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The Privilege of Friendship: Consent and the Masculine Desire.

May 3, 2011

I’ve been a sexual violence prevention and awareness activist for ten years now. I’ve had the sad honor of supporting and providing interventions for several women who have experienced the terror of sexual assault. With the exception of one, all of these women were victimized by a friend, co-worker, partner, or acquaintance. Date rape or Acquaintance Rape is a malignant and dangerous issue in our culture. Most of the perpetrators of this human rights violation are men. We come in all shapes and sizes and we are more likely to commit a life alerting crime against someone we care about or at least have mild concern about than women, according to statistics. We do this because no matter how honest we are we believe that the privilege of sex exists in any intimate relationship we encounter whether it’s desired or not.

A woman that I published an article with about her experience of being raped by a friend described her understanding of sexual violence as a lurking threat that would jump out at her from behind a bush or dark alley and force her to have sex. She could never imagine that three years before a friend of hers had carried out the exact same attack in her dorm room one night. She felt like she had been stripped of her right to privacy and intimacy. She felt that her femininity was a sexual ornament that meant nothing to her anymore.

We men are trained from the moment we first encounter a piece of pop culture pseudo-sexual, semi romantic message that we are entitled to have sex if we create the correct environment for such an activity. We follow a narrative that has been scripted for us over the centuries that we deserve sex if we follow a little script and she follows it. We turn friendship, trust, and intimacy into a corrupted and twisted form of communication if we do so.

The time is now, for us men to consider how we communicate our sexual desires to the women and men that we have intercourse with. Are we following a sexual narrative of assumed consummation whether our partner likes it or not? Or are we asking and respecting the desires of the men and women we love providing and creating our physical in step with how our lovers communicate their desires to us? Please stop before you act, look for resistance, and listen for consent.

The Sexual Violence Center is a non-profit organization working in the Twin Cities metro area to eradicate sexual violence and sexual abuse. If you have questions about our mission or have been the victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or other sexual violence, contact us through our website or by calling our business line at 612-871-5100. If you need emergency help, you can also contact our 24-hour crisis line at 612-871-5111.

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