Don't forget Writing for Charity this Saturday.
Again, If you're under 14, please skip reading this post unless your parent/guardian okays it.
Thank you thank you for so many thoughtful comments on the past two posts. I’m impressed by the collective brain power here and the earnest desire from so many of you to obliterate rape culture.
I was surprised and bit disheartened by how many of you objected to the definition of consent, as first offered by, Dianne E Anderson: "Consent is an enthusiastic, unequivocal yes."
Chuck says, “Consent must be unequivocal it does NOT need enthusiastic...If she implicitly and explicitly makes clear that she's willing to have sex it's not rape no matter how unenthusiastic she may be.” Chuck, this is not the legal definition of consent. It's an extremely wise definition that we'd all be better off to live by and the definition I believe we should be teaching to our children. Wouldn't you rather that your partner was enthusiastic? Why would you want to proceed if she/he wasn't? (Also, probably not a great pickup line: "Hey baby, want to have some willing but unenthusiastic sex?")
What are we worried about here? Yes is such a wonderful word! Don’t we want to hear that from our partner? Yes! Yes please. Don’t we want to be sure that our partner is as excited and willing as we are? Don’t we want there to be no doubt? Just imagine a world where all those entitled high school football players had parents who taught them "Consent is an enthusiastic, unequivocal yes." Imagine those frat boys one commentor mentioned, sitting on their porch chanting about raping women--if they instead had been repeatedly and lovingly taught that "Consent is an enthusiastic, unequivocal yes." Wouldn't everyone be better off embracing this ideal? Why fight this brilliant idea when there are so many more important things to fight? Like, say, rape?
john doe asks, “What if the two parties disagree on what it was?...do you need to get consent in writing now?”
Yes, do that. If you have to ask, then yes, yes, yes. Sounds like you’re walking a line, and one that can be horrifically devastatingly life changing and even life ending for many a victim. If you’re not sure if she’s consenting, then ask her to sign a consent form, a napkin, your belly--whatever. And then her consent (or non-consent) will be perfectly clear. You’ll protect yourself as well as your partner. Do that. Please.
Let’s err on the side of clarity, can we? When we have girls and women regularly taking their own lives to escape the horrors of a post-rape life, then clarity is the least we can offer.
Are we worried that enthusiastic consent is too hard to get? Say a woman says, not tonight, honey. And he gets to kissing her neck and murmuring sweet things and she changes her mind and is all in. Great!
Or say a woman says, not tonight, honey, and he tries his usual moves and she’s not feeling it and still would really rather not. What happens next is very telling about how healthy their relationship is and what kind of a man he is. If she really doesn’t want to, and he doesn’t care because he does, then that’s abuse. That’s unhealthy. And if that sounds like your relationship, you both should get counseling. I mean that kindly and sincerely. Counseling could really help. When sex is more about the pleasure of the other than about your own, then your pleasure increases. That should be the goal. That’s when it’s the best.
Any other worries about a clear consent? That a partner might reluctantly say yes and so you decide it wasn’t enthusiastic enough and don’t go through with it? Then you did the right thing. You protected them, you protected yourself.
Are you worried about the slippery slope? (full disclosure: I don’t believe the slippery slope argument is valid in any discussion. I believe it’s false rhetoric.) But let’s explore. Is the worry that if a guy wants to has sex and doesn’t hear a clear an enthusiastic yes but goes through it anyway, then she might call rape on him?
Well, 1st, depending on how it happened, it might very well be rape.
And, 2nd, if you’re okay having sex with someone who really doesn’t want to do that with you, then counseling is a good idea. Again, I mean that kindly and sincerely. Sometimes survivors of rape and abuse have a hard time enjoying sex again, and that’s something normal that a partner needs to know and respect, and counseling together is an excellent idea. But if that’s not the case and you just enjoy having sex with someone who isn’t enjoying it with you, then STOP IT AND GET HELP.
And, 3rd, if you’re choosing to sleep with someone who you’re worried might falsely call rape on you, then it’d be a good idea to choose not to sleep with them. Foregoing sex in this instance would be a wiser, better, happier choice for all.
Sex is a physical communication, but it needs to be proceeded by a verbal communication to make sure it means the same to both partners. We need to talk. When sex is a taboo topic, abuse and rape is more rampant. When we’re willing to talk about it, understand how it should be, communicate with our partners, we’re striking a huge blow to rape culture and creating healthier relationships for ourselves.
In order to end rape culture, we all need to be on board. Men and women. Girls and boys. Everyone. We have to care deeply about stopping this epidemic and protecting our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, ourselves. We have to be clear. What is rape. What is sex. What is consent. I’m honored to be talking about it with you here. But what I really hope is that these thoughts might spark the conversations that really matter: the ones between parents and kids, between partners, in families and among friends. The more we talk and think about it, the more aware we become, and awareness always proceeds significant change.