November 28, 2008

On Consent & Rape

I would like to address Rants argument on rape and consent. Rants argues that if you can't physically overpower the person you are giving consent to, the intrinsic value of your consent is worthless. I disagree on two levels. Firstly, your consent is yours alone- if someone who is bigger and stronger than you violates you, and you did not give consent, that doesn't devalue your consent. Just because your partner "could take it if he really wanted to", doesn't devalue your consent. Many rapists have argued in the court, or to psychiatrists that are evaluating them, that it was somehow "the woman's fault". That she asked for it by wearing something provocative, that early in the night she was hitting on him, that she was so drunk she didn't bother to say no. That it was all "her doing". In my opinion, rapists say these things because they themselves understand how incredibly powerful the idea of a person's consent is. I believe these men understand perfectly well that the woman they raped wanted nothing to do with them, and that the victims of their rape certainly didn't want to be raped. Therefore, the deflection of guilt/fault of the rapist serves a purpose that is twofold: first, it assuages their guilt, and second, they don't have to face the fact that they were not given any consent. Rants seems to suggest that somehow, your consent can be controlled, or that someone can take it from you. I disagree. A rapist can take a lot of things, but consent isn't one of them.

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