This Study Proves Why We Still Need To Talk About Consent

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
If someone asked you what constitutes a sexual assault, would you know?
Based on new research, a big percentage of men and young adults don't.
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A study from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center found that men and young adults are still unclear on what "counts" as sexual assault. The researchers surveyed more than 1,200 people of all genders and a wide range of ages about their understanding of sexual assault and consent.
They asked respondents to mark whether or not they think a specific act constitutes sexual assault. Men, as well as people between the ages of 18 and 34, were less likely to recognize an act as sexual assault across all categories.
Only 64% of the respondents thought that "watching someone in a private act without their knowledge and permission" counted as sexual assault, and only 54% said that "unwanted verbal remarks that are provocative or unsolicited" counted.
When asked if "sexual intercourse where one of the partners is pressured to give their consent" constituted an assault, only 67% of men who responded to the survey said yes.
According to the survey, those three acts — nonconsensual voyeurism, verbal harassment, and coercion — were the most hazy for men and young adults. Moreover, even 16% of the people who responded to the survey did not consider sexual intercourse without a partner's consent to be rape.
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In case it's not obvious (which, apparently, it isn't for a huge chunk of the people who took this survey), this is a huge problem — and it points to the importance of continually having conversations about consent.
It's concerning that even though the survey specifically stated that many of these sex acts were not consensual, the people who responded still didn't recognize them as assault.
So, in case you or anyone you know needs a refresher, any sex act — including taking photos or video, sharing photos or video, touching someone, watching someone, or saying something sexual — done without consent constitutes sexual assault.
There is no gray area here and it's not okay for even 1% of people to think that nonconsensual sex isn't rape.
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