Sexual assault is a complex issue- but consent really isn't. It comes down to reading your partner's body language, responding to their verbal cues, paying attention to how they're feeling, asking them for their permission, and respecting their words.
Even in the smallest of ways.
When we envision sexual assault, I tend to envision a woman being pinned down in a back alley attacked by a masked man. But most of the time, that's not the case. 7 out of 10 acts of sexual violence are committed by someone you know, and more often than not, it doesn't happen in back alleys- it happens in the bedrooms at parties, on sidewalks outside our apartments, in movie theaters when you don't quite know what to say.
Even if your date isn't kicking and screaming, listen- because they still might be saying no. Consent is informed, enthusiastic, specific, and freely given. Listen to your partner. When in doubt, I'll give you some hints as to how to respect us and our bodies. Even if you think you don't need them, you might.
1. "I'm tired" means no.
2. "I have a boyfriend" means no.
3. "Maybe later" means no.
4. "Not right now" means no.
5. "I have to study" means no.
6. "We shouldn't do this" means no.
7. "I don't know how I feel about this" means no.
8. "I like you, but..." means no.
9. "Let's just go to sleep" means no.
10. "Don't touch me" means no.
11. "Please stop" means no.
12. "Stop doing that" means no.
13. "I'm not interested" means no.
14. "Get off me" means no.
15. "I'm busy" means no.
16. "I'm not sure" means no.
17. "We've been drinking" means no.
18. "You're not my type" means no.
20. "I changed my mind" means no.
21. "I'm not in the mood" means no.
22. "I don't know you" means no.
23. "I don't feel like it right now" means no.
24. Even if I say these things laughing, it means no.
24. Pulling away means no.
26. Shoving you off means no.
27. Still, unresponsiveness means no.
28. Silence means no.
In every way, in every language, no means no.
Rape is not respecting NO.
Next time you're in the heat of the moment, remember to check for signs of consent. When in doubt, silence means no.
Make sure to ask your partner how they feel. Not only is it respectful- it's sexy.