Sunday, April 12, 2015

Consent Catastrophes

Trying to compile the following mess into some sort of meaningful point is probably a fool's errand. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Here are the stories -

The Three-Year Long Campus Assault

From this story:

Yes, he was her boyfriend. No, he hadn't pinned her down, or threatened violence. But Espinosa insists that he coerced her, psychologically and physically, into having sex against her will for most of their three-year relationship. She resisted, told him no, pushed him away. More often than not, he persisted and she gave in "just to get it over with," she says.
"I knew that it was sexual assault, but at the time, I felt extreme shame and was not ready nor willing to fully accept what was happening," said Espinosa, 24. "Like most unpleasant truths, I buried it until the end of my relationship, when I realized I was holding onto a relationship with a man who was abusive."
The relationship came to an end in February 2013. The next month, Espinosa filed a sexual harassment claim against her former boyfriend with her school, the University of Texas-Pan American, where some of the incidents occurred. The reporting process was traumatizing in its own right, she says, leading her to file a federal complaint against UTPA. The Title IX complaint, filed last week with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, alleges that UTPA violated her right to an education free of gender-based discrimination by mishandling her report and creating a hostile environment.

Sorority blog's grey area

From a clickbait blog called  "TotalSororityMove" : "Is it Possible That There Is Something In Between Consensual Sex And Rape…And That It Happens To Almost Every Girl Out There?"

He slid inside me and I didn’t say a word. At the time, I didn’t know why. Maybe I didn’t want to feel like I’d led him on. Maybe I didn’t want to disappoint him. Maybe I just didn’t want to deal with the “let’s do it, but no, we shouldn’t” verbal tug-of-war that so often happens before sleeping with someone. It was easier to just do it. Besides, we were already in bed, and this is what people in bed do. I felt an obligation, a duty to go through with it. I felt guilty for not wanting to. I wasn’t a virgin. I’d done this before. It shouldn’t have been a big deal–it’s just sex–so I didn’t want to make it one.

Canadian politician booty call 

A Canadian politician shared her story about going to a colleagues' hotel room alone at 2 AM only to find that he wanted to... have sex.

After a night with a large group at a bar, Pacetti allegedly invited her for a nightcap in the hotel where he stays while in Ottawa.
“It was already 2 a.m., so I thought, another hour isn’t going to be a big deal, it’s already late,” she said.
Once in the room, she says she sat in a chair while Pacetti sat on the bed. Eventually, she says Pacetti patted the spot on the bed beside him, asking her to sit with him.
“I said no, I’m good here in my chair. I went to the bathroom to try to find a solution, to leave,” she said. 
When she returned to get her purse from the chair, she alleges Pacetti pulled her to him as she passed by. The MP won’t go into the precise details of what happened next, other than she froze, and blocked out the situation. She said she had previously been the victim of a violent sexual assault.
She alleges it was sex without her explicit consent.
Is she alleging rape then? The MP said she’s no expert in criminology, and so doesn’t want to put a legal label on it.
As it is, the Canadian politician has already labelled the man a slimeball so the r-word does not matter anyways, does it?

In another report, the woman told people she had handed the man a condom:
“He just grabbed me when I passed near to him, and then we had sex with no explicit consent from me. I froze, in fact,” said the MP, who explained she was a victim of assault in the past. “...It was late, I was tired… It makes you unable to think really fast, losing control of how to react.”
The NDP MP provided a condom and said she did not say yes or no to Mr. Pacetti’s advances. Initiatives launched in Canada in recent years, including at universities and by police forces, have stressed the importance of explicit consent as part of so-called “yes means yes” campaigns.
After intercourse, the NDP MP said, she dressed and left the hotel. She was in pain for three days afterward, she said, but chose not to come forward. “Sometimes talking about it gives you more trouble than trying to deal with it on your own with other medical support,” she said.
Apparently handing a man a condom isn't explicit consent. And really it shouldn't be, as there is some ambiguity in the situation. Maybe one is ready for sex, but on the other hand maybe one is ready for pranking other hotel guests with balloon animals.

For more on this absurdity, read this column.

Prevention through PowerPoint

In defense of expansion of Title IX requirements - or adherence to a strict view of existing requirements - a student has written her own story about assault on campus:
When I arrived in Hyde Park for my O-Week in September of 2011, I was woefully ignorant about sex. I did not have any form of sex education at my high school and never received any “sex talk” about sexual decision making, much less about the mechanics of sex.
[... O-Week = orientation week, presumably in one's first year of university]
So when I attended the Sex Signals presentation during O-Week, a nationally popular sexual assault awareness program whose inaugural college performance was given at the University of Chicago in 2000, I was unfamiliar with what consent meant in regards to sexual encounters.
[... clipped a very oddly specific description of a seminar held once in her first year... who can remember these things?]
At the subsequent Chicago Life Meeting titled UChoose, I received what other students called a rape whistle and participated in a 10-minute conversation about the Sex Signals presentation. Unfortunately, this discussion promptly moved on to other topics and non-sex-related campus safety issues. [...] 
This hasty glossing over of the reality of sexual violence was simply not enough to adequately get students on the same page in a group with varying levels of familiarity on the topic. I was left still unclear on what sexual assault encompassed or how it was defined, and I did not understand what my options were or where to turn if it ever happened to me. Because of the framing of the issue, assault seemed to happen rarely and I naively thought that it would never happen to me.
In my third year, it did happen to me; I was raped by someone that I went on a date with. While he was assaulting me, the thoughts running through my mind were variations of, “Why is he doing this when I said I did not want to do this,” “That really hurts,” “Why is he hitting me,” and “Why won’t he stop?” The words “sexual assault” and “rape,” however, did not initially come to mind as a way to think about my experience. I spent a few weeks in denial about my own assault because I had not internalized that I truly had autonomy over my own body. The preventative education from O-Week provided only a cursory understanding of sexual violence, without any sustained dialogue or examples of what constituted sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking. In addition, it did not clarify that a lack of a sustained or verbal “no” was not indicative of a “yes.” This lack of education ultimately contributed immensely to my denial.

This has the appearance of making some sense - when is more education not a good thing? However, if a third year university student does not "get it", how is the answer yet another lecture for those that happened to spend the tens of thousands of dollars to attend a four-year in-person degree program?

Universities faced with this dilemma would be better served to exclude these students at the time of admission. Men and women that do not understand the fundamentals of basic human interactions - especially those related to sex and alcohol - make campuses dangerous. For this reason it makes little sense for colleges to accept students that need catch-up courses.

Universities do not teach one to drive. Universities do not fill one in on classes skipped during high school. Universities are not supplementary parenting.

Free drugs and accommodations does not equal consent!

Once upon a time, a woman travelled from Toronto to New York for a free stay by sharing a room with a man she had spoken to online:

Stan invited me to stay at his place after we had exchanged emails for about one week. I was unfamiliar with his work as a writer other than a publication he ran, which I had read and enjoyed on multiple occasions. He and I began exchanging emails daily, which contained playful updates on our lives, unpublished writing, and occasionally planning my stay at his place. He explained that there would be three other people staying in his apartment at the same time I would be there, and that I was “welcome to sleep in [his] bed if [I would] be comfortable with that haha.”
Stan made it clear that we would be going on a ‘bender’ throughout my visit, which, for the most part, I had no problem with. I have always liked drugs, and was definitely open to taking them for free.
That evening we were in his room sitting on his bed, and he began kissing me again. I felt unsure of how to proceed. I had no interest in making out with him or having sex with him, but had a feeling that it would ‘turn into an ordeal’ if I rejected him. I had never been in a situation where I was living with someone for a period of time who wanted to have sex with me, that I didn’t want to have sex with. I knew I had nowhere else to stay, and if I upset him that I might be forced to leave.

... this went on for a week. That's how much people would rather stay in New York than take the bus home.

Science’s Sexual Assault Problem
This is a rather tragic story wherein a woman was raped in Turkey while doing field work. The woman concludes that field work is more risky for women than men - and then ends up with the title "Science's Sexual Assault Problem".

It is slightly irresponsible to project this on to science - someone reading the title may think jobs in science are more dangerous, when in reality there is nothing to suggest field work is more dangerous than merely existing and travelling. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

However it's difficult to criticize the author as she has been victimized again - not by rapists in some far away land, but by "progressive" critics in her own. In her blog post response, she answers the most ridiculous of her critics:

Commenters have noted that my piece does not treat the multiple issues of race and class that intersect with violence against women. This valid criticism is a part of a much larger ongoing discussion examining the exclusionary history of mainstream feminism. I recommend this post by Ambika Kamath as particularly insightful about my piece; her follow up is also important.
Commenters have critiqued the Colonizer mentality that drove the reconnaissance that I attempted. This is absolutely valid. The idea that an establishing scientist must go into an unstudied locality and claim it as one’s own was a model in common use twenty years ago. Since then things have changed for the better, and my grantsmanship demonstrates how my own approach has evolved. The best international field programs are now shared ventures with extensive local participation. Scientific funding agencies actively promote and often require the prior establishment of international collaboration to support foreign fieldwork. The rise of the internet after Y2K made the process of opening correspondence with international colleagues immeasurably easier, and smartphones have made travel easier, and safer, as well.

Indeed, after reading about her rape in Turkey, "progressive" or "social justice" commentators had the courage to point out that the trip itself was problematic and her storytelling was not intersectional enough.

To some people, speaking to any particular point about the premise (i.e. science's 'problem' with sexual assault) is secondary to speaking to an external spiderweb of privileges and victimization that must be addressed first. Yet one only truly needs to check themselves if the critic is actually of a lesser privilege - white men asking white women about the circumstances of non-white, non-colonizer women can be ignored as derailment, of course.

Another absurdity is one of equivalence. One can acquire the blood of a stranger under their fingernails while doing field work in a foreign land. Alternatively, one could simply not saying no to an acquaintance just to make things "easier". In the eyes of many "feminist" thinkers, it is itself a crime to arrive at the obvious conclusion that these situations are different.

When it comes to rape, if one asks a white woman what she was doing in a "colonizer" study of Turkey, it's "social justice" criticism. At the same time, if one asks a federal politician why she handed another adult political representative a condom, it may be anything from "sexism", "misogyny", "victim blaming", "rape culture" or outright rape apologia.

Is this not odd?

UPDATE 2015/09/09... provided for completeness

The Shia LaBeouf Performance

Actor Shia LaBeouf was apparently raped while hosting a performance art show:

The actor Shia LaBeouf has claimed a woman raped him during the performance of his one-man art piece #IAMSORRY earlier this year.
Speaking to Dazed magazine in an email interview, he wrote: “One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me.”

The Strapon Bandit

The Guardian and many other outlets run a story about an alleged sexual assault, wherein a woman is alleged to have successfully convinced her friend that she was a badly injured man that was ashamed of his own body:
A woman has appeared in court accused of tricking another woman into having sex with her by bandaging her body and using a prosthetic penis to pretend she was a man, a court has heard.
The complainant says she thought she was with a man she had befriended on the internet called Kye Fortune, who had asked her to wear a blindfold as he was recovering from a brain tumour and did not want her to see his scars.
But the alleged victim said she later discovered the “man” was a friend, Gayle Newland, 25. Newland, of Willaston, Cheshire, is on trial at Chester crown court, where she denies five counts of sexual assault between February and June 2013.
The complainant said she put on the blindfold, a sleeping mask and a scarf, before a “shaking” Fortune came in and said he had signed himself out of a private hospital in Manchester. She claims they then had sex before Fortune said he had to return to hospital.

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