Hanna Stotland presents a unique voice and service. She is an education consultant specializing in crisis management, helping students get back into academia when an event removes them from attendance. Hanna is more pragmatic and realistic than idealistic. Her work involves direct solutions for individual students, rather than broad-scale institutional change. We need people like that.
As we might suspect, over the past several years her work has involved students suspended or expelled after being accused of sexual assault. She doesn’t get involved in who was guilty. In all fairness, in 99% of situations there no way for her to know, and no way for the school to know, either. Schools generally manage individual disciplinary problems from a risk management perspective – at times a political perspective – rather than a justice or human rights perspective. We know this because if they really cared about justice or human rights we would see a lot more due process in university hearings.
Consequently, their conclusions should generally be disregarded as indicative of guilt or innocence.
That doesn’t mean Hanna ignores what removed the student from school. “I help people who want an education so that they can find that so long as they are seeking it honestly,” she says. She also counsels them on how to come to terms with what happened, and how to present their case to gatekeepers in academia.
Recently, Hanna appeared in a Radiolab series regarding what consent means (or should mean) in the modern day. Thankfully, the host was fairly neutral for most of the show. As usual, I’ll also give my perspective, but I won’t say repeat anything that Hanna already covered in the video. I encourage you to listen to her independently of reading what I’ve written below.
The other guest on the show is a woman named Kaitlin Prest. She is a feminist ideologue. We know this because she consistently speaks very assumptively and dogmatically about disparities in systemic and interpsersonal “power” between men and women. Also characteristic of feminism, she decontextualizes gender issues by cherry-picking small parts here and there and presenting what she cherry-picks as the whole picture. She also generally disregards the notion of women’s agency if it means more responsibility could be placed on men.
Kaitlin is a strong advocate of “affirmative consent,” a model where sexual consent must be obtained explicitly and verbally. The problems of this are obvious to most people. Most notably, most communication is nonverbal. In addition, what people say in a literal sense is not always what they mean (example: playful or teasing sarcasm, etc).
I’ll say a bit on Kaitlin’s perspective of the affirmative consent model, and then let you listen to the rest. Kaitlin acknowledges that there are some cases where men may have been wrongly accused, or where it’s ambiguous. “It’s complicated,” she says multiple times. Despite this, she thinks it should be the model. Here are a few of her quotes, and my responses to them.
She says, “I think having affirmative consent, as a rule, protects that ambiguity…I think if people feel violated, then they were violated….I don’t think they are always in the right, but I think it’s safer to assume they are always in the right.”
There’s a lot to unpack here. Of course, having a justice system based on feelings rather than facts is problematic at best, and horrifying at worst. Not too long ago, many white women felt violated when a black man looked at them in the wrong way, and accused them of horrifying things. What they “felt” wasn’t justice, but injustice. Feminists like Kaitlin are closer to that mentality than they would admit.
Also, about feelings: sometimes people feel violated because they were violated. And sometimes, people feel violated because they feel entitled to preferential treatment, or feel entitled to something ulterior. There are many women who “feel violated” because a man who had sex with them won’t have a relationship with them, for example. We’ve seen numerous false rape accusations for that reason.
When Kaitlin says “if they feel violated they were violated,” she is of course only referring to accusers’ feelings, but what about the feelings of the accused? Using her same logic, how about this: “I think if people feel they were wrongly accused, then they were wrongly accused”? I’ve never seen a feminist apply that logic evenly, but then again, can you remember a time when feminism as a movement cared about men’s feelings without blaming them or demanding preferential treatment for women in the same swoop?
So why wouldn’t a feminist like Kaitlin apply that logic evenly? She tips her hand here. After Hanna explains that there may be some men who would be wrongly accused and punished under an affirmative consent model, Kaitlin says “I can see that, but what we’re doing is working against history. We’re trying to make progress on this issue of sexual assault, and the much larger balance of power as it is distributed between the genders.”
And there it is. Whether an individual man may be innocent or guilty, it just doesn’t matter. If a man has his life ruined over a false accusation, it’s nothing more than collateral damage in the “more important war against the Patriarchy™.” She believes men should go to prison for less-than-ideal sex, rather than non-consensual sex, as a means of overcompensating due to how the criminal justice system is biased against women.
On that point, I’ve never understood how a prison system that imprisons men at thirteen times the rate of women is somehow biased in men’s favor, or why they would imprison men at all if men are truly so systematically privileged. I guess when men are 100% of those in prison rather than 93%, feminists will proclaim equality has been achieved? It might make a good headline for The Onion, but unfortunately, The Onion cannot compete with reality.
Kaitlin goes even further, arguing that consent isn’t possible. She says women may say yes, but can actually mean no. Her explanation: “If you’re taught from birth to define yourself based on someone else’s pleasure, how can you even define what you want or don’t want?” This is straight from the playbook of radical feminists who argue that under Patriarchy™, consent is not possible because women lack sufficient power to consent.
So when it comes to finding men guilty, Kaitlin believes if a woman doesn’t say yes, it’s rape. And if a woman does say yes, that’s rape too, because she “didn’t really mean it.” You see, words always mean exactly what they say, except when they don’t, so long as men are always the ones responsible.
There’s no way to win with this kind of mentality. The best thing to do is exactly what Hanna did: speak to educate and draw in support from the audience.
Of course, in saying women cannot consent because they are taught from birth by The Patriarchy™ to please and serve, Kaitlin also assumes that men are not taught to please women in a relationship. As a feminist, she missed all those cultural messages in movies, books, the media, and so forth, where men bend over backward to please women via courting with promises, gifts, flowers, special events, poetry, songs, seduction, and so forth.
Side note: this is why some men don’t buy flowers anymore. Women like Kaitlin don’t appreciate it, don’t remember it, and will probably call them rapists anyway.
Note that Kaitlin does defy the radical feminist stereotype in several ways. For one thing, she is not rabid, raving, and angry. Worse, actually – she speaks these things calmly and with a straight face. To her credit, however, she does say “that’s just my point of view,” she doesn’t make personal attacks, and she does give Hanna time to speak. So kudos to her for that.
I could go on, but I don’t want to take away from what Hanna says. Having listened to her speak before, I know there is a lot more she could say, but there was only so much time on the show.
*First published at Title IX For All