Consent is whack?

By Anonymous

Commencement means different things to different people: graduation, finals, achievement, returning. As the end of year approaches I am reminded over and over again what it meant to me: it has been almost a year since I lost my virginity from sexual assault in high school, two days before my graduation. Last week’s articles on Day of Silence have led me to reflect on the many “ideals” we may perceive about Macalester, one of which is to create a safe environment that supports victims and survivors and prevents sexual assault. I am grateful that Macalester has made the sexual assault module compulsory, and that the resources to support survivors are available and accessible. Macalester should be given credit for taking the step to create a safe and supporting space. I personally feel that it is a step that should be taken by all colleges because education is crucial to overthrowing the rape culture and correcting the misconceptions about sexual assault in our society. However, seeing other people’s reactions has made me question how effective these measures have been and how seriously the Macalester student population is taking them. I remember hearing people complain during orientation week that the sexual assault module was stupid and a waste of their time, so they did other things while the videos were playing in the background. I do agree that the module was perhaps not the most comprehensive, and to some it might be irrelevant. However, it was what brought me—after spending the whole summer thinking I was the one to blame—to the shocking realization that I had been sexually assaulted and it was not my fault. I remember feeling extremely disturbed seeing “consent is whack” on one of the message boards in a freshman dorm. I remember looking at the wall of posters on my floor. When the person next to me noticed the sexual harassment poster and said, “Well, I have never been sexually harassed,” a tiny voice squealed inside me, “I have.” There have been multiple “Consent is Mac” campaigns this academic year. You’ve probably signed the pledge or own a button or a shirt. Regardless of whether or not you have been involved in the campaign, you must have heard or seen “Consent is Mac” at least once. It’s a slogan (hopefully) all Macalester students know by heart. Along with “heteronormative,” “Consent is Mac” is probably one of the most popular inside “jokes” at Macalester. I encounter this joke in different contexts at least twice a week. I halted myself too many times in the middle of a laugh when the “consent” jokes started to prickle through their seeming weightlessness. What is there to joke about? “Consent” becoming presumed knowledge amongst Mac students does not make it inside-joke-worthy material. Throwing “consent” around like a joke is not a proof that we are done with learning about sexual harassment. We are reverting to the meaninglessness of consent which we were fighting against in the very beginning. One out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. Chances are the girl who sits next to you in class, lives across the hall, or passes you at Café Mac is a victim or survivor of attempted or completed rape. I wish I were brave enough to tell people publicly how important these resources at Macalester are to a survivor like myself, or at least how comforting it is to know that they exist, if it would make people take them more seriously. Next time you’re about to blurt a “Consent is Mac” joke, think about how the girl sitting next to you would have felt if she were a victim/ survivor. Next time someone complains about how useless the sexual assault module is, explain to them how it might be crucial to someone else and it should be taken seriously. The acknowledgement of an issue doesn’t automatically grant us the right to dismiss the importance of it. A safe and accepting space is something to be sustained with the efforts of the student population that respects it and takes into account its importance. This space is not a utopia that’s free from the pain, or worse, the threat of sexual harassment. The “no” that didn’t mean anything to the perpetrators shouldn’t mean nothing on this campus. refresh –>