Roast Busters: Two thoughts

Two small thoughts on this whole awful business, to clear my head:

* Because of our cultural distaste for direct expressions of what we want and don’t want, NZ youth find it very difficult to seek or express sexual consent. In consequence, NZ youth are predisposed to see hazy consent as commonplace and normal

* Because of our national reliance on alcohol in social situations, NZ youth are predisposed to see gross intoxication as commonplace and normal; even desirable.

* (The above two interact in a dangerous way – I would wager a fair percentage of Kiwi youth have at least once deliberately intoxicated themselves beyond the point where they could meaningfully consent, and done so to make a sexual experience more likely.)

* This means many of the sexual interactions of NZ youth float around in a murky fog of assumption, expectation, and impaired judgment.

* In sum: certain pervasive features of NZ youth culture mean that rape is easy here.

And – this is definitely a minor point, but:

* Among the comments and outrage, I’ve seen several commenters refuse to accept that a young woman would freely choose to participate in this kind of sexual activity, particularly if she knows she is likely to be subjected to online bullying afterwards.

* They’re quite wrong, as they would know if they honestly interrogated their memories of teenage life. Sometimes, young women can and do freely choose things that seem appalling to adults. (Often that’s part of the point.)

* Of course, it’s very clear that some (perhaps a majority?) of the Roast Busters’ sexual partners are correctly seen as victims. They did not, or could not, give consent; or they were unable or afraid to withdraw consent when the reality of what they had agreed to became clear; or they decided afterwards that they had given consent to resolve cognitive dissonance.

* But not all of them were victims. This overstatement is a minor point – but it does irritate me, and I think it’s important in the long run, because if you want to change things in our society you have to start by respecting the full range of behaviours and choices made by young women (and young men, but it’s young women whose volition is typically challenged).

And now that I’ve typed that out hopefully I can get back to work without thoughts buzzing circles in my head.