There are things that we do not want to talk about in the #conversationsaroundconsent because they may seem to take energy away from the real work, so to speak. At least, that is what one unnamed activist expressed when we were discussing the issue. In particular we were talking about consent when alcohol is involved, as well as sexual assault in the arts community. More specifically, they were not interested in anything that could every be perceived as victim blaming or not being only about the victim /survivor. I felt, and still opine that these are necessary because they speak to some of the nuances around how we are socialized with consent growing up. We are not taught to pay attention to silence and body language. For some victims/survivors, this and other issues such as spiritual belief lead them to want to explore forgiveness as a part of the healing process. These issues do not all necessarily walk hand in hand, but they are certainly in the same shadows sometimes.
In incidences of abuse and sexual assault, these are some questions I have, especially because I have encountered survivors who are interested in conversations around forgiveness and community.
What about when the perpetrator is genuinely sorry?
What about if they were blacked out drunk because of alcoholism, which is an illness?
What if I want to forgive them?
I am not defending any actions, just trying to bring to light some very challenging questions and issues that no matter how small or nuanced, are nonetheless critical go the issues of sexual assault and consent.
I know of situations where consent was blurry from both sides because of alcohol, but because they were genuinely friends they were able to communicate about their miscommunications and miseducation around consent.
For some, silence is consent…
According to the Oxford University Press, acquiescence is the reluctant acceptance of something without protest. This did not sound like saying yes to me, however to consent is listed as a synonym.
We are taught to listen to no, not to silence. Maybe this is what needs to change in order to change this matter from grey to black and white.