Consent and radical self-responsibility

In the past week, there has been a “Community Crisis Response” about a certain male individual within a community that I operate on the periphery of. It has been awesome in many ways! People are re-evaluating a lot of their own behavior as a result.

Nonetheless, I find the crisis response and community outrage disingenuous at best. I’ve known this man for 10 years now. The predatory nature of his behavior has been obvious from the beginning, to me and to others in the community. Some friends are saying, “Well, everyone at his parties was high so, being in their own high little worlds, they didn’t notice him harassing, drugging, and fucking young women.” To which I say, “OMFG! Seriously? Do these people ever operate while NOT stoned? Am I the only one who attends events while sober?”

Side note: This is amazing by the way because these are often the same folks who obsess about gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, meat, GMOs in their diets but they can’t bother to be sober at a fucking party and pay attention to the behavior of their friends.

The following is an excerpt from the “Community Crisis Response”:

Based on the testimony of 10 separate survivors / victims who have come forward privately we have identified the following pattern of behavior:
Does not consistently respect when someone says “no”
Often expects an explanation for why an individual would not want to have a sexual experience with him.
Attempts to persuade by explaining that sex with him is “healing”, “awakening” or that sex with him is an experience that will otherwise improve their lives in a way they need to open their minds too.
After receiving a clear “no”, he provides a drug and when the individual becomes too high to give proper consent, he then presses the individual further and rapes them.
If the individual is able to hold their boundary, they are often told they are no longer welcome in his home, asked to leave, or driven home immediately.
Women have been relentlessly contacted beyond their comfort after their boundaries were crossed.
He seems to attempt to create a safe environment that initially respects women’s boundaries only to manipulate that trust later into a sexual relationship.
Dan has used his position and social capital to preemptively spread and enforce his personal truth about how and why these events have occurred.
We identify some potential risks to individuals and the community as a whole:
More women being victimized due to a lack of information being shared.
Backlash towards those who have been harmed or those who have come forward, and those who support them.
Verbal and physical violence between community members and Dan.
Confrontation escalating into events that require immediate police intervention.
A divide in the community, splitting us into opposed sides.
Our community event spaces not being protected as safe spaces for all.

Fellow community members listed five out of the seven behavioral patterns six years ago when I contemplated engaging with this man to get certain sexual needs met. This is not news, folks. It’s how he works.

As a woman who has had sex with a lot of men, I can tell you the first three behavioral patterns are his “tells.” If a man cannot respect your “Nos” around small things or initial negotiations of physical/sexual/emotional intimacy, he won’t respect you when your clothes are off or you’re stoned. If he’s treating you in a paternalistic way that indicates that he knows what you need or want better than you do, he’s not going to respect your “Nos” when your clothes are off or you’re stoned. He’s not interested in taking care of you, he’s not interested in you as a human being. He’s interested in fucking you. That’s all…and there’s nothing wrong with him having said interest. There’s a time and a place for that kind of sex…but you need to understand what you’re getting into.

These are your indications to disengage from this individual if that’s not how you feel like engaging. Tell him to “fuck off,” push him away, and have the ovaries to walk out the fucking door and allow yourself to be viewed as a bitch or unpopular or whatever.

There is nothing in this world that requires him to be a gentleman. Not even the law. People are allowed to be assholes. It’s up to you to decide how you want to be treated by people and what sort of behavior you will accept.

The only one of the seven behavioral patterns that was new to me was the one where he tells women they are no longer welcome in his home if they are unwilling to be sexual with him. While this pattern does clearly indicate where his priorities are, I’m not sure why it is included in this crisis response. If I am allowed to refuse certain sexual advances from a man and ask him to leave my home or hotel room, then this man has the right to ask women who won’t have sex with him to leave his home. Period.

If consent and boundaries are the models we’re using then it goes both ways. He has the right to refuse to hang out with people he doesn’t want to hang out with just as I do. The fact that he has a penis or generally behaves like an asshole doesn’t mean we get to violate his boundaries.

If the purpose of including that point was to indicate the social pressures women faced to be sexual with him, well, then the women involved have to own the following: “I was willing to violate myself and have sex with someone I didn’t want to be sexual with or when I wanted to be sexual because I didn’t want to appear ‘uncool’ or ‘left out.'” She has to own that because she’s not an infant. She’s an adult.

If we are ever going to honor women as having sexual autonomy and agency, we are going to have to allow them to make poor choices and violate or abandon themselves. We are going to have to let them take responsibility for themselves and their (in)action. The patriarchy insists that women are passive, asexual, and having no real power or responsibility in the world and that men are active, sexual, and powerful.

This is the same logic that feeds the “End Demand” movement regarding the sex industry and stigmatizes highly sexual women.

Lastly, a number of women have engaged in sexual relationships with this man as a form of medicine. I certainly contemplated it but the idea of engaging in unprotected sex didn’t jibe well with my sense of responsibility as a mother to two young children. This man was and is medicine for our community. There have been times when I have engaged with various men who pushed my boundaries because I wanted the medicine it had to offer. It wasn’t rape. It wasn’t assault. It was me, choosing to have an experience because I wanted to see what was on the other side of it. What social conditioning did I have? What stories did I have about myself or people who engage in that behavior? Most importantly, did I touch the part of myself that could NEVER be hurt or defined by anything anyone ever said or did to me?

This community wants to create safe spaces for all. Well, that means that some folks are going to have to start opting out of getting stoned and start focusing on holding a safe container. Yep, somebody’s gonna have to be the adult in the community. I know you guys fucking hate that. I watched you resist that for 10 years now but yeah, sometimes ya just gotta pull up those big girl/big boy panties and do it.

You’re also going to have to realize that safety comes from within not from rules about consent. Again, as a woman who has had a lot of casual sex, I promise that the best way to do so is by knowing and loving yourself and standing firm in that.

I will leave you with two things, one is a quote from an article written years ago by my tantra mentor and the other is a link to an article about the drawbacks of affirmative consent.

Sex creates its own reality.

If you are using the power of sex for egoic purposes, no matter how refined and pure your ego, sex will reinforce the consciousness you’re coming from. Every act of sex will drive you deeper into separation. Partner, solo, ritual, group, loving, healing, using: doesn’t matter what kind of sex. If you start from ego, you will end at ego.

If you start with God, you’ll end with God…Take the time to go inside, to find the pulse in your own body first, and to remember wholeness. This makes all the difference in the world. Then the powerful energies of sex are put in service to reinforcing oneness. The biochemicals of bliss are released into our nervous systems with the steady drip drip drip of an IV.

This doesn’t require consent and it doesn’t require both parties be on the same page even.

The Move to Affirmative Consent by Janet Halley