The TCSA has been touting the “Consent is Sexy” campaign for a few years now, and it really disturbs me.
Consent is never, ever sexy. Consent is mandatory. Consent is a necessary function for any healthy relationship or sexual interaction.
Consent is not some trite slogan, and the campaign, despite its good intentions to bring in dialogue and enforce the importance of consent is not only barely scratching how integral consent should be in all of our sexual encounters and romantic relationships, but is wilfully supporting misconceptions around rape.
To say that consent is sexy is to say that it is attractive – that it may be on your priority list, but hey, we’re all willing to make exceptions, right?
That we should consider it alongside intelligence, taste in movies, political views. To say that consent is sexy is to completely misrepresent what rape is – a forceful abuse of power.
Rape has absolutely nothing to do with sex as intimacy between two (or more) partners. There is nothing intimate about rape, except in the absolute violation of trust for another human being.
Rape is physical and mental domination in order to control another individual and gratify the abuser’s self.
There is nothing sexy about rape because rape has nothing to do with healthy sexual interaction.
To me, it also steamrollers the fact that often rape is committed under coercion, especially in established relationships.
How far does one have to go to reach the “sexy” level of consent?
While the campaign does address the issues of intoxication and non-verbal lack of consent, I don’t feel it adequately deals with the fact that even an uncompromised yes can still be rape – that 10 minutes discussing why a partner will not offer up consent is coercion, and is still rape.
Given the statistics that came out years ago showing that only 2% of all rape allegations are falsified, we need to stop coming out with half-baked campaigns around what consent actually means.
We need to start taking campus rape and all other forms of rape more seriously than a trite line posted around student hubs; because when the governing bodies don’t take rape seriously, nothing is done when an actual incident comes up (I am referring to a specific incident mishandled by college representatives).
We need to change the dialogue from how sexy consent is, to how you will be legally prosecuted for not ensuring non-coerced consent; to recognizing that rape is not simply an isolated incident, and both causes severe mental and bodily problems for many survivors and indicates a likelihood of repeated offence by the perpetrator.
For survivor counselling, you can contact the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre: (705) 748-5901; or call their crisis line for immediate support: (705) 741-0260, toll free 1-866-298-7778.