Why the tea and consent metaphor is not actually that brilliant

I came across a trending news item yesterday about this blog where rockstardinosaurpirateprincess explains the meaning of consent using tea as a metaphor:

http://rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com/2015/03/02/consent-not-actually-that-complicated/

While the blog is a nice sarcastic take on understanding what constitutes consent and what does not in the context of rape and is good reading, it is not brilliant šŸ™‚ Here’s why:

Sometime last year, my husband was taking me and my daughter on a drive to a “beach” (not in India). We stopped at a couple of places on the way and ate a snack. Then, he decided that we would not park at the public beach but in the parking lot of a fancy hotel nearby. He told me it was free parking and we could go to the beach from there.

Once we reached we found out that it was valet parking (obviously paid). He assured me that it was ok. Then we went in the Hotel and my 5 year old (at the time) was eager to go to the beach. On hindsight I think we went there because he wanted a drink and since he was driving us and could not drink in front of me, he chose to park there. I think this because there was no path to the beach from there and we could only see the ocean and sunset from the top.

My husband sat in the al fresco dining loungeĀ while I entertained my daughter on the beautiful lawn and mini Golf area far away from the lounge.

Now when my daughter was done playing, little did I know the bizarre scene from a chapter of unnecessary abuse awaited in that lounge.

When my little one and I reached the lounge, I thought we would leave immediately, but that was not to be. We “HAD to” order something. I didn’t understand the reason because the reason was not told to me immediately. So I was still unprepared for what was to follow.

I asked for the menu casually while she was prancing around and accidentally broke someone’s wine glass beside our chair. I asked again whether we could leave because there were only two chairs and there was no place to sit. After chastising her, he said that we should go ahead and order something.

“Will you have tea?” he asked. No this is not a metaphor like the blog. It was a literal question.

I said, “No thanks. I am not really in the mood for it.”

Then I browsed through the menu. There was nothing there that I wanted to eat and I did not want to drink tea or any other beverage.

I told him that.

“Why don’t you have tea? You like tea,” he insisted.

“Yes. I like tea, but it will be dinner time soon and if I have tea I will stay up for a long time and not get enough sleep.”

Then started the bizarro spiral over which I had no control.

“I try to do something nice for you and this is how you behave!

It’s not like they don’t have anything. You are deliberately not having any tea. We were having such a nice day. This is exactly how you behave!”

All this in front of my daughter. I was nearly in tears (as in keeping a tight leash and wiping the corner of my eye discreetly) and asked very politely, why are you insisting that I order tea and he said, it was because the parking ticket needed to be validated by ordering something.

Finally, I asked him whether it was ok to validate it inside so my daughter could grab a bite because she was going to be hungry and it was a one and a half hour long trip back home. He went on some more about how nobody appreciated his thoughtfulness and a whole bunch of crap before we went inside. The whole evening was ruined through no fault of mine unless you count me not wanting to drink tea a fault.

So that is why I don’t feel that people who are confused about consent in general would get the tea metaphor because they don’t get consent for real. If my abusive husband could force me to drink tea and take offence when I refuse a cup of tea for real then how brilliant is this metaphor really?

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Victim Blaming and the Social Media Vigilante

Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because ‘girls are responsible for rape’

So rang the headline. And there was a video along with it that I have not watched. I am admitting that I have not watched it not to invalidate my opinion or put forth a disclaimer. But, because I can’t take yet another round of victim blaming after what happened in my own life.

Also, this is not a rant about my own life, but a take on those who are outraged on social media because of the rapist’s attack on the victim.

I personally know so many of them who posted or “shared” the link and the video with remarks like “wtf” and other forms of disbelief and shock and rage. The discussion is often just a momentary reaction, no deep, meaningful conversations on even exploring their own gut reaction. Because aside from the collective revulsion towards the perpetrator, what is it that you all feel exactly?

Rape is horrific because of the physically violent nature of the crime and instantly provokes a reaction. But, this is not about the nature of the crime. It is about perpetrators of crimes against women blaming the women. Have you ever blamed someone for walking the street provocatively dressed and then “asking for it”. Or, saying she was asking for it when you saw a father hit his daughter? Or said that it was her fault she went to the guy’s apartment? Or, what was she thinking when she slapped her boss’s arm playfully? Or called someone a slut? Or condoned a “guy” for just being a “guy”? Or laughed when someone made an inappropriate sexually offensive remark in your presence? Or wondered how a guy like him could be with such a “behenji” type?

All these attitudes go a long way towards shaping how as a society we condone the perpetrators of the so-called softer crimes and then we are so shocked when somebody does exactly what we have been doing – blaming the victim.

I would like each vigilante to explore the answers to a few questions:

1. What would you do if your own cousin, aunt, sister, mom, or daughter told you they had been sexually abused?

2. What would you do if they told you that it was x,y, or z “guy” who you know so well and would never in a million years think he could do something like that?

3. What would you think if it was somebody in your own family who was being abusive or offensive or guilt of any other crime against women, which is not rape?

Are you going to be concerned at all? Or, is it like the dowry crime to you? Someone has to burn the bride for you to sit up and take notice? Daily verbal torture is not enough?

There are a few who seek to understand what we can do as a society to change. Well here isĀ the simplest answer:

“Be the change you want to see.”

Sit up and take noteĀ of all behavior that violates a person’s body or mind or both, instead of sitting back and getting outraged at murders and rapes. Female mutilation, rape, infanticide, foeticide and other physically violent crimes are horrific. But, the ones that don’t leave a very visible trail are scarring too.

The cycle of abuse will not end till we put a stop to it collectively in our own family, in our own neighborhood, and our offices. Stop thinking that it happens to other people. I know that in India women are supposed to put up with a lot and we do, but we need to put an end to it at some time. This is my time. Hope it is yours!

Recognizing a pattern

He was so abusive with me over a period that I kind of gotĀ used to walking on egg shells around him. Did my best to not piss him off. Never knew what would trigger his temper what would not. And then suddenly out of the blue he would out of guilt or something do something really nice for me, which would make me think that I am really bad for feeling bad about the way he was treating me the rest of the time.

Now I recognize theĀ pattern.

Scream and threaten

Cry and seem genuinely upset for justifying the abusive behavior

Make me feel guilty for adding to his stressĀ enough to behave badly

Show me how reasonable he is by doing a nice thing and telling me that he does it even though I don’t deserve it

There would be no reason for the abuse – it could be something as simple as me asking him what a character in a TV show was doing or it could be because I ask him to not drink as much because he is not stressed now or even worse because he doesn’t want to “waste time” taking my daughter to the hospital when her thumb is blue and swollen because he thinks it is nothing.

In the last case, she had a fracture and was in a splint for one and a half months. But, since the x-ray was done on a Sunday and the radiologist didn’t see it till the next day afternoon, for a whole day he lashed out at me for wasting his weekend time (which is the only time he had to relax) and for subjecting the child to x-rays which would cause her cancer and when I said that I only wanted to err on the side of caution, he was dismissive of it by saying that he knew it was nothing major and that I was an un-supportive wife because I didn’t trust him.

As usual I was crying and only that any mother would take a child to the doctor if the child thumb was swollen and blue and she was crying in pain. I felt so miserable at the time.

He never accompanied her or me for any visits to the doctor or anything because he was so busy at work, but he found time to be with his hookers.

My experiences and my path to healing

It took me a long time to realize that I am in an abusive relationship and that the abuse is spilling over to my little one. I hopeĀ to overcome it one day at a time.

Please do not post any derogatory or negative responses on this blog. I am pouring out all the negativity so I can heal. If you can offer helpful suggestions to cope with all the stuff, that is great. If you want to share your experience that is also fine. But, don’t try to tell me, or anybody who comments, not to be a victim. No one chooses to be a victim of abuse. Over a period, you get used to the abuser and the abuse and you don’t find the strength to tell anyone or leave.

In my case, the trigger that gave me the courage of conviction that he was wrong and I was right to leave him was when he minimized the seriousness of the abuse he heaped on my little daughter. That gave me a big shock and made me realize what was in store for us if we continued to be with him. He feels no remorse or shame over his actions and behavior. But, this blog is about me. And how I am coping with all this.