In “Consent Is Sexy And Sexy Is Mandatory,” Root Veg discusses how praising consent in a situation of drastic inequality only makes consent another requirement for the inferiors to adopt in order to “play along.”
If you hadn’t noticed by now, I’m using Consensual Spin The Bottle as a metaphor for sexual dynamics in the world at large. The headline point I’m making here is this: material power differentials do not go away just because you’re explicitly talking about consent. People aren’t afforded any more agency if they simply verbalise the dynamics of what occurs with “consent”. If anything, the less powerful participants are now under pressure to voluntarily cooperate with the game, even to their own detriment. Imagine a round of Consensual Spin The Bottle where nobody actually felt like it, and simply declined every proposal; they’re kind of wrecking the point of the game, aren’t they? Seems to me that even if all else were equal, there’s a low ceiling to how many times one can decline an offer in this game without just ruining everything. Same goes if everyone consents grudgingly and hides their displeasure as poorly as Marling did. It may have been nicer for everyone if she had performed more convincingly, but her lot still would not have been improved.