The ethics of voting for a rapist

“Politicians shouldn’t be judged based on their sex lives” one of my guy friends told me after the (first) Anthony Weiner sexting scandal. “They should only be judged on their policies.”

There might be something there. I’m assuming that’s how Republicans who plan to vote for Trump feel about their candidate: that he should be judged based on his promise to cut the business tax rate to 15 percent, not on his 2005 comments boasting that he can do “anything” he wants to women, on the basis of his celebrity, including “grab(bing) them (sic) by the pussy.”

One could argue that there’s even something noble about being so attached to ideals of economic or social policy that you’re willing to elect someone who is so deplorable that they would brag about committing sexual assault.

There is a definite idealist sentiment to separating a candidate from their sexual history, and (one could argue) a moral one as well.

Imagine for a moment how satisfying it would be for queer candidates to have their queerness be a non-issue for their election campaigns or for an otherwise qualified political candidate to not have to respond to their husband’s sex scandals from nearly 20 years ago.

 yes, my allusions are very subtle. I’m being subtle here.

But as much as I’d find a purely policy-based election refreshing, I personally don’t believe it is the appropriate response to modern democracy.

When (the married, former congressman) Anthony Weiner was exposed (pun intended) as sending sexually explicit texts and messages to “about six” women, including a 21-year-old college student in 2011, I argued that his mass sexting could be cause to question his policies on net neutrality, sexual harassment and the sexual exploitation referred to as “revenge porn,” even if he says nothing of these things within his official platform.

Similarly, The Donald’s actions have created a perceived platform as well — one that considers menstruation more repulsive than rape and sexual harassment the onus of the victim. At present, his official platform fails to mention rape even once. Would it be difficult to believe during his presidency that he will be less of an ally to victims of sexual violence? Would it be difficult to believe he would dismantle what limited structures are in place to protect those who have experienced harm or those structures meant to penalize those who have committed harm?

Additionally, if Trump is elected, (he has about a 16 percent chance according to political statistician Nate Silver — the same probability that in one roll of a fair six-sided die the die will land on a two) a full generation of young Americans will internalize that men can assault women, brag openly about it and remain just as popular as before.

So I don’t want someone accused of raping a thirteen year old/someone whose wife accused him of raping her/someone who was recorded on a bus with Billy Bush bragging about assaulting women to be president, but I desperately don’t want men around men — at Brown or elsewhere — to think they can assault me and face no repercussions for it. In my (entirely non-expert) opinion, a Trump presidency doesn’t need to repeal any legislation on the criminalization of sexual assault to make rapists feel more comfortable assaulting others or to make the assaulted feel less comfortable speaking out about their experiences. Society’s tabulated indifference to Trump’s actions will do that the moment he is elected president.

Even though neither of these concerns are based in Trump’s proposed policies, my feelings have most definitely impacted my ability to even consider voting for Trump. In fact, I’d feel uncomfortable voting for Trump no matter what policies he stood for, which seems almost anti-democratic when spelled out.

I am thoroughly swayed by my knowledge of Trump’s sexual history. Specifically, his treatment of women and his failure to redeem himself for it have forever sullied him as a candidate for me. This is an extreme case of a candidate’s sexual history being marched out during an election, but as (hopefully) the logical extreme, Trump serves as a philosophical litmus test:

Should we be able to judge politicians on their sex lives? Or should we judge them on their policies alone?

You know my vote. What’s yours?

April Cum-She-Will

 


That’s Not What They Call Closure: Why is Rachel Green the Face of the Brangelina Breakup

One of my favorite words is the German “Schadenfreude”, meaning pleasure derived from another’s misfortune, like laughing when an obnoxiously speeding driver is pulled over by the cops. It definitely came to mind this week in the waves of Jennifer Aniston memes circulating post Brangelina Breakup such as this:

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It’s time to stop conflating dominance and abuse

Trigger warning: BDSM, abuse, kink, consent/violation

Last week, “Fifty Shades Darker,” sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” broke the record held by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for most-viewed trailer in 24 hours. It’s clearly capturing the attention of a mainstream YouTube audience despite criticism that the relationship depicted, between Dominant Christian Grey and Submissive Anastasia Steele, is abusive. Much of that criticism stems from the historical representation of BDSM relationships as inherently abusive, when this is not in fact the case.

BDSM is an overlapping acronym for Bondage/Discipline Domination/Submission Sadism/Masochism. The aspect most principal to this essay is Domination/Submission which is sexual dynamic where one partner (the dominant) is given permission to make the majority of sexual decisions (when to have sex, how, or when). Dominance and Submission can overlap with other aspects within BDSM (such as Bondage or Sadomasochism) but such overlaps are not required.

The above mentioned is far from the only instance when heterosexual BDSM has been portrayed as the “innate” sexual fantasy of the masses, or when a dominant man’s desire to dominate a partner has been conflated with a desire to abuse that same partner.

Take this 1972 essay on gendered dynamics and desires published in the alternative “Vermont Freeman” that literally uses the word “abused” to refer to a submissive woman in the hands of a dominant man:

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused. A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”

The author is Bernard Sanders, or as he’s now commonly known as, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, the progressive Vermont senator turned failed Democratic nominee and Brown’s favorite geriatric heartthrob.

Look at that lip bite

Now Sanders is right in that dominant men can absolutely abuse submissive women, and one could argue that “Fifty Shades of Grey” (as well as his Freudian one-shot) is an example of that. But he is wrong in his perpetuation of the assumption that sexual abuse stems from the position of an individual or the rope tying them up; sexual abuse is the product of sexual conduct carried out without freely given consent. As long as the submissive has the ability to revoke consent at any point (hand signals and safe words are the most common methods) and the dominant immediately obeys them, kinky sex is just as consensual as any other type of sex.

First of all, innate sexual fantasies are almost always portrayed as kinky, spank-based BDSM, and BDSM is usually protrayed as an abusive, physically damaging relationship between a dominant man and a submissive woman. These portrayals marginalize a great many people, including queer people who are ignored in the heteronormative narrative of sexuality and abuse, men who enjoy being submissive and women who enjoy being dominant.

Beyond that, the rhetoric with which modern society discusses BDSM often conflates it with abuse, much like Sanders did. This interpretation denies women the agency to consent to kinky sex, and obscures instances of abuse that take place outside of BDSM relationships, such as economic or emotional abuse, as well as violations of sexual consent between individuals who are do not identify or participate in any form of BDSM play.

 

But this interpretation — which perpetuates the idea that there is a positive relationship between kink and rape — is also incredibly harmful to those who enjoy BDSM, to those who have been abused, and even those who have been abused within BDSM relationships.

This is especially important to me, as I am both a very kinky person and someone who has experienced abuse at the hands of someone who believed they were simply being kinky.

Now, when my (non-abusive) partner and I role play, and the kinks (spanking, hair-pulling, rope) come out, he’s not abusing or oppressing me. I’m enjoying my sexuality in the way I prefer to with his help. There’s a safe word in place, so either one of us can end the kink-fest whenever we want.

I have a rape fantasy, sure. But I don’t actually want to be raped, and any person who does rape me is still committing a violent crime — in much the same way that a middle schooler who enjoys playing Call of Duty doesn’t actually want to be stranded in a warzone and certainly doesn’t want to be shot.

 

Dominance, within a consensual, safe word-guarded relationship, is not abuse.

Submission, within a consensual, safe word-guarded relationship, is not oppression.

That is all,

April Cum-she-will.


Should we move on from the Rock Challenge?

As evidenced by the 12 Olympic gold medalists in our school’s history, Brown students are pretty goal-oriented (though we may pretend not to be) and will readily take on challenges. In fact, we are generally pretty fond of them, especially when they involve our favorite campus libraries.

[Note: for those who do not know, the SciLi Challenge entails taking a shot on each level of the SciLi. The Rock Challenge requires having sex on each floor of the Rock. The John Hay Challenge is just doing your homework — sorry. Please use caution, hydration and protection when drinking or having sex in or outside of libraries. Love, BlogDailyHerald]

safety    

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