We Can’t Expect Men Not to Cross a Line That They Don’t Know Is There.
I am fifteen years removed from high school, and I have vague memories of being told that just because you buy a girl dinner, she doesn’t “owe you” anything. But what that meant wasn’t really discussed in detail, and the message was mushy at best. As I got older, I got the message that “no” means no, though I doubt I would have ever continued after “no” regardless of the circumstances.
But it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I read anything suggesting a lack of affirmative consent should be interpreted as “no.” And not until a few years ago that I connected an extreme level of intoxication with the similar effects of date rape drugs. Those things weren’t taught to me — ever. I had to find them for myself.
We can lament that men cross lines, and be right about it — but we can’t expect men not to cross a line that they don’t know is there.
And so we have to do a better job of saying, flatly, that if the woman you’re sleeping with hasn’t affirmatively consented — hasn’t said “yes,” that you need to view it as a hard “no.” We need to get tell kids honestly that contrary to what the movies tell you, you can’t read your date’s mind, and they can’t read yours, and it’s not only okay to ask if you want to move on to something more intimate, it’s vital that you do so.
In short, we need to have a deeper conversation than just throwing on a videotape and hoping kids get the message. Until we do, we’re just creating rapists through our own neglect.
More: Educating Men About Rape
Actually, that last article is worth reading on it’s own.
If anyone thinks that this is ridiculous, that men know, they don’t have to be taught, I’ll share a joke with you. Well, it is supposed to be a joke. I heard it once and almost vomited:
Q: What do you call the soft fleshy part around the vagina?
A: A woman.