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Was she drunk? What was she wearing? Why was she alone? This is victim shaming, our favourite societal reaction when someone says they got raped or sexually assaulted.

The woman should have been more careful, why wasn’t she watching her drink, maybe she didn’t even say no. The word “consent” is a word that has been tossed around a lot lately, especially since the release of Louise O’ Neill’s book “Asking for It”. Her book asks us to look at the rape culture that is still prominent in Irish society today.

As a part of this rape culture, shouting out of car windows at girls and grabbing them outside nightclubs is just seen as “the norm” on a night out and should be taking as a “compliment”. The fact is anything short of a “yes” as a response to any type of sexual advance should be perceived and understood as a “no.” Nothing further should be said or done. That is the basic meaning of consent, but in a society so fueled with drugs and alcohol, we have to be more specific for people to understand.

 If someone is drunk or high, they are not in a position to give their consent to you and you should not proceed with any sexual advances.  A year ago The “Tea consent” video went viral on the internet. This video simplifies consent by comparing it to forcing tea upon someone, and shows how easy it is to understand and respect consent. Click here to watch The “Tea Consent” video and gain a better understanding of how basic but neccessary consent is. 

The problem is we are doing very little to tackle the problem because it isn’t talked about. No university in Ireland has mandatory consent classes despite one in 12 female Third Level Education students saying they have been victims of rape or attempted rape in the past, according to research done by the Union of Student in Ireland (USI). 

Respect is something that shouldn’t have to be taught but in a society that ultimately puts the girl at fault and has a “boys will be boys” mentality, I think it’s time to change this disgusting outlook and start teaching people the facts – even if they don’t want to learn it.  Consent should be included in Sexual Education classes in the first place, schools and colleges need to start taking a handle on this to ensure the safety of their present and future students.

We need to start making a difference now. This is something that could happen to anyone at any time. It could be your mother, sister, cousin or friend. As horrible as it is to imagine, it is the reality of our society and we need to start educating people now before it is too late.

Social Media Director of Her Campus UL
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