May 5, 2015

ORWELLIAN DOUBLETHINK, RAPE EDITION: “Inspired by the recent performance of The Vagina Monologues” on the Claremont-McKenna College campus, student Jordan Bosiljevac has penned an exegesis of the progressive view of sexual relationships, titled, “Why Yes Can Mean No.”  Ms. Bosiljevac explains:

In discussing this experience with friends, we coined the term “raped by rape culture” to describe what it was like to say yes, coerced by the culture that had raised us and the systems of power that worked on us, and to still want ‘no.’ Sometimes, for me, there was obligation from already having gone back to someone’s room, not wanting to ruin a good friendship, loneliness, worry that no one else would ever be interested, a fear that if I did say no, they might not stop, the influence of alcohol, and an understanding that hookups are “supposed” to be fun.

For me, and many others like me, consent isn’t easy. Yes doesn’t always mean yes, and we misplaced ‘no’ several years ago. This experience isn’t random, but disproportionately affects oppressed communities. Consent is a privilege, and it was built for wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculinity. When society has taught some of us to take up as little space as possible, to take all attention as flattery, and to be truly grateful that anyone at all could want our bodies or love, it isn’t always our choice to say yes.

. . . . When you’re poor, disabled, queer, non-white, trans, or feminine, ‘no’ isn’t for you. I don’t mean to insist that every person oppressed in these systems of power can’t have empowering consensual experiences, and I know many who do. What I do mean to say is that for me, finding ‘no’ is a process, consent is elusive, and sometimes, even when people don’t mean to—they hurt me.

It should be sufficient to point out that consent is the basis of much of law, and if “yes” doesn’t mean “yes,” then there will be no objectively fair principles upon which to judge human interactions, whether one is “wealthy, cis, white, wester, able-bodied” or otherwise.  Ms. Bosiljevac may not yet understand it, but the presumption that individuals– other than minors or those non compos mentis— are capable of giving consent to transactions evinces a deep respect for individualism, and indeed is the embodiment of equal treatment under law that progressives such as she purport to support.  It is also a fundamental basis for the legitimacy of any government–progressive or otherwise. In the words of the Declaration of Independence,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed 

Perhaps Ms. Bosiljevac should brush up on her liberal political theory.  She should have a lot of time, since I rather suspect she won’t be getting any dates anytime soon.