I recently found out about two men (with whom I am acquainted) that took advantage of their social positions to groom, seduce, and take advantage of friends in my community. I'm having a lot of feelings about it, so I needed to sit down and clear my head. If this is not your cup of tea, then by all means stop reading. Otherwise, here goes.
Considering the precarity of online dating, getting to know someone through a social outlet or work environment seems wholesome by comparison, and yet most victims of sexual crimes know their abusers, see them often and have had regular interactions in environments which would otherwise be considered "safe". And while the word seduction sounds harmless under the assumption that there is mutual consent- we are, after all, humans with very natural instincts- there is a difference between honest consent and coercion as the result of emotional manipulation.
But before I get ahead of myself, what is consent by today's standards? By definition it is the granting of agreement and permission. However, a proposition that is deceptive, harmful, or presumptuous renders that consent invalid. Consent is a moment to moment contract that can change under any given circumstance defined by the person in a lesser position of power. A social contract between two people is under constant negotiation because people, by nature, are not stagnant beings. We are thinking, feeling, experiencing, evolving, chemically motivated creatures. Re-negotiating agreements is essential to functionial relationships.
For instance, if you consent to romantic involvement are you also consenting to someone's unaddressed trauma, addiction, and/or mental illness? Asking because I know women who were filmed in the shower without permission. Women who found themselves on a spreadsheet that listed their partner's sexual infidelities, replete with graphic details and goals for future "conquests" aka PUA (pick up artistry). I know women who have been lied to so thoroughly that they have lost all belief in their own intuition. And women who left or set boundaries only to become stalked, harassed and victim-blamed.
When we consent to dating or sleeping with a man, do we also consent to being contacted by other women who, having experienced a similar pattern of pathological behavior, are seeking validation for their experiences? Do we consent to sexually transmitted diseases that we weren't told about, to the effects of porn and sex addiction we didn't know about, and to other toxic behavior we were clueless about?
From the time we are born, we receive messages about our roles, our aspirations, our value, and our appropriate responses to a world that operates under a capitalist patriarchy. Unfortunately, due to the oppressions of our great great grandmothers which trickled down the line, many of us were sold a fairytale along with instructions to compete with each other, defend our abusers and use sex to secure our positions (and self-value). Honestly, it makes me want to go full mental some days.
When we downplay another woman's story by defending a predator, we are perpetuating violence against women. Please, believe women. Even if it's not your experience. Those examples of creepy behavior described above aren't imaginary scenarios. They are stories from women I know and love and trust and believe. They are my story and your story. And if you are a man reading this, they are very much your story. We simply cannot eradicate sexism and misogyny by turning a blind eye or staying in denial. A friend asked me if I thought it was a good idea to post this essay on my website instead of my personal blog... in case it turned away business. And that's a perfect example of how capitalism and patriarchy thrive, sweeping things under the rug because we put profit over people.
These predators will continue to fly under the radar until we, as a collective society, decide that enough is enough. For me it was enough as a young person, but it took 50 years to get to this place where I can speak truth to power without worrying about repercussions. That is also the reminder of Pluto retrograde in the last decan of Capricorn (you knew there had to be some astrology tied into this). Once it stations direct, we won't see this astrology again in our lifetimes.
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