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What do you think of consent as a basis for anarchist relations? Or seduction?

+10 votes
Whether from the influence of feminism or otherwise, "do unto others (only) what they would have you do unto them" has become one of the most accepted anarchist principles, and not only in sexual matters.

Some anarchists, however, have critiqued consent for its reinforcement of safety zones that they say anarchy is about breaking out of. The text "Terror Incognita," for example, points to the scarier space of seduction as ripe for anarchist practice. What do you think?
asked Mar 29, 2013 by anok (18,950 points)
It could be interesting.  I'm not sure why anybody would assume that when an anarchist talks about equality they mean enforced conformity (quite a fascist concept).  Part of social equality is accommodating people's differences, where possible.
geomancer, you said you thought i mis-read the question. it's totally possible, and i think the question deserves more & better attention than it's gotten so far.

care to explain?
Following Rice Boy's reply, I would like to add that I found interesting that when Manuela Carmena, the leader of Ahora Madrid, won the majorship of Madrid, she said: "Now we need to seduce the other half".

For those of you who haven't heard about Ahora Madrid, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahora_Madrid

dot: i don't know what geomancer meant for sure, but i think they may have been referring to the fact that the question says "do unto others (only) what they would have you do unto them", while in your first comment you said "i find that the equality argument -- which "do unto others" is entirely hand in glove with -- is a total pain in the ass." it seems as though you thought anok's original phrase was the more cliche "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

not sure i explained that very clearly...

clearly enough. i should've known anok's question would've been more interesting than that.



3 Answers

+2 votes
here are some thoughts (perhaps i can make up for my embarrassing attempt earlier!):

a. if consent is defined/understood as conscious and explicit permission to engage in a particular act or interaction, then it gives too much power to consciousness and verbal clarity. our consciousnesses are (i would argue) a small fraction of how we interact with the world [and are (perhaps?) the most easily controlled and manipulated--eh, i'm not sure i agree with that, but i'll leave it there anyway]. communication is confusing even when nothing serious is on the line and we've known someone for years.

b. if consent is understood as either explicit or tacit "going along with", then it is so open that it becomes useless as an idea.

people who rely on consent as a way to address power dynamics, lack of self defense information and/or techniques, and confusing cultural differences, are emphasizing a. but that option assumes that everyone is weak and needing protection; it assumes fragility and emphasizes danger. it seems related to the social stereotypes of over-protection, from everything being marketed as antibiotic, to parents being prosecuted if they dare to allow their children out of their sight.

i am trying to stay open to how it might still be useful, and the best i can do is consider that these terms are not that different from other political jargon that has come before, that it is just a new language that people will learn to maneuver and negotiate through; and that really may be the case.

this may still not be addressing anok's question, but...
answered Jul 27, 2015 by dot (50,790 points)
Could you put some more examples of a.?

"but that option assumes that everyone is weak and needing protection; it assumes fragility and emphasizes danger."

Don't you think these aspects are underemphasised rather than overemphasised nowadays? 

There are some people who are weak and need protection, who are in danger, and that does not mean that consent is over-protective. Consent is needed to ensure that both parties are at least somewhat-conscious of the possible outcomes and make their decision in light of those ... although I see your point

+3 votes
I think it becomes easier to think about this question when the subject is a venue. We live in a society that is theoretically divided into different zones with different rules for those zones. Those rules are based on who may wind up there. The granularity can be modulated with planned events in those venues/zones. I expect to be the subject of seduction on ultra-sex night at the sex bar in the sex district. That isn't a bad idea...

Anarchists may be into breaking the rules of zones created for our general domination by ____________. However, I don't think this is meant as a question about how much consent we ought to be given by our enemies to destroy them.

I have a problem with the "safe space" concept, but not because it is an attempt to create a space with expected interactions. I think it's just another buzz word that fits into a liberal/activist lexicon ...and that it's often double-speak for the regulation of a space by a politics of privilege analysis.
answered Jul 27, 2015 by Squee (2,450 points)
+2 votes
In one of Rilke's biographies, it's said that the reason he [rilke] was so attractive to women was not due to any effect that his person or manners had on them, but because he was so evidently in love with them. The women he formed relationships with were always taken w/ the fact that *they* had affected *him* so strongly.

(i.e., it seems to me that if you think about it very much, seduction doesn't make much sense at all, as a way of interacting with human beings that you respect or love. you might wish that they would love you in return, but I think you realize this is something you can never ask for or expect. because if you did love them, really, then you understand that this emotion is too delicate to have been produced by any technique, testing of boundaries, or other form of experiment.)

So ixnay to seduction. (dot, I feel, covered consent well).
answered Jul 28, 2015 by asker (7,870 points)

:) asker - your answer appeals to the romantic in me (yes, i have an internal[ly squished] romantic! shhhh!), but love isn't the only valid way to engage with people.

i think i am intrigued by this question because seduction is so... endemic to how we interact with the world (in a bad way) and yet as someone who tends to say "no" first, i know that it has made my life much better to be around people who poke me around those "no"s, and don't just take them at face value. some would say that if i say no then that's my responsibility, and i need to learn on my own to say "yes" more often, and i kind of agree with that, but i also think that that is a very isolating/atomized way to think about how we relate to each other, and how we help each other...

i knew a marketer who had a cartoon on her wall that originally said "seduction is the difference between rape and rapture" and someone had crossed out "seduction" and written "marketing". i have never been able to get that out of my head. (i also think that says as much about how we think about rape and rapture as it does about marketing and seduction...)

@sker:  dot's comment pointedly marks how the contemporary view of 'seduction' is really just a euphamism for dominance and submission.

Your observations, on the other hand, point to something i have been composting in my mind - that seduction can be a form of invitation.  This is especially clear when we remove the conversation from the context of sex and romance, and view it from the social, intellectual, and the everyday contempt for arbitrary authority.  If a girl steps out into an empty street - in clear contempt for any jaywalking regulations - then she is committing an act of insurgency against an arbitrary authority;  if she looks over her shoulder as she steps off the curb and winks at me - then she is also attempting an act of social seduction, inviting me to defy that absent authority alongside her.

In this context, seduction can be viewed as a form of mutual aid -  a support (in advance) for some action another person would like to take, but that they wouldn't take left to their own resources.  [the fucked up part of this type of definition, is that 'seduction' would explicitly be embraced by 'consent', because if the invitation was for something the invitee was not comfortable with - then they would recoil, and nothing happens.]

@sker:  dot's comment pointedly marks how the contemporary view of 'seduction' is really just a euphemism for dominance and submission.

hmmm. i thought i was saying something more engaging than that.

dot::  i tend to myopia.  surely you know that by now.  ;)

oh, and i wander off on tangents.

(and i really didnt want to wander into the forest of Rape and Rapture, for fear of getting squished romantics between my toes.)
nothing is messier than a squished romantic...
dot and clod buster -- seduction outside the context of love is definitely not something I was trying to address in my answer [i was thinking that love was important enough to start w/ :-) ]. maybe it should have been, but it's not a metaphor that seems comfortable or easy to understand, for me. I still haven't read Terror Incognita - perhaps I'll get what you're talking about more once I do.