Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Only Yes Means Yes

“What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.” – Kurt Cobain

Women are told it was our fault, that we dressed too skimpily, danced too lasciviously, or drank too heavily. They tell us, what could we expect? We were asking for it. But what were we really doing, we women? We were dressed in party clothes, like the men. We were dancing, just like the men. We were drinking, just like the men. And yet, somehow, “no” in our language translated to “yes” in theirs because we were “asking for it”.

What do you think a woman is thinking about when she dresses for a date? She is thinking that she wants to look nice. That she wants to look pretty. Maybe even sexy. Oh, but if she looks too sexy he might expect something. So, exactly what hemline sends exactly which message? Does she dress for herself? Does she dress for him? And why should she worry that her clothes could trigger some unstoppable urge in him? Shouldn’t that be for him to control? But she does have to worry about that. Every single time she goes out on a date she has to worry about that.

What happens when we submit to a simple goodnight kiss at the end of the date and he decides a kiss is not enough? Because we didn’t say “no” to the kiss, we must want everything else, right? Wrong. Maybe we didn’t even want the kiss, but we kissed anyway to end the date. And now it’s time to stop.

Only “yes” means “yes”.

If a woman is pushing you away, turning her head away from you, shaking her head, straining to get away, whimpering, crying, unconscious, unresponsive, saying “no”, saying “don’t”, saying “stop”, or if she is drunk or high at all, then you do not have her consent. And if she says “yes” and changes her mind at any time and then says “no”, you must stop because you no longer have her consent.

Back away from the woman.

A woman’s body is not a man’s right. Her body should not be his goal. Just as a woman never has the right to approach a man and arbitrarily begin molesting him, no man has the right to lay hands on a woman’s body without her express consent. If he has to force her, drug her, wait until she is unconscious, or in some other way incapacitate her in order to have sex with her, that is not consent.

Men, be better than this. We know you are better than this.

Consider this: 1 in 6 women is sexually assaulted, and every two minutes another American is sexually assaulted*. How many women are in your family? How many women friends do you have? Who do you sit next to in church? Who do you do yoga with? Who do you sit beside in school? You already know someone who has been sexually assaulted even if you have never heard her story.

What does this do to the victim? It sentences her to life, a life of feeling dirty, kernels of shame, of disgust. There is an endless loop of “what-if” that plays. “What if I hadn’t gone to that restaurant?” “What if I hadn’t walked home that night?” “What if I had put my mace in my hand?” She will never forget. She will have nightmares, she will often feel out of control, she will have difficulty trusting. For her, there will be no early release, no parole. She will serve every moment of her life sentence.

Rape and sexual assault are so much different than robbery and should be punished so much harsher. What was taken can never be recovered. It can never be replaced. The physical wounds can heal. Scratches scab over, broken bones mend, blood dries. But the innocence, the bodily sanctity that was ripped away will be gone forever.

*statistics courtesy of RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network) 800-656-HOPE

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