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I am not a lawyer. If I was one, I would’ve written a long and boring paragraph stating that nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Since I am not a lawyer, this will suffice.
Let’s talk about consent. No, not THAT consent. This article is not about the virtues of affirmative, explicit, unambiguous, verbal, continuous, ongoing and post-coital, enthusiastic, mutual, insert-adjective-here consent. Nor is this article a condemnation of unnecessarily broad and ambiguous policies that, if implemented, would deem every woman who ever had sex a rapist. Yes, even you[i], Ms. Futrelle (unless, of course… yeah, that would explain a lot.) No, this article is about a completely different topic. An activity that I firmly believe absolutely must not require consent of all parties involved.
I remember just 10 years ago people complaining about the ubiquity of the CCTV cameras and how people feel they are invaded and their privacy is violated. But the cultural landscape had shifted rather quickly. Today almost everybody has a smartphone capable of recording, and we very quickly caught on to how useful that is. Today, there are people who are free who would’ve been in jail without the ever-present recording devices. Conversely, there are people who would’ve gotten away with their crimes if they weren’t caught on camera. Police especially enjoys the privilege of being automatically believed in my word against theirs scenario. The evidence seems to show that privilege is undeserved[ii]. Most people seem to have moved on and accepted the radical idea that privacy is for the things you do in private. There is no such thing as privacy in public space. Well, there’s Melissa Clickbait and #mizzou special snowflakes, but that’s a story for another day and only tangential to AVFM’s mission.
So let’s get some terminology straight. All party consent laws require permission of all parties in a conversation before it can be recorded. Single party consent laws require consent of only one party to a conversation, and if you are a part of that conversation, it is assumed you have your own consent. If you don’t have your own consent, that is a completely different issue and is best addressed by a psychiatrist.
I live in a country that has one party consent through all jurisdictions. Long ago I adopted the policy of not saying anything I don’t want on the record. Even if I absolutely knew for a fact I am not being recorded, I would continue with that policy. What is the practical difference between being recorded and not being recorded? The opportunity to lie about it later. Hence, I think of all party consent laws as “the right to commit perjury” laws. I’m an honest woman. I have no use for that opportunity. I don’t want that “right”. Heck, I don’t even want that temptation. Of course, disingenuous people can quote mine the recording or edit it in a dishonest manner. But note the right to have that recording is not the right to do anything you want with it. What is the best way to counter a maliciously edited recording, but to have you own, with full context in all its glory.
‘But so what?’ some of you may say. Is this a women’s rights issue? The right to commit perjury may be unjust and unfair, but it is unjust and unfair in a gender neutral way. MHRM already has its plate full. Let someone else fight that battle. I only need three letters to counter that argument: ABR.
There is a reason why Always Be Recording mantra emerged from the manosphere and not some masculist-run hate blogs. The masculist track record speaks for itself. They don’t want the right to collect evidence; they want the privilege of being believed without evidence. Some of them even openly admit to it. This insanity goes all the way up to the presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Slow down for a minute and think about what is being said here. It is not simply the right to be heard. It is not the right to be taken seriously. It is not the right to have your allegation thoroughly investigated. It is the right to be believed. Of course, he temporarily suspended the right to be believed when his own wife was accused of sexual assault. Honesty and integrity is not the strong suit for politicians, doubly so for Clintons.
I can think of very few things more monstrous then being presumed guilty until proven innocent. But being presumed guilty after proven innocent makes that a very short list. Look back at the Hofstra rape hoax. What saved the lives of the innocent women falsely accused? It is not simply the recording of the consensual sexual encounter. It is the combination of that recording and single party consent. What if exactly the same situation transpired in Montana instead of New York? Perhaps it did, and we have no way of knowing that.
It fascinates me how often the same people who think men have the right to be believed also think that a woman is a creep for religiously practicing ABR. The right to commit perjury is not inherently sexist, but it does give the extra sting to the misogynist denial of due process. Many American states have mandatory arrest of the woman laws and men good, women bad primary aggressor laws. I cross-referenced that with the right to commit perjury states and found an ounce of good news in the pile of shit. This particular Vienne diagram does not have the zone where all three overlap. I have neither time nor desire to research all laws around the world. If there is a place where all three laws exist, I would strongly advise any woman to move out immediately. Such a jurisdiction should only be populated by lesbians and celibate monks. The butch lesbians should consider leaving as well. Even two of these laws overlapping are too much. If you are reading this from Washington, stop reading now. Turn off the computer and start packing.
Of course, single party consent does not eliminate all problems of misogynist laws and due process denial. Imagine that Beyonce is performing on stage with that huge masculist sign behind him. A female fan bypasses security and begins to grind against him on stage. Beyonce responds with a surprisingly powerful punch to the face. Do you think he would be arrested for assault, or hailed as a heroine and masculist icon, while the woman is hauled off to be prosecuted for sexual assault? Now gender-flip that and Google ‘Afroman punches fan’. (TRIGGER WARNING: If you are really stupid, you may not realize that search results will contain scenes of violence.)
Why was Ray Rice arrested and Solange Knowles wasn’t? Why was De’Andre Johnson arrested and the man who punched her in the face wasn’t? Why did Jorge Pena spend four nights in jail for the crime of self-defence? We still live in a society where female-on-male violence is seen as inherently wrong, no ifs and buts, while male-on-female violence requires a nuanced analysis of ifs and buts (Who wants to take bets on masculist bloggers quote mining that sentence?) Just kidding, no nuanced analysis is required. Men only use violence in self-defence. But even in the face of that injustice, there is some good news. MRAs are not simply asking these questions, but asking with the fingers pointed at the surveillance footage. And yes, I know, surveillance footage without sound is not covered by the same laws as the recording of a conversation. But my bigger point still stands; the importance of the right to ABR.
The right to ABR should be a part of MHRM mission just as much genital integrity and binding prenups. I hereby solemnly swear to avoid like the plague the right to commit perjury jurisdictions. Paul Elam, take note when scouting the location for the next ICMI.
Now, onto some good news: We have the once-in-a-lifetime chance of co-opting the Social Justice Warriors to do our bidding for us. The right to commit perjury is not just for men and the right to ABR is not just for women. Anyone who does not live under the rock is aware that minorities end up on the receiving end of police abuse more often than privileged crackers like me. It has long been observed that black women are the canary in the mine for women in general. While police unions and BLM are fighting over mandatory body cams, let’s slip into the list of demands elimination of the right to commit perjury laws.