Yes means yes, no means no

highlight-fact-evaw-en-244 pngI read  The Guardian report that “One in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner, while 7% will be assaulted at some point in their lives by a non-partner.” A new series of papers in the Lancet provides the source. The World Health Organization and UN Women report similar figures to document further the violence women endure.

And my tears flow.

I recognize that only a portion of the sexual and physical violence against women is reported.

And I wonder.

I wonder about what I have done and left undone. I wonder about what I will do. And I wonder if I have taught my sons and other men well enough not to rape and to challenge rape culture.

In my speaking and my acting, have I said clearly enough:

People, all people, all people of every sexual orientation and gender identity, are precious and to be treated with dignity and respect.

Rape and sexual violence are wrong. Don’t rape. Don’t commit sexual violence.

Yes means yes. Sexual relations must be consensual. Without consent, sexual contact is rape. No nuances. No maybes. Consent. Freely given. Yes means yes.

No means no. Whenever no is said. No matter how many yeses may have preceded it. No means no.

No circumstances justify rape or sexual violence. None. No one “asks” to be raped. No one “deserves” to be raped. No circumstances!

Each person is a human being. No one, no group of people, are objects to be exploited for other people’s pleasure.

Believe someone who says they have been raped or violated sexually. Alleged perpetrators deserve their day in court. But too often people who report rape are automatically discounted and discredited. That needs to stop. Perhaps there are a few false reports. The overwhelming, overwhelming majority are not. It takes enormous courage to come forward and report a violation. We need to have the decency to listen and believe. We need to make sure that systems and structures are in place to support those who report abuse and to make sure full investigations followed, when appropriate, by trials or other legal measures, take place.

Patriarchy must be dismantled. Masculinity redefined. Ideas of control and power and violence that combine to fuel rape must be re-imagined and replaced with ideas of mutuality and equality.

Intervene. If you witness rape or sexual violation happening or about to happen, say something. Do something. Report. AND say something when you hear people objectify or describe about others inappropriately. Or express a desire to treat others inappropriately.  Or tell jokes that demean or degrade people sexually.

People, all people, all people of every sexual orientation and gender identity, are precious and to be treated with dignity and respect.

I wonder. And I hope and pray that I have taught my sons and others well. I hope and pray that I will continue to do so. I hope and pray that I will work to end rape culture and honor all people.

See you along the Trail.

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2 Comments

Filed under Current Events, Family, Human Rights

2 responses to “Yes means yes, no means no

  1. Martha Brown

    Well said, Mark!

  2. Leslie Vogel

    Thank you.

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