Culture

Feminist Blog: Ask for Consent Before Every Social Interaction

A feminist journalist is pushing to have the “affirmative consent” standard apply to every single interaction ever.

No — I’m not joking. Here are journalist Suzannah Weiss’s actual, serious words:

“We should never assume anyone is okay with anything, whether that’s a sexual act, a group activity, a topic of conversation, or a financial decision that affects them.”

Whoa! Sounds super fun and normal right? I’d just love to live in a world where waiters ask me if they can ask me how my food is before asking me how my food is, cab drivers ask me if they can ask me for my destination before asking me for my destination, and coworkers ask me if they can ask me if I want to go out to lunch before asking me to go out to lunch — and then repeatedly ask permission before bringing up any conversation topic during the entire meal.

To be fair, Weiss does explain that it’s actually okay to “invite someone to a pre-planned party” (Whoa! How chill of her!) — as long as you make sure to “get their input on anything you expect them to participate in.”

#share#I can only imagine how that would go. “Okay – there are going to be people there. Are you okay with talking to other people? Don’t worry, I require all of my guests to ask for permission to discuss a topic before discussing it!”

Sounds like a hell of a party! And by that I mean: An actual, literal, fire-and-brimstone capital-H Hell of a party.

But that’s not what Weiss thinks. She thinks that all of these are great ideas because “there’s actually a whole host of things outside the bedroom that people all too often do without consent — and our culture needs to acknowledge that they’re harmful as well.”

#related#Have doubts? Don’t believe that these things are “harmful?” Well, Weiss knows better. In fact, she’s even strong enough to admit that she herself once wronged someone by doing something unthinkably “harmful”: Attempting to hug a date without asking for his explicit consent:

One night, after a date made it clear he liked me and wanted to see me again, I thought he would like it if I hugged him as I said goodbye. Instead, he froze and was reluctant to talk about why. After I pressed for an answer, he said, “Just don’t do that again without my consent.”

Whoa! What a monster! Oh well. At least it seems like she now understands the error of her ways — and how social interactions are supposed to work in the real world. 

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