On Consent, and the Meaning of Quilts…

You know what the magic word, the only thing that matters in American sexual mores today is? One thing. You can do anything, the left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, so long as there is this one element. Do you know what it is? Consent. If there is consent on both or all three or four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine. Whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left. –Rush Limbaugh (12 October 2016)

Every quilt is a gift, even when it is made for yourself. Beyond the cloth and thread, the batting and binding, it is a gesture, an offering of warmth both physical and emotional. A quilt brings with it a promise of a safe place, a reminder of an essential connectedness. Every quilts tells the story of those connections, whether it be parent to child, between friends, or from your present self to the person you might become. A quilt transforms even an empty bed into a site of living interconnections.

But underlying the fundamental understanding of quilts as gifts is consent. The decision to make and give a quilt, and the open acceptance of that gift can only exist within a covenant of consent. Indeed, when we sleep beneath our quilts we are in communion with the entirety of that quilt’s history, embraced by it. It is a relationship, an experience that can only be consensual.

The words Mr. Limbaugh has chosen, and the mindset they reflect – one that remains all too pervasive – are anathema to the very idea of quilts. Regardless of your feelings about the state of sexual mores in the 21st century, this must be an issue that the quilting community holds dear. Our views on same-sex relationships, polyamory, or sexual proclivities may diverge, but consent must be a core belief of the quilting community. Without consent our quilts mean nothing, and without consent there is no sex, only violence.

Two of Seven: Disrupted Wholecloth (2015)

Two of Seven: Disrupted Wholecloth (2015)

On this point there can be no dissent. On this point our voices must be united. The work we do is about transforming our most intimate spaces, our beds, into places of warmth and safety, security and meaning. Rape is a violation of everything we do, a rending of the compact we stitch together. Sexual assault depends on the attackers ability to isolate a victim and impose an extreme solitude by force. If we are indeed to be a community of quilters we must stand against the betrayal that lies at the root of rape, otherwise our practice means nothing, our quilts are no more than bits of cloth, worthless and hollow.

There is no rape police, only the police. But if there were a rape police, I would hope it would be us.


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