Dear A: an open letter about consent

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Dear A,

I must admit that I am disappointed. You never struck me as the kind of guy who would do something like this. Although you are still young, you have always seemed exceptionally respectful and thoughtful, more-so than most boys your age. Now you are on the brink of manhood and I am afraid. Afraid that you will abuse your power.

You told me your story with the expectation that I would sympathize and validate your actions. You say you have never forced a girl to do something she didn’t want to do, and add an out-of-place “haha” when you mention that “rape isn’t fun.” Your story is about a “bad” sexual experience, but to me it begins to sound more and more like a non consensual sexual experience. It begins to sound more like rape.

You explain that she told you up front that she doesn’t enjoy sex. She didn’t say the word “no,” but she certainly didn’t express any willingness or excitement. You didn’t care and decided to have sex with her anyway. Now you complain that it sucked for you, because she just laid there while you fucked, uninterested.

Why did you do it? You claim that you liked her then. But if you did, if you truly cared for her, you would have listened to her when she said she doesn’t enjoy sex. You would have respected her feelings of discomfort and left it alone. Instead, you took advantage of a sexual opportunity and ignored her feelings. Naturally it wasn’t pleasurable – because it takes two willing participants to truly achieve pleasure, passion, and meaning.

Maybe you it regret it now. She’s just a girl, you say. Hopefully the next one will be better and actually enjoy sex. As if that is the most important criteria for a partner. Your misogyny is blinding, A, but what scares me the most is that you can’t see it. You skated the very thin line between consensual sex and rape, unknowingly. There was no physical violence; no aggressive assault. But in essence you forced sex upon someone who was clearly not interested. Perhaps you could have talked with her first. You might have discovered a sexual history that has scarred her. Maybe her ability to experience pleasure has been taken away from her because of guys like you who use her for sex.

There is no excuse for your behavior, and I can’t supply sympathy. Dear A, you are the reason why I need feminism. Because ordinary guys like you violate women in dangerous ways without realizing your crime. You are far from being a sexual predator, but your behavior is grossly unacceptable and disrespectful.

Discussions on consent must center on basic respect for your partner, whether they are male or female. Respecting their needs and wants and, most importantly, their feelings. If there is any doubt or uncertainty in her eyes, her speech, or her body language, you need to think twice. Because “maybe” does not mean yes. And “I’m not sure” does not mean yes.

I hope you are listening. And I hope that you will treat your future partners with respect. The same respect that you deserve as a human being.

Sincerely,

B.

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2 Comments

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  1. There is a huge problem with the perception of rape and sexual assault. I think a lot of men think rape is grabbing a stranger off the street and holding a knife to her throat.

    I think we also need a lot more education regarding sex and sexual assault. Your friend A is not untypical of young men, (very sadly). Perhaps even just a simple awareness that sex is something you do with someone, rather than to them, would be a start.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Thanks for your comment. I totally agree and think that the lack of education about consent is the root of the problem. And also the fact that young men like my friend feel entitled to sex whenever with whomever they want. The saddest part of it all was that he tried to get me to have sex with him after telling me this story…I was astounded.

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