January 2, 2021

Society of Affimative Consent

Feminists came up with a curious idea of "affirmative consent", or "yes means yes": if you plan to engage in a sexual act, you can't treat silence or lack of resistance as consent. Consent can only be excplicit, formulated as a positive and voluntary "yes".

Implicit consent isn't always a huge issue. Perhaps, you partner was willing, but felt to shy to say "yes". Nothing bad happend, you sexual activity was still consensual. On the other hand, if you parner was unwilling but felt afraid to say "no" — you've just commited rape.

The problem with implicit consent is that you can't be sure, since it's unprovable. You wouldn't know if your partner really consented, or if he or she decided to just keep silent and endure, only to escape and call for help as soon as possible. Affirmative (explicit) consent is designed to prevent situations like this, decreasing overall level of sexual violence. Or at least to give you a way to prove in court that violence was commited.

Consent culture is highly developed in BDSM community, since the rules of consent are put in writing.

But affirmative consent doesn't only apply to sex. There are many areas of our lives, where the issue of silent "yes" needs to be solved. And relationship between citizens and the state is one of them.

When people treat the state as a benefactor, they often appeal to the underlying social contract: we all agreed that this is how society is to be run, so we have to follow the rules, even if we don't like them — that's part of the contract.

However, sociel contract is in fact just another instance of that silence, that can be treatet either as "yes" or "no", depending on your intent. None of us actually gave affirmative consent to the existance of this social contract. At least I didn't sign any papers. A referendum can theoretically be treated as affirmative consent, but even then a lot of people are voting "no", yet they're forced to deal with other people's will imposed on them.

As for those, who were born after this "contract" was signed — they didn't even have a choice to protest, the only thing they can do is obey. And, just as with romantic activities, implicit consent is completely unprovable.

People consenting to the state's rule could mean both tyranny and implementation of social contract — but you'll never know which is which.

Rape culture: when 51% gives state the right to violate the other 49%.

Social contract proponents may object: this contract isn't designed for your own well-being, but for the good of society in general, to which society consented. Society doesn't have to consider your personal opinion.

In other words:

"That's what everyone does, so you must do so as well — that's how it is"

Imagine somebody saying this to his or her partner in bed. We would unquestionably call such person rapist and demand retribution. If other people consent to something — so what? It doesn't mean you consent to it as well. You can't give consent on behalf of others.

However, as soon as we stop talking about sex and start talking about state-imposed laws, we completely forget this reasoning. We begin to feel that treating other people's silence as "yes" and forcing them to do your bidding is not an act of tyranny, akin to rape, but a reasonable way to run society. Some even have the guts to say it's for their own good.

Apparently, thugs that engage in "corrective rape" of lesbians think that it's for their own good as well. Does this make rape a voluntary act?

What's worse, the state treats silence in exactly the same way. Until people filled the streets of Moscow, Russian police was perfectly willing to fabricate a criminal case against Ivan Golunov. You say, you didn't give them such authority — so what? Silence meant "yes" to them.

The same thing happend in Poland, where the controversial abortion ban was only stopped by a massive protest rally. Until people cried out loud, bureaucrats didn't even thing that someone could object to their "noble" endeavor.

Another such case is French Article 24, which was about to criminalize de-anonymizing law enforcement officers, which would make proving their crimes completely impossible. This law also failed only because of massive protests. The state didn't feel that acquiring prior consent to such law was necessary.

There's only one thing you can compare this to:

"She was wearing a short skirt, she was asking for it"

That's how the state operates. Bureaucrats and lawmen have no appreciation for nuance. To them any lack of resistance means consent, and you silence is treated as an enthusiastic "Yeeeeesss" in a whirlwind of endorphin rush.

The only "no" state understands is protest rallies and electoral defeat.

Affirmative dissent.

A society, where everyone is constantly violated, unless they start to cry out loud, is a dystopia. The thing is, we live in that dystopia right now, just like every citizen of every Western country. Silence and absence of protest is treated as consent by all the statespeople, just as it is treated by a rapist.

Libertarianism offers a vision of society, where every social interaction requires affirmative consent. Others have no right to decide for you, unless you gave them this right. And this right can only be given in an affirmative, explicit and provable way. It doesn't matter, if others want to violate you in the name of greater good — their violence is still illegitimate.

The only legitimate form of interaction is consensual interaction.

Affirmative consent. This isn't rocket science, don't you think?

Of course, affirmative consent can be incovenient, as many of you can imagine. Some will say that it "kills the romance". However, this inconveniance is largely due to our habits. We got in to a habit of asking consent in just about every other area — why don't we bring it further?

This same rule applies to society in general. We must strive to make affirmative consent necessary in every part of our life. Especially when it comes to interacting with government officials, who tend to treat silence as an enthusiastic "yes".

A society of perfect consent is, of course, unachievable, just like every other perfect social mode. But we can move towards it, and every step in this direction will reduce the violence that every one of us experiences in our daily lives.

As more government action will depend on your affirmative consent — less violence will be commited against you.