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September 10, 2007 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Consent is sexy

To the men.

There are many definitions of consent. The following is one definition in terms of sexual contact: Consent is permission given freely by someone who understands what they are consenting to and knows they can withdraw their consent at any point during the interaction.

Consent is giving your okay, verbally and unimpaired (i.e. NOT high or drunk) with full awareness of your surroundings. Forcing or coercing someone into sexual activity or engaging in a sex act with someone who is high, drunk, unconscious or unable to give consent, is rape.

So why should you care about making sure that your sexual conduct is consensual? Because you are trying to please someone not hurt them, right? Because you want to be cared for and asked first. Because if you initiate a sex act with someone without hearing explicit consent first, that could be rape and whether you meant to rape someone or not it is not okay. Rape is never okay.

A person does not consent to sexual activity just because they do not protest. It is a myth that most rape is committed by a violent stranger in the streets. The majority of rapes are committed by someone the person who was raped knows and happen in the home of the person who was raped.

It is essential to healthy relationships to talk about sexual preferences and boundaries. If someone doesn’t want to have sex with you and you are having sex with them, this is rape. It’s rarely easy to just leave someone’s bed or ask them to do the same. It is never someone’s own fault that they were raped; it is the rapist’s fault – they chose to do it, whether from a desire to hurt and control or by choosing to ignore their own power and the other person’s feelings.

There are lots of reasons why someone might not express that they don’t want sexual contact. They might be scared of rejection, they might not want to hurt your feelings, they might change their mind and feel it’s too late. Whatever someone’s reasons they should always be respected. It IS always okay to say no. It IS okay to change your mind. Sex is not a right or an obligation. Regardless of your history with someone you have no right to sex with them.

Sex can be fun, safe and healthy as long as all involved are communicating. Talking about consent with others can be another step towards stopping rape. However, hardly any of us are taught what consent is or how to talk about it.

So we are having a workshop on consent on Monday 17 September – further details are at the foot of this article. For people who can’t make the workshop here are some things to think about:

How do you define consent, do others define it differently? Are you sure about your intentions?

“Wait…” means NO, “it hurts means” NO, silence means NO, not kissing back means NO “uhh…” means NO.

Listening is really important and sexy. Try not to tune out, talk over people or formulate your response while someone is still talking. Stop right away if someone says no.

Getting someone pissed so you can “score” is not cool, it is fucking lame and likely to result in rape. Listening to and respecting others builds trust and respect which are sexy.

Workshop on consent. 12 – 2 pm Monday the 17th of September. In the clubs room, Student Union building, Victoria University

The workshop will talk about what consent is and isn’t, and why we should always gain consent engaging in a sex act. And how to talk about consent. The workshop is for all people who identify as male.


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  1. A Boy, Unfortunately says:

    Please tell me you are joking.

    You are organising a men’s only event. The only one during the women’s week, I might add. You are suggesting that Men (in general) haven’t quite got the grasp of “consent” and yes/no.

    This is tantamount to calling all men rapists.

    I’m not suggesting we’re perfect. But you would hate me to assume that you love shopping, or don’t like rugby (to pick trivial examples) just because you are female, correct?

    It is people like you that give feminism a bad name.

  2. Gabrielle Stewart - WRO says:

    A correction needs to be made on behalf of Salient. I did not write or edit this article, it was written by a male contributor. (the title ‘Men’s Column’ might have given that away)

    I would never ascribe to the mindset that “all men are rapists” and take offense at your accusations.
    Your assumption that all men do understand the concept of consent says that you question the existance of rape or sexual abuse, which I also find offensive.

    Our workshop is not to highlight individuals whom are aggressors of sexual abuse, but an oppurtunity to increase understanding. University aged males are the largest group of sexual abusers in our community (quoting University Paper ‘Psychology Crime and Law’ 2006), so it seems a relevant forum to be held at university.

    You sound like an excellent candidate to attend our Sex and Consent workshop, as you seem confused about the issue of concent and rape.

    As to your concern to our hosting of one Males only event: the focus has been on offering events for women (hence Women’s Fest) however we try to incorporate as many people as we can. Many other events are open to everyone. (For example our Panel discussion, Parents and Kids Tea Party, stencilling workshop and Women who want to scare you fest). If you want to see more ‘male only’ events feel free to contact next years WRO, as we are always looking for contributors and volunteers.

    I do like shopping.

  3. A Boy, Unfortunately says:


    Yes, unfortunately I tend to assume the person mentioned in the byline is the author of the piece. The title “Men’s Column” doesn’t really contradict that.

    In any case, the gender of the author doesn’t really worry me – it’s more the implications of what you (or perhaps he?) are trying to organise. It would also be awesome if Salient were to correct itself and identify him.

    I didn’t meant to imply that rape or sexual abuse do not exist – and I apologise profusely to you and anyone who has suffered at the hands of anyone worthless enough to commit such a crime if I gave that impression. (I had assumed the “most”, my pseudonym and “we’re not perfect” made this clear).

    What I am trying to say is that *most* males are not such people, and your article makes that impression very strongly, in what I feel is a very condescending tone. I think you can agree that you made this impression deliberately.

    It’s interesting that you say that I’m confused about the issue of “consent and rape”. I’d like to know what aspects I seem confused about, perhaps you can clarify them for me.

    Your statement “University aged males are the largest group of sexual abusers in our community” actually intrigued me – I had not known this. A quick google search doesn’t turn up the paper – I would be interested to read a copy, if you would provide a Google Scholar link or more detailed reference.

    I’m actually interested in what I can do as a male to help the kind of causes you represent. I want to be educated, because I feel that when I try and speak out or say something in support of feminism or a similar ideal, that it comes out incorrect, unhelpful, or even patronising. I want to do anything in my personal power to help put a stop to violence against women and sexual abuse, and I encourage others to do the same.

    Perhaps a less controversial, and much more informative session might be entitled – “A Man’s guide to Feminism”. I would surely attend.

    It’s great that you’ve opened up some events to both genders, and I’m quite happy for the Women’s Fest to concentrate on their namesake. The fact that this “workshop” that seems more like an excuse to tell me (as a male) off for a crime I have never (and will _never_) commit is locked off to “males only” whereas any other event open to males is “All Gender” just smacks of condescension.

  4. A Boy, Unfortunately says:

    Just noticed that last line :)

    Great that you like shopping! I was trying to find something that I could generalise about in a non-offensive way.

    Perhaps if I assumed that all women would prefer to have babies and a family rather than a career, that would give you a better idea of how I feel?

    (Ridiculous statement….Theresa Gattung springs to mind)

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