Sexual consent protests ignore the bigger problem

Sexual abuse isn’t the only thing that is being overlooked in New Zealand. Photo: Stuff

Recent protests and calls for consent to be a part of sex education is good to see, but a greater discussion about how young people make decisions in the first instance needs to be put on the table as well.

To introduce consent as part of sex education in schools is an excellent idea on all fronts.

The key to reducing New Zealand’s rape culture and numbers of sexual abuse in any form is parties from both gender being taught on a much more in depth and regular level in education.

Why? Because society today is more sexualised than ever before.

Sex is celebrated and encouraged in all forms of pop culture and media, so there is no surprise that people are pressured and encouraged to engage in the act at a far younger age than ever before. But on the other side of that, abuse of a sexual nature has always been something that has lurked behind closes doors. It’s nothing new. There are reasons for sexual abuse, and absolutely none of them are justified, but the reasons and the factors still exist nonetheless.

If you think I am justifying it then you might as well stop reading now.

There is a huge hypocrisy at play, and one that too many people won’t talk about. That hypocrisy is that so many won’t acknowledge the situations at play when things go wrong. That includes the victims themselves.

Parties, night clubs, alcohol, drugs, peer pressure, and hook up apps like Tinder are just a few of those factors. All these factors are at play in a lot of situations when the decisions are made that lead to sexual abuse occurring. But are we protecting ourselves to the very best of our abilities when these factors are at play? Hell no.

Music videos that have highly sexual undertones are accepted, movies that encourage BDSM and other acts of a sexual nature are accepted, and teenage girls sending out nude photos of themselves on platforms like Snapchat seem to be accepted as well. Apps like Tinder are built on people, who are often complete strangers, meeting up for quick acts of sexual engagement. When people join those apps they also take with it a knowledge of the potential risks that could occur. Before you read this and tell me I’m wrong, just go onto Google and research the countless number of examples of said risks.

If a teenager who has their face buried in a cell phone has time to join Tinder or look at nude pictures on Snapchat, he or she also has the time to further educate themselves using the countless examples that you see online.

The point? This is so relevant, and if you can’t see the answer as to why, then again I encourage you to just stop reading.

And yet, comments from a teenage boy about taking advantage a drunk girl have sparked outrage among the feminist movement. This led to a mass protest at Parliament where the group launched a petition to make education about consent and healthy relationships compulsory. The young man from Wellington College who posted “if you don’t take advantage of a drunk girl, you’re not a true WC boy” was uneducated. His comments were despicable but are a product of the society he lives in today. That’s not a cop out, nor is it condoning what he said in the now infamous post.

Further education is needed on all fronts when it comes to sex in today’s society. But if you want to talk about equality, then you also need to realise a couple of things.

In more ways than you’d realise, the choices young people make in the lead up to some of the horrid things that are happening in our nightclubs and at our parties play a huge factor in all of it. Sexual abuse shouldn’t be tolerated under any circumstances, but young people also choose not to educate themselves on it by dropping out of school early, ignoring their parents, or refusing to see the signs of danger even if they are obvious.

No certainly does mean no, but there is much more to each individual story and its case than the moment of abuse itself.

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