Saturday, 21 March 2009

Kyle Payne, consent and consequences

An amymous commenter to my post on Kyle Payne, claims to be the male radical feministe crusader himself. I checked the traffic and the writer appears to have come from Iowa and the writing style seems very similar to his. Therefore, I assume that he is the man himself. If so, it seems that he is indeed hoping to take up exactly where he left off - as if nothing had happened. After trying to put a quotation in context and giving, without any apparent sense of irony, a lecture on ethics he finishes by stating:

I am very sorry for the misunderstanding, especially to anyone who has confided in me. I did not consider fully the implications of what I was writing in this post. In the future, however, I will be much more careful and respectful.

Careful and respectful to whom, Kyle? The women whom you hope will, in future, pour out the details of the abuse they have undergone into your receptive ear? Why should they trust you? Because you are struggling with the effects of your patriarchal upbringing and past abuse? I have news for you Kyle. Other people have also had similar experiences.- They don't, however, write articles celebrating their own sensitivity to and empathy with the feelings of abused women just weeks before copping a plea bargain and admitting to abusing a drunk and unconscious woman.

The fact that you do not see that you cannot expect to be trusted is in itself evidence that you cannot be trusted. You abused a woman. You did not seek her consent for her breast to be photographed. And yet you are proud of picketing a place where men look at the breasts of women who have consented. Isn't there something very dissonant about this? You claim that the women who work in the sex industry are incapable of consent even when they insist that they are fully responsible for their choices. But you did not give a young student uninvolved in the sex trade the opportunity to give consent. Does the concept of consent have any meaning to you? When the women confided in you, were they aware that you prowled into at least one female student's room and photographed her unconscious body? Did you tell them? - for if consent is to be valid it must be informed. Did they know that your desire to gaze at women's breasts was so strong before they spoke of what some other men did to their breasts?

If I came across a drunk and unconscious woman revealing naked flesh, my first response would undoubtedly be to look. Patriarchal conditioning or not, this is part of my make up and I doubt it will change now. But this would, also undoubtedly, be a very short look because my next response would be, and has been in the past, to cover her. For by becoming drunk she did not give consent for all and sundry to gaze at her, even though she might, unconsciously, have enabled them to do so. And most men I know, all of whom are conditioned by patriarchy, many of whom have been abused, and very few of whom would identify as feminist, would do exactly the same.

Kyle, you did not. And neither did you stumble upon her by accident and then become overtaken by a sudden impulse. You entered her room. You sought her out. You had a camera with you. This was a deliberate act. How can any of the women you seem to hope to counsel be sure that they are not your next target? The answer is that they cannot - for you have not shown any sign that you understand the consequences of your actions. Therefore, there is a very good chance that you will re-offend. And why, given the way you have behaved in the past do you want to go back? Do you have a need to peer inside the minds and souls of troubled women? Do you, in fact, get off on it? Does it simply turn you on? Did you lie in bed at night and imagine being those men. When you ejaculated, which orifice were you in? What did you like better - when they fought or when they froze in terror?

Such questions may, perhaps, be unjust, but they will be asked. And with cause. Your actions gave cause to them. Your apparent lack of any real insight reinforces that cause. It was not patriarchy or past abuse that prompted your actions. It was, unless you have serious mental health problems, a result of choice. You gave yourself permission to do what you did. You gave consent to the act and she could not. And these actions have consequences - such as the questions in the last paragraph.

(By the way, it would be entirely ethical to publish a book such as the one you fantasised about writing providing you obtained the consent of the women concerned. That did not seem to be a factor in your later disclaimer. Why not?)

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