14 Men Tell Us How They Learned The Value Of Consent

Illustrated by: Amrita Marino.
Update: In the days since a video surfaced of Donald Trump making lewd and offensive comments about sexual assault, thousands of women have come forward to share their own stories about assault. It's past time to acknowledge that sexual assault happens to women too often, and to put the onus on men to put a stop to it. With that in mind, we're re-publishing our interviews with 14 men about how they learned the importance of consent. This story was originally published on September 7, 2016.
It's a pretty straightforward concept: You don't put your hands on anyone without their permission. And the lack of a "no" does not automatically mean a "yes."
Yet, debates over consent seem to permeate our society. With the worrying statistics of campus sexual assault (most recently exemplified in the headlines regarding a sexual assault at Stanford and the controversy surrounding The Birth Of A Nation star and director, Nate Parker), it seems that we unfortunately still live in a world that, far too often, places the blame on victims instead of emphasizing the importance of teaching people (mostly men) not to rape.
It's a world in which we jump to blaming women for "asking for it" instead of examining what men can do to avoid being a part of the problem. It's also a world in which someone is sexually assaulted in America every two minutes.
It's time we started making consent a vital part of sex education — and emphasizing how crucial it is to get an enthusiastic "yes" from a sexual partner before continuing. With something this important, it's better to be safe than sorry.
So we talked to 14 men (Refinery29 employees and readers) about how they learned the value of consent. Their answers are powerful, enlightening, and, hopefully, indicative of why sexual consent is so essential. Read ahead for their stories.

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more

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