No, Consent Is Not Negotiable

Image via Project Unbreakable

Image via Project Unbreakable

I think it is true to say that most women have been with a partner that thought their consent was negotiable.

From the age old shove-your-head-towards-my-dick move to conversations about boundaries followed by direct violation of those boundaries, a lot of us have been there. I know I have.

This week the internet is ablaze with the allegations against Aziz Ansari and everyone is taking sides. 

Honestly, I had a whole beautiful monologue prepared about this. A whole story about how women shouldn't have to assume the worst intent when they are on dates, or in apartments. A story about how women shouldn't have to worry that their verbal confirmation of non-consent would be ignored or would be subject to attempted negotiation. A story about how you can, in fact, want to kiss, or do oral, with someone but not want to have sex with them... and that it is perfectly okay to stop the hookup and say it and expect your partner to respect it. I'm fucking exhausted.

It breaks my heart that we live in a society where victim blaming is so pervasive. In fact, a good friend of mine sent me a link this morning to an article about why Aziz had done nothing wrong. My response to this, among many others, was this: if you were hooking up with someone and she told you to stop, would you? The answer for everyone should be a resounding YES. 

If anyone thinks that not stopping when asked is 'doing nothing wrong' (and it seems that an alarmingly large portion of the population thinks this way), then frankly I'm fucking concerned. 

The victim blaming, especially in this story (although we all know it happens all of the time), is insane. She should have left (she does leave). She should have physically forced him away from herself (again, she does). She was sending mixed signals (refer back to my hook up stopping comment). She didn't re-iterate that she wasn't consenting (which, incidentally, she did actually do).

Seriously, what the hell? A woman should not have to physically remove herself from someone in order to feel safe. She should not have to physically push him away time and time again (even though she details how she tried to move away from him only to be followed). She should be able to make her non-consent clear once and not have it f*cking questioned or negotiated or ignored (was "I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,” unclear?).

Is this really where we are? How the fuck did we get here?

Sexual harassment and assault is pervasive. It can come at any time. Walking down the street. Out on a date. In a bar. At a club. On your sofa, a friends sofa, a relatives sofa. It happens all of the time. To women you know, to your best friends, to your worst enemies, to women you haven't met yet. It happens to you.

How many times we will hear this story from different women before there is significant change? How many people must come forward to show that abuse is real? How many women have to rake themselves, their stories, and their emotions across the coals to satisfy the court of public opinion?

Respect your partners. Respect your friends. Respect people you met at a bar, in a show, on Tinder. It isn't hard, it's basic human decency.