This post is by Erin, SAFER’s Campus Accountability Project Coordinator, and is cross-posted from Change Happens
I am pleased to share some of the best, most comprehensive and most badass explanations of enthusiastic consent, “Sex Talk” below. We at SAFER can’t emphasize enough how important it is that a sexual assault policy be sex positive. And I know at first glance that might have a strange ring to it, but gimme a minute and I’ll lay it out for you.
A comprehensive and usable understanding of consent is the absolute first step to preventing sexual violence. In turn, a strong definition of consent in a sexual assault policy on a college campus is how to make policy sex-positive. Policies should not simply “condone” healthy sexuality and “prohibit” assault, but actively encourage the community to engage in the practice of affirmative, enthusiastic consent. If we are all engaging in the asking and telling of what we desire than we can also clearly point out instances for ourselves when our line was pushed or directly violated. If we all share a deeper understanding of what it means to consciously engage in the sex you want to be having, than we will effectively eliminate victim blaming that comes along with so-called “gray rape.” Prime examples include: “they were both so blitzed… who knows what actually happened” nights or the “well, they were making out on that couch for hours, so clearly that was a green light.” responses. We can build a culture that values knowing what you want and having the mind to ask if it’s also what your partner wants. We can extend that cultural value to creating clear community standards of what will happen when someone’s consent is violated and they want to take action for justice and perpetrator accountability. It starts to slowly but surely un-do all of the awkwardess of uncertainty and amps up the hotness of getting (and giving!) a “hell, yes!” Last week I wrote about “green dots” on campuses. A commitment to enthusiastic consent in every sexual encounter you have is one of the biggest green dots you can earn.
For more on definitions of consent, check out this article in the Activist Resource Center. We also have a giant list of different definitions of consent that you can pull and mix and match with. If you’re interested in this resource, please e-mail us at contact (@) safercampus (.) org
The second part of this whole equation, of course, is learning how to accept a “no, thanks” gracefully. I’ll let you know when I come across more stunning graphic art covering the subject. Big thank you to Maisha for permission to post her art! You can see her other work here.