Silence is Never Consent

We have to be careful about the rhetoric we use, especially in a forum that relies completely on written word.  I saw this this morning, and I decided not to address it on Patheos, because I don’t want to derail the conversation on racism that is happening.  At the same time, I am not okay with this:

A Quote from a Patheos blog reading, "Thank you for all your support in this discussion, but especially for this. It explains in great detail exactly why I wrote what I wrote. Silence is consent, and I do not consent to racism in my community." The identity of the quoted has been blurred out.
Identity withheld due to my assumption that the person quoted simply didn’t think this through before saying it since their chances of being raped are statistically less than mine.



By all means, draw lines when you feel they are needed.  Tell me what you don’t consent to even, because that’s really, really important. But silence?  Silence is never consent.  Ever.

I’m not unaware of the necessity for white people speaking out against other white people’s racist BS.  I will even agree that our silence when it comes to issues of white supremacy allows it to continue on.  We need phrases that challenge the tendency in human psychology to fear speaking out when we’re confronted with things that make us uncomfortable in a group.  Silence is compliance is a phrase I’ve used before.  Even compliance is violence.

But as a woman fighting against a world where people are raped and regularly asked what they did to get raped, or even told they can’t be raped due to their gender, I cannot and will not accept the muddying of what consent is by people who proclaim they are for social justice.

If this is acceptable rhetoric to the social justice community within the Pagan community, then I am incredibly disappointed and want no part in it.  While I consider it very bad form to derail conversations about one marginalized group with the plight of another, I think it behooves a person identifying as an ally to keep in mind the choice of words that they use, especially when calling others out.  Especially when one has the ability to stop and really pause to consider their words before hitting the send button.  There’s little excuse for such an egregious misstep in words.

Silence is never consent.

“Silence is consent” is how rape happens in our culture.

Pick a different word.

The only way to consent is to say yes, and if you don’t believe that then you’re as much of a problem to me as a woman as the racist is in the world.

Pick a different damned word for your rhetoric.


16 thoughts on “Silence is Never Consent

  1. Silence can be complicity would be an improvement, but the word “can” must be emphasized to not go down the same bullshit road that “silence is consent” does. I will reblog this.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I so agree. I will share with you something I could not believe. I was having my nails done at my manicurist’s salon and we were talking about rape. She said something to the effect that “body language” could be implied to be consent. I was more than just shocked — I was appalled! I replied hat in NO way could so-called “body language” EVER be used as a self-justification for a man to rape anyone! BTW, her husband is a state correctional officer in one of the prisons, so he should know what the law is. Men are vile — and too many women are their enablers, as this shows. Just YUCK!


  3. The words are mine and I own them, though I thank you for omitting my name.

    I’ve heard the phrase “silence is consent” many, many times in regards to racist jokes and commentary and the words flew off my fingers when writing the comment. Our wider community seems to have two different views of consent, depending on the context.

    Silence is certainly never consent in a sexual context.

    More precise and consistent language would be helpful. “Silence is compliance” is a possibility. Someone else suggested “silence equals complicity”, but another person found that as troublesome as “silence is consent”.

    Thank you for promoting clarity. I’ve added further commentary on the Patheos site to make my intentions clear.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Silence can be complicity” is better. I have seen the phrasing referring to silence as giving your okay to the behaviour in front of you. While I understand why it is said and how it is used, there are still large numbers of women being raped based on incorrect ideas of what consent consists of, so thank you for clarifying your Patheos piece.


  4. I completely agree.

    Silence merely means you’re not fighting back, but just because a person doesn’t fight back doesn’t mean he agrees. A white person can’t speak up against racism because he might get beat up in his community. A suicidal person may not go through with suicide because it’s scary. A woman may not resist because it will make the situation worse for her.

    None of these are consent. These are confined people and you can’t consent when you’re confined.


  5. Well said.

    “Silence by an observer condemns a victim to silence in turn” isn’t as punchy, but maybe a bit more representative of the initial intent without accidentally shaming many victims of sexual violence.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on A Matter of Faith and commented:
    Want to know what silence was for me? Silence was how I ONLY got raped instead of getting a beating on top of it. SO fuck you buddy and your thoughts on silence.
    (I’m really not having a good morning here, forgive the profanity)


Comments are closed.