By: Lisa M. Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
AND FOR THE RECORD, A LOT OF WOMEN ARE.
I’ve had more conversations in the last few days with adult women than I care to count recounting situations where they weren’t sure they were sexually assaulted. However, the lack of certainty doesn’t negate the trauma.
As adult women we know we need to educate our children about sex and consent. However, that’s a tall order when many women still haven’t been able to sort through their own trauma. Many see consent as a whole lot of shades of grey. It’s not. It’s not. Consent is very black and white. Unfortunately for a lot of grown women, our mothers didn’t have a language to talk to us about sexual assault. A lot of our mothers didn’t teach us about consent – they didn’t understand it themselves.
Many of us grew up hearing a message about how to avoid “asking for it”.
Lots of us heard the messaging about “what she was wearing”. Too many women have been asked that question. While as adult women now, we know better than that, those attitudes are deeply rooted in our psyches. We may not be as far past the shame as we think we are.
For reasons that are very obvious, we need to get crystal clear, with ourselves right now.
No means no and there is no consent without choice.
Here are some things to remember:
1. If you were too drunk or disoriented for any reason to say yes, you couldn’t consent.
It doesn’t matter if someone slipped something in your drink or if you drank yourself into oblivion. If you weren’t conscious or consciously aware and someone takes advantage of that, you could not consent.
2. If you were all in on a solid makeout session but didn’t want to go all the way and then someone used that momentum to go places you didn’t want to go, you did not consent. One yes is not a blanket statement. Consent is a step by step process, not a hall pass for any and everything.
3. If you didn’t run, fight, or try to get away that doesn’t mean you consented. There is no handbook for surviving and assault. There are no “right steps” to take. Exactly no one has their attorney present to make sure you get it all right for your rape. Failure to flee isn’t a failure at all and it doesn’t mean you consented.
4. If you continued to hang out with your attacker, even if you continued to date him, that doesn’t mean you consented to sex you didn’t want last week or last night. Sexual assault is confusing. It’s unfortunately often social. Most women know their attackers. Sometimes women stay in relationship with men who hurt them. That doesn’t mean you consented.
5. If you consented last night but you were forced the next night by the same partner, that is not consent. Consent expires. You can say yes, and then say no the next day, and then say yes the day after that. Consent is not a membership club.
6. It doesn’t matter if you’re married. A marriage license is not a license to screw. Your husband can rape you. That should go without saying, but it’s still very confusing territory for a lot of men and women. You can say no to anyone at any point, including the father of your children or the man you walked down the aisle with.
7. If you put yourself in a risky environment, that is not implied consent. There is no such thing as implied consent. Maybe you went to the frat party. Maybe you went to a swingers event. Maybe you went to a sex club. Maybe you consensually walked into a space you wish you hadn’t. That doesn’t mean anyone has the right to assume you’re free game.
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Lisa M. Hayes, Senior Editor of Confluence Daily.
Confluence Daily is the one place where everything comes together. The one-stop for daily news for women.