Content note: abstract discussion of sexual assault, and by implication rape and CSA.
One of my perpetual complaints about gay nightclubs is that people think it’s okay to grope strangers without getting any permission. However, many people are unwilling to acknowledge this as sexual assault, because they argue that they themselves would enjoy being groped. I think this is besides the point. Inspired by a recent post by coyote, I’m trying out a new approach (and this is really a way of explaining a model of consent by way of application).
Under conventional models, consent is an expression of permission. A person asks if they can touch me, and if I say “yes” then I’ve consented, and if I say “no” then I haven’t consented. However, sometimes I might only says “yes” because I felt pressured. Or sometimes I might say nothing at all. And so we have multiple fixes to this model, such as “affirmative consent” or “enthusiastic consent”.
Most of these consent models fail to allow for the situation where nobody asked for my consent, but I’m still okay with it. This situation often occurs in nightclubs–people don’t ask for permission to grope, and yet sometimes the people being groped are okay with it.
So here’s a different model of consent: consent is an internal state. If someone is okay with being groped, they are consenting, and if they are not okay with being groped they are not consenting. Someone may also feel violated after the fact, and this also qualifies as non-consent.