Many men understand and handle the concept of consent perfectly well. Many men are respectful, decent human beings.
Others? Not so much.
There has been a lot of talk recently in Australian politics and the media about consent. It seems that some blokes out there just don’t understand the concept.
Honestly, it is not that difficult.
If you’re interested in someone and they say no, that’s the end of it.
Even if you are not particularly interested in someone but you just want to have sex with them, and they say no, that’s the end of that, too.
Even if you’re in a relationship and you want sex and the other person says no, that’s that.
If someone is drunk or otherwise under the influence, unconscious or otherwise unable to formulate a clear decision about whether or not they want sex, the assumed answer should be no.
Even if people are already in the middle of having sex, should one partner say they want to stop, that means consent is withdrawn and the other partner should actually stop.
But that is not the point.
The entire point is that sex should not happen unless both parties are willing. That’s what consensual means: the people involved are equally willing and in agreement.
Anything else is assault.
Anything else is rape.
Any person forcing themselves on another for sex is a rapist.
Any person assuming consent by someone unable to give it is a rapist.
It doesn’t matter whether they are strangers, friends, in a relationship or married. It doesn’t make any difference if one is a sex worker, or an employee, or happens to be lying naked in a field of wildflowers.
Even the dullest-minded man understands consent perfectly well when they are approached by someone they are not interested in or attracted to. When they say no, that’s that.
Clearly then, is not that they just don’t get it: the fact is that they refuse to get it. Somehow, they think the rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them.
So here’s a message from Australian women to the boys’ club in Parliament House:
‘No’ actually does still mean ‘no’. It always has.
We don’t need a stupid phone app to register consent.
We just need everyone to understand privilege and power do not magically make “no” mean “yes”.
We need the people running the country to be truthful and respectful about the wicked deeds of other men— and some women— about things that have been done, and covered up, and excused by those who should be the first to uphold and apply the laws of the land.
It doesn’t matter who it is or what public position they hold: no rapist deserves leniency, no rapist deserves pity, and no rapist should have anyone explaining things away, covering up the truth or making excuses for them.
And anyone who does anything to protect a rapist deserves nothing but contempt.