Sexy times. Where there is a lot of sensibility but bugger all sense.
Lets start with the one I've been wanting to go off on since it hit the headlines (come on, you are all REALLY surprised I hadn't already spazzed out over it). 'Roastbusters'. Which is incidentally a fucking stupid name. Lets stop using that. From here on in the offending douchebags will be referred to as dickheads incorporated (DH INC). For the people out there who don't know what I'm referring to, which I have to assume means you are not from New Zealand (I'm surprised you're even reading...) these idiot teens got their horrible jollies by getting young ladies drunk, sleeping with them, (to a lesser or greater degree of consent fail, depending on who is telling the story and what day it is) and then naming and shaming on facebook. The whole country has it's knickers in seven different twists over which part of the whole sordid story is the worst bit. There's the victim blamers, who are all 'stupid girls shouldn't have been getting drunk and sleeping with guys they barely knew, more fool them' (incidentally we are talking about girls who were underage both for drinking and sex). There's the OMG fuckwit rapist! crowd, who are all 'nail those nasty little bastards to the wall' (incidentally we are talking about guys who were either underage or barely of age for both drinking and sex). There's the where the hell were the Police? crowd, who are all 'it was all over facebook how much more evidence do you need' (incidentally the law actually requires evidence not hearsay) and then there are the rape culture crowd, who are all 'we need to stop victim blaming and nail the rapists and where were the police?'.
What's my opinion? All of the above. Just in a less knee-jerk way. Because none of these suggestions is entirely wrong, just people have got so upset about their view they aren't actually listening to anything else.
Victim blaming is lame, and well - WRONG! It has been shown time and time again that in the majority of rape cases ridiculous type casting of 'she was asking for it' is just BOLLOCKS. The shortness of the skirt does not invite rapists - statistics actually suggest the opposite is true, though in fact I think that the clothing simply isn't one of the factors. The reason short skirts feature less is because walking home late at night in a tiny skirt isn't actually that common. You're much more likely to be wearing jeans. More rapes happen in the home than out on the streets in any case, and how many chicks are wearing a skimpy outfit at home? At a party sure, and I'm certainly not going to suggest that parties aren't a rapists wet dream, but it's again not the clothes - it's the booze. And the loosened inhibitions of a party atmosphere. But even at a party the rapist is less likely to target the chick in the short skirt. Why? Because the chick in the short skirt doesn't have the insecurity issues that the wallflower in the jeans and t-shirt does. The chick in the short skirt only becomes more interesting when she starts getting too drunk to make good decisions. If I were to take the surveys of clothing worn when raped at face value I'd never wear jeans again. But the simple answer to that one is - a lot of people wear jeans in all sorts of different situations, jeans are a top choice for both sexes. (This was a single example of the 'she was asking for it' argument, there are others. Dancing with you is also not asking for it. Neither is sharing a drink with you. Being super drunk/stoned is not asking for it.)
In fact pretty much anything where I didn't actually ask for it is not asking for it. This is where the consent argument starts.
Consent, it's a grey area subject - it always has been. Because not everyone is comfortable with the idea of actually saying 'You, yes you, I would like to have sexual relations with you. Now.' Now I could start a whole other debate here with the idea that, 'for crying out loud you are about to undertake the most intimate contact you can have with another human short of birth and you can't TALK to them about it?' But to be fair, I'm not all that mad keen on talking about it in a clear consent kind of way either. Sure I might be willing to say something moderately filthy to the same effect, but clear and super obvious consent is much less likely. And really, it isn't undertaking a formal written contract and I don't want to be removing all the spontaneity and fun from the act. That is also a subject for a whole different argument. But for the sake of argument, you are not going to hear a clear and definite consent terribly often. "Oh, yeah, baby" etc is considerably more likely - and there's really no reason why you can't take your social cues this way. I mean a) if you leap straight from enjoying a kiss to trying to jam you penis in somewhere, you are probably doing it wrong. (OK, there IS a time and place for that hurried BANG, but there's a huge portion of both my brain AND my, for want of a better word 'heart' that thinks the FIRST time is actually not that time. Maybe it is for you, whatever floats your boat - as long as it also floats your partners boat. And, b) providing the 'oh, yeah baby' sounds continue you are probably heading in the right direction.
The side of the coin that is more distinct is. NO. If you have any reason to suspect that the answer is no...
For those not in the know, this is my favourite Maritime Signal Flag...
"Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals"
For any reason. NO. If it turns out that it was actually ok to proceed, no harm done. However if the NO was real, then you just stopped yourself from doing something awful. This is the thing, if you break the no means no rule you've broken it. If you just slow down the procession of sexy times, big whoop.
And now we're heading into the territory that gets people into serious trouble. The failure to understand that if someone is not in proper control of themselves for ANY REASON AT ALL, they cannot reasonably consent. I've consented while moderately pissed. I'll grant that the decisions might have been stupid but they could still reasonably be called my decision. Here's the line - for me at least, and probably for a fair number of people. Am I slurring my speech? Yes? My consent isn't worth diddly. Can I stand up unsupported and at least reasonably stable? No? My consent is not worth diddly. Are my eyes focused? No? NO. You should not take the consent of someone who's brain is not functioning reliably.
Now there is this whole other line of thinking that is all, but they said yes! Let me be extremely clear here. Twice in my life have I been THAT drunk and ended up sleeping with someone. Both times I should not have consented. Both times my consent was not worth a damn. Because I was not even close to rational. Once I boinked a complete stranger, whose name I do not even know, that I met at a night club. I was a very long way from being able to legitimately consent. The other time, I shagged someone that I would have called friend then, that I now barely call acquaintance. Because I shouldn't have gone there. And because he was totally crap and an arrogant douchebag. It's really hard to look at someone the same way when you slept with them when you shouldn't have AND they were bloody awful. (FYI, to the person who is right this second thinking, oh god is she talking about me?? NO I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU - for a start I wasn't that drunk that night)
Then there is the, but we were BOTH really drunk... honestly when I hear this one I usually wonder how the hell any sexy times were achieved. I have a little bit of sympathy in this instance - because it's a bit hard to lay blame at somebodies doorstep when you were both too drunk for reasonable consent. Because contrary to popular fiction (or the fiction of someone I know who could actually be reading this) consent has to be MUTUAL. And this stupid bullshit idea that men don't need to consent, or that somehow a raging hard-on IS consent needs to stop. To all my darling male friends, I care about every last one of you - even you dickbag, you know who you are. You are ALLOWED to say NO. If you don't want to have sex with someone, it doesn't make you less of a man, it doesn't make you 'gay' (you can't catch it from abstinence, I assure you) (also, for the love of BOB 'gay' is NOT A FUCKING INSULT). And to every single person on the planet - if someone says no to sexy times with you. IT. IS. NOT. A. PERSONAL. INSULT. I don't fancy everyone on the planet. In fact I'm extremely bloody fussy. There are some very attractive people out there that do absolutely NOTHING for me. If you are not my cup of tea, this is not cause for war. If I can't say no to you without you getting all fucking affronted by it, that is your problem not mine. You know, unless I'm a dick and say things like "I'd rather marry an Arab and have 99 children" (I felt really, really bad for my flatmate when a douche actually said exactly that to him) you can totally be affronted if I say something like that.
Back to Dickheads Incorporated. What makes me saddest about these guys is their apparent lack of remorse (at least until they were suddenly confronted with an angry mob). I can't say that they didn't know that what they were doing was wrong, because it's fairly apparent that they did. But they didn't care, and they didn't see any consequences for their criminal and utterly douchebaggy behaviour. Now they're in hiding because - that angry mob I mentioned. Somehow they didn't grasp that it was not just a big hilarious joke. Somehow they did not understand that the people they were doing this to were actual PEOPLE. Too many kids have too little respect for themselves and almost anti-respect for anyone else. It makes me sick that they managed to grow up without ever discovering that other people have lives, feelings & rights that they had no right at all to fuck up. That they have so little respect for anything that they just didn't CARE. How are we raising a society of shitty little bastards who just don't give a damn? I feel sorry for them. Everything in their lives has failed them. Including the justice system.
Because the cops should have done SOMETHING. They had known about this group for years and did fuck all about it. Maybe because their hands were tied - in which case we damn well need to untie them. Maybe because there really is an appalling rape culture, that makes it easier to just go 'boys will be boys' than it is to go, 'teach those boys to be men'. Not rapists.
And there we start the whole battle again, as someone says, it wasn't REALLY rape. They agreed to have sex. I've already had to say this more times than I care to think about since these dickheads hit the news. The girls were underage. It was rape no matter who said what to whom, no matter who drank what, no matter who agreed to go where. Whether the girls were 'stupid' for being where they were, for drinking what they drank, for saying what they said is entirely irrelevant. And an argument for another day. We need to teach our sons to be better human beings. To know that being a man means being in control of yourself, not doing whatever the hell you want to, not giving in to your baser instincts. That a decent man respects his fellow humans. We need to teach our daughters to respect themselves enough that saying no isn't hard for them. No I don't need to drink that to be cool. No I do not want to have sex with you, thanks anyway.
And on the other side of that coin, we need to teach everyone to step in if they think there is a problem. I'd rather be wrong and be told to fuck off than find out later I was right. If you think someone looks too drunk, do something. Get them a glass of water, ask them if they're ok - if they need anything. Call them a cab. Go point them out to the bouncer. If someone gives you the creeps, keep an eye on them. You don't have to be a dick about it - hell they might just be a guy with naf social skills. But keep your eye on the situation anyway, maybe you'll see something that you need to step in on. The thing you do doesn't have to be huge, the thing is - don't do nothing. If everyone is just a little bit aware of things happening, if everyone takes the step to slow things down then maybe we'll stop a lot of the shit that happens.
If you have a friend who's a bit crap at the 'consent issue', talk to them about it. Maybe just knowing someone thinks they're doing it wrong will give them pause. If your team mate is bragging about all his conquests, don't cheer him on. A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell. If your friend gets massively drunk and sleeps with anyone who asks, maybe she needs to know you care about her. If your friend needs booze to enjoy sexy times, maybe he needs a therapist. If your friend needs to be aggressive during sexy times maybe he REALLY needs a therapist. If you feel like maybe you have a problem with saying yes when you mean no, please seek help. It's ok to say no. Please don't say yes if you don't mean yes. What kind of person is ok with you having sex you didn't want to have? A rapist that's who, and who gives a flying crap what they think?