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Consent is in the Eye of the Beholder

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dcc001, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. Dcc001

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    Probably this didn't make the news in the States, but it's causing some buzz here:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014 ... tions.html

    And here's Ghomeshi's response:
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/27 ... y-the-cbc/

    It's a big deal because Ghomeshi is one of the faces of the CBC. He's one of the most recognizable people in the media in Canada, and his radio show is the flagship program for our national broadcaster. He was unceremoniously dropped over the weekend, along with everything that he touched. It's fixing to be a pretty messy legal situation, both on a personal front for Ghomeshi and as a corporate lawsuit against the CBC.

    It brings up a relevant question, though. Where is the line to consent, and how is it determined? As BDSM becomes less and less fringe, there runs a danger that one person thinks they've received consent and the other person feels they haven't given it.

    Unrelated to BDSM are the problems that occur on college campuses and with sports teams. You get a group of (often) inebriated young people together, and at the end of the day two different stories emerge. (Note: please understand I am fully excluding cases of rape in this discussion. Obviously if a person is attacked, that's a crime. I'm speaking now of a case where something consensual happened, but during the course of the encounter one party felt like their limits were violated).

    As a society, how should we deal with consent amongst adults?

    Buzzfeed had an interesting article about it:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/30-h ... ut-consent

    And they also had an article about "More than Yes"

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/sure-is-no ... tudent-cam

    My problem with this one is that it doesn't do anything if both parties are too drunk to notice nuance or think clearly.

    Focus: Thoughts on what's going on with Ghomeshi and the CBC.

    Alt. Focus: Thoughts on how to effectively communicate and receive consent, especially in a situation where young adults or alcohol are involved.
     
  2. Juice

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    Sounds like they could have benefited from a safe word. I dont know jack shit about Canadian law (or American law for that matter), but it sounds like they dont have a case, and this guy, Ghomeshi, is going to become rich(er) from this lawsuit.
     
  3. Angel_1756

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    Quick clarification - he's not suing the girls who are making the accusations. He's suing his former employer who fired him as a result of the allegations.

    Honestly? Like almost all cases where someone is accused of sexual assault, this is entirely he-said/she-said and the real story will never be truly known. Whether he crossed the line or not doesn't matter at this point - he has lost his job and I seriously doubt that anyone will hire him again with this hanging over his head. Sexual assault allegations are one of those things - like child molestation - where the accusation is enough to finish someone's career and private life. Ghomeshi's career is over.

    I fear we're towing the line back to that "the teacher banged the student" argument from a few weeks ago, though. All the girls in this story are in their early 20s, Ghomeshi is 47.
     
  4. Dcc001

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    Ghomeshi claims that safewords were used and that there was constant communication between both parties to make sure everything was kosher.
     
  5. JWags

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    This is really messy, and if this was in the US, both radical extremes (misogynistic tools and man-hating feminists) would already have weighed in with dumb and biased opinions. I will say, his extremely upfront and candid response will do nothing but help him. Its one thing to be like "we had a relationship, didn't go well, etc..." But by airing the dirty laundry straight away, it kind of puts him in the catbird seat, especially with the hesitancy for any of them to go on the record. I get the whole argument about unreported sexual assault and the complications there, but these claims and accusations already climbed the ladder of seriousness, this isn't he said-she said in a small group after a party. Also, it would help to have context to the hate-fuck statement with the CBC colleague. They just hung that out there.

    Also, Angel, the main complaint was from a woman in her late 20s. Even still, are we saying a woman in her early 20s isn't fit to make decisions about what she likes sexually or whatnot? This is nothing like the teacher argument, both are well into legal, consenting adult range.
     
  6. JWags

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    Further reiterating my half-serious statements to my friends that if I were a professional athlete or anyone of notoriety, I would be getting written/video consent from random girls I hook up with. CYA and such.
     
  7. Angel_1756

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    I'm saying that the student was 16 or 17 in that case, the girls in this case are not that much older than that. It's certainly not the same situation, but for everyone who was arguing the "the age difference was the issue" with the student/teachers, this is a parallel.
    Again, I don't want to recapitulate that thread. I'll just say this - the CBC is a fairly reputable news source. It's unlikely that they'd fire someone over allegations that had no substantiation whatsoever.
     
  8. Juice

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    I understand this part, but getting fired for "allegations" without it being proven is where he has a case. Like I said, I don't know how this plays out in Canadian court, but I feel like in US courts he would have a case against his employer and the girls if turns out to be libel.
     
  9. Binary

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    I've always felt this was a really, really hard area to draw clear lines in.

    Drunkenness aside, the "more than yes" campaign illustrates the problem perfectly, though not the way they intended. Enthusiastic consent is terrific and really sexy anyway, but how do you you effectively draw strong boarders around level of consent? Coercion is bad. What about someone who is just meek or easily suggestible? Do you hold someone responsible because their partner tends to go along with whatever is happening? What if the person knows their partner well? What if they don't?

    Again, I want to be totally clear: I fully agree with and endorse the message of the campaign. For both moral and practical reasons, I want my partner to be enthusiastic - there's really nothing sexy about someone just going through the motions because he/she feels pressured. I just struggle with calling it sexual assault if one person suggests (to use a previously coined phrase here) "I think I'd like to try some butt stuff. Do you want to try butt stuff?" and the other person says "okay."

    I don't know how it should get handled in the legal system. I'm not sure there's any way to clearly define both sides without stopping at consent being consent without being able to demonstrate coercion. But from a moral standpoint, I think you start with teaching people about enthusiastic consent and clear communication. Sometimes communication doesn't fit the sexy narrative in peoples' heads, but it's sure a lot better than the alternative.
     
  10. MoreCowbell

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    His actually claim is um, pretty out there. Not impossible per se...but pretty unlikely. He says that the CBC investigated the matter, found it to be unsubstantiated, and then fired him anyway because they were worried that his sexual proclivities were simply too salacious for their public image.

    Sure, if it's true, they're in the wrong, but what are the odds that the truth of the matter is actually that the CBC said, "This has nothing to do with the allegations of nonconsensual sex, it's just because your consensual sex is too sexy."
     
  11. Nom Chompsky

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    For reference, this is his facebook post on the matter (spoilered for length):

    Dear everyone,
    I am writing today because I want you to be the first to know some news.
    This has been the hardest time of my life. I am reeling from the loss of my father. I am in deep personal pain and worried about my mom. And now my world has been rocked by so much more.
    Today, I was fired from the CBC.
    For almost 8 years I have been the host of a show I co-created on CBC called Q. It has been my pride and joy. My fantastic team on Q are super-talented and have helped build something beautiful.
    I have always operated on the principle of doing my best to maintain a dignity and a commitment to openness and truth, both on and off the air. I have conducted major interviews, supported Canadian talent, and spoken out loudly in my audio essays about ideas, issues, and my love for this country. All of that is available for anyone to hear or watch. I have known, of course, that not everyone always agrees with my opinions or my style, but I've never been anything but honest. I have doggedly defended the CBC and embraced public broadcasting. This is a brand I’ve been honoured to help grow.
    All this has now changed.
    Today I was fired from the company where I've been working for almost 14 years – stripped from my show, barred from the building and separated from my colleagues. I was given the choice to walk away quietly and to publicly suggest that this was my decision. But I am not going to do that. Because that would be untrue. Because I’ve been fired. And because I've done nothing wrong.
    I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.
    As friends and family of mine, you are owed the truth.
    I have commenced legal proceedings against the CBC, what’s important to me is that you know what happened and why.
    Forgive me if what follows may be shocking to some.
    I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.
    About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady's Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone's business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.
    Despite a strong connection between us it became clear to me that our on-and-off dating was unlikely to grow into a larger relationship and I ended things in the beginning of this year. She was upset by this and sent me messages indicating her disappointment that I would not commit to more, and her anger that I was seeing others.
    After this, in the early spring there began a campaign of harassment, vengeance and demonization against me that would lead to months of anxiety.
    It came to light that a woman had begun anonymously reaching out to people that I had dated (via Facebook) to tell them she had been a victim of abusive relations with me. In other words, someone was reframing what had been an ongoing consensual relationship as something nefarious. I learned – through one of my friends who got in contact with this person – that someone had rifled through my phone on one occasion and taken down the names of any woman I had seemed to have been dating in recent years. This person had begun methodically contacting them to try to build a story against me. Increasingly, female friends and ex-girlfriends of mine told me about these attempts to smear me.
    Someone also began colluding with a freelance writer who was known not to be a fan of mine and, together, they set out to try to find corroborators to build a case to defame me. She found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim and turned this into a campaign. The writer boldly started contacting my friends, acquaintances and even work colleagues – all of whom came to me to tell me this was happening and all of whom recognized it as a trumped up way to attack me and undermine my reputation. Everyone contacted would ask the same question, if I had engaged in non-consensual behavior why was the place to address this the media?
    The writer tried to peddle the story and, at one point, a major Canadian media publication did due diligence but never printed a story. One assumes they recognized these attempts to recast my sexual behaviour were fabrications. Still, the spectre of mud being flung onto the Internet where online outrage can demonize someone before facts can refute false allegations has been what I've had to live with.
    And this leads us to today and this moment. I’ve lived with the threat that this stuff would be thrown out there to defame me. And I would sue. But it would do the reputational damage to me it was intended to do (the ex has even tried to contact me to say that she now wishes to refute any of these categorically untrue allegations). But with me bringing it to light, in the coming days you will prospectively hear about how I engage in all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom. And the implication may be made that this happens non-consensually. And that will be a lie. But it will be salacious gossip in a world driven by a hunger for "scandal". And there will be those who choose to believe it and to hate me or to laugh at me. And there will be an attempt to pile on. And there will be the claim that there are a few women involved (those who colluded with my ex) in an attempt to show a "pattern of behaviour". And it will be based in lies but damage will be done. But I am telling you this story in the hopes that the truth will, finally, conquer all.
    I have been open with the CBC about this since these categorically untrue allegations ramped up. I have never believed it was anyone's business what I do in my private affairs but I wanted my bosses to be aware that this attempt to smear me was out there. CBC has been part of the team of friends and lawyers assembled to deal with this for months. On Thursday I voluntarily showed evidence that everything I have done has been consensual. I did this in good faith and because I know, as I have always known, that I have nothing to hide. This when the CBC decided to fire me.
    CBC execs confirmed that the information provided showed that there was consent. In fact, they later said to me and my team that there is no question in their minds that there has always been consent. They said they’re not concerned about the legal side. But then they said that this type of sexual behavior was unbecoming of a prominent host on the CBC. They said that I was being dismissed for "the risk of the perception that may come from a story that could come out." To recap, I am being fired in my prime from the show I love and built and threw myself into for years because of what I do in my private life.
    Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks. They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. We all have our secret life. But that is my private life. That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life.
    And so, with no formal allegations, no formal complaints, no complaints, not one, to the HR department at the CBC (they told us they’d done a thorough check and were satisfied), and no charges, I have lost my job based on a campaign of vengeance. Two weeks after the death of my beautiful father I have been fired from the CBC because of what I do in my private life.
    I have loved the CBC. The Q team are the best group of people in the land. My colleagues and producers and on-air talent at the CBC are unparalleled in being some of the best in the business. I have always tried to be a good soldier and do a good job for my country. I am still in shock. But I am telling this story to you so the truth is heard. And to bring an end to the nightmare.

    I have no idea whether he is guilty or not, but this is definitely a creepy and manipulative way to describe the situation, and that PR firm he hired should have told him no. If forced to speculate (nobody is forcing me to, this is a lie), I would guess that he was sexually aggressive in a way that wasn't cool with his partners, didn't do a very good job of making sure they were ok with it, and assumed that because they never complained too much, they were fine. They felt violated, he felt like he was just being his BDSM self, and there's mostly truth in his aggrieved stance, but only because of his own myopia.

    ETA: Reading the outpouring of support and love for him, I'm not surprised that the women would be hesitant to come forward.
     
  12. Crown Royal

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    Everybody knows the difference between right and wrong, and you would have to be retarded (drunk is not an excuse) not to know whether or not somebody is giving consent. You are a fucking adult and like every single one of us adults YOU KNOW. If shit goes south from there then there isn't a "miscommunication", it means one of the two parties involved is lying.
     
  13. Juice

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    It depends if Canada has similar "At Will" labor laws as the US. In some US states your employer can fire you for any reason (as long as they don't violate prejudicial laws), but you can still sue in civil court.

    It sounds like this is somewhere in the middle where maybe they were into kink at first, but not as much as they thought and felt violated. The proof will be whether or not it can be proven he knew that or knew it and didn't stop.
     
  14. MoreCowbell

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    I think this is absolutely wrong, and a huge part of the problem. The idea that non-consent is obvious is the source of many instances of uncomfortable sexual experience for a number of people, since a lot of people are, for whatever reason, uncomfortable expressive affirmative, vocal displeasure during sex.

    Putting aside the matter of legal consequences and to what degree the sexual aggressor is legally culpable for verifying consent, I think you severely underestimate how often silence could be ambiguous in these situations.

    I thiunk you slightly misread my point, I'm not really commenting on the legal aspects of the case. I just think his version of the story is fantastical. I think it is highly probable that he is misrepresenting what CBC told him. Regardless of legal consequences, I just find it exceedingly unlikely that the reason for dismissal was unrelated to the allegations of nonconsensual behavior.
     
  15. JWags

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    I want to make a point I often wonder about, and its relevant in this case. So in the case you mentioned, lets give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he's not a sexual predator, but rather does just indeed have some more deviant sexual interests. If he wasn't forcibly doing it and could have stopped/curbed said behavior if made aware, and this complaint was "in retrospect, that shit was fucked up, I didn't like it, not cool". It could be framed as sexual assault when it is actually gross miscommunication. That makes me really uncomfortable. Its like my ex-gf who got annoyed with some of my habits, didn't say anything, and broke up with me because she couldn't deal with them anymore...except there was no potential legal ramifications and it was me being an idiot, not treading in sexual grey areas.

    He can't say "she didn't tell me you didn't like it" at this point without looking like a douche, but in reality its an issue. That "sure" campaign automatically defaults to seemingly preventing male overagression, but its also a valid reality of guys just combating miscommunication.
     
  16. Nom Chompsky

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    This is interesting, and I think brings up a good point:

    Heavy kink is varsity level stuff, and if you don't know how to clearly communicate it, you shouldn't be doing it. If you aren't sure you have your partner's full consent, you shouldn't be doing it, because of this exact situation. It is incumbent upon any kinky person to make sure their partner is comfortable, because if not, you are running the risk of sexual assaulting that person.

    Note that you aren't assaulting them per se. Plenty of sexually aggressive people try things without warning and get a great response. But unless you're comfortable with the idea of violating somebody (hint: you shouldn't be), make sure it's crystal clear that you have full consent.
     
  17. toddamus

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    I think everyone understands the concept of consent, but I don't think many men actually understand how powerful silence is in these situations. If you're a college student and drunkenly hooking up with a girl, and she says nothing, is that consent or not? The kids are in the middle of getting it on, and she hasn't said no yet, is that consent? Silence is important, people can't be silent when it comes to these types of situations. Plenty of well meaning guys and girls take things too far often simply because there is a lack of communication.

    Sexual assault mostly isn't an issue of a domineering guy overpowering a meek women. Often, its a case of two people who go along with things that they are uncomfortable with. One person isn't into it, the other person is, and the person who isn't doesn't speak up and things end up going to far. The responsibility is of course on the person pushing the issue to gain clear consent. What that means, how to do that is really where people need to focus attention anymore.
     
  18. Nettdata

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    Also be aware that he has some smart publicists out there. They got HIS story out there before anyone else's, he got to set the stage, and it's his interpretation that's being thrown around everywhere right now.

    And we have no idea what his contract says... it could very well be that there's a morals clause in there where even the hint of doing something like this is against his contract. He can do it all he wants, but they reserve the right to terminate his employment.

    There's a shit-ton of stuff going on in the background and we've only seen his side of it.
     
  19. Parker

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    Note: this might not make any sense due to this wonderful allergy medicine I'm on.

    All I'm going to say about this is: Where the fuck is this guy's sexual pacing? Now he seems pretty self-aware in one way that he knows what he is into isn't for everyone. Pretty sure BDSM at the level he seems to be at is a niche thing, now everyone seems to dabble in it here or there, but a gambling man would be safer to assume most people aren't into that. Now given that he's a celebrity, you know chicks will do crazy shit just because you're a celebrity.

    Now I'm saying all of that to say: I think it's weird to bust out the full blown BDSM on the first few dates unless these chicks brought it up. I know it what gets him off and that's his thing, but regardless of your kink, there should be a ramp-up. Like Date 1, light spanking, some biting. Date 2, handcuffs and paddles, Date 3, ball-gag and gimp mask, etc. If he bust out everything on Date 1, then that makes me wonder about him a little. Especially since it doesn't seem like he's discussed this stuff on air and his fans are all also that type.

    For example, comedian Greg Fitzsimmons talks about his foot fetish and all of that shit on stage and his podcast all the time. So a lot of his female fans show up with open toed shoes/heels and french style pedicures. So if he hooked up with a female and sucked her toes on the first date, then she freaked out about it...that's one thing. Now if he never talked about it at all publicly, and it was his private thing, he shouldn't be trying to suck toes on the first date.
     
  20. Roxanne

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    I listen to NPR and have heard this dude's voice coming out of the radio for ages. I loved it. Then I clicked this link before reading anything about the story, looked at his picture and thought, "Damn, that is one fine older brown man." Naturally, as with any time I find someone instantly attractive, my next thought was, "He must be into some fucked up shit."

    It's nice to know the ol' latent violence barometer is calibrated and running well.