Gwynn: Consent still needed in college nightlife
- Aug. 29, 2012
- 2 Comments
The beginning of the school year is always a time when things get a little (pardon my decay-of-the-English-language slang) “cray”. Professors usually haven’t assigned much homework, you intercept people you haven’t seen since last May with “ohmigawd how are you?!” and students normally have a decent amount of free time to go out, especially at night.
College nightlife is a strange world unto itself, full of stumbling side-walk sojourns, carpe diem being somehow related to peeing in the bushes, and a lot of people wanting to perform or in the act of the horizontal square dance (square dance because it’s awkward, much like college students’ sex lives). College nightlife can be pretty sweet. You have freedom from home, flexible schedules, and cool people to hang out with. It can also be all kinds of messed up, however, especially when we try to tackle one little word and its apparent absence from college nightlife culture: consent.
Let me pose a situation to you. You’re on your way to class, moseying along Wescoe Beach, hoping to spot Withey when you see, not Withey, but two people. Specifically, one person coming up from behind another person and suddenly, without asking or warning the other person, grabbing their hips and grinding their pelvis into the other’s buttocks. You’re most likely going to think some variation of “WTF?”
However, at Abe & Jake’s, or The Hawk, or honestly any other club, bar, or house when there is dancing, this is normal. The fact that this is normal is bad. Real bad.
Being at a club, a crowded house party, or whatever does not give you an all-access pass for violently thrusting your crotch into another individual’s backside, nor their front-side, nor their any side. If I’m at a Pet Clinic and somebody brings in their pregnant cat, should I be expected to deliver her kittens just because I’m at a location where kittens are normally birthed? God, I hope not—I really don’t think I can survive with kitten death on my conscience.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t go out and have fun, or even go out with the sole purpose finding someone to sleep with. If you and another person both agree to do stuff together, that’s cool. Do that stuff. Do all the stuff you want, however you want, wherever you want, in whatever orifice you want. But see, both (big emphasis on the both), of you have got to be consenting in this theoretical sexy times situation. And this doesn’t apply to just intercourse as most people seem to think it does. It applies with any behavior that involves another person’s physical being. Meaning, if you want to dance with someone, you need to get permission from them. And if they say yes, awesome, get freaky with it. If not, you best be backing off.
It doesn’t matter if they just don’t wish to dance with you, or if they just don’t want to dance at all, or if they’re hoping to dance with someone else—if the person you approach is all “Nah, bro,” you have to respect that. You don’t get to be pissed, or even worse, you definitely don’t get to try to persist in a physical manner. If you do, you’re a douche. Actually, you’re worse than a douche in the case of the latter, you’re an assaulter. You’re physically, sexually assaulting someone else.
You might be feeling real uncomfortable right now. Guess what—the discomfort of the person you’re grinding up against who doesn’t want you to do that? It’s way worse.
This doesn’t just apply to dancing, although it’s probably the most blatant disregard of consent in college night life culture. If you want to kiss someone, or touch someone in a non-platonic way, especially with someone you don’t know, you need consent.
You can receive consent by smiling, making eye contact, receiving positive indicators from the other person that might suggest, “yes I like your presence in my presence.” Or, for the clearest, most direct, and least likely way for you to be a douche, just ask. Verbalize it. Say it out loud.
“Hey do you want to dance?” asks person A.
“Sure,” says person B.
See? Consent isn’t that hard. It just takes awareness, and a few simple steps.
Gwynn is a sophomore majoring in English and women, gender, and sexuality from Olathe. Follow her on twitter @AllidoisGwynn.