Twisty’s law

Twisty at I Blame The Patriarchy has proposed a radical revision of the legal concept of rape. As a het guy who believes that the more I can internalize the Twisty creed, the better my life as a man will be, I sometimes hold forth over there along with the able resident commentariate. I’m always (even in agreement) in some discomfort that it ain’t my living room but a women’s space. (Let’s just stipulate to all the role definitions that are anti-hetero-normative in using these terms.)

So in recent strong agreement with her proposal that women be considered in a default state of “no”, where any entry of personal space sans explicit invitation constitutes a legal form of rape, I also felt like inviting other non-female (in non-hetero-normative terms) feminist men to have at this point over here, so as to declutter the Twisty virtual mansion of any male detritus.

Not sure about the blog-etiquette here, but given IBTP’s recent banning of some male logic-chopping commentary, I didn’t want to attract any more trolls, while still feeling impelled to explore what the Twisty Law might mean for men’s behavior and their standard-issue patriarchal set of conceptual norms.

Here’s a copy of a recent comment that invites “men” to participate in this exercise (trying reading Twisty’s original blog entry first):

I think the discussion of consent is useful only to remove it from the new situation being proposed—after all, Twisty’s Law is designed to vaporize the whole consent issue. What interests me at the moment is how the new situation might look in action.

First, forget about “romance” and “love”. The human spirit can soar, but not in those particular patriarchal coffins. What man can think about these concepts without an immediate context of hunt and chase? They are rooted in power-over and its uses, however witty and debonair.

Next, men have to deal with the fact that in a universe that continuously oppresses women in every manner available, only explicit agreement can be a basis for entering a woman’s space in any manner, let alone an intimate manner. (I’m not shying away from saying “sex” here, I’m just not sure what it means in the context of the Twisty Law.) The notion that the default situation is “no” makes this totally transparent and concrete as a personal interaction. The fundamental counterproposition to any male whining here is ask who would want to enter another’s space, no matter how previously intimate, when in any doubt of one’s welcome? To me the only answer here is simple—a rapist. Sure, its a strong term in the more subtle cases, but (a) lets own it because we do it, and (b) the intrinsic issue doesn’t change with the level of “subtlety”.

Furthermore, men who want to graduate to humanhood have to let go of our supposed right to “have sex”. This is just a removal of our object’s agency. (I mean, in terms of a “right” to “sex”, one can’t even speak of a “partner”.)

Rather than scare up any more male logic-shpielers here, don’t trash this tread with more mens’ rumination but join the comment thread on my blog (click my name).



Filed under feminista kulturkampf

4 responses to “Twisty’s law

  1. tigs34

    Are you a Gordie devotee? I have to admit, it was “power-over” that brought me over here from Twisty (just Tigs at IBTP), but I do think you’re right when you say “wisty’s Law is designed to vaporize the whole consent issue.”

    But I think what is meant to be questioned with this thought experiment is the conception of consent itself–not just what people do with it at a given point.

    Thinking about this practically is Radical and Revolutionary and requires an entire transformation of the status of women.

    I think maybe Twisty poses this question not to get a practicable model, but rather to make it clear that in general terms, most sex IS rape and that’s the world we live in.

  2. At my age, a lot of movement terms have accumulated in my addled brain. I don’t understand the Gordie allusion, though. I like “power-over” because because power as such is a good thing in the right hands.

    No question what Twisty is proposing is fundamental. And I’m there with the concept of sex equals rape, both theoretically and in my personal life. (I haven’t been raped, but my struggle as a —happily married het—guy has made that understanding inescapable. The conflict between my semi-socialization as a man and the implicit model of what Twisty is proposing that I’ve always had in my head has haunted my intimate life forever.)

    As a guy, my next thought is “ok, so what?—how would I manifest differently as a guy in this model?”. Partly because I’m a movement of one, but more because I believe the best way for me to relate to what is going on at IBTP is to bring it back into the men’s world. I can agree and debate all day over there, but I’m always going to be at some level an interloper.

    So my experiment here is to see if any men drop over to talk about what a man’s life in a Twisty world would feel like. We can be IBTP Running Dogs.

  3. ophite

    I have two actual problems with this.

    First, the idea that the State should be endowed with a considerable increase in coercive power over anyone is a problem. If we are talking about Law, we are also talking about the State; if we are talking about criminal law, we are especially talking about the State, because the State is the actor in all cases of criminal law.

    As long as we have the institution of the State, the State should be self-reflective: that is, the State should have the capacity to examine its own actions. In this case, the courts are unable to examine the reasons behind its own actions, or even varying power structures. The courts will do things that are clearly unjust* — and I am deeply skeptical of any essentialist claims, whether by Christians, communists, or feminists, that somehow some essential moral character will heal flawed systems of authority (cf. “dictatorship of the proletariat”.)

    To their credit, this isn’t what most people are arguing. Most people on the Twisty thread seem to be talking about this in terms of principles of consent, rather than laws regarding consent. Because I am skeptical of both State power and State competence, I would actually be more comfortable with vigilante violence based on these principles of consent than organized state coercion. (I think, ironically, that I would also support the same sort of pseudo-jury-nullification that many juries currently treat rape with.)

    Second, it appears that Class Woman is acting as stand-in for any individual woman in this situation, and that that stand-in is assumed to adhere to radfem ethical principles. Under those ethical principles, there are a certain number of reasons that those particular people would report their sexual partners. I support those reasons.

    Delphyne seems to believe that a woman would have to be crazy and vindictive in order to make a “false report” under this law. However, under the law, the only thing that would constitute a “false report” was reporting that they had had sex with someone whom they had not. There’s an implicit assumption being made that there’s a one-to-one overlap between “reasons to deprive someone of their freedom” and “situations that would warrant a report.”

    I don’t know, however, that that’s the case. First, Class Woman is reasonable, but the argument that every individual woman is some kind of moral ubermensch incapable of reporting someone for reasons that they, personally, would find unacceptable, is a non-starter. Unreasonable women, or violent women, or criminal women are not figments of the patriarchal imagination: they are rare, at least compared to the male problem of deviance, but they do exist. There is no provision, for instance, to prevent the extortion of a previous sexual partner.

    The two particular situations I am extremely skeptical about are “factors unknown to both parties that would cause enthusiastic participation not to have occurred,” and “factors that one party may not know are important to the other party that, if known, would cause enthusiastic participation not to have occurred.”

    For example: our protagonist, not a radfem, enthusiastically participates in sexual intercourse with a man; later, she converts wholesale to Catholicism, and her moral viewpoint is such that — if that moral viewpoint had applied to her entire life — then she would never have enthusiastically participated in sexual intercourse. The man has not had sexual intercourse with the woman since. This situation is clearly reportable as a crime depriving the woman’s partner of liberties and (under this system) possibly life. Should that crime be something that could be reported? Is it rape now? Would it be rape in a society that was capable of making the Twisty Law actual law?

    Second example: our protagonist, also not a radfem, enthusiastically participates in sexual intercourse with a man who carries a severe genetic disorder, and is aware of this fact. She has not informed him that she is not using birth control for personal reasons, and because she intends to take sole responsibility for a child. She has not asked him for his genetic history; he has not told her. She ends up pregnant, and, given the severe genetic disorder of her child, she would not have enthusiastically participated in sex given that he had that severe genetic disorder. Again, clearly something that could be reported. Is it rape now? Would it be rape in a society that was capable of making the Twisty Law actual law?

    I’m only engaging this because I am deeply interested in the reform of rape law, but am also skeptical of any claim of omniscience (or omnipotence) on the part of the legal system. I don’t know that this model makes good policy sense and am skeptical of the broad strokes with which it projects the power relationship between Class Man and Class Woman on every individual relationship, or every individual intimacy, between men and women — it is ultimately the latter, rather than the former, with which the law must deal.

    — ACS

    * In what society where this law were possible would it be necessary? In what society where this law were necessary would it be possible?

  4. Hi, ACS—I spent some time trying to absorb what you’ve written, for the most part working to understand its relation to Twisty’s original post. Of course, that post having generated (as of this writing) over 700 comments (including its continuation), clearly there is a lot of other reaction to react to.

    But that’s part of a huge conversation. Here, I’m interested in the original proposal.

    One thing you point out is “There is no provision, for instance, to prevent the extortion of a previous sexual partner.” This issue is also the key one in your counter-cases farther on. With respect, my response is to look to your framing of the issue in terms of (a) the context of how the legal system operates; (b) more specifically, the concept of exceptions that invalidate Twisty’s “law” as a legal implementation.

    As I read her, Twisty is proposing a thought experiment that involves a new relationship between women (by extension, anyone is a position of giving ‘consent’ to ‘sex’ as a role norm) and the experience of physical intimacy. As a man, even and especially as one who considers himself a somewhat experienced blamer, it is extremely interesting to me to experience the mental shift proposed, from the point of view of my own heteronormative inculcation. As with a lot of what Twisty captures, her short set of statements is enough to capture without equivocation a recipe for perceptual transformation, or at least for productive self-awareness.

    My feeling is that it is impossible to consider the proposal in ‘legal’ terms, since whatever we can understand by ‘legal’ is so thorough contaminated. I don’t know what to make of the fact that many male respondents (as far as I can figure out from their self-identification) choose legal contradiction as a place for discussion. To me it is not about whether these legal points are well or poorly made (yours are extremely cogent), right or wrong. What I take from the phenomenon is that (allow me to grossly generalize for rhetorical purposes) men tend to react to challenges to dominance with recourse to legalism, including the related effect of externalization. In my own work with Twisty’s texts I have found it useful to limit my tendency to respond with rhetorical dissection. I so often miss her point!

    Thanks for your participation.

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