Sunday, May 29, 2016

Consent (Again)

Hi everybody! I hope you're doing well. We are fine, just incredibly busy. I know I've been gone for a long time, but I'm here this morning.

I was reading the news yesterday (a dubious endeavor these days) when I encountered this story. The Pakistani Islamic Council proposed a bill that allows husbands to "lightly beat" their wives. Say what? OK, I am not a part of that culture and I should not not judge them based upon my liberal western values. But still. WTF people?

They want codify in the country's laws a husband's right to beat his wife with a small stick. Any husband. Any wife. Any time. And the permissible reasons are outrageous. Speaking too loudly? Really?

It seems to me that a light beating is sort of like humane torture. There isn't any such thing. A light beating is one that someone else endures.

To me, being safe in one's home is a basic human right that crosses all cultures.

I probably wouldn't have written about this news story had I not discovered a parallel message in a Tumblr blog. I was adding new blogs to the blogroll (there are a bunch - check them out!). I found an otherwise conventional spanko photoblog with this subtitle:

All women should get spanked like children

That first word offends me. There is no statement you can make about all women without overgeneralizing. We are remarkably diverse in our attributes and our situations.

Yes, there are some women who want and/or need to be spanked sometimes. But definitely not all women. Not even close. Even among those of us who appreciate receiving a spanking, there are limits that we expect to be respected. If I'm sick or injured or working or just really not up for it right now, that has to be OK.

The bottom line is that without consent, it's assault. Assault cannot be excused, forgiven, explained away, or even legislated by religious misogynists. We call people who commit assault criminals. And that's exactly how we need society to treat them.


Leigh Smith said...

Amen, unfortunately our western habits don't apply in many other countries and women are treated as little more than chattel.

Emerging Lurker said...

I read a similar article this morning and found it sad, scary, and infuriating. I'm also curious about the range of attitudes in Pakistan, from electing a female prime minister in 1988 to this proposed bill. I wonder if it will pass.

Downunder Don said...

And even in the so called first world the levels of domestic violence are appalling. I am ashamed to say that in my country many women are subject to violence similar to that described above, many with the excuse that "she asked for it" or similar and the number of deaths is growing all the time. There is never an excuse for hitting anyone without specific consent.

Minelle Labraun said...

That is terrible. Especially the wording, "lightly beat!?" There is a huge difference between what those of us consent to and what is an expected and condoned disciplinary law!

Cat said...

I totally agree with you, Bonnie...Sounds like nothing more than legalized domestic violence. And don't get me started on "All" for any group...just wrong! Thanks for sharing.

Hugs and blessings...Cat

Roz said...

Well said Bonnie, I'm in total agreement with you. As for 'lightly beat'!


Hermione said...

Hi Bonnie,

So the old "rule of thumb" rears its ugly head once more. Eggs, not women, are "lightly beaten".


sixofthebest said...

I have always believed that the fetish of us 'spanko's, must be between TWO CONSENTING ADULTS. No IF'S or BUTT'S. No pun intended.

Dan - A Disciplined Hubby said...

Hi Bonnie. In this context, it's obviously appalling. The whole consent issues gets a little complicated for me as someone on the receiving end of the paddle in a DD relationship, because part of me gravitates toward spankings for "correction" of things like not doing assigned chores, and there is definitely an edginess to the feeling of it being imposed whether I like it or not. In fact, the more imposed it feels, the closer it seems to what I am aiming for. But, in some sense, it plainly is still voluntary, and the reality is that whether the consent is express or implicit in the lifestyle we have adopted, it is still consent on some level, because I plainly would have the power to put an end to it if I wanted to. That is why the context of the proposed law is so appalling, because through a combination of cultural support and legal tolerance, the people on the receiving end in that system really do have no power to stop it, and this law would apparently end whatever legal recourse they might otherwise have.

Now, interestingly, here in the US we have laws that go in the opposite direction and could expose spankers to potential liability for assault, even where there really is consent. But, I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable that we are erring on the right side.

Fondles said...

HI Bonnie, glad to see (read) you today... i saw an article including a video by a "doctor" floating around on facebook and was totally sickened by it. It might or might not have been the same one. but this fella even went so far as to say sometimes women taunt the men by saying "if you're a man then beat me - prove it". I'm really just grateful I was born where I was. And not in any of THOSE places.

Erica said...

Any husband who tried to "lightly beat" me without my consent would get not so lightly punched. I too don't like that blog's subtitle; you don't want to get me started on all the reasons why.

But I do like seeing you post again! :-)

Mala said...

My first thought was why would they even go to the trouble of passing legislation allowing something that is already done anyway? As much as I find it offensive for the same reasons you have already stated, it's probably the nicest punishment husbands in Pakistan employ.... better than "honor" killing...

Bonnie said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. After being away for a few months, I should really try to post something less grumpy. Add it to my list of infractions and I'll take the spanking later.

Leigh - Your point relates to a long standing concern of mine. What if someone from another culture reads these spanko blogs and misunderstands or disregards the discussions of consent? Could someone somewhere be abusing a woman with the thought that we Westerners endorse the idea?

Yes, I know my little blog is insignificant in the context of the whole world, but I get a lot of traffic from South Asia and the Middle East. I wonder whether all of those readers understand the nature of our relationship or whether they simply see a man hitting a woman.

EL - I don't know the answer. The Pakistanis must work this out, but we can hope that they will choose to respect their women.

DD Yes, that's true. My point in highlighting parallels between Pakistani legislation and Western blogs was to consider the sheer magnitude of the problem. We can criticize people from another culture, and in this case we probably should, but our own culture has a long way to go as well.

Minelle - I agree.

Cat - Thank you.

Roz - How about we don't beat anyone at all? That would be a good law. Apparently, there was a law to that effect that was proposed and rejected. This new bill was a fundamentalist counter-proposal. Proponents suggested that it might curb the most flagrant beatings.

Hermione - Exactly!

Six - I think consent is the key.

Dan - I'm fine with "blanket consent" where one partner agrees in advance to permit the other to administer spankings (or whatever) in prescribed ways within well-defined parameters. The point is that there is consent and it can be withdrawn at any time should the need arise.

I've heard of stories where the authorities mistook a consensual spanking for abuse. But I have to hope these cases can be straightened out, though it would be extraordinarily embarrassing to have to explain your sex life to a cop.

Fondles - Hi! Some of these stories are heartbreaking. I have to wonder what brilliant discoveries are we missing out on because half of the population in many countries is prohibited from learning and contributing to the intellectual wealth of the world.

Erica - That's the spirit!

Mala - As I said above, this bill was offered as an alternative to real change. I'm sure I cannot imagine the breadth of horrors these women endure in just living their lives. I felt as though I wanted to talk about it, but this subject just makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

This subject shouldn't make you sad "Mala". The fact that it is even discussed in those countries is considerable improvement. A hundred years ago, a woman's right is certain countries probably resembles ISIS today. The fact that most civilized societies find that abhorrent is a sign of progress.

There is a long way to go, but don't underestimate just how much progress has been made.

Like most here, I am a diehard spanko. But, consent trumps everything.


Rich Person said...

You got it, Bonnie. Spanking should be decided on by the people involved, not society. That's the difference between love and abuse, at its crassest.

Jenn said...

Right on!

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