Sometimes I get my feathers all ruffled because of things like this:
This showed up in my Facebook newsfeed and on a sexual assault survivor support forum I’m part of. My first reaction was one of disgust, then sadness. But I realized I wasn’t really surprised. These myths are still out there. More education is needed…everywhere, every day.
Still I wondered how current this information was so I looked into it a little more, checking out the web page listed on the bottom of the page. It turns out that www.fearus.org was quite informational. This survey was given in 1979. In the last few decades a lot has changed in the way people think about and view sexual assault, so if this same survey were given now, I do hold out hope that the results would be different. That said, the results shown in this little visual might not even represent the actual survey. So, as always, take what you see on the internet with a grain of salt. And go check out that site for more information – after you finish reading what I have to say, of course.
So, this image shows up, ruffles my feathers, and then what? Then I see a story about the ever-popular kiss cam used at sporting events to rev up the crowd. According to the NY Times, the kiss cam at a Syracuse University game focused on a male and a female who were obviously not a couple. He begged for a kiss. She clearly said no. And then she was forced against him by, “no less than six sets of hands.” The crowd cheered. I got a little bile in my throat.
I like the fun of the kiss cam. I think it’s neat to see consenting adults show a little love. I don’t think its fun to push someone into a sexual act they don’t want to be part of. Ever. Even for a laugh. Even if someone buys someone dinner. Ever.
Last weekend I went to my first roller derby bout. (This may seem unrelated to my current topic, but just wait.) It was impressive in all sorts of ways, but one thing that stuck with me was how they call off jams. A little back story – the jam is a two minute time in which the teams can score points. However, if the lead team (in that two minutes, not in the whole bout) wants to call off the jam before time is up, they can, and effectively keep the other team from scoring more. How do they do this? Like this:
There is only one player, of the ten on the track, in each jam that can take this step. And all she has to do is move her hands up and down from her hips. At that point a whistle is blown and all the hip checks and shoulder shoving stops. Just like that. They go from blocking each other and pushing around on skates to not doing any of that. They stop and head back to their benches.
I found it fascinating and started thinking how handy it would be it we had a symbol like this in sexual assault situations. Then I remembered…we do.
It doesn’t matter what proceeded the call off in roller derby – that hand signal ends the action.
It shouldn’t matter in life – a “no” should stop the assault. And because “no” can be said in many, many ways, I recommend watching this video. Laci Green is on point!
And, for the record, I’d like to answer the questions asked in the 1979 survey so that you know and can share the correct answers to them in case you see this visual on social media too.
One person spends a lot of money on the other person. Right answer: If the other person doesn’t want sex, then no sex it is.
A person is so turned on they don’t think they can stop. Right answer: They can. You can, I can. It can be not so fun to stop in the midst of something you think is good…but fun or not, you CAN stop.
A person has had sex with other people. Right answer: How the heck does that matter at all? Every parent out there has likely had sex before…don’t rape any of them. K?
A person is stoned or drunk. Right answer: If a person can’t legally drive or operate machinery, they can’t legally engage in sex with you.
One person lets another touch him/her above the waist. Right answer: Ever hear of second base? Just because you make it there doesn’t mean you get to run the bases!
Someone is willing to have sex, then changes their mind. Right answer: Sing it with me, “It’s my prerogative!” Occasionally fooling around sounds good and then doesn’t feel right for any number of reasons…so, let it go. DON’T push it past someone’s comfort level, even if it changes.
Someone leads someone else on. Right answer: Flirt, fondle, wink…I don’t care. I feel like this has been covered. No means no. No matter what comes before it.
Someone gets someone else sexually excited. Right answer: Let me repeat: no means no. Always. I’m sorry, but it does.
They have dated for a long time. Right answer: I don’t care if it’s a first meeting or a fifty year marriage. When someone doesn’t want sex, no one ever has the right to hold anyone down and have sex with them. Ever.
I hope that clears things up. And I hope you noticed that this isn’t just on men. Men and women can be rapists. Men and women can be victims of rape. And I don’t care which you are or which you aren’t.
Any version of “NO” means no, including, but not limited to:
I don’t think so.
I’m not feeling into it.
I’m not sure.
I don’t think we should.
I don’t like this.
That doesn’t feel good.
I’m not ready.
I think we should slow down.
I’m sorry, I can’t.
I have to go.
I’d rather not.
And all the non-verbal cues too, looking away, crying, gritting teeth, pushing away, closing eyes tightly.
All these mean no.
And no means no. Always. Every time. No means no.