In relation to our recent post from a Berkeley student who has been shocked by the lack of open discussion in her campus consent workshops, we’d like to bring your attention to a well-reasoned and powerful article written by Frank Furedi for sp!ked online in the UK: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/teaching-consent-policing-intimacy.
Until recently, the idea of consent was associated with acts that are voluntary, free of coercion or compulsion…. [The so-called concent] workshops aren’t really about the meaning of consent. Rather, they are informed by a desire to police intimacy and to moralise about student behaviour.
Here a few excerpts:
Although those advocating consent classes use touchy-feely words like ‘openness’ and ‘exploration’, they are anything but open to exploring alternative or dissident views. From the perspective of the consent crusader, anyone who deviates from the prescribed script on consent is, by definition, ‘problematic’. The need to adopt a firm and inflexible line is justified on the grounds that the stakes are far too high to tolerate different views on consent. Why? Because the principal aim of consent workshops is to re-socialise the participants, to modify their behaviour, and overturn the social and moral norms that supposedly legitimate the oppression of others, especially women; hence the workshops target so-called lad culture.
Critics of consent workshops often mistakenly assume that the main problem with consent classes is that they cast all men as potential rapists. Admittedly, consent classes do inflate the pervasiveness of male violence. But the doctrine informing them is far more insidious than simple anti-male prejudice: it devalues the moral autonomy of both men and women. [emphasis added] Consent classes present individuals as incapable of conducting their intimate lives without expert guidance.
… This belief marks a break with the post-Enlightenment idea that people possess the capacity for autonomy, for self-determination – that they can and should be free to make choices about matters that affect their lives.
Here’s the full article: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/teaching-consent-policing-intimacy.