We still have way too much trouble, as a society, understanding what is consent and, importantly, what consent isn't. A recent survey of over 1,200 people conducted by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in partnership with YouGov, found that there's still a lot of confusion about consent and even about what constitutes sexual assault. For example, only 56 percent of men realized that watching someone in private without their knowledge is assault — and that's worrying. In fact, men were consistently less likely to understand consent and assault than women but, interestingly, people in the 18-24 age group also were less likely to have a grasp on assault and consent than other age groups. So much for young people being more hip. But I guess that National Sexual Assault Awareness Month came just in time.
And it's why Trojan's “Consent. Ask For It” campaign is so important right now. It's running on campuses across the country for the third consecutive year — and it's the second year they've teamed up with the great Advocates for Youth, a national nonprofit. With the help of 100 student youth activists, they run events nationwide.
"The truth is, there is still much work to do around educating people, from students to school administrators, about consent."
"The truth is, there is still much work to do around educating people, from students to school administrators, about consent," Shomya Tripathy, Senior Manager of Advocates Youth Activist Network, tells Bustle. "Making sure all young people have open and honest sexual health education can go a long way. Calling out people, negative images or cultural narratives which perpetuate rape culture also helps in dismantling this problem."
If you're not a student or there aren't events in your area, don't worry you can visit www.askforconsent.org to take the pledge and learn more— and you can tweet with #AskForConsent to get involved in the conversation.
There's something really great about getting students involved. Spreading messages through peers is engaging and effective— and the students seem to enjoy it as well. “We loved working with the Consent: Ask for It Campaign!” Roseanna Zerambo a student from Hofstra University, who participated in the campaign last year, said in a press release. “The best part was having the support of a bigger organization, because this issue is so much bigger than we are, and our event would not have been possible without this campaign's help.” The campaign allows them to design events to suit their individual student bodies but with the backing of a major organization. It's the best of both worlds.
And the best part is just how many people want to jump on board and get involved. "This year a hundred campuses jumped at the chance to participate in this campaign which proved that this conversation around consent was and is truly needed on campus," Tripathy tells Bustle. "This campaign aims to engage everyday students into honest and open dialogue about affirmative, voluntary, and verbal consent and that’s what we saw happen with these large-scale #AskForConsent events. Using the Trojan consent branded materials, including digital collateral, advocates and activists on campus were able to bring in a wider audience and really start to normalize these necessary conversations."
But the campaign can work better with even more people behind it. And, let's be real— it's embarrassing that in the 21st century there is still so much ambiguity about consent. Do your part by joining the movement and spreading the word.