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More Sexual Consent Education Necessary for Langara Students

A lack of education puts youth in danger of assaulting a partner out of ignorance

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By Gabrielle Plonka

In the heat of the moment, somewhere between “Yes,” and “No,” lies an ambiguous and dangerous silence.

Unfortunately, many young adults still rely on non-verbal consent during sex, based on the assumption that we know what our partners are thinking, even when they don’t explicitly say “yes.” In reality, “non-verbal consent” is an oxymoron, Langara College’s sexual violence support services webpage states that a sexual act cannot be assumed or implied.

No such thing as non-verbal consent

The college’s Only Yes Means Yes campaign this week aims to tackle consent ambiguity amid concerns that many students are unable to clearly define sexual consent.

“Yes Means Yes” sounds like common sense but a lack of education puts youth in danger of assaulting a partner out of ignorance.

In his book, Making Sense of Sexual Consent, professor of criminology Mark Cowling writes that young adults run a high risk of becoming perpetrators of sexual assault. Cowling believes that a lack of sex education is to blame. He supports a Sexual Offence Prevention Policy created in the 1990s by Antioch College in Ohio, which outlines how consent must be verbally and repeatedly given during each level of a sexual encounter.

Blame the movies

The problem for many youth is that the rules of consent don’t coincide with what we see in pop culture. We’ve been spoon-fed a definition of “sexy,” that’s ultimately harmful. Picture The Notebook’s Noah hanging from a ferris wheel, begging Allie to go on a date with him.

It’s great that Langara is now providing some sex education, but it should be something that is ongoing and consistent from an early age. Education can provide young people with the tools to rewrite the “movie magic” narrative of sex and replace fiction with respectful communication.

When you ask for consent, you show potential partners that you care about their feelings. And that, my friends, is the sexiest quality of all.

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