There’s been a lot of publicity over the last few days about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. Mainly against women, but we are by no means the only victims in this. My Facebook feed has been full of comments saying “Me too” and discussions about it. The experiences I have had are minor compared to what I know others have had, and I feel for everyone who has posted, as well as those who haven’t felt able to. For whatever reason.
A while ago I read this article about how society trains men about consent. For me it was a real eye-opener, and amazed me because it made so much sense. And he’s right. Consent is assumed in too many ways. I will never watch Star Wars in the same way again. Having read this I am appalled at how many romance books I read, and from female authors, where the woman is given no choice but to comply. No opportunity to do anything except submit and do whatever he wants her to. Now in the stories that’s seen as fine, because he’s the hero and they fall in love and live happily ever after.
But what about if this happened to you? Some random guy decided that you were the one for him and he pursued you beyond what you wanted. Would that be OK? For me it sure as hell wouldn’t be. A forced sexual encounter doesn’t lead to falling in love in real life. Stockholm Syndrome is not a healthy way to start a relationship. And yet that’s so often the story that modern media is forcing down our throats. We need to change this. For all of our sakes.
To try and end on a positive note I saw this post on Facebook with ideas for what people could do to try and improve the situation. (Thanks Steph for sharing this!)
I would also add to this that those people in creative roles need to take more of a stance on consent. To ensure that in all books and TV shows we see the enthusiastic consent that Nicole mentions in this post. Otherwise things aren’t going to change. I would like my children to grow up in a world where this has improved. Where they and all her friends won’t be subject to such a barrage of sexual assault and harassment.
Thanks for posting this, Clari. It’s so important that women keep these issues upfront. They concern all women. Not everyone has been assaulted, but every woman is constantly up against the wall of assumptions about men’s control of the culture. Their “natural” right to dominate. For a smart, humorous look at this, I highly recommend Rebecca Solnit’s widely-published essay “Men Explain Things to Me.”
Yes, it’s a good thing that it’s being talked about, but if it needs to lead to change. Here’s hoping!