An important topic that we have discussed in class and that has been a common theme throughout the articles and books we have read is consent. Consent is the notion that a clear and verbal agreement is required from both parties prior to engaging in any activity. Without consent an activity may be considered to be a violent and/or criminal act. Although, typically when we think of consent we think of it in the context of sexual activity, we have seen it other cases as well. Throughout the semester we have found various examples of lack of consent in the following literature: “When Doctors Took ‘Family Planning” In Their Own Hands,” Medical Apartheid, Zulus, and Zone One.
To start off, in the article, “When Doctors Took ‘Family Planning’ In Their Own Hands” by Marcela Valdes, we have read how doctors have abused their power by misleading and coercing a Latina woman into being sterilized. The patient to doctor bond is built upon trust. While growing up I was raised to trust my physician, since we always thought it was there job to want what’s best for us in term of staying healthy. However, after reading articles like these, it makes me question if this is still true. Can there really be people out there that would abuse their influence in order to get what they want or have things go their way? Sadly, there are. In Dolores Madrigal’s case, to be asked to “consider and sign off on an irreversible contraceptive procedure in the midst of her worst labor pains” since it is considered “good medicine” is infuriating. She is clearly not thinking in her right mind, meaning that she was not able to process that the procedure would negatively impact her life. In order for consent to be given someone has to be fully aware of the decision that they are making. Thus Dolores Madrigal’s case shows a violation of patient to doctor trust.
Throughout Medical Apartheid, lack of consent was a huge issue that was found multiple times. Washington explains how many African Americans and other minorities’ bodies were donated for medical purposes, even though consent was never given pre-mortem. This was a clear example of a lack of consent in relation to race. Another example is how African Americans were involved in experiments where they were given vaccines “known to have unacceptably high lethality…were subjected to surreptitious surgical and medical procedures while unconscious, injected with toxic substances, deliberately monitored rather than treated for deadly ailments, excluded from lifesaving treatments, or secretly farmed for sera or tissues that were used to perfect technologies such as infectious-disease tests,” all without their consent or proper knowledge of the procedure they were getting involved in (pg. 6).
There were several cases where consent was a concern in Zulus. For example, following a thermonuclear war, the government ordered for all citizens to be sterilized without their consent. Thus, taking away the citizens’ right to bear children. Another example is in chapter A when a stranger sexually assaulted Alice Achitophel and she chose not to report it to anyone because of embarrassment. This is relevant because many victims of rape or sexual assault choose not to file a report due to shame. Therefore, allowing for the offender to remain unpunished and enforcing the false idea that agreement from both parties is unnecessary. Part of Alice Achitophel embarrassment was due to how the community saw her. The way the society saw her influenced on how she saw herself: as worthless.
Last but not least, was a situation mentioned by Professor McCoy found in Zone One, at an interesting take on consent. While I was reading the book or even exposing myself to any previous zombie apocalypse stories, I never thought of it in the unique perspective Professor McCoy mentioned. She explains how that these zombies did not consent to this life, or when an infected infects another, there was no consent given. In a sense, they were forced into a lifestyle that they wished to never be a part of. There are many different forms of consent but they all share common theme of being forced in to activity or situation that they did not fully agree to.
In summary, it is important to recognize in this literature where there is lack of consent and how it affected the victim’s life. By recognizing the complexity of the issue, we have become aware of the many different forms of this issue can take and the ways to promote prevention techniques and/or a solution.