When we tell people we are on Men for Consent (MFC), we often get quizzical looks. “What is that?” they ask. “Why is it ‘men’ for consent? Why can’t it just be for everyone?” Our meetings and events are open to everyone. But our name aims to attack a stigma head on: that rape and sexual assault is a women’s issue. That this viewpoint can still be found at the College is quite surprising and sad, but it is still here and must be resolved.
The truth is that rape and sexual assault affect men, women and those who don’t identify with a single gender. Further, cases of sexual assault are not exclusively men targeting women. This fact brings up the second culture we aim to upset and erase: that in conversations regarding consent, rape and sexual assault, regardless of their social actions, men often feel targeted by the discourse and don’t participate. They may feel guilty by association to their shadier brethren, which only results in limiting constructive conversation. Thus, MFC was formed to show that there are men on campus who not only feel comfortable and want to participate in discourse, but that there are men who want to lead it.
So why not just join the Rape And Sexual Assault Network (RASAN)? To answer this question, we must look at the roles these two groups fill. RASAN focuses on education on issues around sexual assault and consent, as well as survivor support and training on how to support survivors. Though RASAN does do some programming, they are not primarily an event organizing body. Rather, MFC tries to tackle the issues of rape and sexual assault through prevention education as well as through reaching out to people who would not be aware of issues of sexual assault. Where we further overlap with RASAN is our goal to make the College a safer and more comfortable environment. We try to synergize and make a greater impact in the community through collaborative efforts.
Have you ever considered what actually goes into getting consent? We all know we’re supposed to get it, enthusiastically, but what does that actually mean? For reference, consent is a freely given, enthusiastic agreement whether verbal or physical, to a specific, contemporaneous act. Going deeper, the above definition means that whenever a hookup advances, whether it’s leaving Goodrich to go back to a dorm, taking an item of clothing off or coitus, make sure that both parties are down with it. In the exact same way that people often feel comfortable discussing consent or sexual assault in a classroom, even communication leads to great hookups. If you know what your partner wants, and vice versa, we guarantee that you will have a better time. Our pro hooking-up attitude ties into our idea of party positivity (party+).
Party+ is the idea that people should feel free to do what they need to in order to have fun and be social. MFC loves fun. Whether it’s a traditional beverage or two (if you are of age) or having a group of close friends to go out with, do what you need to do to feel comfortable and be social. But don’t let your fun ruin someone else’s: Get consent, don’t be needlessly aggressive. And most of all don’t be that person in Snack Bar completely unaware of how their shenanigans make others uncomfortable.
Finally, we have some challenges to you, the reader. Talk about consent and sexual assault. Have it go to an unknown territory. Ask questions. We on MFC have no pretension of knowing everything about sexual assault. But what we do know is that it needs to stop at the College. Too many people do not check themselves or their actions with partners. As a second challenge, when you’re getting ready to go out this weekend on Friday or Saturday (or maybe even Thursday), think about consent. Just for a minute. But think about how your actions could affect others and when the time comes to end the night right, make sure that your partner feels right, too.
Long Dang ’15 is from Dorchester, Mass. He lives in Garfield. Henry Bergman ’15 is from Chicago, Ill. He lives in Bryant. Dang and Bergman are co-presidents of Men for Consent.