Consent is Magical

If you have been reading the Reg Rawlins, Psychic Detective series, you probably noticed that the first few books explore the issue of consent from a unique viewpoint. In the magical community of Black Sands, Reg finds herself attracted to and yet at odds with warlock Corvin Hunter. Corvin has magical abilities Reg does not understand, since it is considered to be in poor taste to discuss them.

“… such things are just not discussed in polite company. Men like Corvin… well…” She shook her head. “What they do is unspeakable.”

A Psychic with Catitude

In the most recent release, A Catastrophic Theft, Reg ends up testifying against Corvin before a warlock tribunal and finds that her modern view of consent is something completely foreign to the community, who in spite of modern conveniences are living with attitudes that are several hundred years old. She finds herself the target of some serious victim-blaming and shaming.

Reg saw the trap he’d laid for her. A hot flush rolled over her face. “Why are you blaming me?” she demanded. “I’m the victim here! I told him I did not yield my powers to him even if he managed to make me say yes with his magic. I told him no over and over again, and he still glamoured me!”

“Miss Rawlins, this issue of consent seems to be one that you hold some very strong opinions about.”

A Catastrophic Theft

I won’t give too much away. I don’t want to spoil the books before you have a chance to read them!

Modern day (non-magical) consent

It has been interesting to watch the transition in attitudes and laws over the past couple of decades. Western society has made some significant strides in redefining sexual assault and the expectation that (potential) partners have each other’s consent at all times. Consider that the United States did not even criminalize marital rape in all states until 1993. Historically, a woman was the property of her husband and did not have the right to refuse sex.

We will, I hope, continue to advance in this area despite some world leaders who do not appear to understand the concept of consent.

Resources

I looked around for some good resources on modern laws of sexual consent and guidelines for those who are trying to understand the new paradigm, and these are a few of the pages that I thought worth looking at.

Because Google knows where I live, my top hits were Canadian sites, and I particularly liked this one from the Edmonton Police Department. It is not as victim-centric as a lot of the other pages I looked at, but gives constructive help in communication to ensure that you have your partner’s consent at all times. Unique to this page are their “examples of no.”

  • “Not now” 
  • “Maybe later”
  • “I have a boy/girlfriend”
  • “No thanks”
  • “You’re not my type”
  • “*#^+ off!”
  • “I’d rather be alone right now”
  • “Don’t touch me”
  • “I really like you but…”
  • “Let’s just go to sleep”
  • “I’m not sure”
  • “You’ve/I’ve been drinking”
  • SILENCE

It is important to note that this list includes “silence.” A number of people that I have heard from over the past year have talked about freezing up when they feel threatened. As much as we would like to declare what action we would take in a threatening situation (punch them in the face, walk away, etc.,) in the face of danger or an assault it is a natural human response to freeze. I have heard things like “Couldn’t he tell I was frozen?” “I was just lying there with tears running down my face” or “Didn’t they even care that I wasn’t participating?” Read Bea Currie’s heart-wrenching Silence is Not Consent.

One of the sites that I read suggested partners say things like “Can we slow down?” or “Can we stop?” if they felt uncomfortable and did not want to continue. But I feel that this phrasing, which is intended to be polite and non-confrontational, is not adequate. “Can we” suggests that it is a request, and that it can be answered with “yes” or “no.” I feel that we need to get away from the notion that we need to be polite and concerned about not hurting the other person’s feelings. Saying “stop” or “no” is not rude, blunt, or offensive. If your partner considers you a [insert ugly word here] for saying no, then maybe it’s best to part company.

Rather than “Can we slow down?” why not “Slow down”? Rather than “Can we stop?” Why not “Stop”? If you are feeling anxious, unsafe, or not ready or in the mood, and you are able to find your words, then in my view, the clearer you can be, the better. It should not be a question, it should be a directive.

A couple more good resources:

  • What is consent?
  • The infamous Tea Consent video. (Why they felt the need to include an f-bomb at 0:10, I don’t know. The rest of the video is fine.)

If you have some other great resources (web pages, videos, books, etc.) let me know in the comments section.

Last words

I shouldn’t have to say it, but here it is. The rules of consent apply to everyone: male, female, transgender, intersex, gay, straight, bi, poly, whatever. Men are victims of sexual assault too. Those who are LGBTQIA are much more likely to be sexually assaulted. So are those who are neurodiverse or handicapped.

And of course, children, those who cannot understand sex and consent, and those who are drunk, unconscious, or asleep cannot ever give consent.

And finally, if you have been the victim of sexual assault, it is not because you did the wrong thing. The fault lies with the perpetrator, not the victim. I hope that you are able to find healing and wholeness in your life.


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