The Importance of Clear Consent-Opinion piece by Calvin Gross

This post is written about an article which appeared in the Daily Beast on June 8th. It tells the account of a reported sexual assault from the accused’s point of view.

This article immediately surprised me. I’ve read so many heartbreaking accounts of sexual assaults where the assault was obvious and perpetrators were allowed to walk free, condemning victims to a life of constant fear. But this article isn’t like that. It tells a story where two people experienced the same thing and later made different claims about what happened.  It revealed to me that not every perpetrator is a horrible guy lurking in the corner and hiding his nefarious intentions. 

To me, this article is reminder that sexual assault isn’t simple. We’re completely right in wanting to make sure that victims don’t feel powerless and shunned and that perpetrators are punished. Those are good desires that we should never let go of. Ever.

But not all cases are cut and dried. Cases do exist like the one in this article, where the actor believed he did have consent. It reminds me that sometimes each party sees things differently, and it’s sad that such confusion can result in so much pain.

Despite this, I don’t want to let my sadness to make me forget the horror of what does happen. For every case like this where we might feel some sympathy for the perpetrator, there are countless other cases where the victim feels too hopeless or scared to even tell the authorities. In fact, many many sexual assaults aren’t even reported. That’s why sexual assault is so complicated. We have to remember all of these facets and how they relate to each other. But most importantly, in every one of these cases, we’re dealing with real people. These aren’t abstract characters in a book or numbers on a page. They’re real people with feelings, fears, and hopes. That’s why sexual assault is never simple.  

At the end of the day, that’s why I think that clear consent is so important. It’s the best way to ensure that both parties are protected. With consent, ultimately everyone wins. 

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