This week, Is This Rape: Sex on Trial aired on BBC Three as part of their Breaking The Mould series. It entailed of a group of a 24 teenagers to watch a drama specially created for the programme of a sexual encounter between a boy and a girl and to discuss whether it was rape or not. It the end it concluded that the boy was charged with rape.
In the drama, the girl is asleep whilst the boy climbs into her bed and begins to kiss her as she remains laying unresponsively. Then he proceeds to force her to perform oral sex on him despite seeing 'she wasn't really into it'.
Some debated that saying the boy was a 'rapist' was harsh because he seemed like a normal, nice guy and it was also said that the rape wasn't 'as bad' as a violent rape, he just made a mistake and that serving seven years was too harsh, because let's forget that that 'mistake' has traumatised someone in a mental imprisonment for the rest of their life?
What was more shocking was that the definition of what rape actually is was blurred amongst the group. One thought that rape very much meant you intended to violently attack and assault someone sexually. Another thought 'rape' was a strong word in this scenario. The legal definition for rape is penetration of one's genitals inside someone else without their consent. It's that simple. There's no image of a vindictive villain set out to attack someone with their penis, it's someone taking advantage of someone by failing to ensure they had consent to perform sexual acts on them.
Rape is rape. It's not something with conditions of what classifies it to be as bad or to be worthy enough that we don't tolerate it and see it as an injustice; at the end of the day someone is physically taken advantage of and is left with emotional scars. Just because someone's friend who they had previous romantic relations with rapes them doesn't mean they aren't as equally traumatised as someone who was violently raped by a masked stranger in an alleyway.
Another main concern was that some of the females were saying it looked like a situation where the girl couldn't be bothered to say no and just went along with it. It was also justified with the fact that she had been romantically involved with him before. To be honest, this raises alarm bells to what today's young people know about their right to have physical boundaries. Just because you have previously been with someone before does not mean you no longer have a say in what you choose to do with your body at any given point. Your body belongs to you; irregardless if you don't want to seem like you're causing a hassle, a prude or are in a relationship to them. It deserves to be respected, no matter what.
Someone also stated that yes it was true she didn't give consent, but she didn't say no. Honestly, it's crazy that the fact she didn't explicitly give consent didn't just close the conversation of whether it was rape or not, it had to be debated. Even though she was clearly seen to be unresponsive.
It's the same principle as, if I forcefully pull someone across the street and they don't fight back, that doesn't mean they consented to that action. They are probably in fear to resist and feel overpowered. Yes, she may have laid there and accepted it, but sex is meant to be equally pleasurable and enjoyable between both parties, and at the end of the day if someone is not fully as conscious as you are (to be able to provide full consent) during sex that you are taking advantage. There's no questions about it.
The current curriculum in schools needs to go beyond explaining the birds and the bees and how to put on a condom, it needs to teach young people clearly what rape and consent actually is because otherwise, we will end up with an at risk, misguided generation of adults when it comes to sex.