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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Plan to teach sexual consent in school

90 replies

darleneconnor · 26/11/2010 09:27


They are about to discuss on TWS (sans Mr Wright).

OP posts:
RamblingRosa · 26/11/2010 09:36

Good. I think this an essential part of preventing violence against women and girls. Both boys and girls need to be taught about consent and to understand that "no means no" and that someone being too drunk to say "no" doesn't mean they have consented etc.

I don't think we can assume that all parents teach their children about this stuff and it's too important to just hope that they'll learn it by magic!

sethstarkaddersmum · 26/11/2010 11:39

am furious about the way the Daily Mail described this in a headline: 'Girls taught to say No: Sexual consent lessons will help stop rape in later life, Minister tells schools'.

as if it is all the fault of the girls.... Angry

Beachcomber · 26/11/2010 11:59

I do think consent needs to be examined as an essential part of sex education. I would hope it would be explored in a 'respecting boundaries' sort of way.

Too much emphasis on the word 'no' would piss me off though.

As had been said before on MN, the idea that women are in a perpetual state of consent unless they have voiced a 'no' is dangerous and misogynistic.

We need an entire culture shift towards, 'only have sex with someone if they have enthusiastically communicated "yes", and not becuase they didn't say no/you didn't hear them say no/ they couldn't say no because they were asleep or had their face shoved in a pillow'.

We don't just need this in schools - we need it on 20ft billboards across the country.

Beachcomber · 26/11/2010 12:04

Agree the DM headline is Shock.

How about 'girls and boys taught about boundary respect and to dispel rape myths, will help stop rape in later life'.

scallopsrgreat · 26/11/2010 12:24

I'm just worried (and seemingly with some reason judging by the DM headline) that this is going to still put the onus on the woman to say No and not the man to gain that consent.

sethstarkaddersmum · 26/11/2010 12:50

one of the most shocking stories on the recent rape thread was a case where the rapist got off because he didn't speak English very well and claimed he didn't understand what 'no' meant. As if it is ok to have sex with someone when you don't speak their language well enough to know whether they are consenting or not Angry.
The woman saying no loud and clearly wouldn't have helped her in that situation....

TheFallenMadonna · 26/11/2010 12:52

It will be another way of putting the onus on the girl to control the unmanagable but entirely natural urges of the boy

TheCrackFox · 26/11/2010 12:55

I agree with everything Beachcomber has said. We should be concentrating our efforts of boys (I am a mother of 2 boys). Women have been conned into thinking that if we modify our behaviour (dressing modestly, not going out after dark, not getting drunk, blah, blah, blah) we will not be raped. Bollocks. Men need to learn what rape is and what consent actually involves.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyLoveSlave · 26/11/2010 12:56

I do think it's important to get across the "No means No" message in other areas of parenting, too. I am conscious (uncomfortably conscious in some ways as he's only 5 and I don't like thinking about That Sort Of Stuff) that I phrase messages to DS like "No, you may not snatch that toy off your sister. She said No, and No means No" or "Stop tickling her now. She has asked you to stop and you need to respect that and not carry on anyway". Although I may be overthinking this.

StuffingGoldBrass · 26/11/2010 12:59

I think it's vital to get across the message that sex is supposed to be ENJOYABLE for all concerned, and rather than going, oh well you didn;t say No, people should consider that their sexual partner ought to be participating enthusiastically with what's going on. (Unless you have pre-negotiated some sort of sexy game where one partner is wholly passive throughout). So if someone's just lying there and not saying anything, the very, very least you do is STOP and talk to the person, ask them if something's wrong.

sethstarkaddersmum · 26/11/2010 13:02
Sprogger · 26/11/2010 13:05

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyLoveSlave · 26/11/2010 13:06

Oh yes, that's another one "Well, does she LOOK as though she's enjoying it? Hmmm?"

Beachcomber · 26/11/2010 13:11

Children and adults do need to understand that no means no. However they also need to understand that absence of 'no' does not equal 'yes'.

In the area of sexual consent, we need to understand the dynamics of coercion, societal pressure, fear of saying no, not feeling one has the right to express no, etc.

The idea that women saying 'no' will stop rapes is ridiculous and frankly, dangerous.

It is just victim blaming before the person has even become a victim. Hey, a whole new sort of blaming to do to women! Patriarchy - 1, women's rights - 0 or is that actually minus 10,000?

I just hope this will be done right and not presented as stupidly as it is being by the DM in the media in general.

I can see this spinning off into a stupid controversy over whether children are too young/will be shocked and corrupted, instead of a sensible thing that has to be done right so as not to do more harm than good.

There must be no inkling of females as gatekeepers.

Beachcomber · 26/11/2010 13:16

Also agree with SGB - youngsters need to be taught that sex is nice. If both of you aren't having a good time, there is a big problem that cannot be ignored.

(plenty adults need to learn this too)

I think youngsters also need to have the dynamics and unrepresentativeness of healthy sexual relationships in porn explained to them.

Sakura · 26/11/2010 13:21

that's shocking about that man pretending he didn't rape someone because of the language barrier.
Agree with SGB. And by that court's logic, it was perfectly normal for him to not notice she wasn't enjoying it.
What sort of absolute WEIRDO would have sex with a woman who wasn't enjoying herself. IN fact, courts should be taught that men who don't realise that women are supposed to enjoy themselves during sex are so weird they should not be trusted anyway...

Beachcomber · 26/11/2010 13:36

I like that idea Sakura;

"And the verdict is that the defendant is an utter weirdo and social menace for wanting to have sex with a partner who was not enjoying themselves. Either that, or a weirdo for not noticing said partner's lack of enjoyment"

That would bring convictions up no end!

(Disclaimer, I'm not suggesting it is a crime to be a clumsy lover, as long as your partner is ok with that)

Bue · 26/11/2010 16:37

I don't like the whole concept of 'no means no' and frankly can't believe we're still at that stage. When I started university over a decade ago that concept was already outdated. When we had presentations on healthy sex and relationships in our residence, it was drilled into us that you need to hear "yes".

This fixation on the word no implies that a man can do anything until a woman stops him!

Snorbs · 26/11/2010 17:59

There's a very good article in the Sydney Morning Herald here that discusses exactly this topic and that supports the approach that SGB suggests. It seems to make sense to me, too.

sethstarkaddersmum · 26/11/2010 18:39

excellent article Snorbs.
'If the desired outcome is mutually enjoyable sex (however the participants define that), then only enthusiastic participation throughout will do. I am not suggesting anything other than that is rape, but not-rape should not be the ethical standard we set ourselves or teach to young people.'

I think it was Elephants who said in another thread there should be an offence of 'shagging without due care and attention'....

StuffingGoldBrass · 26/11/2010 21:24

I'm reposting here what appears to be a condensed version of another brilliant article on the subject (can't find the entire article online) by Thomas Macauley Millar -
I think the key to changing the rape culture is to change the view of sexuality from a commodity model to a performance model.

What I mean by a commodity model is the view that sex is something women have and men get; what Amanda Marcotte refers to as the "pussy oversoul" that women are guardians of and that men make applications for access to. Sex is like a ticket; women have them and men try to get them. Women may give them away or may trade them for something valuable, but it's a transaction in a good.

The commodity model is shared in common by both the libertines and the prudes of a patriarchy. To the libertine, guys want to maximize their take of tickets. The prudes want women to keep the tickets to buy something really important: the spouse; provider, protector, etc.

That whole model is wrong. Under that model, consent is not an affiramtive partnership. Instead, if someone tries to take a ticket and the owner doesn't object, then the ticket is free for the taking. Under this way of thinking, consent is the absence of "no." It is therefore economically rational to someone with this commodity concept of sex that it can be taken; rape is a property crime in that view. In the past, the crime was against the male owner of women (let's not sugar-coat it; until very recently women were in a legal way very much male property and still are in many places and ways). Even among more enlightened folks, if one takes a commodity view of sex, rape is still basically a property crime against the victim.

The better model is the performance model, where sex is a performance, and partnered sex is a collaboration between the partners; like dance or music.

Under a performance model, consent is not the absence of "no." Consent is affirmative participation. Who picks up a guitar and jams with a bassist who just stands there? Who dances with a partner who is just standing there and staring? In the absence of affirmative participation, there is no collaboration; forcing participation by coersion is not a property crime, but a crime of violence like kidnapping.

Under this model, looking for affirmative participation is built into the conception. If our boys learn this from their pre-adolescence, then the idea that consent is affirmative rather than the absence of objection will be ingrained.

The performance model has the added feature that it eliminates slut-baiting. A commodity is finite; if women give or trade away their tickets, they have lost something of value, and the relevant question is what they got in exchange. If sex is a performance, then the question is how well it worked out. There's no finite commodity to run out of, and nobody gets called a slut for jamming with too many musicians.'

TheCrackFox · 26/11/2010 21:33

That post is truly excellent SGB.


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StuffingGoldBrass · 26/11/2010 21:36

Thomas Macauley Millar rocks! I have the full article in a book and it's one of those that, when I first read it, was just 'Wow, that's exactly right!'

HerBeatitude · 26/11/2010 23:17

God I just can't believe they're still pushing this "No means No" message.

Who the fuck are they talking to, when they decide what will be taught in schools? I hope this is just bad reporting and not actually what girls and boys are going to be taught - that the onus is on girls to say no, something they have been conditioned NOT to do from birth, at a moment when they are feeling vulnerable, unsure and unsafe. It's all about men's sexuality being active and women's being passive isn't it, and it really does rest on the assumption that women don't really like sex and use it to bargain with. Who the hell are they going to be consulting about this? Rape Crisis, or Stephen Fry?

StuffingGoldBrass · 26/11/2010 23:43

No means NO is very true and all that, but what should be emphasised is that what you want from a sexual partner is an enthusiastic YES!
IN fact, the first thing any teens or pre-teens should be taught about sex is that it's pleasurable, so if what you're doing is either not enjoyable for you or is not producing obvious indications of enjoyment from the person you are doing it with, then there is something wrong that needs to be addressed immediately.
Occasions when someone is willingly having sex that they are not enjoying that much are pretty rare (all I can think of is TTC sex when you have been TTC for a while and therefore sometimes have sex according to a fertility-boosting schedule whether or not you feel randy).

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