Social Psychology: Coercion & Consent

The topic of Consent is usually conversation for me; it’s so frequently preached, I fear I’ll sound like a nag, reiterating what was already said a million and ten times. Recently, however, as I was watching a friend’s video on Facebook, they mentioned how coercion is used to achieve consent, which only means the topic hasn’t been “preached” enough. In fact, I began “verbally writing an essay” as I’d like to call it, and I would like to share my perspective.

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Since consent is such a well-acquainted term, let’s bring coercion to the same level. Simply put, Coercion is the act of forcing someone to act or think in a certain way or specific manner (find a few definitions, both simple and detailed, here). Therefore, Coercive Consent is to force someone to comply with whatever it is the asker wants, or was originally denied. Coercive Consent is never okay; it never was and it never will be. Coercion in general is never okay to be used socially; it is a verbal assault weapon, dare I say, and whomever dares to use it needs to a serious self-check.

“Where did this ‘weaponizing’ idea of yours come from?” It comes from drawing the line between Coercion and Persuasion. So let’s build our vocabulary list with some depth, shall we?

Coerce (v): to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion (via Dictionary.com)

Persuade (v) :  to cause (someone) to do something by asking, arguing, or giving reasons (via Merriam-Webster.com)

In case the difference still is not clear: persuasion uses reasoning, coercion uses force and/or power. Yet, somehow, there are people out there who use these action descriptors interchangeably. You cannot substitute with an opposite, I’m sorry to burst your “ignorance is bliss” bubble; there’s nothing blissful about coming onto someone repeatedly and calling it persuasion. If there is any case where you need to resort to coercion, which is force, you need to take a long walk away and criticize your fallback tactics; sorry, your pickup game is weak.

There is only one form of consent; if it is not the first answer, and is not enthusiastic and sure, then it is not consent; it is, in fact, a no. Side note: it can change. If at any given point the original “yes” becomes unsure or entirely a “no”, it is, in fact, a no. These are not opportunities to “try and persuade”; the moment you have opposite desires is the moment where persuasion becomes an extinct idea, period. Persuasion is cooperative, and cooperation is not singular.

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