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[210] Consensual?

It seems the most common defense among those public figures awash in allegations of sexual harassment is that their sexual encounters were “consensual.” There are two quick responses to that. First, it makes these trysts not a matter of relational significance, but rather a form of entertainment rather like bowling or miniature golf. Looking at sex as simply “hooking up” makes these meaningful, and obviously long-remembered encounters—at least if one listens to those leveling the charges–as insignificant physical acts.

Second, it indicates that those fending off the allegations just don’t get it. They do not know the difference between consent and compliance. While Matt Lauer, Dustin Hoffman, and the many other similar public figures seem to believe that they had willing and consenting partners, those partners are saying that they simply complied. And felt ashamed of having done so. They bowed to their fear of potential reprisal by these men who had significant impact on their careers, and simply gave in to their lustful advances.

This is not consent. It is compliance. It is complying with the carnal desires of someone who is more powerful than you, someone who has potentially strong influence on the trajectory of your career. Interestingly, those who tell these stories indicate they felt “dirty” and ashamed of their compliant actions. In short, they are willing to be accountable for their moral lapses. Nonetheless, they are telling their stories, because they realize there is a subtle perversion of the truth on the part of the famous people who whose despicable behavior is now being exposed. DC

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