Friday 28 July 2017

Colette Fitzpatrick: What bit of 'sex without consent is rape' do we find so hard to grasp?

Picture posed by model
Picture posed by model

Colette Fitzpatrick

With all the supposed “grey areas” around consent (can someone please explain to me what these are?), it’s worth having a look at the Cup of Tea/Consent viral video.

In the UK, Thames Valley Police highlighted the issue of consent by promoting a cartoon comparing sex to drinking a cup of tea.

The result is a very clear, eff-

ective and actually funny video, which gives clear instructions as to what constitutes sexual consent. The clip goes through all the situations in which consent is twisted into “grey areas” by some people, all the while keeping with the tea analogy.

Unconscious

“Maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea and they said ‘yes’,” the video narrator says.

“But in the time it took you to boil the kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious. Don’t make them drink the tea. They said ‘yes’ then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.

“If someone said ‘yes’ to tea, started drinking it and then passed out before they’d finished it, don’t keep on pouring it down their throat. Take the tea away and make sure they are safe. Because unconscious people don’t want tea. Trust me on this.”

Consent should be straightforward. Sex without consent is rape, but in this country we actually have no statutory definition for consent. The courts have had to create their own definitions.

New legislation to prevent people being “taken advantage of” has been sought since the 1980s.

It’s long-overdue. An EU study last summer found that 21pc of Irish respondents thought having sex without consent is acceptable in certain situations.

Meanwhile, 11pc of Irish people think being drunk or on drugs justifies sex without consent, the poll found. Some felt that walking home alone, wearing certain clothing or going home with someone made non-consensual sex acceptable. That’s classic victim blaming.

There are many questions. How drunk is too drunk to consent to sex? Is it rape if both people are drunk? How can you tell if someone is too drunk for sex? If you have sex when drunk, is that rape?

Horrific

A university in San Diego made headlines after a student was suspended for having “non-consensual sex” with another student when both were drunk.

The suspended male successfully sued the college for not giving him a fair trial.

Asking For It, the book by Louise O’Neill, deals with the issue of consent, a horrific assault and the treatment of the victim by her community in the aftermath. The central character, the victim, is unlikeable. The point is, it’s about consent and not about the likeability of a person.

Consent. It’s really quite simple and should be patently obvious to any decent person.

Blogger Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess writes: “Whoever you are initiating sexy times with, just make sure they are actually genuinely up for it. That’s it. It’s not hard. Really.”

Herald

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News