There is a lot of feminist in-fighting. I realize that the word “feminist” can mean any number of things to people – depending on who you ask. As far as feminism for me, it means not treating women as second class citizens. It means treating them equally. While, I personally like to acknowledge there ARE differences in men and women, either physically or evolutionarily, some people like to be gender-blind and they are entitled to that. I think that acknowledging differences means we can celebrate them rather than pretend they don’t exist.
I also don’t believe most feminists want to elevate women above men, nor do they want to deny that men have issues of their own to deal with. I don’t wish to diminish them as victims. That isn’t what feminism is supposed to be.
At any rate, the issue I have taken recently has been regarding “age gap” and “power gap” (that’s what I’m going to call it) relationships.
The matter first arose when I was reading a John Green blog entry about a young man who took advantage of a young woman at a con, in which the young man represented part of Green’s empire – DFTBA. I have little doubt that that relationship was ill-fated and ill-advised and there does seem to be elements of abuse and possibly rape (the girl was underage, but I don’t know how far apart their ages were – and I don’t have the whole story – this was internet based chatter). The whole thing unfolded on Tumblr, and John and Hank Green were pretty upset. Understandably.
That topic came up in a later Laci Green video. I enjoy Laci Green tremendously and I have long wished there had been somebody like her when I was coming of age in the early 1980s. We had Dr. Ruth. Not bad, but Laci is vibrant, smart and hip and fun. Plus, she’s in video format, which is incredibly helpful. Anyway – in the video about how to practice good consent Laci Green says that a person who is a fan of a celebrity CANNOT give consent. I TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH THAT.
YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEO AT THIS LINK (I do recommend this for great consent tips!)
At 3:24 where “Consent CANNOT Happen Even With a Verbal Yes” under situation #3 When You Hold Authority” over somebody. I agree that ethically therapists and physicians, teachers and so forth should NOT be having sex with any students, patients, etc. I am less enthusiastic about the whole celebrity and YouTube celebrity thing.
In fact, despite Laci Green being a big proponent of feminism, mutual consent, empowerment, and a generally sex positive attitude, I think the idea that a person (in this case I am talking about women, since I am talking about feminism) cannot in some cases give consent if there is a power imbalance actually DIMINISHES women. To me it is decidedly UN-feminist to suggest a 20 year old woman can’t give consent to have sex with with, say, David Bowie if the occasion should arise. Or an 18 year old man can’t give consent to have sex with Beyonce or a favorite YouTuber he worships – male or female. Or for that matter I – a 44 year old woman – couldn’t give consent to have sex with Viggo Mortenson. Viggo – if you happen to read this – call me!
There are all kinds of ways power is in and out of balance in sexual relationships (and pretty much all relationships). I think I understand why some girls and young women are getting a mixed message about feminism making victims out of them and they don’t like being seen as victims. I can totally understand that.
The fact is that women can make choices to have sex with whomever they so desire. Sometimes they will make mistakes. Not every sexual misstep has to be a victim/victimizer situation. Some are definitely unethical – but that still does not make them criminal.
What I think has happened here is that for so many years women’s concerns and abuses have been systemically ignored by the power structure. And still are. So there is a push back to keep it from happening and define what is and what isn’t assault or abuse. We need those things in place to protect people. Laci has a lot of fantastic advice in her videos and I highly recommend them. But I do not agree with her on that particular point and I think it also drives this idea that the anti-feminists are picking up. Even though Laci doesn’t say it’s only women – I think because of the situation and where it stemmed from sort of implies it to the audience.
This is never going to be easy. We have to talk these things out, but we’ve got to stop fighting about it.