Sexual violence and consent can be topics that are difficult to talk about, but they are important to understand, especially when we consider that 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, rates of sexual assault are five times higher for women under the age of 35 and rape culture is not only present but growing on campuses. These facts aren’t meant to scare you, but rather demonstrate how important it is today to understand how sexual violence persists, and how negative comments that are made in the public have a damaging and lasting effect on the people who are survivors of sexual violence. Therefore, we all must do our part to learn about the importance of consent, and make sure that those around us do as well, to limit the occurrence of sexual violence.
Understanding what consent is can be tricky, but this video below compares sexual consent to riding a bike and it can help break down the concept.
Basically, consent is an agreement between participants to engage in any kind of sexual activity. Consent is not static, and communication is crucial in determining whether both participants are consenting. Giving consent for one activity, at one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. This link provides more information about the basics of consent, if you’d like to read more.
October 17th to October 23rd is Consent and Sexual Awareness week at Western, with a number of events occurring throughout the week. These include guest lectures, discussions, and an opportunity to write positive messages for individuals who have been impacted by sexual violence. Check out the event page here and on Facebook for more details. Also, take a look at http://www.consented.ca/ for more information about consent, sexual violence, and myths that surround sexual violence. Make sure you have conversations about it with people you trust if you have any questions. Finally, if you or anyone you know has experienced sexual violence or needs someone to talk to at Western, follow this link for methods to getting help, seeking care, and information about reporting and counseling options. Stay safe, and remember, we’re here for you.
Panchami Bhat, Assistant Editor 2016-2017