Consent Taught Right: What we can do to stop assault- Labour Article
Sexual assault is a daily reality for a significant minority of our population. From the age of 16, 20% of women and 4% of men are sexually assaulted. 62% of university students say they have been sexually assaulted, with only 1 in 10 reporting this to the police. 52% of women face sexual harassment at work.
This terrifies me.
Without a doubt, sexual assault is too much of a norm in our societies; this obviously needs to change. A range of strategies are available, but the best way to help tackle this complex and serious issue is with prevention. Consent needs to be taught properly to everyone.
This education can take two paths.
First, in educational institutions. Consent must be taught in a way that is impactful and meaningful. During sixth form, when I could legally have sex, I never had any teaching on consent or sex ed. The Easter service was mandatory, though… While I am not against going to said Easter service, surely learning about consent should have featured more heavily in my education.
Universities can also do more than having posters up around campus. The risk of being sexually assaulted is greater at university. Many will have their first sexual encounters there: we need to be prepared. The university should include mandatory classes on consent (with exemptions for anyone triggered by this topic) as part of its experience. These can extend to the students running societies and events. Everyone should always remember the importance of consent.
However, schools are not the only answer. Through TV shows and film, we also learn about sex and consent. Whilst we may not listen to our teachers, or even our parents, it is easy to accept whatever media is playing on our screens. Unfortunately, and probably not surprising at this point, media depict consent horribly. Shows spanning all genres, from rom coms to spy thrillers minimise sexual assault in some way.
James Bond is the most obvious example of this – look at how Bond ‘seduces’ the widow in Spectre and ask yourself if it is normal or acceptable? This sort of behaviour also features in media that young people consume, such as a glossed over groping in the Netflix rom-com the Kissing Booth, or a flippant joke about potential sexual harassment in Amazon Prime show Alex Rider.
There are a million more examples like these. They are all contributing to the normalisation, and acceptance, of sexual assault in our world. Simple changes to all these shows- either by including healthy consent in sexual encounters or being critical of, and showing the consequences of, sexual assault – would reinforce the education learnt in school on this topic.
These changes won’t completely solve our societies’ problems of sexual assault. But they would teach new generations to have different views on consent, and could truly prevent future sexual assaults, or help current survivors to speak up and get the support they deserve. A society where survivors are listened to and believed, both in their personal lives and in the justice system, will be fostered by implementing these changes.
Finally, politicians will deal with sexual assault differently. This is not only because the new generation of elected officials would view consent differently but also because those who voted for them would hold them to account for their actions.
Until then, challenge the people around you if they minimise sexual assault. Go complain to Netflix or Amazon, or whoever, when sexual assault is downplayed in a show you like. And most importantly: don’t sexually assault people. It is unbelievably easy to avoid doing it. Try it out if you don’t believe me.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Freya Jhugroo
Point of Information
Education on consent cannot start and finish with sexual encounters – A Liberal Response
Freya has written an interesting piece here, many of her points have a lot of merit. However, I disagree with the idea that we put private companies (such as Netflix and Amazon) in the position of being moral compasses. TV companies are business aim is to make money and they do this by entertaining. A by-product of this is that the media we consume often creates cultural and moral conversations and normalcies in our society. This, to me, is the problem.
Young people being educated enough to know that what they see on TV is not an accurate depiction of ‘acceptable’ behaviour is necessary. We cannot police the arts into educating our society, that needs to happen at schools.
Freya’s observations around education should be shocking, but they are all too familiar. At school, and at university, there is little to no education on consent. If those conversations are only starting at university, we are fighting a losing battle. Consent needs to be a topic of discussion as early as children can verbally communicate.
Consent isn’t just about sex; it’s about knowing what you are comfortable with and knowing how to communicate that. We need to educate young people about how to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ and to not be ashamed of either answer. We also need to educate them on accepting another person’s boundaries without question or judgement. This is important in all areas of life, not just sexual.
Of course, the issue of sexual consent is more pressing due to the damage it can bring if misunderstood. But I think that if we bring up young people who are accepting of others and able to communicate their boundaries then this will be a step in the right direction.
Written by Liberal Chief Writer, Olivia Margaroli
Some Strong Suggestions — A Conservative Response
Overall, I enjoyed this article. Of course, consent is crucial to human interaction, and the two broad methods of solution address the issue in a salient way.
In terms of institutional education, I agree; the inclusion of consent classes within “sex-ed.”, could really help. However, I would also buttress Freya’s suggestions in one way: including education about alcohol use. The above statistics are stark, and I strongly believe that University is such an outlier, as there is a ritualised misuse of alcohol.
The effectiveness of education on consent is dampened when one is heavily intoxicated. Of course, I am not suggesting that individuals turn predatory due to alcohol — it is not a scapegoat in this sense. Rather, it exacerbates an already existing problem. It increases ambiguity by decreasing cognitive function, and with that, the chances that an assault will occur.
I like Freya’s idea of voting with your view. The lifeblood of the media is clicks & views. Should one come across something that is simply not on, do not give the broadcaster what they want. Hitting profits is very effective at making change. The government should not be the arbiter of this reform, but the public should be.
My only qualm with this article is that accusation is not automatic guilt. We should presume the accused innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law.
Whether you adore or revile characters like Trump, Biden, or Kavanaugh, to dismiss them due to ‘accusations’, not convictions — as Freya does at the top of the article — is deeply problematic. If we do away with the burden of proof, the alternative is that anyone can ruin any reputation at the drop of a hat.
In sum, most men are not problematic. However, this article illuminates important steps to make the minority that are, as small as possible.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Alexander Dennis
Hello, I’m Freya. I am going into my third year at Exeter, studying International Relations and Spanish. My main areas of interest are the environment, societal injustices and foreign affairs.
I am second year student reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. Next year I hope to study abroad in Washington DC, a dream for any political student.
Hello, I’m Alexander Dennis, and I am going into my third undergraduate year at the University of Exeter. I study Politics & International Relations, with a possible year abroad hanging in the balance. My particular interest in politics really started in early 2016: yes, it was ‘Brexit’. I was at once intrigued, and confused, by something so critical. From that baptism, I have become somewhat addicted to political discussion, intrigued by issues ranging from drugs policy to taxation. So I followed my nose: I applied for a degree in the subject.