You have probably seen actor and writer’s Nate Parker name in the news lately — and not for a good reason.
As Birth of a Nation hits theaters in October, 17-year-old rape and assault allegations have come to the forefront to haunt him and his anticipated film. And while the actor-director was exonerated in the trial, we’ve since learned that was mostly due to a technicality — the court didn’t believe he raped her because he had consensual sex with the alleged victim a day before (which we will get to later).
However, Parker’s friend Jean Celestin, who is also the co-writer of Birth of a Nation, was initially found guilty.
And while everyone is debating Parker or Celestin’s innocence or guilt, looking at a lot of these conversations (mostly from rape apologists), it’s clear there is a lot of confusion when it comes to understanding what consent is and what it isn’t. So let us help you:
1.) Consent Needs to Happen Every Time: Parker was not sentenced because he had consensual sex with the alleged victim a day before. But be clear, that’s not how consent works. If I borrow your iPad on Monday and return it, I can’t then come over on Tuesday and take it without asking — you didn’t consent to that.
Sex and consent are no different. Whether you’re husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, boyfriend and boyfriend, friend and friend or what have you, an affirmative yes is required every time in order to move forward.
2.) If the Person Is Intoxicated or Incapacitated, They Cannot Give Consent: It’s 2016 and, sadly, this most basic fact about consent is still not understood. If a person is drunk, passed out or under the influence of drugs, according to the law, they cannot consent to sex. Period. Done.
If you’re so sure this person is into you, then what’s the harm in waiting for them to be sober?
3.) If You Pressure or Threaten, That’s Not Consensual Sex: There seems to be this misconception that rape is only about physical violence or force, but that’s not true. If sex happens as a result from you threatening either physical or emotional harm or even threatening a break up; threatening to take away essential things such as car keys, debit cards, money or children; to release nude pictures or videos, etc., that’s called coercion. Which is the exact opposite of consent.
4.) You Can Change Your Mind at Any Time: Like Amber Rose said on It’s Not You, It’s Men, “If I’m laying down with a man — butt-naked — and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f-ing no. That’s it.”
It doesn’t matter under what circumstance or where you are in the process, if you’re not comfortable and want to stop, you have the right to say “no.” And your partner MUST always stop pursuing sexual contact. And if they don’t, that’s rape/attempted rape.
Remember that consent is an agreement between those involved and without it, that’s called rape, regardless of how anyone wants to spin in.
Want to learn more about consent and sexual assault? Visit RAINN.org.
If you are survivor of rape and need to talk to someone, please call 1.800.656.HOPE.
(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)
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