top of page

You’re being coerced…

Consent, Free Will, & “F*ck The Patriarchy”

#TransparentTuesdays logo header

Hi friend,

First of all, I want to send a big thank you to everyone who responded last week to vote for a new name for the course I previously called “Project Ugly”!

Photo of Jessi Kneeland giving a finger to the patriarchy

I got tons of ideas, votes, and insights, and the name “Fuck The Patriarchy” won out by a landslide– a fact which delights me to no end. 

So please allow me to share some updates to my new course Fuck The Patriarchy!

  • The first module of content will be shared on March 18th, with anyone who subscribes to my Patreon at the $25 level or higher.

  • If you opt in at that level, you’ll get one module of Fuck The Patriarchy course material per month, including a pre-recorded webinar and set of worksheets with (complete with journal questions, practices, book recommendations, and resources) for the next 8 months! 

  • This month’s Fuck The Patriarchy module is all about internalized oppression, coercive control, gender conditioning, and the illusion of free choice! 

In this month’s course material, you’ll learn how the patriarchy convinces us to accept unequal power dynamics and follow its rules by using the same sneaky-but-effective coercive tactics as cult leaders and domestic abusers— including why these tactics are so effective (hint: they all play on the same primal system of attachment and survival to control us), how to identify them (even when they’re subtle), and how to disrupt and resist this kind of coercion in the wild. 

The truth is that a lot of what we think of as our personalities, character, identities, preferences, and choices weren’t really freely chosen at all; they were influenced, manipulated, and incentivized through both explicit and implicit messages, punishments, and rewards. 

In other words, they were coerced. 

Photo by Anete Lusina
Photo by Anete Lusina

To understand what this means, consider a moment in which you’re walking home alone at night, and suddenly realize there’s a big guy quietly walking behind you. You might decide to speed up or cross the street to put more space between you, get out your phone and pretend to make a call, or slowly pull your keys out of your bag and slide them between your fingers. 

Did you decide to take these actions? Of course. 

But were these choices “freely made”? Not exactly.

A decision made under the threat of danger can’t really be considered “freely made,” just as consent given under the threat of danger isn’t really consent. 

So while the guy walking behind you might not have had any ill intent, a lifetime of hearing about (or experiencing) violence at the hands of men might make you perceive him as a threat anyway… and because your decisions were informed by that perception of danger, we could argue that those decisions weren’t really freely made, they were coerced. 

This can be hard to talk about, because it wasn’t the guy walking behind you who coerced you into crossing the street or getting your keys out, and we tend to think of coercion as a direct and intentional act of manipulation or control. But sometimes our choices are being manipulated or controlled by the greater social context we live in, or our history of lived experiences, without us even being aware of it.

Let’s look at the subtlest and most common form of sexual coercion to see the same pattern play out.

Say your partner really wants to have sex, but you’re not in the mood. They’re not pressuring you or anything, but you know saying no would hurt their feelings, make them feel rejected, or put them in a bad mood. You love them, and you don’t want them to hurt them. You want them to feel loved and happy, you want them to be in a good mood, and you don’t want to risk them pulling away because they feel rejected… so you say yes. 

Do we consider this to be a choice made freely? Again, yes and no.

We’re not talking about someone employing manipulative tactics like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or threatening to make you have sex here, so it probably wouldn’t quite feel fair or accurate to say your decision was made under threat of danger, or that your partner coerced you. That said, you might still have said yes to avoid the negative consequences of saying no, which implies some kind of coercion. 

Maybe you grew up with messages about how men who aren’t sexually satisfied by their partners are more likely to stray, or that your worth, the health of the relationship, or your partner’s willingness to meet your needs for emotional security and intimacy depend on your ability to make them feel comfortable and happy. 

Under these circumstances, there is a perceived threat of danger present, albeit a more subtle form than that of physical violence. You might perceive saying no as a threat to your sense of identity or self-worth, to the peace or security of your relationship, or to your own ability to get your needs met. Either way, if you would have said no, had doing so felt like a truly safe and acceptable choice, then we can consider your “yes” to be coerced— even if your partner wasn’t the one doing the coercing. 

This dynamic is extremely important to understand when we’re talking about body neutrality and liberation, because we know that people who struggle to feel securely attached or inherently worthy are more likely to say yes to things in this way. People who have been taught that their value comes from making other people comfortable and happy are more likely to violate their own needs or boundaries to do so. And who in our society is being taught these things?

If you’re fundamentally and chronically afraid of rejection, abandonment, conflict, or being “too difficult,” then the other person doesn’t really need to pressure you to say yes to something they want– all they have to do is express that they want, or hope for/expect, and you’ll do the rest. 

But while these choices are clearly influenced by your perception of danger, and are therefore  being subtly (or not-so-subtly) coerced, it will feel like you made them freely, so you’re more likely to reflect on them later and wonder what’s wrong with you. Why did you do something you didn’t want to do? Why didn’t you just say no? 

It becomes very easy from there to form a negative view of yourself, concluding that you must just be a weak or broken person who makes bad decisions, can’t be trusted, or self-sabotages for no reason. 

If you want to heal your relationship to yourself and your body, it’s important to recognize the subtle ways in which your decisions are constantly being coerced and manipulated, and explore what it actually means to make a choice freely. To do that, we must separate the topic of coercion from the topic of abuse, and start exploring it with more nuance and subtlety. 

Ready to learn more about this, and start the process of cultivating a more authentic, liberated, empowered, and positive sense of self? 

Join my Patreon now, at the $25/month level (or higher), to get this first module of Fuck The Patriarchy course material next week!

Jessi Kneeland's Patreon

Also, anyone who joins my Patreon at the $5/month level will gain access to a monthly live community Zoom call! 

These calls only cost only $5 because I want everyone to feel welcome, included, and encouraged to join– you don’t need to be interested in (or able to afford) any particular kind of course material or coaching to join! These community calls are just a low-cost way to connect with me and other like-minded individuals interested in liberation and healing, as well as to support your journey and mental health. 

Each call will have a discussion topic to get us started, but depending on the call size we can use the time for Q&As, spot coaching, peer support, or whatever feels right! 

Note: there’s no pressure to attend the live call if that’s not your jam! As long as you’re signed up before March 27th, you’ll gain access to both the Zoom link to attend the live call, and to the call recording to watch on your own time later.

That’s it for today, but I’m so excited to connect with you on Patreon, in whatever way feels best for you! Big hug,


27 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page