Consent vs. Assent: Why is Assent a better way to obtain Consent?
OK, I am going to start this off with the Definitions of these two Terms from Dictionary.com:
Verb: to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield (often followed by to or an infinitive): He consented to the proposal. We asked her permission, and she consented.
Verb: to agree or concur; subscribe to (often followed by to): to assent to a statement; to give in; yield; concede: Assenting to his demands, I did as I was told.
Noun agreement, as to a proposal; concurrence; acquiescence; compliance.
What does this mean to an Alternative, BDSM, Lifestyle?
Alright, so. Recently NCSF began the Consent Counts Campaign in order to Decriminalize aspects of the BDSM, Kinky, Alternative Sex Lifestyle.....
And then people came crawling out of the woodwork both for and against the very concept of a Definition of Consent as the word means so many different things to different people in different situations. By and large, most of the people against the creation of a Definition of Consent For the BDSM communities are the ones who don’t want to have to Follow a Rule or Creed nor yet have any Guideline to Follow because “ that just doesn’t come close enough to defining me or my intentions”.
The Major issue with the argument that such a Legal Definition won’t properly describe you or your intentions is that NO LEGAL DEFINITION EVER WILL. And from what I’ve seen, most of the ones complaining about it or opposing it are doing so because they, like everyone else are fixated on the Consent part of things.
No, the real core of what we, as a Community, need to agree on is “What is Assent?”
Even the Dictionary doesn’t really give very accurate definitions. When looked at both words mean the same thing; Agreement. Until you get into what for. As in, what is it that we, you, are agreeing to... and do you Understand what you are Consenting to?
The first, Consent, means that We/I/You Agree to something. The Second, Assent, means that you We/You/I understand what is being Agreed upon.
With Consent there are several terms that, should they be re-defined legally, would allow less desirable aspects of Society to have a greater freedom than should be permitted for a healthy function.. specifically Marital Rape and Date Rape where just because you had agreed before you came to understand that you didn’t like it and have the option of saying No. Many fear that changing the legal definition of consent may permit more of those guilty of such crimes to be not penalized.
However, if We, as a Community, focused on Assent as a Legal Definition, whereby we can point and say that the Terms were Understood and Agreed Upon … We avoid all of that.
Why should we avoid it and not tackle it head on? Simple, as one person, who will be referred to as James of DC, stated “prior and implied consent are core to the concept of many D/s and M/s practices but are not recognized under the law, especially if they contravene contemporaneous consent.” However, even this can be dealt with by Dominant And Submissive/Slave (D/s) and Master and Submissive/Slave (M/s) Relationships that revolve or hinge on Prior, Explained and Understood Consent... also known as Assent. It said, frequently, that Slaves Contracts, or Submissive Contracts... or just plain old Service Contracts, should be evident in any of these relationships as it aids a more complete understanding and thus avoids issues later down the road... it permits the basis of the relationship to be Defined, Understood and Agreed on … and for those who say “oh, any reasonably competent human being can have a relationship without it being on paper. ..” and “What? Now I need to have a Contract to be my Girlfriend?” why do you feel uncomfortable in having such on paper? Why do you feel that you should not define your relationship? … and remember that relationships where one side gives up some authority and the other side receives that authority, then avoiding and preventing misunderstandings, prevents and avoids misuse as well.. both of authority received as well as given.
Now, it is important to state here that with Authority comes Power, and with Power comes Responsibility. We hear parents say it all the time to children who are asking for a pet. And while that’s going to make a lot of people get angry, the situations aren’t that different. When someone gives up control over aspects of their life to someone else, then they have become someone to be taken care of. Perhaps not to the same extent, no ... though there are be those who want to be taken care of to that extent … however, many of those aspects are similar: the responsibility to spend time with them, to teach them , make certain that they are fed, housed and loved. How it is you will accomplish those items is the Dominant’s responsibility. Making certain that the Dominant is able to do that is the submissive’s/slave’s part.
Many say that there is no legal provision for Slavery. Have you ever considered the realities of a job with or without a contract? That just illustrates why a Contract, or Job Description, is a good thing to have and Why it needs to be Understood. As well as Why Assent not only counts, yet is a Better way of gaining Consent.
Not to mention that if your local police would already know the differences and thus reduce the chances of charging you with assault by being able to understand what has been Agreed upon.
- Sub X