Jezebel is trolling itself again. This afternoon, the well-known feminist blog published an essay by one Edward Pasteck entitled,"American Guy In Paris Freed From The Idea Of 'Consent'."
"Having just returned from living in Paris, I feel more convinced than ever that America gets many things wrong about sex. Right there near the top of the list is our attachment to the idea of consent."
In Paris, Pasteck claims, men have free reign to grab and paw at strange women on the street. Nobody begrudges them their manly groping rights. They aren't expected to concern themselves with questions like, "Does she want me to touch her?"
As Pasteck understands this game, whether a woman wants to be grabbed has no bearing on whether a man should try to touch her. The only relevant question, in Pasteck's estimation, is whether the man feels like touching her. If a woman doesn't like being groped, it's her job to firmly but elegantly reject him. It's all part a Parisian woman's role as a "permanent object of desire," according to Pasteck. Really, they like it. He can tell. See how graciously they smile as they back slowly away?
Pasteck says that fighting gropers is feminist and empowering:
Whatever the result, women maneuver around male aggression to gain the upper hand. They are the ones deciding what to do with the onslaught of male desire. And though the men are leveraging these attacks as a pretense for familiarity (later on in the night or outside the club the ice has already been broken) it's the women who call the shots.
If by "feminist" you mean "Paris has not quietly legalized rape," then he's surely describing a feminist paradise. Remember ladies, just because a Parisian gropes you doesn't mean you're obliged to have sex with him. So, consent matters, even in Pasteck's fantasy Paris.
Pasteck thinks Americans' preoccupation is, like, totally uptight:
In America, by contrast, the discourse on consent impresses upon us all, men and women alike, that sex is something more important than a decision. A lot more is involved in obtaining or denying consent than making a decision. For one thing, consent has ethical and legal overtones and implies the kind of complete and utter self-mastery that isn't always on offer while partying.
Granted, this is a lot to think about, especially if you think with your dick. Consent is for people. It's such a boner-killer to realize that that fucktoy you've had your eye on all night is a fellow human being endowed with the same rights as you.
Here in America, our use of the word "consent" complicates the way we view the relation between sex and pleasure. "Consent" is a weighty term otherwise reserved for elevated, formal, even sanitized contexts. Using the term in regards to sex inherently ties a sexual choice to ethical and legal ones (and our unshakable Puritanism once again rears its modest head).
Pasteck wants to eliminate all those complicated steps that separate his desire from his sexual gratification. It's such a drag to have to consider how your behavior will be perceived in the eyes of the law. Rape schmape. Can't we just be spontaneous? Or, more to the point, why can't he just be spontaneous and expect women to indulge him?
Pasteck seems to discount the possibility that a woman might spontaneously and enthusiastically consent to sex with him at the very moment that he spontaneously consents to sex with her. I don't know why he's so pessimistic. This isn't exactly a rare phenomenon, even in stodgy consent-obsessed America.
It almost seems as if Pasteck is blaming women and their "rights" for his own romantic failures. Amanda of Pandagon speculates that Pasteck couldn't improve his chances of getting laid even if he took up street harassment as a full-time job.
I'm not suggesting that a woman have sex with someone she doesn't want to, but I'm hoping we can start having more guilt-free sex by any means necessary. If we turn the volume down on consent, perhaps we'll get closer to this kind of liberation.
So, Pasteck stops short of endorsing rape. Is he not magnanimous? He just wants the right to pursue women like prey and not be guilt-tripped about it. As long as the deer has the right to run away from the wolf, everything's fair and square.
[Photo credit: Greenkayak73, Creative Commons.]