read the full article. it is good, although I have some points of disagreement with it that I suspect are mainly semantic.
anyway, I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot lately. in the past few months I’ve seen the most fucked up behaviour from people claiming to feel unsafe: on closer questioning, what they’re actually talking about is feeling challenged, questioned, anxious, or insecure. safer spaces discourses that were originally meant to protect people from assault or abuse or the presence of an abuser are being used to exclude people because someone’s partner has a crush on them, or because they civilly disagreed once. I hope I don’t need to lay out why enforcing this kind of social isolation is abusive? when I’m talking about how people use their anxiety abusively to control the behaviour of others around them, this is the kind of shit I’m talking about.
I have also observed the “callout” being used in a similarly manipulative fashion, but it’s important to distinguish feeling challenged on your behaviour or preconceptions from feeling shitty because someone is using political point-scoring to give a veneer of respectability to a personal attack.
related: I’ve been thinking about how the culture of active consent has some yuck permutations. especially, there’s this idea that verbal consent for physical contact is A+ and everything else is a bit dodgy. firstly, I don’t actually know if I agree that it’s a reasonable expectation that everyone get explicit consent before making any form of physical contact. it seems kind of centred around the physically distant social norms of the Anglo-Saxon middle class. maybe feeling uncomfortable because someone pulls you into a hug and kisses your cheek has a fair component of culture clash? something to consider. secondly, I don’t know if I agree that consent is a good first principle with which to navigate all of life; it’s certainly always relevant, but I think there might be other factors that are more important in some contexts, like justice or harm or social inclusion. I am kind of uncomfortable with, say, the aforementioned unwanted cheek-kiss being distinguished from rape only in the degree of violation. thirdly, I disagree that verbal models of consent are inherently more navigable for the person who’s being asked for consent. to take a (for me) fairly trivial example, if someone asks me explicitly for a hug, I feel weird saying no. but if they raise their arms and look at me questioningly, it’s a lot easier to just ignore that if I don’t feel like a hug. it’s really really hard for a lot of people to say no to a direct request, and I’ve more than once seen pseudo-radical sleazebags use that reluctance to their advantage. many if not most social interactions in the world I live in are full of requests and acceptance and rejection that are entirely implicit. while it’s possible that this in itself is a culture that needs to change, that’s kind of irrelevant: it’s the reality many many people are operating within. when a request’s explicit, it can seem more necessary, more urgent, more selfish to refuse than its manifest content might indicate. there is no such thing as a form of communication with no latent meaning, anyway. I think a lot of discussion around consent is dishonest about this reality. I think this over-valuation of supposedly open communication, and a lack of examination of the actual purpose and effect of such communication, happens in a few other contexts as well. (I honestly think it’s often some weird unexamined Western Enlightenment Foucauldian-confession thing.)
of course, I’m not saying that verbal consent is wrong and everybody just needs to learn to read social cues: such a prescription has its own shortfalls (potential lack of clarity, cultural specificity of implicit cues, etc). I guess what I’m saying is what I always say: a rigid ethical rule or set of rules is a poor substitute for compassion, a reasonable degree of other-centredness, and an observant nature.