Love & Sex Magazine

The Maze of Consent

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

The Maze of ConsentI don’t think it’s any secret to anyone who has read more than a couple of my essays, or known me in person at all, that I am profoundly independent, free-spirited and anti-authoritarian.  I consider the idea that some stranger has even the slightest “rightful” authority over me due to his birth, title, fancy costume, magical talisman, mob consensus or ability to inflict violence upon my person to be ludicrous at best and an abomination against the gods at worst, and the most efficient way to get me not to do a thing is to tell me that I “must” do it, or to “order” me to do it.  And yet, seemingly paradoxically, I rarely turn down a request for a favor from a friend, and if I love someone deeply enough I’ll do almost anything they ask.  As I recently wrote on Twitter, “If you’re sure I love you, you can raise your hand to me & I’ll roll over for petting. But if not, expect that hand to be bitten off.”  What’s the magic formula that transforms me from a tigress to a kitten, from an uncontrollable spitfire to a gentle, kind angel?  Consent.  People who demand, assume or don’t even bother to seek my compliance will never, ever get it, but those who approach me in a friendly and respectful way often will.  And if a person invests the time and effort to win my heart, my freely-given loyalty is extremely difficult to break.

This right to decide who to submit to and who to snarl at belongs not only to me, but to every sentient being.   We all own ourselves, body and soul, and absolutely nobody else has the right to claim ownership over us, to tell us what we can and cannot do with our bodies and lives, or to determine what is best for us; the concept that the “majority”, some “authority”, or the nebulous “state” has the right to use violence to abrogate our self-determination or punish us for our free choices is a moral abomination on par with slavery, and future generations will look back upon prohibition with the same disgust as we view the idea that one human being can literally own another.  Every free-willed being has the right to consent, to refuse to consent, or to revoke consent to any request or action of another, and nobody has the right either to force consent via threat or violence, or to overrule anyone else’s consent.  And yet, the evil, confused and morally retarded claim this right over others every single day; modern states have a vast apparatus of surveillance designed to spy on the private, consensual acts of sane adults and inflict violence upon them if those acts conflict with the diktats of the State.  And there is a vast and growing cult which plays a Kafkaesque game with the very concept of consent, attempting to turn it from the free exercise of free will by free beings into a convoluted and bureaucratic prison, in which “authorities” impose their will on individuals and negate their consent by pretending that it wasn’t “true” consent under byzantine, ever-changing and ever-expanding rules determined, naturally, by the “authorities”.  In other words, these evil hypocrites overrule the consent of others in the name of “protecting” it.  It isn’t enough that consent be given; we are told it must be explicitly verbal, ongoing, and “enthusiastic”, and that it must be bureaucratically and tiresomely re-ascertained over and over and over again no matter how clearly it was expressed in the first place.  Some “authorities” choose to add even more adjectives to the list, insisting that consent be “creative” and “honest” (presumably, the one seeking consent must cart around a polygraph machine to fulfill the latter condition).The Maze of Consent  Others insist that consent is compulsory under certain conditions, and those who wish to inflict violence upon others for sex acts they consider “deviant” (including sex work, BDSM and in the past, homosexuality) claim that people who make these choices are suffering from mental disorders such as “Stockholm syndrome“, “trauma bonding” or the Marxist fantasy of “false consciousness”).  Possibly the most bizarre of these, popular among neofeminists for years but now gaining momentum among tyrants pretending to be “progressive”, is the idea that if a person is paid to do something he wouldn’t do for free that constitutes “coercion” or even “violence”.  This dogma is, frankly, deranged; it sounds more like something that might be ejaculated from a Maoist circle-jerk than something an official in a Western capitalist nation (whom, we might note, does not do HIS job for free and is therefore equally coerced) would say in public with a straight face.

Consent is never absolute; it is always conditional and contextual.  But only the free individual has the right to determine the conditions for their consent; that could be anything from “if you say please” to “if you pay me x amount” to “if you do this other thing for me”.  And nobody but the individual has the right to add extra conditions to that, nor to forbid any particular condition from among the individual’s choices.  To do either is to negate the entire concept of consent, which is the same as negating free will.  And an entity without free will is not a human; it is an object, owned by whichever other entity can hold onto it.  The abrogation of consent doesn’t “protect” anyone, no matter what the fanatics claim; it merely disguises an ugly, savage system of might makes right.


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