We need to have a national consent conversation.
Some consider themselves, to be too “intelligent” to need to understand the concept of consent. Others are driven by growing development of “lad culture”, and the pressures this places upon men to act in relation to women. Are consent classes effective and necessary or are they just a waste of time?
Students at York University recently felt “patronised” in their consent classes. Although, not as extreme as the case in Cambridge, where nobody turned up to the consent lectures, over a quarter of students walked out of the class in protest. Ben Froughi, a 3rd Year student waited outside, handing out leaflets encouraging a boycott of the event. “Consent talks are patronising. If students really need lessons in how to say yes or no then they should not be at university,” he claimed. Consent talks only propagate tensions around the backwards message that all women are potential victims and all men potential rapists.”
Conversely, York Women’s officer Mia Chaudhuri-Julyan, said such boycotts only inhibit student safety, reflecting the NUS view that universities across the UK are failing to tackle sexism and homophobic “lad culture”.
Societal convention surely cannot be reversed by an hour-long lecture on consent. No case illustrates this better than the student against consent classes George Lawler. George was upset by his invitation to a consent class and expressed on social media that as a Russell Group student he has the “intelligence” needed to not have to attend the classes.
But rapists can be nice, educated folk. They do not have to be overtly a monstrously masculine, and misogynistic “lad”. They are the kind who just do not understand that when a girl has had too much to drink, that she cannot consent. George critically fails to understand the insidious truth that four in five rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Rapists are normal individuals.
However, George Lawler is correct: consent classes are a pointless exercise. Those who attend, already understand consent. Those who don’t turn up, who see it as patronising or irrelevant are the issue.
There is a deeply ingrained societal conditioning that permits a culture that fundamentally misunderstands the issue of consent, and that is why consent classes are too little, too late.
A systemic issue requires a systemic change.
The views and opinions outlined in this piece belong entirely to the author, and are not reflective of the views of the wider Editorial team, nor Concrete as a whole.