“Consent Is Hard”

There’s some interesting conversation going on in the comments on my post, “An MRA Speaks on Rape.” It’s interesting not for how it starts–which is the typical fretting about potential edge cases in consent–but because of where it goes from there.

It started with the standard misdirection:

Wel I have some reservations against calling “having sex with an intoxicated person” rape. Does that mean that if both persons were intoxicated they raped each other?

I pointed out that that wasn’t what was being discussed. It is, after all, a very different thing to say that one may be too intoxicated to effectively give or withhold consent (as federal definitions of rape do) and that no one who is intoxicated can consent to sex. Someone else wasn’t keen on me keeping the thread on topic, however:

Given the numbers of people who go home together after meeting at bars or clubs or parties or other places serving alcohol–given the number of people who go out to such places in order to meet someone–and the countless stages of intoxication, and of comparative intoxication, of visible intoxication, questions of who’s buying the drinks, what each person’s goals are–of all the conversations to cut short with simplistic and sometimes unkind responses, this is not one.

I think that there are questions in there to be fleshed out. Because that’s the kind of statement that sounds good and solid, and can block a further conversation if it’s not deconstructed. I’d have looked into it.

Declaring an area crystal clear does not in fact, get rid of that obnoxious blurriness.

A number of commenters made excellent points, and they’re all well worth reading, but I just want to say this up front: If you find the topic of consent to be difficult to sort out, you’re going at sex wrong.

Will it always be immediately clear whether someone wants to have sex with you? No. Will it always be clear whether they want to have the same kind of sex you want to have? No. Will it always be clear, even when they say, “Yes,” whether they feel free to say, “No,” or are sober enough to know what they’re doing? No.

So what?

Consent is not a true-false test on which you ever need to guess the answer. Sex, aside from masturbation in private, is something that happens between two or more people. If those people are present for sex, they are present for you to communicate with them. They are there for you to talk to and listen to. They are there for you to reassure that any answer they give is acceptable. They can tell you what they want and what they don’t. There is no reason to ever have to turn consent into a guessing game, unless you have a partner who refuses to communicate or whom you don’t fully trust.

Then it’s up to you. If you still really can’t tell whether you have freely and reasonably given consent, you have a decision to make. At that point, it’s time to figure out just how comfortable you are running the risk of raping someone.

Sure, it’s possible that your staggeringly drunk date would still want to have sex with you sober. It’s possible that the person sleeping next to you would jump you if they were awake. It’s possible that the hesitation you sense is performance anxiety and not unhappiness about feeling there’s no choice but sex.

It’s all possible, but if you can’t be sure, the alternate possibility is rape.

That shouldn’t be a hard decision. Pretending that it is, or even just giving in to the societal pressure that says the pursuit of sex should be the primary consideration, is giving cover to rapists. Rapists don’t set out to be villains. They excuse their actions by claiming consent where there is none–and by claiming that consent is difficult to sort out. They treat it like that true-false test, where the answers carry equivalent weight and a guess gives a fair chance of getting it right.

But this isn’t something you flip a coin over. It isn’t something you have to guess at in the dark. And it really, really isn’t hard.

“Consent Is Hard”

50 thoughts on ““Consent Is Hard”

  1. 5

    I used to think it would be difficult to navigate consent, that getting into bed with someone was all about vague body language and nuance that was meant to be ‘instinctual’ and ‘natural’. It was difficult for me to imagine how it could be anything else and also good. Now I know better.

    For anyone who thinks that all this leaves them is a cold and sterile situation in which you both sit down on the edge of the bed and say ‘I would like to have sex with you now.’ every time you’d like sex with your partner, you are mistaken. One of the great things about being in a situation where you both trust each other enough to verify consent the first time around is that you are perfectly free to say ‘I trust you, I /want/ you to assume consent and I /want/ you to trust that I /will/ say no explicitly if I don’t want to.’ When you have that kind of trust with someone, that’s when the fun really starts.

  2. 6

    Well said. It’s similar to what I always say in these sorts of horrid “discussions.” If you’re really that much in doubt, just don’t.

    If you’re doing sex right, there’s not going to be a shred of doubt in your mind, because your partner is going to be right there with you, tearing his/her clothes off, going, “yes yes yes!”

    If you’re WONDERING whether your partner is totally into it, and that isn’t at least a little bit of a mood-killer, then there’s something wrong with you.

    If you find that actually obtaining consent, that is, paying attention to your partner enough to tell that she or he is really into it, to be more of a mood-killer than discovering that your partner really isn’t into it, then you’re probably a rapist.

  3. 7

    When considering whether to have sex with someone who’s intoxicated, the question shouldn’t be, “I think they’re signaling that it’s okay that I do things to them,” or “She’s not saying no,” but instead, “Do I have the slightest doubt that this person wants me, really, really wants me?” Turn it around and ask how they regard you, not whether you have permission! If she’s passed out or completely incoherent, then she doesn’t really have a say in the issue, does she? And if she doesn’t have a say, then she can’t say, “Yes.”

    This equals “leave her the fuck alone.” For instance, I wish that the night I took Kristen home drunk that she would jump my body, but she didn’t. Instead, she threw up and passed out. I half-carried her into her bedroom, took her shoes off, and pulled her blankets up. I slept on her couch. It’s what any good man would do!

  4. F

    If you find consent to be difficult to sort out, you probably need serious help, and possibly deprogramming.

    If you find consent to be difficult to sort out, I feel sorry for you, and deeply concerned for your victims.

    If you find consent to be difficult to sort out, you are missing out on fun and the better parts of the human experience.

  5. 10

    I am not interested here in getting the sex right. That question is more or less settled with my wife a long time ago.

    I am interested in sorting a few things out. So what if both persons were sufficient intoxicated so one could evaluate them both as beyond the ability to give consent and they had sex together. Are they raping each other? What if one has regrets later and the other not, is the first automatically the victim?

    Do you have to be staggering drunk to be beyond the ability to give consent or would it be enough you are beyond the driving limit?

    I am just curious about these things because even if they are terrible questions in the context of directing your behaviour while on a date, people sometimes do stupid things and not all stupid acts should result in a conviction.

  6. 11

    No means no. Yes can be problematic when either’s judgment is impaired. Worse yet, consent is only relevant when both parties are adults.

    Sex between an adult and an adolescent is impermissible, since an adolescent is presumed unable to consent, but we’re generally not hostile to sex between adolescents, even though we deem neither party capable of consent. Sex with non-humans is precisely parallel; we disapprove because the sheep has no say in the matter, but it would be ridiculous to patrol the flock or to wander the forest preventing non-consensual coupling. “Stop that, you birds and bees!”

    The more general rule would appear to prohibit coercion by adult humans. The flock, the children, students and subordinates are out of bounds because of the power we wield over them. This consideration may even cover the gray area of impaired consent between adults.

  7. 12

    Axxyaan, if you’re interested in sorting a few things out, then surely you followed up after I pointed out in the last thread that we have precedent on intoxication and legal in/capacity. You took my advice and checked out the available information on your own, right?

    Or did you just come back here–after I pointed out twice in that comment thread and once in this post that acting like there is a meaningful squishy edge to this sort of thing is giving cover to rapists–and say, “Yeah, but what if someone decides to run that risk of raping somebody? Could they be convicted?”

  8. 13

    When I was 19 and in college, I was friends with a 35 year old married man. I’d never gone to bars before I met him, but with him I would go out for drinks frequently. After one such outing, I woke up the next day naked in bed with him at a hotel. I had no recollection of drinking much, none of how I’d gotten there or what had happened. At the time, when I’d think about that waking up in a hotel, I’d blame myself for drinking too much but didn’t ever blame him. As the decades have passed and as I’ve raised daughters, I’ve thought about it more and have put the responsibility squarely on him. He’d been grooming me for this for a while and was the one providing the drinks. There was no flipping way I could have given consent, though I certainly did have sex with him, presumably willingly in my drunken state. If a man treated one of my daughters like that, I’d have no question that it would be rape. Do I caution those daughters about being careful not to drink too much? You bet. If they did drink too much and a man took advantage of that, is the man off the hook? Hell no.

  9. 14

    I don’t act like there is a meaningful squishy edge to this sort of thing. There doesn’t have to be a meaningful squishy edge to this sort of thing in order to raise some questions. And the fact that the raising of some questions will be used to give cover to rapists, doesn’t mean the questions should stay unasked.

    But you are off course in no sense obligated in helping me sorting these things out and since it is obvious you are also not interested in helping me out, I’ll no longer bother you about this.

  10. 15

    There is nothing unhelpful about pointing out that rape is not some weird, unexplored territory where everything has to be thought out anew. It’s a crime. If you really want to know in intricate detail how intoxication interacts with criminal law, study up. If you don’t really want to know, stop bringing it up where it’s off topic.

    This part isn’t hard either.

  11. 16

    I didn’t imply rape was some weird, unexplored territory where everything has to be thought out anew. So yes pointing out it is not, is unhelpful. Your articles just raised some questions which it seemed appropiate to bring up and maybe get a quick answer.

    Seems I was mistaken about that. Turns out my question is off topic and you don’t want to a answer it. That is perfectly allright.

  12. 17

    Axxyaan, now you’re just being an ass. Of course it’s “all right” for me to not answer an off-topic question that I told you how to research the first time you asked it. What is not all right is telling me I’m being unhelpful because I’m not stopping a discussion to do your research for you. What is not all right is getting pissy because I tell you–again–that you’re off topic. You messed up. Try to get over it gracefully.

  13. 18

    I’m sorry Axxyaan, I know you think you’re just asking what you feel is a relevant question, but actual rapists ask the same questions to muddy the consent waters. If other people are touchy about this stuff, it’s because not only is it off topic to the question of consent, it’s probably triggering people who recognize this stuff as stuff rapists use to rule-lawyer their way out of their charges. Which is not hard, when the current thinking is that if the woman had anything to drink, people (including law enforcement) don’t take her rape charges seriously.

    Nobody’s saying that two drunk people who consent to sex and don’t feel bad about it afterward are raping one another. What we’re saying is, as soon as your ability to consent is impaired, you run the risk of “taking advantage” of a person. The term “taking advantage” is pretty much a friendly euphemism for rape.

    As Stephanie says, the introduction of alcohol to a situation does change the legal playing field significantly, for any crime, and this is well documented in existing case law. Yes, there are wibbly areas around the outskirts. The current prejudice is against the people claiming to be raped. It’s something that needs to change.

  14. 19

    Look, I was perfectly happy to let this rest in the other blogpost, but you found it necessary to bring up my comment here, in a way I thought it necessary to clarify my original intend. So don’t blame me for bringing it up again.

    If you bring up my question from anthore blogpost, I don’t think my original intention for asking it, is off topic.

    I may have messed up in the original blog post but I see nothing wrong with me clarifying my original intend when you bring that comment up in this way.

  15. 20

    Yes, Axxyaan, because this is all about you and how people view you. Jason gave you a cookie. Is that good enough for you, or did it just help reinforce your sense of greivance?

  16. 21

    Well, it’s godawful passive-aggressive the way you’re conceding this. “Well you’re not interested in helping me so bye!” Despite Stephanie pointing out that you can do your own research into caselaw for your presented border cases.

    The topic of this particular post is still that consent is not actually hard to obtain. So getting that person’s consent while they’re still able to consent might be a good idea. Maybe it was the fact that the title is in scarequotes and says the opposite, that’s throwing you?

  17. 22


    You are right. The current climate is too friendly for rapist. I appologize for being insensitive. I’ll get out now, though probably not very gracefully.

  18. 24

    I think Axxyaan is asking the right questions for the wrong reasons.
    Is consent more tricky when two people are intoxicated? Yes.
    Is it more likely that someone will do something while intoxicated that they will regret when sober- something they might possibly interpret as the result of being manipulated? Yep.

    I guess the question is how you personally deal with those self-explanatory revelations as a mature adult.

  19. 25


    Perhaps people who are intending to get so intoxicated that they can’t evaluate their partner’s ability to consent should avail themselves of a designated chaperone to keep them from having sex, just as they would a designated driver to keep them from getting behind the wheel. Then they don’t have to worry about making a mistake.

  20. 26

    It’s all possible, but if you can’t be sure, the alternate possibility is rape.


    I actually experienced this with my last relationship; it took a while to realize that “No” didn’t mean “no”, but “I think it’s rude or selfish of me to accept”. She thought it was an expression of love that gifts were forced on her.

    So, when our relationship became physical, and I asked to spend the night, did no mean no? Damn right it did. I figured that if she really wanted me to stay, I’d find out later. In fact, she was rather freaked out that I asked her at all, and was hugely relieved that I DID take no for an answer.

  21. 27

    In fact, she was rather freaked out that I asked her at all, and was hugely relieved that I DID take no for an answer.

    I’m sorry she obviously made such negative experiences before so what should be the normal thing to happen was a rare experience for her.

    But really, what’s the matter with talking?
    It’s nothing to be ashamed of that you can’t read minds. None of us can. I’ve been with the same guy for 12 years and sometimes we still missjudge each other’s non-verbal signals. That’s when we resort to verbal clues.

  22. 28

    Axxy, I’m going to regret this, but I’m going to treat your question as motivated from genuine curiosity rather than trying to excuse rape. The reason I’m going to regret it is because there are such strong cultural forces towards excusing rape that giving you this is more than it’s worth.

    If a party lacks the ability to consent, it’s because they cannot form the intent necessary to consent (or, if it’s age-based, cannot understand consequences). Without the ability to form intent, one could argue there is no rape.

    This actually occurred in one rather curious case with the drug Ambien, where a person while sleepwalking actually got into their car and drove to another person’s house and raped a woman. Though the woman was being forced into sex, she testified that she could tell that he wasn’t conscious. The court ruled that no rape occurred (I don’t recall whether the woman actually found the person blameworthy and I do wonder whether that would be less traumatizing than conscious rape). In that case it was clear that the woman wasn’t able to consent, but neither was her “rapist”.

    In theory, a similar argument could be made for mutual drunkenness. In practice, I think it’s highly dubious that one would successfully make an argument in court and if I were part of a jury and heard that argument for drunkenness I’d probably dismiss it immediately. When I imagine two people both too drunk to consent to sex, I don’t imagine them capable of having sex with each other. I imagine them lying next to each other either asleep or vomiting. If one has the wherewithal to mount the other, they have the ability to form consent and hence the ability to rape.

  23. 29

    When I imagine two people both too drunk to consent to sex, I don’t imagine them capable of having sex with each other. I imagine them lying next to each other either asleep or vomiting. If one has the wherewithal to mount the other, they have the ability to form consent and hence the ability to rape.

    Thank you lexaequitas! That is exactly what I’ve been thinking, though you said it better than I could have.

    We’re not talking about two people who are a little drunk here, we’re talking about people who are so drunk they cannot give or deny consent. That is huge! If you’re not in a mental state to express consent or deny consent it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to think about sex. And if you ARE able to think about sex and consent you’re either so drunk you can’t physically move/speak or you’re not drunk at all. The former means you still can’t consent and the latter is no longer part of the drunk discussion.

    Now Axxyaan, if these comments don’t address your questions and you still feel the need to press the issue, please go do your research elsewhere for a while. It’s for the best for everyone.

  24. 30

    I’m not sure about the “Too drunk to consent = too drunk to fuck” formulation. I know a number of people who will seem drunk but functional (coherent, mobile, participatory, etc.) but still behave in ways that are otherwise out of character, or will be completely forgotten the following day.

    I think that interferes with the issue of consent, which is why I err strongly on the side of caution in those situations. Might cost me a drunken hookup, but on the plus side, I can actually live with myself.

    Vomit-free bedding is also a plus.

  25. 31

    I hate those mornings when you wake up with someone and you’re both saying, “Who the hell are you?”

    Until I was smart enough to know my limits with alcohol, I didn’t blame the man for stuff like that, because my blackout threshold is somewhere in the 3-4 drink range. I simply didn’t realize where that line was for a while, but oh would I hear after parties or nights on the town about the crazy things I’d do and how fun and funny I was until closing time, while I didn’t remember anything after 11 p.m. or so. I wasn’t sitting around during these times, either. For instance, I won a bar’s pool tournament during a blackout, and I usually can’t play pool for shit! How did I do it? I have no idea! I would have guys ask me to dance, I was so awesome last week, so much fun, and I’d say, dude, I’ve never seen you in my life! But then they’d remind me that we danced together for hours the previous Saturday. We did? News to me!

    So I think there are times when you can be blitzed out of your mind and still function, and that’s where consent can get tricky.

  26. 32

    For comparison, take a look at the way questions are handled in chronic pain support groups, where I spend more of my time reading and commenting. There are no end of public misconceptions, and they have very real consequences for pain sufferers–we lose work, friends, spouses, homes–so it’s not as if we take them lightly. But when someone writes in asking why their spouse suddenly has no interest in them, we try not to dismiss it. We get that someone doesn’t understand an issue; someone with experience answers the question, and I think someone’s better off for having asked.

  27. 33

    Damnage, can you possibly come up with a reason, maybe even one I’ve mentioned several times now, why a support group and education on the issues surrounding a crime might not be entirely analogous?

  28. 34

    The reason I’ve seen you try to end a discussion with most often was the “this is the tactic that rapists use” line, which I think is a terrible way to discourage discussions for a number of reasons. Primary among them, So what? Yours is the exact same line creationists have been using do avoid talking about evolution–“it’s the kind of thinking atheists hide behind,” or “it leads to genocide.” Do I really have to say why I think it’s a totally inadequate way of reasoning?

    Is that the way you learned? You’d as a question, and your teacher would say, “Don’t ask that question–Pro-lifers use a similar argument. Think this instead.” My guess is they didn’t, and when you have a question you ask it and hope to get it answered. I don’t know if you really are afraid that allowing some topics in here provide all the scraps of thoughts necessary to gear up some rapist to another attack, but I really don’t think that if you reason through a question well you’re going to get anyone disagreeing with you.

    When people aren’t reasoning well, they’re going to write comments like you see just up from the bottom, making claims like the too drunk to fuck = too drunk to consent formula that was getting tossed around. Anyone want to address that, or you just mad at me for saying it should be addressed? Cause I’ve had two ex-girlfriends who were not too drunk to have sex, but they did end up seriously regretting the “consent” they’d been pressured into giving while drunk. One said she felt it was rape; the other said she felt like a whore.

    So yes, I get that rapists can take advantage of the lack of clarity, but I put much, much more weight on getting men who do not want to rape anyone to see the issue with more clarity, and on women who have been raped to see their position with clarity. I don’t think the answer is ever less discussion, and I don’t think anyone who stayed to the end of a discussion would find you on the losing side of a rape debate.

  29. 35

    Nobody in this conversation, Stephanie least of all, is demanding orthodoxy, Damnage. In fact, Stephanie provided information on where to research the information that Axxyaan was requesting, while simultaneously asking that he do the research on his own because the lines of argumentation did not add clarity to the discussion but rather served to muddy the waters needlessly, especially since the information he was requesting was information that people could obtain by doing the research Stephanie suggested (e.g. going to case law for how alcohol consumption affects criminal matters). These waters need clarifying, which involves cutting out specious argumentation before we get mired in them.

    And I especially don’t think Stephanie’s ceding any argument just by saying “that’s off topic, here’s how you find the info you want, please return to the topic”. Seriously, how often do you, in discussing with creationists what they believe, get bogged down in explaining the same scientific concepts over and over again, concepts which are totally tangential to what THEY believe, because they’ve misdirected the conversation to what YOU “believe”?

  30. 36

    Additionally, I’d love to see an example of a debate with a theist that is shut down because “that’s how atheists think”. They are not equivalent. Not by a long shot. On the one hand, we’re talking about a culture where rapists get away with rape by muddying the waters of consent, criminals actually getting away with crime, and on the other, we’re talking about a people who refuse to consider that they’re wrong because it might mean they’re wrong about more things, deluded people getting away with remaining deluded. There is simply no equivalency here.

  31. 37

    Also, consider what a leading question is, particularly while discussing an issue fraught with subconscious bias. Not all questions are asked in good faith.

  32. 38

    Uh, Damnage…

    Cause I’ve had two ex-girlfriends who were not too drunk to have sex, but they did end up seriously regretting the “consent” they’d been pressured into giving while drunk.

    One said she felt it was rape; the other said she felt like a whore.

    Do you notice a problem here? And it’s not the alcohol.

  33. 39


    Yes, I know what happened. If they hadn’t been drunk the guy insisting, “just let me massage your hand,” and “come one, I don’t want to have to take a taxi home,” wouldn’t have been given the time of day. They weren’t pressured in any physical sense, just annoyed. And they weren’t falling-over drunk, but they were drunk.

    As they had been drinking, they were exasperated enough to agree to have sex when they didn’t really want to. Not enthusiastically by anyone’s standards, but enough that these two couples continued. These situations were covered in the comments initially, but then came back.

    There are men who don’t get there’s anything wrong here. I knew one of the men involved;he hadn’t given it a second thought. So personally, as a teacher and occasional activist, I’d try to encourage more such men to ask these questions, so that they can get their answers from the right places.

    If I had an honest question, I would not ask it here.

    I’m not going to keep explaining why I think encouraging discussion tends to be wiser than blocking discussions. Keep in mind what “freethoughtblog” infers, but then, as I mentioned a couple comments back, look at the way other sites and other activist groups handle unwanted questions.

  34. 40

    @ Damnage:
    Gosh. That’s awfully convenient for ‘your friend’. I especially like how you’re standing up for ‘his’ poor downtrodden right to ask an honest question after ‘he’ casually admitted to date-raping someone.

    You know, this may come as something of a shock to you, but sometimes rapists can’t actually be educated out of their sinning ways. Sometimes they’re not just poor, misunderstood menz who may have made a tiny error in judgement that one time.

    Sometimes they need to be prosecuted.




  35. 41

    Oh Damnage, you poor damn fool. From all your desperate explaining @39, you know perfectly well what happened, you just refuse to admit it. Someone told you that pressuring a woman “doesn’t count” if she’s drunk, or if it’s not physical or violent, or if she doesn’t say no loud enough or repeatedly enough or clearly enough; and you bought it. You think the guys that pressured your ex-girlfriends into sex AGAINST THEIR WILL were just confused! Because the girls were drunk! But not THAT drunk, not “falling-over drunk” like you said, because that would have been… what? Un-cool somehow? That wouldn’t have let you cling to the comforting illusion that it doesn’t count, because “Consent Is Hard” (did you even read the OP?)

    But what you just described are classic predatory tactics that rapists use to get away with rape in plain sight, repeatedly, while everyone around them pretends it doesn’t count, this one time, for some reason. Including you.

    Rapists know what works. They like to rape, they want to keep doing it, they want not to be caught. It is in their interest to be very sensitive to which accounts of rape are believed and which are attacked and to know which targets and methods are lowest-risk for them.

    What they do is what works. They rape their drunk acquaintances because it works. They rape their drunk acquaintances because we let them.

    We need to revoke the rapists’ social license to operate. We need to stop asking, “why do we think he didn’t know she wasn’t consenting,” which is the first question now, really. First as a cultural matter — leaving the legal matter aside — we need to adopt the stance that sexual interaction ought to always be had in a state of affirmative consent by all participants; that anything else is aberrant. If someone says, “I was sexually assaulted,” the first question should be, “why was a person continuing with sexual activity when zir partner did not want to?”

    Quote from Meet the Predators

    Why did those guys pressure and bother and annoy your ex-girlfriends in the first place, Damnage? Does someone have to be pressured if they actually WANT what’s on offer? Why were your friends “not enthusiastic” about the sex that resulted? What does this not count as?

    note: I don’t care if you’re talking about some guy you know or “some guy you know”. It’s the same argument either way.

  36. 42

    So personally, as a teacher and occasional activist, I’d try to encourage more such men to ask these questions, so that they can get their answers from the right places

    I have no desire to legitimize a rapist’s (and yes, that’s what these gentlemen are) feelings that he hasn’t committed a wrong. To be frank, having argued and dealt with such men, there’s little headway to be made. ‘It was just a few minutes for her’ is not a response I ever want to hear again.

    If you’re interested in helping stop (or at least decrease the occurrence of) rape, you’d be better served raising awareness that these actions are not ‘ok’ and what the importance of consent is. The people still taking advantage (key words there) of someone who’s mostly incapacitated and can’t fight them off enjoy and intentionally do what they do. They go looking for these women and they fully expect to continue being allowed to prey on them.

  37. 43

    If someone says, “I was sexually assaulted,” the first question should be, “why was a person continuing with sexual activity when zir partner did not want to?”


  38. 44

    I don’t know what to make of the last few comments–I’ll just say they really crossed a line. I do not have a rapist “friend” in the situation I described–those were descriptions of what happened to two women I used to date, women I loved. The fact that I knew who one of the men was does not–why am I even explaining this? You have no right to imply that I was in any way involved, or didn’t care at the time. That is a perverted and hateful accusation to make, based on nothing.

    The ONLY thing I’ve been pushing for is giving people answers to their questions–you apparently disagree, and then because we’re not on the same side of something you feel free to make the most hateful accusations against me you can think of. I’m a teacher–students ask me questions all day, and I answer them.

    I’ll just conclude with this: I counted back as far as this discussion, and of all the comments there have been exactly 2 questions, both from Stephanie. If one of the goals of this site is to educate people, the lack of essentially any questions is unique among educational sites, and maybe something to notice.

  39. 45

    Damnage, you think each and every question requires a detailed answer, sensitive to the feelings of whomever asked it, from me? And if I don’t answer them to your satisfaction, I’m like a creationist?

    First off, I am not running a support group. Secondly, even if I were, support groups are not required to take any and all comers. If someone showed up to your hypothetical pain group asking, “If someone were faking their pain in order to get more narcotics, what signs would the doctors use to tell? I mean, my pain is real, but…just asking,” nobody would feel obliged to answer.

    That’s the kind of question you want me to answer here. “I don’t really need to know anything about understanding whether sex is consensual, but talk to me about borderline legalities.” No. I won’t. And telling me that some hypothetical young man might not understand what consent is–after reading this post–because I didn’t answer that question is stupid at best, disingenuous at worst.

    If a guy wants to understand consent, something like this post is just fine to provide a framework for thinking about it. If a guy doesn’t want to understand consent, nothing I say will help. If a guy is just interested in gaming the system, he doesn’t want to understand consent. He wants some physical stimulation from someone he doesn’t consider as fully human as he is. Me agreeing that gaming the system is a legitimate activity will not help.

    You’re getting hostility in this comment thread because you’re blaming the wrong person. Feel free to stop that at any time.

  40. 46


    I’m sure you don’t rape women and that you make it a point (most people do) to avoid those that do.

    I’m a teacher–students ask me questions all day, and I answer them.

    And if they don’t get the answer they like, what happens? Do they automatically try to demean you, your experience and those who agree with you based on your gender and being ‘hysterical?’ What if you get muddled down in detail after detail, sidetracked constantly following all their inane tangents? What if through out the entire exchange they show zero good faith and seem entirely there for the purpose of justifying being wrong?

    How long would you tolerate that before ending the discussion?

    If one of the goals of this site is to educate people, the lack of essentially any questions is unique among educational sites, and maybe something to notice.

    Consent is very cut and dry. There’s really isn’t much gray. If you have reason to doubt consent has been given, stop. If you’re coercing them into sex, stop. If they seem like they’re drugged up, have no idea where they are or seem disoriented, stop. Getting some tang isn’t worth the very real possibility of violating someone.

    You can choose to create a lot of gray by playing up the ‘I didn’t know’ card but let’s be perfectly frank, that’s going to be bullshit. This is someone you are in very close proximity with (kinda have to be). You are going to notice these things while you try to get them back to your room/car/alley/away from other people.

  41. 47

    Damnage, quit fluffing up your outrage and listen. “Consent is hard” is a MYTH. It’s a LIE. You bought it just like millions of bystanders buy it every day, which lets predators carry on with an epidemic of date-rapes, exactly like the ones you just described. To the extent that you defend that lie, you’re part of the problem, and you can either fix that or continue to be all pissy about how many turtles the world rests on.

    If you’re having sex with someone who’s happy about it, YOU KNOW. And you can always ask them. If you’re having sex with someone who hates it and is just lying there waiting for it to end, YOU KNOW. So do rapists, but they do it anyway and then tell everyone “it didn’t count” because turtles alcohol flirting dating bought dinner whatever.

    Better description: You Know What Consent Looks Like

  42. 49

    […] A repost for today, in “honor” of all the people who jump up to claim to be rapists when the subject of alcohol and rape is brought up. Pro tip: “That can’t be true because it would make me a rapist” is never a convincing argument. Don’t miss Benny’s comments in particular on that post, or the comments where this was originally posted. […]

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