An Empathetic Moment

I've been thinking about this off and on since Teh Portly Dyke talked about it nearly a week ago, and last night I think I came up with a good example that might help those men who refuse to understand the notion of continuous, enthusiastic consent when it comes to sex.

A little background. Teh Portly Dyke wrote about an Australian MP who decided to make light of the notion that a woman can withdraw consent during a sex act.

In a response to proposed laws making it an offence to continue a sex act with a person who changes their mind about consent, Bressington suggested to Parliament that men should carry a sex contract to prevent being accused of rape. (emphasis mine)

. . . The proposed contract would also include details of the woman’s marital status, whether she has children and whether she consents to being taken to another location to engage in sexual activity.

“Perhaps this parliament could devise a contract which men could carry around in their pocket, next to their condoms,” News.com.au quoted her, as saying during a speech to Parliament.

“There could be a waiver should a man meet up with a woman who has had a couple of drinks before they engage in sexual intercourse.

“The contract may contain the name and address of the women, with her driver’s license number, so that the man can see the signatures match, clauses that state that the woman has or has not been drinking or taking drugs licit or illicit and that she consents to foreplay,” she added.
The commenters there, along with Portly Dyke herself pretty much demolished this argument, with a lot of focus on the idea that a contract could be forged, or that the situation could change, or that, yes, one member of the party could change his or her mind.

But for those men--and I'm focusing on men because we seem to be the primary ones arguing against this notion of withdrawn consent--I'd like to offer a counter-example for you to consider.

You're at a bar, and a woman finds you attractive, so attractive, in fact, that she wants to take you back to her place and have sex with you. I know--this is unlikely for the guy I'm targeting with this blog post, but bear with me. You get back to her place and things move quickly. There's some undressing, there's some kissing, and she whispers in your ear "how about I tie you up and we get a little kinky?" Can you say no, or do you "owe her"?

Let's say you play along, and she puts on the handcuffs--the real ones, not the kind with the safety release. And then she pulls out the strap-on. Can you withdraw consent now? What about if you play along until she's nudging at the back door? Can you withdraw consent, or have you entered into a contract that requires you to go through with it until she finishes?

If you answered that you have the right to stop the proceedings and be allowed to leave at any time, then you understand the idea of withdrawn consent. Guess what--she has that right too, even if it means you have to stay frustrated in your attempts to get off for a while.

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