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Friday, 27 May 2016

Consent. A Woman's Need to Choose. Molly Bloom.


                                                                                                                                                                 "I mean I  hate the way they talk sometimes. Have you ever listened to them talking." The Boss, sitting crosslegged, tap tapping on her laptop as she speaks, inclines her head towards the boy and his mates, crowding though the front door in a shouty rabble on Saturday night. I think I know what she means although I ask her anyway,  curious. It's the way they talk about girls? Like they're game? or like prey, like they're other?  Than us?"  She elaborates " So you try not to laugh,  at the way they think,  like they're...actually, superior? As they, I mean, shout each other down...think that they're, actually, smarter... than girls?"  She rolls her eyes, more in sorrow than anger..

Yeah, I heard them talking. Tall, lithe young men, punch drunk on their own strength, cocksure of  their own take on the world, as opposed to girls and old people, such as thou and I. When they've gone they leave behind them bouquet of liberally applied aftershave in the kitchen, mingled with cigarette smoke and something else,  high sweet notes of longing, vulnerability. What I really hate is the way they squeeze your heart with their blind confusion, their shouty needfulness, I do not say.
"Of course" I tell her sagely, "they've had a few cans!  That's amplification of testosterone you're listening to there".
"So?" she says. Unimpressed.
" know they will improve, in  time?

Last night  she assured you some other girl's mother would drop her home from a thing in a pub, and all her friends would be going, and she wouldn't be drinking,  as of course she's underage, and she wouldn't anyway want to,  anyway. Talking fast and loose over your objections.  And otherwise, she tells you, a clincher, she would be home alone (with you) while everyone else would be together, at the party, having good times. And is that what you want for her?  Is it?  Erm, no.


So I watch the girls get ready, lengthy process, applying the elaborate pricy make up, arranging the  hair, the shedding of tracksuits for some scant garment or other, after which they totter forth on the vertiginous heels to party.  Actually, the make up is a top up really.  They rise at dawn more often than not, to apply layers of stuff, primers, concealers, foundations, mascara.  For school. They are artists of conturing, disguise.
 "Are you off then, my darling"  I call from the window.  She waves a casual hand.  "So, have a nice time.... behave...  Get you later."
 And I will, so I know my adolescent daughter,  lightly clad, heavily made up, will come home with me, sober-ish, safe.  So she knows it will be mother and home at the Witching Hour. Or else... all... broken glass slippers, bleeding feet,  pumpkins, that sort of thing.

She is hyped, smells of cigarettes and sulphur when I get her.  She always calls before to see if I would only wait.  Just one more hour?  Pleeeease!  No.

She is sulky/dreamy in the car.  Ripped away from the good times.  Under the impression that she is a  little bit oppressed, that her mother is a little bit extreme.


She said probably....

"You know that in some American colleges they have...  they had to,  organise seminars for students on Consent between boys and girls"  I offer on Sunday.
 "Pardon? Thats...redic!" the beautiful one utters. "Why? Why would they even think..."
 "Rape? People, girls, finding themselves doing things they never agreed to...or decided on..."
"Why would you need to teach people about that. You don't need to teach people about that!"
"Yeah, you do. They do.  About the way drinking, hormones, messes with your not quite finished cognitive processes?"
"So, maybe they need to teach boys..."
"Yeah. And girls. Girls need to choose. If you don't choose, then someone else will choose for you"
I leave her thoughtful, I hope.


I go for a walk. I'm walking and thinking. Is anything I have to say even relevant? To them? They think not.  The thing is, consent was not an issue when I was where they are. Not really. Boys had to try and have sex, girls had to not let them. You, if you were a girl,  didn't get to choose to have sex. I can imagine the bewildered incredulity of one of those boys if you went about educating them on the subtleties of consent. They didn't rape, they didn't respect you if you let them, but you had to not let them.  That was it. Hmm.

                                                                  almost definitely

I reached a point myself, back then,  where I decided I would choose, and did and was judged, to such an extent that I lost the ground I stood on for a while. But now, it is no different, really. Then you couldn't say yes. Now you can't say no. When you're young. You're a vehicle for something primal really, hormones, sex, until you find your ground and learn to choose.


In the meanwhile, I will collect her at midnight, I will warn about rape, I will tell her not to let them, until she's ready and able to choose for herself.   I will tell her this is her responsibility.   How, after all, can you protect yourself, if you're blind to the danger?  How do you to keep safe, if you're unaware of the primitive forces working in you and boys, and no one tells you about that. This is no thou and I here, this is only ramped up, ravenous I.  Don't send  your daughter out with one arm tied behind her back, your son without concept of consequences. Tell her this,  tell her you take them into you, beware foreign objects.  Tell him he might not be able to come back.

                                                      Molly Bloom

And then, after the kissing of many many frogs, the no no no till you're on automatic: then there is the glory of the yes. The primeval power of it, the force that makes the boys cluster and bluster and fold, that yes you will, yes, you will, now you will,  yes.

   .....and then I asked him with my 
eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I
        put my arms round him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume 
and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes i will yes*

(*Molly Bloom's Soliloquy. Ulysses. Read it aloud  from beginning to end.)