Consent, Disclosure and the Cotton Ceiling

This is another debate I have not yet commented on but a conversation today on twitter made me want to clarify my thoughts publicly.

I do not believe anyone has the right to sex. I believe that full disclosure is necessary even for casual or one-night relationships. I believe anything less invalidates consent.  Lying about your marital status should invalidate consent. Lying about your health in a manner which could compromise the health of your partner invalidates consent.

The police officers who had sexual relationships with women in order to cement their cover whilst spying on left-wing organisations committed rape. Their lies invalidated the consent of the women involved. The fact that this is not illegal simply demonstrates how utterly woman-hating our laws of consent are.

Consent, as it stands now, is a joke. It is designed so that men can fuck whoever they want whenever they want without any consequence. Women’s boundaries and bodily integrity are violated in a million ways every day. The law is designed to defend these violations by men rather than protect women.

We need to rewrite the law completely in order to defend women’s bodily integrity [and, of course, the children and men whose bodies are violated]. This means we need to start with full disclosure before any, however temporary, sexual relationship. And, yes, this will mean difficult conversations. It will also mean forgoing sex because we cannot disclose for whatever reason but including safety.

These conversations will, I have no doubt, be more difficult for transwomen who will be faced with the increased possibility of male violence. It is this very real threat which makes it all the more important for us to smash the patriarchal construction of consent. It may very well mean a decrease in sex for many but no one has the right to sex. We are morally required to ensure the safety of others and that safety includes not violating bodily integrity.

Real consent can only be given when both parties are in possession of all the facts. It is that simple.

This is why I find the term “cotton ceiling” so disturbing. I understand the need for Trans* to self-organise to share stories of full disclosure and offer mutual support over a difficult issue, however the term “cotton ceiling” does not imply respectful discussions of consent and disclosure. The idea that lesbian women are somehow providing a barrier to sex which must be smashed just like the glass ceiling in employment sounds remarkably like denying women bodily integrity. The term itself implies a level of coercion; coercion removes consent. Lack of consent equals rape. This may not be what was meant when the term was first used but the implication is clearly there and it is supported by suggestions that lesbian women are “transphobic” for refusing to have sexual relationships with transwomen.

Being sexually undesirable by someone who you fancy sexually is a horrible position to be in but no one has the right to sex and lesbians have the right to refuse to have sex with whomever they want. Everyone has the right to refuse sex whatever the reason. We need to have conversations about consent and disclosure but they must be done from a position of honesty. If  you cannot disclose the truth [whatever that may be] to the person you desire sexually, then you should not have sex with them. This is as valid for one night stands as it is for long-term relationships.

Valid Excuses for Murdering your Wife and Child

On Thursday June 29, the Independent published an article on a murder-suicide involving a British family living in Costa Del Sol. Apparently, the man murdered his wife and child because he lost his job and they were ill. 

Because, it is completely reasonable to murder your wife who is ill and your daughter who is disabled when you find yourself unemployed and in debt. 

A woman and her adult daughter were murdered by a man who was supposed to love them but who believed he owned them. Family annihilators are almost always male and financially stable. They kill their families when they learn they aren’t the centre of the universe.

This is male violence. 

There is no excuse for killing your partner and child and we need to stop making excuses for these men. They are not mentally ill. They are violent and controlling men who kill their family because they can. 

No more excuses. 

No more victim blaming. 

We need to name the problem: male violence. 

Then, we need to hold individual perpetrators responsible for their own actions.

Why Don’t Perpetrators have Agency?

This week, I’ve been watching discussions on Facebook and Twitter talk about the “agency” of a teenage girl in her grooming, kidnapping, and rape by her teacher Jeremy Forrest.

A 15 year old girl was groomed, kidnapped and raped by her teacher; a man she was supposed to be able to trust. Instead of discussing the horrific abuse of power by Jeremy Forrest, people are talking about the “agency” of a 15 year old girl in her own abuse. Instead of using the term sexual predator or rapist to describe Forrest, we are discussing the “agency” of his victim.

Where are the discussions about Forrest’s agency? Why are we discussing the “agency” of a teenage girl and not the agency of the man who chose to kidnap and rape her. Why aren’t we focussing on the choices made by an adult? Why are we trying to cast a teenage girl as responsible for her own rape?

We need to stop using the term agency when talking about sexual abuse. Agency implies that the victims were in some way responsible for their own abuse. The only person who has “agency” in this situation is Jeremy Forrest.

Jeremy Forrest groomed a child. He chose to groom a child. He chose to rape a child.

Jeremy Forrest is a sexual predator. That is the story.