It is important that even children understand this because rape culture doesn't just bloom when you become college age.Picture this: Generic holiday movie. Old family member, bending a wrinkled cheek down to an elementary school age child. Well-meaning parents pushing them forward with, “Give great so-and-so a hug!” Usually played for laughs because this is harmless, right? Here's the thing though: Life isn't a movie and forcing your kids to give people affection actually does real harm. To keep it simple, forcing your kids to kiss and hug relatives or friends makes it harder for them to understand and practice consent. It normalizes ideas that no doesn't mean no and silences their abilities to stand up for themselves in uncomfortable situations. On the longer timeline, it reinforces the tenants of rape culture. What you learn as a child continues to influence you as an adult. We don't age out of the teachings of our youth, we just continue to live by them unless we are able to do the work to unlearn them. When you tell children that they must consent to giving affection, even if they don't want to in order to avoid being seen as rude, you are telling them that their bodily autonomy is less important than upsetting someone else. People, especially those socialized as and assumed to be girls and women, have it constantly drilled into their minds that they should put the comfort of others above their own and, in many cases, above their safety as well. This isn't a concept that develops mysteriously, it is one that starts very early. This socialization teaches us that we should push our feelings and desires away, that they come second in any situation where someone else has more social authority.
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Violence is so normalized that we often don't even recognize sexual abuses in the moment.[TW/CW: discussion of sexual violence.] I recently realized that sex is unhealthy for me. Not sex in theory. No, of course not. Sex is healthy for our bodies and even our hearts and minds.When I say that sex is unhealthy for me, I mean the kind of sex that I have experienced — an experience that I share with many women, femmes, and bottoms. The sex where my needs are neglected and my boundaries are ignored in favor of whatever desires my partner may have. Not everyone experiences sex and the things surrounding it in the same way, for various reasons. Some of those reasons might include gender cultivation, (a)sexuality, choice of sexual expression, knowledge of self/knowledge one's own (a)sexuality, or relationship with one's own body. Some of those reasons might include how certain body types are deemed "normal" and acceptable while others are only ever fetishized or demonized. Some of those reasons might include the fact certain folks are told that they should be grateful that anyone would even be willing to look at them, let alone touch or love them, while others are expected to always be available for sexual contact. Some of those reasons might include the fact that some people are afforded certain permissions to make decisions about their sex and love life without being eternally scrutinized, while others are nearly always assumed to be sexually irresponsible. Some of those reasons might include past or current trauma and abuse. And a host of other reasons not mentioned here, or reasons that you or I have never even considered because they're not a factor in our personal story. I'm not straight. I'm just an asexual with a libido—infrequent as it may be—and a preference for masculine aesthetic and certain genitalia. Most of the sex that I have had is what we would consider to be “straight” sex, and I am fairly certain that I would enjoy the act more and have a healthier relationship with it if more sexual partners were willing to make the experience comfortable and safe for me. Instead, men seem to want to make sex as uncomfortable and painful as possible for their partners, whether consciously or unconsciously, regardless of whether or not that is what we want. Many men seem to judge their sexual partners abilities the same way that they gauge how much we love them and how deep our loyalty goes — by how much pain we can endure. I say this based on my personal experience, as well as the experiences of many of the people around me who have been gracious and trusting enough to share with me their testimony. Many of us have been conditioned to measure ourselves in the same way, using our ability to endure pain as a barometer for our worth.
Removing the condom changes the context in which you consented to sexual intercourse. If that context changes, it is imperative that consent is reaffirmed.
By Roslyn TalusanContent Warning/Trigger Warning: This article outlines details of my own sexual assault and may be disturbing to some readers. Last month, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law published a study on “stealthing.” This is when one’s sexual partner removes the condom without their knowledge, and continues the sexual encounter without re-confirming consent. The study discusses perspectives from victims of “stealthing.” Alexandra Brodsky, the author of the study, identified two common issues across the victims’ stories – the risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, and that having the condom removed was clearly a violation of their autonomy. Despite that they clearly did not consent to penetration without a condom, the survivors were reluctant and hesitant to outright call this rape, instead labelling it “rape-adjacent.” A couple of years ago, I was raped by an acquaintance who wasn't wearing a condom. When we moved to the back of his car to have sex, I asked if he had a condom – he didn’t seem to want to wear one, so I told him that I wasn’t comfortable having sex without it. I’ve always been conscious of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, so I was not okay with having unprotected sex with someone I had only known for a few weeks. He found a condom, put it on, and we fucked. Halfway through, he took the condom off because he had lost his erection. He asked me if I would go down on him, and he didn’t understand why I asked him to get another condom. He didn’t have another one. I explained STIs and unwanted pregnancy again. “Well you can’t just tease me like that,” he said, “just a little kiss.” He picked me up, put me on my back, and got on top of me.
Everybody is responsible when it comes to deconstructing rape culture. Another day, another Twitter post illustrating how we don't teach boys how to take no for an answer. Another day, another example of how we reinforce toxic masculinity and rape culture
Kenya's aggressive anti-rape campaign should serve as a model to the world. The country focuses on teaching both boys and girls how to prevent violence against women. It all started with teaching Kenyan women and girls self-defense in the No Means No program. When