It’s one thing to complain about the failure of the Canadian criminal justice system to adequately address sexual assault (especially sexualized violence against women). It’s another to accept that as a human being and as a male I have a responsibility to do my part to help stop violence against women. So here’s a few simple recommendations to my fellow men:
- Understand the concept of consent, and what sexual assault and its variants are. Educate yourself by reading something like this. If you think you want sex with another person, prepare for it as if you were to get a learner’s driver’s license. Just as you need to know the rules of the road, so you need to know the rules around sexual activity. And, no, despite what you might think, this does not “ruin” the moment. As the bumper sticker says, “Consent is Sexy” – and it’s mandatory, too.
- The right way to deal with someone who is drunk or high is to let them enjoy it until they come down, or perhaps take them home, or tuck them in for a good sleep, or feed them snacks. Being high or stoned does not make you sexy, nor is it an invitation on the part of the other person to have sex with them. In all probability the other person cannot give consent (see #1 above), and so if you go ahead and try it’s probably sexual assault. If you get arrested, being high or drunk is not a valid legal defense. So think this way: if you think it’s a good idea to have sex when someone is high or drunk, then wait until when you are both sober and then see if it’s still a good idea. If it’s not a good idea when you are sober, it’s probably a really bad idea when you are drunk or high.
- Treat people like the incredible multi-dimensional creatures they are. If you are attracted to someone, get to know them. Find out who they really are. Don’t take one aspect of who they are and reduce them to that one aspect, and then use them for your own selfish purposes. In other words, men, don’t objectify women. Yes, a woman can be sexually attractive – but there is so much more going on with her that is wonderful and alluring.
- Learn about sex with your sexual partner by talking about it and trying things out. You will be pleasantly surprised and you will have a lot of fun. It’s highly unlikely that you will learn anything useful about sex from pornography. Pornography is to real sexual activity as “The Avengers” is to real life in New York City. It’s fake, fantasy, and facile. Be real.
- If someone says or does something objectionable, call them out on it. In the immediate moment you might not be popular, but in the long run it’ll make the other guy think twice. Don’t be a bystander.
- Make a financial contribution to the local sexual assault centre ( in Victoria that’s the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre).
- Raise your sons to be feminists.
Now some people might think that because I am a Christian I should just say, “Wait until marriage” but that’s not realistic. The vast majority of people who come to me wanting me to officiate at their wedding are already in committed sexual relationships (sometimes with children and mortgages). It would also be hypocritical, as I was sexually active before marriage. In any case, the above recommendations are just as important within the bonds of matrimony as they are outside; consent and care are just as important inside a marriage as in non-marital relations.