Let's Talk About Consent

The first article I ever wrote for Her Campus UGA was “How To Prevent Sexual Assault” for our Sexual Assault Awareness Week in 2016. When I wrote that article, I was just a bright-eyed freshman, still 18 and excited about changing the world. Since writing that article my life has changed a lot, I got my first apartment, had my first internship, and became Campus Correspondent for HC UGA. I'm still bright eyed, but my soft skin has grown hard with experience. Something that hasn’t changed since I wrote that article two years ago is the need to talk about sexual assault.

This past weekend, I read the article entitled “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life”. This article comes at a time when people in Hollywood are cracking down on the mistreatment and sexual assault of women with the Time’s Up movement. I’m not going to go into the details of the article, you can read it yourself, but I am going to talk about the big takeaway that everyone needs to be talking about: consent.

The situation with Aziz isn’t similar to any of the celebrity sexual assault stories we’ve heard so far. This is not a situation like Harvey Weinstein which, while horrifying and a disgusting misuse of power, was something that most Americans cannot empathize with completely (most people can’t fathom being among Hollywood elite). The Aziz story is completely different. For me, as well as other women I have talked to, this story rang closer to home. Most women can say #metoo to being in a sexual situation that they weren’t quite comfortable with and didn’t know how to get out of.

This Aziz story has less to do with rape and more to do with rape culture. Rape culture is defined as a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. That is what this story is about.

Every year at Her Campus UGA we pair up with the sexual assault prevention organization on campus (RSVP) to talk about consent. I have seen a lot of people (mostly men, but not all) saying things like “why didn’t she just leave?” “why didn’t she say no?” “why did she do anything sexual to him if she felt uncomfortable?” These questions stem from a place that questions victims and gives perpetrators the power to control the narrative. Questions we should be asking are big and bold and simple: “why did Aziz continue trying to have sex with this woman if she was visibly not into it?”

The bottom line is Aziz lacked consent. The thing a lot of people don’t know what consent truly is. Consent is active, based on equal power dynamics, freely given, and a process. You can’t just assume, like Aziz did, that since the girl was at your apartment and not leaving, that you have consent. Consent must be audible. If you are engaging in sexual activity with someone, ask them if what you are doing is okay. Consent is sexy. Wouldn’t you rather know that the person you are with is into the sexual act you are trying to engage into than just keeping their mouth shut because they didn’t know how to get out of the situation or they were scared?

We need to talk about consent, today, tomorrow, and everyday after that because too many men read the story and didn’t see what Aziz did wrong, and too many women read this story and nodded in agreement and nausea that this story was eerily similar to something that happened to them in the past.

The women who came out with this story was brave and added to the Hollywood Time’s Up movement, but ultimately, this story is for every woman who didn’t leave because they didn’t know how. This story started a conversation about consent and rape culture that we can’t let die out anytime soon.

Despite this article not being as journalistically reputable as other #MeToo stories, it nonetheless is important to fighting rape culture and the people who play into it.  

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