People tell me I can’t complain about a hookup if I gave consent. They’ll tell you the same. And it’s so fucking stupid and wrong.
In recent weeks, the question of whether or not sexual interactions fall under the definition of legal consent has become the center of our cultural zeitgeist. The realization that women and LGBTQ+ individuals have been forced to undergo a barrage of interactions that do not meet the definition of consent as we understand it has shocked our nation — especially because countless interactions have been in situations where power dynamics forced those individuals to be violated.
Further, the understanding that these interactions happen with such shocking frequency — that so many of the women and LGBTQ+ individuals we know have been assaulted and harassed — is enough to incite incredible anger and frustration at the context and structures under which we operate. The fact that consent is not present enough is clear; the fact that assault is constantly happening around us is a jarring and definitive fact. But consent extends beyond a legal status.
The question that we ask ourselves as we feel outrage at the immorality around us should not just be one of legality. It should be one of morality. If the reason that we are outraged at assault and harassment is that it is completely immoral and a violation of someone’s bodily autonomy, then we should be outraged when other offenses to morality occur.
Friends of mine are constantly told that their assault did not count because it was not rape. I was told that my assault did not count because it was not rape. Further, we silently grapple with the realization that in cases where we did not actively consent what occurred to us was, in many ways, grounds for calling something assault or rape. Yet, we, as a society, fail to protest instances that do not seem to be our “bread and butter” legal sexual assault because as individuals this does not feel like something that we can call out as wrong.
We should call out things that are wrong because they are wrong. Being an asshole is still fucked up. Immorality is still an objectionable thing. Regardless of whether or not a Title IX investigator would find you guilty, each and every one of us should strive to have sexual interactions defined by active and affirmative consent. To do otherwise so is to stray into a gray area that ought to be eradicated.
I hooked up with a boy last fall who really wanted to have sex with me. I was incredibly drunk, and I told him that I felt that this prohibited me from fucking him. He kept telling me that “things would feel so much better with his dick inside of me.” I said no. He asked again, trying to get me to have sex with him. I decided to “compromise” by letting him finger me. I didn’t want him to feel like he was left with blue balls, I did not want him to be angry with me and I did not want him to leave, so I said yes. I never said — “this is my compromise to you,” and what occurred was consensual — but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fucked up to pressure me into sex. It’s never okay to badger someone to fuck you if it seems they don’t want to.
A different boy recently bought me a drink at Hideaway. I had hooked up with him in the past, and accepted the drink. I told him I was going to get CTP with a friend, he came too. Then when I decided to go home, he came with me. I never said I didn’t want him to come, but he never asked. I never said no, but I never actively said yes. And then, there we were, him lying on my bed. All of a sudden I felt obligated to fuck him. He was on my bed, for God’s sake. And yet, I was only doing it because he actively decided to tag along for the rest of my night without permission. So there I was, fucking a boy I didn’t really want to fuck because I felt like I had to. It was consensual, but it wasn’t good.
Too frequently our sexual interactions lack active and affirmative consent. Too frequently our sexual interactions are defined by the narrow boundaries of whether or not something classifies legally as rape. In reality, we should all be striving to be good people when we hook up — not just to get our rocks off. If you’re doing anything with a partner, take the time to make sure they really and genuinely want to be there. It’s worth it.
ReykjaDick is a student at Cornell University. Whoreoscopes appears biweekly this semester.