Consent

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I'm not sure where to put this, so if it needs to be moved, please do.

I am exploring the topic of consent (and the different ways it is perceived) and I'd love to hear examples of some topics you can think of that deal with consent. I have a couple:
- medical, informed consent (and the general consent you are expected to give before being seen by a doctor
- general consent before sex

Even if it seems kind of far out there, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

I'm finding I have very different views of consent than most folks. I suspect much of it is a product of how I grew up, but I also think we often give consent away (often without completely understanding what we are doing). I guess I'd also be interested how others view consent - do you sometimes see it differently than how we are told we are "supposed" to?
 

Sideways

Sponsor
do you sometimes see it differently than how we are told we are "supposed" to?
I think it depends what position you're in: the person giving consent, or the person receiving that consent.

For example, take an almost cliche example: guy and girl are dancing together at a club, both have had a few drinks. He goes in for a kiss, she says "Back off!", but keeps dancing.

Pretty much every Hollywood RomCom would dictate to him: keep going, it's romantic, sweep her off her feet, this is just prt of the process of "winning her over", she's shy (how cute), or even better virginal/chaste/doesn't 'give it away easily', ride away into the sunset together. How perfect. "Back off" but hanging around is practically "Please keep trying". After all, if she really meant "Back off", she'd turn on her heal and promptly walk off cursing him, right? That's what every form of media he's every crossed paths with has told him anyways...

From her perspective...she said back off. And meant back off.

Now add all the elements of real life: different scenarios, ages, genders, cultures, drugs, had a good/bad day, has a good/bad history with relationships, know each other/don't know each other/one knows of the person, the clothes they've chosen to wear (does that matter? Do we communicate by the way we dress? Uniforms would suggest we do at least sometimes...?), how drunk they are respectively....

And then add the massive stressor of this being a sexual encounter, rather than a mere dance floor pash...

That's my thesis on the element of consent in rape law in a nutshell. Interested to hear peoples perspectives.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
After all, if she really meant "Back off", she'd turn on her heal and promptly walk off cursing him, right?
What if she continues engaging, then kisses *him*? Has she given up her consent then?
From her perspective...she said back off. And meant back off.
Yeah. I see that in this situation.

I was watching the documentary about NXYIM - I have NOT, though, seen all of the evidence, so am speaking from only a limited understanding - and was intrigued by the argument that, even though the women went along with some of the things done "to" them - there was the general opinion that they were victims. I struggle with this - the idea that women seem always to be placed in a victim's role when they don't refuse or say no.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
...
Has she given up her consent then?
To kissing? I'd say yes, she's given consent to that.
Beyond that? You'll probably find it depends very much on perspective and interpretation.
I was watching the documentary about NXYIM
I'm not sure which of the docos you're watching. I am very sure that I can't comment on female victims of cults without strong bias.

I seem to recall (very vaguely and could be way off) that this cult only recruited women, or that it was exclusively women that made up the cult 'leader's inner circle. But I also seem to recall that there was a female co-accused in this one as well, a bit like Epstein's Ghislaine Maxwell. I wonder if that's relevant to how the gender roles are being portrayed. Men can only be perps, victims can only be (or in this case, all the victims happen to be) women, but women can be both victims and perps.

Like I said - no way for me to come at that issue without a strong bias, so I'm not really the right person to comment.
 

Friday

Moderator
One of my fave quotes of all time:

Aren’t we setting the bar a little low with consent? Shouldn’t we be aiming for enthusiasm?!?

I’ll have more to say on the subject a bit later, that I don’t have time to go into right now... but this gets it going ;) Consent? Is reeeeally scraping the bottom of the barrel, as far as I’m concerned.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
NXIVM was a cult and lots of evidence has been put forward to show that lies, manipulation, humiliation and fear was used to recruit people into the group and keep them committed and even then recruiting people themselves.

DOS - the women’s Master/Slave group which, as Sideways says, was headed up by a woman (Allison Mack)was framed as a group to empower women. In reality, some of the members ended up in forced labour for their ‘Masters’, some of them were groomed for sexual relationships with Raniere, many were on restricted diets so they lost loads of weight until they were Ranier’s preferred female body type...

The women who joined DOS didn’t know what they were getting in to and they were recruited by other women who they trusted and believed were their friends.

They had to hand over ‘collateral’ - potentially damaging material (eg sexually explicit photos/videos, confessions of serious wrong-doing, accounts of crimes committed by family members eg child abuse - some of which were made up, because the demand for collateral kept escalating and they had run out of real things to disclose they as more naked photos weren’t considered valuable/high stakes enough anymore) - they were told this material would be made public if they failed to comply or displeased in some way. The first time they were asked for collateral was so they could first be told more detail about DOS. Because, you know, ‘there’s this group for women, all about empowering women and strengthening women’s relationship with themselves and other women...and it’s amazing and I think you are so right for it and you’d love it...but, it’s really, really exclusive, so not many people are allowed to know about it... So, if you’re interested, I just need a bit of collateral from you...something that would be a bit embarrassing for you if it were to become public...maybe a naked photo or a family secret...just so I know I can trust you not to tell anyone else about the group...because we want to keep it exclusive so can’t have everyone knowing about it...so, you just sent me a pic, I’ll just file it - nothing will happen with it as long as you keep your end of the bargain...and then I can tell you all about it and we can get you started in the group...it’s gonna be amazing and I will be so happy if you can join us...’ etc etc.

So, the majority dismissed any ‘this is weird/isn’t this blackmail?!’ type thoughts because they wanted in to the group and they trusted the woman who was encouraging them to join - who downplayed the collatoral and made it sound like just a formality that would never actually crop up in any other way again.
Then, as they got into it, they were asked for more and more collateral, the collatoral already taken was used to threaten ‘if you don’t do this, I’ll put all your photos on the internet and your parents will be arrested because of the thing you wrote about them’ etc.

In addition, members who left NXIVM and tried to speak out against it were pursued relentlessly by lawsuits from NXIVM bankrolled by Clare Bronfman. She spent millions and millions of dollars harassing and bankrupting people who tried to raise red flags about Reniere and the organisation.

So...people were lied to, manipulated and brainwashed into the ways of the NXIVM group. Then again into DOS - at that point, by people they really knew, trusted and had strong friendships with. They were also mostly pretty cut off from any non-NXIVM relationships by that point - their lives were all about Rangers and the organisation. They handed over compromising material having been reassured by their friend that it was just a formality...and by the time they realised it really could and would be used against them they had already handed it over and had to keep giving more to keep it all private. So, they were being blackmailed to comply with everything that was asked of them - whether that was: unpaid labour for their female DOS Master; starving themselves so their bodies came to look pre-pubescent; corporal punishment; sending naked pictures of them self to their DOS Master/Raniere; getting branded/taking part in branding ceremonies as others got branded; becoming Masters themselves by recruiting their own slaves; sexual activity with Raniere... And were threatened with relentless legal

In addition, hearing some of the women describe some of these elements eg getting branded and the moment they realised they were supposed to have sex with Raniere now, they described things like feeling out of their body or having an out of body experience. So they froze and dissociated.

All these things ^^^ considered - I wouldn’t say that most of the women had consented. At best, I’d say some went along with things because they were confused and terrified and didn’t know how to get out.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I think consent becomes a bit of a red herring when you're looking at cult situations. Much like DV situations. Because consent is about looking at discrete situations in isolation - like, "Did they consent to getting tattoos?".

That's not how people experience cult situations, though. And it's not how they end up 'voluntarily' participating in situations they would never have agreed to 5 years prior. The experience of becoming involved in a cult doesn't start at those extreme, 'getting branded' moments.

Instead, it starts with a long time (usually years, often decades) of overwhelmingly positive experiences, amongst people who seem to care a great deal about you as an individual, and invest a lot of personal time in your happiness.

That changes by tiny increments over a period of time. So you end up with people voluntarily drinking the koolaid (there's the 'consent' moment), even though they never would have signed up if they'd had any idea that was part of the deal initially.

So, applying the concept of consent to cult situations is not only problematic, but its attempting to isolate discrete situations that actually can't be taken in isolation.

Don't know if that makes sense.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
Consent is something my T and I have talked about a lot. It doesn't have to be as extreme as cults to get murky for me. To an example more similar to the dance floor... sexual harassment.

It all starts as jokes. They are slightly naughty jokes and general and your happy to be included in the group and liked. Nothing is too risque. Nothing is too focused on you. You've make jokes too. Over time the jokes become a bit more sexual. And some of the more innocuous ones are focused on you. Often mixed in with the feedback about how nice it is that you are part of the group and you're really fun. And you're still joking around too because by now that's the culture of the group you are in. You are used to it. There's a slow slide. A slow loss of boundaries. The jokes become more and more focused on you. More people participate in making the jokes about you. Did you consent to that? You were part of the initial core group and the slightly sexual jokes. You laughed when some of the earliest jokes were directed at you, becuase they weren't too sexual or .... can't think of the right word... It was all in good fun, right? So you laughed, was that giving consent? And how do you stop giving consent when what's happening has become part of the culture of the group? When it's now pretty much in the group, including those who hold more power. What happens when there's slight, touching happening that's not sexual but is laden with sexual innuendo, do you suddenly say stop? And what are you saying stop to? Does that just signal to the group that the touching wasn't ok, but everything else is? And what about the fact that there was a reason you were a part of that group in the first place. It's your job or church or club or something that gives you a lot of benefits.

Blah, maybe this has nothing to do with consent at all.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks, @Muttly. Yes, it's a murky, gray area sometimes!

And how do you stop giving consent when what's happening has become part of the culture of the group?
Leave the group? I know it's much more complicated than that, but it's what I tend to do.
What happens when there's slight, touching happening that's not sexual but is laden with sexual innuendo, do you suddenly say stop?
I remove myself from the situation if I am uncomfortable, but I know it's complicated.
And what about the fact that there was a reason you were a part of that group in the first place. It's your job or church or club or something that gives you a lot of benefits.
Yeah...for me, I just can't be a part of something or around some people who are creating an environment that feels unsafe or uncomfortable. I recognize, of course, it's difficult to disengage from something like work - I do think, at least in my case, when I stay in an environment like this and I don't do anything to change on my end, it *is* implying consent - or maybe acceptance is a better word.

Of course, I also believe that if you go along with something, you are, in essence, condoning it (that's not so much about what is being done *to* me, though) - I'm messed up. *shrug*
 

woodsy1

MyPTSD Pro
How about "consent" to enter a controlling group or a manipulative relationship (think of with a covert narcissist)?
 

Sideways

Sponsor
Of course, I also believe that if you go along with something, you are, in essence, condoning it
That's a stick a lot of us use to beat ourselves up with in order to blame ourselves for our abuse.

Humans are more complicated than that though, yeah? If you think about the mishmash of folks on this forum: victims of CSA didn't really "condone" their abuse, no matter how long it went on, because they were kids; victims of DV can't just walk out (kids involved, safety issues with leaving, financial control, their partner promises to get help, etc, etc); people who have been in the military who have done all sorts of stuff because that's what being in the military involves...etc etc.

So, there's so many exceptions to this that it's probably a core belief worth challenging. It's a clean way to figure out what's right or wrong (as long as you interpret life as a series of situations that can be both reasonably and objectively viewed out of context), but unfortunately, things are too often more grey than black and white.

Consent is a line that is sometimes used in by the law to determine criminal culpability. But beyond that, it's only really one factor at play in human relationships. Core beliefs like that are worth being aware of though. The question we so often end up having to ask (helpfully, in terms of our own recovery) is "how much is this core belief distorting the way I perceive things?"

If it's not causing any issues for you in your healing? Then no problem. But if it is? It's probably helpful to recognise it for what it is, and that it is warping your perception of certain things and inhibiting healing, both your relationship with yourself, and probably your relationship with the people of significance in your life.
 

NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
Consent must be enthusiastic and continuous. It’s something we should be teaching in sex ed along with condoms on bananas.


when I stay in an environment like this and I don't do anything to change on my end, it *is* implying consent - or maybe acceptance is a better word.
Enthusiastic and continuous.
if your fight, flight, freeze, fawn response is freeze like I tend to do that doesn’t mean you’ve given consent. We really need to teach young people non verbal cues as well

Which means if you want to engage in inappropriate conversations you have to ask everyone if they want to hear a dirty joke. Everyone must consent enthusiastically and continuous. If someone says you know what that’s too far. You stop.

just because you were in a joking mood Tuesday at the bar doesn’t mean that person now has blanket consent to tell rude jokes Monday morning while you’re trying to check emails.

same with sex. Enthusiastic and continuous yes. You can’t be blackmailing, manipulating or guilt tripping people into giving up a yes.

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