Sexual Assault vs. Consensual Sex

//Sexual Assault vs. Consensual Sex

Sexual Assault vs. Consensual Sex

Sexual Assault vs. Consensual Sex (12.28.17)

The kids and I started watching the old Will & Grace TV shows together recently. We are thoroughly enjoying these zany characters and laughing at their silly antics. Last night we watched an episode where Karen has a birthday party including famous celebrities and Will, Grace, and Jack were invited to the party accidentally by the maid Rosie. The entire story takes place in one of Karen’s elaborate bathrooms in her mansion. Grace announced that she was going to play a game during the party called “Ass Tag” and attempt to touch as many celebrities’ asses that she could during this special event. At one point she was going to go for a “twofer” and touch actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins at the same time. At another moment in the show, Grace commented that she touched someone’s ass and they in turn grabbed her “golden globe” [her breast]. Grace’s character says all of these lines with a smile on her face acting like this is normal, acceptable behavior.

I realize that Will & Grace is a comedy and that comedy is supposed to push boundaries, exaggerate absurdities in life, make us feel uncomfortable, place a spotlight on social taboos, and make us laugh. But it’s also fascinating to see how a topic which may have been considered funny in Season 8, which was during 2005-2006, may be considered offensive in 2017.

Sexual assault is not funny. Sexual assault is not okay. Sure, touching a total stranger on the ass may not be considered sexual assault by many people, but to other people it is considered inappropriate, offensive, and crossing a boundary into a person’s personal space and specifically a person’s private parts. What may be a game and flirtation to one person may be threatening and disturbing to another. We live in a culture where sex and access to information about sex is more available than it has ever been in the past 100 years. I am not an expert on sex education and today’s access to sexual information, but I am an expert at surviving sexual assault. The difference in sexual play and sexual assault is called consent. If you need to break it down even more, it’s when a person of sound mind and body says, “Yes, I want you to touch me on my private parts.” In this discussion, I’m talking about people of a certain age that understand sex, not children that are so young that they don’t understand the meaning or purpose of sex. On a woman, private parts are considered to be her breasts, her vulva (or as Trump calls it a “pussy”), and her buttocks, rear-end, or ass. On a man, the private parts consist of his penis, his balls, his ass, and possibly his nipples. The only time that it’s okay for someone to touch someone else’s private parts is when the person receiving the touch has given the person doing the touching, caressing, or grabbing permission to touch them.

The kids were watching a television show called A Different World the other day and the topic of the show was date rape. I did not see the show, therefore I do not have much information about the context of the information, however Ashlee shared the following information with me. She said that a very attractive athletic male was accused of pushing himself on one girl while he was being investigated for date rape with another girl. Ashlee said that one of the other male characters said that, “A girl may be saying ‘no’ when she really means ‘yes.’” Holy shit. I jumped on this teachable moment to explain to my daughters that this was a complicated concept, but that the bottom line is that “no” means “no.” This example of a conversation about sex is one strong example of what is wrong with our world. Children are raised with mixed messages. Yes, some people mean “yes” when they are really saying “no.” But many people mean “no” when they say “No!” There are people who know who they are, what they want, and how to conduct themselves in relationships. Then there are people who are lost for whatever reason and have no idea how to stand up for themselves in this world. And then there is every degree of person between these two spectrums. Everybody’s comfort level and ability to assert themselves is different based on who they are as a person, how they were raised, and what their life experience is. Throw in the hot topic of sex which is not taught effectively on many levels in our society and we have a recipe for disaster.

I just read an article today on my CNN news feed about 4 women coming forward detailing how they were sexually assaulted on commercial airlines. Our culture is erupting with stories about women being sexually assaulted in every aspect of our society. I have experienced sexual assault by males throughout my lifetime in addition to my father. Some of these sexually assaultive behaviors were minor and other ones were major. Enough is enough!

Through years of counseling, I learned how to value myself as a person, set clear boundaries with others, and how to assert myself with others. I had to learn these skills from people outside of my family, because my parents are not assertive people. They were not taught how to be assertive. And even though I am stronger today than I was 20 years ago, I’m still caught off guard at times and let people get by with behaviors that are inappropriate and unacceptable. It’s challenging as a female in this society to always be on top of your game to protect yourself 24/7. But we have to teach our daughters, and ourselves, how to protect themselves, and ourselves, 24/7!

To further magnify sexual assault on this episode of Will & Grace, Matt Lauer was on the show as a guest acting as himself. He came into the restroom and Grace intentionally dropped her pocketbook. When Matt leaned over to retrieve the pocketbook, Grace touched his ass. Matt quickly popped up and smiled and nothing else was said. My daughters and I cringed at the image of this man being involved in a scene like this after learning about how he sexually assaulted women throughout his 25 year career on the Today show. Karma or God’s timing?

2019-06-21T15:14:23-05:00

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