Thursday, November 11, 2010
Not that Complicated
Jaclyn Friedman wrote a great column a couple of days ago about a Canadian case of “advance consent.” From the Montreal Gazette, (trigger warning, y’all) the case involves a woman who agreed to some asphyxiation play with her long-time partner, and woke up being sodomized with a toy. The case is hinging on the idea of “advance consent” - the idea that someone can give a partner permission to sexual activities in advance. Ten years ago, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that there was no such thing as “implied consent,” so I’m struggling to figure out why this case would be difficult for the court to decide.
This case provides, I think, some interesting light on the very big, very important, and difficult-at-times to parse subject of consent. That the term “advance consent” is used at all here - the plaintiff in this case did not consent to the actions her partner took. I don’t mean to say that she changed her mind; it sounds (from the news story) like she never gave consent for anal penetration period. This isn’t like the advice column Dan Savage printed a while back about a couple interested in engaging in somniphilia for which the couple had talked about desires and made a determination of interest; the phrase “advance consent” in the Canadian case seems to mean…unlimited consent? I don’t understand why we’d use that term the way that the courts are using it here.
You should go read her article. Seriously. Consent, people: it’s not that complicated.