What is consent? Is it always clear between two people? The New York Times recently wrote an article, “Accusers and the Accused, Crossing Paths at Columbia”. The article highlighted an incident where a young woman accused a male student of rape. Columbia cleared the young man of responsibility. The young woman, in an effort to make the university and other students see the pain she carried began carrying around her mattress with the words “carry that weight” taped on it. This sparked a large movement across multiple campuses. What’s interesting and necessary to discuss is that not surprisingly both students have very different views of what happened and both feel like the university let them down. She feels he should have minimally been removed from campus and he feels as if she has been allowed to create a movement where a large sect of the community has publically bullied him for something he has been cleared of. Read the entire article here.
This incident begs the question–how are we preparing young people to navigate these tricky situations. When you have “the talk” with you kids, does consent come up as part of it? Is consent part of the sex education curriculum in schools? Should it be? All too often when discussing these very complex situations, there’s a tendency, if discussed at all, to focus on the obvious and the stranger. But what is really needed is a discussion on how to handle situations that involve those people who are close, who we know, who we trust. While calculating the frequency is fraught with challenges, estimates indicate that 1 in 7 women will experience some sort of sexual assault before they graduate college. When choosing a college for yourself or your kids do you think about sexual safety or the university’s practices as it relates to this?
There have been groups like Ultra Violet pushing for including how a university handles sexual assault allegations as part of the college rankings that groups like the Princeton Review puts out. Read more here.
Also, these conversations have a tendency to be one-sided. When the truth is that they are very complex. It’s vital that we have the same conversations with our young men and our young women and are inclusive of our young people who are involved in same sex relationships as they have the same level of complexities when it comes to these issues.
Join us Saturday, January 3 from 1 to 3 pm at the Terra Café located on 101 E. 25th Street to continue the discussion.