Don’t take away my “yes” [TW for sexual assault]

April 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Apparently, second wave feminist (and noted transphobe) Germaine Greer said this yesterday:

“Evidence of violent constraint is usually taken to be evidence of withholding consent, even after women have been softened up for sadistic interaction by having their brains beaten into Fifty Shades of Grey.”

I haven’t read the article that the quotation was taken from. In all honesty, I suspect it would make me feel so angry and triggered that it would sap my energy, and there are things I want to get done today. It is therefore quite possible that I am taking her remarks out of a context that would change the meaning somewhat.

But out of context and given Greer’s general known views, the implications of the quotation make me exceedingly cross, though in a reasonably energised and articulate way. It seems to me that she is implying, quite strongly, that consensual BDSM is not a real thing – and that only a woman who has been somehow corrupted by a badly-written book could believe that she has consented to it.

Firstly, the difference between consensual BDSM and Fifty Shades of Grey is… quite marked. Not that I’d expect Greer to understand the difference. But, fail.

Now, as readers will know, I am a survivor of rape, of child abuse, of sexual abuse within a relationship.

And on those rare but wonderful occasions when the Magician ties me up and scratches and spanks me, I am bloody well consenting. Enthusiastically. Happily. Freely. Intelligently. Not because my brain has been “softened up”, but because this is part of my sexuality, part of how my body and brain like to interact with a sexual partner. Because it makes me feel amazing. Because it turns me on.

Just as the possibility of New Person doing the same to me at some point turns me on. Just as the possibility of me doing the same thing to New Person also turns me on.

I have fought long and hard and bitterly for the right to my own body, my own sexual power, my own choices. For my right to a true and meaningful “yes” to a sexual activity that I like. For anyone to now say that my enthusiastic consent isn’t good enough – that they are the ones who will decide whether my consent is real or not… just… EWWW.

There is nothing good, or feminist, about undermining someone else’s “yes”. The idea that only a man can truly, fully consent to a sexual activity is part of the patriarchy. If you tell me that my “yes” is meaningless, then you are undermining my “no”. And, more crucially in my case, you are undermining my scared/exhausted/drunk, “oh all right then”, and saying that is no less consent than “OMG yay, please do that!”. And that, my friends, is rape culture. It is a whopping big part of the problem.

I’m not a believer in “all choices are feminist”. And the concept of the male Dom and the female Sub as the One True Way in BDSM is *incredibly* patriarchal and icky and disgusting, as well as ridiculous, and I have no truck with it (and hope I would have no truck if I were a male Dom or a female Sub – as a genderqueer switch, of course I know it’s bollocks!). But it is perfectly possible to have any of the orientations within BDSM and be a feminist, and oppose rape culture. Both of which Greer is singularly failing to do when saying things like the quotation above.

And also? This:

Tying me up and hurting me because we both passionately want you to = consenting.

Guilt-tripping, cajoling me and bullying me into tying you up and hurting you = not consenting.

This does not strike me as a complicated thing to grasp. 😉

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