This cartoon, featured on Upworthy and originally created?by Everyday Feminism, has received a lot of attention recently. In my humble opinion, that’s because it gets the messages that feminists have been trying to get across about consent exactly right, although not one of the cartoons mentions rape?or sexual assault.
Instead of making the cartoons about rape, the scenarios show how consent works in every other area of our lives. Why do people still not understand that sexual consent works the same way? Let’s break the cartoons down and discuss the messages each try to teach about consent.
1. If one is not free to back out at any time, there is no consent.
According to the Sexual Assault Resource Center:
“Consent is an ongoing process in any sexual interaction and may be withdrawn at any time during a sexual interaction. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never, by itself, be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”
2. Consent once is not consent in perpetuity.
Pandora’s Project, which provides support and resources for survivors of rape and sexual assault, writes that:
“If you’ve had sex before but do not consent the next time, yet your partner continues and has sexual activity with you, that is rape.? If you had already started, and then you say no, and your partner keeps going, that is rape.”
3. A person is unable to consent while sleeping.
According to Feministe, this is still a topic of debate, although it shouldn’t be:
“Yes, if you penetrate someone while they’re asleep and they therefore could not possibly have consented to being penetrated, that is rape.”
4. Both parties must be conscious to be capable of giving consent.
A recent article in the New York Times, citing California’s new active consent bill, states that:
?Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent,? the law says. ?Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.?
5. A marriage license is not implied consent.
Everyday Feminism asserts that an attitude of entitlement to sex can be seen:
“In intimate relationships when one partner tries to coerce the other into sex. Some believe that it is a girlfriend or wife’s duty to have sex whether she actually wants to or not. In fact, marital rape only became criminal in all 50 states as recently as 1993.”
6. No one is entitled to?sex.
No one is entitled to sex just because they’re on a date with someone, or because the person consented to being alone with another. In fact, RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) states that:
“Rape can occur when the offender and the victim have a pre-existing relationship (sometimes called ?date rape? or ?acquaintance rape?), or even when the offender is the victim’s spouse. It does not matter whether the other person is an ex-boyfriend or a complete stranger, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex in the past. If it is nonconsensual this time, it is rape.”
7. Clothing does not imply consent.
CUSU’s Consent Campaign website notes that:
“Nobody wants to be assaulted. You might be dressing sexily because you like to look attractive or because you want to attract someone’s attention, but none of this means you want to experience assault. If someone chooses to assault, the consequences are their responsibility and their fault. It is not the fault of the person who is assaulted.”