Only “Yes” is Consent

Last night, I went to dinner and a concert with a few women for a Girls Night Out. One of the women I knew (we’ll call her Chanel); the other two I met yesterday evening (let’s call them Sarah and Alexis).  During dinner, we talked about politics, pop culture, and the ladies shared stories of their children. Oh, based on the age of the children, these women are old enough to be my mother; that’s important for later. 

Of course, the topic of Nate Parker and “The Birth of a Nation” came up. I must admit that I have mixed feelings about going to see this film, for a number of reasons.  When discussing the rape of his classmate, a young woman he previously dated, Nate Parker had a very cavalier, “devil-may-care” attitude regarding the situation, even after he found out that she had committed suicide.  During our conversation, I of course shared that I read the court documents and that while Nate was found not guilty, it didn’t mean he was innocent (George Zimmerman, anyone?) In any event, Sarah started victim blaming, stating that if she didn’t want anything to happen (sex), then she should not have gone in the bedroom with him.  She also stated that since they had had sex before, why is it ok for her to say “no” later. I must have made a face because she tried to (halfway) clean it up by saying, well we don’t know what happened since we weren’t there.  I said true, but for Nate and Jean (his friend and teammate who WAS found guilty of rape) to have students that were part of the Black Student Union to harass this girl after filing a complaint against them is very telling. 

I then mentioned that we need to do a better job of teaching our boys about consent; we do a good job with our girls, but we don’t do the same with our young men.  Of course the women nodded their head, but at the same time talked about how girls shouldn’t put themselves in compromising positions. For example, if you go to hang out with a boy, why go to his room and not hang out in the lobby? Another thing I mentioned was that the young lady was drunk.  Again, I got “why was she in the bedroom with him?” So, to not get into an argument with this woman, because I was starting to get mad, I closed my mouth, which I don’t know if that was a wise move.  Actually, it was because I was going to lose it on Sarah in that restaurant. The other ladies started talking about how their mothers would have questioned THEM if they had been in a similar experience. I’m thinking “great, here we go with victim blaming.”  And that also made me think maybe this is a generational thing and I’m the odd woman out. 

But if you agree with Sarah, then you believe that I should have been assaulted.  Not to get too personal or too graphic, but in my early 20s, I had made a decision to have sex. I went to the guy’s house. Just as we were about to get started, I said “I can’t do it.” The guy was SUPER understanding and didn’t pressure me or make me feel bad and we were able to remain friends.

If you agree with Sarah, then you think it’s ok for a husband to rape his wife because they’ve had sex before. Just so we’re clear, the only way to consent is to say “Yes”.  If someone is intoxicated, can’t stand on their own, can’t focus, you may want to give them some water and have them sleep it off. 

The conversation last night really bothered me; that’s why I’m up at 7:30 am writing about it. 

If you want to know more about consent and sexual assault, I encourage you to visit your local domestic violence center. Until next time, I’m just a Southern Girl…in the city.

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