At the University of Nebraska Lincoln, thousands of students gathered in protest after an alleged sexual assault occurred at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house. These protests included crowds of students with signs that were meant to send the message that sexual assault isn’t acceptable.
Sexual assault has always been a problem. The #MeToo movement was the first spark in the sexual assault conversation. Prior to this movement, the sexual assault conversation didn’t exist. This movement gave women and men the chance to share their stories and feel connected to those who have experienced the same thing.
Since the #MeToo movement, the fight in sexual assault awareness has been slow. There have been protests and social media posts, but real change hasn’t been significant.
Even now, sexual assault is too common for how progressive of a society we live in. Lack of education on this topic has lead to men and women end up in sexual situations that they are not prepared for and don’t know how to act in.
The problem is our lack of knowledge and education on sexual assault and sexual consent with the sexual education program. The topic of sexual consent needs to be addressed in the classroom to prepare kids for future real life situations.
Teaching topics such as sexual consent, sexual assault and birth control deromanticizes the idea of sex for younger children and provides them an idea of the realities of sex. Teaching these topics also helps young adults to understand that sexual consent isn’t just equivalent to “no means no”. Using these phrases to educate sends the wrong idea and doesn’t explain affirmative consent.
What we need to focus on is teaching about affirmative consent. The State University of New York defines affirmative consent as “a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” Just because someone doesn’t say no doesn’t mean they are giving consent.
Teaching affirmative consent is the direction that our country needs to go in. We’ve spoken out and let our voices be heard, but it’s time to educate so that we can continue to see positive growth and change.