Maybe We Do Need Consent Classes

Maybe We Do Need Consent Classes

When I first heard of the idea of consent classes to teach young people, although the focus always appeared to be on men, I will be honest I scoffed at the idea. The reason I scoffed is because I always thought the idea of consent was obvious. You do not touch someone in a sexual manner without their permission and consent. That includes the simple brush of a hand against their skin, kissing them and for explicit sexual acts like intercourse. Genuinely, I believed that to not understand that simple concept was absurd and therefore those who sexually assault, harass and rape people must be in full control and know exactly what they are doing.

However, recently I changed my mind. I do think we need consent classes. We need to teach people to not sexually assault people and not rape people. For years, we have heard rapist apologist says that it is the victim’s fault. “Women shouldn’t dress or dance a certain way because that means they are asking for it” sort of nonsense. The only person to ever blame in that situation is the perpetrator of the crime. The sexual assaulter. The rapist.

The reason for my change of mind comes from two things. I know several people both male and female who either know or suspect that they have been raped. The reason I say suspect is because it came in the form of them being either too drunk to give consent or they suspect they may have been spiked. Let me make this plain and simple. If someone has no interest in having any sort of contact or sexual contact with someone before they got drunk and then ended up being too drunk to know if they gave consent then it is not consent. Consent can only be given with at least partial knowledge of what is about to happen. Alcohol can prohibit that knowledge and therefore the other person has the responsibility not to take advantage. This goes for both men and women. I will not deem it to be a problem of either gender, but of both genders.

The second thing is that I know someone who sexually assaulted many different, random people. I was not there to witness it. But they admitted it to me. This person explained that when they went out clubbing, they would get very drunk and proceed to sexually assault people. They would touch people inappropriately. They would kiss people without their consent. In fact, they did it to people in relationships. In basic terms, they mouthed raped people through kissing and in one night they did it to 15 strangers. Now the reason this made me change my mind about consent classes is that the person only realised it was wrong when I called them a “mouth rapist”. In all the time this person had been doing it, not a single person or friend had pointed out to them that what they were doing was not just morally and reprehensibly wrong, but also illegal.

When they admitted this to me, I was enraged. I did consider breaking off all connection with this person as I have done with other people I know who have raped people because they were too drunk to give their consent. I ranted at them that what they had done was wrong. I couldn’t believe that they could not have known that what they were doing was wrong. But then I realised that my assumption that consent was such an easy concept to understand was wrong. That there were people who needed educating about consent and that is why I have changed my mind on consent classes.

I believe we need a comprehensive sex and RELATIONSHIP education that begins in primary school and continues all the way through until they reach the legal drinking age, if the person remains in education until the legal drinking age. It should at least be taught up to the age of consent (16 years old), when the majority will still be in the school. This is the only way to reduce the likelihood of rapes and sexual assaults. Education, education, education.

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