When “no” means “well, as long as I’m here…”

You probably already know that this story bothers me. It bothers me for a couple of reasons. But first, let’s get some things out of the way.

I don’t believe that people who take their clothes off are being marginalised or objectified. In some cases, perhaps, but for the most part, I love nekkidity. If someone, male or female, chooses to remove their shirt or trousers and be happy to be in the altogether, I think that’s really keen. If you want to dance around in a g-string and platform shoes, more power to you. As long as it’s something you want to and like to do, and you are not being taken advantage of, I think it’s wonderful!

I know this attitude runs in opposition to the attitudes of some of the women I know, of many of the feminists out there. But hang it all, I think nakidity is beautiful, and people who are comfortable enough in their own bodies to show them off willingly make me happy. If they choose to do so for money, that’s cool. What’s wrong with being the object of someone’s desire? Maybe it makes you uncomfortable to think of yourself in that role, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But anyway. The point I’m trying to make is that I have very little problem most of the time with nakedness.

I *do* have a problem with people not giving informed consent.

It is impossible to give informed consent when you are in an altered state of consciousness. Whether that means selling your waterfront beach house, signing a power of attorney form, allowing someone to film your stupid drunken antics, or sexual congress with someone you’ve just met…if you’re drunk or stoned or suffering a brain injury, you’re not really in a right mind to give informed consent.

So part of what bothers me with the Girls Gone Wild videos is that the ‘filmographers’ seem pretty predatory; they know what they’re looking for, they know how to get it, and they know it’s far easier to convince someone to do something when their inhibitions are chemically lowered. So that bothers me; they’re preying on drunks to make a few bucks. I mean, that bothers me not so much because they’re making money and not paying their models (which is pretty bad, actually), but moreso because they’re using the models’  poor judgement for gain.

So. I love nekkit folks, and I dislike the entire Girls Gone Wild procedures and products.

But what really makes me glare and grumble is the idea in this particular story that someone implicitly gave consent to sexual assault simply because she decided to go to a party. Talk about blaming the victim. It’s like a rape case where the defense blames the victim for dressing like a slut. So this story just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I’m not sure how any judge or jury could fail to see that this is a case of sexual assault. The videotaping of the event should be *evidence*. The fact that they decided that she was implicitly giving consent for anyone to do pretty much anything to her that they wanted to is harmful and insulting. I’m ashamed of her lawyer, and of the judge and jury in this case. And I feel bad for this woman, who said “no”.

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

11 Comments

  1. I think I missed this story but I am one of your feminist friends who actually agrees with you on the idea of taking your clothes off for money. I also agree with you on the subject matter of this story.

    I think some mistake feminism to mean “Women are more than equal and should only make decisions that don’t have anything to do with making men happy.” Whereas my definition of feminism is that “Women are equal and should be allowed to make whatever decision they want within the confines of the criminal code – even if that means they want to show off their tits”.

    1. I think for many feminists the deal with the sex trade has far less to do with equality and far more to do with objectification. How our bodies ought not be used as objects. And I agree with that. But you can’t stop someone from thinking of you as an object, whether you dance on tables for money or whether you’re a Member of Parliament; if someone’s going to objectify you, they’re going to objectify you…it’s particularly heinous when it’s based on gender.

      So for me, I think objectification really only happens when we let it. I mean, if I want to allow you to view my body as an object of sexual desire, I will do so. If I don’t, then you’re the one effing up if you do view my body as an object of sexual desire.

  2. I can’t really defend the Girls Gone Wild folks, so I won’t try. But it does occur to me that Jane Doe might have had more luck if she had went after the woman who actually pulled her top down – if the jury had still found not guilty there, I would have found it even more worrying.

  3. The people who traditionally have tried to make women cover up are male-dominated religious institutions. These men hate the idea that women can influence them with sexuality. Sex is a powerful tool to control one’s world and if a woman chooses to use it, that’s girl-power.

    Unfortunately, this woman didn’t choose. Equally unfortunately, Wade’s right on this one. The way I understand American law regarding film, consent is not required to capture an event. The filmmakers were asking for her consent, not to be filmed, but to get her to take her top off. The woman who pulled it off is legally at fault, not Girls Gone Wild.

    1. I don’t know that I believe that men hate the idea that women can influence [men] with [sexual desire]. I mean, I don’t know that I believe it’s gender-dependent. I’d be much happier with the following comment if it were worded thus: “Sex can be a powerful tool, and if one chooses to use it, that’s power”.

      Also, I would hope there would be some kind of a consent clause that has to do with *broadcast*, and not necessarily *to capture the event*.

      The fact remains that this woman did *not* give her consent. In fact, quite the opposite. She gave her express refusal to consent (whether to be filmed period or to have her breasts revealed on film, I’m not sure). The point is, I don’t think GGW had the right to broadcast nudity that was clearly the result of an assault.

      If she’s really serious about the case, she ought to take the woman who assaulted her to court. She won’t, because the woman is a friend of hers. But using video evidence of a sexual assault as entertainment is, I believe, still illegal in most states. I could be completely wrong on that assumption, though.

  4. The anthology Yes means Yes should be required reading.

    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/

    Enthusiastic consent should be the legal standard. If you say either of these comments to yourself “Welllll, she didn’t say no exactly’ or “But she said yes…after I asked her 22 times” your partner did not give consent.

    It’s all about enthusiastic consent.

  5. The decision, from a legal perspective, is a bit baffling. It seems to hinge on the fact that she consented to being filmed – which is usually enough to film and reproduce that filming in videos. But implied consent is, legally, ALWAYS trumped by actual denial. So when she said, explicity, “No” to removing her top, that should have estopped the company from filming and using any images of her without a shirt on.

    Unfortunately, all we have is one article here, and not a complete transcript. But if the transcript mirrors what appeared in the article, she should be appealing that decision immediately.

  6. If it makes you feel better, the GGW chap has been slammed with several successful lawsuits and charges against him, and has paid high damage fees. Some of the girls he’s featured were underage, some were denying consent, etc. and it has cost him.

    The problem with American style trial by jury is you have 12 people who don’t know the law making a verdict based on which lawyer tells the best tale, not based on facts and learned judgment.

    ANd yes, consensual nekkidity is ferpectly fine.

  7. Because I’m so good at playing devil’s advocate: how does this fit in with, say, something like drunk driving?

    If you’re allowed to eschew responsibility by saying “I only said yes because I was drunk” is it then also okay to defend yourself with “I only ploughed into that family of five because I was drunk”?

    I know there’s a giant gulf in the world of reality between those two events, but in a strictly black and white legal kind of way…?

    1. First of all, being drunk is not an excuse. And in this case, the woman did not say yes, even if she was drunk, which I don’t know if she was.

      Second, being inebriated *often* means you’re not giving *informed consent*. Because your judgement is wonky. If you can prove someone’s judgement is impaired to the point that they cannot give informed consent, I think you’d have a good case.

      Third, drunk driving is a different case because: 1) It’s not breaking the law to agree to show off your boobs. It’s not breaking the law to choose to do something you might normally find morally reprehensible. Although showing off your boobs isn’t, IMO, morally reprehensible, but that’s another rant;

      2) The act of driving drunk is *always* illegal (at least, it is in this country).

      So. Informed consent versus knowingly breaking the law. I don’t think they’re the same at all.

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