The Company One Keeps

Oh, happy days! Laurie Penny has given us over four-thousand words on the subject of consent:

The first thing you need to understand about consent is that consent is not, strictly speaking, a thing. Not in the same way that teleportation isn’t a thing. Consent is not a thing because it is not an item, nor a possession. Consent is not an object you can hold in your hand.

I think our award-winning journalist has discovered the abstract noun. Either that, or she’s being paid by the word.

I believe that a great many men and boys don’t understand this.

I believe this says more about the sort of men and boys Laurie associates with than anything else. And right on cue:

So, I’ve got this friend with a shady past. He’s a clever and conscientious person who grew up in the patriarchy, and he knows that he’s done things which may not have been criminal but have hurt people, and by people he means women. My friend has hurt women, and he doesn’t know what to do about that now, and from time to time we talk about it. That’s how it happened that, a few weeks ago, halfway through an effervescent confession in a coffee shop, the following words came out of his mouth: “Technically, I don’t think I’ve raped anyone.”

So Laurie has a friend who goes around hurting women and must resort to technicalities when assuring people he’s not a rapist. Little wonder she thinks men don’t understand consent very well if this fellow is typical of her circle of male friends.

“Technically, I haven’t raped anyone.” What did he mean, technically? My friend went on to describe how, over years of drinking and shagging around before he got sober, he considers it a matter of luck rather than pride that he has never, to his knowledge, committed serious sexual assault.

Sounds like a lovely chap.

The fact is that, like any number of men growing up in the last decade, his concept of consent could have been written in crayon. Sex was something you persuaded women to let you do to them, and if they weren’t passed out, saying no, or actively trying to throw you off, you were probably fine.

Oh, isn’t that neat! Laurie has a friend who behaves like a complete scumbag, and casually assumes all men must be like him.

That technically, of course, is not just something one hears from men.

That could be because most men don’t conduct themselves in the manner of borderline rapists.

You hear that same technically, in a different key, from girls and grown women who don’t want to think of the things that happened to them that way, even though the fact that those things happened to them, with or without their say-so, is the whole problem.

Like when they say “technically” they didn’t have sex because the deed took place on holiday where “it doesn’t count”? I’ve yet to hear a woman use the term “technically” to muddy the waters after a rape or sexual assault on her person.

We learn, just as men do, that our instincts about what we feel and experience are not to be trusted. We learn that our desire is dangerous and so we tamp it down until we no longer recognize the difference between wanting and being wanted. We learn that our sexuality is contemptible and so we crush it; we become alienated from our own bodies.

I have a feeling this “we” is operating in a small pond indeed.

I’ve told myself before that technically, this or that person committed no crime, so technically, I’ve got no reason to feel used like a human spittoon, and technically I did invite him back to my house, so technically, I should have expected nothing less, and technically, there’s no reason to be angry and upset, because really, what is female sexuality but a set of technicalities to be overcome?

I have no doubt whatsoever that Laurie has told herself this, but quite what it has to do with ordinary men and women isn’t clear.

The problem is that technically isn’t good enough.

Something you could have perhaps mentioned to your friend.

“At least I didn’t actively assault anyone” is not a gold standard for sexual morality, and it never was.

You’re preaching to the choir, honey. How about you tell this to the men you hang out with?

Of course, we have to start somewhere, and “try not to rape anyone” is as good a place as any, but it can’t end there. Our standards for decent sexual and social behavior should not be defined purely by what is likely to get us publicly shamed or put in prison, because we are not toddlers, and we can do better.

Says the self-declared polyamorist who believes the traditional family should be destroyed.

This is what consent culture means….It means adjusting our ideas of dating and sexuality beyond the process of prying a grudging “yes” out of another human being.

There’s more projection here than a plank with a hard-on. Laurie simply assumes that everyone’s dating experience is as miserable as hers.

Ideally you want them to say it again, and again, and mean it every time. Not just because it’s hotter that way, although it absolutely is; consent doesn’t have to be sexy to be centrally important.

This may be true, for certain people’s values of “ideally” and “hotter”. Alas, I’m not one of those people.

But because when you get down to it, sexuality should not be about arguing over what you can get away with and still call consensual.

Hands up all sane individuals who think it is?

But there are a great many simple ideas that we are taught not to understand and a great many more that we choose not to understand when our self-image as decent human beings is at stake, and that’s where a lot of men and boys I know are at right now. Bewildered.

Again, Laurie tells us her male friends and acquaintances don’t know what consensual sex is. Where’s she hanging out, San Quentin?

So let’s talk about getting away with it. Let’s talk about what happens in a society where women’s bodies are contested commodities for men to fight over. Let’s talk about rape culture.

Yes let’s. We can start with your pals.

The naming and shaming of rape culture has been one of the most important feminist interventions of recent years, and one of the most controversial and misunderstood.

By shaming she means remaining friends with dodgy men who technically aren’t rapists.

“Rape culture” does not imply a society in which rape is routine, although it remains unconscionably common.

It certainly seems that way in Laurie’s social circles, and now we know why.

Rape culture describes the process whereby rape and sexual assault are normalized and excused, the process whereby women’s sexual agency is continuously denied and women and girls are expected to be afraid of rape and to guard against it, the process whereby men are assumed to have the erotic self-control of a gibbon with a sweetie jar of Viagra, creatures who ought to be applauded for not flinging turds everywhere rather than encouraged to apply critical thinking.

In other words, it’s a cartoonish fiction dreamed up by deranged feminists.

I have never understood why more men aren’t offended by this assumption…

/Facepalm

I sincerely believe that a staggering proportion of straight and bisexual men are working with some ingrained assumptions about sex and sexuality that they have not fully analyzed.

Thank heavens Laurie wouldn’t work with “ingrained assumptions about sex and sexuality” when writing a piece, eh?

I’m sorry, I give up here. There’s another 2,500 words of this and it’s only getting worse. Having skimmed it, she seems to have given her rapey pal a free pass and decided to lecture the rest of us instead. As the latest revelations about Harvey Weinstein show, there’s nothing lefty feminists like more than hanging out with douchebags while condemning all men as violent, sexual predators.

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19 thoughts on “The Company One Keeps

  1. I thought we agreed that this lamentable lass is, in technical terms, aff her heid. No more need be said.

  2. And I am convinced it is all made up.

    Always so conveniently, a FRIEND is available to illustrate her analytical brilliance. And Tim, as you say, she gives him a free pass (I’m taking your word here, reading her stuff makes me want to puke) but still feels free to lecture us.

  3. Well, Tim, some congratulations. You progressed far further into that article than I did. I could write a 5000 word fisk of it, but what would be the point? You can only argue against someone’s point of view when that someone has a few fixed beliefs. As it is, her views on whether men or women have any agency or power to control their hormones shifts and reverses from paragraph to paragraph.

    Back in the Paleolithic age (the 1970s) I read a children’s book where the debating practices of women were described as ‘weathercocking’ – changing one’s premises instantly in order to remain on top of the argument. Laurie Penny has a 10th dan black belt in it.

  4. Articles like Penny’s are just the logical consequences of the sexual revolution working themselves out. If you hold to the belief that whatever is consented to is good, that has the corollary that whatever is bad wasn’t consented to. But there’s clearly a large amount of bad sex (in all the various senses of the term: unhealthy, emotionally unfulfilling, unenthusiastic, etc.) which seems to be consented to. In the face of this observation, there are essentially two options one can take: either change one’s view of sex so that consent is necessary but not sufficient for sex to be good, or torture one’s definition of consent until the term bears no relation to how the vast majority of ordinary people use it. Laurie Penny and her ideological confreres have, by and large, taken the second option, which is why you find a lot of people on the left arguing that agreeing to have sex doesn’t count as consent unless the person agreeing feels sufficiently enthusiastic, or whatever.

  5. “I’ve told myself before that technically, this or that person committed no crime, so technically, I’ve got no reason to feel used like a human spittoon, and technically I did invite him back to my house, so technically, I should have expected nothing less, and technically, there’s no reason to be angry and upset, because really, what is female sexuality but a set of technicalities to be overcome?”

    I’m not sure what she’s hinting at here: has she been the victim of an actual crime, or has she just made some silly decisions?

    Both of these scenarios are regrettable, and naturally have consequences, but only the former have consequences that involve anyone aside from Penny.

  6. …women and girls are expected to be afraid of rape and to guard against it,”

    This is obviously true of Islamic republics, but feminists never mention that.

  7. Seriously, why do you bother to fisk her writing? It is so tediously and self servingly contrived that I would sooner stick needles into my eyeballs than read it.

    I’m sure you must have better things to do with your time, such as catching stray cats and deworming them by hand as a repayment for past sins to society than torture yourself with that drivel.

  8. No wonder she is suffering from depression as she has never experienced love and knows that she will never be able to bond with a man. She will never find her knight in shining armour a man that will devote himself to her, she will never realise her true purpose as a female and blossom during her fertile period, it’s all a bit of a wasted life really.

  9. Problem is, of course, unless we’ve lived a life of lillywhite purity & abjured the slightest casual encounter we’re all likely to be *technical* rapists. For how do we know there’s not some woman out there who has, in the intervening decades, come to the retrospective opinion that she regrets whatever happened when? Because if she remembers your name or recognises you in the media, as you’ve become a public figure, you’ve a fair likelihood of finding yourself in the dock on a rape charge.

  10. She does have a point, apparently there is a rape culture. Funny how all of the guys inhabiting that sphere happen to be left wing progressives. I suppose it’s never crossed her mind that guys who champion abortion on demand might have an ulterior motive.

    Nah, those guys wouldn’t do that, they’re just in it for the fabulous pink hat and other great parting gifts.

  11. ” He’s a clever and conscientious person who grew up in the patriarchy, and he knows that he’s done things which may not have been criminal but have hurt people, and by people he means women.”

    I didn’t now she was friends with Harvey Weinstein.

  12. Aw, c’mon, who among us hasn’t smacked the stray woman over the head or choked her into submission and tied her to the kitchen table and gagged her and then had our way with her?

    (Apparently, amongst her social circle, this question would result in lots of sheepish grins and acknowledgments of its truth, and would likely be followed by a discussion about how conservatives need to be beaten with a hose but Harvey Weinstein is a great man.)

  13. If this encounter ever happened, and I fear the odds are against it, all it actually illustrates is the number of men who identify as left-wing ‘progressives’ but who are, in fact, weirdo creeps who the average woman should not get within twenty miles of.

    But still, SMASH THE RIGHT-WING PATRIARCHY!

  14. “David Moore on October 11, 2017 at 1:58 am said:
    ” He’s a clever and conscientious person who grew up in the patriarchy, and he knows that he’s done things which may not have been criminal but have hurt people, and by people he means women.”

    I didn’t now she was friends with Harvey Weinstein.”

    Mr Moore wins the entire internet this week.

  15. bilbaoboy & Rob

    x2

    The first rule of female lefty journalism – actually make that female journalism – is to make up a ‘friend’ who conveniently fits the narrative or argument being deployed.

    And I’m sorry, but WTF is an effervescent confession?

  16. I remember once seeing something comparing consent to tea. The difference between that if my wife woke me up pouring tea down my throat, I would not be happy but sex……

  17. Always so conveniently, a FRIEND is available to illustrate her analytical brilliance.

    Handy, isn’t it?

  18. I’m not sure what she’s hinting at here: has she been the victim of an actual crime, or has she just made some silly decisions?

    Both. She continues to do the latter, it seems.

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