There Is No Such Thing As Second-Hand Consent

[Content Note: This post contains reference to a sexual assault and discussion of intimate partner violence.]

In July 2010, I wrote a piece called "Your Underdog Lovelorn Romantic May Be My Rapist," about public romantic gestures in which strangers' participation is elicited, and the potential for people's good judgment to be undermined by the belief they're helping facilitate a grand romantic moment. Relatedly, male predators often get access to female victims by claiming to already be romantically involved with them.

Today, Shaker Courtney forwarded me this terrible story (which is rife with rape apologia right down the headline and its use of the loaded word "claim" vs. a less dubious word like "allege") about a woman who "is suing Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, [alleging] staff at one of their hotels gave her room key to a drunken man who allegedly sexually assaulted her in her bed."

This guy had, according to Alison Fournier, hit on her earlier that night, and, after she'd made it clear she was not interested in having sex with him, she "retreated to her room to get away." So why did a hotel employee just hand out her room key to this guy?
That same man, according to the suit, later went to the front desk, said that he was Fournier's husband, and obtained a key from hotel staff to her room.

The staff did not ask him for any identification or proof that he was in fact Fournier's husband, according to the lawsuit.
Nor, evidently, did they even bother to pick up the phone and ring Fournier's room to get her permission to hand out a key to her room—which is something they should have done even if this guy had been her husband.

There is no such thing as second-hand consent. A husband cannot consent on his wife's behalf to give himself access to her room. There are husbands in this world who hit their wives, who rape their wives, who murder their wives. There are reasons that a wife could be in a hotel room to which she doesn't want her husband to have a key.

"In a statement given to ABC News by Starwoods Hotels and Resorts, Worldwide, the company said it is investigating the incident." Ya think? Fuck.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus