10.21.15 | Haleigh Hutchison
But I thank you, anyway.
Confusion, anger, and dismay were just a few of the feelings I experienced when reading the first few paragraphs of Mr. Lawlor’s article last week. Not just as a feminist or even as an affirmative consent supporter, but as a member of my generation, the future of the world. If you’re not up-to-date, George Lawlor, a university student, posted his response to a consent class last week which sparked a big discussion online. While Mr. Lawlor’s argument may be supported, or even championed by some, I think those are missing the bigger picture at hand. It is not just about one student at a UK university who has the right to speak up and display his sentiments about a Facebook invite on the internet, rather it is the thought process behind the entire subject matter.
Affirmative consent has been a hot topic recently, from Affirmative Consent laws being passed in California and New York, including California Gov. Brown’s high school sex education bill, to the Title IX debates happening across the nation. Thanks to the AAU Campus Climate Survey, many universities have begun to question and look further into their laws and punishments regarding sexual assault, rape, and consent on campus. For me, this is a wonderful thing. I am a young woman attending college, and while I believe my campus to be safe, I still recognize the dangers and statistics I face. Despite all the hype and media, one MAJOR thing still needs to change: culture.
It is quite clear by George Lawlor’s remarks that our culture and ideas regarding consent are not where they need to be. What Mr. Lawlor is missing here is that EVERYONE needs consent, whether you look like a rapist, don’t look like a rapist, or are actually a rapist. Teaching consent is a touchy subject, but necessary to foster the changing paradigm of consent today. The conversation needs to include rape, consent, gender roles, sexuality and these ideas need to be discussed more freely on college campuses and in classrooms. We need a change in culture, where the traditional “learned” consent does not cut it when we have 1 in 4 college aged women sexually assaulted.
"I Consent to Consent" - Nicholas Lorini
Legislation and discussion on a national level of this subject is the catalyst for change and paradigm shift. So Mr. Lawlor, while I still do not agree with your opinion, I thank you. I thank you for continuing this conversation at an international and collegiate level. I thank you for sparking thousands of responses, posts, tweets, blogs and pictures on what it “looks” like to be a rapist. Thank you for giving men on college campuses something to stand up for, like my friends photographed here, who wanted to counter your negativity on consent. The affirmative consent conversation is not going away anytime soon and the spark has already been ignited. People around the world are ready for the culture to change, so let’s talk.
About the Author - Haleigh Hutchison is a politically active and engaged senior at the University of North Florida, and also works here at The Affirmative Consent Project: My passions range from civil rights to criminal justice reform and I found the culmination of all my interests in my latest venture. I recently came to work for The Affirmative Consent Project because of it's strong message and impact on society. In the chaotic world we live in today, I see great importance in being able to step back and look to something as simple as conversation as a facilitator of change in the consent paradigm.