When the consequence of rape culture is not rape

When the consequence of rape culture is not rape

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By: Jonathan Kalin

In building Party With Consent, I’ve heard from hundreds of amazing people who share their stories of when their consent was broken. While the majority of these end in some type of sexual assault, many of them don’t.

Let me explain. A couple of years ago, a friend told me about an experience when her drink was laced with LSD. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she thought she was going crazy. She spent time with therapists and ended up transferring schools. She was never sexually assaulted.

Or the story my friend told me about when she wanted to go on a conference to Paris and when asking her boss for permission, he explained she could only go if she wore “red hot pants”. She said no and wasn’t sexually assaulted by her boss.

Or the stories of my friend who had to book group meetings with her boss because of the somewhat ambiguous advances he made towards her in one-on-one meetings. She stuck with the group meeting strategy and her boss left her alone.

At times, discussion around preventing sexual assault leads to paralysis:

“This happens behind closed doors, what can we do?”

“We have to wait for the government/administration to do something.”

“I can’t even start to understand how this is happening!”

But the reality is rape culture is all around us and starts with objectification from very early development. When we begin to generalize those who are different from ourselves, we start thinking of them not as humans with unique emotions, feelings, and experiences, but rather objects or less than human. And when we see someone as less than human, we rationalize why we can lace their drink with LSD, why we can give them unwanted sexual ultimatums, why we can break consent. This is how young heterosexual men are being taught to think about young women. In the words of Tony Porter, “We are teaching boys and young men to only be interested in girls and women for sexual conquest.”

Sexual assault is a result of objectification and a product of rape culture, and so is the experience of my three friend’s stories above. Therefore, consent needs to be considered throughout our life in every situation. Party With Consent is not just for parties.

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