Women’s safety, sexual assault, and “consent” are serious matters for our time, as discussed in last Tuesday’s DA.
A lengthy tearful conversation one freezing Goulburn Sunday afternoon in about 1970 deeply influenced my thoughts on this topic. I called at a flat to visit a young female friend, but instead was greeted at the door by her tearful flatmate.
“I just have to talk with someone,” she sobbed as she let me in. “You saw who I met at the party last night. Well, I went home with him.”
Now she feared that she might be pregnant. I was somewhat embarrassed, but tried to listen sympathetically. “Nice” girls in those days didn’t have sex on first dates, and usually not until they were married.
She wasn’t blaming him, but what started as kissing and cuddling led to her becoming undressed.
“Before I knew what was happening, I was having sex with this guy that I hardly know,” she cried.
Regret the next day is not the same as lack of consent.
She could have said, “No,” at any time and asked to be taken home. She chose to stay.
Humans communicate with more than words.
A good salesman understands body language - how we stand, our hand movements, our eye contact, signs of active listening.
When convinced, we nod and hand the salesman our money. There doesn’t have to be a “Yes” or “No”.
So it can be with relationships. The warmth that your body language signals to a person - even a wink or smile across the room - can say much more than words.
Your body language hints whether the evening can progress to the next step, or not, saying what mere conversation cannot convey. In a noisy setting, two people can message by acting, glancing, touching, or breathing in a certain way.
The other person could choose to look away, conveying a very clear negative message.
The “consent” debate causes me to wonder if we have recycled the Victorian age?
Has the wheel finally turned full circle? Is sex in a relationship now taboo? In 2018, if you get carried away by the moment, as did the young lady in the story above, can you plead lack of consent? Has “formal consent” put an end to spontaneous sexual relations?
Maybe formally requiring consent is a good thing. But how to prove consent if there is a complaint?
A signed contract? No, in this convenient world, there’s an App for that!
One example is uConsent that can be downloaded from the Apple Store! Type what you are requesting into the App.
Tell the other person what it is. Your partner types into their phone what they agree to. A bar code is generated. The two people then hold their phones together and the App captures the bar code.
How passionate would today’s couples feel after negotiating the agreement, then touching phones to read the agreement barcodes? The phones may have had intimate contact, but your chances would be gone.
What has happened to our society if a firm “No!” isn’t enough to signal that things have gone far enough?
I have a wife, sisters, daughters and grand-daughters. I want them to be protected from sexual assault, and feel safe.
But even in today’s permissive society, in the end it’s only common decency and respect that will guarantee a safe situation for all.