To Men Who Continue to Trivialize Women's Right to Consent

Gillian Sisley

If you walked one day in our shoes, you wouldn’t say half the things you write to us online.
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Did you know that 1/5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime?

With numbers like that, we need to be paying attention to the harmful attitudes and culture in our society related to consent and assault.

In 2013, I was one of those statistics. I was assaulted by my then-boyfriend, despite saying 'no' because I was waiting for marriage. I've received a lot of responses to sharing my story, but the one that bothers me most is the following:

“I can’t understand why someone would save themselves for marriage — to each their own, but that just seems silly.”

A comment like this is far more than just slightly unsettling... It’s plain disturbing.

It’s disturbing in that it subtly insinuates that the right to choose and the right to consent to what one does with or has done to their own body, is just plain silliness.

This is why we need to have a more broad discussion about consent. It doesn’t just exist in the act of itself -- it also exists in the everyday choices and decisions people make about their own bodies every single day.

Some people seem to have missed the memo that consent is about anyone, literally any single person, making whatever choice they want for their own body, and that choice needing to be completely, indisputably respect.

There is nothing silly about consent being disregarded.

At the time of my assault, I voiced my consent, and it wasn’t respected. I said “no”, and that man still assaulted me despite my objections.

It wasn’t a misunderstanding. It was sexual assualt. And since then I’ve had to live with the consequences of his actions.

Those consequences can be defined but my most significant diagnosis -- post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. And I'm not alone in this: statistics show that 20% of people who suffer a traumatic event, like sexual assault, will develop PTSD symptoms.

There’s nothing silly about the fact that I said no, and my aggressor didn’t listen to me, but instead felt entitled enough to do what he wanted with me.

To say that anyone’s choice for their own body is silly is just an absolute insult to another person’s dignity as a human being.

This isn’t just something that we need to shake our heads at and then move on with our lives... This is a real discussion we have to have with more men about the importance of consent and respecting other individuals' right to choose what they want for their bodies and to stop treating consent like it’s this flippant thing that doesn’t really matter.

There’s nothing silly about the false superiority of entitled men.

It is absolutely terrifying to see what entitled behaviour and superiority in its purest form can do to the world.

This sort of superiority is like a disease. It works in such a way that belittles and invalidates the humanity of other people.

It acts as an excuse to validate bullying and destructive behaviour for one person’s skewed agenda.

There is nothing about this discussion that falls anywhere near being silly.

This is a very real and important conversation to have. And we need to stop belittling it for the sake of discomfort of readers or lack of interest in challenging oneself to come face-to-face with your own privilege, superiority and entitlement.

Final word.

All of this is to say, that one little remark or idea can really shed a bigger spotlight on a greater issue that we are facing that needs to be addressed.

Too many women are victim-shamed for being attacked and being raped and sexually assaulted without their consent.

At the end of the day, the consent of an individual has nothing to do with anyone else but said individual who has used their rights to consent or not consent.

And if you really, truly, believe that the topic and issue of consent is something that is silly, then you really need to challenge yourself to check your values, and decide whether or not you would care if one of the women in your life was assaulted or her consent completely disrespected.

Because I can already guarantee that you know far too many women in your personal life who have already had their consent belittled and disrespected by frivolous and irresponsible men who make comments and have beliefs very similar to the one that you just showed to me.

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