The negative and disturbing phrase, Rape Culture has a counterpart and it's being called The Culture of Consent. I choose to use the latter phrase to spread a message of positivity and education. The phrase Culture of Consent is being used more and more, especially the kink community and on college campuses.

However, not all violence is perpetrated against women. All genders are receivers of sexual and domestic violence.

Since May 24th, the internet has been flooded with #yesallwomen, #allmencan and #nomore testimonies, stories and ideas. Perhaps a million have spoken out via Twitter and other social networking sites about sexual assault, misogyny and objectification. The educational efforts with these (and other) online campaigns is inspirational. People are banding together with a general response against violence. They are responding with what kind of behavior and thoughts are damaging and how to rise above.

The movement began the day after Elliott Rodgers made public his videos and manifesto and then had a shooting spree at a sorority on the University of California at Santa Barbara campus.

As people make an effort to end racism and other discrimination, sexism and misogyny can also be unlearned. Gender-based violence is engrained in society, on a variety of levels. Recognizing what behaviors and ideas create that violence, and providing alternatives is riding the crest of this new Civil Rights movement.

Non-violent communication (NVC) methods teach us that finding fault or blame is an act of violence. Any woman that has been blamed for her sexual assault because of her clothing will tell you, your blame adds to the violence perpetrated.

Since #yesallwomen began, there is a noticeable change in how women are being treated. One person begins to act negatively towards someone and they are surrounded, then given a stern lesson on how not to treat a woman. This treatment applies to all genders. Speaking up about past abuses is empowering to those that choose to remain silent, to know they are not alone.

In an effort to help others understand some elements within the violence and inequality, I'd like to provide the following advice.

Acknowledge male privilege and entitlements. Some men react against the Culture of Consent activists and derail. They explain bad behaviors with poor rational, deflecting from the real issue. The best thing one can do is respond with strength and conviction, letting them know their male privilege and sense of entitlement needs to be addressed. Gender inequality exists. Recognize with accountability. Making changes in behaviors and coaching others in a positive way is happening.

Recognize misogyny. The dictionary definition is: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

It manifests as slut-shaming, bashing (gay, trans, woman), hate crimes, domestic violence and sexual assault.

In Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique (1963) she wrote, “The problem that has no name – which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities – is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.” This problem did receive names such as male chauvinism, sexism and misogyny.

Never excuse misogyny. Think about your responses to it. Are you apologizing for it or are you saying, “This is wrong.” and standing strong against it?

Confront those who are violent. Make them aware that others know they are violent and it is not welcome. This does not have to be an act of violence. It can be done with compassion, education and requesting change. When you see it happening, speak up. The more people stand up and speak out for inequalities and violence, the more likely that others will notice their bad behavior and change for the better. Change will happen if you are ready to face your adversity.

Recognize what consent is. Thanks to for this list:

    • No means No – always. Once you hear it, stop and walk away.

    • Consent is a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity;

    • The age of consent means that anyone under that age is not able to give consent. They should be avoided for sexual activity when there is a marked age difference.

    • Someone who is incapacitated cannot consent;

    • Past consent does not imply future consent;

    • Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent;

    • Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another;

    • Consent can be withdrawn at any time; and

    • Coercion, force, or threat of either invalidates consent.

Recognize objectification. Martha Nussbaum (1995) identified features of treating a person as an object.

      1. instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier's purposes;

      2. denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;

      3. Inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;

      4. fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;

      5. violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;

      6. ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);

      7. denial of subjectivity the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

Rae Langton (2009) added three more features to Nussbaum's list:

      1. reduction to body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;

      2. reduction to appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;

      3. silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.

Bridging ideas with these definitions can strengthen the movement against violence and gender inequality. Building a Culture of Consent takes energy, drive and a desire to actively create change. Sharing the hashtags is not enough. Creating positive dialogue within families, circle of friends, communities, and schools is a big part of changing attitudes and behaviors. Talk to each other. This doesn't mean you have to share every negative experience. Make an effort to not allow the negativity to continue. Speaking out shouldn't create more violence and fear. Be inspired and motivated. Please continue this tidal wave of positive influence.


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