Monthly Archives: December, 2014

Consent Education for K-12 Students: Not Enough

On December 27, the Huffington Post published a piece on the call by California college students for consent education for K-12 students.

That will not solve the crisis of rape on college campuses.  Instead, we call for empowerment self-defense training for all K-12 students.

Because consent education, while valuable, is not enough.  What individuals and institutions mean by “consent” varies, depending on terminology (consent v affirmative consent v effective consent vs mutual consent vs legal consent) and specificity of the definitions.  For example, the White House Task Force on Sexual Assault on College Campuses describes consent as the “voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity”, and posits that silence, lack of resistance, and past consent do not constitute consent as they define it.  Other definitions require active, enthusiastic, uncoerced, and ongoing affirmation that the sexual activity is desired.

The discourse on consent education seems to focus on the use of clear language to communicate exactly what is acceptable, and not acceptable, in mutually desired and consented sexual activity, whether that is by the person “initiating” sexual activity (e.g., “Is it okay if I do ____?”, or “Are you liking this?”), or by the person who is the recipient of someone else initiating sexual activity (e.g., “Yes, I want you to do ___.”, or “I’m not comfortable with this and I want you to stop.”).  These conversations take consent past the legal definition, seeking sexual relationships that are democratic, free, and mutually pleasurable, rather than legal-but-yucky.

Without question, consent to mutually agreed-upon sexual activity, freely given, is critical.  And regardless of the specific definition of consent in play in any particular setting or institution, it is critical to educate people about what we mean by consent, and how to give it or obtain it.

Sex that is democratic, free, and mutually pleasurable is likely to result from affirmative consent.  But neither understanding what consent means, or the language of giving or getting consent, will stop sexual assault.  Because clearly understanding a definition, and having the script to ask or respond, clearly and directly, about sexual intentions and desires, does not mean that someone won’t try to rape someone else.  Rape is not a misunderstanding solved by knowing the right answer on a vocabulary test.

What is required to stop rape and assault is for individuals to understand that they are not entitled to sexual activity with another person just because they want it.

And what is critical in enforcing that understanding is what empowerment self-defense training offers:  the belief that we are entitled to our own sexual agency and bodily integrity, and the skills to enforce that right.

Consent education is a component of an empowerment self-defense model, where women, girls, men and boys are taught, and reminded, through the enactment of physical and verbal boundary setting and self-defense skills, that they – not their partners, their parents, their acquaintances, or strangers – get to say what they will and will not do with their bodies.   It provides the skills to maintain the boundaries they have set when another person is not interested, not informed, or actively seeking to overstep those boundaries.

So yes, by all means, let’s start early.  Let’s teach young girls and boys what rape means, and what consent means.  Let’s teach them the language to communicate clearly and effectively.  But more importantly, let’s teach girls and boys that girls’ bodies are not there for the taking, and that girls are capable of more than just saying that.  Let’s teach girls and women how to protect themselves, to maintain the rights we are telling them they have.

 

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‘Tis the season for setting the boundaries you want!

Remember the cootie catchers of our youth?  They told us who we would marry.  And – spoiler alert here – they don’t actually work.  Despite the assertion of a cootie catcher one of the authors remembers fondly from 6th grade, she never did, in fact, marry Darrin Praeger.

The SJFB cootie catcher will not offer you the names of potential future partners, but will remind you of a number of techniques, both verbal and physical, that you can use in setting boundaries, both verbal and physical.

So have fun!  So see below for our cootie catcher you can print, cut, fold, and give away!  These make a great stocking stuffer or embellishment for your gift wrapped package.  Remember, ‘tis the season for setting the boundaries you want!

Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season,

Martha McCaughey and Jill Cermele

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SJFB Cootie Catcher Instructions:

  1. Print and cut round outside of cootie catcher
  2. Fold in half and in half again
  3. Open out, turn over so top is blank and fold each corner into the middle
  4. Turn over and repeat
  5. Turn over so you can see the pictures
  6. Slide your thumb and your finger behind 2 of the pictures and press together so they bend round and touch
  7. Turn over and repeat with the thumb and finger of the other hand for the other two pictures
  8. All the pictures should now be at the front with centres touching and you are ready to use your cootie catcher!

www.seejanefightback.wordpress.com

with thanks for the template to www.downloadablecootiecatchers.wordpress.com

Ten Things Never to Say to a Stegosaurus Training in Self-Defense

  1. “The point really should be to get T-Rex to be more peaceful.”
  2. “What would you do if Triceratops had an Iguanodon with him?”
  3. “What if you’d been eating ferns and conifer all night, and were just too full to be able to defend yourself?”
  4. “Why don’t I just dress up like T-Rex and let you practice on me?”
  5. “If you’d just stay out of T-Rex territory, everything would be fine.”
  6. “Isn’t this just a waste of time? You’re an herbivore, he’s a carnivore…That’s just the way it is.”
  7. “Maybe you should get a nice Brontosaurus to walk you home. Otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble.”
  8. “You know, I’ve always thought it would be a turn-on to be knocked out by a sexy Stegosaurus.”
  9. “When a T-Rex attacks you and feeds on your bloody carcass, it just means he likes you.”
  10.  “Well, all these skills you’re learning are well and good until a giant asteroid hits the Earth.”
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