Sexual assault is not a recent phenomenon. It’s a problem that has plagued our society for ages, but it’s just now getting the mainstream popular culture recognition it deserves–FINALLY!
This year, sh*t hit the fan with the #metoo movement, #TimesUp, the cover of TIME magazine and what feels like a new sexual misconduct case coming to light every other day. But there’s still a major aspect missing from this highly publicized discussion.
College campuses are a hotbed for sexual assault with 23.1% of female and 5.4% male undergraduate students experiencing sexual assault or rape during their time at school. As a young female undergraduate student this statistic is terrifying. Nearly 1 in 4 college women will experience a sexual assault before she graduates.
But you want to know what scares me even more? That about a third of college male students don’t have an understanding of what constitutes rape, according to a study published in the 2014 journal Violence and Gender. Even with graphically detailed cases of sexual assault making major headlines, many young men still haven’t grasped the basic concept of consent in sexual interactions. That’s scary as hell.
So let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about sex! Let’s take a cue from our favorite early 90’s hip hop trio, Salt N Pepa, and let’s talk about sex–consent implied. Because we can’t have sex without consent, or that would be sexual assault.
Consent is necessary by both parties when it comes to all sexual experiences at any stage, whether it’s awkward and clumsy or hot and steamy. So what is this vital thing that I call consent? It’s simple really. Some might say it’s as simple as drinking tea (see “Tea and Consent” youtube video).
Ever heard “Yes Means Yes”? Well, that is affirmative consent and it leaves nothing unquestioned. The law establishes “consent as voluntary, affirmative, conscious, agreement to engage in sexual activity, that it can be revoked at any time, that a previous relationship does not constitute consent, and that coercion or threat of force can also not be used to establish consent.”
Consent should be confirmed at each stage of sexual activity, whether it be a simple “yes” or an enthusiastic “oooooooooh yeah!” Consent can also be given using physical cues (body talking, will you?) in order to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking it a step further. Just as it is important to give our consent physically or verbally, reading your partner and understanding what they may or may not be comfortable with is too. Consent is a two way street.
Consent is all about communication and communication is sexy. The importance of communication goes beyond the basics of consent – communication is key in letting your partner know what feels good, what doesn’t, what you want more of, what you didn’t like – it’s the key to a good sex life. Communication is what can turn awkward and clumsy into hot and steamy.
Consent is sexy and communication is key!
If we educate one another by simply talking about consent and learning from one another, we can start chipping away at that one third statistic.