Hello Sexy [Bae]rs,
In SHEP, and our Sex 101 DeCal, consent is extremely important and has been mentioned frequently—as it should be! Both Sexpert Taylor and Mariya have talked about consent in their blog posts that can be accessed from our website here and here. In both articles, we are taught what consent is, and what consent looks like. In both cases, consent is the conscious agreement to a proposed action. It is when you and your partner both lean in for that kiss with grins from ear to ear. Consent is all about watching (body language), listening, and asking. But what about when they don’t ask, or don’t listen? We talk about what consent is without focusing what it isn’t. I have recently come across a post online where it said:
“Consensual sex” is just sex. To say that implies that there is such thing as “non consensual sex,” which there isn’t. That’s rape. That is what it needs to be called. There is only sex or rape. Do not teach people that rape is just another type of sex. They are two very separate events. You wouldn’t say “breathing swimming” and “non breathing swimming,” you say swimming or drowning.
This brings me to the topic of rape and sexual assault. While it is important to learn about consent, I feel as though it is just as important to know what rape and sexual assault is as well and how to take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally consent is NOT asked for, ignored, or rejected? While rape and sexual assault are used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. To put it simply, sexual assault is when a sexual contact happens without consent; an assault can be attempted rape, unwanted fondling or groping, or being forced to perform any type of sexual act against your will. When the sexual contact includes penetration, it is considered rape. That is, all rapes are sexual assaults, but not all assaults are rape.
The truth is—anyone can be assaulted. Men, women, and folks that do not fit the gender binary can all be sexually assaulted. When most think about rape or sexual assault, they think of male strangers in an alleyway with weapons or drugs. However, the reality is that most people know the attacker before an assault. Just like anyone can be assaulted, anyone can commit rape and sexual assault. The types of sexual assault s that don’t use force are coercion, incapacitating, or manipulation; however, there are definitely more than I mentioned. If you do not know whether you have been sexually assaulted or not, ask yourself these questions: “When you think back to a sexual experience, how do you feel? Sick to your stomach?” Sure, we have had sexual experiences that were bad and boring, but sex that makes you feel sick and unable to feel clean even after a shower is not normal. Did you say no, slow down or stop? Did you make any non-verbal indications that you weren’t feeling good about what was happening? Were you ever afraid of the person, worried that you could ever be hurt, or worried that you would be hurt if you resisted? Assault happens even in the absence of consent! Not all assaults are obvious. If you are ever unsure or have been sexually assaulted, you can reach out to helplines that are open 24/7 at (800) 656-4673 or visit their website rainn.org. Or visit Social Services provided at the Tang Center on the 2nd floor.