Imagine if I told you the following: “At my university, Jews are expected to fill out endless paperwork proving that they do their job right. They have to narrate in painstaking detail exactly how they implement the strategic goals of our institution in every aspect of their teaching. Every Jew has to calculate the number of hours he or she spends on each job-related assignment and submit the paperwork. Then, the Chair meets with every single Jew and discusses his or her progress. Jews are also required to take long ethics training because it is assumed that Jews don’t know how to behave ethically without such training. During college events, Jews have to wear a sign on their chests identifying them.”
Pretty offensive, eh? When I imagine that sort of a work environment, I want to go and destroy such a university immediately.
Everything I have written about the treatment of Jews at my university is absolutely true. I just forgot to mention that everybody else is treated exactly the same way. And that changes the picture somewhat, doesn’t it? We might be an overly bureaucratized place but we are not anti-Semitic.
Would you know that from my story, though?
Women exist in a legal state of permanent consent. Consent is an automatic defense to a charge of rape and unless there is sound evidence that consent was withdrawn, it is frequently assumed that it was not. If a woman did not actively withdraw her consent, there is no case to answer – the legal status of a woman is that of consent to sexual intercourse. Furthermore, the presumption of innocence over guilt in effect means that it is insufficient for a conviction to be upheld purely on the basis that a woman asserts that she withdrew her consent in the absence of such evidence.
For some women, the withdrawal of consent becomes in effect a legal non-option. Crimes of sexual violence against sex-workers are notoriously difficult to prosecute, as the assumption is that they payment has brought the agreement not to withdraw consent. Any evidence that a woman may not have withdrawn consent, is evidence of the innocence of the accused. Such evidence may include payment; sexually arousing dress; prior sexual activity; drug or alcohol use; being asleep; being sexually unattractive, or being insufficiently aware of danger. Up until 1991 the majority of women lived within a formal legal state which denied her the right to remove her consent: a woman could not withdraw consent to sexual intercourse from her husband; marriage was an automatic defense.*
This is all pretty incendiary. And it’s completely true, too. Except for one small detail. All of the above is just as true for a man as it is for a woman.
When we pretend that implied consent only has to do with women, we cannot even begin to address the real issue. This is not about women being singled out by unjust legislation and an anti-feminist culture. This is a problem that we all face. Men and women alike exist in a state of implied consent. Can anybody really claim that a male sex worker will find it easier than a female sex worker to bring a charge of rape in court? Does anybody really think that being sexually unpopular, having a rich sexual past, being inebriated, etc. do not make it as hard for men as it is for women to prove they have been raped? Really?
I think it would be a great idea to discuss the concept of implied consent because it’s a very complicated issue that needs to be explored. But we will never get to explore it if we get stuck on this one-sided approach to the subject.
* The rest of the article is even more egregiously stupid than this, if you can imagine that.