I hope everyone reading this is well. Before I begin I would like to make a few things clear; I am not a doctor of any kind, I have never experienced sexual assault myself, however I often come across certain things promoted by our society which make me seriously question the unhealthy attitudes western society has towards sex and sexuality and how this can affect members of that society.
A few nights ago I was watching the Big Bang Theory, it was an early season. There was an episode in which an intoxicated and upset Penny shows up at Leonard’s door basically demanding sex. Leonard then pretty much runs to the bedroom with her in his excitement. At this point I raised my eyebrows; there was something wrong with the picture in front of me but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. It made me uncomfortable. I continued to think about it over the course of a few days, I discussed the scene with my housemates and my older sister. I then realised what it was that had made me so uncomfortable.
In this fictional relationship Leonard has had a crush on Penny for years and believes he’ll never ‘get’ her. When she comes to his door and drunkenly demands sex he puts his own feelings above hers. Even though she initiated this encounter she was intoxicated. Legally a person cannot consent to sex if they are intoxicated. Leonard knew she was drunk, he asked her if she was and she said ‘yes’. However, he did not send her home. He did not tell her ‘no’. In no way did he act with any thought towards why Penny might have been acting that way. The situation, in my mind, left both parties in a disrespected position. It also showed that Leonard cared more about having sex with Penny than actually caring about her.
I’m not here to say ‘you can’t have sex if you’re drunk’ what I want to say is, if you are heavily intoxicated your ability to consent to sexual acts has been compromised. Therefore it is in the hands of the person you have propositioned to say ‘no’. That person should have enough respect for other human beings to do so. That person should have been educated and socialised in a way that makes them apply reasonable thinking to the situation at hand.
We have a severe problem with our unhealthy attitudes towards sex in both western society and others. We have a severe problem with many kinds of socialisation and education in our society. There is an egregious lack of both action and proper information about the topic of consent. Only yesterday I was made aware of a facebook page titled something along the lines of ‘Asleep doesn’t mean “no”’ or some other disgusting assumption, it had been reported but Facebook refused to take it down because it ‘wasn’t breaking any rules’. What we have in our society is a phenomena known as ‘rape culture’ in which many survivors of sexual abuse are blamed and vilified by others, in which young women write to imprisoned rapists, in which others suggest women were ‘asking for it’ because they wore a short skirt or make-up, in which TV shows can normalise abusive situations and imbalanced power positions and make them seem like nothing.