It was appalling to over the past few days to witness the absolute shit show that has been the ultimate outcome of the Brock Turner trial. To me, it is appalling how a white jock, the male judge and the privileged family and friends were able to turn his deplorable action of being caught in the act of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in his own victimhood and chastise the media, society’s “political correctness,” and defend the rape culture that allows for these kinds of actions to even occur in the first place.
The entire situation had me so very angry I had no idea where to begin and who to chastise for their self-absorbed, uncompassionate, willful ignorance in trying to defend Brock Turner.
Therefore, I felt it best to write a note to my padawan so when they reach the age where sexual encounters may occur they have some sage advice in which to draw from so they don’t end up like a callous raping liar of a person as Brock Turner has become.
Very little which will occur from here on out in your life is going to be completely within your control. There will be all kinds of forces and factors involved that will influence what happens to you.
However, you do have complete control over one thing: What you yourself do in any given circumstance. You are responsible for your own actions at all times. Period. You will chose to, or not to, engage in any particular action or activity. You might feel pressure to act in a certain way. You might feel obligated to act in a certain way. You may feel you’ve lost control of your decision making for any other reason and end up acting in a certain ay. But, ultimately, none of these external forces control you and your actions. You do.
This means you’re equally as responsible for the things that “go correctly” and you are for the decisions that lead things awry and “go badly.” That’s the nature of the human condition.
While you are weighing decisions on how to act you should keep in mind that although your actions are dictated by you and you alone they don’t just affect you and you alone. They affect and impact everyone and have consequences that not only affect what goes correctly or awry for you but for those around you as well. Just like everyone else’s actions affect you your’s affect them. You can’t always do exactly what you want to, when you want to, how you want to because that’s what you want or would make you happy. You have to be respectful of others and their place in the world as well.
You must never blame someone else for the outcomes of your actions. Real human beings with self-respect and dignity take responsibility for the consequences of their actions even when those results might not be the most pleasing. If you are caught traveling 70 miles and hour in a 55 mph zone it is you who was in the wrong. It is not the officer on patrol’s fault you decided to go above the posted speed limit even if there is local pressure on the patrol man to meet financial quotas for a corrupt town hall. You still broke the law. It is not the rest of traffic’s fault for the speed they have chosen to travel at. While you might feel drawn to go faster to keep up with the rest of the travelers it is your decision alone to depress the gas peddle further in your car and while the decision to do that might feel influenced by the other speeders and the perceived social pressure to go fast this isn’t about them speeding it is about your action in choosing to speed. You could just as easily decided to be influenced by the “sunday driver” who was in the far right lane cruising along at the speed limit too. It isn’t the fault of whatever might have made you late in getting on the road that you decided to speed in that moment. Although you consider that a contributing factor to your decision to speed you could just as easily decided to go the speed limit and deal with the arrival time some other way or planned further ahead and create contingencies that foresee a variety of common reasons you might end up being late. Heck, even if the speedometer of your vehicle was wrong, it was your decision not to have the calibration checked in order to ensure your vehicle was safe in the first place.
While sexual encounters do involve two people (or typically two, lets not get into it now) each person is responsible for their own actions within the experience. You and you alone are responsible for what you do during the encounter. The other person is responsible for what they do. While you may feel like their actions are contributing to your decision making and influencing the outcome you still make the final choice about what you do or do not do.
For a long time there was not really much thought given to consent from a social standpoint in sexual encounters. There was a lot of old school misogynistic beliefs that held whatever the “man” wanted to do was done in a sexual encounter and thus there was no real understanding of mutual consent. In a very unenlightened point of view if the man consented then the encounter was ok.
I’m going to over simplify the “history” here ver time society realized this wasn’t quite right. Since it does involve two people there should be at least some voice for both parties involved. That gave rise to the “no means no” movement. While it didn’t really cover an affirmative it at least met a minimum standard of one party being able to explicitly say “no.” IF there was an explicit no then consent was revoked. But without an explicit no then consent was implied.
It’s really a terribly way of doing things. First, because in some cases the “no” couldn’t be given. If, for example one was intoxicated. Regardless of how they might have become intoxicated (drugged, pressured or voluntarily) it’s impossible to revoke consent if you’re passed out. Even in an inebriated state of conscious it’s unlikely one could revoke consent since one’s faculties are compromised. Since no no can be given then the misognyst belief is that it’s an implicit yes. Secondly, it assumes that the no must occur “up front” and what would typically happen is that as heavy petting was leading into more evocative sexual encouters one partner, usually the woman in the cases we’re discussing, would want to stop. This explicit no is often brushed aside by the misognyst who would say they were lead on, that they were the victim of a “slut” “teasing” them and that the sex was consensual because the no came too late.
There are are still misognysists today that use aspects such as a woman’s clothing to create implied consent. It’s why some religious groups ban certain clothing (or perscribe) certain clothing to so-called help keep men’s urges in check. This is, of course, complete bullshit because regardless of the woman’s clothing the man is still 100% responsible for his actions. There’s nothing forcing him to act on those urges other than his own fallibility as a decent human being.
Women aren’t a conquest. Sexual assault and rape doesn’t make you a man. It makes you a weak, pitiful being with no self-control and no conscious. It reflects poorly on your intellect, and your cognitive reasoning, and your morality. There’s simply no excuse for allowing yourself to act in a way that results in sexual assault or rape. None. Ever. Under Any Circumstances.
The reality is, this isn’t just a “no means no” world but that really only “yes means yes.” You should not make physical advances on anyone without their explicit consent. The days of a love-at-first-sight romantic kiss don’t exist any more. They never really did other than in a few, select circumstances mostly in fiction. If you ask and you get a yes, or if the other person volunteers a yes, or if otherwise the yes, this is ok to do, is made explicitly known, than by all means go right ahead. If they say no, then stop. End of story.
And the same goes vice versa every time. You should provide an affirmative consent to a person who might make advances on you if you want toe explore that physicality. Otherwise, you should feel equally ok with saying no and having the expectation that your no means no, just like only your yes actually means yes.
And, to take this further, with each next step you take physically you should have a clear understanding between yourself and the other person you are with as to what their intention are. I’m not necessarily advocating stopping at each point, nor am I suggesting you need to have a sexual agenda meeting before you start to define how far you’ll go. But you need to find some middle ground between proceeding without explicit consent and waiting till after you’ve done something to hear a “no.” If you do it and they didn’t want to it’s already too late. And, vice versa, if they do it to you and you don’t want it at that point it’s already too late too. You cannot take back what’s already done.
Regardless though of if or when consent does come the no still means no. It’s just there’s a lot less “nos” necessary if yes means yes. An explicit yes mans a lot less opportunities for misunderstandings and hurt feelings and a sense of feeling like one may have been violated.
I bring up yes means yes not only to protect you and your partner from what might go wrong but also because in order to really get to an honest yes in the first place you are communicating well. Communication is key here. If you’re waiting till you’re in the heat of passion to have to hear or give a no you’re probably already too late. You haven’t discussed between you what’s expected, what’s acceptable, etc. and with any relationship be it sexual, or romantic, or friendly or between you and your boss expectation setting is the key. If you want any of your sexual relationships to have real meaning, to represent you as a mature and thoughtful and empathetic individual you will engage in open and honest communication before the heat of the moment overtakes either of you.
By being forthright and setting those expectations early and often throughout your sexual companionships with whomever they are with you should avoid not only the pitfall of failed sexual partnership which are all too common but it will insulate you from doing something completely stupid like sexually assaulting someone and then saying something asinine you didn’t realize they didn’t want to do it as your defense. Lean to speak up about what you want and LISTEN to what the other person has to say about what they want. If you aren’t on the same page then you shouldn’t be doing anything together in the first place. Get on the same page and then perhaps get in bed. It’s impossible to do it the other way around.
Hopefully, by the time you get to read something like this we will have instilled in you a sense of personal boundaries, an ability to take responsibility for your actions and provided you with ample opportunity to become a good communicator so that this seems more like common sense than a lecture on how to be a the bare minimum of a good human being. Because, seriously, this should be common sense and yet, it is not among entirely too many self-absorbed peons that I have to write a letter like this “to you” in order to make a point about how fucked our society is that victims are somehow responsible for the illegal actions of their assailants. l