Affirmative consent not victim-blamingPosted: September 13, 2014
That Dawkins tweet today has linked a couple of recent articles in my head, and resulted in this post.
The first was a couple of weeks ago, when a retiring judge says that rape conviction rates won’t improve until women stop getting so drunk: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/former-judge-says-rape-conviction-rates-will-not-improve-until-women-stop-getting-so-drunk-9691911.html
The second was a response to the news of a college requiring affirmative consent: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/-sp-campus-rape-prevention-yes-means-yes’ a commenter actually asked “what am I supposed to do, like ask every 5 minutes?”. This comment has stuck so much in my head, as it seems so blindingly obvious to me that, yeah, when having sex you should be aware of your partner as a participant! How can someone even ask this?
And yet they can, and do, and this is where this comment meets the Dawkins tweet and the Judge’s comments. The problem here isn’t women’s drinking. The problem here is in the sexual education of young men.
30 years ago it was acceptable and fine to get in your car after a few beers and drive home. Yet education and media campaigns have turned this completely ground. We now need the same zero-tolerance high profile campaign about affirmative consent. Posters shouldn’t tell girls not to drink, but tell boys to look for affirmative consent. Sex education in schools should focus on what consent is, what it means, and about continual consent – checking every 5 minutes shouldn’t be a question because you’re continually checking in with your partner.
Juries no longer consider whether they think a drunk driver was really incapacitated, whether they can handle their drink, how many years safe driving they have. The court system realises it is unacceptable to drive drunk. Just as they should recognise it’s unacceptable to have sex without consent.
I am only using this drunk driving analogy to show that perceptions of acceptable and criminal behaviours can be changed.
And that is where the focus needs to be. Not on controlling women’s behaviours, especially not on victim blaming. But on making sure that affirmative consent is the benchmark of acceptable behaviour.