a cock-tease or otherwise disrespect your "No," then they are a boundary-disrespecting douchebag and maybe don't have sex with them.

You'll notice that I'm using a lot of gender-neutral terms here.  A lot of "they" and "them".  That's because these are rules that should apply to ANYONE.  No one is entitled to the sexual use of anyone else's body, male, female, genderfluid, or otherwise.

Note to my ladies:  We are also capable of victimizing men. I cannot emphasize this enough.  Please remember that. Climbing on a passed-out dude and going for a ride, that's rape.  Threatening, coercing, until you get your way... same deal.  We need to hold ourselves to a standard of consent as well.

So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes, my dear loved one, that is how equality should work.  We're working on it.  In the meantime, make sure the consent you get (and the consent you give) is sober, un-coerced, and enthusiastic and things will probably be okay.

* I do want to add that the initial ad that the meme is predicated on is a problem, in the fact that it only states that Josie couldn't consent, not that neither of them could. This denies agency to women while simultaneously perpetuating the stereotype that men are always good to go, anywhere, anytime.

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