At WAVAW, we receive a lot of questions from students. We thought we would share some of our responses! Here is a Q&A about sexuality, consent, sexual assault, and rape culture with Victim Services Manager, Dalya Israel:
I have a friend who went to a party and slept with this girl, who said yes and was the one who brought it on. The girl then told her friends that he raped her. What happenes now?
Consent is continuous and on-going. Just because we say yes at the beginning doesn’t mean it will remain throughout. It’s important to be connected to the person that you are engaging with so that you have their needs/pleasure as just as high a priority as your own.
Within the context of a rape culture we also need to be able to discuss why we are interested in engaging with our sexuality with those we are interested in. Do we feel like we are supposed to perform our sexuality at parties? Do we feel like in order to have someone we are interested in emotionally like us, we need to engage sexually when we might not be ready? These are strong messages that we all receive.
What do we do when someone feels we’ve transgressed them???? We can do several different things. We can believe them. We can show care and empathy for their experience. We can connect with them and tell them that we feel terrible that this was their experience and learn how not to have this kind of impact in the future. We can commit to interrogating our own actions and expand our understanding of what it means to engage in intimate and sexual relationships.
What if you personally aren’t saying yes or no and are neutral over it, is it still no consent?
If this is the situation you find yourself in, you may want to think about how rape culture has women thinking that their sexuality is their only currency in the world. Rape culture also teaches men and boys that they should always be up for having sex with whomever and wherever whether they are into it or not. We actually don’t HAVE TO have sex with anyone at all if we aren’t totally into it. We may want to spend time having sexual pleasure with ourselves for an indefinite amount of time until we REALLY understand what pleasure feels like. Understanding what WE like and want is important so that when we do CHOOSE to engage and/or partake in sexual activities with one or more other people, we can be clear about what we like and require from our partners.
Again consent is continuous and ongoing , so if we are interested in experimenting with someone new or a new sex act and we aren’t 100% certain about it we also need to know that we don’t have to take care of the other persons feelings regarding rejection. Being told by someone that they do not want to engage with you or a particular sex act in our rape culture has us aligning our self-worth and identity with rejection which is misguided. We need to be able to accept that each and every person is the expert of their own body and experience and not internalize their decision about what is best for them as a rejection, it’s actually them looking after themselves, it’s not about you.
If 2 people start to have sex, both seem into it, but neither of them give verbal consent (but body language consent), is it okay?
Who would get in trouble if both people are drunk?
Watch Superbad and ask yourselves whether this is actually the question we want to be asking. Let’s strive for something different.
Is taking/sending naked pictures of yourself child pornography?
No if you keep it for yourself.
Yes if you send it without receiving consent from the person you are sending it to and yes if you send it with consent and someone sends it on without your consent.
What if he’s threatening me if I reject him for sex? Or he’s gonna break up with me or share my secrets with others?
This is violence and threatening behavior. This is what power over and control look like.
If I’m being raped how do I stop them or prevent them from going further?
Each individual will decide what is safest for themselves. This is why ideas of resistance during violence/sexual assault are important to expand outside of fighting someone off or running away.
Can a peeping tom be considered as a sex offender/sexual harassment?
Why is vaginal sex legal at 16 years old and anal sex at 18? (One you can get pregnant and one you cannot? Also – is it homophobic/heterocentric?)
Yes these laws are homophobic and heterocentric (bias toward heterosexuality, seeing it as the norm, valuing it higher).
If you have any questions or think you may have been sexually ssaulted, call our 24 hour crisis & information line to speak with a support worker: 604-255-6344.