BUT SHE DIDN’T SAY NO
She didn’t say no. She didn’t scream stop. She didn’t fight back and she shouldn’t have to. Her silence is not consent, it never was and it never will be.
Bill Cosby was arrested last week for a sexual assault alleged to have occurred in 2004 when the Cosby Show actor gave a woman wine and pills. In a 2005 deposition for the civil case against him he says, “I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.” He, and oddly many others, believe that his actions are defensible since he was operating in some grey area between “permission and rejection.” There is no such grey area and that is why he is facing sexual assault charges.
WHAT IS CONSENT?
A quick look at the definition of consent: “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.” Synonyms include agreement, approval, and acceptance. These are affirmative actions. But let’s take the idea of consent for sex a bit further. To give consent one must be of sound mind and body, be free, age appropriate, and informed. If any of these elements are missing any sexual advances should stop immediately.
During discussions surrounding the Cosby case in the past week, I’ve noticed that many people not only victim blame with questions like, “why was she alone in a house with a married man,” “why did she take the pills,” and other non-relevant questions as to the victim’s intent. For some, going to a man’s house, hotel, drinking, etc. are psuedo consensual acts. However, none of these acts relay consent.
A woman does not owe a man sex because he took her on a date, bought her a gift, married her, or even took her on an exotic vacation. Those were his consensual acts she still remains in control of her body and unless she wants to share herself with him there is no law requiring her to become his lover.
While that should seem like common sense, this past week has shown me that good sense isn’t that common. Many feel if there is no weapon drawn, no coercive force, no brutality, etc. then a rape never occurred, just a misunderstanding. So, let me try to break it down to the most basic level so there will be no further misunderstanding. No means no. Silence means no. Asleep means no. Drunk means no. Anything short of a yes, I’d like to have sex with you is a no! Seek out affirmative consent, sex is not a guessing game. So what she didn’t say no? Did she say yes?
Written by Dena Reid, Esq., Founder of Code Red Flag and Amazon bestselling author of Flag On The Play. Ms. Reid is also a legally trained Conflict Mediator/Coach who specializes in family and domestic disputes. Ms. Reid writes an advice column, hosts events, facilitates workshops, and speaks nationwide on a variety of topics. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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