Big Question: What is Consent?

In the spirit of our in class discussion, I wanted to revisit this question that is omnipresent in all discourse surrounding rape and sexual violence. In reading and discussing the articles in the DP, we found a myriad of anecdotal evidence to attest to the fact that both parties are not quite sure what constitutes consent. This is obviously problematic given that it directly contributes to the murky nature of defining rape. If rape is sex absent of consent, how do we define rape without first defining consent? Many factors contribute to our confusion. The microcosm that is the college campus filled with drinking, drugs, and partying only contribute to the complexity. I identify myself as a straight female on campus. Having heard many anecdotes from my peers—and perhaps this is an unpopular and bold opinion to voice—I would bet that every female on campus who is looking to date around and interested in partying with guys has found herself in a pressured situation alone with a man. This is perhaps too bold, but what I mean by pressured situation, I mean that at one point she felt uncomfortable, unsure or even scared at wanting to leave or needed to reject the male present.  Many times we assume that we were the ones who followed whoever to their rooms, and therefore we “owe” a certain courtesy to stay or humor a man. Leaving does not seem like an easy option.  I cannot begin to truly define consent, as I am personally unsure what roles drugs and drinking play in the scary web of blurred lines. However, I can say that one step towards improving the astounding statistics about sexual assault in the articles is to remove the stigma from simply “leaving.” Remove the assumption and remove the expectations. These can be innocent thoughts, as they are often not rooted in action or violence. However, I believe anybody should truly feel no inhibitions in walking out of a situation.


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