Under Duress: Agency, Power and Consent, Part One: “No”

““No” is the answer to a question, but where is the questioner in this approach? Where is their responsibility for consent? “No Means No” claims to give the no-sayer all the power, but what it actually gives them is all the responsibility. Responsibility isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but responsibility without power plain sucks. The only responsibility given to the person hearing a “no” is whether they respect it, and as feminists know, rapists are often let off the hook for betraying even that responsibility.”

A Radical TransFeminist

Trigger Warnings

This article contains discussions of rape, rape apologism and victim blaming. One survivor who previewed this article said they found a definition of rape used here “particularly triggering”.


When rape apologists are using our models of consent to defend rape and to deflect feminist analyses, it’s at least worth considering the limitations of the models. This article is part one in a two-part series of articles examining the issues.

Part One: “No”: Understanding consent as a binary is powerful because it allows us to say that “no means no”, a statement which has had and still has incredible power to change attitudes about rape for the better. However, it can make it more difficult for us to conceive of what else might mean “no”, as well as to distinguish between different kinds of “yes” given in different contexts. It can be used to victim-blame. It doesn’t always…

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