Monday, July 26, 2010

Apparently No Still Means Yes, For “Girls Gone Wild”

I have a new post up at Global Comment


“Girls Gone Wild” goes to various campuses and bars where women are partying and encourages them to reveal their bodies and perform for the cameras. In most of the filmed scenes, these women are clearly inebriated; however, “Girls Gone Wild” does not take that into consideration when they are attempting to secure consent. The goal for the company is to capitalize on “raunch culture,” thereby securing a profit through what is clearly the exploitation of young women.

Saint Louis Today has a report about a young woman who sued claiming that she did not give consent to appear in the videos. Apparently, Jane Doe (as she was known in her lawsuit), claimed that she was at a bar dancing, when a woman came behind her and pulled her top down. This was recorded by the camera and placed on a video, which was subsequently marketed for sale.

Both sides built their case around the issue of consent. The plaintiff explicitly stated that she did not give consent and her lawyer claimed that she could be heard on the tape saying no. Unfortunately for Jane Doe, Patrick O’Brien, the jury foreman felt that: “Through her actions, she gave implied consent. She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing.” After ninety minutes of deliberation the jury delivered a 9-3 decision for the defense.


The plaintiff will now have to live with the knowledge that there is footage of her semi-nude body available to the public that she did not approve of and that a company is now making a profit from. This decision is much larger than the repugnant “Girls Gone Wild” franchise; it brings into question what constitutes consent.

Certainly, it should be clear by now that the absence of a clearly articulated yes does not constitute consent. Even if the plaintiff was enjoying herself, she absolutely had the right to determine when the activity had moved beyond her comfort level. Taking this ability away from her is tantamount to suggesting that she does not have the right to complete autonomy over her person. This is very much like a rapist continuing with sexual behaviour after the woman has said no, because his raging erection demands satisfaction.

Finish reading here