My Safeword is Yes: some thoughts on consent

"Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no".
I don't know about you, but I'm getting a bit bored of shouting this.

A favourite of anti-rape activists, this mantra is a vital starting-point in a culture that fosters the parallel violences of playing cut & paste with women's words ("No means yes and yes means anal")[1], and using threats, persuasion and force to do the same with our bodies. Until there is general agreement on the fact that, for example, a short skirt or shiny shoe or fetching hat is not semantically equivalent to the word "yes", we seem doomed to repeat this tediously self-evident phrase. But let's not stop there; let's not settle for the dull pedanticism and legalese that the reality of sexual violence thrusts upon us. We can do better than that.


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