I was never taught about consent.
Fidgeting awkwardly in my seventh grade sexual education class, I learned plenty about the icky dangers of sex, how humans are made, and that rape is bad. Rape is bad; there is not much debate there. However, the topic of consent is untouched and leaves people like me growing up thinking that if it’s not violent it’s not rape.
I wasn’t taught that if I’m too drunk to drive then I’m too drunk to give permission to someone to have sex with me. I was taught that alcohol excuses aggressors actions while penalizing the victims. I was taught that men are aggressive and are destined to force or convince women to have sex and that it is normal, even expected, for women to uneasily and unsurely oblige. I was taught that by not saying no, I was saying yes.
Sadly, this is the idea our society is harboring. This is why sexual assault is the most under-reported crime on campuses across the nation; the boundaries of sexual assault are blurred, and victims tend to be questioned, blamed or shamed into silence.
This is why the new “Yes Means Yes” law is a step in the right direction.
Last week Gov. Jerry Brown signed the “Yes Means Yes” bill. This new law is a step toward improving how campuses in California that accept financial aid deal with sexual assault incidents. The law states that a person cannot give consent if asleep or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Schools also have to have “victim-centered” policies and have programs to help prevent sexual assault.
This law is going to help educate people about sexual boundaries and consent but it will also open a dialog for people who have been affected by sexual assault.
Sofie Karasek, a “Yes Means Yes” activist, told Mercury-News: “ It does change the cultural perception of what rape is. There’s this pervasive idea that if it’s not super violent then it doesn’t really count.”
On Dixie State University crime statistics page, there are a total of four arrests for sexual battery since 2006. Four arrests. I cannot believe that in eight years, with thousands of students and countless drunken parties, there have only been four sexual assault incidents. This means that A.) people are not reporting their assault, B.) the reports are not being handled properly, or C.) people don’t even realize they have been involved in a sexual assault.
Utah should implement the “Yes Means Yes” law. It will help students have healthy, consensual sex and will help give victims of sexual assault the justice and support they deserve.
In the mean time, utilize the resources we have on campus to educate yourself or report a sexual assault. Find the DSU assault policy at dixie.edu/humanres/policy/sec5/5-54.pdf. Get information or counseling at the Health and Wellness Center or the Women’s Recourse Center.