One out of every five women you see on a college campus will experience sexual assault.
With April serving as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, finding the root cause of this statistic inspired the Women’s Center at Minnesota State to put on the event “Making Consent Sexy” Thursday afternoon.
The stigma around consent is prevalent, especially within youth. Consent is a taboo topic some see as an awkward conversation that is unnecessary, or even an interruption to the activity.
On the other hand, consent is mandatory both morally and legally. In order to break some of the stigma, the Women’s Center hopes to make consent compelling rather than tedious.
Some may say consent is not sexy — it is necessary. But according to BriShaun Kearns, “I think it can be both.”
Kearns, a graduate assistant at the women’s center, put together the event and navigated the conversation with students and faculty. They describe consent as, “getting permission.”
“Consent often is given in the specific context of sex, but really, I think those are interchangeable,” Kearns said.
At the beginning of the academic year they held an event called “Consent in the dark.” The Women’s Center noticed students had limited knowledge on consent and wanted to expand on the topic during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“What I personally wanted to do was talk to people about how to get continuous consent and what continuous consent looks like, and ways that they can make it part of sex that is enjoyable,” Kearns said.
The conversation highlighted general ideas of consent, legalities and the impact of alcohol. Alcohol consumption is common among college students and, inevitably, heightens the risk of foul play.
“The sheer number of people who do not realize that when you are intoxicated, you legally cannot give consent, is hot,” Kearns said.
Preventative measures only go so far, however.
“A lot of the work that we do is afterwards (sexual assault). We have a lot of resources for people when they have been assaulted, and what to do and advocates and things like that, but there aren’t a whole lot of resources to prevent that,” Kearns said.
The Women’s Center provides a non-judgmental support system; it houses the violence awareness and response program, one of three confidential advocates on campus, so it is there to help victims process information, and guide them through the available resources on campus.
“They have the resources, they have the knowledge, it’s not going to be something that’s on their plate that’s too much for them,” Kearns said.
Students can confide in faculty at the Women’s Center if desired, as well as attend the remaining events that live up to April’s theme, such as, “Take back the night,” 5-7 p.m. April 25 in the Ostrander Auditorium.
Header Photo: The Women’s Center, pictured above, is the home to many campus-hosted events, centered around human rights and activism. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at firstname.lastname@example.org