Rape, Sexual Assault and Consent

Rape. I’ve been hearing a lot about that word recently.

Rather it be the amount of UT alerts about sexual assaults I’ve gotten the past few weeks (and by the way for all of those who think this is a recent thing, it’s not. These sexual assaults happening on campus have always happened. They are just just now being reported.) or the fact that my sister and I just had a moral conversation about sex and consent for my Philosophy class, and we talked about it in depth in class a few days later or the news exposing all of the YouTubers who have been accused of sexual assault in some form or fashion (http://unpleasantmyles.tumblr.com/post/79455706244/tom-milsom-hexachordal-heres-the-post-olga The master list of everything that’s going on in the YouTube community… it’s crazy). Basically it’s everywhere so I’m going to talk about it.

**Disclaimer: I’m going to talk about this in the men towards women standpoint because that is statistically what happens the most often. I am well aware that it does go the other way. Probably more than we think, but for the sake of this blog I’m going to talk about women being the victims.

I’ve noticed that in the UT alert and the YouTube situations that after one person comes out about it, others follow. A lot of people criticize women for not telling people about it. I’m not going to lie, I am one of those people. I find myself very often angry at the ones who don’t report it to the police, but I’m wrong to be angry. Yes girls should report it or at least tell someone, but they have valid reasons not to. Most of the time they are too scared that the person who did it to them will do something worse if they find out it was reported or the girl is just too traumatized by the event to recount it multiple times during the process of reporting it. Others don’t understand this, though. I don’t understand it. Because we’ve never been there, but I think it’s so important for all of us to sympathize with them and understand and create some sort of safe environment for women to share their stories, and I think that with both of these situations, the environment was created and women have begun to share. That’s the first step.

Now, I think it’s important to establish what rape means. The technical definition is “the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.” That doesn’t explain much to most people though. Many people think rape is just the act of physically forcing someone to have sex with them. It’s so much more than that. We went through a phase in our history where we said things such as “No means no,” and that’s how we defined rape. This is great except for when the woman is silent. Or isn’t in the state of mind to make an actual decision. Or  is pressured or given no other option but to say yes. So the new thing that is arising is “Yes means yes.” Otherwise known as Affirmative Consent. California passed a state bill very recently saying:

“An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity. ‘Affirmative consent’ means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”

Now, a lot of people argue that this movement makes basically all sex rape. This isn’t true, though. It’s only rape if one of the people involved doesn’t consent to it, and consent means saying yes.

Consent isn’t obtained when:

  • Coercion takes place (occurrent (actual harm) or dispostional (threat))
  • Deception takes place (lying or not disclosing relevant facts meaning that the person would say no to sex if they knew the fact)
  • One or both parties are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance causing them to not make accurate decisions
  • One is silent
  • A previous or current sexual relationship, dating relationship, etc. exists
  • Two people are married (spousal rape does exist)
  • Consent was given on a previous occasion
  • One doesn’t protest physical force
  • One’s attire, reputation or acceptance to go to a place seems to suggest something
  • One is pressured into giving consent when on normal occasions they wouldn’t

(The list could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.)

It’s important to point out that rape isn’t the only thing that I’m concerned about. I’m also speaking in terms of other types of sexual assault. These include such things as touching someone’s butt or boobs or whatever else. I would even go as far to say as kissing without consent could be considered sexual assault. Anything with a sexual connotation is sexual assault if consent from both people isn’t given.

From a guy’s perspective, I know this probably all sounds absurd. Most guys probably find this ridiculous. Reason being, they don’t think it’s a big deal. They don’t see the harm in most of what I’ve talked about. (Note: I’m not saying all guys think this, but a large number of them do.) They can’t “control themselves.” And a lot of times they get away with it because of these types of excuses. A lot of times the victim is blamed because of such things like what she was wearing. But THAT’S actually what’s ridiculous. A girl never asks for it, ever. And if a man so easily thinks that a girl wants that, he’s wrong, and he needs to evaluate the situation better. So many times a man lets his lust control his actions instead of his brain or more importantly his heart, and that’s where the mistake lies. But it’s not even their fault because our society has taught boys to behave that way. They aren’t supposed to use their heart or emotions. They’re supposed to be strong and forceful and manly. Why can’t they be both depending on the situation?

I think many times men just don’t understand women… and honestly, that could be our own faults. Our society has created this view that men shouldn’t understand women and women shouldn’t understand men, and maybe that’s because we’ve made ourselves so separated through gender roles or maybe it’s not. But either way, it’s a problem. We need to understand each other. If we did, sexual assault wouldn’t happen. So here’s some things that men need to know about women.

  1. It is very common for the minority in a group to set a bad example for the actual majority of the group… the women who seem to love being viewed as an object and enjoy being sexualized are few, but because of social media, advertisements, movies, etc. it seems like most women are okay with it. The truth is we’re not. Even some of the women who seem to love it, hate it. So don’t treat us like objects. We’re human too.
  2. 99% of the time, we don’t want to make you a sandwich. You’re perfectly capable.
  3. Women struggle just as badly with lust as men. Men’s excuse of “we can’t control ourselves.” is one of the most ridiculous excuses I’ve ever heard. (I wrote an in-depth blog about this… https://mikaylaannm.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/women-struggle-too/)
  4. I briefly mentioned this before, but women have reasons to not report sexual assault so don’t judge them for not reporting. Just listen and offer to help.
  5. Women also have reasons to go back to the person who assaulted them. According to my sister’s Social Work book, some of these are economic dependence, lack of self-confidence, lack of power, fear of the abuser, guilt, feeling isolated with nowhere to go, fear for her children, and love.

Basically, what I’m trying to get across is that something needs to change. According to this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miaiLpGY6O4&list=UUc4yillQaNo6a-iG2PYbbrA (which is really good and you should watch it), 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted by age 22 and 1 in 6 men are. That’s a lot of people. This can only change if people are aware. Men, women, boys, girls, dogs, everyone. If people knew, something could change. So spread the word. Tell people the facts. Make people care. Share your story.

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