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+10 votes
Whether from the influence of feminism or otherwise, "do unto others (only) what they would have you do unto them" has become one of the most accepted anarchist principles, and not only in sexual matters.

Some anarchists, however, have critiqued consent for its reinforcement of safety zones that they say anarchy is about breaking out of. The text "Terror Incognita," for example, points to the scarier space of seduction as ripe for anarchist practice. What do you think?
by (20.5k points)

i haven't read terror incognita carefully enough to comment on it specifically, but i can sure weigh in on the first paragraph of your question.
i find that the equality argument -- which "do unto others" is entirely hand in glove with -- is a total pain in the ass. i want people to treat me differently from how i treat them. i am good at different things and bad at different things. like, i hate being winked at. should i never wink at any one? no, 'cause other people like it or usually don't care. do unto others only becomes even semi-reasonable if it's generalized so much that it no longer even makes any sense. "treat people respectfully" - duh. the conflict comes because people don't define respectfully similarly (at least frequently they don't), and/or because context makes (for example) interrupting someone ok sometimes, and not ok other times.

re seduction... it's an awesome concept. i can imagine it getting out of hand. the line between seduction and marketing is creepy.

"the line between seduction and marketing is creepy."

Actually, yeah, that's kind of an interesting thing. Seduction is generally a method of creating or influencing desires, typically in ways that the seducer wants to see (the most obvious being seducing someone into a romantic/sexual encounter). In the same way, marketing is a method of creating or influencing desires, typically for the sake of convincing someone to buy a product or pay attention to your brand or whatever.

Where's the distinction? Maybe that seduction can be mutually beneficial, or that seduction is based on sincere/benign desires of the seducer while marketing is a cynical exploitation, or that seduction can move people away from capitalist social relations (as in, the seduction of anarchy) whereas marketing is an expression of those relations?
I think this is the bit from Terror Incognita:
Though their critique is explicitly political/social, and explicitly clings to consent in intimate/sexual relations.
(Did you have something else in mind?)
"i find that the equality argument -- which "do unto others" is entirely hand in glove with -- is a total pain in the ass. i want people to treat me differently from how i treat them."

Equal does not mean "the same", it means "equal".
(I should remark I think dot misread the original question)

Anyway, what else does equal mean, if not the same?
7+3 is equal to 10 but it is not the same as 10.  While the two concepts are similar there is a significant difference between them.

If any of you have a background in socialism you may be aware of the feminist slogan "different but equal".
This is an important issue, perhaps we should start a thread? Could you give some examples, say of how the language of "equality" is useful in contemporary feminism (or other field of your choosing)? Your mathematical example is probably counterproductive for the sake of discussion, since I am a trained mathematician and can ramble for hours about such issues. Interesting, but not relevant

The issue for me is that if equal is to mean something other than strictly the same (or the same in some respects, say identical legal rights) then who gets to control the meaning of the word? It seems that the unclear use of language simply serves to funnel power towards ideologues. In situations where there's popular agreement about "inequality", it seems to be a concise way to talk about problems, hence the effectiveness of such rhetoric in early feminism, the civil rights movement, anti-apartheid, etc., but lacking such agreement I think the word and the model it represents may be too flawed to be useful.
You are seriously arguing that "equal" means "exactly the same in every way"?

EDIT: Does this mean that post-leftists consider themselves to be superior to everyone else?  You've categorically ruled out the possibility of calling yourselves equal and I've read far too much post-leftism to believe that you might consider yourselves to be inferior, so that really just leaves you with superior.

Fucking arrogant post-leftists, claiming they're better than everyone else.  I guess that's why Dot is such an ardent supporter of the murder of wage slaves, Dot just doesn't consider them important enough to worry about.
(assuming you're not a sophisticated joker) leftisteve, you are now reminding me of anarchocapitalists who have come here.
your absolute rejection of even *the possibility* of a different framework from the one you came here with (not to mention calling people names, putting words in people's mouths, and not even coming up with examples that are as good as the ancaps had--and their examples were inadequate in every way, but at least they *had* some)... does in fact put you on the level of a troll.
trolls can be useful, but i can't even take you seriously enough for that any more.
You showed very clear support for that Ted Kaplinski loser and you catagorically stated that you do not think yourself the equal of others.  The only words I've put in your mouth are the ones that came out of it.

It's funny that post-leftists will eagerly condemn socialist activism but are very reluctant to condemn the murder of civilians (murders that are blamed on anarchists and lead to repression against the movement).

If you don't want to be called an anti-socialist, anti-anarchist or supporter of civilian murder then stop doing those things.
I'm seriously arguing that words have many meanings, and I was seriously asking you what you thought "equal" should mean in political settings, and what benefits you think are accrued by such use.

Your edit was enlightening, apparently you think people can be ranked as superior/equal/inferior. If those are the choices I choose "equal", because I almost uniformly reject the idea of the other two. But I don't think this is the correct response to the question "Is X group of people superior/equal/inferior to Y?". The correct response is that the framework of ranking people is fundamentally flawed.

I understand you are angry. Please reread my previous post and if there's something I said that offended you, we can discuss it. If you don't feel like conversation, that's fine too, I don't usually either.
Equality within political settings means that everybody should have the same freedoms, "rights", and opportunities.  People should be treated neither as inferior (as homosexuals, transexuals, non-whites, women, and many other groups often are), nor superior (as the wealthy nearly always are).

Being different does not mean not being equal.  We are all different and we are all equal.

Incidentally, I wasn't trying to rank people, in fact I was trying to do the exact opposite.
I also meant to apologise to Geomancer for any rudeness but due to posting during a very short tea break I ran out of time.  Since I first posted here I have been attacked from all sides by Dot and his/her minions because I dared to post something that Dot didn't agree with.  It was wrong of me to automatically assume you were another of Dot's subjects coming to harass anybody whose opinions are at odds with his/hers (you may still be but I shouldn't have assumed).
I didn't want that to be an answer.  That just means your minions are going to blindly downvote it to show their undying support for your dictatorship of this website.  Could you please make it a comment again.
you made it an answer, by mistake. as i did one of mine earlier this morning. just go into edit and you can check a box to make it a comment.
I apologise and have fixed it now.
No worries Anarchisteve. I totally understand the time issue. When I get some time I'll try to sort out my thinking on equality as an organizing principle of thought, and what it should mean to me. Perhaps I should start a new question, say "What is the significance of equality in anarchist discourse?" (or alternative wordings)?

I'm nobody's minion, though I'm sure we disagree about a lot of things, perhaps to the extent of making conversation difficult. I have no interest in harassing people. Arguing on the internet sucks.
It could be interesting.  I'm not sure why anybody would assume that when an anarchist talks about equality they mean enforced conformity (quite a fascist concept).  Part of social equality is accommodating people's differences, where possible.
geomancer, you said you thought i mis-read the question. it's totally possible, and i think the question deserves more & better attention than it's gotten so far.

care to explain?
Following Rice Boy's reply, I would like to add that I found interesting that when Manuela Carmena, the leader of Ahora Madrid, won the majorship of Madrid, she said: "Now we need to seduce the other half".

For those of you who haven't heard about Ahora Madrid,

dot: i don't know what geomancer meant for sure, but i think they may have been referring to the fact that the question says "do unto others (only) what they would have you do unto them", while in your first comment you said "i find that the equality argument -- which "do unto others" is entirely hand in glove with -- is a total pain in the ass." it seems as though you thought anok's original phrase was the more cliche "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

not sure i explained that very clearly...

clearly enough. i should've known anok's question would've been more interesting than that.



3 Answers

+2 votes
here are some thoughts (perhaps i can make up for my embarrassing attempt earlier!):

a. if consent is defined/understood as conscious and explicit permission to engage in a particular act or interaction, then it gives too much power to consciousness and verbal clarity. our consciousnesses are (i would argue) a small fraction of how we interact with the world [and are (perhaps?) the most easily controlled and manipulated--eh, i'm not sure i agree with that, but i'll leave it there anyway]. communication is confusing even when nothing serious is on the line and we've known someone for years.

b. if consent is understood as either explicit or tacit "going along with", then it is so open that it becomes useless as an idea.

people who rely on consent as a way to address power dynamics, lack of self defense information and/or techniques, and confusing cultural differences, are emphasizing a. but that option assumes that everyone is weak and needing protection; it assumes fragility and emphasizes danger. it seems related to the social stereotypes of over-protection, from everything being marketed as antibiotic, to parents being prosecuted if they dare to allow their children out of their sight.

i am trying to stay open to how it might still be useful, and the best i can do is consider that these terms are not that different from other political jargon that has come before, that it is just a new language that people will learn to maneuver and negotiate through; and that really may be the case.

this may still not be addressing anok's question, but...
by (53.1k points)
Could you put some more examples of a.?

"but that option assumes that everyone is weak and needing protection; it assumes fragility and emphasizes danger."

Don't you think these aspects are underemphasised rather than overemphasised nowadays? 

There are some people who are weak and need protection, who are in danger, and that does not mean that consent is over-protective. Consent is needed to ensure that both parties are at least somewhat-conscious of the possible outcomes and make their decision in light of those ... although I see your point

+3 votes
I think it becomes easier to think about this question when the subject is a venue. We live in a society that is theoretically divided into different zones with different rules for those zones. Those rules are based on who may wind up there. The granularity can be modulated with planned events in those venues/zones. I expect to be the subject of seduction on ultra-sex night at the sex bar in the sex district. That isn't a bad idea...

Anarchists may be into breaking the rules of zones created for our general domination by ____________. However, I don't think this is meant as a question about how much consent we ought to be given by our enemies to destroy them.

I have a problem with the "safe space" concept, but not because it is an attempt to create a space with expected interactions. I think it's just another buzz word that fits into a liberal/activist lexicon ...and that it's often double-speak for the regulation of a space by a politics of privilege analysis.
by (2.5k points)
+2 votes
In one of Rilke's biographies, it's said that the reason he [rilke] was so attractive to women was not due to any effect that his person or manners had on them, but because he was so evidently in love with them. The women he formed relationships with were always taken w/ the fact that *they* had affected *him* so strongly.

(i.e., it seems to me that if you think about it very much, seduction doesn't make much sense at all, as a way of interacting with human beings that you respect or love. you might wish that they would love you in return, but I think you realize this is something you can never ask for or expect. because if you did love them, really, then you understand that this emotion is too delicate to have been produced by any technique, testing of boundaries, or other form of experiment.)

So ixnay to seduction. (dot, I feel, covered consent well).
by (8.0k points)

:) asker - your answer appeals to the romantic in me (yes, i have an internal[ly squished] romantic! shhhh!), but love isn't the only valid way to engage with people.

i think i am intrigued by this question because seduction is so... endemic to how we interact with the world (in a bad way) and yet as someone who tends to say "no" first, i know that it has made my life much better to be around people who poke me around those "no"s, and don't just take them at face value. some would say that if i say no then that's my responsibility, and i need to learn on my own to say "yes" more often, and i kind of agree with that, but i also think that that is a very isolating/atomized way to think about how we relate to each other, and how we help each other...

i knew a marketer who had a cartoon on her wall that originally said "seduction is the difference between rape and rapture" and someone had crossed out "seduction" and written "marketing". i have never been able to get that out of my head. (i also think that says as much about how we think about rape and rapture as it does about marketing and seduction...)

@sker:  dot's comment pointedly marks how the contemporary view of 'seduction' is really just a euphamism for dominance and submission.

Your observations, on the other hand, point to something i have been composting in my mind - that seduction can be a form of invitation.  This is especially clear when we remove the conversation from the context of sex and romance, and view it from the social, intellectual, and the everyday contempt for arbitrary authority.  If a girl steps out into an empty street - in clear contempt for any jaywalking regulations - then she is committing an act of insurgency against an arbitrary authority;  if she looks over her shoulder as she steps off the curb and winks at me - then she is also attempting an act of social seduction, inviting me to defy that absent authority alongside her.

In this context, seduction can be viewed as a form of mutual aid -  a support (in advance) for some action another person would like to take, but that they wouldn't take left to their own resources.  [the fucked up part of this type of definition, is that 'seduction' would explicitly be embraced by 'consent', because if the invitation was for something the invitee was not comfortable with - then they would recoil, and nothing happens.]

@sker:  dot's comment pointedly marks how the contemporary view of 'seduction' is really just a euphemism for dominance and submission.

hmmm. i thought i was saying something more engaging than that.

dot::  i tend to myopia.  surely you know that by now.  ;)

oh, and i wander off on tangents.

(and i really didnt want to wander into the forest of Rape and Rapture, for fear of getting squished romantics between my toes.)
nothing is messier than a squished romantic...
dot and clod buster -- seduction outside the context of love is definitely not something I was trying to address in my answer [i was thinking that love was important enough to start w/ :-) ]. maybe it should have been, but it's not a metaphor that seems comfortable or easy to understand, for me. I still haven't read Terror Incognita - perhaps I'll get what you're talking about more once I do.