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Consent Is Non-Negotiable

13 June 2016

Hello! Today I want to talk about something very different from my usual outfit posts, something that's been weighing heavily on my mind for the past week.

I'm sure by now most of you will have heard of Brock Turner or the Stanford rape case. I'd read quite a few articles about the case but had stopped myself from reading the open letter his victim wrote and then (very bravely) read to his face in court. I stopped myself because I knew it'd upset me and make me angry. The other day I eventually did read the letter and I was right, by about half way I was crying and felt sick to my stomach. If you'd like to read the letter (I'd really recommend it) and know a bit more about the case, this BuzzFeed article is the one I read.

What upset me the most is that this poor girl had to go to such lengths and endure such scrutiny of her personal life in order to get any amount of 'justice'. I use air quotes here because Brock Turner was sentenced to a measley 6 months in prison, an absolute insult to any woman who has ever been assaulted. 

Another contributing factor that lead to me sitting here writing this post was what I've seen on Rosemary Mac Cabe's twitter over the past week or so. Rosemary has done a fantastic job in voicing her opinion on rape and assault and also in dealing with the ignorant trolls that Twitter seems to be rife with. I've seen so many people trying to use the excuse that "not all men rape" and as Rosemary very brilliantly put it, "it might not be all men, but it's more than enough men".

I've grown up in a society where girls walk down the street past a group of boys, or even men, and brace themselves for the almost definite cat-calling that will ensue. Where what a girl was wearing at the time she got raped matters more than the actual rape itself or how much she had to drink when the assault occurred is used against her.

Before starting this post, I googled 'consent' and came across this fantastic definition: "Consent is comprised of words or actions that show a knowing, active and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed upon activity. Consent is never implied and cannot be assumed – the absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” Consent cannot be given if there is coercion (to pressure intimidate or force), violence or the threat of violence. Consent can be withdrawn at any time."

The most important phrases from that definition for me are "consent is never implied and cannot be assumed" and "consent can be withdrawn at any time." If you take one thing from this post, know that you have the right to say no at any time, no matter who you're with or what the situation is, if you don't want to do something, it is your right to say no.

As I've titled this post 'Consent Is Non-Negotiable', I also wanted to include this video that the Thames Valley Police released last year. It's called 'Tea and Consent' and perfectly depicts how easy the idea of consent is to grasp and why rape is never justifiable. Brock Turner may have thought that because his victim was unconscious and couldn't exactly say no, that his actions were excusable but this is far from the truth, like the video above says, "unconscious people don't want tea."

I know this post is a bit more heavy than my usual, but it's important all the same. I'd also recommend reading Asking For It by Louise O'Neill if you haven't already. I read it last year and it really opened my mind to how ludicrous our society is when it comes to this topic.









                                                   

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