There should be no gray area when it comes to consent and sexual assault. And yet, when I found myself, once again, in an argument with a grown man who insisted and attempted to mansplain the ‘grey area’ of consent and the ‘blurred lines’ of rape, I found myself so filled with anger and disbelief that I couldn’t bear to continue sitting across the table from him.
You see, it scares me that, in this day and age, with revelations of sexual assault by men in positions of authority flooding our newsfeeds, I can still be faced with a grown, educated adult who will argue that there are grey areas when it comes to what does and does not constitute consent and rape. Even so, upon reflection and when I look at some comments on a variety of media, there still seems to be a serious lack of understanding among both young people and adults alike about what constitutes consent and healthy sexual behaviors.
These are actual comments left on a video that I have featured below:
- “LOL. Sorry but she was asking for trouble. Sounds like a guilty conscience to me.”
- “People that get absolutely smashed – well, how are you meant to look after yourself like that.”
- “Others will take advantage.”
- Being intimate or social with someone does not automatically lead to sexual intercourse. Dating, flirting, kissing or being intimate do not convey consent to sex. Consenting in the past or being in a relationship does not mean consent is automatically given in the future.
2. Responsibility for rape rests solely with the perpetrator. Someone on drugs or too drunk to make decisions doesn’t have the mental capacity to give consent.
3. Both parties have to agree to sex. When someone is asleep or unconscious they cannot make a choice or give consent.
If a person is intoxicated or unconscious, they cannot give consent. If a person says no, at any time, no matter what, they are not giving consent. If a person says yes, then changes their mind and says no, they are not giving consent. If a person is younger than the legal age of consent, they cannot give consent. If a person says nothing, they are not silently giving consent.
This needs to be taught in schools, homes, workplaces — everywhere.
Why? Because, rape culture is alive and well and sitting across from us at the table attempting to mansplain itself.
When the statistics of rape and sexual assault still sits at one in three women, the issue cannot be ignored. And, when we discover “court-created loopholes” around laws about sexual assault and rape, we cannot let them stand.
In October, Thames Valley Police released this video, an illustration of an original blog linked below, comparing consent to tea.
But the comparison is not only effective, it quite clearly condemns any attempts to claim murkiness around the subject. Because if you get when it is and isn’t OK to serve tea, you can’t really claim ignorance when your initially willing partner slips into unconsciousness.
Too many people are not getting the justice they deserve, and too many perpetrators are not held accountable.
Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration. Consider that skirt. Consider that dark alley. Consider questioning your boss. Consider what your daughter will think of you. Consider what your mother will think of what your daughter will think of you. Consider how it will be twisted and used against you in a court of law. Consider whether you did, perhaps, really ask for it. Consider your weight. Consider dieting. Consider agelessness. Consider silence. – Amber Tamblyn
And while I did walk away in rage after my conversation the other day, I know that the conversations need to be had. I hope that we will continue to have honest and informed conversations about consent and healthy relationship behaviors within our communities so that we can prevent crimes like this from happening in the first place and truly start to challenge this pervasive rape culture in our societies.