We Need to Talk About Consent

UGHHHHHHHHH (and other sounds implying how exhausting the conversation we're about to have is). But, here we go again.

How many times do we need to say it? How many times does this "debate" need to go down? In what, new exciting ways will we continue to ignore a woman's right to say "no," or "don't," or more specifically, her right to do whatever the F she wants in terms of sex, phones, nude photos, clothes, and LIFE. (Because, let's face it: according to the justifications floating around the Internet this weekend, technically — and very realistically — a woman risks some sort of sex crime simply by existing in this world.)

If you're sitting there, nodding, and saying, "I agree completely with the points you're bringing up but have no idea what the hell you're talking about," congratulations on avoiding the Internet for three days. This weekend, a hacker broke into the phones (iClouds? who gives a shit) of dozens of celebrity women and uploaded any existing (or deleted) nude photos and/or "sex videos." Then people clicked and downloaded them, and hell rightfully broke loose. Why? Because those photos are stolen property and are a violation of privacy — to say the LEAST. In reality, we're dealing with a serious sex crime. One that illustrates how little consent is understood or respected and how fucked up and sad this society is.

Scott Mendelson at Forbes highlighted this in a brilliant piece for Forbes (read it), while Roxanne Gay wrote about how this will hardly be the last so-called "scandal" for celebrity women, since privacy is a privilege for the very few (she's great: bookmark that shit). And they're both right: obtaining these photos was stealing. Clicking on them and downloading them and sharing them is participating in the exploitation of women (again, TO SAY THE LEAST). These victims (because yes, they are victims of a sex crime) didn't and don't want you to see these photos. They're not any of your business. You're not worthy of them at all. But by telling yourself they were posing just for you or by clinging to your curiosity ("they're famouses! LOL") makes you no better than the creep who looks into women's windows or steals their underwear or gropes somebody on the subway. By looking and downloading and clicking and sharing, you're saying "I don't care about your right to say no" and it is objectification in one of the highest forms. 

And the excuse that a woman shouldn't take naked photos if she doesn't want them leaked is even more bullshit. Hello, victim blaming. Hello, same old, same old. I mean, technically, by that justification, we probably shouldn't leave the house since when we do, we risk being the victims of sexual assault. We should probably stop drinking, or wearing anything above the knee, or fuck — even showering or changing in our own homes since IF WE DIDN'T WANT TO BE THE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT OR HARASSMENT WE PROBABLY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN BORN. Because that's how it goes, right? Of course it does: today on Twitter a man told me that he believes in consent, but his hand and his dick tell a different story — so congratulations, our fears as women continue to be justified.

And then of course there's Cee-Lo Green who defended himself against rape claims yesterday by tweeting, "People who have been raped REMEMBER!!!" in regards to claims he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman in 2012. OKAY THANKS FOR THE CLARIFICATION, GUY. Because being roofied and then blamed for drinking too much isn't another reality women face on an actual daily basis. (And for the record: he's wrong. Very wrong. And this is fucked up. AND HOW ARE WE STILL HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.)

Let's make this easy. Here's what consent looks like: YES. There you go. YES you may look at the photos I HAVE SENT YOU SPECIFICALLY. YES we can/should/let's have sex. YES I am interested in participating. It's one word. And in terms of those leaked celebrity photos, nobody gave us that word. Not a single one. And the only thing grosser than the general interest in these photographs is that instead of focusing on why we, as a society, continue to ignore consent or lack thereof, is that in the wake of this massive breach of privacy, these victims — like so many — are being blamed for being sexual beings. I mean, how dare they. They are in movies. Doesn't everybody know that if you're in movies, you're entitled to live every aspect of your life as though you were going to your 9-to-5 job? 

It's too much. I hate it.

I mean, how ironic that one week after we celebrated Beyonce's global support of feminism at the VMAs are we living the reality Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks about in "Flawless." We can't be sexual beings. We can't be free to move and act as we like. We're still risking our mental, emotional, and physical health by leaving the house. And again we sleep knowing that if something does happen, and you are violated and your privacy is ignored and you are the victim of a sex crime, it's your fault because you chose to participate in your own life. 

So here's a word for Cee-Lo Green and the people like him, who hide behind victim-blaming and their senses of entitlement and a world that caters to them, not us — not any woman, famous or not: No. And since you don't seem to understand that word, here are two more: fuck you. (Because we all know you've heard those ones before.)

Tags: consent, feminism, Jennifer Lawrence, rape culture, romance, self help

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