Sexual consent classes are more important than your ego
I don’t care if you find them patronising, your opposition isn’t stopping students getting harassed and raped
As we head back for another year at uni, the inevitable argument around sexual consent classes resurfaces – this time focused around York where protesters stormed out of an optional class on consent, branding them ‘patronising’. In a flurry of articles following the incident the classes were called ‘infantilising’ and a ‘waste of time’. The point’s been made that anyone with a moral compass can tell wrong from right and therefore, basically, avoid being a rapist.
I can’t help but feel that as a lot of the detractors are men, they’re unavoidably speaking over an issue that will mostly affect women in their lifetime. Although consent classes do concern men, as all students are expected to go to them, a couple of hours from someone’s day spent in a consent class doesn’t compare to the impact sexual assault can have on someone’s life.
When individuals are continuously getting sexually assaulted on campus, the focus must not shift on the people that don’t want to attend consent classes because it insults their intelligence, it has to stay on the victims.
Frankly, I don’t care if you find them patronising, your opposition towards them isn’t stopping women getting harassed and raped.
Earlier on this year we ran a story about a student that was raped by her best friend at Warwick. Unfortunately, this story perfectly illustrated how the line of consent can be very blurred for some people and that, regardless of how intelligent people may believe they are, sexual assault isn’t always a simple yes or no situation.
More than that, it’s ridiculous to assume that every student at an international university has openly discussed sexual consent with their family or friends. Cultural and religious differences exist and they can stop these conversations from happening. Even though consent is a straightforward idea to grasp, isn’t it better to ensure that everyone is educated about it rather than assuming that everyone already is before they come to university?
In just a year horrifying figures show that in England and Wales alone, approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men were raped. Shockingly, only 15 per cent of those that experience sexual violence, report it to the police.
At British universities, the numbers are even more terrifying as reports show that one in three female students have either been sexually assaulted or abused on campus.
These statistics reveals that there is a clear need to educate people on consent, regardless of whether the audience may feel like it’s being talked down to. Consent classes may either directly deter someone from committing sexual assault or if everyone is better informed, we can call out this kind of behaviour when we see it and be able to report it to the police.
Consent classes show a sign of solidarity for people that have been victims of sexual assault and are a positive symbol of change. To dismiss them isn’t just stupid, it’s disrespectful to the people who have actually suffered.
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