Questions concerning consent

Sex is great, two people, or seven people, going at it together, all with a common goal.  If you don’t know what that goal is, you probably shouldn’t be reading this.  An intricate piece of the sweaty puzzle is knowing the other person is just as into it as you.  You wouldn’t want to play frisbee with someone who wouldn’t throw the disc back would you?  Might as well just play with yourself.  Frisbee that is.

But there are those that take advantage of others, and this small minority has turned the tides for all of us.  Rape is a huge issue and no doubt one that should be tackled.  But usually when a problem arises, there tends to be a backlash that can go a tad overboard.  In this case it is with the idea of consent.  And the new rules of engagement have become so complex that I’m considering lawyering up just to try to understand them.

Knowing someone is into the fun activities going down is easy to figure out.  You can accidentally park in the wrong parking lot, but I don’t think anyone is accidentally raping anyone else.  This is where the problem lies.  UNH, along with many other schools, has a detailed page on their website on what consent is and isn’t.  

It has gotten to the point that a passion-driven fling cannot move seamlessly from the bar to her apartment because I need to run home and get the necessary paperwork for her to sign.  The first page is the consent form, obviously of the utmost importance.  Included in this is an explanation of acts and positions that may be utilized, just to make sure she realizes that sometimes I like to dress up like a rodeo clown and make horrible quips in a drawling southern accent.  I’ll just need an initial there at the bottom.  Oh, and yes, that next page is a waiver freeing me of all financial  responsibility if and when something shatters from falling off the shaking headboard, because while I’ve got the clipboard out, might as well.  A clean towel for a shower and a sandwich afterward are both optional, but appreciated.  And while I would trust you, I don’t want to take any chances, so I will bring a notary public to watch our four-legged fox trot and film the process just to make sure nothing could be misremembered at a later date.  This also has the side benefit of allowing me to assess my form.  I’m trying to figure out why my hamstrings are always cramping so this would help.

On the consent page, there is a graphic that reads “By law, if a person is intoxicated, he or she is unable to consent to sexual activity and any sexual activity without consent is sexual assault.”  The inability to give consent when drunk is a tremendously problematic argument when addressing  sex.  When caught driving drunk, it doesn’t do much good to tell the police officer that because of your intoxication, you should be alleviated from responsibility for making the decision to drive.  In fact, if the cop happened to be an asthmatic, he might need to run back to his car to grab a puff from his inhaler to replace the air lost from laughing so hard.  Because even though you’re drunk, the law sees you as capable to make an informed decision on whether or not to drive.

Somehow, when it comes to sex, the methodology is completely different.  Now your decision holds no weight and you are unable to give your consent.  This is a problem.  It isn’t a problem for me, because I don’t really drink, and drunk women often speak in a nasally tone that vibrates at just the right frequency to rattle my brain and cause me to feel slightly nauseous.  So, as much as I enjoy sex, drunken sex is not a hobby of my choosing.  But it is for many other college students, understandably so.  Sex can be awkward, and booze lets people be free from their inhibitions for a short period of time.  It helps you feel a little less self conscious about that little belly you’re rocking.  A belly, ironically, from the booze and the appetite that beer brought as its plus one.  Obviously there are horror stories of women being taken advantage of because of their inebriated state, but Ray Chapman was a player killed by a baseball pitch and that didn’t cause the MLB to get rid of a pitcher and bring back T-ball.  The problem arises when a single negative is used to ruin the whole, which is positive.  I once had a pimple on my face.  I didn’t cut off my head.

It should also be seen as incredibly insulting to women especially.  This rule is saying that even if you are still aware of your surroundings and WANT to have sex, someone else knows what is best for you.  So even if you wanted it, you got raped.  Women who get mad at anyone controlling their birth control should get furious about this as well.

This comes across as another example of why there are people saying that college students these days are coddled.  Another graphic on the website on consent is “Consent is hot, assault is not.”  While this is a true phrase, it is ridiculous to put on a college website. Is a simple rhyming scheme going to stop someone from committing sexual assault?  If so, how about the jingle “Quit the boozin’, get to snoozin’.” I’m pretty confident that won’t result in everyone passing up a Friday night rager to go to bed.

On the whole, a decision needs to be made to stop making this awesome thing so terrifying to engage in.  In a study done in collaboration between a UMass Boston professor and a Brown professor, they discovered that most rapes are done by about six percent of men.  Most of these men had raped over five times, and I would bet my bottom dollar they knew what they were doing and couldn’t care less about a catchy limric telling them otherwise.  So let’s find those guys, and prosecute.  But can the rest of us get back to having sex?  

Tim Drugan-Eppich is a senior majoring in English.