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Consent is Sexy - May 1st
Transcript of Consent is Sexy - May 1st
The Women's Resource Center
UCU Room 220
613 562-5800 ext. 5755
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.wrc.sfuo.ca
The Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) is founded on the premise that all aspects of life are political.
In recognition of the diverse needs of
We are here to support marginalized genders:
on the University of Ottawa
campus, the WRC exists to work for a university and society free from oppression.
women, femmes, bois, gender queers, agenders, two spirits, butches, gender fucks, hard femmes, trans folx... all of the above, together, mix-matched, and blurred.
Creating safe(r) spaces
To feel comfortable to participate
Remember that people in this room HAVE experienced sexual assault. If you need to step out of the room to take care of yourself, please do so, as we will be discussing sexual violence.
Speak in "I" statements and only on your own experiences.
If you don't understand a concept, words used, need more examples or clarification, please feel free to ask!
What is rape culture?
a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.
Debunking myths about rape
1. A woman can charge her husband with sexual assault.
3. The person assaulted will be hysterical and visibly battered.
4. Assailants are creepy looking men that hang out in dark alleys.
5. Most sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
6. If one does not scream, resist or struggle, they have consented to the assault.
7. Sexual assault is by nature an act of violence.
8. People who are fat, trans, disabled and sex workers can be sexually assaulted.
9. Rapists usually have a psychiatric diagnosis.
10. Sexual assault is an impulsive act of sexual gratification.
A person can charge their spouse with sexual assault whether or not they are living together. Prior to 1983 this charge was not possible.
2. Survivors of sexual assault "ask for it" in some way.
No one is in any way to blame for an assault against them. Neither dress nor behaviour justifies assaultive actions. The assailant is always responsible for the violent act.
Someone who has been assaulted may be very expressive of, or controlled about their emotions. We all behave differently in a crisis situation.
Only 9% of women are visibly battered after an assault.
In approximately 75% of reported sexual assaults, the woman knows her attacker.
They may be a
60% of assaults occur in a private home, 38% in the survivor’s own home.
Only 1 assault in 10 is reported to the police. Filing a legal complaint can be humiliating, expensive, and traumatic. Women assaulted by a date or a relative are least likely to report.
Women, under the threat of harm or pressure, may “submit” to an assault in order to survive or comply with norms of so-called “feminine” behaviour.
Whatever the woman’s reaction, it does not mean that she agreed or participated.
You need explicit consent to engage in any type of activity.
Violence is not always forceful or aggressive; the act of coercion, pressure, manipulation or sexual advances without proper consent is a form of violence.
- "blue balls"
- "you're a tease"
- "I did this for you, now you need to do this for me"
- "You'll do this if you love me"
- "Oh come on!" (and other urging "joke" comments)
are part of forcing someone into something they do not want to do, which is
Like any other people, people who are fat, trans, disabled and sex workers can be and are sexually assaulted.
of these bodies holds up a myth that they're not “rapable”, and should be "thankful" that at least someone is interested in them, which is very dangerous.
Most rapists do not have a history of mental illness. Many are married, well-educated, and can be of any race, class, or physical appearance.
Society’s emphasis on “stranger danger” ignores the facts that most rapists are known to the victim, and that we live in a greater social system of violence against women.
This viewpoint denies that the assailant is responsible for his behaviour (99% of sexual assaults are committed by men).
Rape is a question of power, not passion or impulse.
a family member
a trusted friend
The Rape of Mr. Smith
The law discriminates against rape cases in a manner which would not be tolerated by victims of any other crime.
In the following example, a victim of a holdup is asked questions similar in form to those usually asked to a survivor of rape.
Police: "Mr. Smith, you were held up at gunpoint on the corner of Somerset and Bank?"
Mr. Smith: "Yes."
Police: "Did you struggle with the robber?"
Mr. Smith: "No."
Police: "Why not?"
Mr. Smith: "He was a very large man, I thought he might be armed."
Police: "Then you made a conscious decision to comply with his demands rather than to resist?"
Mr. Smith: "Yes."
Police: "Did you scream? Cry out?"
Mr. Smith: "No. I was afraid."
Police: "I see. Have you ever been held up before?"
Mr. Smith: "No."
Police: "Have you ever given money away?"
Mr. Smith: "Yes, of course --"
Police: "And did you do so willingly?"
Mr. Smith: "What are you getting at?"
Police: "Well, let's put it like this, Mr. Smith. You've given away money in the past -- in fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that you weren't contriving to have your money taken away from you by force?"
Mr. Smith: "Listen, if I wanted --"
Police: "Never mind. What time did this holdup take place, Mr. Smith?"
Mr. Smith: "About 11 p.m."
Mr. Smith: "Look, can't we talk about the past history of the guy who did this to me?"
Police: "You were out on the streets at 11 p.m.? Doing what?"
Mr. Smith: "Just walking."
Police: "Just walking? You know that it's dangerous being out on the street that late at night. Weren't you aware that you could have been held up?"
Mr. Smith: "I hadn't thought about it."
Police: "What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?"
Mr. Smith: "Let's see. A suit. Yes, a suit."
Police: "An expensive suit?"
Mr. Smith: "Well -- yes."
Police: "In other words, Mr. Smith, you were walking around the streets late at night in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you might be a good target for some easy money, isn't that so? I mean, if we didn't know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think you were asking for this to happen, mightn't we?"
Police: "I'm afraid not, Mr. Smith. I don't think you would want to violate his rights, now, would you?"
Naturally, the line of questioning, the innuendo, is ludicrous. It's also inadmissible as any sort of cross-examination - unless we are talking about parallel questions in a rape case.
If fought back or not
If screamed and called out for help or not
Time of night and activity
The survivor's history (with philanthropy)
Not about the perpetrator
All of these are held against the survivor. Society's
victim blaming and shaming
of survivors of sexual assault translates in behaviors in court rooms and in related social services (ie: police, hospital), thus illustrate why so few rapes are reported.
Enthusiastic Consent as a Tool in Dismantling Rape Culture
Consent to engaging in a sexual act is when
It's NOT about allowing something, or giving permission,
both people agree to do said activity
it's knowing that you BOTH really want and desire each other.
Consent should NEVER be coerced, implied or assumed, even if you're in a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship DOES NOT mean that you always have consent to have sex with your partner.
Consent must be talked about, negotiated and agreed upon; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy - just ask!
Here in the land of lady blogs, most of us believe that sex and exploring your sexuality is a great thing. “Sex positive” is the go-to term for this, which is the philosophy that all consensual expressions of sexuality are good and healthy. Sex positivity also includes advocating for sex education and safer sex. Sounds good, right?
But simply labeling yourself “sex-positive” doesn’t necessarily mean you are. After hanging around the sex blogosphere for the last couple of years, I’ve been schooled in the way I think about sex. After the jump, some things to keep in mind if you want to be truly positive you’re sex positive.
1. Having sex is healthy, but so is not having sex. Some people are legitimately asexual, meaning they don’t experience sexual attraction. About 1 percent of the population, at the very least, identifies as asexual. And some people are gray-sexual, which is a more fluid orientation between asexual and sexual. So is everyone a sexual being? Is sex essential and beautiful? No, not for everyone. And yet, there is an idea that wanting sex all the time should be the goal. But some people just don’t want to have sex all the time, or at all. Sex positivity has long been about “owning our desires” but it should also be about owning our lack of desire, which is totally OK.
2. Stop glamorizing sex. There can be pressure when you decide you are sex positive to talk about the healthy sex you are having,as though it’s somehow better than other peoples’ “regular” sex, or lack thereof. I used to do this in high school. I was fond of bragging about all the crazy sex stuff I was into. Looking back, I’m not even sure what I meant. That I owned a plaid skirt from Hot Topic? That I watched anime porn with my boyfriend? Talking about your sex life as if it’s better than someone else’s is glamorizing sex, and that doesn’t move the dialog forward. Just look at all those sexy advertising campaigns. It’s not much different than that. And in fact, glamorizing helps cement the idea that sex all the time should be the goal instead of knowing your desire levels and honoring those.
3. Slut-shaming also means shaming people who are more “out of the box” with their sexuality than you. Many of us felt it wasn’t cool when Rush Limbaugh called women who take birth control “sluts.” And since 80 percent of American women take those slut-pills, the majority of women reading this article are, in Rush’s opinion, “sluts.” If you felt that was slut-shaming, maybe you were also down with SlutWalk and the idea that wearing something skimpy doesn’t mean you are “asking for it.” These things make sense, right? And yet, slut-shaming continues to be a common practice.
When my cool, urbanite friend said she “felt bad” for women in pornography, that was slut-shaming. When the (now defunct) revenge porn site “Up all Night” published nude photos of people without their consent, along with a Facebook screen grab and their full-name, that was slut-shaming. When I talked with people at parties about that site and they said stuff like, “It was their fault for taking the photos,” that was slut-shaming.
This is the world we live in, sadly. But I have high hopes that our generation will change this. Maybe in the future a topless photo on Tumblr or a home video uploaded to YouPorn will become as much of a non-issue as having tattoo. I hope that someday we will be saying, “Remember when people acted like sexy photos were a huge deal?” But in order to get there, I think we need to check ourselves more about shaming people for putting their sexual selves out there. Even if that person is Courtney Stodden. There, I said it.
4. Know thyself. I am sex positive, therefore everything I do sexually is healthy. No, wait that isn’t true. This one is about your personal journey, not policing other people, but policing yourself. Labeling oneself sex positive could be an excuse to avoid looking at, say, whether going home with someone new every night is truly healthy. Okay, so we might be using my 21-year-old self as an example here. While I would never suggest policing someone else’s actions, I do think it’s important to always dig into your own emotions/mind/psyche and assess: What is this doing for me? How do I feel afterward? How is my sex life impacting other areas of my life? Just because you like something sexually doesn’t mean it is good for you. Remember, sex positivity is not sexual hedonism. It’s about ethics and self-development rather than simple pleasure-seeking.
5. Listen. Listen. Listen. Remember how last year many women of color penned an open letter to SlutWalk opposing their use of the word “slut?” The letter explained that many women of color did not feel a kinship with the SlutWalk march/movement. As they felt they had been hyper sexualized in the media, they did not wish to reclaim the word “slut.” The people of SlutWalk kind of listened, and then totally didn’t.
In my experience, the sex positive movement is largely made up of white, middle class activists who are also often cis-gendered/able-bodied. These are the people with the most agency. And that means we have to make an extra effort to listen to the experiences and ideas of minorities whose stories are not showcased in the media.
6. Consent is sexy in lots of forms. Among consenting adults, whatever goes. But it always comes back to consent. Sex positive blogs have popularized the idea of enthusiastic consent — only having sex in which both parties are enthusiastically consenting. I use this in my own relationship. If my partner senses that I am just going along with the motions, he stops. And vice versa. This means a lot more starting and stopping and a lot less sex than we used to have. But the sex we do have, we both enthusiastically want.
But yet, even in the consent obsessed, sex pozzie community, sexual assault still occurs. This was recently highlighted by the Consent Culture campaign, which collected sexual assault stories from the kink and BDSM community. The founders have also started doing workshops across the U.S. in an attempt to eliminate the harsh divide between “victims” and “abusers.” The workshops create a space of empathy for those who have violated boundaries, a safe space for those who have been assaulted and lots of tips about how to raise awareness around the idea of consent.
One idea I love is that if someone turns you down sexually, the proper way to respond is, “Thanks for taking care of yourself.” Genius, right? BDSM activist, Clarisse Thorn, says that we can learn things from pick-up artists. Thorn points out that PUA’s use body language or “indicators of interest” to see if a woman is into them. But everyone can use body language to sense consent or lack there of. For instance, if someone says “yes” but their arms are crossed and their body is pointed away from you, maybe they really want to say “no.”
7. Just because it doesn’t turn you on doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Clown sex, diaper fetishes, puppy play, littles (meaning role-playing like you are a little kid). Littles: They’re here! They get off on baby-gear! Get used to it. Just because these sexual practices might give you a strong skeeved out reaction doesn’t mean they are wrong. Other sex writers have pointed out that using this kind of knee-jerk, personal reaction as a basis for saying something is “wrong” is what has helped keep LGBTQ people marginalized and discriminated against.
8. Intimacy is complex. For some people, sex is easy, but it’s also good to acknowledge that sex can be heavy. It isn’t all casual orgies and running through fields of daisies naked. Sex can be emotionally, psychologically and physically intense. Sharing your body with another person(s) can be a big deal … even if you didn’t mean for it to be. And if having sex opens up all kinds of emotional doors for you, that is totally OK. There is no need to pretend that you take it lightly if you don’t. Sex can be a form of intimacy, it can be linked to relationships and all kinds of complex experiences. At the same time, there are worlds of intimacy one can experience without the act of sex. And seriously, you don’t have to do everything … or anything at all! Screw any pressure to be poly or try anal or find your magical G-spot or whatever you feel like you have to do in order to be a sex positive person. It’s all about finding out what works for you.
Ending Rape Culture
SPEAK OUT, talk about consent and healthier relationships
rape culture (ex: rape jokes)
slut shaming & sex negativity
talk about women as sex objects
practice enthusiastic consent for everything!
"Bodies are inherently valid"
- Mark Aguhar.
"Yo, look at the legs on her!"
"I don't think that's really appropriate for you to comment on."
"Hey Baby! "
Did you know that when you do that, it makes women feel really violated?
Through MEDIA, EDUCATION, RELIGION, SOCIAL CIRCLES, LAWS, GOVMT, WORK, HEALTH CARE etc. RAPE CULTURE is perpetrated with violence against women, women & femininity are seen as less valuable, disposable, fragile and weak.
This is not a monkey see, monkey do, but is more like society is bathing in a huge tub of these implicit messages.
In 2009 in Canada, women self-reported 472,000 sexual assaults, according to Statistics Canada.
Girls and young women between the ages of 15-24 are the most likely targets.
Women are fearful. More than one in four (27%) of women worried about their safety when they were home alone at night (compared with 12% of men).
Women were nearly three times more likely than men to be afraid when walking alone after dark. Over half (58%) of women who used transit at night worried about their use (compared with 29% of men).
97% of persons accused of sexual offences are men.
Statistics Canada. (2010). The Nature of Sexual Offences
Men and boys are often the victims of the crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape. In fact, in the U.S., about 10% of all victims are male.