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Book by Clara Serra on the meaning of consent


Clara Serra (ADHUC-Universitat de Barcelona) tackles in El sentido de consentir (Anagrama, 2024) the complexity and ambivalence of the concept of consent. Questioning the promises of clarity, transparency and univocity that accompany consent according to some current discourses, Serra raises the intrinsically problematic nature of a notion linked to liberal contractualism and essential for the legal sphere, but which has nevertheless been problematised by psychoanalysis or even contested by some of the main currents of contemporary feminist theory. The book opposes both the invalidation of consent to which feminist positions such as Catharine MacKinnon's lead - according to which consent would be impossible - and the idealisation of consent, which the author claims has become today a sort of magic recipe - something very easy - for dealing with any possible problem in the sexual encounter. In the face of both paths, El sentido de consentir defends the necessary character of consent, but, at the same time, its extreme difficulty. The underlying philosophical thesis is that, inhabited by the duality between desire and will, consent is as inalienable for the legal field as it is precarious and imperfect for containing desire. The challenge, therefore, is for feminism to know how to defend consent but, at the same time, not to ignore its limits, which for the author requires a critical separation from the paradigmatic formula with which our current society speaks of consent - the "only yes is yes" - and to ask what emancipatory horizons we could be losing sight of in the current abandonment of the slogan "no es no".