YES is Consent

If you have ever listened to the CKNW Sunday Night Sex Show or have ever heard me speak at an event, you have likely heard me say “men need sex”. While men applaud this phrase and women are learning to accept the nature of male sexuality, a relevant point must be made and that is the issue of consent. Men may need sex but not at any cost, they can have it any time or whenever they feel but only when a woman gives consent and that means saying YES at the time, while awake and oriented.

Historically, the responsibility of being raped or the risk of rape has been with women. In 2013, Zerlina Maxwell ignited a firestorm of controversy when she strongly recommended we stop telling women how not to get raped.  Rather, we must teach boys not to rape.  Ironically, Zerlina was the target of much on-line abuse, not uncommon for women who speak up.

The criticism about teaching boys not to rape is that it pegs all boys as potential rapists. The truth about rape is most women, are raped by someone that they know and trust. Rape is not something that happens to women who are not careful or properly dressed, for instance,  rape, on college campuses is commonly committed by those who are well known to the victim.  This is why rape prevention programs on college campuses are a vital aspect of dorm life because rape is so prevalent at this time and place.

The famous University of Montana rape cases outlined in the book Missoula, Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by John Krakauer demonstrates that the women who had been raped were the ones whose lives were ultimately ruined. Very few men suffered any consequence given the fact so many of them were revered sports stars.

Sex is about consent. So no yes, no sex.   There are a number of ways we can educate boys about saying yes and using analogies may help. 

  1. If someone says yes to an invitation to play ball or go to a movie and then on the way to the field or the theatre changes their mind, it is inappropriate to force them to get up to bat or purchase a ticket.  In other words, it is OK for someone to change their mind about playing a game, watching a movie or having sex.  A woman may have said yes initially but it is her prerogative to change her mind.
  2. Say you borrowed your friend’s set of golf clubs last week with their permission. The next week you run into them in their garage with their golf bag on YOUR shoulder.  Your friend asks what the heck you are doing with their golf bag. Well, I am going to play golf and you said I could use them last week. Well, that was last week.  Much like consenting to sex, just because a woman had sex with you last week does not mean you can have sex with her anytime.  That is rape.
  3. What if your friend mentions that one day that she would like a rose tattoo on her arm and then you decide to put a tattoo on her while she is passed out.  Even though your friend said she wanted it at some point does mean that you have the right to do something when she has no idea what is happening.

This underscores the need for sexual health education in the formative years. We need to teach boys about their own sexual urges and drives and what is and isn’t appropriate.  Consent is no longer about saying no, as many women especially if inebriated, or frightened to death will not have the wherewithal to say.

So consent is about saying yes at the time of the sexual encounter. Do both of you agree to engage in sex? If one does not say yes, then there is no consent which goes for the man or women saying no. 

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