by Duduzile Ngwenya
As general as the term “consent” may seem, it is important that we continue to emphasize what consent is and what it really means. It’s been a devastating and emotional week in South Africa, the brutal rape and murder of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana amongst many other victims was a wakeup call to the rest of us, that we are not safe. I cannot begin to fathom how the increasing rate of women going through sexual assault and/or losing their lives in the hands of men, has shaken the foundations of the walls of our confidence, womanhood, and resilience.
I asked a woman on my twitter how she defines “consent” in the simplest way possible, and her response was:
“If you had a visitor in your home, brought tea to their table and they said no thanks, what would be the most logical thing for you to do? You’d just take it back to the kitchen.”
Forcing the guest to have the tea just because you’ve already made it would make them greatly uncomfortable, to an extent that they might want to leave. If they’d agree to drink the tea after your many attempts to make them do it, it wouldn’t be out of their own free will, you’d have forced them to.
“Saying NO does not mean try to convince me”
A woman’s NO does not need elaboration, clarification or explanation in any sort, shape or form. Society needs to unlearn the concept of demanding a reason for a woman’s NO. A NO is a statement on its own. Sex is consensual, if it isn’t, then it’s rape.
If you touch a woman without her consent/approval, you’ve sexually assaulted her. If you take advantage of the fact that she is sleeping, you are a rapist. If you spike her drink at the bar so you can have your way with her, you are a rapist. If she says “no” to any of your sexual requests and you keep making sexual advances so she can “see what she’s missing out on”, you are a rapist. If you find yourself being sexual with a drunk woman, you are a rapist. A woman visiting you at your place does not mean she wants to have sex with you. This is not only for random men, but it also applies to boyfriends, friends, and husbands. If a woman does not approve (in her right state of mind) to being sexual with you, leave her alone, or you know what happens after that is rape.
The feeling of entitlement most men have towards women’s bodies is the reason why the sexual assault rate keeps increasing. Women don’t owe you anything. How a woman dresses is not your business to worry about, and how your body as a man reacts to how a woman is dressed, is not her problem. It’s long overdue for men to take responsibility for their actions and not hide behind phrases such as “her dress was provocative” “I’m a man, how am I supposed to react when a woman in a short skirt walks by”, STOP! Her short skirt or dress does not give you the right to touch her. How her body is formed/shaped can never give you the consent you need to have sex with her.
A woman’s NO is an independent statement.