Yes means yes.
The popularity of Robin Thicke’s very controversial hit, ‘Blurred Lines’ provoked a lot of controversy and statements by many about the supposed ‘grey area’ and the ‘blurred lines’ of consent.
As a serious sexual assault and attempted rape survivor I believe that the ‘blurred lines’ narrative only excuses rapists of their behaviour and there is no excuse for sexual assault and rape. People do not misread signals; this is not an excuse. It is obvious when someone is being very passive and unresponsive to sexual activity or if they verbally or non- verbally express their lack of consent.
There is no such thing as blurred lines; someone either consents to sexual activity or they do not. If you are not sure if someone consents to something you should not engage in the sexual act with them as otherwise it is likely you will have committed sexual assault or rape.
The Oxford dictionary describes consent as “agreement to do something” which would mean that only yes means yes; silence is not consent. Also, if someone is very intoxicated or drugged then legally they cannot consent to sexual activity.
In light of the recent survey conducted by the Sex Education Forum that found that 1 in 3 of young people and children were not taught about consent at school, and the fact that 1 in 5 women from 16- 59 experience sexual violence, I feel that it is vital that young people are informed about consent. Therefore, I have created a consent checklist:
1. If someone is very drunk then their ability to consent is severely impaired and you should not take advantage of them and decide to have sexual activity with them just because they are much less likely to be able to say no to things, or you think they want it.
2. No one is entitled to sex or to anyone else’s body. Just because you walked someone home or they went to yours doesn’t mean that you should and can ever expect sex from them or even a kiss. They may have just wanted to have a chat.
3. It is not okay to have sex with someone when they are very drunk and just force yourself on them. No, it is not consensual just because they did not fight back. People often become very shocked in such situations and alcohol can affect someone’s ability to say no or fight back. Forced and non consensual oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex is all rape which is illegal and carries the maximum of a life sentence.
4. It is not okay to do things such as finger people without asking or coerce them and effectively force them into touching you. This is illegal and the former is assault by penetration and the latter is sexual assault.
5. If at any time when you are engaging in a sexual act with someone they say “stop” or “no”, or their body language physically says no, for example they push your hand away then you must stop immediately otherwise you will have committed assault or rape.
6. No means no. Do not take no to ever mean that they really wants it because it doesn’t. No means that they do not want to have sex with you or engage in whatever sexual act you want them to participate in.
7. Yes means yes. Just because someone does not reply to you when you try to ask them if it is okay for you to perform a sexual act on them or for them to participate in a sexual act does not mean that they have given their consent. In fact, in means that they have not given their consent and often have just not been assertive enough to say yes. Therefore, if you decide to go ahead with the sexual act anyway, you have committed assault or rape.
8. Just because someone has consented to participating in some sexual acts with you does not mean that they consent to all sexual acts and if you assume this and continue going further without their permission you are committing sexual assault.
9. Nothing ever gives you a right to force someone to participate in sexual acts. Just because someone has flirted with you does not give you the right to sex from them.
10. Your own drunkenness is not an excuse for you to engage or get away with any of the aforementioned behaviour. This sort of behaviour is just plain wrong as well as being illegal and having a lasting effect on survivors of sexual violence. If you want to be a good and moral person, always make sure you are 100% of the consent of the other person.
11. Just because you have previously had consensual sexual activity with a person does not mean that they consent to sexual activity on any other occasion and you should make sure that they are okay with sexual activity on each occasion and ask what they want to do to make sure you do not commit assault or rape.
12. Do not try to manipulate someone into having sex with you or make them feel guilty so that they have sex with you. This is coercion and is illegal.
13. Have you got a “Yes” from a sober person and was it not coerced? Then you can go ahead and continue unless they give verbal or non-verbal signs that they want you to stop.