The words ‘sexual assault’ and ‘rape’ stop us in our tracks every time we hear or read them, and in contemporary American society, the exact definitions of these words are very rapidly becoming more pressing.
Trailing the scorched earth left behind by Hollywood’s very own Harvey Weinstein and his 90 plus accusers, many other well-known names are now being revealed as the guilty parties in acts of sexual assault and rape. These include celebrities such as comedian Louis C.K., actor Kevin Spacey and U.S. Gym Doctor Larry Nassar.
Harken back to social media for a moment, lest we forget the many spirited voices in the #MeToo movement, further ingraining a new wave of empathy countless numbers of social groups, and individuals for that matter, put forth for past, present and future victims. It is spreading and spreading fast.
Per usual, the soul of a generation is encapsulated in how it’s people perceive current issues. For example, the way Americans understood and dealt with issues of women’s rights 50 years ago is now drastically different than current societal standards. In Plato’s “Meno,” a slave boy, untutored in geometry, learns how to solve a geometrical theorem through asking questions. The point made thereafter is that having reached the answer himself, the boy must have held the answers within himself all along.
I believe that society is much like this boy when deciding the morality and ethics of topical issues. We know the answers already; we only need ask ourselves the difficult questions to get there.
One such question has risen and it is of the question of consent. I am sure we’ve all heard the phrases ‘Yes means Yes,’ and ‘No means No’ in regards to affirmative consent, but life tends not to be as simple as an on or off switch. Looking specifically at the current scandal posted originally by Babe.net, “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life,” What happens when nonverbal communication fails to convey discomfort and lack of interest? It is a difficult question to answer, one that I myself have no answer to, but nonetheless is important to direct our attention towards.
In a very brief summary of Babe.net’s article on the matter, Ansari and ‘Grace,’ the pseudonym in use by a Brooklyn-based photographer, after heading back from an Oyster bar to Ansari’s residence, they shared a few drinks. Ansari reportedly made advances on Grace, repeatedly throughout the night. Eventually they engaged in sexual activities wherein Grace told Ansari “You guys are all the same, you guys are all the…same.” They exchanged texts the night after that were shared with Babe.net. One of Grace’s reads as follows.
“Last night might’ve been fun for you; it wasn’t fun for me. When we got back to your place, you ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances. You had to have noticed I was uncomfortable.”
I encourage everyone to read the article to make an honest judgment of his actions for yourself, in lieu of the situation. As a white, university-going male, I am in no position to tell you who is in the right and who is in the wrong. I am simply asking for you to give the issue thought.
In a world where most communication involves the use of words, stating your opinion on things that matter to you, with words, is a key way for people to understand where you are coming from.
What I can tell you is that false allegations hurt the movements that they try to support. In a perfect world, false allegations would be non-existent. In a perfect world, sexual assault and rape would not exist, but we do not, so there is conflict. In a perfect world communication would be flawless.
When celebrities are being called out for sexual misconduct, a lightbulb should be going off in everyone’s head about how society’s definition of rape and sexual assault are swiftly changing, or rather, coming to light. This should be taken in from a community standpoint as well, especially in college towns.
According to Missouri law, a person commits the offense of rape in the first degree if he or she has sexual intercourse with another person who is incapacitated, incapable of consent, or lacks the capacity to consent, or by the use of forcible compulsion.
Missouri law does not include statutes requiring affirmative consent, the overt actions or words indicating agreement for sexual acts. Missouri law does include statutes requiring freely given consent, or consent offered of the person’s own free will, without being induced by fraud coercion, violence or threats of violence.