Thursday, September 07, 2006

Consent In Porn Teaches Dangerous Lesson

In the comments of Alas, a blog: No Porn Doesn't Prevent Rape Sailerman writes:

I mean, come on: You can try and spin this any way you want. But the statement "nonconsensual sex is rape; consensual sex is not rape" is not inherently patriarchal or biased no matter how you parse it. There is no magic code which will show that "consensual sex is rape" is set up to screw women for the advantage of men, or porn, or rapists.
The flaw in this statement (in the context of that discussion) comes from the way the statement is often considered to be equivalent to, "nonconsensual sex is forbidden; therefore all sex labeled as consensual is allowed."

On the surface that statement may seem like a truth so obvious that no sensible person could see it as false.

Yet at it's most extreme it plays into a stranger rapist's demand that his victim voice consent at the point of a knife. He may even need what he sees as consent before he can proceed to do as he wishes. And because he did get the consent he demanded, he doesn't see himself as a rapist.

In the case of a stranger rapist, we recognize that this thought process is seriously out of touch with reality and the chances of this person successfully using the "she consented" defense is very low in a criminal court.

From this example we can see that getting consent (from the man's POV) is not the only difference between legal and illegal sexual behavior.

If men learn what consent looks like from porn, they don't know the first or last thing about the complexities of true consent. Too many of these men cling to their ignorance since letting go of that ignorance would mean stopping themselves when no one else is has the power to make them stop.

Much of the date-rape charges that men call, "nothing more than morning-after regret" are in my opinion the result of this problem. Like the stranger rapist, they saw or heard something they consider consent and that meant anything they did from that moment on shouldn't be considered criminal.

Even if a man doesn't misidentify consent, there's a risk that disappointment which follows the mimicking of porn, even the soft-core variety, won't be correctly identified as coming from using the wrong model of human interaction. The sexually disappointed man might think he needs more physical or visual stimulation to be satisfied. He may think he just needs to work harder at persuading different women (those made for sex) to consent or he may think he needs to push his current partner to consent to letting him try stuff she doesn't want to try.

Taking the wrong approach to new heights isn't going to magically make it the right approach. The biggest lie told in porn is the message that an aggressive approach gives all women what they secretly want. This shows itself whenever women fake their sexual reactions to please a man.

In that model of sexual interaction, true communication is not welcome.

Porn, even the most violent examples made illegal in England, doesn't make anybody commit rape, but porn can reinforce dangerous attitudes.

I dissected the study used to make a correlation between porn and rape prevention in my post, Porn Up Rape Down Or ... and a few months ago I blogged about how money spent by Johns funds future exploitation. Even though that post didn't address porn, those who buy porn help underwrite current practices in the porn industry. If those practices are abusive and/or illegal, porn consumers must take some responsibility for funding those practices.

Anyone who has boycotted a business knows that their consumer dollars have power. Yet when it comes to porn that connection seems to magically disappear.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post

1 Comments:

At September 08, 2006 11:58 AM, Blogger sailorman said...

Interesting post. Though I think the "flaw" comes in your translation.

Certainly your use of the word "labelled" isn't something I said, or implied. I don't think they're equivalent at all, and I have not seen that put forth.

If one were to think only of what was "labelled" as consent (as opposed to what was ACTUAL consent) then the only person who could appropriately do the labelling would be the woman involved. In which case it is the same thing.

I think you make a good point, however, that the consent which occurs in porn (or film, or books, or...) is often an inaccurate representation of what "true" consent looks like. I also agree in principle that agressive behavior is not a good thing.

Perhaps I should clarify, as "aggressive" is so broad: Are you talking about someone who sprawls on the couch and says "eat me now"* or are you talking about someone who grabs someone and forces sex? The former is assholish and aggressive in tone. But it it not rape (and IMO invites the response of "fuck off!") The latter is rape.

gtg. glad to continue this later though if you want.

*let me know what your language preferences are on your blog, and edit if needed.

p.s. I've also posted on rape on my own blog, as I find it a fascinating topic from a legal sense.

 

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