Consent, or the lack thereof

I’ve just read a dismaying little article from about a young woman who was drugged and raped at a high school party in a small town just outside Vancouver.

The behaviour of those who did the drugging and raping is reprehensible and disturbing. Almost as disturbing is the description in the article of the social environment in which the assault occurred. A group of people stood around and watched the rapes, some of whom took photos which they then posted on facebook and various other social networking sites. Two weeks later and kids are still reposting the photos. And then there’s this:

Thiessen also addressed what he described as the “debate” that appears to be raging among young people, particularly on social networking websites, about what exactly happened.

Indeed, some high school students in the area have appeared in news reports questioning whether drugging and having sex with a 16-year-old girl even constitutes as [sic] rape.

This idea that you can do anything you like to a young woman, as long as you’re not overtly violent and she doesn’t resist overtly seems to be pretty pervasive. It frightens me that young men and women still grow up thinking that women’s bodies aren’t their own, that their right to physical integrity and privacy is less than the right of those around them to take and do what they want.

And, I’m dismayed by the assumption that sex is something that men do to women for their own pleasure without concern for the women’s feelings or desires, instead of something warm, even loving, between two equal people who both want and enjoy it. It’s as if female desire, agency, and sexuality don’t exist.

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