Consent Matters

[Trigger warning for sexual harassment; rape culture.]

There sure are still a lot of people arguing that Rep. Weiner's internet fuckery is a private matter between consenting adults, even though a Times article made clear yesterday that 21-year-old college student Gennette Cordova neither solicited nor consented to receive the tweeted picture heard 'round the world:
"I have not sent him any suggestive messages," Ms. Cordova said.

She said she was, however, surprised by his informal tone. "He was just very casual," she said. "It wasn't like talking to a U.S. congressman."

A spokeswoman for Mr. Weiner did not dispute Ms. Cordova's account.

Mr. Weiner, at his news conference on Monday, said he had sent Ms. Cordova the underwear photo "as part of a joke." But Ms. Cordova said the image was not in keeping with the tenor of their previous interactions.

"I still didn't get the joke part of it," she said.
Listen, there is no one (who doesn't know Weiner personally) who did not want to find out more than me that Congressman Anthony Weiner was sexually harassing women by sending them unsolicited pictures of his genitals. It grieves me. But just because I don't want to be true doesn't mean I get to pretend it isn't; and pretending it isn't doesn't make it so.

It matters that he sent unsolicited sexual images to women, because consent matters.

And the lack of consent matters.

Some will point to the fact that, at the end of the same article, Cordova is quoted as saying, "I certainly don't condone his behavior, but I think that's a personal matter between him and his family." But Cordova has a personal incentive for wanting this whole ugly mess to go away: She is personally involved. Weiner turned her life upside-down with that unsolicited tweet, and she undoubtedly would like to go back to a life in which her name is not known to the world because of a public figure with no impulse control.

Her reasons are not the same as the reasons of someone appropriating her words to argue that a public figure (either with whom they identify ideologically, or by virtue of their shared gender, or owing to a belief that sexual harassment should not be punishable) should be above criticism or consequences.

Members of the US Congress represent The People, and when we fail to hold to account a sexual harasser, for whatever reason, we're saying as a culture that we're pretty okay with that behavior. We're saying that consent doesn't matter.

Once upon a time, there was a Congressman who liked to point out that members of that legislative body should be held to rigorous ethical standards, because they represent a nation whose standards they reflect.

Now he's counting on the fact that the very people who admired him for those principles will jettison them in his defense.

Don't count on me, Weiner.

I'm no prude: I like a good dick picture as much as anyone. The thing is, I just like consent more.

[Related Reading w/ trigger warning for Polanksi stuff: Her Reasons Are Not Yours.]

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